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WHEN YOU SHOULD UPDATE YOUR TECHNOLOGY

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The pace of technological innovation has never been quicker. That’s a very good thing, but it can also be intimidating simply because of how many tech options there are out there for every situation nowadays. That’s why in many ways, the art of technology planning is just as important as the gear itself. If you’re at any of these four crossroads in life, consider planning an upgrade to your technology.

 

  1. If Starting a Business 

Modern businesses need sophisticated infrastructure to function, from a session border controller for IP networks to entire logistical chains. The issue is that having the basics covered isn’t enough to scale your company in the long term. Investing in business process automation software is something that more entrepreneurs are doing all the time. Customer relationship management software can act as a digital Rolodex and keep track of customer status. Chatbots can serve as a low-cost augmentation to human customer service. Even more promising is the power of business analytics software to make performance forecasts, keeping owners in the know about their potential. Learn which of these many options might fit your plans.

 

  1. If Continuing Your Education

Distance learning via communications apps like Skype became popular by necessity during 2020, but it’s always been a good option for people who want to learn but need flexibility. That being said, if you are continuing your education, whether online or in-person, you might want to take this surprising advice: go low tech. Studies show that students learn better from print textbooks than from screens. It appears to be due to two causes: speed and intentionality. People read slower from print than from digital text, which aids comprehension. Books are also actual objects you can hold, which aids focus. The bottom line is that mind and machine have to work together for learning to happen, so don’t be afraid to go offline when you can.

 

  1. If Concerned About Online Safety

Paranoia about the dangers of online financial transactions and identity theft is largely justified. Research by the Aite Group revealed that 47% of Americans reported being identity theft victims last year. The solution is to stay current with your digital defenses. If your device sends you an update notification, install the update. These usually contain important patches to security holes in the software. Make sure to install antivirus software on your devices as well, especially ones used for banking, shopping and business. A firewall is a good investment too since they help to head off email-based malware attacks. Most importantly, do your research. Knowing the threats is the first step to finding the tools you need to counter them.

 

  1. If You’re Becoming Environmentally Conscious

There may be no more important reason to invest in technology than safeguarding the future of our planet. Not too long ago, the ideas of technological progress and ecological stewardship were seen as polar opposites. That’s no longer true. In 2017, the solar industry beat government cost projections, with utility-scale production hitting $0.06 per kilowatt-hour. Photovoltaics are also incredibly versatile, able to power commercial or residential properties or be installed on specific devices.

Solar energy is, of course, not the only sustainable technology you should consider investing in. Rain barrels, for instance, can save your water bill and take pressure off the grid. Look for the federal Energy Star program label on appliances to make sure you’re getting something energy efficient. Home energy efficiency is another place where automation is taking center stage. Home energy management technology like energy use monitors and programmable thermostats can make the process of going green much simpler, often allowing control of your home power use right from a smartphone app.

The question of what technology to apply to enhance your lifestyle may seem like a complicated one, but just remember that everything starts with a plan. Before you shop around, learn your own needs and remember: You own the gadgets, they don’t own you.

 

Finance

Is your business ready for finance automation?

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Mari-Frances Bentvelzen, Business Head and General Manager of Global SMB at SAP Concur

 

As managers continue to drive their businesses through these uncertain economic times, it is important for them to properly equip and guide their organisations. Small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) are looking to save money during this inflation crisis. By looking carefully into different areas, there are many hidden costs that can be found to combat rising expenses and interest rates.

With 2023 approaching, it’s time for businesses to be more proactive towards improving their processes. Automating administratively heavy tasks can be hugely beneficial in saving time and resources, both of which can have a big impact on the bottom line.

Although travel logistics, expense tracking and invoice processing can sound like a lot of background noise, these processes can all be optimised through automation. This offers more visibility for finance leaders and helps free up valuable time and resources for employees within the organisation.

Identify which key areas need automation

The first step to adopting automation is highlighting which areas can be improved with specific technology. This includes auditing the business and identifying which areas are outdated. From this point, businesses need to determine which processes and procedures may benefit from digital transformation. High on the list are manual processes and data input — two areas that often are riddled with mistakes and delays. Automating these areas proves to be useful for both the organisation and its employees.

Another common issue that finance leaders face is lack of access into full spend visibility. To improve decision making, managers must be confident about the trusted insights, transparency and perspectives in their business. Reporting tools and automated processes can help verify expenses through integration with other vendors and systems.

Without automation, it is difficult for finance departments to ensure all data has been inputted and centralised. This can make it difficult to determine the most appropriate and potentially effective areas to target cost-saving measures. Spend management solutions can, however, provide finance leaders with full visibility into where their money is being spend, enabling any spend that does not correlate with policy to be flagged. This can help businesses to reduce non-compliant spend and increase policy and regulatory compliance.

Find the best solution for both business and employees

Once these areas are identified, the business must adjust for compliance requirements, infrastructure changes and spend changes. Finance leaders should select the best solution to streamline current processes, whilst also improving budgetary controls and employee safety and satisfaction.

It is important for companies to place employee experience and innovation at the forefront of decision making, with training and ongoing employee support. Expenses — the reimbursement process, specifically — often have an under-appreciated role in employee engagement.

In fact, the new SAP Concur Employee Experience study reveals that 70% of employees in the UK are concerned about the impact of cost-of-living increases on their personal finances. And it’s late reimbursements for expenses that are causing employees to worry, with 56% worried about delayed reimbursements impacting their personal finances. This is why it is crucial for organisations to adopt automation to help accelerate processes and relieve reimbursement worry.

We worked with Brother UK (Printing and technology solutions) to automate their processes within their internal finance department. Brother has many employees who have worked for the company for more than two decades, with many processes identical to the day they started. Unsurprisingly, these employees were reluctant to making big changes, as they were used to carrying out their work in very specific ways. And with the obvious talent crisis, Brother realised that it was more important than ever to focus on the employee experience.

Brother put their employees first, ensuring communication remained transparent during the entire project. The company also brought staff directly into the decision-making process, elevating buy-in and a sense of ownership over forthcoming changes.

Now that Bother has automated many financial tasks, employees within the finance department are able to spend more time on strategic and rewarding work, rather than menial and time-consuming tasks. This improvement has been a positive experience for all. It has also helped employees to progress further in their careers.

Plan for the unpredictable future

Do you work for an SMB considering such changes? Don’t hesitate — now is the time to take the proactive step to streamline and grow your business. Overall, SMBs are being faced with the unknown and are being forced to adapt or pivot their business models. Finance automation will help futureproof your business during these uncertain times, bringing a level of stability to your organisation. This will allow employees to focus on future growth ambitions and make more informed decisions without having to worry about laborious tasks.

It’s important to remember a key part of running any business is relationship management — both with customers and employees. It’s important to choose solutions that will help drive profit margins whilst also acknowledging employee needs. For small businesses, maintaining clear communication with employees will not only help to ensure solution implementation is successful, but will also help to soften any resistance to automation.

And there’s so much more beyond basic finance automation. By taking an even deeper dive into invoices and expenses, businesses can find key data to help underpin certain goals such as reducing carbon emissions for business travel or enabling employees to submit expenses from anywhere at any time.

In the long run, digitising tired manual processes makes it more affordable for all businesses, no matter the size, to offer a competitive advantage during this era of change.

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Business

What is the True Cost of SMS Phishing?

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Gemma Staite, Threat Analytics Lead

 

Cybercriminals will recycle attack strategies for as long as they are effective. In Fraud scammers will keep using a method for as long as victims continue to fall for it. SMS phishing is no exception, as shown by a recent wave of attacks globally, particularly in Asia that caused millions of dollars in financial damages.

SMS phishing, often known as smishing, is a type of social engineering assault that preys on victims through their mobile devices. Smishing attacks use texts that appear to be sent by reputable sources. The messages contain links that drive unsuspecting victims to a phishing site where they are asked to divulge personal information, download malware onto their mobile device, or provide a one-time passcode that will allow a criminal to bypass multi-factor authentication (MFA).

Smishing has increased significantly across the globe and complaints about SMS spam increased over 140% last year. Smishing remains a big concern as users spend so much time on their mobile devices – an average of five hours per day in 2021. In addition, users are much more likely to open a text message. According to MobileMarketer.com, SMS recipients open 98% of their text messages while email recipients only open about 20% of their messages.

The ability to launch attacks has also gotten easier for criminals. There are SMS bots that can be used to intercept the one-time passcode (OTP) most banks use for step-up authentication. There are bots that can reach thousands of potential victims at a time with messages that appear to come from a victim’s bank or other trusted brand. Netflix, the most popular streaming service in the world, was recently exploited to serve as the face of a massive smishing campaign that attempted to divert users to a phishing site.

 

Beyond SMS Fraud Losses: A Case From Singapore

A smishing attack’s fraud losses are scarcely insignificant. An alleged recent attack in Singapore cost a bank S$13.7 million over 790 victims. That works out to an average of S$17,300 ($12,800 USD) per person. The business is required to pay around $4 for every dollar the customer loses due to fraud. This high cost excludes reputational damages and any potential clients lost as a result of people associating the institutions with higher scam risk.

Direct fraud losses can be quantified, but other costs are not so easy to put a price tag on. First, there is the operational costs such as an increase in calls to the contact centre. This one attack reportedly caused calls to surge 40% in one week. Second, there is the reputational costs of negative headlines from such an attack being reported to the media and the potential customer attrition that may result. Finally, there are potential regulatory costs when such incidents catch the attention of regulators.

The Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) and the Association of Banks in Singapore (ABS) released a set of guidelines in response to the recent string of smishing attacks targeting banking customers. Some of the security measures make sense, such as removing clickable links in emails and SMS messages sent to customers. However, others seem to be counterintuitive and go against the very premise of convenience offered by digital banking. For example, requiring notifications and confirmation from customers for every transfer that exceeds S$100. This adds unnecessary friction for customers who have come to rely on the ease of digital transactions on the go.

Increasing friction doesn’t make fraud issues disappear. Additionally, it can cause customers to lose track of messages and become confused, leading them to miss important alerts when fraud may be present.
Increasing current fraud controls

Because fraud can be prevented via device, IP, and network-based restrictions, scammers have developed ways to get around these. Cybercriminals will always find new cunning ways to social engineer around authentication restrictions. Banks must examine users’ behaviour patterns, including how they type, move the mouse, and explore a website, in addition to the device they are using. With the addition of behavioural biometrics to their existing fraud controls, several sizeable financial institutions are already achieving better fraud detection outcomes for a variety of use cases, such as account takeover, account opening, social engineering fraud, and mule account identification.

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