Archive | Corporate Environments RSS feed for this section

Bring your own identity

Organisations are seeking a balance between security, privacy and compliance on the one hand and convenience on the other.

Effective Identity and Access Management (IAM) is becoming increasingly important for organisations.  Not only are they seeking to manage the access rights of increasingly mobile employees but they are opening up applications to external users, including partners and consumers.  All this is being done in the context of the growth of social media and cloud services.

In a report for CA, Quocirca explores the current state of Identity and Access Management and why it is business priority for so many.

The age of bring-your-own-identity (BYOID)

For consumers social media is already emerging as a key source of identity – e.g. logging in with Facebook to access Spotify accounts. The report suggests that this will grow in more ‘conservative’ business areas including government and online banking.  Along with these changes, the emergence of the concept of Bring your own identity (BYOID) means that employees will be taking their identities with them from one job to another.

Meanwhile, for organisations opening up access to external users, the key driver is to enable direct transactions with customers and partners, with a view to increasing customer satisfaction and enabling innovation.

Geographic trends

  • Organisations in the Nordic and Benelux regions more likely to be opening up their applications  to consumers
  • Nordics lead the way with use of social media for identifying and communicating with potential customers
  • Benelux, Israeli, Nordic and UK based organisations  were the most likely to recognise the power of IAM to open up new revenue streams
  • French and Italians were focused on new business processes

The full report can be downloaded from CA Technologies.

Comments { 0 }

Europe: competitiveness and innovation

Europe has a reputation as being unfriendly to innovators – but is this fact or perception?

International business school INSEAD set out to uncover the truth.  First, as part of INSEAD’s European Competitive Initiative, it surveyed 1300 business leaders around the world to find out what they felt about the current state of innovation and entrepreneurship in Europe.  Staggeringly, only 2% of the respondents disagreed with the statement “Europe’s innovation is hampered by a lack of culture of innovation and entrepreneurship”.

However, this was not because of a lack of quality people.  Most of those surveyed lay the blame firmly with European governments and institutions.  This negative view was held particularly strongly by non-Europeans.  When asked how they felt about the future of Europe, high percentages expressed concern or worry:

  • 83% of Latin American respondents
  • 74% of BRIC country respondents
  • 65% Asian country respondents
  • 60% of African respondents

That survey deals with perceptions of innovation in Europe.  But what does the data say?  In fact surveys and data from INSEAD and other institutions including the World Economic Forum paint a different picture.

The Global Innovation Index places six European countries in the top ten (in descending order Switzerland, Sweden, Finland, Denmark, Netherlands and the UK).  In fact, when the 2011 scores are aggregated across regions, Europe scores equally with North America.

Europe scores well in The World Economic Forum Global Information Technology Report 2013 – particularly the Nordic countries and the UK.

Europe certainly has some work to do to change the perception of it as being unfriendly to innovators and entrepreneurs.

INSEAD’s European Competitiveness Initiative hopes to help business leaders in Europe by disseminating research, best practice and lessons learned.

 

What drives traffic to corporate websites?

Visits to corporate websites are up (24% in two years) – and the rise is being driven by mobile.

Research from Investis IQ has been tracking visitors to corporate websites from social media platforms to see which sites drive the most traffic. The company tracks the website analytics of European companies (12% of the total surveyed), FTSE 100 (24%) and FTSE 250 (42%) companies along with AIM companies (27%).

The figures show that website visits from mobile devices have increased by 400% in two years.

  • 20% of all visits to corporate websites are now made by people using mobile devices.
  • 66% of all mobile visits are being made by iPhone/iPad
  • Only 23% of the companies surveyed have a dedicated mobile or a responsive website

Social media and search engines

  • 54% arrive at a corporate website via a search engine
  • 56% of the FTSE 100 companies studied link to at least one social media site from their website
  • LinkedIn drives the most visits – 64% of all visits to corporate websites from social media sites come via LinkedIn
  • Facebook’s importance is declining – it is driving 17% of the visits (down from 30% in two years)
  • Twitter however has grown from driving 4% of visits two years ago to 14% in 2013
  • Between them LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter are driving 95% of all visits from social media sites – the influence of other social media sites is, as yet, negligible.

The report is available here.

[Follow Val Skelton on Google+]

Generational diversity – strategies for the ageing workforce

The number of people in the UK employed over the age of 65 has reached the one million mark.

The demographics of the ageing population are astonishing.  Today, the median age (where half the population is older; half younger) of the world population is 28.  By 2050 the median age in Europe will be 47 and 22% of the world population will be over 60.

A report by organisational development experts Talentsmoothie explores the implications of the ageing population for businesses.

‘A new career stage’

In the UK, the number of working pensioners increased by 85% between 1993 and 2011.  Employees now have the right to work beyond statutory retirement age – many of them want to do so, or are forced to do so by economic circumstance.  This ‘extended career’ stage is currently not being managed by employers and the report calls for organisations to focus on proactively managing this career stage – beginning well before statutory retirement age.  65% of organisations participating in the research said they were ‘reactive’ rather than proactive when it comes to discussing retirement with employees.

Similarly, employees are often not keen to raise the issue, fearing that raising their concerns will ‘rock the boat’ and trigger redundancy.

Skills gaps

Over the next ten years, the UK (and many other countries) will experience skills shortages.  Research from a number of sources, including CIPD and McKinsey, predicts skills gaps and a shortage of school- and college-leavers to fill vacancies.

The report describes older employees as a ‘hidden talent pool’.  In the UK organisations such as DIY chain B&Q and building society Nationwide have made a positive effort to employ and keep older workers on board.  The benefits they have reported include reduced employee turnover, improved customer service and increased profitability.  In Japan, Toyota is addressing the ‘knowledge drain’ of retired employees by re-recruiting them to work part-time.

Generational diversity

The oldest Gen-Z youngsters are already 18!  As they begin to join the workforce we will have an increase in the number of ‘five-generation’ workplaces.  Employers need to understand the generational diversity of their customer base and their workforce.  They need to develop policies and working environments that maximise the benefits of multi-generational organisations.

And all of us should overcome our fears of discussing ‘the R-word’ – retirement!

Cyber security in the UK

Effective cyber security is good for business, according to the UK’s Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), which has published its 2013 Information Security Breaches Survey.  The report presents the findings from over 1000 respondents across small, medium and large firms in a range of sectors.  The figures show that companies in the UK have experienced the highest ever number of reported security breaches and the costs to firms are also at an all-time high.  The average cost to a large firm of its worst security breach is reported to be between £450k and £850k.  For small firms, the figure ranges between £35k and £65k.

The increased use of cloud computing, mobile devices and social networks can increase risk (14% of large organisations reported a security breach via a social network).  Ongoing changes in the business environment can also lead to uncertainty about who is responsible for information and data ‘ownership’.  This is particularly true in large organisations where 33% of respondents reported that such responsibilities were ‘unclear’.

Most of the respondents reported that they have written information security policies, yet 34% report that employee understanding is poor.  Training levels remain low, despite evidence that training and awareness can significantly reduce the impact of security breaches.

Threats from outside – and within

The BIS states that cyber-attacks have grown ‘in frequency and intensity’ over the last year.  These include hacktivism attacks, phishing, identity fraud and denial of service attacks.  Companies are not just subject to external threats.  Staff related breaches may be both deliberate and inadvertent and can range from accidentally sending emails to the wrong recipients or disgruntled employees taking business critical data with them when they leave the company.

Key findings

  • 87% of small firms experienced a security breach last year
  • 93% of large companies experienced a security breach
  • 36% of the worst security breaches were caused by inadvertent human error
  • 10% of the worst security breaches were caused by deliberate misuse of systems by staff
  • 23% of respondents haven’t carried out any form of security risk assessment
  • 9% of large organisations had a security or data breach in the last year involving smartphones or tablets
  • 4% of respondents had a security or data breach in the last year relating to one of their cloud computing services
  • 92% of respondents expect to spend at least the same on security next year (and 47% expect to spend more)

[Follow Val Skelton on Google+]

Dealing with mission impossible – a publishing case study

The American Geophysical Union (AGU) disseminates scientific information in the interdisciplinary fields of geophysics.  With over 60,000 members worldwide, the AGU publishes books, research journals, newspapers and other scientific periodicals.

In 2012 the AGU announced a publishing partnership with Wiley.  And in September 2012 Freddie Quek, Director of Engineering for Wiley, was given four months to integrate the AGU content onto a single Wiley platform.  He shared his story of coping with this ‘mission impossible’ with delegates at the Association of Subscription Agents conference in London.

Targets

By 2nd January 2013

  • Start revenue earning
  • Ensure systems ready to support entire content chain
  • Ensure system works in a familiar way for all AGU customers
  • Give AGU customers access to all licensed content

Challenges

  • 17 systems to check
  • Non-standard content formats (one publication had no page numbers; one journal had seven parts – three of which had sub-parts)
  • Over 700 special sections of content
  • What to do about unique identifiers; new ISSNs required
  • Unknown unknowns!
  • Ensuring discoverability
  • Development to start before all requirement were clear

What worked

  • Creation of a 60 day plan
  • Number one priority across the organisation – 52 people on the team
  • Sense of commitment, urgency and importance of the project
  • Rapid decision making at all levels
  • Team effort by everyone and a can-do attitude
  • Strong business lead and close cooperation

Lessons learned

  • Focus on people over process
  • Embrace the challenge
  • Break some rules
  • Be brave
  • Use your best people

Many of us will be asked to take on ‘impossible missions’ at work.  Freddie’s best advice?  Deal with it!

The power of in-person communication

The increasingly distributed and global nature of organisations means that most communications do not occur in ‘real-time’.  However the majority of business leaders consider in-person collaboration as critical to business success.

The Economics Intelligence Unit (commissioned by Cisco) has published a white paper on the value of face-to-face interactions in business.  862 business leaders, representing a range of sectors and business sizes in Europe, the US and Asia Pacific were questioned about the business value of ‘in-person’ (face-to-face) communication.

Over three-quarters of the respondents felt that in-person communication (with colleagues, partners and customers) is critical to success, fostering improved problem resolution, creating better relationships and improving the identification of business opportunities.

However, most business leaders indicated that the majority of their business interactions are ‘non-real-time’ (e.g. via email) and that the absence of visual and audio cues makes it difficult to assess levels of engagement.

Meanwhile, a report by communications firm RW3 suggests that employees in global businesses feel under-skilled when it comes to communicating within cross-border teams.  The 2012 Virtual Teams Survey Report – Challenges of Working in Virtual Teams summarises responses from 3,300 people based in more than 100 countries.  The respondents agree with the business leaders – the absence of visual clues makes it more difficult to collaborate and build trust.  In addition, time zone differences and cultural differences can make virtual team work challenging.  More than 40% report they had never met their colleagues face-to-face.

Although the large majority of those responding conduct at least part of their work virtually only 16% had been trained to help them get the most out of virtual working.

Everyone is talking but is anyone listening? Using social media to promote info services

There’s no doubt that, in some quarters at least, social media are replacing more traditional methods of communication. Earlier this week it was widely reported that French IT services giant Atos which employs 80,000 people is planning to ban the use of internal emails in favour of communication via other channels such as social networks, instant messaging and microblogging. 

A panel in the European Librarians Theatre at this year’s Online Information show, organised under the auspices of SLA, debated how to use social media tools to promote library services. The international panel featured Jo Alcock from Birmingham City University, Dennie Heye from Shell Information Technology International in the Netherlands, and Katrin Weller from Heinrich-Heine University in Germany.  

Jo had carried out an informal survey to find out how librarians in the UK were putting social media to work, and found a trend towards consolidating accounts and tools in order to streamline the wide variety of tools and services on offer.

The panellists agreed that were a number of obstacles that could impede the implementation of social media tools. Jo noted that senior management could be cautious, particularly given the experimental nature of some social media initiatives. Implementation can be time consuming, and this problem is exacerbated when staff don’t see the importance of the project. And in some settings, access to social media is banned altogether.

Katrin echoed the focus on experimentation and trial and error – a willingness to try things out and learn as you go is key to success in social media. There isn’t a manual!

From Dennie’s point of view, making the business case to senior management was all important. At Shell, they have introduced enterprise social network Yammer to enable communication between people working in different teams and offices. By focusing on its use as an IT support tool,  they were able to make a strong business case by showing that using Yammer freed up time for IT support staff.

Jo pointed out that librarians will need to exercise professional judgement in choosing the right tool for the job – for example public libraries will want to communicate with their patrons in specific ways which will be very different to the approach taken by a corporate information service; and there will be a difference between internal and external communications.

The panellists agreed that flexibility and personality were both key to the successful implementation of a social media strategy. Jo pointed out that you need to be able to adapt to changing expectations. Dennie recommended being yourself – an authentic, ‘human’ voice is much more effective than a personality-free corporate voice. For those wanting to take the plunge, Katrin suggested that you start by asking yourself ‘what will success look like’ so that further down the line you have something to measure against. This will also provide a touchstone to use when faced with choosing between the enormous range of social media tools out there.

New service models – some lessons learned

Outsourcing no longer means ‘sending work to India’.  Instead there are as many blended solutions and approaches as there are firms looking to change the way information services are delivered.  While early attempts to outsource were focused primarily on cost containment, more recent initiatives have been focusing on value and impact.

If last night’s extremely lively SLA Europe event was anything to go by, the opportunities and challenges presented by new business models for corporate information services are exercising many minds.

The oversubscribed session, chaired by Morgan Stanley’s Stephen Phillips, heard contributions from Liam Brown (Integreon); Greg Simidian (Perfect Information); Kate Stanfield (CMS Cameron McKenna LLP) and Sarah Fahy (Allen & Overy).  Each speaker presented their views and experiences of the adoption of new business models, from outsourcing and offshoring to blended approaches and questions and observations were offered by the participants.  The reasons behind Allen & Overy’s recent decision to create an onshored, blended support centre in Belfast were outlined, as was CMS Cameron McKenna’s decision to work in partnership with Integreon.

The law firm perspective

Law firms are relationship and reputation businesses. They rely on high quality support services to maintain reputational capital.  Quality services and high professional standards are vital to their continued success.  The experience of developing new models for information provision provides opportunities for information professionals to raise their profiles – and their game.

Other key pointers from the session

  • maintain contact with your users and your senior clients to help you innovate
  • be flexible about what works
  • ensure you solve a true business problem – and work in consultation
  • focus on who has the expertise to do it right irrespective of where they are based/who employs them
  • increased use of vendor capability is another form of outsourcing
  • outsourcers acknowledge the need to focus on professional development
  • any changed model will require significant investment of time and resources in the early stages
  • information providers are responding to the high usage of products in offshored locations by providing local customer support
  • ask senior level manager what works for them
  • when it comes to big change programmes, remember to keep communicating with your staff and your users

Outsourcing, in its many guises, can complement a service and help deliver flexibility and value.