Where Next for Social Media Commerce?

Social Media is reinventing itself. While we still use it for catching up on news, connecting with friends and sharing holiday snaps, it’s also becoming a popular way for consumers to discover and buy products. According to a recent study we carried out, 76% of US consumers have bought an item they saw in a brand’s post, and in the UK it’s 67%.Social Media

People don’t necessarily visit social channels with the intention of shopping, but by interacting with posts that catch their eye they are motivated to explore further – driven by inspiration rather than purpose. Of the 1,000 consumers we interviewed as part of our research, those aged between 18 and 34 are most receptive to shoppable posts, with half this group agreeing they are interested in learning more about items they spot on social media sites. Overall, 39% of consumers are influenced by user generated content, saying that seeing real life images of people who had previously bought a product make them more likely to buy it.

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Know how people shop

Social commerce is successful because it appeals to people’s emotions. Some shoppers act on impulse, with 4% making a purchase immediately online after seeing a product according to our survey results, while just under half (46%) spend time thinking about the item then buy later. 17% go on to buy instore.

Shopping via social channels is also convenient. Our study found that almost a quarter (24%) of consumers will buy an item if they are taken directly to the product page on the retailer’s website, rather than having to search for it.

Inspire your customers to purchase

This progressive merge of social and commerce reached another milestone recently, with the announcement that Instagram has extended shoppable functions to its Stories feature. More than 500 million people are active on Instagram every day, and brands have enabled commerce by tagging direct links to products on posts for some time. Instagram Stories, which allow individuals and businesses to tell a story through a collection of pictures and video posts, have seen rapid growth and consumption since launching in 2016 – users choose to watch Stories to stay up to date about brands they’re interested in, get an insider view of items they like and find out about shiny new things that are relevant to them. So, great news for brands that are creating some of the most viewed and engaging content on the platform.

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Be social

Enabling consumers to purchase products they see at the point of discovery presents an exciting opportunity for brands. However, simply tagging posts is not enough if marketers want to drive meaningful traffic and revenue. To truly make social sell, brands need to grow the value of their content, both brand-created and user generated, and re-use it elsewhere such as in emails, blogs and on their own website.

While social channels should be applauded for developing new ways to strengthen relationships with consumers, brands will benefit from integrating additional strategies to enhance their social commerce performance. By tailoring and refining shopping features on social channels for specific needs, brands can fully prosper from social commerce while providing a pleasurable and meaningful experience for consumers.

Pros and Cons of Online Procurement Software

The next phase of the digital revolution is expanding your platform into the cloud. Instead of purchasing software that you install on and run from in-house computers, using a cloud-based SaaS (Software as a Service) company means you’re paying another company to host your software. Typically, you can access this software from any approved computer or mobile device without paying extra licensing fees. It’s a much more flexible solution that’s very easy to use.software

One of the departments that can benefit the most from cloud-based software is the Procurement Department. Online procurement software, also known as eProcurement, offers instant access and heightened flexibility that makes it a popular choice for businesses.

But is migrating to an online procurement system the right move for your company? There are many pros to eProcurement, but there are also a few cons as well. The decision about whether or not to switch to an online system depends on your individual company’s needs, but we can offer some general guidelines to help you decide whether or not eProcurement is the right solution for you.

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Pros

Online procurement software offers a low-cost solution to streamline the entire purchasing system and lower costs. Here are some of the positive effects eProcurement software can have on your company.

Organization

If your company struggles to manage purchases and place orders in a timely fashion, then disorganization is probably your most critical issue. After an established process becomes disorganized, it’s often difficult to fix the problem. Once the system is broken, exceptions start to proliferate and things become even harder to manage.

Migrating to a standardized, online tool not only streamlines purchasing but also reduces the possibility of the system allowing an exception purchasing process. Switching to an eProcurement system also makes it easier to centralize purchasing if you want to go that direction.

User-Friendly

One of the biggest complaints people have about purchasing software is that it’s hard to use. If your purchasing system is too much of a hassle, employees are more likely to go around the system when making purchases.

Switching to an online procurement system gives you the opportunity to make purchasing more user-friendly. Features like punch out catalogs and item catalogs make shopping within the purchasing system just as easy (and in some cases easier) than going around the system. That helps keep employees happy and automatically enforces company policy.

Tightened Control

ERP systems are workhorses, but they don’t always get down into the details as well as you need them to. Online procurement software is typically more flexible about what you can include and also more agile in providing access restrictions. You can limit everything from the type of purchases made and vendors picked, to the items ordered and accepted prices per vendor.

Keeping a tighter grasp on these critical elements reduces rogue spending and maintains consistency in items ordered. Plus, if you purchase a good-quality software, it should integrate seamlessly with your existing ERPs.

Reconciliation & Reporting

When purchases don’t match invoices exactly, the results can be a nightmare. Everyone acknowledges the importance of reconciliation. However, when the pressure is on, it’s one of the first things to go on the back burner. Trying to pull together historical approvals, or even reports on purchases, can be exceedingly difficult in a manual or ERP-based system. Online procurement software alleviates this problem with customizable reporting. It also makes it easier to implement 3-way matching and manage inventory.

Low Cost

eProcurement software systems are typically very cost-effective. If you’re working with a reliable software provider, they’ll be upfront with their pricing and you won’t have to worry about any hidden fees. Ideally, you’ll only pay for the services you use and the provider won’t charge extra for user licensing fees. That’s the kind of pricing system that NextProcess offers.

In addition to the money you’ll save in licensing fees, you’ll also see savings in labor costs. The time your employees save by using a more manageable procurement system helps keep the processing cost-per-purchase-order low.

Faster Updates and Implementation

With online procurement automation software, there’s very little wait time to implement a new system. You’ll be able to switch over to eProcurement very quickly with little trouble for your IT department. You’ll also get regular updates from your software supplier rather than having to upgrade your system manually. This makes eProcurement much easier on your IT department and also helps lower costs.

Works With Other Systems

Another big advantage to using online procurement software is that it can work with your other businesses process automation systems. Quite a few companies that offer eProcurement software also offer other software modules. These programs can automate the AP department, manage capital projects, and streamline other financial tasks. If you stick with just one company for your software needs, you’ll know for sure the software modules can all work together and it’ll make it easier to implement a new system.

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Cons

Many of the potential down-sides to using online procurement software can be minimized by learning to use the software efficiently and customize it for your company. However, there are some limitations to the software that you should be aware of before deciding whether or not it’s the right fit for your company.

Micromanaging

Flexible procurement software packages offer a wealth of classification and data analytics detail. In fact, there are so many ways to customize that there’s a risk of getting a little carried and using online procurement software to micromanage.

However, having too many fields confuses users and can ultimately slow down your system’s reporting efficiency. The good news is, you can adjust eProcurement software to find what level of customization works best for your company.

Lengthy Approval Chains

When the opportunity to expand insight into the purchasing process occurs, there may be some people within your organization who want to review purchases for varying reasons. These can also be the same people who take longer than others to pass purchases on to the next approver.

It’s very important to separate the necessary from the unnecessary early in the process of updating your procurement management. This helps keep approval chains from becoming bogged down.

Best For Indirect Materials

Whether or not eProcurement will benefit your company depends in part on what you’re buying. It will definitely help facilitate catalog-based buying of indirect materials like office supplies. The ROI of implementing a procurement software system for things like that is very definitely positive.

But things get a little more complicated when buying direct materials and services. Procurement automation software might not help as much if your company focuses on negotiating purchases in large, strategically important multi-million dollar deals.

Supplier Onboarding Issues

Although most suppliers are happy to accept online purchase orders, there’s a chance that some of your older vendors may have difficulty adapting to a newer system. Small companies, in particular, can have trouble adjusting to your use of online procurement software. Determining the extent of your supplier’s involvement in your new software rollout will be a critical piece of project scope when you start planning your transition to online procurement.

Less Direct Involvement

Some companies prefer using an on-premise procurement software system rather than going with an online, or cloud-based, solution. On-premise systems can be more customizable, easier to integrate with existing software systems, and comply with more strict security requirements. However, they’re typically not as flexible, user-friendly, and low cost as online systems. You’ll have to decide what features are most important to you.

The many perks of implementing online procurement systems outweigh the downsides in most situations. However, when looking at the issues facing your purchasing team, you might still decide that now isn’t a good time to implement an online procurement system. If your company deals mostly with direct material and services or if you require extremely tight security, you might do better with an in-house system.

For the majority of businesses, though, online procurement software is a good move. Even if it’s not something you want to implement now, it might be good to keep in mind for the future.

If you’ve decided that an online procurement system is exactly what your company needs right now, the best tip we can give you is to look for a good software partner. The right software supplier can help you avoid common pitfalls when implementing new procurement software and build the platform you need.

With NextProcess, you’ll get all the up-sides of online procurement software. We’ll also work with you to customize our software and make sure it works perfectly for your company. This minimizes the risk that you’ll have to deal with any down-sides that could come with using an eProcurement system.

Top 5 Streaming Trends & What It Means To Marketers

According to McKinsey’s survey on ‘Consumer Sentiment During the Coronavirus Crisis’, consumers have intensified their behaviour for online streaming like never before. With over 40% of respondents have stated they have been streaming videos online much more since the pandemic started in March. Consumers are identifying online streaming services to keep themselves informed, stay connected with the world and most importantly killing leisure time to decompress the stress of the new reality. This in turn has led to overwhelming adoption of at-home-entertainment services across the globe in the last few months.

Streaming

Consumers revealing changing streaming behaviour opens up a series of opportunities for marketers to strategically reach out to their consumers with more relevance and context. With consumers indulging on streaming movies, TV shows and consuming informational content on news outlets and social media, aligning media and communications accordingly becomes imperative for brands. This blog covers the streaming behaviour of consumers across the globe and ways how marketers can leverage the trends and insights to recraft their marketing strategies.

1.  Increased viewer appetite for OTT content

As out-of-home entertainment options reel under the effects of lockdown and social distancing, consumers are exploring online streaming as entertainment options as shelter-in-place orders keep them home. Over-the-top (OTT) platforms like Netflix, Amazon Prime, Hulu, Disney Plus and many more have started witnessing rapid rise in numbers, instilling a sense of optimism regarding the future of the industry. According to a report by Reuters, Netflix’s global total has reached 182.9 million from January to March, with the audience bingeing on shows like Love and Blind, and Money Heist.

As per research conducted by KPMG, there has been a secular rise in OTT consumption in duration, and across demographics and devices. As production of content comes to a stand still,the content pipeline for users has completely dried up, opening up a series of opportunities for OTT to leverage their existing content libraries and reach out for potential content acquisitions. In the wake of the crisis, many of the OTT players are offering extended free periods to consumers in order to acquire more consumers and drive subscriptions.

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2. Loss of live sports leads consumer to shift focus to escapist content

During the pre-COVID times, one of the highest contributing categories to streaming businesses was Sports. With major leagues and sports tournaments across the globe in abeyance owing to the outbreak, consumers are shifting to escapist content such as classics, tournament highlights, match moments, esports, video games to keep themselves clued-in with sports. Users are now taking out time to indulge into the classics or reruns of their favourite leagues or moments from a particular match. In the absence of any live matches, sports broadcasters across platforms are now providing greater access to these classics to keep fans engaged.

Consumers are exploring sports libraries on OTT platforms, catching up on documentaries or movies of their favourite sports personalities. Many fans are taking out time to explore newer games like hockey, volleyball, table tennis etc. Some countries are also embracing broadcasting and streaming of homegrown sports leagues. In the past few months, India has seen the rise of homegrown sports like Kabbadi, Kho-Kho and many more.

3. Consumers shift from traditional cable TV to on-demand experience connected TV

While people are cooped up in their homes, connected TV offers great value when it comes to consuming content from plethora of genres and categories on a single platform. From turning on the news continuously in order to stay updated to watching the latest sitcom for decompressing the stress of the new reality, inflated house-bound bingeing has catapulted connected TV to the limelight.

4. Consumers embrace social media video content to stay informed and connected

As more viewers stay at home, social media is enabling them to stay connected with friends and families. Social media is equally facilitating consumers to stay informed on both global and local level, providing up-to-the-minute information that is critical as the situation develops. Increasingly viewers are turning into Facebook and YouTube to consume news videos covering restrictions, cases and health related guidelines owing to the pandemic. According to Conviva’s new report ‘Streaming in the time of Coronavirus’, views on local news outlets on Facebook went up by 247% in March as compared to February and an average increase of 118% in views per video.

Twitter observed an uplift of 196% in average engagement per video and 63% increase in overall engagement with local news accounts. Twitter also tailed a 150% increase in average engagement per video for global news accounts. A recent article by PMG partner insights reveals almost 10M search queries are generated and billions of views are captured on YouTube videos related to Covid19 authoritative news coverage every day across the globe.

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5. Streaming to TVs has more than doubled during the pandemic

With consumers asked to refrain from social gatherings and shelter-in-place at home on account of the outbreak, media consumption on TV has boomed significantly across the globe. Brian Fuhrer, SVP Product Strategy at Nielsen, says that on April 4 Americans watched 27 billion minutes of streaming content on TV — 50,000 years of content in just one day — versus about 70 billion per week a year ago. At the time of crisis, viewership on TV booms as consumers ramp up media consumption to stay informed and kill time. In the US, consumers sheltering-in-place at home during crises, gravitate towards watching feature films, news and general format programming, according to the research firm, Nielsen.

In India, TV consumption grew by 38% over the pre-COVID period with the news genre being the biggest gainer with 57% increase in consumption across languages. This is followed by vernacular language channels that are rerunning old classic movies and shows. Hindi GEC attained an all time high viewership of four billion since 2015 in HSM (Hindi Speaking Market) Urban. Resurgence of English movies category was another trend spotted, showcasing an 83 per cent growth in the lockdown period.

What It Means to Marketers

Looking at how streaming trends for consumers are changing as lockdowns continue and the world leans into social distancing, brands are continuously seeking options to capitalize on evolving opportunities. Leveraging inventories on Ad-supported Video On-Demand (AVOD) platforms like YouTube, Facebook and Broadcast Network Sites, is crucial for all advertisers at this time considering the engagement rates are the highest. Brands must embrace partnerships and co-branding with Subscription Video On-Demand platforms (SVOD) platforms, considering high levels of consumer stickiness with the various categories of content that they provide. This opens up opportunities for brands to stay relevant during the time of uncertainty.

The Pros and Cons of Rebranding: Is It Worth It?

Have you been thinking about rebranding? Rebranding a company is no longer as simple as tweaking your logo and slapping the new version onto your website. With so many online marketing channels available today, the process of rebranding your company image has become more complex.

Rebranding

In addition to updating your logo on your website, you will likely have to update it on several different online applications. There is a long list of additional and tedious updates that must be completed across all of your online facing applications. These updates must also be completed in a timely manner, and must be communicated clearly to existing and potential customers to avoid any confusion or inconsistency.

TIME FOR A REBRAND?

All that being said, there are times when a rebrand is in order. With a comprehensive rebranding strategy and the help of experienced brand strategists, the rebranding process can be smooth and efficient. However, it’s important to understand the pros and cons of rebranding. It’s also critical to recognize the importance of having a carefully developed rebranding strategy, in addition to having a well-organized timeline for implementing the rebranding process. You can also evaluate your reasons for rebranding, and whether it truly makes sense to go through the process.

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REBRANDING PROS

The positive effects of rebranding a company are pretty clear. After all, the purpose of a rebrand is to improve your image in one or more ways, with the goal of becoming more relevant, more competitive and more profitable in your target market. If there aren’t many positive outcomes of rebranding, then why would anyone spend the time or effort to go through it?

1. ATTRACT NEW CUSTOMERS

After you’ve been in the market for some time, your image and company message may have become stagnant, and maybe even irrelevant to your audience. While your goals and mission as a company may have adapted over time to your customers’ unique needs and challenges, your brand may not clearly reflect that anymore. By rebranding your image, your company personality or your target audience you can attract new customers and rekindle an interest from your existing audience.

2. ACHIEVE NEW GOALS

Another benefit to rebranding is that you can significantly shift the focus of your efforts, allowing you to achieve new goals. Some of your new goals may be to develop new products or to improve existing ones. Or, you may decide to have your employees become more involved in advocating on behalf of your company, in which case a rebrand is a great excuse to get everyone in the company involved.

3. INCREASE ENGAGEMENT

Whenever you add something new and exciting to your product line, or make a change to your brand, you have the opportunity to make a big splash. You can use a rebrand as a chance to get people talking about your company on social media. Instead of fearing the change, you can show existing and potential customers what is great about the changes you are making, and why you are making them.

4. STREAMLINE MESSAGING

Somewhere along the line, your message and brand may have become diluted or inconsistent. A rebrand offers the opportunity to bring everything back to the main focus again. If getting your online reputation under control has been on the back burner this could be the perfect time to get to it, and kill two birds with one stone.

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REBRANDING CONS

The difficult part about rebranding your company is that it involves change, and all at once. This is never easy for a company, employees or customers. When things don’t go as planned, there are a few possible issues that could result.

1. CONFUSION BRINGS CHAOS

Change is scary, mainly because no one knows for sure what the end result will be. People can become easily confused or frustrated whenever change occurs. By publishing press releases, posting announcements to social media and sending email newsletters you can keep everyone aware of what’s going on, and what’s coming down the pike. Communication is absolutely crucial during a rebranding project.

2. YOU MAY LOSE A FEW CUSTOMERS

If a proper rebranding strategy is not built and implemented in the right way, you risk losing some of your existing customers. Unfortunately, even if you do everything right, there is still a possibility that you could lose customers. Why? People don’t like change. By explaining your reasons for the rebrand clearly, and remaining true to your values and conscious of your customers’ needs, you can minimize the risk of losing long-time customers.

3. BE PREPARED TO SPEND SOME MONEY

Going through a complete rebrand is anything but cheap. Be prepared to spend money on developing a creative rebranding strategy, new content, graphic design, as well as marketing and advertising campaigns to support your project. While there are ways to save money during a rebrand, it is definitely worth investing some money to ensure that it is done effectively.

When done right, rebranding a company is absolutely worth it. However, it’s important to be clear about what you hope to accomplish before you begin, and to be as transparent as possible throughout the transition. Your customers will want to hear how it’s going, so be sure to keep them in the loop.

What you need to know about develop advertising briefs

The ability to develop clear, concise and informative briefs is an important skill for persons aspiring to careers in the marketing and advertising industry. As briefs for advertising material or activities are normally based on specifications provided by a person other than the person that must develop the brief,

advertising

it is often necessary to gather additional information that was not included in the specification but crucial to a good brief.

Advertising and production contexts

Two words that you will come across when speaking about briefs in the creative industry are advertising ‘content’ and ‘context’. So what do we mean when talking about content and how does it differ from context?

  • Content refers to meaning, theme or idea, whereas
  • Context refers to the frame of reference, ambience, circumstances, conditions, connection, background or situation.

Advertising and production contexts must complement each other as without consideration of how each impact on the other, a message may go unnoticed or may not be understood correctly. When developing advertising briefs you need to factor in advertising and production contexts to ensure that the message you are sending will result in the desired response. Simply stated, when developing advertising briefs you must consider both the intent of the brief as well as the vehicle used to deliver it.

Advertising and production must consider how to make consumers feel that the product or service being promoted is uniquely designed for their current needs.

Context must consider attributes such as situations, geographical location, age, income, interests, etc. to ensure that both advertising and production contexts are focused on getting the message through to the correct audience.

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Collect the given specifications

A specification provides criteria to achieve a desired outcome. In most cases, it is a document that outlines the purpose and process of a creative endeavour.

The information given in a specification is linked to a specific commodity or service and the amount of information given in a specification could range from simplistic to complex depending on the nature of the commodity or service.

Before accepting the responsibility of delivering a brief based on a specification be sure that you have been given sufficient information and that all your questions are answered.

There are 10 areas of information that you should be able to determine and your specification is your starting point:

  1. Background Summary
  2. Overview
  3. Drivers
  4. Audience
  5. Competitors
  6. Tone
  7. Message
  8. Visuals
  9. Details
  10. People

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What the advertising brief can do

Briefs can be developed for specific media such as television, audio-visual, graphics or, alternatively, magazines. In addition, briefs can also specify the creation of specific moods, tones as well as sound. Briefs may also include requirements for specific locations, venues and/or equipment.

To illustrate this concept if the campaign is to advertise a film, there can be several briefs providing specifications for the following:

  • Television interviews with the producer, director and main characters
  • Posters for the theatres prior to and during the screening period
  • Briefs to suitable radio, magazines and television programmes to discuss the film

Types of Cyber Security Threats in 2020

Never has there been a more dangerous time for your business and your data. The threat landscape for businesses today is filled with many different security threats and attack vectors used by hackers and other malicious individuals. On the world scene, 2020 has already been a challenging year for businesses across the board with COVID-19.

Threats

Coupled with the current pandemic and the cybersecurity threats that have been very prevalent and growing in recent years such as ransomware, there are many different cyber risk types in 2020 that your business needs to prepare for.

First of all, what is a cyberattack? What are the types of cyber security threats? How can your business minimize the risk of a cyberattack on your business-critical data?

What Is a Cyber Attack?

cyber attack refers to a type of attack that is carried out by cybercriminals using a computer or group of computers to attack another computer, group of computers, or network. Cyber attacks have become all too common in today’s world largely due to how organizations have evolved in the way they carry out business.

Today’s businesses, no doubt including your own organization, heavily use technology to carry out business-critical operations and support their organization’s data. Data has been referred to as the new gold of this century as it represents the most valuable asset that a business possesses.

When you think about the fact that organizations rely on their customer data for day-to-day operations, selling, buying, turning a profit, making projections, and performing analytics, it is at the heart of just about every operation. What’s more, most businesses are expanding the way they are using and ingesting data.

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What Do Hackers Want?

There are generally three objectives behind cyber attacks:

  1. Disrupt or damage – This is often the objective that is highlighted by many of the cyber attacks that make headlines, including massive ransomware attacks. With these types of cyber threats, the attacker is looking to disrupt the normal business continuity of your organization to benefit in some way. A great example of this is ransomware. With ransomware, a ransom is demanded by the attacker to allow your business to return to normal operations and regain access to data.  Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks are another familiar type of attack that can prevent businesses from carrying out operations.
  2. Steal – Attackers can also have the objective to steal highly sensitive or valuable information, often to sell on the black market. These types of cyber attacks often result in damaging data leaks that result in a heavily damaged business reputation and potentially other consequences as a result of fines or legal implications.
  3. Infiltrate – Another aim of attackers is to infiltrate your organization’s network and slyly stay hidden, moving laterally through the network looking to ultimately compromise an administrator account.  Businesses can be compromised for literally “hundreds of days” or even years, without knowing it.  Below are figures from the IBM 2019 Cost of a Data Breach Report:
    1. The average time to identify a breach in 2019 was 206 days
    2. The average time to contain a breach was 73 days, for a total of 279 days

The potential damage, stealing of data, and widespread compromise that can happen in the meantime can be enormous and catastrophic to your business.

Who are behind cyber attacks?

You may wonder who is behind cyber attacks that are commonly carried out on your business today.  These generally fall within two categories of cyber criminals who may have differing motivations for what they do.

  • Insider threats
  • Threats from the outside

Who or what comprises each group of cyber criminals?

PEOPLE WITHIN YOUR ORGANIZATION

A very common but often overlooked threat to your organization is insider threats. Insider threats come from the very ones that you typically trust within your organization – your own employees.  While we certainly are not imputing bad motives on all employees, it only takes one unscrupulous employee to do major damage to your business.

Additionally, well-meaning employees can inflict data loss or data breach on your organization accidentally. Without thinking an end-user can accidentally expose sensitive data to the masses.

The top types of data security threats from insiders are as follows:

  • Disgruntled or unscrupulous employee intentionally damaging or leaking data from your organization
  • Malicious IT admin with administrative access to business-critical systems
  • Careless or even trusted employee who accidentally carelessly exposes, leaks, or damages critical data

Additionally, without controls over third-party applications in Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) environments, well-meaning employees could unintentionally install third-party applications that may in themselves have malicious intent or are “leaky” and expose sensitive data to others.

CYBER CRIMINALS

The other more commonly discussed types of security risks to your organization is the threat from attackers on the outside.  There are many different sources of cyber attacks from criminals on the outside.  This includes:

  • Organized criminal hacking groups or experienced individual hackers
  • Professional hackers working for an organized criminal hacking group
  • Nation-state hackers working for various governments
  • Amateur hackers who are simply looking to gain experience

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Cyber Attacks in 2020 – Current IT Security Threats

This year has presented challenges on a world scene that no one could have predicted.  The Coronavirus or COVID-19 has brought about sweeping changes in the way organizations are carrying out business throughout the world.  Most have shifted the workforce to a majority working from home.

With the shift in how and where employees are conducting business activities, hackers are following suit to capitalize on the shift in the workforce as well as even preying on the situation at hand with COVID-19.  Attackers know that employees working from home are more distracted than when working on-premises and most are extremely curious and interested in the situation with the Coronavirus pandemic.

This leads to a situation where employees are even more likely to fall victim to phishing attacks or malicious websites that lure employees with relevant COVID-19 headlines or subject lines.  In fact, a recent report by ZDNet highlighted the new threat that is evolving where attackers are looking to directly exploit the COVID-19 pandemic in various ways.

In Italy, which has been extremely hard hit by the COVID-19 outbreak, attackers are targeting users with Italian email addresses with messages claiming to be from the World Health Organization (WHO). In the email, attackers have attached a legitimate document from WHO, however, they are also dropping a Trojan on the end user’s machine that steals banking information and also turns the end-user computer into a bot that can be used in widespread cyber attacks.

Attackers are also targeting corporate environments with emails supposedly from contractors or delivery agencies noting how their services will be adjusted during the pandemic. Thinking the emails are legitimate again, corporate end users can be enticed to click on the attachment that drops malware on their system.

Other low-level scams have emerged using SPAM emails claiming to have a cure for the Coronavirus or asking for money or financial information for imparting the so-called medical advice.  Users who disclose their financial information will, of course, have that information compromised by the attacker.

In an apparent foreign state attack, the U.S. Health Agency was hit amid the COVID-19 outbreak.  Foreign state attackers have apparently been using directed attacks to disrupt and spread misinformation during the current pandemic.

As it turns out the risk from COVID-19 is not just a physical virus infecting individuals, it has been the catalyst that cybercriminals are using in 2020 in a large way to infect both unsuspecting end-users as well as organizations alike.

In addition to the cyber attacks directly related to COVID-19, attackers are still using many of the common categories of cybersecurity threats they have used in recent years to attack end-users and your organization in 2020.  What are the various types of cyber security threats and how are they classified?

The Ultimate Guide to Big Data Automation Testing

A group of large data sets that cannot be processed using traditional computing techniques is known a Big Data. In the processing of Big Data various tools, techniques and frameworks are involved. Data creation, storage, retrieval, and analysis are related to big data which is outstanding in terms of volume, diversity, and rate.

Rather than testing the individual features of the software product testing Big Data application is more of a verification of its data processing. Performance and functional testing are the keys to Big Data testing.Testing

Verification of successful processing of terabytes of data using commodity cluster and other supportive components is done by engineering in Big Data Automation testing. As the processing is quite fast, high level of testing skills are required. Adding to this, in big data testing, data quality also plays an important role. Before you test the application, it is crucial to check the data quality as it is a part of the database testing. Various traits such as conformity, accuracy, duplication, consistency, validity, data completeness, etc are also involved.

Big Data Testing can be categorized into three stages:

Step 1: Data Staging Validation

The first stage of big data testing is also known as a Pre-Hadoop stage which comprises of process validation.

  1. Validation of data is very important so that the data collected from various source like RDBMS, weblogs etc is verified and then added to the system.
  2. To ensure data match you should compare source data with the data added to the Hadoop system.
  3. Make sure that the right data is taken out and loaded into the accurate HDFS location

Step 2: “Map Reduce” Validation

Validation of “Map Reduce” is the second stage. Business logic validation on every node is performed by the tester. Post that authentication is done by running them against multiple nodes, to make sure that the:

  • The process of Map Reduce works perfectly.
  • On the data, the data aggregation or segregation rules are imposed.
  • Creation of key-value pairs is there.
  • After the Map-Reduce process, Data validation is done.

Step 3: Output Validation Phase

The output validation process is the final or third stage involved in big data testing. The output data files are created and they are ready to be moved to an EDW (Enterprise Data Warehouse) or any other such system as per requirements. The third stage consisted of:

  • Checking on the transformation rules are accurately applied.
  • In the target system, it needs to ensure that data is loaded successfully and the integrity of data is maintained.
  • By comparing the target data with the HDFS file system data, it is checked that there is no data corruption.

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Big Data Automation testing: The Profound Types

Architecture Testing:

By Hadoop, very large volumes of data are processed and are extremely resource intensive. Thus architectural testing is important to make sure the success of the Big Data project. If the system is improper or poorly designed it may result in performance degradation, and the end needs will not be met. So the Performance and Fail-Over test services should be practiced in a Hadoop environment.

Testing of job completion time, memory utilization, data throughput and similar system metrics is a part of performance testing. The main aim of the failover test service is to find out that data processing occurs flawlessly in the situation of failure of data nodes

Performance Testing:

For Big Data, performance testing includes the following:

  • Data Ingestion and Throughout:  The tester verifies at this stage how the fast system can get through data from various data source. Identifying different message that the queue can process in a given time frame is involved in testing. It also comprises of how swiftly data can be inserted into a fundamental data store for example Rate of insertion into Mongo and Cassandra database.
  • Data Processing:  In this, the speed is verified with which the queries or map reduce jobs are performed. Testing the data processing in isolation when the underlying data store is occupied within the data sets are also included in this. For example, the running of Map Reduce jobs on the underlying HDFS.
  • Sub-Component Performance:  Multiple components are used for making these systems and it is vital to test each of these components in separation. For example, how swiftly message is indexed and consumed, map reduce jobs, query performance, search and so on.

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Big Data Testing: The Real Importance

Big Data Automation Testing helps one to find out that the data in hand is qualitative, precise and healthy. The data collected from a number of sources and channels is confirmed which helps in further decision making. Big Data Testing is quite important as there are a number of reasons for the same. Given below is the list of them.

1. Better Decision Making

When data goes into the hands of the genuine people, it becomes a positive feature. So when you get the right kind of data with yourself, it will be a great aid to make sound decisions. It helps in analyzing all kind of risks and only the data that contribute to the decision-making process is made in use.

2. Data Accuracy

The data which is to be analyzed should be found and then you should convert the data into a structured format before it can be mined. Having the right kind of data is a blessing for the businesses as it helps in the concentration of weak areas and prepares people to beat the competition.

3. Better Strategy and Enhanced Market Goals

With the use of Big Data you can have better decision making a strategy or automate the decision making process. All the validated data should be collected, analyzed, understand the user behavior and make sure that all of them is present in the software testing process so you can find out something when required. By looking at the information, you can optimize business strategies by using big data test.

4. Increased Profit and Reduced Loss

If the data is precisely analyzed then the loss in business will be minimal. If the collected data is of poor quality, the business will go through huge losses. Valuable data from structured and semi-structured information should be isolated so that no mistakes take place when there is customer dealing.

Why is it so crucial to building an online Community

Building an online community is as vital as hiring a remote worker. Sustaining in any business is demanding and to keep the employees motivated, online community plays a huge role. Any online community is a platform where everybody in the company can interact with each other.

Community

In Layman’s term, we can say to get connected with each other. However, being a remote worker looks very fancy from far and it is in many ways. But sometimes the potential employees feel isolated and therefore it is very crucial to keep them encouraged.  So, there are some steps that need to take care of while building an online community.

GETTING STARTED

Choose a platform: The first and foremost instrument is to choose a platform where members can get connected with each other. Specifically, the newbies who are the young talent and it is very necessary to keep them motivated. And making sure they can bond with their colleagues. When young talent and experienced professionals meet, wonders happen. They can share their common interests, work strategies, etc. There is an app called Slack where members can join by signing up and can easily start the interaction.

Minimizes misunderstanding: The second instrument which is difficult to avoid. However, Misunderstanding is something which can come up in anything be it is business, relationships. Therefore, online communities are built to reduce them to the minimum. As it is the easiest way to fetch the information to the members of the community. So they can share their ideas and views about that information. This will help not only to bring professionalism but giving a path of team spirit.

Providing the launching map: Be it is newbies or the experienced professionals’ everybody wants their profit. Ultimately everybody in this world wants their personal gain so to make it very clear in the starting itself and giving all sort of information. So that they are gaining this thing in this online community. Therefore, the opportunities and professional connections, motivation, and skills should be highlighted.

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RULES AND REGULATIONS

Ethics and Moral Values:

While building an online community, there are many case studies where members get insulted and defamed. So, there should be a set of rules and regulations that needs to follow in the community and to maintain the morality of the community a proper employee should be given the responsibility. And moreover, if any person who tries to defaming others, can result in termination.

A big no to sluggish views: An online community is strictly for professional information and meetings. And anybody has no right to make any irrelevant view that has no relation with the company. And it is very important to understand the sensitivity of the community. Where people who are skillful and working towards perfection. Therefore, there is no space for sluggish comments and views.

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APPOINT COMMUNITY MANAGER

Taking Charge: Hiring a manager for a community is good for the health of the community as well as for the members. A manager can sort the members from the most active members to the least active members. And giving them points on the basis of information and actively participating in the online community. It is very important for the community that a good chunk of people should actively participate.

Managing members:e When online communities manage by some rock-solid manager then it will be very easy to keep a track record and it will help in building the connections between the people. The manager should introduce the strategies that need to follow with passion and determination. It is really important that the manager should take care of and keep an eye on the community.

Planning to build a career in a Remote Team?

Planning A remote Team, known to be the one who doesn’t have any physical appearance at any office or any workspace. It is necessary to maintain a healthy relationship with your remote team to keep them encouraged and willing to work.

This kind of work environment is just being possible with the advent of modern technology and new media. Without which the idea of having remote teams would be a waste. In the past, days of a normal office routine in which a person, supposed to wake up, pack his office lunch, leave for the same routine every day.

Planning

But with the incoming of remote teams, people can work from wherever they want and according to their convenience of time.

This is a generation in which people are working from home or any co-working spaces in which they can work according to their full comfort. Co-working spaces can be anywhere whether it can be a step away from your home or on the other side of the globe.

You will be shocked to know that companies with no office, who are working even remotely are making huge profits in the market. Just the thing they need to take care of is to maintain a positive environment and good relations with its employees.

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Blessing of working Remotely:

Are you working remotely? Well, there are a lot of benefits you should be knowing to work as a remote worker.

  1. Save commuting expenses

Commuting expenses eating up all your salary

Your total salary is not yours fully, a part of it is always spent on traveling to your office. You should not be ask about being reaching late at the office or about your absenteeism.

If you work remotely then you will save a lot of traveling expenses as you just have to sit back and comfortably do your work while being on your couch.

2. Increment in Productivity

Being productive is what a boss any day needs

Working remotely can increase your productivity by making you flexible of working whenever you feel like.

Also, it is that working in a noisy environment can disrupt the thinking skills of people and can hamper their productive skills but when it comes to working in a remote environment, people tend to work in an environment where they can focus on their projects well and can meet their deadlines.

3. Technology being use properly

Make proper use of technology

In today’s scenario, people are making the use of the available technologies to the fullest. One thing that should be in mind while you being a remote worker that you need to make proper use of technology.

So, if it is your smartphones or the good Wi-Fi connections, everything to be well set if you choose to be a remote worker.

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Pitfalls of working in a remote environment

  1. Mis-communication

Be a good listener

Mis-communication is a problem which can occur while you are working in a remote environment. It is possible that a person may or may not understand your point just because of a poor network connection.

It can be possible that you are explaining something important and meanwhile, the connection gets lost. In this case, you need to give them a written work so that they can read it and understand it.

2. Linguistic Problems Know your language

Know your language

Linguistic problems can also be problematic. It can occur when you hired a person whose language is different and you need to communicate some task to him/her.

In this case, if you really want to keep that employee because of his experience then you can hire a translator who can communicate in both the languages. These were some of the points which need to be cleared while you are planning to hire remote workers.

Remote IT Jobs: New trend in employment

Remote IT jobs, just like any other remote work, is flourishing very rapidly. Several companies have decided to include part-time and full-time remote workers in their community. Consequently, this is going to be the “norm” in the future, that is, remote jobs are going to increase.

Remote

Hence, let’s have a glimpse of what to expect in the upcoming months.

Competition

All thanks to the young adult population. They were born in the digital era, so essentially they are more comfortable with remote work tools than the older generations. Plus more people are willing to take up remote jobs. Hence, there is fierce competition in this field.

Experts predict that young adults will increase in the remote IT workspace by 32% by 2020.

In a nutshell, remote IT jobs favor the current generation. They are ready to strive extra and flexible work hours and get out of their comfort zone becoming digital nomads.

This means that tech-savvy candidates stand a higher chance of getting recruited than those who have basic technology skills. Advanced digital skills are essential for anyone. Make yourself stand out with a specialization in something. Niche talent is always considered for hire.

So, the next time you read between the lines of your job description, you have to show the hiring managers the expertise they are looking for. Tweak your resume to fit it to the job profile. Furthermore, companies will attract candidates by promising them a good work-life balance.

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Work-life balance of employees

Nowadays, employees give more importance to work-life balance than career perks like salary and job security. If you spend too much time at work than your social life, a remote IT job may be the right fit for you.

Employee engagement

Since remote workers may feel isolated while working alone, it is important for the employer to make them feel connected and involved. Especially when the whole team is working at the company’s headquarters.

Happy developers tend to be more productive and consistent. So companies have to pay more attention to cultivating a community for remote team members. This can be achieved by arranging quarterly meetings, weekly video check-ins, career mentoring, and skill development in groups of people.

This way companies can help remote workers feel more connected with the team. Also, raising a sense of social involvement and employees feel better. Since they don’t have to shift to expensive cities, you will notice a lot of people moving to downtown metros and small cities.

Upliftment of rural areas

Rural areas often lose talent to their urban counterparts. Due to this, there is a lot of up-down economies and people in small towns are economically depressed. But in the future, they will get work easily. For that to happen, the revitalization of rural areas has to be done.

The advantages of living in small towns are that the rent is cheaper and there is no issue of commuting to work.

Sensitive data security

People are choosing remote jobs because they allow you to work from home. But as more people have started doing this, they don’t get the security of a robust IT department protecting the company and employees’ data.

Corporate cybersecurity attacks and data breaches will be more common in the future, given the technology boom. Companies need to be precautious. They should enforce rules about where sensitive data can be accessed by in-house and remote employees. Companies may put some restrictions on the employees’ systems to lower their risk.

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Businesses related to remote IT jobs

The business of providing people the best remote work experience has shot up. For instance, coworking places and online courses/certifications are all a huge business now. Many smart and budding entrepreneurs have entered this field.

These businesses will greatly help people enter into the remote world without any experience.

Money management

The newest generation of workers wants to stay in the workforce as long as possible. They are less interested in working 80+ hours a week. Rather, they want to work part-time and continue their retirement savings.

Moreover, they are much tech-aware than their parents. They already know the basics of smartphones and laptops, all they need is some expert training.

Should you take up a remote IT job?

Ultimately, it depends on you. You have to analyze which type of work ethic suits you the best. Are you comfortable going to the office every day, or would you rather work from home? Besides, 2019 and the future is the best time to start a career in remote work.

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