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Start protecting these 4 things to keep your business going

When a business invests in its people, stakeholders, resources, and processes, they are better able to cope with the outcomes and financial losses from unprecedented times and cybersecurity incidents.

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Photo by Damian Zaleski from Unsplash.com

With the lowest recorded drop of 16.5% in the Philippine economy since the mid-80s, Kaspersky advises small and medium enterprise (SME) owners in the country to begin protecting its employees, customers, suppliers, and infrastructure to stay in the game during these uncertain times.

Making short term decisions that will have an impact on their businesses in the longer term should be the SME sector’s top priorities during the current downturn, according to the cybersecurity company.  

“At the onset of the pandemic, we have recommended for companies to look after their employees first and foremost. Nine months into lockdown, we still advise businesses to keep their employees working and provide support for them under the safest possible conditions. At this point, we suggest for businesses with good liquidity to also take care of their customers and suppliers because recovery for every stakeholder means a steady run for the business towards the coming recovery,” says Yeo Siang Tiong, general manager for Kaspersky Southeast Asia. 

For the SME sector, Yeo emphasized the value of making investments in the business’ future during an economic slump, not after.

“If you look at post-recession recoveries in the past, what companies choose to invest into their businesses has played a big role in how weak or strong they fared after a crisis. It’s about time that Filipino SMEs pay attention to this during this period,” says Yeo.

Data from the Philippine Statistics Authority in 2018 show that 99.52 percent of business establishments in the country are MSMEs. In recent years, most small and medium enterprises, like their major league counterparts, have learned to adopt digital tools as they joined the e-commerce arena, enjoying wider market reach and higher revenue than they ever had with offline systems.

Since the start of the lockdown due to the pandemic, the Philippines recorded more than 75,000 online business registrations in the first nine months of the year, one local mobile money services provider reported a 150% surge in registrations in one month and the government allowed 56 more institutions accepting digital payments during the first months of quarantine.

Like the big boys, too, the dynamic SME sector has been officially in the radar of cybercriminals.

In a report from the cybersecurity company, ransomware attacks against almost 19,000 computers of SMEs in the region with Kaspersky software were blocked in the first half of 2019. While the number of ransomware attacks on computers of small and medium enterprises is observed to be dropping, there is a monitored increase in sophisticated targeted ransomware, phishing attacks, and crypto mining attempts.

Unfortunately, the IT department is the least prioritized concern of most SMEs. Oftentimes, the single person assigned to take charge of monitoring the entire infrastructure is not even a full time employee.

Kaspersky shares the following top five tech checks an IT administrator can routinely do:

  1. Set an alarm in your calendar about certificate renewal. Potential customers get scared exploring your website further when they get warnings that it has no SSL certificate.
  2. Update router firmware. Keeping software up to date means lesser vulnerabilities. 
  3. Revoke unnecessary access rights of dismissed employees.
  4. Back up your data.
  5. Update AV licenses on servers.

Claire Hatcher, head of the fraud prevention department at Kaspersky, said the pandemic has given cybercriminals a new context to exploit but the attack is the same. “The nature of the attack never really changes that much and it naturally increased because people have become susceptible now,” she said.

When a business invests in its people, stakeholders, resources, and processes, they are better able to cope with the outcomes and financial losses from unprecedented times and cybersecurity incidents.

“We found out that small and medium enterprises are willing to know how to perform better especially while securing their cash flow during these times. We know it’s not always economically viable to maintain a dedicated IT security team. Get help on what is not your core. This is where technology can come in to support,” says Yeo.

Businesses with limited cybersecurity expertise and resources but need help on having company-wide insights on incidents and the ability to respond will greatly benefit from solutions such as the new Kaspersky Endpoint Detection and Response Optimum. KEDRO is actually an efficient way for SMEs to reduce costs while saving on protection as it complements protection for endpoints such as mobile phones, tablets, and laptops connected to the company network.

Tech & Innovation

Filipino-founded audio company finds growth globally amid a pandemic

H-Audio Technologies is an audio tech company founded in 2017 by a Filipino American whose primary purpose was to sell sports headsets to raise money for the troubled, underprivileged Filipino youth.

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The coronavirus pandemic has been a nightmare for millions of businesses in every sector; most especially with the audio industry. There has been nothing but losses for huge companies such as Danish brand Bang & Olufsen who saw over one year’s worth of losses every single quarter, and Bose closing over a hundred stores this past 2020. With millions of loyal customers jobless, manufacturing services and shipping costs at ridiculous prices, and cashflow drying up, many wonder how they will survive.

But amid all the unfortunate circumstances, some companies were lucky enough to strategically build their business model canvas to survive an economic crisis.

H-Audio Technologies is an audio tech company founded in 2017 by a Filipino American whose primary purpose was to sell sports headsets to raise money for the troubled, underprivileged Filipino youth.

“I was a troubled kid and a nutcase growing up, so I pretty much know what these kids are going through on a day-to-day basis, and why they make the bad choices that they choose,” says founder Marcelle Marcelino, a veteran radio broadcaster and music industry veteran in the Philippines.

“I tried the white labeling route where I would ask get an already made product and stamp my logo on it, but unfortunately being a DJ and studio sound engineer for over two decades, I was never satisfied with the outcome. So I did what most would not do, fly around various cities, meet with manufacturing plants, and source every part that I needed to create a pretty solid product in terms of sound and durability.”

Going on its fourth year this June, H-Audio has already collaborated with major brands and companies such as Coca-Cola, Huawei, Philippine Airlines, and even the likes of Kobe Bryant who needed their own audio components and products manufactured for them.

On the other side of the spectrum, H-Audio currently has their own products in major retail stores such as Urban Gadgets, Power Mac Center, The Listening Room, and many others nationwide, such as the PH3, a Filipino designed active noise cancelling headphone whose majority proceeds (60%) goes towards animal welfare & programs to help the troubled Filipino youth.

They also are not stopping there with growth and expansion as their primary driver, H-Audio has been very busy the past year forming a solid partnership with a US-based company, The Four Pillars Company; a service supplier for multi-family, hospitality, and healthcare buildings. Some of their biggest current projects together this 2021 is innovating student housing projects and hotels with their customized audio mirrors, multimedia tables, and other products specifically made for their current on-going projects in Florida, Utah, and Alabama.

“The Four Pillars Company is proud to partner with H- Audio. The most valuable part of our partnership with H-Audio is their vision of infusing technology and audiophile-quality sound into everyday products. H-Audio has an eye for detail and design that creates excellent user interfaces for our clients.  Lastly, their vision to produce products that aren’t available from other manufacturers keeps us several steps ahead of our competition,” says J. Ryan Barrett, President and CEO of The Four Pillars Company.

Taking more giant leaps, H-Audio has also been in negotiations with a certain Brazilian company to open H-Audio Brazil by the end of 2021, along with its current trajectory to expand operations in Australia; all for the goal of having more people worldwide experience high quality audio products at a very fair price.

Definitely something a lot of us who have to stick to budgeting our expenses during what seems to be a never ending pandemic, really need.

For more information on H-Audio Technologies, head to the company’s Facebook page; Instagram account; and YouTube channel.

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Tech & Innovation

4 Things that make people feel good about using chatbots

A recent study identified four factors that predict user satisfaction with customer service chatbots. The study also found that a positive chatbot experience was associated with customer loyalty, highlighting the potential importance of the findings to corporate brands.

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A recent study identified four factors that predict user satisfaction with customer service chatbots. The study also found that a positive chatbot experience was associated with customer loyalty, highlighting the potential importance of the findings to corporate brands.

“Chatbots that use artificial intelligence to address customer needs are already in widespread use, and are expected to become even more common over the next few years,” says Yang Cheng, corresponding author of the study and an assistant professor of communication at North Carolina State University. “We wanted to know how these chatbots are affecting the user experience and how they affect the way consumers feel about brands.”

For this study, researchers conducted a survey of 1,064 consumers in the US who had used a chatbot from at least one of the 30 US brands with the most highly regarded chatbot services. These brands represent industries ranging from fashion to food to software.

The researchers found there were four attributes that positively predicted user satisfaction with a chatbot.

1. The most powerful predictor was convenience.

Cheng says: “If people thought chatbots were fast and efficient, they were more likely to be satisfied. I can sympathize with those people – I hate talking to customer service and being transferred from one person to another.”

2. Focus on iInformation.

It matters if the chatbot provided information that was useful and relevant to the user.

3. Entertainment counts.

It also matters if interacting with the chatbot was pleasant or fun.

4. Social presence.

Lastly, if the chatbot made users feel like they were interacting with an intelligent being, they are more prone to using chatbots.

But one factor was associated with reduced customer satisfaction: perceived privacy risk.

Specifically, if users felt that the information they were sharing with the chatbot could be misused, they were more likely to report being dissatisfied with the chatbot service.

“Companies need to pay attention to these results as they invest in AI-driven chatbot services,” Cheng says. “Because we also found that a customer’s satisfaction with their chatbot experience was associated with the customer’s loyalty toward the relevant brand. This really highlights the importance of taking steps to protect consumer data – and ensuring that chatbot services are convenient, fun and helpful.”

The paper, “How Do AI-driven Chatbots Impact User Experience? Examining Gratifications, Perceived Privacy Risk, Satisfaction, Loyalty, and Continued Use,” appears in the Journal of Broadcasting & Electronic Media. The paper was co-authored by Hua Jiang of Syracuse University.

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Tech & Innovation

Dell Hybrid Client delivers increased flexibility to employees and IT

As the world’s first client computing software with hybrid cloud management, enabling easy access to applications and data regardless of where they live – in the public cloud, private cloud or on the user’s device.

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Dell Technologies unveiled Dell Hybrid Client to meet the changing needs of businesses, end users and IT. Dell Hybrid Client is a centrally managed client software solution that is ready to deploy with select Dell mobile and desktop devices, helping employees get to work quickly with a consistent experience. As the world’s first client computing software with hybrid cloud management, enabling easy access to applications and data regardless of where they live – in the public cloud, private cloud or on the user’s device. 

In an increasingly cloud connected world, organizations need to easily deploy and maintain data and applications from a variety of locations without burdening IT teams or hindering employee productivity. Dell Hybrid Client simplifies and personalizes the user and IT experience while still providing security and flexibility across devices and work environments. Features like built-in everyday productivity applications, browser security, and others are available out-of-the-box and managed through the cloud empowering employees to work how and where is best for them. 

“At the core of Dell Hybrid Client sits an elevated experience for both employees and IT teams,” said Brooke Huling, vice president, Modern Computing Solutions Group, Dell Technologies. “For employees, Dell Hybrid Client delivers the same, personalized experience regardless of the device you chose to work on. Everything you need is at your fingertips. For IT, we’ve opened access to multiple clouds enabling experiences to be scaled and customized for workforces at rapid pace.” 

“Our recent study on remote work readiness revealed that employees across APJ had difficulties accessing internal company resources while working from home,” said Jean-Guillaume Pons, vice president, Client Solutions Group, Asia Pacific, Japan and Greater China, Dell Technologies. “Today, as APJ organizations continue scaling their technologies to help employees remain engaged and productive, it is important to ensure employees can easily access the applications and data they need, without compromising security. Dell Hybrid Client can help both organizations and employees, regardless of working locations and the devices they use.“

“Dell Hybrid Client has the potential to be a game-changing offering,” said Rob Enderle, President and Principal Analyst, Enderle Group. “The new work from anywhere environment coupled with the need to support virtual, local and cloud apps means we’re approaching a window of opportunity for a new client computing solution. Dell has the breadth and reach to drive such a shift in the industry.” 

How it works

Dell Hybrid Client begins with single sign-on where users will find their personalized desktop interface and all their applications, whether in the cloud or virtual. This first-of-its-kind solution provides: 

  • Security at every touchpoint: Securely scale to thousands of users while still protecting employee and company data through built-in features including system lockdown, secure boot, user file encryption and more. 
  • Simplified Workflow: Your workday doesn’t need to be interrupted as users have secure access to web and virtual applications from Citrix, VMware and Microsoft and various storage locations.
  • Optimized Productivity: Zoom or Microsoft Teams clients run locally, enabling faster collaboration while helping reduce strain on IT infrastructures. 
  • Consistent Experience: With an enhanced “Follow-me” feature, users will find their applications and data on any supported desktop interface – even after changing devices. 
  • Flexibility in Cloud Providers: Organizations can embrace a more flexible mindset by supporting and seamlessly integrating from Wyse Management Suite’s multiple cloud vendors including, Google Cloud and Microsoft Azure.
  • Comprehensive Software Support: With ProSupport, Dell Hybrid Client users receive proactive resolution. With automatic alerts and case creation, remote diagnosis and access to ProSupport engineers, employees can experience little to no downtime and IT can proactively support business needs. 

Dell Hybrid Client is currently available across a variety of desktop, VDI and mobile form factors – including the OptiPlex 7090 Ultra, OptiPlex 3090 Ultra, Wyse 5070 and the new Latitude 3320.  

The latest Dell Hybrid Client is available on 3/26. 

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