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Managing information risk – European business must do better

European companies are improving when it comes to managing information risk, but they must do even better.

PWC and Iron Mountain have published their 2013 Risk Maturity Index, exploring attitudes to information risk and examples of best practice in mid-sized businesses in six countries in Europe (France, Germany, Hungary, Netherlands, Spain and UK*).  Their findings suggest there has been some improvement in attitudes to information risk, but that there is still a long way to go.  Middle sized (250-2,500 employees) European companies are ‘ill equipped’ to navigate the complex information landscape.

Key findings of the study

  • Awareness of the importance of information risk management is growing
  • The average number of data breaches is growing 50% per year
  • 36% of companies are keeping all of their data ‘just in case’
  • Only 45% of companies have an information risk strategy
  • 42% of those surveyed are worried about the security of their company’s stored data
  • Only 25% consider their employees to be a serious threat to information security
  • 45% do not monitor employee social media use

National differences

Companies in the Netherlands performed better than in any other country.  They were more likely to have strategies and plans in place to deal with BYOD and minor data ‘mishaps’. They were also much more likely to have a corporate risk register.  Alongside companies in France, Dutch businesses were most likely to treat information risk at board level.

Hungary takes second place in the Risk Maturity Index.  Over the last 12 months, businesses have focused on raising employees’ awareness of information risk issues and providing relevant training.

Spanish companies lag behind those in other countries and are least likely to provide guidelines to employees or to have key security measures in place.

Best practice

  •  Information management and risk must be a board level issue
  • Information audits – identify what you have, where it is stored and how it is classified
  • Operate a policy of ‘controlled trust’

*600 senior managers were interviewed in mid-sized businesses in the six countries.

The White Paper is free to download from Iron Mountain.

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Digital natives love libraries!

America’s ‘digital natives’ are fans of digital content and traditional media.

The latest research from the Pew Internet & American Life Project shows that 16-29 year olds are heavy users of technology but they are also more likely than older adults to have read a print book in the last year.  They are also great supporters of libraries, appreciating both ‘traditional’ library services and expressing intense interest in new services.  They also appreciate and use the library as a ‘space’.

Digital natives and libraries

  • 75% say it is ‘very important’ for libraries to offer books for people to borrow
  • 44% of library visitors under age 30 have used a library’s computers, internet or wi-fi connections (compared to 27% of those aged 30 and older)
  • When it came to expressing what it is very important for libraries to offer, ‘librarians’ came top of the list (80%)
  • 76% said it was very important that libraries offer research resources such as free databases
  • 75% say free access to computers and the internet is very important
  • 71% say it is very important for libraries to offer job or career resources
  • Younger adults are more likely than older patrons to use libraries’ computer and internet connections, access library websites, and use a library’s research databases.

Interest in the new

Respondents to the survey also expressed interest in new ways of engaging with libraries and their holdings.

  • 67% said they would be interested in a digital media lab to create and upload new digital content
  • They express an interest in apps and other digital engagement points for their libraries and the information resources they provide.

The research is available from PewInternet.org.

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Collaborating to ensure cybersecurity

Earlier this year the European Commission published its Cybersecurity Strategy.

The document called for the development of a platform to bring public and private sector stakeholders together so they could share good practice and develop secure ICT solutions.

At about the same time in the US, President Obama published an executive order which also focused on the importance of protecting infrastructure from cyberattacks.

Both initiatives reflect the invaluable contribution that the digital economy makes to society and the economy and the importance of protecting sites and services from malicious cyberattacks.  Organisations and nations need to manage and mitigate cyber risk and there is much to be gained from stakeholders sharing experience and information about potential threats, vulnerabilities and solutions.

Writing for Harvard Business Review, Harry D. Raduege, Jr.writes writes about the importance of bringing together leaders from all sectors to learn and share.  In particular, he believes they should focus on:

  • Understanding the problem - what are the key issues and threats facing your organisation?
  • Making one person accountable – a leader in your organisation should be identified as designated to look after all cyber/digital issues
  • Coordinating efforts – not just within your own organisation, but also up and down your supply and value chain
  • Communicating – not just within supply chains but beyond with government agencies; professional bodies and regulators

Meanwhile, the UK’s National Audit Office has expressed concern about a skills shortfall in information security.  Responding to the report, Marisa Viveros writing for Harvard Business Review agrees that holistic and collaborative measures are called for, mirroring the interdisciplinary approaches of academia.

Above all, education about cybersecurity and IT issues is “one of the best investments a company can make”.

More information on the EU’s cybersecurity plan can be found here.

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Good mobile experiences for customers

In a global survey of senior level executives, 74% said that mobile was either “critical” or “important” to the delivery of their organisation’s business objectives.  Only 6% said that mobile was not important.

In its third annual Reducing Customer Struggle report econsultancy (in association with IBM Tealeaf) explores the issues companies have in optimising the mobile experience for their customers.  The report explores the drivers and challenges of ensuring their customers have the best possible mobile experience.

Rapid growth

Organisations are using digital and mobile strategies to sell products and services; to enhance customer engagement and to drive customer satisfaction and self service.  Mobile traffic is growing rapidly:

  • 72% of respondents state that mobile accounts for at least 10% of their company’s traffic (up from 52% in 2012)
  • The number of companies which state that mobile accounts for at least 20% of traffic has more than doubled to 41% (17% in 2012)
  • Overall, respondents say that 19% of their total traffic is coming via mobile devices

Challenges and organisational capability

The results show that organisations are increasingly confident that they understand what exactly makes a great mobile customer experience, and 23% of respondents feel they are offering a “good” mobile customer experience.  However, a number of barriers to delivery are cited:

  • Bad navigation (36%)
  • Screen sizing issues (36%)
  • Form filling (26%)
  • Slow page loading (23%)
  • Lack of information (14%)
  • Bandwidth problems (9%)

The full report (charged for) is available from econsultancy.

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e-content and e-reading

Is our long history with writing for and reading print on paper affecting the way we create and publish content on digital and connected devices?  Are many of us still struggling to ‘forget the paper paradigm’?

The increased ownership of mobile and smart devices means we are already adapting our content publishing processes and there will be even more change in the future - wearable devices; smart TVs; speech-based interfaces let alone new devices and channels we haven’t even begun to imagine!

Content breaks free!

In a fascinating post for Harvard Business Review, Karen McGrane explores the new models we should be using to help us move on from the print-focused content.  Her advice includes:

  • Stop thinking about ‘pages’  - focus on content ‘chunks’
  • Content ‘chunks’ can be  assembled in different ways for different channels
  • Don’t focus only on text - the new content is a mixture of graphics, video and interactivity
  • Because content presentation will change with each platform, content must be separated from ‘form’
  • Content creators need to understand how digital publishing is different from print

e-books vs. paper – a blending of the best

The growth in e-book adoption and innovation has been well recorded here and elsewhere.  Several initiatives are looking to take the best of these different reading experiences to enhance the user’s experience.  Springwise has noted the launch of the Booke app which sets out to combine the best of paper and digital reading.

The app allows readers of a physical book to upload a picture of the front cover (or the ISBN) and search for keywords (using typed or spoken commands); save comments, notes and sections of text and share their activity with others.

The app reflects several key trends in reading including social/shared reading.

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Wearable technology and apps

Google Glass may have been garnering many column inches recently but wearable technology and apps are still relatively niche products.  18% of the 4,000 adults in the US and UK who participated in research (conducted by Rackspace and the Centre for Creative and Social Technology at Goldsmiths, University of London), reported using a wearable app – mainly for fitness or sleep monitoring.  In other research, (this time by Forrester) only 6% of online adults in the US report using a wearable device to monitor their sports performance.

However, those that were using such wearable apps were happy with their performance.  According to the Rackspace research, 82% of US respondents and 71% of UK respondents felt that the apps had made a positive impact on their lives.

The same research also suggests privacy issues were a concern for roughly one half of the respondents, although a significant minority expressed no concerns about some data and information sharing.  This included wearing devices that linked directly with healthcare providers.  Privacy concerns arise mainly from the fact that wearable apps are directly linked to cloud services.

Another piece of research suggests that the potential global market for smart glasses could reach 10 million units by 2016.  Growth will depend on what developers are making available.  This will included augmented reality apps that can easily integrate into other tools.

The future of wearables

In the late 1990s I heard a technologies futurist speak about the future of consumer goods. He predicted ‘intelligent shampoo bottles’ which collected usage data to provide feedback to the manufacturer.  The bottles would also know how often we were shampooing our hair and would send you a message when you needed to buy more. The speaker was predicting the internet of things and the power of data, sharable via portable devices.

In the same way that apps helped grow the adoption of smartphones, apps are key to the successful future of wearable technology.  Third party developers will enhance the performance of the technology.  Big name developers such as Twitter, Facebook and the New York Times are working to develop apps for Google Glass. Apple too will be seeking to replicate the success of iPhone aps and will work with its community of developers to do so.

We can look forward to contact lenses with Google Glass features; smart watches; smart textiles and much more.  Cosnumers are already predicting uses for wearables which go beyond the existing fitness applications.  44% of those who participated in Forrester research said they’d be interested in devices whch would unlock their homes and cars.  30% said they’d like a device to make media recommendations based on mood.  29% said they’d be interested in devices that tracked their children!

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Multiscreen and mobile

A global study of 15,000 mobile web users in 14 countries* explored how consumers are interacting with visual content across a variety of devices.  The report outlines opportunities for businesses and marketers to connect with consumers in new ways.

Key findings:

  • 62% of mobile web users engage in multiscreen activities while viewing TV
  • 48% use social media
  • 46% use instant messaging
  • 30% play games or listen to music
  • 18% search for additional information about the products seen on TV
  • News, comedy, sports and reality programmes generated the most multiscreen time

Lessons from marketers

  • Incentivise engagement – reward viewers for viewing content
  • Gamify – engage with users across multiscreen platforms
  • Generate social conversation with hashtags
  • Create transmedia opportunities
  • Know your audience – understand on which channels/tools they are most active and encourage engagement
  • Simplicity – make calls to action uncomplicated
  • Relevance – increase engagement with appropriate messages at the appropriate time
  • Re-engage – social conversations should not be one-offs

* 15,000 mobile users from Australia, China, France, Germany, India, Japan, Kenya, Korea, New Zealand, Nigeria, South Africa, Singapore, UK, US were surveyed by InMobi.

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BYOD – latest trends and predictions

Two new reports on the impact of BYOD on business and individuals have appeared this month.

BYOD strategies enable employees to use their own devices to access data and enterprise applications. Although security issues still cause concern for many organisations, BYOD can improve employee satisfaction, encourage innovation and reduce organisational costs.

Gartner’s latest report on the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) phenomenon reveals continued growth in the trend.  Gartner surveyed global Chief Information Officers asking them about their attitudes to the provision of mobile devices for employees.

Key findings 

  • BYOD most prevalent in medium-sized organisations (2,500–5000 employees)
  • US companies are twice as likely as European companies to allow BYOD
  • By 2016 38% of companies will not provide mobile devices to employees
  • Full employee reimbursement for costs will decline

With the likely decrease of organisations subsidising the purchase of devices, Gartner says that organisations need to ensure employees are given guidelines on the best possible devices for work.  When it comes to phones, employers should not subsidise the purchase of the device but should contribute to the service plan.

Employee time savings

Meanwhile, Cisco has published a report on the value of BYOD to companies in six countries (Brazil, China, Germany, India, the UK and the US).  Of the companies surveyed, 89% are already allowing BYOD.  According to Cisco, employees estimate they are saving an average of 37 minutes of productive work a week, although the figures for different countries vary wildly (81 minutes per week for the US; 4 minutes per week in Germany).

Making it work

Organisations need to ensure their workforce has the right skills, backed up by mobile and BYOD company strategies and guidelines.

See original Gartner press release.  See the Cisco report.

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Cities of opportunity – what makes a city ‘great’?

What makes a city great?  How can cities thrive economically and yet remain liveable?

PwC and the Partnership for New York City have published the latest edition of Cities of Opportunity, a report which analyses the performance of 27 of the world’s cities against ten broad social, economic and technological indicators.  As well as analysing the current situation, the report also looks forward to 2025 to consider future scenarios and key success factors.

The cities analysed in the report currently account for 8% of world GDP but are home to only 2.5% of the world population.

Healthy growth in a city relies on a combination of ‘quality of life’ factors (good education opportunities; healthcare; safety and housing) combined with strong business and solid infrastructure.

The ten indicators used by PwC:

  • City gateway
  • Cost
  • Demographics and liveability
  • Economic clout
  • Ease of doing business
  • Health, safety and security
  • Intellectual capital and innovation
  • Sustainability and the natural environment
  • Technology readiness
  • Transportation and infrastructure

Intellectual capital and innovation

Innovation generates both social and economic growth.  In order to measure each city’s performance a number of factors are considered and scored to create a league table.  These factors include average class size, maths, science skills attainment, literacy rates and percentage of population who receive a higher education.

Also included are:

  • Intellectual property protection (Singapore scores top points)
  • Research performance at top universities (London rates highest – and three Asian cities appear in the top ten)
  • Libraries with public access (Stockholm scores highest)

The key measures of ‘Technology readiness’ include:

  • Internet access in schools and Digital economy score (Stockholm is top in both of these)
  • Broadband quality
  • Software development

The report features case studies on a number of cities and is available for download here.

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Children and apps

Apps for and used by children have been in the news recently.

In the UK a five year old managed to run up a bill of £1,710.43 in paid for add-ons for a game which he had downloaded free from Apple’s app store.  He was using his parent’s iPad (with permission) to download and play Zombie v Ninja.  The UK’s Office of Fair Trading (OFT) is to investigate the ‘free app/paid for features’ marketplace.

More than two thirds of children and teenagers in the UK own a smart device.  According to a survey conducted in the UK by OnePoll, 36% of children aged 11-16 download mobile apps without their parents’ permission.  40% of boys admitted to having done this, compared with 31% of girls.

The survey also found that youngsters can increase their families’ monthly charge by an average of £34.  The highest bills were generated by eight-year olds!  The researchers estimate that parents are incurring approximately £30 million in ‘unauthorised’ purchases.

In Australia the Cartoon Network researched the media habits of 1800 children and discovered that game playing and video watching  (rather than social media) are their main internet pastimes.  They research also found that:

  • 48% of Australian homes have a tablet device
  • 30% of children use tablets to access the internet
  • 69% of children aged 4-14 use apps , and use an average of 7 per month
  • 32% drop in game console usage since previous survey in 2011

(These findings are echoed by a recent report from the US showing how teenagers are leaving ‘traditional’ social media sites in favour of alternatives.)

Developing apps for children – “tappable apps”

At a recent conference for developers of educational apps for children, three key challenges were identified:

  • Working within appropriate privacy guidelines
  • The challenge of obtaining feedback from ‘non-verbal’ young children
  • The challenge of identifying compelling content for young people

The conclusion – make the apps as “tappable, responsive, and interruptive” as possible.

Best content for children in Europe

The EC has just launched the second European Award for Best Content for Kids,  looking for ‘positive content initiatives’ across the region.

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