Business connectivity is the beating heart of the SME revolution. Is your Internet Service Provider helping you use it to drive profits or simply letting it become a drain on your expendable bank balance? Jarryd Chatz, CEO of BitCo, explores this question and explains how businesses can ensure they choose the right ISP.
New digital capabilities have blown the lid off the traditional start-up mentality, effectively levelling the playing field. Where business used to be conducted within a limited border, it has since transitioned to an infinite web and, according to the International Data Corporation, South African companies are expected to spend around $10bn populating this digitally connected business network in 2017.
With more prepaid options, WiFi hotspots and Fibre lines than ever before, internet connectivity is growing at an alarming rate. This opens the door to a previously untapped market of consumers and greater access to existing ones.
So, it makes sense that ICT products and services are getting a bump up the budget priority list, but do you know how your ISP could be negatively impacting the return on your investment?
Vague uptime guarantees tend to miss the mark
“Reliable” is a word a lot of ISPs throw around, but like “successful”, it’s a relative concept. Their idea of reliability might only be 80% uptime, while BitCo’s is 99%.
Without defined and agreed upon standards, you could find yourself running up a hefty phone bill and wasting productive hours to solve a problem that ends up costing you more than the initial cost saving.
External suppliers are as good as loopholes
Any ISP who is not a Tier 1 telecommunications operator uses external suppliers. This poses several threats to your bottom line. First, their assurances are limited or subject to change. If a supplier changes their offerings, your ISP may be forced to do the same, putting you in line for potential unforeseen costs.
Secondly, you won’t be able to place accountability squarely on their shoulders, because they can point the finger or pass the buck when something goes wrong. This makes recuperating lost funds a difficult, lengthy and often futile process.
The last inconvenience linked to a complicated supply-chain is a lack of priority. When it comes to contention, a carrier that uses third party suppliers cannot offer you an eternal greenlight, meaning that how and when you do business won’t always be up to you. This could get in the way of lucrative, time-sensitive opportunities.
Nothing stands without support
A house of cards stands well enough, as long as no pressure is applied. The same applies to your ISP agreement if you don’t get clarity on customer support. If you can’t respond to pressure quickly and in an effective manner, it could wreak havoc with your customer retention and conversion rates, as well as put a dent in your business’s reputation – all of which comes with a financial backlash.
Inflexible solutions block the way to progress
Integration and mobility are just two of the biggest trends businesses have had to adapt to in the last decade, and there will of course be more to come. These will force your business to evolve or to change its course in unexpected ways.
In this case, saving money in the long run means choosing an ISP with solutions that can change as you do. From wireless solutions that can run at 5Mbps to 100Mbps, or moving from IP to a virtual PBX – smooth transitions mean less budget dips.
Bigger is not always better
Large telecoms providers may be able to offer more affordable connectivity options, though less capabilities to customise solutions – not to mention less motivation to do so. This could result in you paying for more than you need to, or saving on some initial fees but having to settle for corner-cutting solutions instead of tailored ones.
At the end of the day, the competitive advantage SMEs have over large-scale and more established companies is their ability to adopt transformative technology with relative ease. That’s why it’s important for them to seek out service providers who enable that competitive edge, instead of those that hinder it, delivering little in the way of legitimately profitable products and services.
Is Data Protection One Of Your Top Concerns? It Should Be
With data breaches on the rise, can you afford to ignore the protection of your company’s most valuable asset?
Did You Know?
28% of companies surveyed¹ in South Africa, from different industries, consider data protection to be one of the top concerns facing businesses.
As the business world continues to transform digitally, data is emerging as a critical asset for SMEs across most industries and is in fact, for some, the only asset that accumulates all the company’s value. However, the consequences and cost to company of data breaches is a disturbing certainty for SMEs. New research² shows that in the Middle East, Turkey and Africa (META) region, the average cost of a breach for an SME has reached $114 000 to date in 2018, which is already 30% higher than in 2017 ($88 000).
The reality is that cybercriminal tactics are only evolving and apart from the consideration of highly targeted type cyberattacks that steal data, SMEs must consider all types of data breach scenarios — from advanced exploits to creativity of spam and phishing attacks on trending topics, and the loss of data from misplaced or stolen mobile devices.
The evolution of cyberthreats facing SMEs calls for an evolution in cybersecurity to ensure data protection can be achieved and the risk of cyberattack kept minimal.
Next generation protection and control
In the likely event of more business operations going digital, SMEs must protect every endpoint in their business, as the endpoint is the prime target and source of the majority of problems. Endpoints have become the front door to business networks and information, and while their physical security is beyond an organisation’s control, SMEs must find a way of securing the data stored on them.
The answer? Data encryption minimises the risk of information leaks that may occur when a portable computer, removable drive or hard drive is lost or stolen, or when data is accessed by unauthorised users or applications.
The process of encryption can be managed by a single console that makes it easy for a business to control the security of devices and the data stored on them. With encryption measures in place, even if a device does fall into the wrong hands, it won’t be possible to access the data stored on it.
Kaspersky Endpoint Security for Business
Kaspersky offers just this type of protection needed — and much more — in a single solution with one easy-to-use management console. It is based on Machine Learning-based next generation protection that can help SMEs protect every endpoint their business runs through:
- Encryption Management
- Mobile security and device management
- Protecting against the latest threats, including unknown malware
- Hardens endpoints — to reduce exposure to cyberattacks
- Helps boost productivity — via Cloud-enabled usage controls
- Protects servers and endpoints without damaging performance
- Secures diverse environments — PC, Mac, Linux, iOS and Android
- Simplifies security management — with one unified console.
Every SME’s IT is a unique mix of systems, networks and devices — where IT security needs to fit into existing infrastructure easily and protect every element of it without slowing the business down and without a financial knock. Kaspersky Endpoint Security for Business does just this and is the true cybersecurity platform built from the ground up, offering a business-critical combination of deep protection for data, efficiency and seamless manageability of endpoints — helping SMEs deploy security rapidly with minimal fuss.
¹ Kaspersky Lab Global IT Security Survey 2017, South Africa data I
² What is the cost of a data breach? Kaspersky Lab IT security economics report
What Every South African Entrepreneur Should Know About GDPR
Compliance, data, legislation, risk – terms that your business needs on its radar right now.
It was on 25 May 2018 that the long awaited and often discussed General Data Protection Regulation came into effect. This shiny, new European Union (EU) legislation was created to ensure that the data of all EU residents was protected properly and provides in-depth guidelines into the collection and processing of their personal information. It may not sound like this is something even remotely relevant to your business, but wait, it really, really is..
If the data that is being processed by your company belongs to an EU resident or if your data is located somewhere other than South Africa then the relevance is suddenly very clear. If you store or process anyone from the EU, you need to get to grips with this legislation and what it means to your business and your customers. If you don’t, you could be in line for some very heavy financial penalties. And no, the fact you’re on a separate continent isn’t going to make you immune.
So what do I do?
Spend some time getting to know the legislation. The Act has been laid out to help you figure out where you could be affected and what you need to do to mitigate the risk. It has a separate definition for ‘sensitive personal data’ that relates to information concerning a person’s racial or ethnic origin, political opinions, religious beliefs, trade union activities, physical or mental health, sexual preferences and criminal offences.
If you don’t understand the terminology or you’re unsure as to whether or not it applies to your business, speak to a professional. The cost in money and time is far less than the one you may incur if you are in breach of GDPR. It will also very likely help you get on track to become compliant with South Africa’s POPI Act too.
Why should I care?
You can be financially and reputationally penalised if you are found to be in contravention of this new legislation.
What steps should I take?
As well as speaking with a professional and reading the GDPR legislative requirements, you should understand the risks and how they could impact you and your EU client base. Whether you are a controller or a processor of data, the act still applies. However, it will only apply if your organisation operates in the EU or serves EU individuals, not so much where you host your applications.
Why bother if I don’t have EU connections?
Over the past few years data breaches have become so common they’re almost not newsworthy anymore. However, this doesn’t change the fact that consumers are impacted and businesses are voiding responsibility. Like the ability to opt out of marketing materials or permanently remove accounts from platforms where the information must be permanently destroyed.
GDPR ensures that breached scenarios are reported within 72 hours of becoming aware of it and the fines can range from 10 million Euro to 4% of global turnover, whichever is higher. If you’re not connected to the EU, POPI is set to have equally stringent rules attached to it and consumers are becoming increasingly fed up with being left to deal with the impact of bad business behaviour. You have been warned…
How Blockchain Will Disturb The E-Commerce Industry In The Next Few Years
What is blockchain? And how will it disturb the e-commerce? Those are questions we should be asking ourselves. In this article, we will be answering these questions to help you understand, blockchain technology and how it will disturb the e-commerce industry in the next few years.
In 2008, Satoshi Nakamoto invented blockchain to serve as the public transaction ledger of the cryptocurrency bitcoin. The creation of the blockchain for bitcoin made it the first digital currency, to resolve the double-spending problem without the need for a trusted authority or central server.
So, what is blockchain? a blockchain is an endless growing list of records called blocks, which is linked and secured using cryptography.
Each block naturally contains a cryptographic hash of the former block, a timestamp and transaction data.
As a design, blockchains are resistant to modification of the data and is an open distributed ledger which can record transactions between two parties proficiently, and in a verifiable and lasting way.
Blockchain permits digital information to be communicated between a decentralised, peer-to-peer (P2P) network creating a new type of internet.
Blockchain functions like a digital ledger or spreadsheet which can be accessed by everyone, but the former input cannot be edited without that edit appearing in the audit trail.
Having a high-level understanding of how blockchain works, will help you stay ahead of the competition.
There are a number of key features which make the network exciting for eCommerce brands like:
- Decentralised – Blockchain works over a P2P network. Data is not held in a single location, which makes it more reliable. Nobody owns or is in charge of the blockchain, which means its free of influence from governments or large corporations.
- Immutable – transactions are append-only, meaning once data is recorded it cannot be changed without that change is visible in the audit trail.
- Near real-time – stakeholders can work collaboratively in real-time over a sole, trusted ledger.
The challenges that the eCommerce industry face today are trust, frauds, slow transactions and other costs. Going forward blockchain will disturb the challenges and create a whole new revolution in the eCommerce industry in the following ways:
- Cheaper Transactions – blockchain allows the existence of “smart contracts” which would be software programs that will self-execute contract instructions, lowering the cost and complexity of transfers and transactions.
- Faster transactions – transactions, order details, commissions in the form of smart contracts can be used to save all documents, shipping, delivery and possible events which affect financial settlements. Thus, every individual or company involved in the supply chain can make vital data visible to others, which lowers disputes, delays, disorganisation and speeds up the transaction process.
- Transparency – blockchains store entire owner history, no matter where the product goes and how many times its bought, which eliminates the frauds and brings transparency to consumer and merchant.
In conclusion, blockchain has ushered a new revolution of digital currency and transaction system where intermediaries like brokers, banker’s lawyers might not be needed at all.
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