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Savage war for talent: How to protect employees

The best digital workplace experiences will come from merging the functions of HR and IT, writes KRISTINE DAHL STEIDEL, Vice President EUC EMEA, VMware

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Employers are faced with an increasingly savage war for talent. Attracting the right employees remains a serious challenge – 70% of respondents to the Deloitte 2019 Global Human Capital Trends survey cited recruitment as an important issue, with 16% labelling it one of the three most urgent issues their organisation would face in 2019. In this candidate’s market, companies are being forced to rethink what they offer both prospective and existing talent in order to attract and retain the skills they need to grow in the digital era. 

How are you supporting your employees?

Expectations about how the concept of work is delivered are shifting. Two thirds of employees across Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) feel that the flexibility of digital tools required for work would influence their decision to apply for or accept a position at a company, according to a new study from VMware. In other words, those organisations unable or unwilling to support their employees with the right technology to collaborate, innovate and be creative, otherwise known as the digital employee experience, are going to struggle to attract, or indeed even retain, talent. In fact, the latter will be even more of a struggle, with 70% of respondents believing their current employers should be placing more importance on this area. 

To do that, employers need to identify who is responsible for the delivering positive employee experiences. This remains an issue – over a fifth of respondents to the VMware study felt that not knowing who to approach was a barrier to delivering a positive digital experience. 

Overcoming barriers to collaboration through teamwork

Put simply, the digital employee experience is the merging together of two separate business functions – IT and HR. HR has long been the gatekeeper of the employee experience, while say ‘digital’ to most businesses and they’ll automatically point you in the direction of IT. When the two are brought together, it can cause confusion over who owns what, with 49% of employees not knowing if they should talk to HR or IT about their digital experience issues. 

For many organisations, getting two functions to work together is a challenge – just 21% of employees reported that HR and IT collaborate all of the time. It’s ironic that the barrier to helping employees work more effectively, and being able to collaborate, is a lack of teamwork between different parts of an organisation. 

So, what’s the answer? For the majority of employees, it’s about HR and IT working together. Being able to offer a truly digital employee experience, with access to the devices and applications workers need, requires a technology core that can manage access and compliance while being flexible. That’s the remit of IT. To make sure it’s fit for purpose, however, requires mapping what employees need and how they need it, aligned with a deep understanding of what people are experiencing out of work and what those insights can bring to the workplace. In short, the human element, or HR’s bread and butter. 

If they do, businesses stand to reap significant rewards – namely better business growth and attraction of talent, driven by a more progressive culture and being rated as a top place to work. The research demonstrated a direct link between delivering a positive digital employee experience and better performing organisations. Employees that enjoy the freedom to work from personal devices, have access to productivity apps from day one and accessing apps on any device are more likely to work for high or hyper growth businesses. 

Delivering better performance with better experiences

It’s clear that providing a digital employee experience is more likely to result in better business performance, driven by an engaged and positive workforce. To achieve that, however, requires a collaboration between HR and IT that combines an understanding of what employees want with the right technology framework to deliver the apps, devices and tools they want, in the way they want them. Get that right, and businesses will be much better placed to compete successfully in the war for talent and set themselves up for operating in the digital era.

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Huge appetite for foldable phones – when prices fall

Samsung, Huawei and Motorola have all shown their cards, but consumers are concerned about durability, size, and enhanced use cases, according to Strategy Analytics

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Foldable devices are a long-awaited disrupter in the smartphone market, exciting leading-edge early adopters keen for a bold new type of device. But the acceptance of foldable devices by mainstream segments will depend on the extent to which the current barriers to adoption are addressed.

Major brands have been throwing their foldable bets into the hat to see what the market wants from a foldable, namely how big the screens should be and how the devices should fold. Samsung and Huawei have both designed devices that unfold from smartphones to tablets, each with their own method of how the devices go about folding. Motorola has recently designed a smartphone that folds in half, and it resembles a flip phone.

Assessing consumer desire for foldable smartphones, a new report from the User Experience Strategies group at Strategy Analytics has found that the perceived value of the foldable form does not outweigh the added cost.

Key report findings include:

  • The idea of having a larger-displayed smartphone in a portable size is perceived as valuable to the vast majority of consumers in the UK and the US. But, willingness to pay extra for a foldable device does not align with the desire to purchase one. Manufacturers must understand that there will be low sell-through until costs come down.
  • But as the acceptance for traditional smartphone display sizes continues to increase, so does the imposed friction of trying to use them one-handed. Unless a foldable phone has a wider folded state, entering text when closed is too cumbersome, forcing users to utilize two hands to enter text, when in the opened state.
  • Use cases need to be adequately demonstrated for consumers to fully understand and appreciate the potential for a foldable phone, though their priorities seemed fixed on promoting ‘two devices in one’ equaling a better video viewing experience. Identification and promotion of meaningful new use cases will be vital to success.

Christopher Dodge, Associate Director, UXIP and report author said: “As multitasking will look to be a core selling point for foldable phones, it is imperative that the execution be simplified and intuitive. Our data suggests there are a lot of uncertainties that come with foldable phone ownership, stemming mainly from concerns with durability and size, in addition to concerns over enhanced use cases.

“But our data also shows that when the consumers are able to use a foldable phone in hand, there is a solid reduction of doubt and concern about the concept. This means that the in-store experience may more important than ever in driving awareness, capabilities, and potential use cases.”

Said Paul Brown, Director, UXIP: “The big question is whether the perceived value will outweigh the added cost; and the initial response from consumers is ‘no.’ The ability for foldable displays to resolve real consumer pain-points is, in our view critical to whether these devices will become a niche segment of the smartphone market or the dominant form-factor of the future. Until costs come down, these devices will not take off.”

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New exploit exposes credit cards on mobile phones

Check Point Security has found that handsets using Qualcomm chipsets that hold credit and debit card credentials are at risk of a new exploit.

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Now it’s more important than ever to update your phone.
Check Point security has found a vulnerability in mobile devices that run Android, which allows credit card details to be accessed by hackers.

Mobile operating systems like Android offer a Rich Execution Environment (REE), providing a hugely extensive and versatile runtime environment, which allows apps to run on the device. However, while bringing flexibility and capability, REE leaves devices vulnerable to a wide range of security threats. A Trusted Execution Environment (TEE) is designed to reside alongside the REE and provide a safe area on the device to protect assets and to execute trusted code. Qualcomm makes use of a secure virtual processor, which is often referred to as the “secure world”, in comparison to the “non-secure world”, where REE resides. 

But Check Point “fuzzed” a “hole” into this secure world 

In a 4-month research project, Check Point researchers attempted and succeeded to reverse Qualcomm’s “Secure World” operating system. Check Point researchers leveraged a “fuzzing” technique to expose the hole. Fuzz testing (fuzzing) is a quality assurance technique used to discover coding errors and security loopholes in software, operating systems or networks. It involves inputting massive amounts of random data, called fuzz, to the test subject in an attempt to make it crash.

Check Point implemented a custom-made fuzzing tool, which tested trusted code on Samsung, LG, and Motorola devices. Through fuzzing, Check Point found 4 vulnerabilities in trusted code implemented by Samsung (including S10), 1 in Motorola, 1 in LG, but all code sourced by Qualcomm itself. To address the vulnerability, the runtime of Android needs to be protected from both attackers and users. This is typically achieved by moving the secure storage software to a hardware-supported TEE.

Check Point Research disclosed its findings directly to the companies and gave them time to patch vulnerabilities. Samsung patched three vulnerabilities and LG patched one. Motorola and Qualcomm responded, but have yet to provide a patch, and there is no confirmation of a release date yet.

Check Point Research has urged mobile phone users to stay vigilant and check their credit and debit card providers for any unusual activity. In the meantime, they are working with the vendors mentioned to issue patches.

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