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Asia’s small and medium businesses are under cyberattack

Good defenses are available for those who stay aware, says Lenovo.

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Small and Medium Businesses (SMBs) play an important role in the economy: according to the Asian Development Bank, SMBs account for an average 97 percent of all enterprises in the Asia Pacific region, meaning that they deserve top priority for protection against cyberattack. 

However, while many SMBs have recently become more aware of digital defense, there remains a considerable gap between the confidence they place in their cybersecurity capabilities and their actual cyber-readiness. Approximately 73 percent of SMBs in the region still don’t have a dedicated cybersecurity team, and only 53 percent have antivirus solutions in place. Yet as more and more SMBs move towards work-from-home arrangements, the need to secure private and confidential data has become increasingly pressing.

1. Awareness and policy make up the first line of defense

There is a common misconception that SMBs are less prone to cyberattacks than larger corporations. The reality is quite the opposite: because of their limited resources, SMBs typically deploy the same personnel to oversee multiple business departments. This leaves their security systems highly susceptible to external attacks. 

Moreover, often new vulnerabilities arise during times of change or transition. The COVID-19 pandemic has accelerated the shift from physical to remote working environments, emboldening a growing ecosystem of attackers who can exploit vulnerabilities caused by unsecured devices and networks.

It is therefore critical for SMB employees to get educated on their businesses’ cybersecurity obligations, policies and procedures. Most importantly, identifying where and how their assets, devices and data points are stored can help avoid unintentional disclosure of confidential information.

2. Take advantage of publicly available resources 

Regular audits can help SMBs understand the level of protection they need, from policies that govern workflow, to protocols that ensure data security. Thankfully, there are a plethora of public resources available to ease this process. 

Republic Act No. 6977, otherwise known as the “Magna Carta for Micro, Small and Medium Enterprises (MSMEs)”, recognizes that MSMEs have the potential for more employment generation and economic growth and therefore can help provide a self-sufficient industrial foundation for the country. As such, the State shall support the MSMEs by providing programs for training in entrepreneurship and for skills development for labor; granting access to sources of funds; assuring them to a fair share of government contracts; complementing financing programs; instituting safeguards for the protection and stability of the credit delivery system; raising government efficiency and effectiveness in providing assistance; promoting linkages between large and small enterprises; making the private sector a partner in the task of building up MSMEs through the promotion and participation of private voluntary organizations, viable industry associations, and cooperatives; and assuring a balanced and sustainable development through the establishment of a feedback and evaluation mechanism that will monitor the economic contributions of the development of MSMEs.”

3. Look for simple, customized solutions that don’t strain the budget

Unlike larger businesses, SMBs do not have the flexibility to deploy large project funds for cybersecurity, as this may come at the cost of other key functions of their business. 

By unifying their security technologies and sticking to fewer tools, SMBs can more quickly identify areas for orchestration and streamline cybersecurity processes. 

Lenovo’s subscription and “as-a-service” models, for instance, offer SMBs flexibility and cost-efficiency without adding unnecessary headcount. 

4. Be vigilant against the increasing prevalence of supply chain-based attacks 

Many SMBs collaborate with larger organizations. These partnerships, however, can also lead to unintended cybersecurity consequences. 

As contractors or vendors, SMBs cultivate a shared identity with and form a part of the supply chain of these organizations. In these scenarios, businesses expect regular security assessments and onboarding due diligence to be carried out by the enterprise in question. This abuse of trust between two systems, whether intentional or unintentional, is what cyber criminals take advantage of, giving rise to supply chain-based attacks. 

Enterprises have started to make wholesale changes to their vetting approach as a result. Some are implementing a zero-trust network architecture, wherein vendors must prove they have met organizational compliance policies. Furthermore, an increasing onus is being placed on SMBs to abide by cybersecurity requirements that corporations are writing into contractor agreements.

5. Seek help from industry leaders 

Remote and hybrid work can put SMBs at risk with an ill-equipped IT security workforce. With the bulk of time focused on growing their core business, SMBs often lack time to research new and emerging security threats. This results in an over-reliance on outdated and inefficient technologies to identify breaches. 

To counter this, SMBs can seek out partnerships with industry leaders and subject matter experts like Lenovo. They utilize a consultative approach to understand pain points and apply use cases to identify critical workflows that require robust infrastructure. In short, engaging the services of these experts can help SMBs “protect, detect, respond and recover.”

SMBs are the backbone of Asia’s economy – a backbone that deserves to be protected even as the world transforms.

Tech & Innovation

Top 10 ways ransomware attackers ramp up pressure to pay

Forty-five percent of leaders believe building an organizational culture that celebrates growth, adaptability and resilience is the most important action they can take to transform work, according to Deloitte. At the same time, a recent Qualtrics study found that purposeful work is among the top three priorities for job candidates.

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SAP SE announced SAP SuccessFactors Opportunity Marketplace, a new solution that connects workers with individualized recommendations to fuel personal growth and development and increase organizational agility. Backed by a capabilities framework, the SAP SuccessFactors Opportunity Marketplace solution goes beyond traditional skills-based matching to consider an individual’s interests, workstyles and experience to recommend mentorships, learning and networking opportunities as well as short-term assignments, gigs and fellowships.

Forty-five percent of leaders believe building an organizational culture that celebrates growth, adaptability and resilience is the most important action they can take to transform work, according to Deloitte. At the same time, a recent Qualtrics study found that purposeful work is among the top three priorities for job candidates.

SAP SuccessFactors Opportunity Marketplace provides individuals the agency to find and pursue internal opportunities that align with their personal values, passions and interests as well as the strategic needs of the business. At the same time, leaders can gain increased visibility and a better understanding of the strengths and capabilities of their people and teams. The potential gains for individuals and organizations are immense: increased retention and engagement, and ongoing adaptability that will keep people and companies growing and ready for change.

“Preparing for the jobs of the future requires organizations to rethink how they approach learning, internal mobility and upskilling in a way that is informed by data and puts the needs of individuals at the center,” said Meg Bear, Chief Product Officer, SAP SuccessFactors. “The center of capabilities and SAP SuccessFactors Opportunity Marketplace, which we previewed at the SuccessConnect event last year, are the latest examples of how we continue to deliver on our vision of human experience management. By empowering people to celebrate their individuality, from their skills to aspirations, we can elevate their strengths, build dynamic teams and transform the human experience at work.”

Using Machine Learning to Help People Bring Their Whole Selves to Work

The foundation of SAP SuccessFactors Opportunity Marketplace is the center of capabilities, a centralized framework embedded throughout SAP SuccessFactors Human Experience Management (HXM) Suite. The center of capabilities uses machine learning to power an adaptable talent profile that continuously shapes and refines a digital picture of an individual’s whole self over time, including their skills, competencies, strengths, styles and expertise as well as their motivations, work styles, aspirations and interests. It continuously updates an individual’s preferences for development and growth to ensure the recommendations presented within SAP SuccessFactors Opportunity Marketplace reflect their current interests and goals.

SAP SuccessFactors Opportunity Marketplace and the center of capabilities will be generally available as part of the 2H 2021 release of SAP SuccessFactors HXM Suite. Learn more about these innovations at SuccessConnect and read about our vision for 2022 in “Dynamic Teams Will Power the Future of Work.

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Strategies

How your firm’s Tweets affect its value — both temporarily and permanently

Firm-generated tweets induce both permanent and temporary price impacts, which are linked to the tweet attributes of valence (i.e., positive and negative sentiment) and subject matter (i.e., consumer and competitor orientation).

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Photo by Souvik Banerjee from Unsplash.com

Researchers from University of Edinburgh and University of Maryland published a new paper in the Journal of Marketing that examines the impact of firm-generated social media content on firm stock price in real time.

The study, forthcoming in the Journal of Marketing, is titled “Measuring the Real-Time Stock Market Impact of Firm-Generated Content” and is authored by Ewelina Lacka, D. Eric Boyd, Gbenga Ibikunle, and P.K. Kannan.

Firms increasingly follow an ‘always on’ approach to social media marketing and post social media content multiple times during a day. For example, 92% of firms use their Twitter accounts more than once a day, with 42% of those tweeting 1 – 5 times a day and 19% tweeting 6 – 10 times a day. Although marketing managers engage heavily with this contemporary marketing practice, they are unable to demonstrate its immediate contribution to firm’s financial outcomes. 
 
This new research uses a combination of tweets disseminated by a sample of S&P 500 IT firms and ultra-high frequency trading data to examine the impact of firm-generated social media content on firm stock price in real time. The price impact estimation approach exploits the variance of sub-second level changes in stock price to capture the temporary and permanent stock price impacts of firm-generated tweets. Firms should aim for their firm-generated content to induce permanent price impact because it reflects information about the value of their firm. Temporary price impact can increase transaction costs for investors and the cost of capital acquisition for firms themselves because it reflects uncertainty about firm value. One could say, therefore, that permanent price impact is positive, while temporary price impact is undesirable, and potentially negative, especially if it leads to a higher firm cost of capital.

The researchers find that firm-generated tweets induce both permanent and temporary price impacts, which are linked to the tweet attributes of valence (i.e., positive and negative sentiment) and subject matter (i.e., consumer and competitor orientation).

Tweets reflecting negative or positive valence are consistently linked with a reduction in permanent price impact and an increase in temporary price impact as measured by the variance in stock price. Similar findings are obtained for tweets that only reflect a consumer or competitor orientation, although the impacts are smaller. Thus, both findings indicate that tweets reflecting only valence (positive or negative) or subject matter (consumer or competitor orientation) are associated with an increase in temporary price impact and a decrease in permanent price impact.

“Our results show the importance of interaction effects between tweet valence and subject matter in generating permanent price impact. The average negative and positive valence tweet when viewed through the lens of consumer or competitor orientation generates a permanent price impact, while a competitor-oriented tweet with a negative valence is likely to have the highest permanent price impact,” explains Lacka. From the perspectives of marketing practice and intraday social media marketing strategy design, this is a crucial finding because valence as a singular attribute is associated with decreasing permanent price impact. 
 
Boyd says “The implications of our study are clear. Investors in financial markets pay attention to firm-generated social media content and their ability to act on information at sub-second levels allows for instantaneous incorporation of social media content.” This is possible because of a new non-human breed of investor that now make most trade-by-trade decisions in financial markets—the so-called algorithmic traders or ‘algos.’ Algos scour many sources, including firms’ social media content such as tweets, for any indication of firm relevant information and act on it, often all within milliseconds. 
 
Marketing managers need to be aware of this when designing social media posts and campaigns. When social media posts contain what could be referred as “partial information” (i.e., only valence or subject matter), they lack the context that allows investors to make inferences about firm value. However, when, for example, tweet valence is set in the context of a specific subject (e.g., customer or competitor), it, on average, offers valid information that can be acted on by investors. “Our study shows that by carefully incorporating attributes, such as valence and subject matter, marketing managers can design social media content to generate varying degrees of permanent or temporary impact,” Ibikunle points out. 

In conclusion, these results suggest that firms should reflect valence and subject matter in their tweets if their aim is to improve the informativeness of their stocks with respect to firm value.

Kannan says that “By using permanent price impact as a metric to evaluate the long-term impact of tweets, social media managers can design campaigns that have an enduring impact on firm stock price, which should be a desirable outcome for firms.”

Not all intraday tweets will, nor should they, induce permanent impact on a firm’s stock price. Some tweets are aimed at the creation of social media ‘buzz,’ which is similar to the temporary price impacts we examine in this study. Firms can achieve social media ‘buzz’ by disseminating tweets as we show that tweets, in general, mostly generate temporary price impacts. The researchers urge caution, however, because temporary price impacts are linked to larger transaction costs for investors and cost of capital for firms.

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Tech & Innovation

When humanlike chatbots miss the mark in customer service interactions

When customers are angry, deploying humanlike chatbots can negatively impact customer satisfaction, overall firm evaluation, and subsequent purchase intentions. Why? Because humanlike chatbots raise unrealistic expectations of how helpful they will be. 

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Photo by Volodymyr Hryshchenko from Unsplash.com

Researchers from University of Oxford published a new paper in the Journal of Marketing that examines the use of chatbots in customer-service roles and finds that when customers are angry, humanlike chatbots can negatively impact customer satisfaction, overall firm evaluations, and subsequent purchase intentions.

The study, forthcoming in the Journal of Marketing, is titled “Blame the Bot: Anthropomorphism and Anger in Customer-Chatbot Interactions” and is authored by Cammy Crolic, Felipe Thomaz, Rhonda Hadi, and Andrew Stephen.

Chatbots are increasingly replacing human customer-service agents on companies’ websites, social media pages, and messaging services. Designed to mimic humans, these bots often have human names (e.g., Amazon’s Alexa), humanlike appearances (e.g., avatars), and the capability to converse like humans. The assumption is that having humanlike qualities makes chatbots more effective in customer service roles. However, this study suggests that this is not always the case. 

The research team finds that when customers are angry, deploying humanlike chatbots can negatively impact customer satisfaction, overall firm evaluation, and subsequent purchase intentions. Why? Because humanlike chatbots raise unrealistic expectations of how helpful they will be. 

The researchers conducted five experiments to better understand how humanlike chatbots impact customer service.

Study 1 analyzes nearly 35,000 chat sessions between an international mobile telecommunications company’s chatbot and its customers. Results show that when a customer was angry, the humanlike appearance of the chatbot had a negative effect on the customer’s satisfaction. 

Study 2 is a series of mock customer-service scenarios and chats where 201 participants were either neutral or angry and the chatbot was either humanlike or non-humanlike. Again, angry customers displayed lower overall satisfaction when the chatbot was humanlike than when it was not.

Study 3 demonstrates that the negative effect extends to overall company evaluations, but not when the chatbot effectively resolves the problem (i.e., meets expectations). More than 400 angry participants engaged in a simulated chat with a humanlike or non-humanlike chatbot and their problems were either effectively resolved or not during the interactions. As expected, when problems were not effectively resolved, participants reported lower evaluations of the company when they interacted with a humanlike chatbot compared to a non-humanlike one. Yet, when their problems were effectively resolved, the company evaluations were higher, with no difference based on the type of chatbot.

Study 4 is an experiment with 192 participants that provides evidence that this negative effect is driven by the increased expectations of the humanlike chatbot. People expect humanlike chatbots to be able to perform better than non-humanlike ones; but those expectations are not met, leading to reduced purchase intentions. 

Study 5 shows that explicitly lowering customer’s expectations of the humanlike chatbot prior to the chat reduces the negative response of angry customers to humanlike chatbots. When people no longer had unrealistic expectations of how helpful the humanlike chatbot would be, angry customers no longer penalized them with negative ratings. 

The researchers say that “Our findings provide a clear roadmap for how best to deploy chatbots when dealing with hostile, angry or complaining customers. It is important for marketers to carefully design chatbots and consider the context in which they are used, particularly when it comes to handling customer complaints or resolving problems.” Firms should attempt to gauge whether a customer is angry before they enter the chat (e.g., via natural language processing) and then deploy the most effective (either humanlike or not humanlike) chatbot. If the customer is not angry, assign a humanlike chatbot; but if the customer is angry, assign a non-humanlike chatbot. If this sophisticated strategy is not technically feasible, companies could assign non-humanlike chatbots in customer service situations where customers tend to angry, such as complaint centers. Or companies could downplay the capabilities of humanlike chatbots (e.g., Slack’s chatbot introduces itself by saying “I try to be helpful (But I’m still just a bot. Sorry!” or “I am not a human. Just a bot, a simple bot, with only a few tricks up my metaphorical sleeve!”). These strategies should help avoid or mitigate the lower customer satisfaction, overall firm evaluation, and subsequent purchase intentions reported by angry customers towards humanlike chatbots.

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