Software Patching - A Stitch In Time For Businesses

Business How To’s

26 May 2017

Software Patching - A Stitch In Time For Businesses

  • Posted by Awfis Editorial

Software Patching - A Stitch In Time For Businesses

Image Courtesy: blog.kaspersky.com

200,000 victims across 150 countries were left grappling with the aftermaths of yet another Ransomware cyber attack which has been described as “unprecedented in its scale” by Europol Chief Ron Wainwright in an interview to BBC News.

Payments were demanded from users using Bitcoin, to access user’s files that were affected by the virus. The infection that was spreading across networks faster than it could be controlled is not the first of its kind and if experts are to be believed, it certainly wasn’t the last.

The virus found its way through an exploit in the Windows XP operating systems, and even though a temporary patch did slow down its ill effects, it was a little too late. In fact, UK’s National Cyber Security Centre has warned of many more such attacks to come.

Software Patching - A Stitch In Time For Businesses

A screen for the ransomware attack

Could this have been avoided? Many argue that yes, such Ransomware attacks can be avoided, and there are those who would advocate that they did all they could. The obvious question that follows is what your plan of action should be to safeguard your interests and assets.

Patch Your System

Even though Microsoft had already issued a software patch to combat the WannaCry Ransomware attack in March, systems that had not applied this software patch were the affected the worst.

It is important that whenever a software patch is sent for your systems it is applied and run immediately. It ensures that your system is safe and protected, preventing cyber criminals from attacking your system or at least reduces the vulnerabilities that are susceptible to the system.

Most companies have a patch management process in place, whose responsibility is to run software patches and upgrades as frequently as on a monthly basis.

Update Your Anti-Virus System

Though patching your system is the backbone of cyber security protocols, having an anti-virus system is its skin. Ensuring that you have a tough-skinned anti-virus system that fights off early signs of system vulnerabilities is another practice that will further your cyber security protocol.

Anti-virus systems allow not just organizations, but even individuals to safeguard their hardware as well as software, especially when using shared network spaces. Such software also scans your computer files and highlights malicious software and asks you to clean your files.

Anti-virus systems also prompt users and issue warnings, and act as a hygiene check for systems they are implemented on.

Back-Up Your Data

Large-scale organizations have a system back-up implemented that regularly stores all of their data. As regards individual systems or personal systems are concerned, you should conduct a data back-up as well. This will help prevent data loss as well as make your data safe in case it is held for ransom.

Though hardware and software providers and manufacturers endeavor to keep the systems businesses and individuals use safe, we can all contribute to the safety by practicing some safe practices. Watch this BBC video to learn more on cyber safety.

What makes an ‘entrepreneur’ an entrepreneur?

Business How To’s

21 February 2019

What makes an ‘entrepreneur’ an entrepreneur?

  • Posted by Awfis Editorial

Your neighbour’s kid, instead of taking on a 9-5 job, decides to open a restaurant. Would you say that is enterprising? Yes, it is. It takes courage to get off the expected, beaten path and do something different.

Does that make him an entrepreneur though? Umm, not so sure of that. There is a lot more that goes into making an entrepreneur an entrepreneur.

Is the idea or business likely to revolutionise the industry or marketplace? Your neighbour’s kid again, if the restaurant had a theme, like ‘cook with the chef’ or an idea that took it beyond food as we all know it, then perhaps he could qualify as an entrepreneur.

Yes, it can be confusing. Let’s understand this a bit more.

Meaning: what’s in a word?

The dictionary defines the word entrepreneur as ‘a person who sets up a business or businesses, taking on financial risks in the hope of profit.’ So, shouldn’t that mean every businessperson is an entrepreneur, since all people start business to make profit, and they take on financial risks?

Apparently not.

An entrepreneur is often seen, and rightly so, as an innovator – one who comes up with new ideas and new business processes. A strong set of management skills and team building abilities are a must-have to become a successful entrepreneur.

As is with many things in the English language, turns out the word ‘Entrepreneur’ is also not an original. This has been borrowed from the 18th century French word ‘Entreprende’, which meant ‘to undertake’. An interesting twist to this is, the word was mainly used to describe a ‘manager or promoter of a theatrical production’. And that’s not too far from the performance of a successful entrepreneur, now, is it?

As the world, and its languages, evolved, so did the word. Through the years, the word ‘entrepreneur’ has seen plenty of changes in its meaning, particularly in relation to business and commerce.

History: how did the term originate?

Much credit goes to Richard Cantillon, an Irishman living in France, who first used the word ‘Entrepreneur’ in his book ‘Essai sur la Nature du Commerce au General (Essay on the Nature of Commerce)’, published in 1755. He uses the term ‘entrepreneur’ to describe anyone who bought or manufactured goods at a certain cost to sell them at an unknown price. It was Cantillon’s usage that established an entrepreneur as a ‘risk-taker’.

This was just the beginning. Soon after, Jean Baptiste Say, a French economist, described an ‘Entrepreneur’ as an ‘adventurer’ or ‘one who undertakes an enterprise, especially a contractor, acting as intermediary between capital and labour’. He even went on to define the entrepreneur as someone who ‘shifts economic resources out of an area of lower and into an area of higher productivity and greater yield.’

It was in 1934 that Joseph Schumpeter, an Austrian American political scientist and economist, gave us a more modern definition of an entrepreneur as ‘the person who destroys the existing economic order by introducing new products and services, by creating new forms of organization, or by exploiting new raw materials.’

And finally it took US business consultant, Peter Drucker, to espouse that an ‘entrepreneur’ should only be that person who creates something new, something different. According to him, an entrepreneur ‘always searches for change, responds to it, and exploits it as an opportunity’.

There you have it, the modern day definition of what started as a manager of a theatrical production.

Rise of the Intrapreneur

Today the word ‘entrepreneur’ is no longer limited really. It is rapidly evolving and starting to mean so many different things for so many different people. In fact, entrepreneurship has gone on to include social entrepreneurship into its for-profit-only folds. Here, companies seek to fulfil social, environment and even humanitarian obligations alongside business goals.

Unlike what you might have been led to believe, entrepreneurship is not just the domain of start-ups. As a trait and a business model, it can be found within an existing firm or large organization as well. Intrapreneurship, as it is called, is when an organisation sets aside substantial funds and even has dedicated talent that focuses on special ideas or projects. These teams are instructed to treat the project like an entrepreneur would, and successful ideas are many times ‘spun-off’ as subsidiary organizations.

Intrapreneurs have all the resources and capital of the firm at their disposal and the environment to think like entrepreneurs, without the typical risks that come with the territory.

Conclusion

Do not confuse the term ‘entrepreneur’ with a ‘small business’ or even used it interchangeably. While it is a fact that most entrepreneurial ventures start out as small businesses, the converse is not strictly true – not all small businesses have an entrepreneurial streak. Many consist only of the owner, or a few employees at best, and most of them might offer an existing product or service. They do not aim at growth or are not looking to change the market.

Entrepreneurial ventures, on the other hand, offer an innovative product or service, and the entrepreneur has plans to scale up by adding employees, looking at international markets, etc. This is made possible through venture capital and angel investments. Successful entrepreneurs must have the ability to steer a business in the right direction through planning, by adapting to changing environments and by building on their own strengths and weakness.

What Steve Jobs Taught Us About Making Stunning Presentations

Business How To’s

15 November 2018

What Steve Jobs Taught Us About Making Stunning Presentations

  • Posted by Awfis Editorial

Who doesn’t love a good story? A well-delivered narration has the power to keep us enthralled and to inspire us long after the mesmerising session is over.

At some point in our lives we’ve all been witness to talented speakers who have perfected the art of storytelling. And yet no one can really stake claim to the spot that was once occupied by Steve Jobs. One of the world’s greatest corporate storytellers, he has inspired hundreds of thousands of viewers with his spellbinding presentations.

We need more leaders like him, especially when companies are required to launch new variations of their existing products frequently. How can they create a need in an already saturated market?

By inspiring the world; by learning to wow our audiences like Jobs did. (And no, this does not mean imitating his dressing style, although it might help.) This article has handpicked presentation techniques from Steve Jobs’ iPhone launch alone. If you too wish to inspire, entertain and inform your audience, read on:

Express your passion

Steve Jobs was passionate about design. (Anybody who has ever held an Apple device, and there aren’t many who haven’t, knows that.) And his audience saw it too. He came on stage, at the iPhone launch, with a large smile on his face, immediately impressing his audience with his eagerness.

Don’t be afraid of your enthusiasm. If you are excited, your audience will catch on to it and project the same excitement back at you. If you are not passionate about your idea, why would anybody else be?

A twitter-friendly headline

Try the technique that Jobs perfected; create a one-sentence summary of your main message. And use that in every possible place, in every possible way when you talk about your product or idea. When he revealed the first iPhone, Jobs told the audience that ‘Apple will reinvent the phone.’ The same line was carried across news articles and blogs that covered the launch event. The search for this phrase turns up 25,000 links even today.

The Rule of Three

Watch the Rule of Three at the 1:50 sec mark

If you observe Jobs’ presentations, you will notice his preference for the number ‘3’. You can see this in his iPhone presentation. Divided into three sections, it even seemed to speak of three different products: a widescreen iPod with touch controls, a revolutionary mobile phone, and lastly a breakthrough Internet communications device. And then he revealed that it wasn’t three, but one product.

You’d agree that a list of 3 things is far more captivating than a list of 2, and most certainly easier to remember than one of 20!

Is there a villain?

We all love a villain, especially one that is going to be vanquished. Highlight a problem, and then offer a solution.

Steve Jobs’ presentation in 2007 did just that. How do you create the need for another mobile phone, that too from Apple? Jobs did that by introducing a problem of smartphones that are tough to use. The solution was the iPhone – simpler, smarter than any mobile device till date.

And then bring in the hero

Don’t just sell your product or idea; sell the benefit, your hero. How does the hero make life better for your audience?

The iPhone introduced the revolutionary multi-touch user interface. You didn’t need a stylus, and it was far more accurate and intuitive than anything that had been seen before.

Simple visual slides

Steve Jobs’ iPhone presentation used all of 21 words across 12 slides and that was in the first three minutes of the presentation. Remember, your PowerPoint presentation is just the trigger; you are the actual presentation.

Tell a story

Build up to the actual event. Entertain your audience with a short anecdote. Use it to relax them and make them more receptive to your final big idea. Tell them a story. It could be a personal incident, a customer moment or even a brand story. This will help move things along effortlessly.

Practise. Practise. Practise.

Many people believe that they can never be as smooth as Steve Jobs. Well, guess what! Steve himself wasn’t as smooth. He would spend hours upon hours practicing and rehearsing on stage so that he would appear polished and effortless on the final day. He knew every tiny detail of his iPhone presentation which is what made it flawless.

Do not read from notes

And when you practise relentlessly, you don’t need notes or a teleprompter. The iPhone launch lasted around 80 minutes; not once did Steve Jobs break contact with the audience to look at any cards. The presentation is an actual conversation with your audience, and it is this connection that makes an impact.

Inspire your audience

Leave your audience with an inspiring thought at the end of the presentation. And tie it back to the ethos at your company. At the end of his iPhone presentation, Jobs said, “I didn’t sleep a wink last night. I’ve been so excited about today… There’s an old Wayne Gretzky quote that I love. ‘I skate to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.’ We’ve always tried to do that at Apple since the very, very beginning. And we always will.”

 

Lastly, have fun!

Don’t take yourself too seriously. When you have fun, your audience relaxes and is more receptive to your ideas. Create fun moments in the presentation, and you will be more memorable. You don’t need to conduct stand-up comedy, but an occasional joke never hurt anyone.

Every presentation is an opportunity to make a stronger connection with your audience. It does require planning, time and some amount of creativity, but the payoff is totally worth the effort.

How Are Businesses Around The World Making Real Applications of AI In The Workplace?

Business How To’s

10 August 2018

How Are Businesses Around The World Making Real Applications of AI In The Workplace?

  • Posted by Awfis Editorial

There was never any doubt that Artificial Intelligence would have a large role to play in the real world, away from experiments and controlled studies. Till date AI has been seen proving itself in machine-learning solutions, such as understanding language or driving a vehicle.

But just how far AI would get businesses excited was something that no one could predict. We’re in the middle of 2018 now and there are several practical use cases of AI in the digital business space. Let’s look at how AI is dynamically performing beyond what anyone expected.

#1 Digital assistants in the enterprise

Chatbots and virtual assistants liaising between us and our phones and home devices is quite the norm now. So the question arises, can we use the same technology in the workplace setting? Can AI help in business tasks, such as purchasing contracts and collaborating with colleagues?

The idea behind SAP CoPilot is to reduce a worker’s dependence on multiple apps during the course of a working day. This AI application uses artificial intelligence, speech recognition, natural language processing, statistical analysis and machine learning to get the job done faster. Users can make requests and issue commands, and SAP CoPilot will then collate this unstructured speech, analyze it, execute relevant actions and finally present users with answers.

#2 Call and meeting transcriptions

Ever listened to a recorded call or meeting and wished there was a way you could hunt out a specific talking point without having to listen to the entire recording? Well, it seems now you can, thanks to AISense.

Its Ambient Voice Intelligence can offer users the option of making voice conversations searchable. The application can also work with a call-recording smartphone app and, using artificial intelligence, transcribe and curate recorded calls for the future. The technology includes automatic speech recognition, speaker identification and separation, speech-and-text sync, deep content search and natural language processing. You can soon say goodbye to the days of taking notes while also trying to focus on what’s being said.

#3 AI for software training

WalkMe digital adoption platform uses artificial intelligence to help business software learn about user’s individual preferences. The applications are vast; WalkMe can be used in the hospital sector where doctors and nurses can be taught how to use a system through guidance and training. In the sales department, the application can provide individual assistance on how to effectively create a sales opportunity using the CRM system.

#4 Learning slack conversations

AI can work wonders on a collaboration platform, by learning through listening and interaction, and recording conversations for future recall. Niles ‘learns’ answers to commonly-asked questions, like ‘what products do we manufacture?’, ‘what sizes do they come in?’, ‘how much do they cost’, etc. by listening to answers as they are shared.

Users can then ask Niles questions and the application can respond with an answer that’s been ‘heard’ and recorded. In case Niles does not have the answer, users have the option of proving it with the right response, ensuring Niles is always up-to-date.

#5 AI and social media

Imagine a world where AI can take social media content decisions on behalf of you. By using data-driven processes, AI and customised algorithms can actually create and post more effective content all by themselves, without any human intervention.

 

Conclusion:

AI is most certainly a positive addition to the workplace, with the future of automation in businesses looking optimistic. How do you see your business taking advantage of these new capabilities?