78% of comms leaders say protecting their brand’s reputation is unmanageable

New research has found that brand protection is an impossible job for more than three-quarters (78%) of comms leaders due to the increasing number of reputational threats they have to battle, including internal threats from current employees.

The survey of comms leaders at major UK companies, commissioned by crisis simulation platform provider Conducttr, found that employee activism is perceived as the second biggest threat to their organisation’s brand reputation, after cyber attack. In fact, half (50%) of all professionals in the sector say that one of their biggest fears regarding reputation is the potential for an employee to devalue it. These fears are not unfounded, with almost two-thirds (65%) of professionals having to deal with a crisis driven by employee activism previously.

Outsider threats have additionally compounded these fears, with almost all (93%) of comms leaders agreeing that consumers are savvier about the power they wield over brands, revealing that employees and the general public are now more aware of the influence they can have on a brand’s reputation and are subsequently holding them to account on perceived missteps.

Despite cancel culture existing as a newer reputational threat, more than half (52%) admitted having to deal with a crisis around this growing trend, while the emergence of fake news and disinformation via online platforms is facilitating further threat opportunities, with almost a third of comms professionals (31%) regarding them as a challenge.

New avenues for attacks on business reputation are proving to be a barrier to addressing new threats, with 43% noting difficulties managing deep fakes and social media. Additionally, 33% report a lack of understanding of newer threats, impacting on their inability to respond to risks quickly and effectively.

The combination of these factors is having a significant impact on the working lives of comms professionals. Respondents were almost unanimous (95%) in acknowledging that consumer empowerment and activism on social media meant that more time was being spent on managing brand reputation, while 71% said that the pressure and stress on their job role had increased.

Robert Pratten, Founder and CEO of Conducttr, commented, “For comms professionals, there is an urgent need to increase experience of managing these new threats to build confidence and reduce stress. This is best done in a safe, simulated environment that can reproduce these “next generation” reputational threats and their consequences in a realistic way. Far better to do this in a simulation than experience it for the first time in real life.”

Download the full report here.

Jack Of All Trades

Jacksoft Commerce Automation is a pioneering firm of Regtech and Computer Auditing Experts situated in Taipei, Taiwan. Specialists in IT and auditing services for businesses of all shapes and sizes, Jacksoft provides market-leading automated solutions and world-class training to its clients, giving them the tools to efficiently maintain compliance, so that they can focus on growing the successes of their business. We take a closer look at Jacksoft and its innovative offering following the firm’s success in being crowned the Most Innovative Computer Auditing Technology Firm 2021 – Taiwan.

The first of its kind in Taiwan, Jacksoft Commerce Automation is a professional technical service company specialising in Computer Audit, Regtech and Enterprise Risk Management. Named after the Master of Contemporary Management, Jack Welch, and serving domestic Top 100 companies across a range of markets, global Fortune 500 companies, government units and international financial holding companies, Jacksoft is committed to facilitating the successes of its clients. Acting as a trusted partner, Jacksoft helps to add value, reduce IT investment cost and make teams and businesses more automated, and therefore more efficient and more profitable.

Jacksoft is empowered by strong research and development teams that have been supported for several years by the assistance and research grants of institutions including the Incubation Center of the SME Administration of the Taiwanese Ministry of Economic Affairs, the National Science Council, Taiwan, and the Department of Commerce. With their support, the team at Jacksoft has been able to develop, produce, and distribute commerce automation solutions to more than a thousand clients across Asia.

Ultimately, Jacksoft’s solutions have been designed to respond to the increasing pressures on executives to make quick yet well-informed decisions in business operations that have also become more complex, and in accordance with regulatory requirements that are continuously evolving. Combining profound business analytics with immediate reporting has enabled Jacksoft to build Continuous Audit Applications, cutting-edge solutions that independently run ongoing examinations of the transactional data at the core of its users’ businesses, to identify areas of unforeseen risk, potential internal control exposures, and automatically act upon opportunities to enhance operations.

The Jacksoft Toolkits for Auditors (JTK), the company’s flagship product, is a simple yet powerful and intelligent example of the Continuous Auditing Platform, which manages ACL scripts and ‘audit robots’, and automatically generates reports on the test results found. Jacksoft’s audit robots, better known as JBOT, have been developed by the team and launched across a vast selection of industries, each designed with unique international regulations in mind.

Thanks to the automated processes and risk warnings of JTK, audit teams are able to handle their audit issues more efficiently, browsing the report and risk analyses easily on an online platform that is accessible on a PC and phone. The platform features a handy dashboard, which stakeholders can also view, making communications about business strategies even easier.

With a range of Continuous Audit Applications now available for SAP ERP, Oracle ERP and Oracle DB, Jacksoft has created comprehensive solutions, all designed to make the examination of analytics and implementation of strategies easier. Whether clients are looking for services within a Purchase to Pay, Order to Cash, or Manufacturing cycle within its SAP ERP or Oracle ERP data systems, or for solutions in Patch Management, Security Monitoring, Access Control, or Auditing Log Files in their Oracle DB systems, Jacksoft builds bespoke solutions that work for their clients. Jacksoft is also able to offer its clients a range of OEM and ODM solutions within its services in the development of ACL Scripts and Continuous Audit Platforms, which take into account three major factors: the cost of development, time to market, and profession of development.

Jacksoft enhances its bespoke offering by going above and beyond to make the implementation and integration of its solutions into the operations of its clients seamless. JTK, for instance, is rolled out in three simple steps that begin with System Configuration, followed by Continuous Auditing, and finish with Audit Report Analytics. With the support of the Jacksoft team and its commitment to supporting and customising the applications of their businesses, clients are able to focus on the bigger picture matters, such as getting products to market as quickly and effectively as possible.

It is therefore crucial for Jacksoft to maintain the high standards of its team of IT and computer auditing professionals, which is now known across Taiwan and beyond for professional and innovative attributes, and a company culture that is more like a family than a staff of colleagues. Many in the Jacksoft team have been recruited from the thirty-five universities that Jacksoft has partnered with across the length and breadth of Taiwan, and exhibit the results of Jacksoft’s exceptional Computer Auditing Education Program that have been introduced in these institutions.

A certified training programme of the International Computer Auditing Education Association (ICAEA) Canada, Jacksoft offers a variety of professional certification programs that are designed to establish and improve industry competency standards. Candidates can enrol in one of three certificate designations: the JACKSOFT Certified CAATs Practitioner (JCCP) designation, which is a personal, professional certification of competence that is granted to individuals who meet the requirements of the certification program, and concludes with an examination to confirm an understanding and comprehension of CAATs Common Body of Knowledge; the Certified ERP Audit Professional (CEAP) designation, which is an expert-level, highly skilled computer auditing professional certification; and the ACL Certified Data Analyst (ACDA) designation, an advanced-level computer auditing professional certification. The ACDA sets the industry benchmark for technical proficiency and professional expertise in using ACL software and its certification evaluates and recognises the ability to integrate ACL technology into financial analyses and business processes, assuring senior management of their employees’ abilities to maximise the full potential of their organisation’s ACL investment.

Offering both cutting-edge automation products and industry-leading education programs as a pioneering organisation of an industry that remains relatively unexplored within Taiwan has been instrumental in positioning Jacksoft as the leader of its market. Having been consistently praised by its clients for its exceptional performance, values, and offering, and now being recognised as the Most Innovative Computer Auditing Technology Firm 2021 of Taiwan, Jacksoft is able to look ahead with great optimism about the future, as it continues to pave the way in modern technology and computer auditing solutions.

For more information, please contact Sherry Huang at www.jacksoft.com.tw

Hybrid Working Could Lead to Discrimination and Lack of Diversity Warns Firm Of Business Psychologists

Over a year has passed since the pandemic struck the world, killing millions and restricting hundreds of thousands in the UK to working from home. During these extraordinary times, inequality and discrimination issues have come under the spotlight – triggering riots and social movements. Many corporates have embraced their responsibilities and committed themselves to change within their organisations, under the watchful eye of employees, clients, and the public.

However, jump forward to restrictions lifting in the UK, and businesses are at grave risk of undermining all this hard work with the very hybrid working practices that they hope will enhance the working environment.
Leading Cambridge firm of business psychologists, OE Cam, is urging businesses to consider the unintended impact of hybrid working. Their modelling suggests that planned policies will likely lead to greater discrimination and a lack of diversity within organisations in the UK and offices worldwide.

The very flexibility to work from home that is being welcomed by employees may inadvertently lead to those who choose this option suffering detrimental impact to their careers by missing out on opportunities.

OE Cam’s insights into hybrid working – published in a journal launched this month – has revealed that organisations could face having to backtrack on diversity initiatives that have taken decades to put in place. Diversity & Inclusion policies – that ensure women, the disabled, parents, older workers and culturally diverse employees have equal opportunities in the workplace – could be seriously undermined. Business performance will quickly follow.

The team of organisation consultants and psychologists at OE Cam has explored how businesses will be affected as they move to a hybrid working model. The formation of ‘in-groups’ and ‘out-groups’, something that has been noticed by organisations during remote working, will be even more prominent in a hybrid workforce.

‘Present privilege’ means that those in the workplace are more likely to be involved in spontaneous discussions in the office and have better access to the boss – meaning that they are more front of mind for that promotion.
Those working remotely, who may potentially include greater numbers of working mothers, the disabled and minority groups, will be left at a disadvantage, finding themselves a part of the ‘out-group’. Over time this could lead to them becoming unnoticed, left without a voice, the ability to contribute or progress.

Martyn Sakol, Managing Partner at OE Cam, explains: “I saw first-hand in a meeting I observed, how remote workers became disadvantaged over their physically present colleagues. A team was considering a significant deal. It adjourned for a planned break. Those who were working remotely logged off to take a comfort break alone, while those in the office continued group conversations. When the meeting resumed, it became glaringly apparent that the opinions on how to shape the deal had changed amongst the office-based team; their new stance did not reflect conversations that had included any remote participants. It was apparent at this point that the implications to businesses worldwide could be hugely damaging.

“The issue for any organisation now is to reduce the effects of out-groups. Businesses must be mindful of which employees are the ones most likely to wish to work remotely most of the time. Experts believe that there are certain groups this will include: those with caring responsibilities, parents (with more mums choosing, or even feeling obliged, to work remotely over dads), disabled employees – for whom the commute can be more difficult – and older generation workers, hoping to improve their work-life balance.

“To prevent these staff from losing their voice, their ability to contribute effectively to the business and their chance of promotion, firms must take active steps. This is not something that will just ‘work itself out’ as teams become accustomed to hybrid working.”

Age imbalance between city-dwelling young staff and commuting senior managers will also create challenges. The experts warn that offices could become playgrounds for young, inexperienced employees working without hands-on managerial support. The lack of experience, guidance and support from experienced peers will lead to weaker employee development, affecting complex decision making, creativity and collaboration. Those inexperienced, professionals may unknowingly use their ‘present privilege’ to shape the business and create a new culture that is misrepresentative, and potentially destructive, reversing a company’s progress by decades.

Mr. Sakol continues: “Hybrid offers huge advantages, but the risks must not be underestimated. Business leaders must take note of all the impacts and consider the complexities to ensure they cover all bases for all employees. No-one should be compromising their career by choosing to work from home more. No business should lose the value of their team’s inputs, because they have not been given equal ability to make an impact.”

OE Cam recommends that organisations engage their management teams now to consider the complexities and understand the effect hybrid can have on their operations. OE Cam’s modelling and simulation programmes have already identified unexpected issues and solutions to them.

For further information on the complexities of hybrid working, ‘The OE’ – the journal containing the report’s findings, can be downloaded free of charge on the OE Cam website.

Cybersecurity failure among 4 most threatening short-term global risks in 2021

According to the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) 2021 Global Risk Perception Survey, cybersecurity failure ranks as the fourth most threatening short-term global risk, singled out by 39% of the respondents. With personal data becoming a driving force of the fourth industrial revolution, ethical approach and responsible data management are among the goals of corporate social responsibility (CSR).

SASB Materiality Map’s data show that customer privacy and data security issues are likely to be a relevant CSR issue for more than half of the companies operating in the software & IT service industry. Enterprises are responsible for keeping their clients’ and contractors’ data safe, in addition to securing their own corporate information.

Today, data is a product of economic activity and the material for further growth. Private information, however, is a part of everyone’s identity, and no measures can be too strict in trying to protect it. Appropriate and robust security measures should be every company’s commitment to society.

Employees lack digital literacy

In 2021, global cybercrime is estimated to cause $11.4 million of damage per minute. In an interconnected and digital world, collected data is no longer a simple asset and requires appropriate measures and a company’s social responsibility to secure it.

While growing reliance on digital tools and network connections bring progress, not everyone benefits equally. Socially responsible businesses should be also aware of those unable to keep up with the change. For instance, there are 1.9 million households in the UK without internet access, and many rely solely on pay-as-you-go services.

Despite the pandemic having proved the majority’s ability to telework, the WEF’s Global Threats Report has also found that a worrying 60% of adults lacked basic digital skills when schools and workplaces shifted to remote work. With 85% of companies planning to accelerate the digitization of the workplace, indifference might aggravate the situation.

“Digital literacy is a key skill in today’s transforming world, contributing to growth and economic development. Cybersecurity issues also have a role to play, as people lacking digital knowledge are vulnerable to social engineering attacks and other forms of scams,” says Juta Gurinaviciute, the CTO at NordVPN Teams.

Data privacy is only one part of the story, as 23% of countries censor or ban independent news, limiting their citizens’ access to digital resources and preventing them from political action. In such scenarios, cybersecurity tools, such as VPNs, help those oppressed overcome the restrictions and drive change.

Cybersecurity at the core of every company’s resilience strategy

With more regulations put to action, people are becoming conscious about the data that corporations gather. They can now question the misuse of information, and authorities have more power to investigate those cases.

Enterprises now must comply with General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) guidelines, California Consumer Privacy Act (CCPA), and other rulings in a set of countries, but the deliberate initiative of data transparency contributes to the company’s CSR and builds customer trust.

“If security is perceived as a social imperative, by protecting data businesses will contribute to the overall information hygiene. Malicious actors, leveraging vulnerabilities and people’s ignorance, shouldn’t only be treated as criminals, but as a social issue as well. By protecting clients’ data as strictly as their own intelligence, companies will contribute to the safety of cyberspace,” comments NordVPN Teams’ CTO.

More than half of chief information security officers (CISOs) plan to implement cybersecurity into every business decision they make. No doubt it will soon find its way into CSR manifestos.

To accelerate change, organizations can integrate cybersecurity goals among other objectives and measure them accordingly. By making cybersecurity one of the KPIs, companies can contribute to the thriving digital economy and build common resilience.

Inventory & Natural Disasters: How Businesses Can Prepare

Inventory & Natural Disasters

Natural disasters like tornadoes, hurricanes, floods, and fires can wreak havoc on businesses and product supply chains. It’s difficult to predict when these catastrophic events will occur. Yet it’s still possible to safeguard your business and its inventory against them to a degree. The key is to reposition your inventory in a way that allows you to respond rapidly and efficiently when natural disasters strike.

Inventory that’s been properly repositioned can help disaster-stricken businesses and their communities in many ways. It can provide third-party responders with valuable support when they assist community members in need. A well-positioned inventory can readily supply front-line responders with healthcare supplies, clothing, food, water, and other essential aid when it’s needed the most.

Read on as we discuss how to reposition your business’s inventory in a way that improves your ability to respond to natural disasters.

Natural Disaster Rates on the Rise

The climate crisis and the advent of global warming are placing an increased strain on our planet. This strain has led to a rise in the incidence of natural disasters, which will continue to become more frequent in the future. A report by the International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC) highlights the facts that global warming is not directly causing natural disasters. But it’s increasing their frequency and severity.

The report shows an undeniable increase in the incidence of natural disasters since the 1960s. It notes that the percentage of disasters linked to climate change rose from 76% in 2000 to 83% by the 2010s. The IFRC is urging businesses, communities, and societies to get their priorities straight. And to use forecast science to respond quickly to disasters and effectively localize their approaches to address these trends.

Yusen Ye et al. from the National Natural Science Foundation of China have noted that efficient management of disaster relief inventory is essential to responding effectively to sudden-onset natural disasters.

Another survey conducted by the Institute for Supply Management focused on 600 businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey found that three-quarters of the businesses in question experienced operational disruptions due to the outbreak. 31% of respondents noted they were dealing with the disruptions by turning down or delaying orders.

Penn State associate professor of business logistics Dr. B. Novack says that natural disasters have localized, temporary effects on business supply chains. Global occurrences like pandemics have more widespread effects than localized disasters such as tornadoes and floods, and they lead to increased demand for necessary suppliers, which strains suppliers of these products. Repositioning inventory enables businesses to better respond to natural disasters and meet the demand for essential goods during times of crisis.

The Importance of Preparation

Considering the numerous studies confirming that natural disasters will become more commonplace in the future, businesses shouldn’t get surprised by their occurrence. Instead, they should ensure that they’re as well-prepared as possible to act quickly when they do take place.

Your preparation process should prompt you to consider as many potential risk factors as possible, and to alert logistics to reposition inventory potentially affected by a wide range of disasters. Businesses in the manufacturing industry may need to move their entire supply chains to avoid losing valuable inventory. You can plan ahead for disasters using a business plan or crisis plan template that details your individual procedures and needs.

It’s not possible to relocate entire warehouses or manufacturing plants. But you can store many of the assets stored within these facilities elsewhere, even if only temporarily. Retail giants like Target and Walmart adopt this approach when their stores are at risk of natural disasters affecting them. Once they have predicted the severity of the hit, a store will take, the brands will reposition their inventory. To do this, they’ll move essential products to safer locations until such time that retrieval is safe.

These locations also provide easy access for first responders and communities struck by storms, tornadoes, and other catastrophic events. Other businesses may increase their inventory of emergency stock like batteries, flashlights, medical kits, tools and rain gear ahead of a disaster. This lowers their risk of running out of essential items during times of need.

What the Research Says

Research from Penn State Smeal College of Business suggests that your business can improve its inventory allocation by repositioning products that are already deployed. You can reduce your disaster response costs by up to one-fifth by improving how your business coordinates and stores stockpiled inventory. You can then use these savings to purchase additional supplies without affecting your budget.

The Penn State team came to these conclusions after studying the systems that NGOs and government organizations use to manage their own disaster inventory on a global scale. Their research led them to use data-based optimization procedures to develop a new set of metrics. These metrics allow businesses and humanitarian organizations to assess the quality of their warehouse inventory allocation.

Adopting this approach allows organizations to make more informed inventory repositioning decisions and implement better disaster preparedness training protocols.

Prioritizing Disaster Relief

When repositioning your inventory to respond to natural disasters, experts recommend focusing on positioning items that will be in high demand at times of crisis. Tinned food, non-perishables, sanitary and medical equipment, and building supplies are all prime examples. These essential items are then in places that make it easy and cost-effective to meet community demands.

During the earlier months of the COVID-19 pandemic, people flocked to local stores to panic-buy large quantities of sanitizer, toilet paper, and face masks. The demand for these items boomed, and businesses that were able to supply major retailers rapidly repositioned inventory at the closest storage warehouses in response.

Coordinating Disaster Relief Protocols

Another crucial step in any business’s disaster response plan is to coordinate relief protocols with the nearest secure warehouses not affected by the disaster at hand. You may wish to consider building up inventory to cover potential situations of high demand. Especially if your relief supplies are in warehouses in high-risk areas.

It’s important to estimate how much relief supply a group or community affected by a disaster may need. Your calculations will be based on response time thresholds and available stock volumes. Once you’ve identified how much relief supply is required, you can begin to draw up an inventory repositioning response plan. This plan must protect your company’s assets and allow you to support affected survivors as well.

The Takeaway

Natural disasters are a fact of life, and it pays to prepare for them. Especially if you operate a brick and mortar business that supplies essential goods.

Strategically repositioning your inventory will allow you to respond to natural disasters quickly by anticipating the needs of affected groups, protecting your stock from damage, and offering valuable aid to those in need.

Intelligent proliferation: Using AI effectively

AI is everywhere. In ecommerce and digital marketing in particular, it’s likely you’re using AI to support your activities, whether you’re aware of it or not.

In most cases, AI supported practices are a great benefit to the business. They enable improved efficiency, a reduced administrative burden and help create more effective campaigns and services.

But Nate Burke, CEO of Diginius, a UK provider of proprietary software for digital marketing and ecommerce solutions, believes businesses could be getting more out of their use of AI. In this piece, he explains how businesses can use intelligent proliferation to their advantage and really stand out from the crowd.

Today, just about every business that has some online activity benefits from AI. Whether that’s how they appear in search engines or their social media reach, for example, AI is practically everywhere.

Generally, it works in the background and requires little input from the business, while offering some valuable internal benefits, including greater efficiency, fewer administrative tasks and more successful campaigns and services.

But with it increasingly being integrated into just about every digital tool, it’s no longer the case that AI can be used as a differentiator or a way to stand out from the competition. However, that’s not to say it can’t be.

In order to really reap the rewards of AI and place your business leaps and bounds ahead of the crowd, it’s time to start taking a more proactive approach.

Now, this might sound counterintuitive. After all, AI is supposed to relieve some of the effort and input required from you. And while that isn’t entirely wrong, no matter how much technology advances, we are all still human. And humans require some element of emotional connection with brands in order for them to create successful engagement and interactions.

Ultimately, businesses need to find the perfect balance between artificial and emotional intelligence. Activities and decisions should be supported by both technology to make life easier, and human judgement, in order for output to be received well by customers.

And this has never been more important than in the current market.

The multichannel model

Online business is thriving. The number of digitally transformed companiesonline sales, ecommerce channels and engagement platforms are increasing. And businesses and consumers are adapting.

The pandemic has encouraged more to embrace the shift. But as physical retail and face to face business opens back up, the multichannel model will no doubt become the new normal. However, as well as increasing workloads for management, challenges will also exist in creating cohesive and high-quality customer experiences.

But AI integration does offer a remedy. For instance, commerce solutions provide retailers with a single, centralised platform on which they can combine activity across all sales and logistics channels, both digital and offline.  

Data from all areas of the business, including supply chain, sales channels and end user experience is then available in one place. This rich data is often much more valuable due to its quality and quantity, and by leveraging AI’s ability to analyse such data, you can turn it into invaluable business insight. When translated into digestible reports, such as trends and benchmarks, you can really optimise both the business’s potential and your customers’ experiences.

This takes a lot of the guess work out of the equation, ensuring the output is just as high quality as the input, and providing an informed basis in order to justify decisions.

But, your business is yours for a reason. It’s likely you have knowledge, expertise and experience in your industry, things that AI can’t, and shouldn’t, replace. Put simply, if you don’t maintain your core data, such as product attributes and tracking information, in a timely and accurate manner, then you can’t expect AI to make sense of your mess.

Artificial vs emotional intelligence

Although data driven trends and patterns are important when making business decisions, consumers cannot be simplified to a mere statistic. Rather, their emotions and intrinsic behaviours are better understood by humans.

Therefore, business owners and employees play a vital role in interpreting such data and trends, applying their sense and experiences to really comprehend what their customers want and why. And then using this to make better business decisions.

It comes down to striking a balance between the benefits offered by AI and our own emotional judgements. This way, we can create more personal and positive brand experiences that encourage engagement.

For instance, over recent months this might have involved digital marketing campaigns that are sensitive to the current global situation, yet delivered at a time and place the data has shown you your customers will receive it.  

Or, perhaps a chatbot service that utilises AI to collect basic information from a user, then passes them onto a real customer service representative who can help resolve the issue in a more friendly and sensitive manner. While the business benefits from greater efficiency, wasting fewer human resources in the initial stages of the interaction, the customer still gets the personable service they so often need and prefer.

But AI is advancing at an incredible rate. It might not be long before the technology begins to understand more complex human behaviours through verbal or written cues for example, and it will be time to readjust our practices again. However, until then, human judgement remains pivotal, even in an increasingly digital world. 

Taking Technology To The Next Level

As technology has evolved over the years, so too have the ways in which that technology is used. More and more innovations are happening on a daily basis, and the world is moving at a faster pace than ever before towards greater implementation of technology. At the heart of that pace is Scale Computing, a firm which has been crowned the Most Innovative Edge Computing Solutions Firm – 2021. With technology playing such a vital part in corporate life now that businesses have all been affected by COVID -19, we take a closer look at the exceptional solutions offered by Scale Computing.

Since being formed back in 2007, the work of Scale Computing has focused largely on cementing its position as a leader in the relatively new area of edge computing, virtualization, and hyper-converged solutions for customers all over the globe. These areas of computing and technology are still emerging and evolving in the world today, but they are being pioneered by some of the world’s most innovative and ingenious companies. Scale Computing is one such company. It has been responsible for designing, developing, engineering, and creating one of the world’s leading IT infrastructure platforms that allows organizations of all shapes and sizes the ability to do more with less. From its inception, the team of CEO Jeff Ready set to simplify IT whilst revolutionizing the virtualization market. The result was Scale Computing, and it is outstanding.

One of the greatest successes that the firm has achieved throughout its lifetime has been the Scale Computing HC3® software. This innovative invention eliminates the need for traditional virtualization software, disaster recovery software, servers, and shared storage. Instead of having all of these as separate pieces of software that are distinct from one another, the HC3® software from Scale Computing replaces them with a fully integrated and highly available system for running applications. Using the firm’s patented HyperCore™ technology, the HC3® platform from Scale Computing is one of self-healing, and is able to automatically identify, mitigate, and correct problems within an IT infrastructure in real-time. Not only is this innovation of the highest quality, but it is also functional and purposeful, contributing to the smooth running of day-to-day services rather than being innovation for innovation’s own sake.

The HC3® software enables applications to achieve maximum uptime, even when local IT resources and staff are scarce. It takes the power and puts it into the technology’s own digital hands, meaning that real-life staff members and workers are freed up to deal with more pressing issues as and when they arise. This innovation makes the HC3® software and platform simple for IT departments to both manage and administer. No matter the industry that a client works in, it is imperative that they have technology and infrastructure that is easy to use, boasts high availability, and has a valuable total cost of ownership. HC3® from Scale Computing delivers these services in abundance, making it the ideal infrastructure platform for everyone from distributed enterprises, to global retailers and SMEs alike.

Implementing this HC3® software and platform is one thing, but taking care of it is another thing entirely. Whether a client has just come on board with Scale Computing, or has been a valued client for a long time, there are services on hand to help make sure that the implementation of HC3® is both swift and smooth. There is both the ScaleCare Support and the ScaleCare Professional Services team that are on hand to offer a wide variety of expertise, insight, and assistance to accelerate the HC3® software implementation. Having this breadth and depth of experience and knowledge on hand can seriously help a client unlock the full benefits and potential of their new system, as well as give clients the confidence and peace of mind that their HC3® solution is secured and protected.

To put it in relatively simple terms, the excellence of Scale Computing lies in its edge computing intelligence and knowledge. Edge computing is a distributed and open IT architecture or infrastructure that features decentralised processing power, thereby enabling mobile computing and Internet of Things (IoT) technologies. In edge computing, rather than being transmitted to a data centre, data is processed by a device itself or by a local computer or server. With so much focus on expansion, global digitalisation, and the rapid expansion of technological centres all around the world, Scale Computing is very much putting the power back in the hands of its clients.

Ultimately, the world of technology is moving faster than ever before and the work of Scale Computing is helping client organisations of all shapes and sizes take control of their technology once again. Edge computing, virtualization, and hyper-converged solutions are sure to become infinitely more commonplace in the future, even more so than they are presently. Scale Computing is an outstanding business that is focused on the future of technology. Through that focus, the firm delivers success for its clients in ways that they could only have ever imagined before.

For further information, please contact Johan Pellicaan, at www.scalecomputing.com

Dogecoin is the new GameStop – Are investors going to get burned?

Dogecoin has become the new GameStop, with frenzied trading potentially going to deliver a bloody nose to novice investors, warns the CEO of one of the world’s largest independent financial advisory and fintech organisations.

The warning from Nigel Green, the chief executive and founder of deVere Group, comes as the market capitalisation of Dogecoin hit almost $45 billion on Friday, and its price has risen by 400% in the last seven days.

The memecoin was created in 2013 as a joke, poking fun at the rise of established digital assets such as Bitcoin. Dogecoin was inspired by the popular Doge meme, which offers the image of a Shiba Inu looking sideways at the camera with raised eyebrows.

Mr Green says: “Dogecoin is the new GameStop. The out-of-favour bricks and mortar videogame retailer rocked Wall Street in January when a group of small-scale mainly inexperienced investors, led by a frenzy on Reddit, sparked a historic short squeeze where they drove up its stock prices.

“This week, since Reddit lifted its ban on the discussion of three cryptocurrencies – Bitcoin, Ethereum and Dogecoin – activist investors and also some celebrity investors on social media have been urging others to invest their cash into Dogecoin – their new pet populist bandwagon.

“In the same way that the GameStop frenzy was pitched as a battle-play of ‘Wall Street versus The Little Guy’, Dogecoin is being pitched as a battle-play against the well-established crypto giants like Bitcoin.

“But this is not typically the way reasoned, savvy investors should strategise to create and build their portfolios in order to reach their financial goals.

“We can expect many novice retail investors – who may not have the financial resilience needed – to get burned in the Dogecoin frenzy – in the same way they did with the GameStop one.”

The deVere CEO says that investors should avoid being drawn into the hysteria driven by social media and look at the fundamentals of the different cryptocurrencies.

“It’s very hard to compare Dogecoin with the likes of Bitcoin, which runs on ground-breaking tech and has a limited supply giving it scarcity value, amongst other valuable attributes; and Ethereum, which is solving real-world issues and providing in-demand business solutions. For these reasons, amongst others, they are attracting huge institutional investment.”

“Whereas we can assume that many people have been buying Dogecoin, not because they think it has any real value, but because they hope others will get FOMO (the Fear of Missing Out), jack the price up, and then they can sell off and make a quick profit.”

Mr Green reiterates a message he gave in January at the height of the GameStop mania.

“If you do want the thrill or novelty of chasing big gains led by activists on social media, you really should make sure that you have a sound, diversified, long-term financial strategy established in place first,” he affirms.

3 Tax Tips for Non-Profits

3 Tax Tips for Non-Profits

The UK government allows charities, aka non-profits, to use quite a few tax exemptions and benefits to minimise their total due tax amount every year. However, in order to really take advantage of those benefits as a non-profit organisation, the administrative heads should be well aware of what they are in the first place, and which ones their particular organisation qualifies for availing. If you oversee a charity, we have three crucial tax tips to help you with just that.

No Taxation for Charitable Work: Learn What Qualifies

The biggest tax benefit for non-profits is the fact that they do not need to pay any taxes on a large portion of their income and/or profits at all, as long as that portion is being spent on charitable expenditures. Below, we have listed the expenditures which are considered as charitable by the British government, and would thus be exempted from taxation under the present tax laws governing non-profit organisations:

  • Donation money
  • Interest earned on any type of legally authorised investment
  • Trading profits
  • Capital gains from selling or disposing of stocks, real estate and any other assets
  • Income from renting out property
  • Money used for buying property, which will then be used for a charitable cause

Non-Profits Still Have to Pay Taxes: Learn What Does Not Qualify for Tax Exemption

Even though a big portion of their income and profits are exempt from taxes when used for (qualifying) charitable causes, even non-profit organisations must pay their due taxes in time. Below, you will find a complete list of income and profits that do not qualify for tax exemption, even when the organisation is a charity:

  • The amount is taxable if the non-profit is receiving dividends from British companies formed before 6th of April, 2016
  • Real estate development and associated profits are not exempt from taxation
  • Most purchases made by non-profits are subject to the standard 20% VAT, just like everyone else
  • Cooking gas, fuel (not car fuel) and electricity expenses for charitable accommodation facilities and caretaking facilities can be paid after adding only 5% VAT to the billed amount
  • The above is only applicable if the charitable facility consumes less than or equal to 1,000KW hours of electricity per month

Hire Tax Accountants with Experience in Non-Profit Taxation Laws

The few pointers we have here for you should be able to help you in maximising benefits that the government has in place for non-profit organisations. However, these are by no means comprehensive, meaning that there is still a lot more to learn. That is where tax accountants  like Azets come in. Just mention that you are looking for help with filing taxes as a non-profit organisation, and a tax accountant can arrange a meeting with one of their specialists who cater to the needs of non-profits and other charitable organisations.

Note that community amateur sports clubs, or CASCs also qualify for tax relief, but they are not the same as non-profits. This means that the laws regulating taxation and tax exemption for such organisations are quite different. Be sure to register yourself in the right category, or the entire claim for tax relief might be rejected. It is possible to refile your taxes, but the chances of getting all the exemptions diminish if your first attempt fails. Work with a professional tax consultant to avoid making any such mistakes to begin with.

ICO issued fines of £42million last year

Fines handed out for breaches of Data Protection Act (DPA) and Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations Act (PECR).

The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has issued a number of final civil monetary penalties in 2020, totalling £42,416,000. The reasons for the fines included breaches of Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR) and the Data Protection Act (DPA).

The data, contained in the ICO’s ‘work to recover fines’ report and analysed by the Parliament Street Think Tank, reveals a catalogue of fines issued across a variety of sectors.

The analysis shows the scale of the fines highlights the severity of the problem. A total of 17 penalties were issued last year according to official figures. The largest fine was given to British Airways in the transport and leisure sector on 16th October 2020 at a total of £20,000,000 for a breach of the Data Protection Act (DPA). This is followed by a fine of £18,400,000, issued to Marriott International Inc on 30th October 2020, also for a breach of the DPA.

The next largest was to Ticketmaster LTD, with a fine totalling £1,250,000 for data breaches on 13th November 2020. Then, DSG Retail Ltd, CRDNN Limited and Cathay Pacific all received fines totalling £500,000.

Additionally, CRDNN was with a £500,000 fine on 2nd March 2021 for breaches of Privacy and Electronic Communications Regulations (PECR).

The industry hit with the biggest fines was marketing with nine fines in total issued, followed by three fines issued to firms in the transport and leisure sector.

Additionally, the ICO issued three court orders for winding-up upon petitions in 2020. Trusted Futures Ltd received a penalty amount of £70,000, Superior Style Home Improvements received a penalty fee of £150,000 and Alistar Green Legal Services Ltd received a penalty fee of £90,000. All three organisations were given court orders in 2020.

Additionally, there were eight directors disqualified following ICO enforcement action in 2020. These directors have been disqualified for a number of years for conduct while acting for various companies.

Charlie Smith, Consultant Solutions Engineer, Barracuda Networks comments:

“In today’s digital working environment, data security, recovery and protection is of vital importance. Unfortunately, it has become apparent that many business owners, workers and consumers are not aware of the need for backup and recovery services for their email service providers. Our own research even revealed that 40% of Office 365 users believe that Microsoft provides everything they need to protect their data and software.

“Whilst Office 365 does offer some level of security, even Microsoft suggests using a third party backup to ensure that data is fully protected and retrievable. Without it, organisations can be left prone to accidental data loss and even ransomware attacks.

“Thus moving forward, organisations should invest in a third-party data backup solution that runs in the cloud, to enable seamless, efficient and comprehensive backup of data on a granular level – allowing lost, stolen or misplaced data to be restored without delay.”

2 Easy Ways to Start Investing

Investing your money is the most reliable and effective way to create wealth over time and secure your future financial needs. This is why a lot of financial advisors would tell you to start while you’re young to witness solid returns. It’s placing your money in an investment vehicle today to receive more money in the future.

Investing and Compounding

For a lot of people, the term ‘investing’ may conjure up images projected by the media. Because of these misconceptions, investing may seem like an intimidating undertaking. Although this may be partly true, especially if you’re a new investor, investing doesn’t have to be a fearful ordeal.

As a newbie in the landscape, it would be best to understand and take your time immersing yourself in its many facets. You may do research about how the system works, subscribe to the best investment newsletters to get the latest stock news, download a stock trading application to learn integral investing lessons, or even work with a financial advisor. Knowing how it operates can help you understand the concepts and principles, which allows you to reap the rewards fully in the future.  

Today, with so many different options, investing for beginners is more straightforward, direct, and easy to navigate than ever before. If you perform your research, you should be well on your journey to a robust and secure financial future.

As mentioned, investing comes in many different forms and facets. In simpler terms, investing is a way to allow money to work for you. The goal is to commit money into the market or any investment channel to grow your money through compounding.

Compounding is the ability of an asset to produce earnings. This then will be used to reinvest and further generate more returns. To get you started, below are two easy ways to begin investing.

1. Work with a Robo-Advisor

If you have higher risk tolerance and want an algorithm to make investment choices for you, tapping robo advisory services may be ideal for your financial health. This is particularly applicable if your goal is long-term wealth-building while, at the same time, worrying less about the stock fluctuations or any economic slopes.

A robo-advisor is a digital service aid offered by a brokerage to help you formulate an investment plan that meets both your risk tolerance and financial targets. After identifying your goal and risk tolerance through a set of personal queries, your robo-advisor can invest your money in a highly-diversified portfolio of stocks and bonds to achieve your goals. It is programmed to maximize your ROI while ensuring that your risk level is non-threatening to your current financial status.

A robo-advisor provides the benefits of stock investing; however, it doesn’t require you to exert effort in examining and choosing personal investments.

Nonetheless, before you get too excited to reach out to these digital finance companies, you need to know that the potential downside of robo-advisors is their cost. These may charge an annual fee used to understand algorithms, rebalance your portfolio, and enhance it for taxes. Most robo-advisors require investors to pay USD$500 or less to start investing.

Although you can avoid paying the robo-advisor fees by approaching investments as a DIY project, take note that it will take a lot of time, research, responsibility, and, perhaps, prior investing experience. There’s no easy way to delve into the world of long-term investing. For this reason, majority of new and seasoned investors look at robo-advisory consultancy as worth the money, time, and energy.

2. Examine Your Investment Vehicles

As you start investing, your strategy should be tailored according to your saving goals and the period you’ve allocated to reach that goal. While there a lot of investment options to choose from, you need to be responsible and understand how much risk each carries. To guide you, here are the most popular investment channels:

Stocks

A stock is a share of ownership in a single business. These are also known as equities. Depending on the company or even the type of industry, stocks are bought for a price ranging from single digits to a thousand dollars.

Ultimately, investing in stocks is applicable if you aim for a long-term savings plan. For instance, if your goal is to allocate money for your retirement, then stock investment can help you grow your money to cater to your future financial needs.

To note, stocks can vary in different forms. Investing in single stocks is more convenient as this helps you take charge of selling your stocks. You can control the timing of your gains or even losses. Creating a diversified portfolio out of a plethora of individual stocks is great. However, it may take time and a lot of research.

Hence, for some investors, an excellent way to invest in stocks is through low-cost stock mutual funds or exchange-traded funds. Mutual funds allow you to purchase and gather small parts of various stocks in one transaction.

Bonds 

A bond is a loan to a company or public entity that agrees to pay you back in a fixed number of years. As time passes by, you acquire interest from the loan they’ve made. For this reason, this investment option is less risky and is recommended for short-term savings, about five years, because you got a clear idea of when you’ll be paid back and how much you’ll earn.

The Significance of Identifying Your Risk Tolerance

Once you have adequate money to gamble, you can start investing. However, before you start putting in your hard-earned money, you need to initially ask yourself how you would approach the process. There are a lot of investment options available at your disposal because there’s no universal approach or alternative when it comes to investing. The best way to invest money is through whichever way works best for you.

Moreover, know that investing involves risk. Whenever you’re not holding your money in a savings account, there will be a threat of loss. The stock market can go up and down. Hence, you need to identify your risk tolerance. With some investments, the risk is low, while in others, it’s high.

Final Thoughts

Investing in stocks while you’re still young means you have decades to ride out the risk of market fluctuations. Consequently, this will provide you with more time for your money to compound.  With this, start now, even if you have to start small.

Anywhere365® Awarded Most Innovative Cloud-Based Contact Centre Platform 2021

Recognized by Gartner, Certified by Microsoft

We are happy to announce Anywhere365® as this year’s winner of the Global Excellence Award for the Most Innovative Cloud-Based Contact Centre Platform. Anywhere365® is a leading omnichannel dialogue management and cloud contact centre platform, native to Microsoft Teams. Over 1800 global enterprise companies use their flagship product, Dialogue Cloud.

In the 2020 Magic Quadrant report for cloud contact centres, Gartner honorably mentioned Anywhere365® as a vendor to watch. And on top of that Microsoft Corporation announced Anywhere365® as the world’s first official certified Connected Contact Centre for Microsoft Teams.

Journey with Microsoft

Anywhere365®, since its beginning, has built its solutions almost exclusively to Microsoft platforms like Lync and Skype for Business, and now Teams. The COVID-19 pandemic spiked the use of Microsoft Teams in the triple digits and Anywhere365® saw their business grow almost as hard. While the transition from Skype for Business to Microsoft Teams has been tough at times, Anywhere365® has followed their journey with Microsoft, focusing on delivering a state-of-the-art Microsoft Teams contact center application.

‘It is not about the contact centre’
Surprisingly though, the winner of the Most Innovative Cloud-Based Contact Centre Platform 2021 is actually not about the contact centre. The company has embraced an enterprise-broad vision that goes beyond the contact center, which they call Dialogue Management. Anywhere365® believe and have proven in many global enterprises that the way forward for enterprise communication and customer engagement is not growing your contact centre. Founder and CEO, Gijs Geurts said: “It is about growing the intelligence in your business communications, so that you can reduce your unnecessary dialogues in every channel and every handler, whether they are human or AI driven.”

Enterprise Dialogue Management approach

“The difference between the contact centre approach and the Dialogue Management approach is that we believe that everyone in an organization is part of any dialogue. That is possible with a unified communications and collaboration platform like Microsoft Teams,” said Geurts. “With a large proportion of businesses using Microsoft Teams, there’s no reason for a business to maintain two versions of presence, one for agents and one for enterprise users. Anywhere365® doesn’t introduce the concept of agent presence; we leverage Microsoft Teams presence for our users.”

Voice, chat, email, social media, video or bots: Anywhere365® lets you engage your customers effortlessly across communications channels. At any time and from anywhere. There is real-time text-to-text, speech-to-text and text-to-speech processing and translation in place for over a dozen languages.

Direct Routing and AI

Anywhere365® AI voice bots and chat bots can handle routine requests, leaving more complex dialogues to live agents. Or any other Microsoft Teams user in the organization. The routing can be based on numbers, agent skills, geography, CRM data, VIP customer routing and many more. The CRM data, context and history of the dialogue always moves with the customer, ensuring customers enjoy first contact resolution of their issues.

What’s also great is that Anywhere365® supports a myriad of desktop environments, allowing agents and supervisors to access customer data, monitor service levels and easily transfer interactions from a single pane of glass. There are over 30 CRM integrations in place. From Salesforce and Bullhorn to Microsoft Dynamics, SAP C4C and even ServiceNow for IT helpdesks. This means that the workforce doesn’t have to switch between different point solutions, allowing for faster call handling, saving costly time and over-delivering to the customer’s expectation.

What we’ve also found, was that, due to the robust, highly scalable and extremely flexible implementation, Anywhere365® has been built to easily incorporate future business requirements without significant additional overhead.

Track, monitor and measure performance

Of course, Anywhere365® lets you record, measure and analyze agent performance and effectiveness, and benchmark them against their peers to continually improve customer service. But tracking your Contact Centre Success won’t cut it, Anywhere365® states. CEO Geurts: “Your contact centre can be very successful, but your customers can still be upset. Customer dialogues simply don’t always end in the contact centre.”

Anywhere365® lets businesses report on customer dialogues from initial contact to final resolution across the entire enterprise, not just the contact centre. Comprehensive business intelligence tools detect dialogue patterns, capacity bottlenecks or compliance violations and help to positively impact business workflows, improve customer service and streamline operations. If you wish to find out more, please visit anywhere365.io

Beacon for Biotech Success!

Science is moving at a remarkable rate, and no area more so than that of Biotech. This branch of the applied sciences sees specialists harnessing the potential that nature has to offer to benefit mankind. A leader is in this research is the team at Dyna Biotech. As one of India’s leading biotech equipment manufacturers, with years of success behind them, we thought we’d take a closer look to find out more.

Since 2013, the team at Dyna Biotech has been leading the field when it comes to the creation of biotech equipment. In a pioneering sector, companies need a manufacturer that they can rely on to deliver equally pioneering resources. That’s the team have always aimed to deliver and is what they excel at.

The firm was started by Mr. Vinodkumar Patil, a qualified microbiologist and an exceptional engineer. It’s this combination of skill and ability that has allowed him to develop Dyna Biotech to the extraordinary high standard it holds today. It was not just his academic talent that led to Dyna Biotech, however. Over the years, Mr. Patil has taken on increasing responsibilities at a number of firms, including Lupin, B. Braun Biotech (Germany), Sartorius, Shantha Biotech (Sanofigroup company) and Serum Institute.

When Mr. Patil established the firm, it was with this immense knowledge of the field in mind. His aim with Dyna Biotech, however, was to act specifically as a gamechanger within India’s biotech industry. There was a great deal of potential for growth in the sector, but this was hampered by a lack of knowledge, resources, and the ability of firms to scale quickly. With expertise in antibiotics production, steroid biotransformation, cell culture, vaccine process development, production, scale-up, optimization, validation and product launch, he knew he could start his own business and quickly bring it up to speed with the key players in the global market.

The priority in those early days was to create a company with the ability to adopt innovative technologies quickly and allow India a foothold on the industry. This, Mr. Patil has achieved with astonishing success. The country has moved forward rapidly over the last seven years, with Dyna Biotech providing an enviable benchmark for quality in the industry at large. Mr. Patil’s firm has proven capable of delivering a wide range of Biotechnology and Biopharma equipment, tackling the complex steps of manufacturing, validation, installation and service without fuss or delay. Clients have often complimented the team on their ability to deliver truly astonishing results.

What started in 2013 as a goal of providing predictive and personalized systems saw the team quickly move into the niche of developing highly specialized automated fermentor, bioreactor manufacturing. This ability has remained key to the brand ever since, with Dyna Biotech products able to achieve more output at fermentation and better yields in the downstream processing. This success comes from an approach which sees the team constantly and deliberately trying to improve every aspect of the system. The team reinforce their dedication to all through continual product and process improvement.

The mission of Dyna Biotech has always been clear, namely to make strategic investments in research and development that will benefit clients. These investments see the teams existing range of products constantly expanding, not just in terms of new products, but in new applications. This ensures that the team is constantly moving forward, in line with its pioneering promise. The ability to deliver such an impressive product portfolio is why clients continue to turn to the team with their own complex needs.

Of course, in the business world, the promise of a pioneering approach is not enough to secure success. Under Mr. Patil’s care, the firm has ensured that it applies a commercial aspect to its approach. Clients are supported through a comprehensive customer service program, while the team have a commitment to deliver the product on time. This commitment is essential to the success of Dyna Biotech, and is why so many clients continue to turn to the firm when they require assistance.

When the team at Dyna Biotech take on a project, it must go through many phases before the production process can begin. The first of these, understandably, is research and development. While the team have already created a system of constant improvement, the needs of the individual client guide this stage throughout the development process. A highly experienced and motivated team are on hand to ensure that new products meet every single need that a client has. The research and development team target their years of expertise at every problem, finding innovative ways to ensure that systems meet the requirements of every application.

Often, this involves building on work that has already been done with highly automated machines in the field of biotechnology and microbiology. Dyna Biotech has an exceptional track record when it comes to new ideas generation, new product development, dedication in the field and value additions in product. The team are equally adept when it comes to designing new biotech facilities or modifying existing facilities to meet the needs of a growing business.

The process of development is always ongoing, even when products move into the manufacturing stage. This research can be carried onto later projects, or new equipment batches requested by the client. The nature of the manufacturing process at Dyna Biotech means that each product is not only bespoke, but often has no previous testing undertaken. Clients can rest easy, knowing that a key part of their equipment list is supported with documentation that includes Design Qualification (DQ), Installation Qualification (IQ), Operational Qualification(OQ), Factory Acceptance Test (FAT), Site Acceptance Test (SAT) and Performance Qualification (PQ) Test. This high level of accreditation is why people keep coming back to what Dyna Biotech has to offer.

Finally, when all is complete and installed in its new home, the Dyna Biotech team don’t see their job as complete. A comprehensive service and support system has been established to ensure that the new equipment meets the necessary requirements. Like all aspects of Dyna Biotech, it is built on a system of qualified and experienced personnel who are available around the clock to ensure that your biotech operation is not slowed down. The team understand that their equipment is often a vital, and unique, part of a firm’s operations and any fault can lead to spoiled work and an incredible backlog of work. The service engineers employed by Dyna Biotech provide process trouble shooting, automation updates, process expert visits and consultancy services to guarantee the smooth running of every system.

The success of Dyna Biotech is a credit to the hardworking team, led forward by Mr. Patil. His ambition is why the firm has thrived over the years, with innovation and revolution at the core of the company. As standards continue to escalate, and the ambition of biotechnology continues to increase, the need for firms like Dyna Biotech to rise to the challenge is clear. Fortunately, it’s something that this team every time with considerable aplomb.

Seven Post-Pandemic Office Tech Trends to Look Out For

Last year, Global workspace specialists Instant Offices predicted a tech breakthrough in the commercial real estate industry would be one of the most significant workplace changes to come about in a post-COVID world.  Today, they are seeing first-hand how sectors are using technology to make the workplace safer and more hygienic. 

As the pandemic has affected all aspects of our lives, the need for a new way of working is also affected. With that in mind, John Williams, Head of Marketing at Instant Offices reveals the top seven Proptech trends that aim to keep employee safe in a post-COVID office: 

High tech wellness checks

Employees must be screened for symptoms before entering their workplace to ensure that they aren’t contagious. Many teams now complete a quick health survey via a mobile app on their way into the office so that they can be effectively screened before arrival.  

Touch- free & Voice enabled tech

COVID-19 has caused a surge in voice technology adoption. According to an Adobe Voice Survey, 86% of people said that voice tech would make the office more sanitary, while 77% expected to use this tech more frequently in the next year. Movement-activated doors allow workers to enter and exit spaces without touching anything. Voice-enabled devices and appliances help to reduce physical contact dramatically.

Air Filtration

Did you know that around 75% of the air inside an office is recirculated indoor air? Businesses can effectively improve air quality and cleanliness at work by properly installing (and maintaining) their existing HVAC and filtration systems. However, some are going a step further with cutting-edge innovations like UV light purification technology.

Social Distancing Sensors

Office layouts are changing to accommodate social distancing, with one-way circulation patterns in the hallways and workstations spaced further apart. For example, sensors can monitor occupancy and send alerts when too many people are together in a space.

Automated Cleaning

From UV light treatments to self-cleaning surfaces for high-traffic points around the office, companies now have a wealth of germ-busting technology to choose from. A study by AJIC,  found that high-energy UVC light reduced live Coronavirus on laboratory surfaces by 99.7% in just 30 seconds

Enhanced Cybersecurity

While much of the new tech we’ve mentioned aims to mitigate the threat of infection, other innovations are addressing the increased security risk that comes with remote working. According to Gartner, 52% of compliance leaders in 2020 said that third-party cybersecurity breaches were their biggest concern due to remote work since the COVID outbreak.

Remote Collaboration Platforms

Statista reported that between Q4 2019 and March 2020, the UK saw a 24% increase in Hangouts Meet downloads, a 20% increase in Zoom downloads and a 13% increase in Microsoft Teams downloads. Businesses are adapting by implementing systems where employees can reserve a conference room or desk space quickly and easily online.

Businesses are adapting by implementing systems where employees can reserve a conference room or desk space quickly and easily online. Many in-office meeting spaces are being repurposed and the overall design of the office shifts to allow for better social distancing.

Are law firms being proactive enough when it comes to cyber security?

Lockdown working has exposed the gaps in cyber security practices in many law firms. With hackers looking for a pay day, it’s never too late to become cyber proactive. Guy Lloyd at CySure explains why cyber security doesn’t need to be complex, costly or confusing.

Law firms are privy to a huge amount of sensitive client data and handle vast amounts of money in daily transactions, mostly conducted online. Whilst many firms have ticked what they think are the right boxes in terms of cyber security, the number of cyber threats targeting law firms tells a different tale. A recent cyber security review published by the Solicitors Regulation Authority (SRA) reported that three quarters (i]) of the firms visited and interviewed said they had been the target of a cyberattack. The remaining quarter of firms reported that cybercriminals had directly targeted their clients during a legal transaction.

In the digital age, a law firm without cyber security measures is an easy target for hackers looking for victims. To highlight the significant risk to law firms, the National Cyber Security Centre (NCSC) published its first report into the cyber threat to the UK legal sector (ii). The challenge for many firms is that security is not a core area of business and it can be a struggle to justify the cost of hiring security expertise. So, what can law firms do to protect their reputations as well as their client’s confidential data and money?

1. Understand your risk – to reduce exposure to cybercrime, it’s important to understand the risks your firm is facing and develop controls, process and policies to mitigate them. It needs to be clear to all employees who is the person responsible for the cybercrime defence policy at the firm and what processes and controls are in place. When the worst-case scenario happens, it’s vital that employees know what to do and who to contact. The eye of the storm is not the moment to be trying to work out who is doing what.

2. Take ownership – the SRA report highlighted that 75% of firms questioned predominantly relied on help from commercial IT specialists. Whilst security service providers can be a source of valuable expertise, firms should beware of becoming completely reliant on their guidance. This point was underlined in the SRA report by legal firms that had received poor advice from third-party providers, which ultimately left them exposed to fraudsters. Managing and defining risk has to be owned by the company as a whole and understood by the leadership team – it can’t be outsourced. No one else will know your business with the same depth of knowledge or care about it as much as you.

3. Build a security aware culture – the ability to prevent and mitigate cybercrime depends on everyone within a firm having a good level of awareness about cyber security. Having knowledgeable and empowered staff is the first and best line of defence against cybercrime. Creating a culture that mirrors good cyber hygiene relies upon having effective policies and controls in place. Cybercriminal try to trick their victims into making mistakes but if employees are trained on common scams to look out for, such as phishing emails and rogue websites, your firm will already have a head start.

4. Understand your responsibility to securing data – if your practice collects, stores or uses EU citizens’ personal data it is subject to GDPR. To be GDPR compliant there must be basic data security controls in place such as those specified by the National Cyber Security Centre’s (NCSC) Cyber Essentials policy. Law firms cannot afford to be naïve or negligent about their data responsibility due to the confidential and highly personal data they store. The Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) has produced a checklist to help companies understand their responsibilities (iii). If there are doubts about your firm’s ability to adhere to GDPR’s ‘security principle’, now is the time to act.

5. Be prepared – the undeniable fact is the legal sector is an attractive prospect to hackers and statistically legal firms are highly likely to be targeted. Preparation is key and this is where Cyber Essentials (CE) certification is invaluable. CE is the National Cyber Security Centre’s assurance product aimed to help protect UK organisations from the most common cyber threats. The scheme sets out basic technical controls for organisations to use which are then annually assessed. It also lays the foundation to developing policies and procedures to mitigate against threats that can impact business operations. Market forces have a way of punishing businesses who fail to prepare. Act now and demonstrate commitment to cyber security by achieving CE certification.

Can you afford to be a sitting duck?
Cyber criminals have no morals or ethics, attacks are not personal, although it can feel that way when it’s your firm that is facing the aftermath of an attack. Cybercrime is mostly financially motivated as hackers want a quick pay day and seek out easy targets. Don’t be a sitting duck. No firm is too small to be a target or to mount a defence against cybercrime. CE certification will put you on the right path to implementing cyber security controls. Being CE compliant is said to mitigate 80% of the risks faced by businesses such as phishing, malware infections, social engineering attacks and hacking. However, should the worse happen, CE will aid in the ability to respond to a cyberattack and resume business operations.

Getting started can seem daunting but achieving certification doesn’t have to be. Using an online cyber security policy management system that incorporates GDPR and Cyber Essentials is a simple and cost-effective way to achieve certification. Look out for a solution that can carry out a gap analysis and underline the areas that your business should focus on. Taking these steps can go a long way to protect against common attacks. It’s also a far more effective strategy than closing your eyes, crossing your fingers and hoping that your firm won’t be the next victim.

Driving Global Developments

Employing overseas staff is always a challenge. Many companies simply don’t know the difficulties involved and while the internet has proven to be an incredible resource, it can be overwhelming in the information it provides. A solution was needed, one which could act as an overall platform for business, offering the essential tools and resources required to enable smooth business operations.

The solution is Expandopedia. Although the team is headquartered in Chicago, they have provided a revolution for the labor marker internationally. Where once firms would have had to look to local HR providers for knowledge, Expandopedia offers a cheap, accurate perspective on the region direct to an organization. The nature of the firm means that businesses can have the insights, tools and support businesses need to execute a global strategy quickly and confidently.

Building such an effective platform has involved creating a network of professionals who are experts in the HR field. This means that Expandopedia is powered by HR experts, local accountants, lawyers, employment advisors, analysts, HR professionals and labor law researchers. What unites this disparate group of people is a passion for partnering with businesses to encourage them to grow and thrive in a global market. Without this commitment to collaboration, it’s unlikely that the team would have been able to make such a big impact in such a short amount of time.

When businesses turn to Expandopedia, they gain access to thousands of useful documents, including global HR templates and guides in local languages and English. This paperwork is the first step to ensuring that an employer has the tools for every stage of the employee lifecycle. This approach goes even further in the USA where the differences between state borders can create new and interesting challenges for business. Having the resources to take a truly local approach is a major benefit to take on Expandopedia as a platform.

As a highly regarded source when it comes to legal matters, Expandopedia is also the first port of call for those who are looking for vias. The team have collated and verified the information involved in work and borders to explain simply and effectively what needs to be done to ensure all work is done legally and to everyone’s satisfaction.

As a platform that looks at the labor market from an international perspective, it makes sense that the team takes the time to source the latest global news, currency conversion and stock market alongside its other responsibilities. This information is invaluable to many businesses, offering context and understanding that will help to guide decisions for individual organizations.

Each business will have different requirements when it comes to exploring international HR solutions, which is why Expandopedia has a variety of different packages on offer for clients. Clients can subscribe to the Basic, Premium or Enterprise packages, each providing a way forward that fits the needs of any company.

As companies progress through the packages, they find themselves able to access more information to help their business progress. The Premium Package opens the door to an expert who is on hand to provide sector- and region-specific support, while the Enterprise Package provides a dedicated account manager. These employees are chosen to meet your every need, ensuring that your time with Expandopedia is as good as possible. Each part of Expandopedia, from advice givers to HR templates is designed to flow smoothly from one place to another. As such, the team have been able to achieve some truly amazing results incredibly quickly.

The nature of Expandopedia means that it is still finding its footing within the labor market. Many do not know that it exists, but those who do have become incredibly loyal very quickly. It’s easy to see why. The solution that Expandopedia offers is specifically designed to be used by businesses. As time goes on, the team hope that this loyalty will allow for further expansion of the firm’s aims and ambitions.

The heart of the firm naturally lies with its talented team, from CEO, Rick Hammell, to Jennifer Lowe, the Editor in Chief and comprehensive network of HR experts, local accountants, lawyers, employment advisors, analysts, HR professionals and labor law researchers. Everyone shares the same passion for labor and ensuring that businesses are able to find the right people to help them expand.

When Expandopedia launched in 2020, it was in a world that was forced to change rapidly. This change applied to every industry on an international scale as the global pandemic took hold. Now that there are vaccines out there and the world of business is moving out of survival mode, it’s likely that more and more people will be looking to Expandopedia for what it can offer.

The benefits of a business intelligence solution in this climate are obvious. The future is looking more stable, but travel will still be difficult for months, maybe years to come. This has created enormous challenges for those organizations that do businesses in other countries, with employees used to traveling huge distances. For those firms that have previously thrived on the potential of global mobility, recent events have forced them to think more locally.

A Business Intelligence solution supports businesses by providing the data that need to avoid costly mistakes and ensure compliance. With a strong network of professionals in HR to support each step, it’s much easier to stay on top of things. Having access to a network also allows companies to work on their own, drawing on what support they need as opposed to what support they are given without choice.

Of course, the job market has changed considerably since the first lockdowns were implemented, and some economies have responded more effectively than others. It’s a clear sign of the way in which businesses must diversify their operations in order to survive a crisis in the future. If the local economy is suffering, there must be another place able to offset that loss.

Expandopedia can play a key role in this growth, offering the business intelligence solution that makes it easy to compare and contrast the benefits of working in different countries. The costs of working in one country versus another are not always easy to see, with factors such as wages, bonuses, paid leave, vacation time and employee taxes to consider to name but a few. When it comes to seeing what over one hundred and fifty countries have to offer, Expandopedia makes it easy, allowing businesses to thrive before the COVID-19 pandemic.

When it comes to expanding your business, Expandopedia is the way to go. The team has worked tirelessly to develop a product that will help business to recover in the light of unprecedented events. With a year of success just behind them, they’re sure to see many triumphs for the foreseeable future. 

Ingenious Insurance From Matrix Team

For almost twenty years, Matrix Insurance & Reinsurance Brokers has been providing its clients with the most comprehensive insurance and reinsurance solutions, both as a sole business and now as part of the Howden Broking group in 2020. Last year, we at Acquisition International recognised the firm by awarding it the title of Best Insurance & Reinsurance Brokers 2020 – Europe & Africa in the Worldwide Finance Awards 2020. Join us now as we reflect on why the firm has been so successful and what it delivers to clients in terms of exceptional insurance and reinsurance solutions.

The story of Matrix Insurance & Reinsurance Brokers first began back in 2003, when the firm first opened its office doors in Greece. Since, it has grown to become an integral part of the Howden Brokers group, and also become the leading independent broker in Greece, with more than ninety in-house experts at the offices in Athens, Thessaloniki, Ioannina, and Crete. The journey was only just beginning back in 2003, and was quickly followed by the launch of Howden Matrix Cyprus in 2005, which was headquartered and located in the capital city of Cyprus, Nicosia. Based there was a team that comprised of seven brokers and three actuaries, with each one specialising in structure reinsurance solutions, actuarial services, and analytics. Howden Matrix Cyprus today remains one of the top three reinsurance brokers in the local market, and dominates the market share that is available on Cyprus. Spreading out further and further over time, 2014 would see the establishment of Howden Matrix South Africa, which would aim to serve the majority of clients across the entire continent. Based in Johannesburg, this team comprises of fourteen insurance and actuarial specialist professionals.

With teams in Cyprus, Greece, and South Africa, Matrix was well-placed to serve a great many clients before Howden Group came along. Yet, the pair of these outstanding business has given the other something they didn’t have before. Matrix gave Howden a way into the markets across Greece, Cyprus, and Africa, whilst Howden enabled Matrix to have a foothold in Britain and more mainland Europe. Howden Group itself was a perfect partner for Matrix, and the two have flourished since becoming one back in the first half of 2020. Founded in London back in 1994, Howden Group has grown to become the largest international insurance broker that is headquartered outside of the United States.

Howden Group is a truly multinational business, and one that seeks to bring its clients specialist advice in more than ninety territories across Europe and Africa. Across every client and in every bit of service delivered to clients, there is a steadfast and unwavering commitment to independence that gives staff the freedom to deliver whatever the clients need at that time. Howden Group always seeks to take care of its staff and ensure that they have everything they could ever need to succeed. Staff are encouraged to thrive in their roles, as well as take an active role in being a core part of the company. Around eight hundred of the employees at present are shareholders, but there are plans in place to ramp up that number to ensure that one in every three staff members is a shareholder.

Involving clients in this way ensures that there is something noticeably different about the culture at Howden Matrix. Everyone is given a voice, their ideas are embraced, efforts are rewarded, and meritocracy is real and tangible. Having all of these is one thing, but having them all in an environment where people enjoy their work and have fun is a true sign of the firm’s excellence and commitment to employees. Howden Matrix puts people first, valuing and looking after people at every turn. Ultimately, the client also benefits from this people-first culture. They are able to have all the benefits of working with a large global broker, whilst also being able to have the speedy innovation and local know-how of a small independent firm. Howden Matrix is an outstanding firm, and deserves every success as it continues to deliver insurance and reinsurance excellence to clients across Europe and Africa alike.

For further information, please contact Marina Drakatou at www.howdengroup.com/gr-en

Stylish Café Is Home To Tempting Treats

A small café that has made itself a thriving part of a vibrant local ecosystem, Temptations is a community favourite for both its menu and its attitude. We unearth the luxury of this local watering hole that has earned the title of Most Outstanding Café, 2020 – Islington.

An exemplary café based in Islington on Highbury Corner, Temptations café is a small business that has garnered a lot of notoriety in the local area for its great service and products. With a modern looking façade and a welcoming exterior, it has floor to ceiling glass windows that make up the shopfront, allowing customers a great view of the vibrant streets of London outside. Its clean and well-designed interior provides a solace from the hustle and bustle, and a blackboard on one wall displays a colourful mural to greet customers. Its designs on the mural and menu boards all contribute to cultivating an atmosphere of fun, giving it an eclectic feel.

Temptations keeps regular opening hours from Monday to Friday, including some public holidays, and attracts plenty of custom from local regulars and passers-by. The testimonials of these customers keep Temptations a well-established part of the high street, and with many reviews online leaving nothing but glowing commendations, its efforts have been successful. It takes great pride in its menu being diverse and wide-ranging, from soups to other hot dishes like chilli con carne or Moroccan chicken tagine, all of which are home-made from scratch. Temptations also offers different specials every day such as slow roast pork and apple buns. As though that weren’t enough to satisfy customers, the café also serves gluten free options and caters to allergies and dietary needs with efficiency and empathy. Its customers can also expect to find that the coffee is exemplary, and a key focus of its business model.

With a motto of ‘independent café, independent spirit’, it is important to Temptations that the atmosphere is just as excellent as the products. It works hard to create a friendly ambience for its customers to enjoy, and all its staff are dedicated to accomplishing this by way of quick and charismatic service. Each member of staff strives for standards of excellence when serving Temptations’ customers, greeting each person with a smile and always being up to chat about items on the menu. ‘I’d much rather go here than the other chains nearby,’ one review says, and the hard work of the team ensures that many in Islington feel the same way.

It also offers the option of ordering group platters for workplace lunches to collect from the store, and this has put it in excellent standing with surrounding businesses that need to cater for their clients, even last minute. A local Water Studio that operates directly opposite the café has used its services multiple times to provide food for the meetings it holds on its premises, and found the products have been ‘top notch’ every time. With so many café establishments in London, it can be hard to stand out. Yet, Temptations’ attitude towards the community and its own excellence has ensured that it does.

This café also comes highly recommended for the reasonable nature of its prices. Operating in London, many businesses struggle to keep price points down when the cost of rent is so high, but Temptations is dedicated to ensuring this aspect of its business remains intact. Being a lunch and drinks provider, its customers can partake in the respite it provides without breaking the bank. Further to this, after 4pm, it serves all food at a 50% discount. It also offers its customers free Wi-Fi and wireless phone charging to allow its clients to work on their projects or answer emails whilst they relax. Temptations is also a big believer in corporate social responsibility – in the past, to show this, it has held Macmillan coffee mornings, serving coffee, tea, and cake for the cost of a pay-what-you-feel donation. These allow it to give back to the local community and be a force for good. You can keep up with this café’s news and developments through its social media sites, and very soon, its upcoming rebranded website.

For further information, please contact Nilesh Bhudia at www.temptationscafe.co.uk

One year on – what has lockdown done for UK’s tech sector

1 in 10 job roles advertised in the UK were tech-related during the pandemic – and by summer 2021 will reach 100,000 job vacancies per month.

The tech sector boasts an agile workforce that embraces new digital solutions before other sectors, and as a result showed its ability to adapt amid the global crisis.

Consequently, it fared well compared to many other labour markets and showed good recovery as 2020 ended – with hiring levels broadly matching monthly year-on-year levels.

As we emerge slowly out of lockdown and Brexit-plans roll on; Tom Chambers – Associate Director of Technology & Growth at Robert Walters outlines what we can expect to see from the country’s most steadiest industry whether the year ahead will continue to hold much promise for the sector.

Remote Working

The rise of remote working was 2020’s ongoing theme – with the tech industry playing a key role in ensuring this transition was largely seamless. In fact, according to a Robert Walters poll at the beginning of the first lockdown 71% of professionals in the UK stated that their transition to remote working was immediate and seamless, and a further 19% stating that the transition happened within just a few days.

Remote working accelerated a trend away from large, centralised servers towards dispersed edge networks  — strategically dispersed networks of servers that collect and store data – meaning less of a journey to an end user; better efficiency, speed, and latency; and increasing opportunities for those involved in the developing 5G ecosystem.

Typically one-step ahead of workplace trends, the number of vacancies for permanently remote-based professionals within tech rose from 1.1% in 2019 to 8.7% in 2020.

A Well Funded Machine

One of the shining lights of British industry, the technology sector has grown significantly over the last five years, as have levels of investment within it.

Despite the destabilising effects of Brexit and the pandemic, Britain remains the leading country in Europe in receipt of venture capital (VC) funding. In addition, more British tech scaleups – companies with annual growth of 20% in the past three years – broke through the £10m+ turnover mark, up 37% year-on-year. 

London in silo, a global impact-tech hub, attracted 3.1 times more funding into its purpose-driven tech companies compared to Europe as a whole – up 800% since 2015 . 

Cambridge and Bristol, meanwhile, are forging their own paths. In the past year Bristol has received more than $500m in VC funding – ahead of Dublin, Copenhagen, Helsinki and Milan – making it the 15th ranked city in Europe.

Cambridge, for its part, is increasingly gaining a reputation as Britain’s Silicon Valley – with the biotech sector attracting much investment.

Tom comments: “There are concerns however for the parts of the country without such levels of funding. And while the British government made commitments around tech investment in its November spending review, it focused more on skills and infrastructure instead of grants and loans for start-ups.

“For example in Wales, the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) provided it with around £375m per year. This financing played a key part in creating Cardiff’s now-flourishing tech hub. However, the country is now experienced the greatest year-on-year drop in tech recruitment compared with any region in England — falling 47.8% in relation to 2019.

“With Britain now out of the EU, the government’s Shared Prosperity Fund is due to step in this year – but to what degree is still unclear.”

Security Remains A Concern

Up until the emergence of the pandemic, digital security was gradually becoming more prominent in the minds of company bosses. Over a third of technology companies experienced at least one cybersecurity incident between 2019 and 2020, and more than 85% had a dedicated cybersecurity team or leader.

However, although the pandemic accelerated digitalisation across much of Britain during 2020, the urgency with which many firms rolled these solutions out was not matched with better, robust security protocols.

Instances of online fraud grew in lockstep as 47% of Britons  worked remotely during the pandemic. There were 65,000 attempted cyber security attacks on SME’s daily during the pandemic, with around 4,500 of these being successful per day. According to Robert Walters research, data breaches cost a company £2.48m per instance – with 44% of customers stating that they’d never use a company again if their data was breached.

Tom comments: “Reports of hackers accessing Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine documents and cyber-attacks on AstraZeneca’s Covid-19 research further exposed these vulnerabilities and magnified their potential cost. This had an impact on the industry’s labour market as digital security suddenly became a priority for businesses around the country.”

Consistent with these findings, professional vacancies for IT and cyber-security specialists in the last calendar year increased by 7.6% year-on-year.

Tom adds: “While IT security remains a small part of the technology industry, it is likely to continue to grow in size and importance. The Telecommunications (Security) Bill announced in November 2020  gives the British government new powers to impose security standards.

“As 5G gradually rolls out, the bill will require businesses to follow rigid protocols which is likely to increase investment (and demand for specialists) in this field.”

Job Creation Rife

1. Developers:

Recruitment for developers and software engineers across Britain’s largest firms also experienced year-on-year growth, with particular demand for experts in solutions for mobile devices.

Vacancies for specialists in iOS and Android software development were up 71.4% and 60.3%, respectively, compared to 2019 — indicative of how attention spans are predominantly now focused on what people hold in their palms.

2. Programming:

Meanwhile, demand for Python and SQL experts, critical for businesses interested in maintaining good and clean data (a prerequisite for them to benefit properly from the wide-ranging potential of artificial intelligence) rose 12.1% and 21.1%, respectively, year-on-year.

In contrast, hiring levels for PHP (-29.8%) and JavaScript (-47.8%) specialists experienced the deepest year-on-year falls – with early predictions being that hiring will return in this area as the market recovers.

3. Artificial Intelligence

Tom comments: “Artificial intelligence (AI) is also likely to continue to grow both as a sector in IT and a department in businesses.  As it becomes more prevalent, VCs will identify this as a key area of investment.”

An anticipated knock-on effect will be scaleups hiring AI and machine learning engineers  in 2021 and — more generally across the industry — demand for data scientists will increase.

TOP AI HIRING COMPANIES IN UK

Company

2019 job vacancies

2020 job vacancies

ARM

53

27

Amazon

20

31

IQVIA

17

16

Twitter

15

18

Microsoft

19

4

JPMorgan Chase & Co.

5

23

AstraZeneca

16

13

Apple

11

8

Deloitte

15

1

Babylon Health

13

1

DeepMind

16

3

Facebook

5

14

MathWorks

11

2

Amadeus Capital Partners

9

2

AIG

9

3

BenevolentAI

11

2

PWC

2

6

GSK

1

10

Samsung Electronics

3

4

Talent Shortage

Tom comments: “The UK’s tech sector continues to grow at 3 times the rate of the rest of the economy, creating exciting jobs that require a range of skills and talent – but the UK is still facing a major digital skills shortage. With this struggle for businesses to recruit suitable candidates, salaries have been pushed up by 15% year-on year.”

To counter the talent shortage the tech sector has the highest proportion of non-UK nationals working in it that the rest if the UK economy. With Brexit underway, there is concern that salaries may rise further if visas for specialists are only easily obtainable by the largest corporations.

Tom adds: “One thing is for certain, technology is getting society through the pandemic – allowing people to stay in touch with friends and family and providing welcome escapes from what has been unfolding over the last months.”

In a sign that the industry believes in the growth potential of the sector, money was not an object when recruiting during the pandemic with the number of senior contract and interim vacancies rising from 6.9% in 2019 to 13.6% in 2020 – with some CISO positions being able to command as much as £2,000 per day.

Click here to view all of the latest reports in the Robert Walters Technology Insight Series – in partnership with Vacancysoft. For more technology analysis from Tom Chambers see YouTube link.

Changing the Game

Outdoor equipment must stand up to the most rigorous of conditions, not only competing with the stresses that nature provides, but the strain of continual use by fitness fanatics and children. Recognised as the Most Outstanding Outdoor Fitness Gym & Playground Equipment Manufacturer – 2020, KOOCHIE GLOBAL has achieved great things. We look more closely at the firm to find out more.

KOOCHIE is a brand that can be seen across the world, renowned as a trendsetter within the playground equipment and outdoor fitness industry. In a market where safety and durability is key, this is a company that has made its name in thinking beyond the simple provision of fitness & playground equipment. In every product, the brand has worked tirelessly to incorporate a unique multi sensorial dimension that is specifically designed to facilitate behavioural, cognitive and motor development. As well as addressing the social and emotional aspects of child development, KOOCHIE is a company that goes one step beyond in the pursuit of excellence.

“The dream from the very beginning was not to make a playground system like no other, but to offer a total solution to customers. This solution would holistically include, meeting international standards of safety, quality, aesthetics, product life, design, planning and of course project execution” says Roben DASS, the Founder, Chairman & Managing Director of the brand. This dream has worked to redefine and achieve a new balance between these qualities, with a mission that remains the same to this day thus putting the brand on a global map.

This decision has guided KOOCHIE to its current success, establishing a distinct identity that really differentiates the brand from its competitors. Many have come to see the brand as the first choice for their needs, with medium to large residential projects making up the majority of the market. This means that the team’s much-vaunted equipment can be found in public parks, schools, camping sites, malls, clubs, hotels and resorts to name but a few locations.

Of course, some people were unconvinced of the need for a new international standard for their playgrounds, with many tired and potentially dangerous sites seen as acceptable. The work of KOOCHIE has gone a long way to transforming how people see playgrounds, having a major effect on the industry. This work was painstakingly done through workshops and seminars, each designed not to sell KOOCHIE products but to educate stakeholders on the importance of testing and certification for children’s play & outdoor fitness areas. The result, however, has been an industry transformed and receptive to what KOOCHIE has to offer, even forcing competition to step up their standards and product offerings.

As the team provide a total solution, this means that each project is treated on individually, with its own set of unique advantages and challenges. From consultation to design, from manufacture to installation and final sign off, the team are engaged with the entire process. Clients are always approached directly, with full support given by the company’s fully trained marketing team.

The success of the firm comes entirely from the passion with which its leadership and team approaches each job. All team members are delighted to work alongside stakeholders in the production of the ideal site for gym and park equipment. “We are proud to have become one of the most specified brands by leading architects and designers in many markets today. The brand is well established and is considered to be a trend setter in our industry – with this recognition comes a huge responsibility that we continually need to live up to” says Roben.

With a history of innovation and higher standards, it can be of little surprise that KOOCHIE is still spending money researching new technologies and innovations. The business is continuously expanding, offering exciting new product lines as well as a brandnew production facility. This will mark the company’s ninth. Looking forward, the firm intends to penetrate more global markets, such as North and Central America, as well as the EMEA regions.

KOOCHIE has been responsive for a market transformed, pushing up international standards that guarantee the safety of all users. This
would be a success in and of itself, but the team have gone on to find impressive achievements in the construction of these new parks and playgrounds. With such a determination to achieve something new, KOOCHIE is set to continue its path of success for years to come.

Winds of Change

Change management is defined as the holistic application of a structured process and set of tools to lead the human side of change. It’s a way of ensuring that businesses today are able to meet the needs and requirements of tomorrow. The challenge, of course, is that change is not something that can just be implemented. People involved in the organization of an enterprise must be engaged and allowed time to adapt to ensure total success.

When clients turn to the team at Faculta, they want help from an organization which is committed to the concept of change management. The team have managed to help numerous companies through the trials of transformation that have allowed companies to grow with greater ease, speed and economy. Some businesses have taken steps to reduce the human element involved, reducing the unpredictability factors at play. With Change Management, and the Faculta team, companies can foster more successful human organizations that make change a competitive advantage.

Of course, companies look to implement change management systems to optimize the results of their work, but the team at Faculta have found that their approach highlights productivity increase, valuable talent permanence, better results in terms of finance, labor and organization when it comes to time and budget and the ultimate demonstration of the People Dependent ROI. This last factor is the return on investment that depends on people in any change initiative.

To be an effective force within a business, the Faculta team know that a company’s change management methods must be guided by the desired change and the attributes of the organization. This means that each plan must be bespoke, guided by the experiences of other successes.
Finding out how effective an organization is at change management, and to determine what resources need to be put into making it thoroughly effective, is now easier than ever thanks to the Faculta online assessment. This quick and straightforward questionnaire collates all the necessary information and informs people how prepared they are to effectively manage changes from an organizational, resources, competencies and structural perspective.

From this information, it often becomes clear that what is required is a partner moving forward. To make effective change, it’s not worth hiring in a team who will work within the existing formulation, it pays to have an equal who has the potential to speak honestly about what is available. The team at Faculta have a long history of expertise in aligning themselves with the characteristics, times, resources and requirements needed for both a project of change within an enterprise and for ensuring that the organization itself is able to change too. 

The team have offices in Mexico City, Santiago de Chile and Madrid Spain, serving the Mexican Republic, Central America, Chile, Argentina, Uruguay, Paraguay, Bolivia, Peru and Spain. It’s an extraordinary geographic range which reflects the universal approach with which they can approach businesses. It’s not easy to find an organization that is ideally equipped to handle change, as has been proven by the complex circumstances of 2020.

This guidance is done through a variety of methods, designed to introduce change management activities within organizational change initiatives. To support businesses through every step, the team provide a comprehensive mix of workshops that can be both virtual and faceto-face. By teaching the core principles of change management, businesses are able to easily apply and adapt techniques where appropriate. Encouraging customization at every stage increases the chance of a business achieving the expected results.

Often, this work is a step too far for companies, as many simply do not have the structure or resources to face changes in an effective way. That is why the team are always on hand to ensure that their clients can make the steady progress that guarantees future success.

For some projects, the Faculta Change Management Project Support system is not quite right, and so the Change Management Deployment Support must be provided. In this case, a Faculta expert is sent directly to the business to work one-on-one with a business implementation leader. This bespoke approach allows companies to bring together the leadership of an organization and create viable strategies that cultivate effective change. Throughout either method, the individual is placed at the center of the change, allowing for as painless a development of an organization as possible.

Change is not easy, but by taking into account the needs of the people at the heart of that change, it can become that little bit easier. The work
of a business like Faculta is invaluable to firms that want to remain agile in these turbulent times. It’s little wonder that today, there are thousands of organizations around the world using the techniques that this team teaches. It’s because they work incredibly well and make an enormous difference to the overall success of a business.

Restructuring options for financially-distressed employers

Whilst support has been made available by the Government to assist employers, the pandemic has still seen huge numbers of job losses. The pain has been felt in all sectors. Retail, leisure and hospitality have all been hit very, very hard. Weakened demand in other sectors has accelerated their need to reconsider their staffing needs. From Topshop to Jaguar Land Rover to Pizza Express, employers have been losing employees in extraordinary numbers. And it’s not just high-profile, multi-site organisations that are suffering. Many smaller businesses are also facing financial uncertainty at best.

It is a sad fact that, sometimes, losing some staff has to form part of a company’s rescue plans. But there are restructuring approaches that will allow some employees to be retained. However, if directors know or should know that their company is insolvent or that it is probable that their company will become insolvent, they owe a duty to put creditors’ interests first. Whilst that does not necessarily prevent them from attempting rescue, it does require detailed consideration of the merits of any proposed action, looked at from creditors’ perspective. Saving jobs might not be in creditors’ interests.

So, what restructuring options are available for directors to consider in the hope of rescuing their companies’ businesses? There is a hierarchy of potentials that might be explored, ranging from informal arrangements with creditors to support cashflow to the entry into formal insolvency regimes, with all the attendant consequences.

In the first category, “live side” action might include:

  • Restructuring borrowing. Directors could approach lenders, asking them to relax covenants. It might be worth looking at the market to see what other lenders might be offering better terms, although directors ought to be cautious about borrowing more money where there is a risk of the company being unable to repay existing facilities, let alone new ones. Directors who know or should know that repayment will never be made could find themselves facing personal liability.
  • Increasing the amount of cash in the company (and thereby reducing borrowing) by reviewing payment terms – both for payments in and out. Do debtors pay late? Does the company pay early? Can extended payment terms be agreed with creditors? But exceeding agreed payment terms risks enforcement action by creditors starting court proceedings or – subject to the current restrictions – presenting a winding up petition.
  • Agreeing time to pay agreements with the Revenue. This implies commercial insolvency, however, because the debt is due but cannot be paid on time.
  • Seeking stakeholder support. Those who might be interested in the company’s survival are its trading partners (who themselves might well be under financial pressure) and its investors. In a smaller company, the directors themselves are likely to be the shareholders; they will need to decide whether they want to put more money into the business.
  • Taking advantage of governmental support options, for as long as they remain available. The Government is asking for power (to last until April 2022) to make temporary amendments to modify the impact of corporate insolvency provisions. It is not clear what amendments might be made. There might be a further extension of the current relaxations and modifications but it would not be wise to assume that. Directors should consider now what financial state their companies will be in once governmental support ends – and how they might respond.

In the second tier in the hierarchy are more formal arrangements where the company remains under the directors’ control and which could provide much-needed breathing space or protection whilst a company’s fortunes improve. These might be:

  • The well-known but sometimes controversial company voluntary arrangement (CVA). The company proposes a compromise with creditors (paying a certain percentage of debts due). If they approve the proposal, creditors are bound by the terms of the CVA and cannot take their own independent action against the company. CVAs can be quite sophisticated and usually last a number of months or years; the Company must comply throughout with the obligations imposed on it.
  • A moratorium, as introduced by the Corporate Insolvency and Governance Act 2020. This is a breathing-space arrangement, which is supervised by a “monitor”. They must consider that it is possible to rescue the company and they must remain of that view for the moratorium to continue. It gives the company an initial 20 days’ protection; the period can be extended by up to one year. In this scenario, it has to be accepted that the company is or probably will become insolvent.
  • A restructuring plan under Part 26A of the Companies Act 2006. This is a concept that was proposed by Government in 2018 and given effect by CIGA. It is a pre-requisite that the company is facing financial difficulty; the purpose of the plan must be the resolution of that difficulty. If certain conditions are met, the court has the power to sanction the plan despite the objection of a class of creditor (the so-called cross-class cram down). If there has been an earlier moratorium, some creditors might have an effective veto.

In the third tier are the formal insolvency regimes, administration and liquidation. In an administration, if there is a sale of the company’s business and assets then some jobs might well be saved; employees should automatically transfer to the purchaser. But if there is no sale or if the company goes into liquidation, then job losses are likely inevitable.

Finally, directors in these situations will benefit from specialist professional advice. Full and frank instructions should be given to the advisors. Directors ought to keep records of what the advisors are told, the advice received and the steps taken.

Preparing your brand for the incoming wave of M&As

Our world is in flux. And although collectively, we are facing many challenges right now, there are myriad opportunities growing in tandem. As many organisations restructure in an effort to weather the current climate, we will inevitably see Europe follow in the steps of the United States and witness an increase in mergers, acquisitions and divestitures.  

With only 674 deals in 2020 – the lowest since the financial crisis of 2008 – lower interest rates, available funding, and a host of organisations looking either for domination or survival, 2021 is likely to be one of the busiest M&A years for some time. To help prepare marketers for the upcoming wave, here are five tips to help drive success for any M&A. 

  

Reverse engineer 

It’s important to look to the future and understand what will yield the most return. Look ahead and ask yourself, will there be a need to quickly restructure a combined brand portfolio, and what are the options for achieving that? Getting the possible brand options down on paper and evaluating the potential trade-offs quickly holds immense value.  

Early dialogue with peers and leaders can lead to fruitful insights. Consider what an optimised brand portfolio can do for the organisation. This approach will reduce time wasting on less relevant strategies and help teams align at speed and focus on what is possible. 

  

Evaluate your brand assets 

Looking to the future is only the first step. It’s important to evaluate what from the past can be let go. Build an inventory of all brand-related assets. This will give brand leaders the opportunity to focus their attention on the assets that can serve multiple purposes, stretch the furthest, and contribute the most to brand success. Every asset must be assessed for the strategic value it brings.

This inventory will allow brand leaders to streamline the most valuable assets and focus attention on what will bring the most return. By implementing through stages, leading with priority assets will allow you to introduce secondary assets over time. 

  

Lead with Purpose 

If Covid-19 has taught brand leaders anything it’s the importance of purpose. Purpose is your north star and can provide a filter for all decision-making within your business. Uncovering and activating your purpose can help guide large-scale as well as smaller decisions. 

M&As are complex and uncertain, but they also provide a moment of clarity to ask important questions on why your company exists, who it serves, and what impact it can have on the world.   

Clear messaging on company aspirations and principles will offer stakeholders a point of alignment. Injecting your purpose into every unit or division will provide a red thread that runs throughout the business, informing all initiatives from customer and employee value propositions, to experience design and marketing. It will also act as a roadmap for integrating new acquisitions. 

  

Adopt full transparency 

Transparency leads to trust, and one way to ensure transparency is by developing your brand as a collaborative and creative engagement. Open the process. Integrate employees and customers into the programme and embrace their desire to be part of this change.  

Transparency generates additional benefits too. Brand teams get a fact base that will offer valuable insights they may otherwise not have noticed. Rapid and open-loop feedback will also provide confidence in decision-making. 

Involving stakeholders in the process of brand development will ensure they feel listened to, givem them confidence that the new company is built around their needs. 

Create brand co-authors, not bystanders. 

  

Maintain agility 

The importance of brand in the M&A process is now being recognised by CEOs and as a result, marketers now more often have a seat at the decision-making table. Maintaining this position will mean demonstrating the capability to work at deal speed. 

Where teams once ran activities in logical sequence, they now need to be run in parallel, and in days not months.

Experience and expertise matter when all eyes are on brand. Ensure your team is comfortable with agile processes and can successfully operate at high speed. Support teams in their drive for agility and allow quick decision-making. 

Moving forward 

The wave of corporate transactions heading for Europe in 2021 will present an opportunity to create lasting value. It’s not just an opportunity for the business, but also for brand leaders to define a new future for their discipline.  

Launching a new brand is no mean feat, and to do so successfully deserves plaudits. But it is just the beginning of the brand building journey that can help to future-proof your business. 

Sight and Sound Success

The value of the audio-visual market has increased dramatically over the last few years. Companies in every industry have taken on the amazing potential of this technology, which has led to the rise of companies specializing in this field. The most impressive is Secret Screen, which has been named Most Outstanding Audio-Visual Integration Specialists, 2021 – Portugal in the Global Excellence Awards. We take a closer look at the firm to find out more.

Since 2010, SecretScreen have been leading the way when it comes to integration of audio-visuals into various projects across different industries. The team works across various sectors to support businesses in the expansion of their organizations and ensure clear communication in every aspect.

Being only ten years old, the firm has been able to take an agile and practical approach to the audio-visuals sector. The sector is one that is constantly changing to meet its new needs and perpetually improve technologies. As a result, their dynamic approach has ensured that they can not only meet the needs of businesses as they are today, but that they can do so for the foreseeable future.

The focus of the firm on visual communication and interaction technologies means that they can provide specialized services for no matter what the business. Developing skills in this area has proven to be tremendously useful for the company, allowing them to provide comprehensive support to organizations. The team have become renowned for being able to create a bespoke solution that best suits the specific needs of the firm.

Of course, much of this success comes from an approach that puts research and development first and foremost. The team is always investigating new technologies and ways of working that can help businesses to thrive in the digital world. This research is guided by a careful analysis not only of a user’s needs, but the problems that they face. By considering all of these facts, Secret Screen has been able to play a key part in the design of computer systems that are able to integrate impressive technologies.

The team is also a highly respected consultancy when it comes to equipment, software and other information technologies as well as audio-visual and multimedia communication systems. This consultancy work has allowed the team to take on new and exciting roles across various organizations. Sometimes, they handle the training and marketing of a product, while at others they are able to take on positions as representatives of national and international brands.

It’s easy to realize the incredible value that the team at SecretScreen have in the international marketplace. The team is frequently called upon to provide services, technical assistance and property maintenance contracts on behalf of clients, which include not only the assembly, but the installation of goods on a project.

Perhaps the best way to demonstrate the highly reactive and proactive approach the team takes is through their response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This unique situation has shaken many businesses and forced them to reconsider how they operate. For the team at SecretScreen the crisis has presented them with the opportunity to create new and exciting solutions to the increasing challenges of being audio-visuals.

Due to the Covid-19 pandemic, SecretScreen focussed all efforts into its entrepreneur side developing a solution that would fit into this new reality. It all started with a MUPI with a sanitizer dispenser and temperature control. Having designed both the electronics and software, almost all ideas became possible and as soon as a feature got released a new feature was being developed. Being an AV integrator at its core, they realized the potential of their MUPI and integrated a touch screen and thermal printer to incorporate their queue system. Also, the MUPI is a great form of visual communication that allows a personalized content exposure. As with all technology, only the future can tell what will come next.

For those who have had to adapt to the challenges of homeworking, there are several innovations that the team can offer, designed specifically to assist in the adaptation of working to a new remote working reality. This embraces one of the principles that the team values the most, namely that new challenges require new and exciting solutions.

We have seen over the last few years how the rising star that is the audio-visuals industry has had an enormous impact on the world at large. Few have been more involved in its development than the team at SecretScreen. We celebrate their impressive achievements in these difficult times and look forward to explore the new projects and the impact that the company provides, not only to other business but also to the market.

For more information, please visit www.secretscreen.pt

Advancing the Four Pillars of Market Intelligence

When it comes to understanding vulnerabilities and predicting shifts in today’s markets, data forms a major part in the decision-making process for most enterprises. Applying that data accurately and effectively is not always easy, but the leading-edge team at Proactive Worldwide offers advanced solutions to help businesses on an international scale.

Since 1995, Proactive Worldwide (PWW) has evolved from a two-person operation into one of the world’s leading research, and consulting firms that have engaged with clients in over 47 countries to date in North America, Europe, and Asia Pacific. Proactive Worldwide specializes in providing actionable intelligence in four distinct areas—competitive intelligence, market intelligence, strategic intelligence, and customer intelligence—that enable its client partners to move their businesses forward with confidence.

PWW’s team of doctorate-level analysts and researchers engage with organizations to turn unique challenges into opportunities, using best-practice forensic methodology and award-winning, AI-enabled innovations. In business for over 25 years, PWW offers a complete, and consequently more accurate, perspective that helps its client partners support key planning and investment decisions, mitigate risk, and confirm or disprove long-held business assumptions.

Harvesting evidence-based data, developing actionable insights and enabling better strategic decisions, PWW’s deep bench of researchers, analysts and in-house industry specialists are central to the firm’s success. Within the competitive intelligence sphere, Proactive Worldwide engages the largest number of Ph.D./doctoral researchers working in the field today. PWW’s competitive, market, customer, and strategic intelligence experts have firsthand industry knowledge in the following: healthcare, pharma, biotech and medical devices; CGI and retail; manufacturing and industrial; financial services; transportation; and technology. These Analysts bring a vast store of knowledge and an insider’s view that adds tremendous value to each engagement, including CI function development, virtual wargaming, CI training, and scenario planning, which can be of immense benefit when it comes to helping clients improve competitive standing. PWW’s sterling reputation for engaging top research talents, with experience in the corporate world, make what Proactive Worldwide offers to its clients truly unique.

PWW’s advanced, tools-driven secondary research and proprietary human source databases both complement and fuel this expertise, allowing the team to maintain a razor-sharp focus on investigative discovery and forensic analysis to get to the heart of its clients’ corporate and competitive health. Unlike most CI consultants, PWW’s advanced PWWDiscovery™ research methodology breaks through the constraints of traditional market research, expanding the concept of decision support services by linking evidence-based market and competitor intelligence and customer insights with strategy development and implementation. Overlaying this rich intelligence with PWW’s years of target industry and subject matter expertise, the firm’s clients gain a three-dimensional picture on which to create an achievable vision for the future.

PWWDiscovery™ has been the launchpad for several of PWW’s new cutting-edge tools in primary and secondary research offering real-time accuracy. Examples include customer intelligence/voice-of-customer innovations and groundbreaking AI advancements in survey design. Others include PWW’s Insights Hub market intelligence software platform, and Profile360™, a rapid-response CI service to help enterprises gauge the impact of COVID-19 on their business. PWW’s most successful innovations are a direct result of collaborative research and development to improve how teams gather, disseminate, and draw conclusions from data. 

Much of PWW’s longevity is its ability to clearly define project scope, accurately convey deliverables, and demonstrate how this information will benefit the client in pragmatic terms. This experience has been crucial in successfully conveying the practical benefits of intelligence gathering and managing client expectations. PWW’s four intelligence disciplines are based on realistic project goals that clients understand—what market research really entails, what can be delivered, when it can be delivered, and how much it will cost.

Proactive Worldwide is continuing with its evolution of decision support services interlinking evidence-based market intelligence, competitor intelligence, and customer insights with strategy development and implementation. The COVID-19 pandemic has left its mark on ways PWW conducts competitive intelligence research. Virtual wargaming engagements that give remote-working leadership teams in different time zones the capability to test out ideas and scenarios without putting themselves at risk are here to stay. We celebrate their success, and look forward to seeing what happens next with this outstanding firm.

For further details, please contact Kelley Loiacono at www.proactiveworldwide.com

Care By the Sea

So much more than simply a domiciliary care agency, Overington Care does not merely assist people to live an independent life in their own homes, it also has a strong focus on the mental wellbeing of its clients and its staff. Founder and owner, Nichola, tells us more about her approach and what it means for the community.

Overington Care provides care in the community to support people to remain living independently as they would like in their own homes.

The company was created in 2013 by Nichola Overington, who had more than 28 years of experience in the health and social care sector, after she decided there was an opportunity to create a service that would rival existing care agencies by offering a higher standard of care.

Today, Overington Care provides care to adults over 18 years of age with dementia and learning disabilities and has gained an excellent reputation in the community, being rated ‘outstanding’ under Well Led due to the support it offers clients and employees.

“At Overington Care, we believe that if people can be supported to live well and feel valued as individuals by us listening to what is important, then this will promote the individual’s self-esteem and confidence,” Nichola explains as the organisation’s key ethos. “In turn, we have exceptionally happy clients, employees we retain and, as a direct result, the company is growing.”

Nichola is committed to investing in her staff first and foremost, through dedicated training and time spent making them feel valued. She is an advocate of promoting team building and is proud to say that all her staff members go above and beyond for their clients.

“No one individual at Overington Care is better than the next colleague,” Nichola enthuses. “I can honestly say Overington Care would not exist if it was not for the amazing work all the Health Care Assistants do in supporting all clients, but also their colleagues, constantly working together as a team, supporting each other and learning from one another, to become better versions of ourselves and be the very best we can be.”

There is a system in place where colleagues are in constant contact with one another every single day to ensure they are there to support, advise and liaise with each other whenever and wherever it might be needed. This open culture is useful for all staff and has an end goal of reflection and learning as team members move forward.

As Overington Care has grown, Nichola and the team have created a hub for the community – this being a free service for all community members where they can visit, take advantage of complementary hot drinks, cakes and biscuits, and participate in activities should they wish to do so, such as having their hair done or enjoying a foot spa.

This free service was originally due for a March 2020 launch, however, due to the Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent restrictions it brought, the launch is now on hold, with the hope that it may be able to go ahead from Easter 2021.

“This service is all about supporting lonely people in our community so that they feel they have somewhere they can come and feel included, thus reducing the feeling of isolation and helping support them in their mental health journey,” says Nichola.

With regards to the future, Nichola envisions more of the same fantastic work that Overington Care is known for, with the same goals of supporting clients and employee’s mental health, creating an outstanding working environment for staff, and to assist and aid all clients in the community to the best of its abilities.

For further information, please contact Nichola Overington at www.overingtoncareltd.co.uk

Leading Logistics Provider

The importance of a smooth supply chain cannot be ignored in this day and age. A good supply chain doesn’t just revolve around moving products from one place to another but building lasting relationships. This approach is why the team at Digistics has been named Most Outstanding Supply Chain Solutions Provider 2020 – South Africa in Acquisition International’s Global Excellence Awards. We took a closer look to discover more about how the firm achieved such an impressive accolade.

For the last twenty-four years, the team at Digistics have been committed to putting together and executing a reliable supply chain on behalf of its clients. Moving products from A to B is only part of the team’s business strategy, with a focus on customer service that is second to none. When the Digistics team get involved, they go above and beyond to ensure that they achieve total success.

The work that Digistics does is not completed in isolation. It is done in partnership with their customers, and their customer’s business. The success of the firm is measured in the success of this execution. The team approach their clients with a collaborative approach, knowing that both sides will find enormous benefit in simply working together. When Digistics works on a project, it is not simply about the procurement and movement of product, but the delivering of smart insights through collaboration. This holistic approach, based on data, enables the supply chain to straddle multiple stakeholders.

Because of the team’s exceptional experience in the field, they have been able to act as the Lead Logistics Provider for numerous clients. Their capacity to cope with the difficulties inherent in traversing a customer’s unique environments and needs is why they are in such high demand. Once they are able to take account of the demand planning, the Digistics team are able to take a customer’s entire inventory, from protein to produce to packaged items, and deliver it to a distribution centre where specialised orders can be constructed. These can be designed to recur on a regular basis, meeting client needs with ease.

Of course, no supply chain is the same every time, and the team at Digistics provide customers with the ability to modify orders before the final delivery is made. This ensures that businesses can operate at maximum efficiency. To smooth the process, the team use the integrated Control Tower management of warehousing, transportation and delivery execution on behalf of customers. When combined with a customer portal that is designed to process orders easily and effectively, it’s a system that has proven time and time again to be incredibly effective in its operation.

To keep things running smoothly, Digistics has expanded across the length and breadth of South Africa, with seven distribution centres in Johannesburg, Pretoria, Cape Town, Port Elizabeth, Durban and Bloemfontein. These multi-temperature facilities are designed to be state-of-the-art, able to handle whatever is required. This includes being fully compliant with all food safety standards and regulations. The food safety management system run by the team at Digistics carries full FSSC accreditation, which is why so many people trust the team to handle their supply chain.

Despite the challenges inherent in the supply chain process, the team at Digistics have proven themselves to be worthy partners for clients. The team’s implementation of powerful technology has created the modern form of integrated logistics on which the best systems operate. Instead of focusing on one aspect of the supply chain, these systems allow the team to take a holistic approach, allowing costs to be reduced, reliability increased and better overall service. With this collaborative custom solution, bespoke fitted to suit the needs of the client, businesses have a partner who can react swiftly to the changing demands of the marketplace, giving them an overall advantage.

The technology is not just limited to the systems that keep things moving. From voice operated warehouses to timely information from dispatch, sophisticated gadgets form the heart of what Digistics has to offer. Perhaps what is most important is that the firm don’t just use technology for technology’s sake. It’s a deliberate choice that is designed to help the customer as much as possible. Maintaining the balance between the warring demands of these systems is not always easy, but the team have managed to find new ways of cutting costs, saving time while ensuring that the team can continue to deliver a service that is truly exceptional.

It’s easy to see why so many have turned to Digistics for support in maintaining a strong supply chain. The team have been proud to implement standardised processes throughout every level of the company. It ensures a strong continuity that treats every client with fairness and respect. Reliability is key to the team’s offering, because it ensures that their clients can focus on the needs of their own customers. Instead of worrying about what is on offer, the team ensures that they can deliver what is needed when it is needed.

This means adapting quickly in a crisis, because failure is not an option for Digistics customers. If it means collecting an emergency order when a supplier cannot deliver or preparing something special for the customer within the hour, this is a team that always goes above and beyond to ensure that no one is left before. Adapting to the unexpected and the unknown is never easy, but it’s just another way in which the team excel.

Ensuring that deliveries are available for final drop off is one challenge but working around the needs of the customer is paramount when it comes to completing a delivery. The team know to schedule deliveries before and after peak times, sending some form of notification prior to arrival to prepare the customer’s staff for the arrival. These steps are small but make an enormous difference to the speed with which an operation can be completed. It goes without saying that this is another way the team have found to provide the exceptional service that the team are renowned for.

Of course, for many businesses now, the future is one that focuses on sustainability. Will we still have a planet left to live on? For the team at Digistics, the road to a greener future is not easily taken. That said, they have made the effort to start forging this new path. Their routing software builds in efficiencies where possible to reduce empty kilometres travelled. Nothing is off-limits when it comes to reducing the impact of the business anywhere on their network. It’s a credit to the team’s tenacious focus on building a more sustainable, ethical, and responsible future.

It’s easy to see why people turn to Digistics for their services. They provide a crucial service that makes a real difference to the success of a business. With a focus on ensuring that their customers are satisfied, the team have been able to ensure that the supply chain thrives.

For more information, please contact Renier Du Preez at www.digistics.co.za 

International Women’s Day: More Women Than Ever Are Thriving in Previously Male Dominated Industries

Women now take up 26% of STEM employees, specifically Mathematics and Physical Science Sectors, a remarkable shift that can help inspire women looking at non-traditional career paths. Plus, with women in the UK 38% more likely to go to university than men; female students are starting to take on more traditionally male subjects such as engineering and computer science. 

Women are moving in and paving the way for traditionally male-dominated industries, with the representation of women rising across the UK workforce increasing along with a rise in female entrepreneurs over the last few years. This International Women’s Day Fresh Student Living has undergone research to discover what areas women are thriving in and paving the way for women in future.

Women in the UK are now beginning to gain confidence in their academic abilities, allowing them to pursue high education ambitions.  The number of students studying law has been steadily increasing for years, with more than double the number of female law students than men who have accepted a place to study law in 2019 -2020.

Here is a list of sectors women are dominating, along with the percentage of women employed:

Health & Social Work

78%

Education

70%

Accommodation & Food Service

54%

Real Estate

53%

Public Administration & Defense

52%

The gender pay gap has also decreased; in 2020, women were paid an average of 6.5% less than men, compared to 12.1% for full-time workers in 2015.

Tackling stereotypes will encourage women to enter more male-dominated subjects and industries later in life. Three essential tips for tackling these stereotypes are:

1. Get to them early – A lack of skills and confidence are a reason for opting out of typically ‘male subjects’; by changing this perception early and offering hands-on learning, young girls can start to feel confident in their abilities. 

2. Bust the Stereotypes – Dispel any myths and misconceptions that dissuade young girls from studying ‘male’ subjects in school.

3. Female role models – Young girls can be put off STEM and IT careers due to so few role models. Mentorship is a vital role in setting females on a path to confidence and success. 

 

Here are some great initiatives to get more women in tech:

CoderDojo – A volunteer-led computer programming club for people aged 7-17.

Girls Who Code – A popular US non-profit organisation that runs summer programs teaching programming skills to high school girls.

I Wish – This Irish initiative hopes to encourage more female students to study STEM subjects.

WISE – A UK non-profit organisation aiming to increase women’s presence in STEM jobs from today’s rate of 13% to 30% by 2020.

Girls in Tech – A global network that aims to boost the visibility of women in tech by hosting events and providing employment resources.

Women make up 67% of our team here at Fresh, and 63% of our senior management team at Director level are women. We look forward to seeing even more women dominate within the property industry!

Forget GameStop, gamification is the real investing revolution

No industry has been shielded from the disruptive legacy of the coronavirus pandemic.  The impact on the financial world was sensationally underlined in the US, when a swathe of retail investors sought to bring down eminent hedge funds by bidding up the beleaguered GameStop stock. 

As rumours continue to swirl around which stock will be targeted next by so-called investment vigilantes, the incident has broad implications for financial services. For the UK’s wealth industry and its guardians, the key question is whether this trend will blow across the Atlantic – and how could this impact the next generation of investors seeking to ensure a healthy and robust financial future.  

Behind the David and Goliath headlines, are some trends that the wealth industry must acknowledge, and consider deeply, the potential consequences. 

Betting for brokerages 

As Tesla visionary Elon Musk appeared to suggest in a recent Tweet, this situation was inevitable. Ultra-low rates, asset prices removed from fundamental reality, a technology enabled hyper-acceleration in the democratisation of investor platforms and the growth of chatrooms created the backdrop for a group of amateur day traders to take on investment titans. 

The pandemic has seen retail investing surge. A key underlying driver of this trend is that millennials have had more time and have begun to take ownership of their financial future. The other phenomenon is that due to a dearth of live fixtures, sports-betters have been switching to day trading.  

Alarmingly, we have seen a correlation in the decline of sport betting versus a rise in new retail share accounts. This has injected an elevated level of animal spirit to US markets. During the pandemic apps like Robinhood, Webill and Sofi have taken on millions of new accounts in the US. To illustrate the investing frenzy, as the GameStop story unfolded, Robinhood had more than 600,000 people download its app on Friday, according to JMP Securities.  

The other complicating factor is the business model operated by Robinhood and others. Payment for order flow is a system where a brokerage firm receives money for directing orders to specific parties for trade execution. This is banned in the UK due to the conflicts of interest that it can create but it is still allowed in the US.  Payment for order flow creates a potential lack of transparency, but also, as options/derivatives can be far more lucrative for trading firms, there is the potential for retail investors to be pushed in the direction of sophisticated products where they aren’t aligned to the investment goals.

This is best highlighted by the increasing interest in risky products like CFDs or “contract for differences” amongst retail investors, which has been likened to gambling rather than investing. A review of some platforms that offer CFDs to investors show them disclosing statutory warnings that 67-78% per cent of retail investors lose money when trading CFDs.

Education and access  

These complicated trades give clients the option to buy or sell securities at predetermined prices. By nature, this is more speculative — and gives retail investors the ability to use leverage, which can deliver more upside, but also potentially big losses. 

This brings us to a crucial point. Should the democratisation of investing just be about access? At WBS, we are supporting platforms to expand their investment universes, but we believe without education, access is not itself enough to ensure financial well-being. True investor democratisation is about leveraging financial instruments such as ETFs and fractional shares to invest early and often, time in the market is almost always more profitable than timing the market – but alongside this new architecture, the industry and the regulatory bodies also have a moral responsibility to ensure that investors are adequately safeguarded.  

While GameStop appeared to pit the person on the street versus hedge funds, the reality is that behind any chatroom or blog could be a scheme to manipulate the market. The most important thing is that the retail investor population is protected, and that the industry continues to use newer and smarter tools to support that goal.

Gamification over Gaming 

Over in the UK, we should welcome platforms that encourage long-term saving such as Hargreaves Lansdown. The firm has reported a surge in new accounts during the pandemic. The rise of younger investors pushed the average age of its platform users down from 54 in 2012, to 47.  

This is the beginning of a seismic generational shift and wealth transfer. But alongside the established platforms, there is a wave of digital investment platforms, such as Digital Money Box and Wealthify who are encouraging investors to invest early and often through low-cost liquid instruments that are easy to understand and are diversified.  

However, we need to draw a clear line between gamification and gaming or gamifying. Some platforms have been accused of “gaming” investing and not putting in place proper controls to safeguard inexperienced investors. But there are plenty of platforms trying to support long-term investing through gamification and nudges – powerful tools which we believe will be the real investing revolution for millennials. 

Gamification is when investors interact with their personal financial objectives with an investment firm’s game-based applications. This method can use incentives to reward engagement and harness techniques in the form of interactive games to encourage clients to work toward their respective investment goals. In this scenario, behaviour might be mapped via a virtual reality simulation to illustrate benefits for saver. This type of aid enables savers and investors to visualise the rewards of the investing both time and money in their financial goals – and creates a wired emotional response to flex their saving muscles. 

In improving the world’s financial literacy, the industry should not push for risky investment strategies like day trading – in the new frontier for retail investing the only game in town should be gamification for long term success.

Unlocking The Potential

Since their inception, SNAK has been dedicated to helping organizations solve their toughest challenges and realize their greatest ambitions. During the foundation of the company, the firm decided to build SNAK around three core values: engaging with customers throughout their life cycle, sustainability and people who demonstrate respect, integrity and teaming. Regardless of how much the firm expands, these core values will forever remain a focal point of the business.

In today’s era, many firm’s are operating in world of competency, where it is difficult to manage the customer’s requirement and to understand their challenging business areas. SNAK unlocks the potential by providing a dedicated team who work with customer to understand the problem and deliver the results as per customer requirement. However, their services do not just end there. SNAK is constantly in touch with their customers for their feedback on a regular basis, as well as communicating with them frequently to resolve any challenges they face.

In addition to this, through their various services lines, the team at SNAK are able to offer a number of solutions which include; enterprise resource planning (ERP) , document management system (DMS), customer relationship management (CRM), customer experience solution, mobility solution, e-Commerce solution and artificial intelligence solution to name but a few.

For many businesses, it is the underlying value of what an organization is able to deliver to their clients, that provides a meaning to both its stakeholders and employees. This undivided attention helps to create a path and offer guidance for the future, as well creates commitment, enthusiasm and inspiration from all parties involved. This approach to service is just one of the many ways in which SNAK has been able to accumulate not only years of success, but also a loyal and expanding client base.

Many of the clients the firm works with operate within multiple sectors such as Healthcare, Automotive, Manufacturing and Retail to name a few. At SNAK, the firm have a marketing and sales team who undertake thorough research into their customers, to ensure that they can find a solution that is perfectly tailored for their problems.

It is not just the marketing and sales team which go above and beyond to ensure customer satisfaction is delivered, SNAK also has a devoted team of individuals working in operations, delivery and HR doing everything in their power to exceed their clients’ expectations. Each member of the team is supported to help them achieve not only their clients’ goals, but also their own personal ones. SNAK has cultivated an open and transparent culture within the business, which has proven to help create a productive workforce.

With plans to expand their footprint globally, SNAK is searching for talented individuals and strong partners who can bring their soul in company and support in helping to achieve the milestones of the company.

A significant portion of the work that SNAK provides can be incredibly useful to countless business across the globe. Whilst their current base is in India, the firm already have helped a number of businesses in the Netherlands and the team hopes that they can further expand their reach in Europe in the years to come. It is an exciting time for SNAK as they put plans into motion to expand the business and we can not wait to see what one of the best IT software development companies operating in India achieves in the years to come.

Contact Details:

Contact: SNAK Media Team

Company: SNAK India Consultancy Services Pvt Ltd.

Facebook: www.facebook.com/snakindiaconsultancy

Twitter: @SNAK_INDIA

Email: [email protected]

Web Address: www.snakindia.com

Health and Wealth

It goes without saying that larger companies tend to have more resources. Big organizations can provide incredible levels of support thanks to their size, but this does not mean that smaller enterprises should miss out. The value of a committed pharmacy benefit management system cannot be overstated, and the solution presented by the team at VativoRx is one which opens the doors of this incredible service to an entirely new audience.

The team at VativoRx believe that you shouldn’t have to be a Fortune 500 company to enjoy the advantages of a dedicated pharmacy benefits management program. Their solution is designed to innovate within the market, serving middle market companies, Third Party Administrators, Hospice Organizations, small and large employer groups, government, and HMOs. The nature of this incredible system is such that each organization can customize their solution to meet their specific needs. No two organizations are the same, from what it offers to what its members need, and so having this level of flexibility is vital for success.

The VativoRx program offers far more than simply a benefits processor. It actively designs and manages prescription benefit programs that provides cost savings to an organization on formulary and non-formulary drugs. Sophisticated design ensures that it can accommodate patients with advanced formulary and distribution options, delivering services through technologically superior systems. The promise for every group that uses the team’s astonishing services is that their work will combine fiduciary responsibility, and sensitivity to ensure members of the organization will be comforted and confident that they are receiving the best results possible.

No one wants a system that sacrifices care for cost-efficiency, so every stage of the design process for VativoRx has been carefully designed to provide the perfect balance between the two factors. The duty of care that you undertake on behalf of your employees is carried forward to the team at VativoRx. Of course, the main reason for embracing the potential of VativoRx is to provide access to drugs at a major discount, but the VativoRx team have gone far beyond that endeavor. They have created a program that is capable of delivering an extensive clinical program that supports the management of a company’s prescription benefit with a wide range proactive and innovative solutions.

As a management solution, the team have taken the time to ensure that everyone is engaged within the healthcare process, offering a holistic approach that is to be celebrated. From patient to pharmacist, VativoRx makes it much easier to deliver the best outcomes that address the specific challenges facing clients. From formulary management to drug utilization review to medication therapy management, the team have taken the time to ensure that their customers are first and foremost every step of the way.

Being able to guide the way in which claims are managed is a major benefit to working with the VativoRx systems. The team’s innovative approach embraces flexibility, with the opportunity to accommodate virtually any benefit configuration or ad-hoc modification with speed and accuracy. Working in an ad-hoc manner allows the platform to reflect the challenges of real life. Many programs simply cannot handle the unpredictable, and health can often prove incredibly erratic in its nature.

With a near infinite number of point-of-sale solutions, instantaneous online formulary, benefit and eligibility management and flexible control over the entire spectrum of pharmacy benefit options, this is a solution that is designed to be used by businesses of any and every sort, as opposed to specialists. Like every aspect of the platform, it opens doors to opportunity as opposed to closing them.

To ensure that clients are always satisfied with the service they get, the team have taken the time to constantly reach out and ensure that they keep in touch with their needs. The team have developed two industry-leading communications channels in order to remain in effective contact. The first is the team’s member portal. This provides ongoing and updated access to general drug information, corporate communications and related industry news. For those who want to know a little more about VativoRx, it also contains a hub for frequently asked questions, contact information and a comprehensive selfservice section.

The other option available is the VativoRX Mobile App. This provides members with the same useful information on the go, simplifying their participation in health management through their prescription benefits. Because the app is in the hands of members, they can establish their profiles, identifying themselves as eligible for various options where appropriate. This empowers individuals to take responsibility and control of their own health where appropriate.

The aim of VativoRx is not to shut the door on health, but to open up brand new opportunities for people, for organizations and for people everywhere. The aim of VativoRx has always been to make it easier for people to understand and manage their benefits, and to work out a way to be healthy that doesn’t cost the Earth. The continued success of this platform shows how effective the team have proven to be.

Home Away From Home

Ghana is rapidly growing into a major country on the international stage. with the region’s expansion unquestionable, the importance of its capital city continues to increase. Accra has much to commend it, including the delightful @Home Boutique Hostel & Suites. Recognised in Acquisition International’s Global Excellence Awards as Most Accommodating Short-Stay Hotel, 2021 – Accra, we thought we’d take a closer look at what this stunning home from home has to offer its guests.

What does it mean to find that perfect place to stay? Is it a place filled with luxuries, where someone can be pampered and treated like royalty? Is it somewhere quiet and tranquil, where guests can sit back, relax and watch the world go by? Is it somewhere in the heart of the city, ideally placed to act as a base of operations that is second to none? For guests coming to Accra for the first time, @Home Boutique Hostel acts as all three.

A little under a mile and a half away from Independence Square, the welcoming walls of @Home Boutique Hostel offer a pleasant sanctuary from a weary world. The team aim to offer service that is truly unique in the area, effortlessly blending B&B Hostel accommodation with high class saloon and spa services. For those who are miles away from home, the team see this as no reason why you can’t find a way of living that suits your specific needs.

For many guests, their time at @Home Boutique Hostel begins at the airport. The team know that after a long trip, the last time someone wants to do is search for where they are sleeping that night. As such, @Home Boutique Hostel offers a much used and highly valued airport shuttle service. It’s not just a courtesy from the team, but an essential service that acts as a welcome to Accra for those who have just arrived.

Walking through the doors, guests are often amazed at exactly what is on offer. Wi-Fi is available throughout the property, and every room comes fitted with air conditioning and a flat-screen TV with satellite channels. This ensures the ultimate in comfort during a guest’s stay. The building boasts an impressive terrace, and a garden, so visitors can watch the world go by or relax in serene safety on the grounds. For those who want to embrace a little more pampering and self-reflection, a Jacuzzi and wellness area is available for use and had proven to be highly popular over the years.

When it comes to breakfast, the team offer a service that is unparalleled in Accra. Food is not only delicious, but of immense variety. Local specialities and a continental breakfast can be enjoyed at the restaurant. The choice that is available changes daily to ensure the highest quality. Guests choose what they eat from an astonishing menu that reflects some of the best that Accra has to offer, selected by some of its most discerning citizens.

Of course, no one would want to visit this amazing location without seeing some of the sights. For the price, the team at @Home Boutique Hostel is one of the best situated places to stay in the city. The property is just ten minutes’ drive to the Arts Centre, Accra Sports Stadium, Osu Castle, Makola, Accra City Centre, James Town, Ministries and a mere five minutes’ drive to the La Beach. There are many hotels in Accra which charge far more, while offering significantly less in the way of not only services, but ease of access to all of these marvellous icons of Ghana’s history.

Of course, people don’t just keep turning to this impressive hotel because of its impressive services and the staff don’t aim so highly simply because they are told to. They gain this determination from a way of thinking that puts others first in every respect. The team do their best at every stage to ensure that their guests are comfortable and happy when they come to stay. If things go wrong, they approach the challenge with a laugh and a smile that sees everything right. Those who stay are not just visitors, they’re friends who will come back again and again.

This, then, is the secret behind the incredible success seen by the team at @Home Boutique Hostel. It’s not just another place to stay, but a home from home that tries in every respect to be just that. The approach is one that is calm, friendly, and welcoming, and never pushes the boundaries into outright formality. With such success in Acquisition International’s Global Excellence Awards, we’re sure to see this firm thrive for the foreseeable future.

For more information, please contact Margaret Amoako.

Global Excellence 2020

Our Global Excellence Awards are an annual programme which has been designed by our in-house research team. Launched to recognise and reward the firms and individuals whose sustained outstanding performance has seen them leading the way in their industry.

Honouring these top performers is done through a rigorous and in-depth selection process from our in-house awards specialists. The team left no stone unturned to ensure that every one of our chosen firms was selected based on proven performance over the past 12 months, guaranteeing that all award recipients were chosen purely on merit and can take pride in the knowledge that they truly deserve their place among this year’s esteemed winners.

Disability-related tribunal cases increase 133% over past five years – making it one of the most prevalent types of workplace discrimination

Disability-related tribunal cases have increased 133% over the past five years, making it the second most prevalent type of workplace discrimination, new research shows.

Through the analysis of Ministry of Justice (MOJ) data, health and safety training specialist DeltaNet International uncovered the top reasons people take their company to an employment tribunal. 

It found sexual orientation discrimination cases to have increased by 165% over the past five years, followed by disability discrimination cases with 8,094 claims in 2019/2020 – up from 3,470 in 2015/2016. When looking at last year alone, there were more disability-related tribunal cases compared to any other type of workplace discrimination.

In a third of cases (33%), disability discrimination cases are resolved via mediation between the employer and employee. Compared to 2015/2016, fewer cases are also labelled as ‘unsuccessful at hearing’.

The 8 Best Coworking Spaces for Tech Startups

Startup companies in the information technology sector need space to collaborate and innovate. In-person and remote meetings require a specialized office, but new businesses may not be able to invest in a permanent location. These are the best eight coworking spaces for tech startups because they include everything a company needs without a traditional lease.

1. SOMACentral (California)

Tech startups will find a collaborative environment in SOMACentral’s three California locations. Employees close to Menlo Park, Townsend Street and Sacramento street can work in a private office or secluded desk. The SOMACentral founders created their offices to serve technology and creative teams, so professionals can find the supplies and space they need for their specific projects.

 

2. Galvanize (U.S.)

Anyone looking to refine their coding skills and work away from home for the day can check out Galvanize. This coworking company built locations across the country to train students via immersive boot camps and give them rentable spaces to work. Flexible memberships work from month to month so everyone has the freedom to work wherever and whenever they want.

 

3. HackerLab (California)

HackerLab’s Sacramento location has everything tech startups need to work in an affordable office space. Their private offices eliminate distractions and increase productivity, even if employees only use their premium desks.

 

4. TechHub (Worldwide)

When people rent a coworking space in one of TechHub’s worldwide offices, they’ll be among similarly skilled people. The company only rents to people employed in the tech industry so experts can collaborate with leaders and innovators in real time without a third party introducing them.

 

5. TechSpace (U.S.)

Located on both coasts and in the central U.S., TechSpace has offices in major business hubs. Public transportation makes them easy to access and flexible leasing terms ensure that they’re easier to work with. After people use their collaborative furniture to streamline projects while staying comfortable, it’s easy to see why this company has some of the best coworking spaces for tech startups.

6. Plexal (London)

After the 2012 London Olympics moved out of town, Plexal converted their media center into its coworking space. Within its mini-city of workshop spaces, technology labs and an indoor park, startups will find amenities and resources designed exclusively for the tech world.

 

7. Workhaus (Toronto)

Workhaus has multiple office spaces within downtown Toronto for tech startups. There’s plenty of space for individuals and growing companies, plus in-house events available to renters who want to learn more about the entrepreneurial world.

8. The Hive Central (Hong Kong)

Fintech startups will find a home in The Hive Central. This coworking company’s Hong Kong headquarters has affordable spaces for employees to tackle projects. It also has special programs available, such as prototyping designers and videography studios so startups don’t have to outsource to launch products or services.

 

Find Coworking Spaces for Tech Startups

These eight coworking spaces for tech startups make it simple to find a physical location to work anywhere in the world. Business owners and employees can meet, grow and learn more about their field without ever signing a long-term lease for a permanent office that doesn’t include unique spaces and perks like these companies do.

Revolutionising Medical Training

Established in 2017, Fusetec is a cutting-edge additive manufacturing company utilising the latest 3D technologies. Following the firm’s well-deserved success in Acquisition International’s Global Excellence Award 2020, we caught up with CEO Mark Roe to find out more about one most innovative additive companies operating in the industry today.

Located in Adelaide, Fusetec is revolutionising medical training using advanced additive manufacturing of human body parts for use as teaching aids during surgical training. To start, Mark provides a brief overview of the firm and offers more insight into its clientele.

“Fusetec manufactures fully operable, anatomically accurate, human body parts by segmenting CT and MRI scans of actual patients to recreate anatomies and pathological conditions of a subject through 3D printing, thereby enabling medical professionals to understand the practical complexities associated with the patient under study. Naturally, this allows residents and surgeons to rehearse new or complex procedures by practicing on models.

“In addition to this, actual footage obtained from a real-world operation can be viewed, providing surgeons a comparative assessment of both scenarios. The major benefit deriving from this training methodology is the elimination of cadavers and the dangers associated with such practices. The firm enables medical students, surgical residents, and even fully skilled surgeons to keep up to date with their training practices by utilising 3D printing technologies to reproduce anatomically accurate medical training devices with pathologies.”

In a world where 4.4 per cent of all surgical cases end up in fatality within 30 days, Fusetec are committed to changing lives through technology. Moreover, as Mark goes on to explain, the merits of additive manufacturing techniques are what inspired him to establish the company in the first place.

“Naturally, I wanted to bring some of the most promising additive manufacturing technologies to Australia, but buying commercial technology and offering a bureau service is ultimately a recipe for disaster. If you are buying off-the-shelf technology, there is nothing stopping competitors from doing the same. So, in my pursuit of a more beneficial business model, I discovered a hidden problem in the medical sector, how do surgeons train while avoiding the complexities associated with cadavers? The difficulty of the problem at hand invigorated us to take up the challenge head-on, bringing together a team of the most skilled professionals in the additive manufacturing, engineering, anatomy, and IT industries.”

In an attempt to offer a unique selling point, Fusetec like to keep its clients in suspense until the end of their videos as Mark points out.

“While promoting our products, we typically refrain from revealing to the surgeons that the body parts shown in the video are advanced manufactured anatomies until the end. Surgeons are generally flabbergasted, when it is revealed they have been viewing manufactured, life-like designed intricacies of pathologies and not the dissection of living tissue.”

The recent outbreak of COVID-19 has caused catastrophic disruption to all market sectors, however despite the pandemic halting the progress of its operations, the firm has still managed to prosper during these difficult and uncertain times thanks to its technological strengths as Mark explains further.

“Fusetec put on its thinking cap and repurposed our first sinus surgical training products into a COVID-19 swab training model. Partnering with the head of ENT, Associate Professor Alkis Psaltis at the Queen Elizabeth Hospital, we filmed a swab training video and personal protection equipment (PPE) training video, which has circulated around the globe. Additionally, we also responded to a call from the South Australian government, seeking local companies to manufacture PPE. Now, we are a proud manufacturer of face shields. Through our team’s creativity and will to accept new challenges, we have been able to keep the lights on and aid our frontline workers.”

Finally, Mark discusses the firm’s future prospects and outlines some of its plans for 2021 and beyond. “In response to our new reality, we will continue to support Master Surgeons teaching dissections via webinars. This has obviously never been done before, but we have the technology and capability to manufacture human body parts without the risk of harmful bacteria. Within the next decade, we believe it may be possible to manufacture human organs for transplant and every aspect of our learning will get us one step closer to this quantum leap forward in healthcare.”

For more information, please contact Mark Roe at www.fusetec.com.au

How to Understand Stock Market Basics

The stock market can be a profitable and exciting way to diversify your income and investments. It can also be a bottomless pit of confusion. Even if you have decided to hire a professional to trade on your behalf you will still want to be knowledgeable about the market on a basic level so that you can both understand your money moves and have your expectations managed along the way. It can be overwhelming thinking that you must understand every detail about the market to be able to enter it. Instead start slow and familiarize yourself with the fundamentals that are applicable to all types of participants.

Beginner Analysis

The stock market is comprised of exchanges that bring buyers and sellers together and it acts as the market for the sharing of those stocks. However, this market is unlike the market you are used to, walk in business is not permitted here. As an individual trader you will be represented by a broker, live or online. You are still at the helm of the decision making but your broker is the one handling the exchanges on your behalf.

If you hire a professional, then they will handle the specifics of your goals and utilize technical analysis as it specifically relates to your bottom line. As you develop and grow your portfolio though you should want to participate in the process through information seeking practices. For example, you might often hear that the market is up, or the market is down, but flesh that out one step further and you will learn that those terms refer to one of the major market indexes. And that market indexes are what track the performance of a group of stocks.

Market Types

On a basic level it will be a major benefit to any beginner to be familiar with both bull, and bear markets, and the difference between them. While these names may represent animals, you are familiar with that does not mean that you know all you need to. The bear was selected as the symbol to represent a market to be fearful of. A bear market means that stock prices are falling across several of the major indexes. When bear markets hit and investors being to pull back it can sometimes signal that the economy may do so as well.

The bull was chosen to represent a market indicative of a little more confidence. Typically bull markets are a signal of economic growth, and last longer than bear markets do. Having a working knowledge of these types can help you to remain steady emotionally during bear markets and hopeful during bull markets.

The differences between a market crash and a market correction also deserve your attention. Corrections refer to downward trends that happen when the market drops below a certain percentage. Where a crash refers to a more sudden and significant drop. Understanding these basics can help you to not make rash decisions during times of downward trends. If you are investing for the long-term doing nothing is often the best strategy when the market fluctuates in an undesirable fashion.

Personalized Legal Services

Scroggins Law Group PLLC is a family law boutique based in Dallas, Texas, set apart from their competitors through outstanding legal achievements and client-focused representation. Led by the well-renowned and board-certified attorney, Mark Scroggins, the firm seeks to deliver excellent legal services with the high standard of customer service that their clients deserve.

Situated in Dallas, Texas and serving families throughout North Texas and the Dallas/Fort Worth Metroplex, Scroggins Law Group PLLC is a boutique family law firm committed to providing representation to individuals involved in divorce, child custody, enforcements, modifications and other family law matters.

When Mark Scroggins, Founder of SLG and board-certified attorney in family law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, established SLG, he did so with a vision to provide a high-end, ‘concierge’ service in the representation of divorce, child custody and family law clients. By prioritizing quality over quantity and choosing not to take as many cases on as their competitors do, SLG is able to provide the high levels of conscientious, personalized legal services that makes them unique.

This is compounded by the firm’s ingenious approach to delivering legal services. SLG’s team of attorneys are bold, creative and recruited for their ability to think outside the box when creating solutions for even the most complex legal issues presented to them by their clients. Often, this means not taking the most aggressive and direct route but thinking laterally to find a solution that is beneficial to all parties involved. As Mark explains, “The solution to every problem is not a hammer. We believe in ‘walking softly and carrying a big stick.’” It’s a unique approach to legal services, but it’s one that has been consistently proven to serve clients well.

Moreover, the complexity of family law lies in the fact it is the intersection of so many different areas of the law, meaning that to represent individuals in legal matters within this field requires strong knowledge and practical experience in many other different specialties as well. Expertise is also required in other fields outside of the law and as such, every day SGL relies heavily on its extensive network of experts in psychology, psychiatry, pediatrics, accounting, forensic accounting, business valuation, real estate, oil and gas, and much more besides. Only through collaboration with these experts in a vast selection of fields is SGL able to deliver its award-winning, comprehensive services.

Consequently, Mark is vocal of his pride in the SGL team, who he considers to be the backbone of the firm. “I am so proud of our paralegals. They have the most client contact of any group in the firm as they are handling the majority of the day to day issues that clients are faced with, such as propounding discovery, responding to discovery, document review and organization.” As the first point of contact for the rest of the firm, SGL’s team of paralegals are representatives of the professional yet approachable culture of the firm, which guarantees effective outcomes delivered with personal service.

The majority of SGL’s clients involved in marital property division matters are C-level executives, entrepreneurs and business owners with substantial assets that require the employment of additional experts, such as forensic accountants or business valuation experts who will properly assess separate property and community property issues, as well as the values of businesses within the community estate. SGL also deals with individuals and families, dealing with each client with the same, high level of respect, conscientiousness and transparency throughout the whole process.

Mark himself has practiced family law throughout the state of Texas for over twenty-five years, earning his reputation as an experienced, effective and aggressive trial attorney with sound understanding of business matters that equips him well in dealing with all aspects of family law. Board Certified in Family Law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization, Mark is counted among the less than 2% of lawyers in Texas to have this certification, which has only helped build his strong reputation amongst executives, professionals, business owners and entrepreneurs for his dynamic style and unparalleled expertise in family law and business litigation matters.

Mark’s unique background in cutting-edge litigation technology is effectively utilized by SGL to increase the benefits offered to the firm’s litigation clients. It is also used by Mark himself, who predominantly deals in contentious or high-stakes family law litigation cases for his high net worth and business owner clients, which involve child custody or complex property issues. It is in these cases that Mark truly thrives, being able to demonstrate his prowess and use his superior insights and aggressive approach to overcome challenges posed to his clients by ruthless or unruly opponents, in order to deliver his clients’ desired outcomes.

Mark has published works and articles in several journals and papers throughout his career, including the Texas Lawyer, and has also spoken at length about litigation technology before numerous organizations and corporate clients.

In recognition of his many years of work for clients and his sector, Mark has been the proud recipient of awards and accolades prior to receiving AI’s Leading Child Custody and Complex Property Dispute Litigator of the Year, Texas. Mark is also among those who make up less than 5% of attorneys in the State of Texas to be selected to the list of Texas Super Lawyers by Thompson Reuters, 2014 – 2020, and was also selected as a member of the Nation’s Top One Percent by the National Association of Distinguished Counsel in 2015 and 2016.

In that same period, Mark was also rated 10 Best by the American Institute of Family Law Attorneys™ in 2015 and 2016 and in 2003, he was featured in Vogue Magazine among the Top Lawyers for Women in Texas. Mark is also the proud member of numerous professional associations and memberships, including the Texas Bar Foundation, in which he is a Fellow. This prestigious foundation can only be joined through invitation and includes less than 1% of all attorneys in the state of Texas.

It is therefore unsurprising that Mark has led SGL to high levels of success and national acclaim. Growing and developing the firm is taken very seriously by Mark and his colleagues, and the recruitment of new talent is based heavily on the firm’s culture. Whilst intellectual ability is of course vital, SGL knows the value of unity and teamwork in leveraging success, and only candidates who feel like the right fit for the business from the start are considered.

Rarely has the strength of the SGL team felt more important than in 2020 and amidst the challenges posed by the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic. However, with some people working remotely, some in the office, the firm has been able to pull through an undoubtedly tricky period and look forward to a bright future of continued success. Mark is looking forward to that point when he and his team can reunite to have more in-person interaction and celebrate their successful growth together.

For more information, please contact Mark Scroggins at scrogginslawgroup.com

The Pros and Cons of Running an Amazon FBA Business

Since the beginning of the global pandemic that has swept the globe, the world of retail has been flipped on its head. Brick and mortar stores have felt the impact of social distancing and lockdowns, while online stores have reported unprecedented amounts of growth.

eCommerce itself had been growing at a steady rate for the last few years, with technology rapidly developing to cater to the increased customer demands. Instant gratification started becoming more achievable for customers as eCommerce operations became more evolved and refined.

As the industry expanded, so did the options that came with it, allowing smaller businesses to enter the realm easily and more affordably. Concepts like drop-shipping and Amazon FBA have allowed parties to enter the market that simply would not have been able to in the past.

So, if you are one of these, and are looking to join the world of eCommerce, we thought we would take a look at Amazon FBA and how you can use it to grow your business. We will be delving into the benefits and challenges of Amazon FBA and give you some guidance on how to use it to expand your business.  

 

What is an Amazon FBA Business?

Let’s kick off with what an Amazon FBA business actually is. “FBA” stands for Fulfilment By Amazon and essentially means that Amazon will handle the logistics and warehousing of your products.

You simply need to have a product to sell, market it, and then send it off to Amazon for them to store it and get it delivered. This means that you will not need to worry about the storage and delivery of the products, rather, the actual sales part of it.

Amazon will handle the picking, packing, shipping, and tracking of your order, as well as the reverse logistics, or return if necessary.

This solution will allow you to use the time and resources usually used for fulfillment to scale your start-up to where you want it to be. You can then decide on the strategic trajectory of your business. You can either grow your business to a point where you can manage the fulfillment yourself or sell your Amazon business for a profit and look into a new venture. 

Amazon businesses can be highly profitable, and if you do the right research, you will be able to find the right resources to assist with the sale.

The Pros of an Amazon FBA Business

As you can imagine, there are a number of benefits that come with conducting business where experienced professionals take care of your fulfillment. In order to understand them better, we broke them down.

Streamlined Fulfilment Processes

This is clearly one of the most obvious benefits, but if you have ever managed an eCommerce store and had to manage the fulfillment and last-mile delivery of the products, you will know what a headache it can be.

Amazon handles everything from storage to picking and packaging and getting it to your customer. They also manage some of the communication with the customer during the last-mile delivery, which means that you simply need to ensure its arrival, manage any problems and focus on retargeting.

What is more, they handle the returns and refunds, which can end up being a hefty cost for your company if you are a start-up.

 

Reduced Cart Abandonment

With Amazon handling your shipping, your customers are guaranteed to have lower, if not free, shipping fees with Amazon. The company offers vast discounts and in certain cases, free shipping due to the number of deliveries that do daily.

This, in turn, means a higher conversion rate for you. Shipping fees are one of the biggest causes of cart abandonment, with customers bouncing at the payment stages due to unexpected or high shipping costs. This can be avoided with Amazon providing the service at a discounted cost or no charge at all.

Increased Customer Communication

The modern customer is all about instant gratification, and this is when it comes to communication too. The customer wants to know where their product is, and they want to know now. If something goes wrong, they require instant assistance.

This is where it is helpful to have a partner like Amazon on hand. They provide tracking for the packages, as well as customer service centers that are open 24/7. In fact, Amazon is renowned for its customer services, so you will know that your customers are in good hands.

This doesn’t mean though that you should leave the customer purely in their hands post-checkout. Remember, you have a brand to uphold and customers to delight and surprise. So make sure you keep those communication channels open. Whether it be telephone, email, or online chatbots, give your customer the option.

Lexial Is A Leading Law Firm

Created in 2007, Lexial Law Firm is an international beacon of excellence within the two main fields of business immigration law, and international criminal and political law. With offices across continental Europe, there is much to admire about this firm, including the fact that it is home to Emmanuel Ruchat, this month’s winner of the title of Leading Specialist Immigration and Human Rights Lawyer of the Year, Belgium & France. Following Mr Ruchat’s success in the Acquisition International Leading Adviser 2020 supplement, we take a closer look at what he has to offer, and what makes Lexial such an outstanding law firm.

Strategically located with offices in Paris, Brussels, and Geneva, the work of Lexial is incredibly valuable for those involved in the worlds of international business and immigration, criminal and political law. As well as these, Lexial also works in the fields of business and employment, delivering outstanding services to every client that requires them. Since its inception, the firm’s aim has always been to assist its clients in a manner that puts the firm as close as possible to the problems themselves. In doing so, Lexial is able to provide a service that encompasses efficient and adapted solutions. Created and founded over thirteen years ago, the work of Lexial specialises in two main fields. The first field of competence that the firm can boast proficiency in is that of business immigration law, which is an assistance to international travellers looking to establish their company, as well as a number of other activities.

Many people travel internationally for work, and some people travel internationally to found a business in a country that is foreign to them. Establishing these companies, investing in them, developing a market share, working, and gaining a reputation for success is no easy feat. Particularly within the countries of France, Belgium, and Switzerland, this can be made easier with the help of Lexial. The firm takes on many different cases and develops solutions and services that clients can make use of when establishing their business as an immigrant. Quite a departure from the world of business immigration law is the second field of competence that Lexial boasts; international criminal and political law. The services provided here include extradition processes, criminal defence (notably of foreign political figures brought before Belgian and French courts), and European proceedings before the Court of Justice of European Union or the European Court of Human Rights.

Within these two strong fields of competence and service, there are a multitude of clients that Lexial works diligently to serve. Many of the clients that this exceptional law firm works with are generally nationals from non-European Union countries. They may be investors, starters, employers, or executives, but they all have one thing in common that unites them; they seek out the services of Lexial, rather than it being the other way around. Based on the word of mouth success that the firm has benefitted from, they are able to work in a way that enables clients to come to the firm when they need the service that it can provide for them. One of the core reasons that the firm has achieved such a sterling reputation within the industry is thanks to the hard work and dedication of its staff, one of whom has stood out in recent months; Mr Emmanuel Ruchat.

Mr Ruchat has been a lawyer since 1996, and draws on a wealth of experience that includes a business management degree, a master’s degree in business law, and an applied postgraduate degree in insurance and liability law. His experience and expertise gathered throughout the years has culminated in no small amount of success, and this recent achievement of the title of Leading Specialist Immigration and Human Rights Lawyer of the Year, Belgium & France is a fitting testament to his hard work. Year on year, Mr Ruchat has been classified as one of the best in the business of being a corporate immigration lawyer for self-employed and executive employees. He has authored a great many articles on these topics, where he draws on his experience being licensed to litigate at the Belgian Supreme Court in criminal law since February 2016. That same year also saw Mr Ruchat recognized by the Bar Association with the title of Specialist in Immigration Law and in Criminal Law.

Business immigration work often includes a large amount of paperwork and rough relationships alongside embassies, banks, and administrative authorities. Yet, this is a part of his work that Lexial team approaches with enthusiasm and dedication every day. Clients are often in a hurry, and this outstanding lawyer ensures that he and his team deliver success to every client. Despite the fact that it can a slow-moving process that has a lot of paperwork and relationship-building, this work enables him to have a direct line of communication to the client at all times. Lexial lawyers regularly talk every day with people all around the world, and enjoys the travel when it is permitted.

Surrounding himself with like-minded individuals, Mr Ruchat ensures that his team of lawyers know what is expected of them. The main qualities that are expected include endurance, creativity, a complete absence of naivety, self-governance, self-sufficiency, a very high level of French language skills, and a good level of English skills. This is not a role for people who need watching and telling what to do next; this is for people who do what they have to do, and can be left to their own devices. Working independently has been brought to the forefront in 2020 with the arrival of COVID-19. Yet, paradoxically, 2020 and its train of worldwide misfortunates was not so bad for the team at Lexial. Brexit send the firm new British clients who need to maintain contact with the European Union, Donald Trump sent the firm some of his fellow citizens who wanted to escape his possible re-election, and COVID-19 presented some opportunities to clients able to invest in the right ways.

Ultimately, Lexial serves many clients in many ways, but the excellence of the service is always front and centre. Clients can benefit from services that are delivered in a way that always puts them first, and gets them the results they want. Lexial and Mr Ruchat have spent years refining knowledge and expertise, and both are now in a place where they can make the most of these insights when working with clients from all over the world. The excellence is in abundance, and there is no shortage of quality legal prowess on show every day.

For more information, please contact Emmanuel Ruchant at www.lexial.eu

Outstanding Leadership in Oman

After becoming a Limited Liability company in 1987, MHD LLC has achieved phenomenal progress over the years and contributed largely to the economic growth, development, and all-around prosperity of Oman. With a wide variety of diverse business divisions, the firm offers products and services that cover automotive, tyres, batteries, computers, office automation, telecommunications, engineering products, oil and gas products, electronics and building materials. Offering this vast range of products and services, MHD LLC is proud to be associated with international brands such as Jaguar, Land Rover, McLaren, Volvo, MG, Ford, Michelin, Huawei, and Hitachi to name but a few. By building on its business strengths, the firm is looking at forging business collaboration with new business partners under the leadership of their leader Areej Mohsin Haider Darwish.

There are various factors which are attributable to the success of the business, but Areej is most certainly one of the key components. Areej’s father had the keen foresight to envisage the rapid economic development of Oman and the business opportunities that would emerge in the process, but Areej herself has steered the business to new heights on the ladder of success. Today, MHD LLC’s success is a culmination of leadership, planning, perseverance, foresight, and determination. Areej has seized opportunities and developed relationships over the years with business partners, and has instilled dedication and hard work in her employees.

Despite the importance of Areej’s role in the business, clients also play a pivotal role in any organization. The success and growth of an organization is dependent on its clients, as it is the steady stream of clients that increases the clientele and allows the business to prosper over a period of time. At MHD LLC, the firm values its clients immensely, and its relationship with them is not merely transactional, but a long-term one. Since MHD LLC deals with diverse products across different sectors, the firm caters to clients from all walks of life and offers a product for each type of client. Areej has helped her staff better understand the different types of client, and the firm is therefore better equipped to develop successful strategies.

Company culture reflects the organization and its people, and Areej has instilled the best kind of company culture at MHD LLC. Positive and affirming, the workplace culture at the business improves teamwork, raises morale, and increases both productivity and efficiency. The work culture also encourages open communication in a bid to make employees comfortable collaborating with their colleagues at all levels. Equal opportunities for all employees is something that Areej has also strived to implement, always valuing, motivating, and supporting them in their career growth. A content and motivated employee has a higher probability of making significant contributions to the organization. This cycle creates a positive influence on everybody involves, and paves the way to success of an organization.

For all the success that Areej has overseen, there have also been challenges that come with running any business. They are inevitable. However, staying ahead is important, and Areej has ensured that MHD LLC stays ahead in its field. The firm has faced challenges over the last few years, which vary from routine business matters, to the slowdown in economy due to low oil prices. This, coupled with intense competition, has made for a challenging time for the business. Yet, MHD LLC has managed to grow by being prudent, enhancing efficiencies, and diversifying its sources of revenue in line with the country’s vision and their values of focusing on community interests, employees, and customers.

Planning is key to any business, however. Planning for the future, though difficult, is essential to the success of any organization. It may be hard to predict what is coming next at any given time, but MHD LLC and Areej know that staying ahead is paramount for a successful future in business. For Areej, the business strategy will be to prepare itself for a future that is constantly evolving and changing, which necessitates a knowledgeable and expeditious future when considering changes in the business environment.

Looking to the future, MHD LLC is exploring and identifying new markets and additional revenue streams for it to become a part of. It is exploring possibilities regarding bringing new products and international brands to Oman, to meet the future needs of the market and to diversify their sources of revenue in line with the national vision for Oman. Diversifying will take the business into new territories and help build a bigger reach, but the focus will always remain on delivering value to clients by providing them with quality products and services from world-renowned brands. Keeping a tab on market trends and innovations happening around the world in existing and new sectors alike is crucial, and will help MHD LLC identify and venture into new opportunities that will help elevate its profile.

MHD LLC has progressed positively which is attributed to the astuteness and business acumen of Areej, who has slowly and surely become one of the finest and most influential women in business across Oman. As she aligns the MHD LLC vision with that of Oman’s national vision, Areej is one of the finest leaders operating within the region today.

Powerful Results

Marc J. Bern & Partners LLP is a firm of nationally recognized partners and attorneys who boast long and successful careers in handling high-profile and complex litigation cases across the United States. The firm specializes in mass torts, civil lawsuits involving many injured parties against one or a few defendants. Bern & Partners currently represents more than 5,000 boy scouts who have suffered abuse, 4,5000 railroad workers afflicted with cancer due to exposure to toxic chemicals at work, and 5,000 injured people exposed to contaminated water in Flint, Michigan.

Since its inception, Bern & Partners has been involved in cases that have resulted in excess of $3 billion in settlements and awards. The success of the firm lies in its combination of considerable manpower and resources that one would expect from a large law firm and its commitment to personal and conscientious service for clients. Each individual client is treated with respect and given the reassurance that the team at Bern & Partners will fight hard to achieve full compensation under the law.

Alongside the hard work, dedication and tirelessness of the attorneys and staff of Bern & Partners, the firm’s success rests in its compassion. Recognizing the strain of such taxing cases, from the stress and financial hardships to the injuries and injustice of the crimes itself on the lives of their clients and their families, Bern & Partners works hard to alleviate some of the pressures and help them through this difficult period.

With offices in Pennsylvania, California, Chicago, Puerto Rico, and headquarters in New York, Bern & Partners is able to represent plaintiffs all across the United States. Anyone who has been harmed as a result of negligence of others is eligible for the firm’s help, whether the defendant is an individual or large corporation, such as pharmaceutical companies or automobile manufacturers. From their first contact with the firm, clients receive friendly and professional service from the staff and are quickly assigned an attorney and paralegal who will best help them tackle their case. As such, every member of the Bern & Partners team plays a vital role, from the attorneys who develop leading legal theories and strategies to the staff who develop client relationships and maintain good-will with all non-legal personnel and vendors.

The firm is led by Founding Partner, Marc Jay Bern, whose prolific career spanning more than thirty-five years has earnt him national recognition and acclaim. Mr. Bern has led more than a hundred cases to a jury verdict throughout his career, also holding a successful record in the achievement of settlements of more than $1 million across hundreds of cases. His work with his firm has seen his close involvement in the 9/11 World Trade Center litigation and the passage of the James Zadroga 9/11 Health and Compensation Act of 2010, which was originally signed into law by President Barack Obama. 

He has represented thousands of injured victims from numerous defective drugs, such as DES, fen-phen, Risperdal and Trayslol among others, as well as many defective medical products like IVC filters, hip replacements and more. Mr. Bern has also led his firm in cases concerning FELA railroad litigation, personal injury cases, environmental litigation, and a multitude of other cases involving catastrophic harm or property damage.

Mr. Bern’s success as a litigator is born from his experience and tenacity in the courtroom, which enables him to be a forceful advocate for his clients with a reputation that extends across the United States. He is a member of the prestigious Million Dollar Advocates Forum and has been featured in Who’s Who in American Law. Martindale-Hubbell has awarded Mr. Bern with its pre-eminent AV rating, ‘Highest Rating in Legal Ability and Ethical Standards’ for more than twenty consecutive years and in 2007, Lawdragon included him among its ranking of the ‘Top 500 Plaintiff Lawyers
in America’, in the same year that he was honorably selected to become a charter member of the Litigation Counsel of America. A year prior, Mr. Bern was designated as a New York Super Lawyer and has continued to be selected every year since. He has been selected as one of “America’s Premier Lawyers” by Fortune Magazine and named one of the Top 100 Trial Lawyers by the National Trial Lawyers. Mr. Bern also sits on the prestigious Board of Trustees of the New York City Police Museum.

A graduate of the Chicago-Kent College of Law at the Illinois Institute of Technology and the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Mr. Bern is admitted to practice before state courts in New York and Wisconsin and before the U.S. District Courts for the Eastern and Southern Districts of New York. He has tried cases and argued legal issues in courtrooms all across the United States.

As a leading, nationally-recognized litigator, Mr. Bern has been invited to speak to a wide variety of organizations, including the Wisconsin Association for Justice, the Practicing Law Institute, the New York County Lawyers Association, the New York State Trial Lawyers Association, and the Association of Trial Lawyers of America on several topics within environmental law. He has appeared as a legal authority on Court TV, ABC, NBC and CBS, and he has also been interviewed for publications including the Wall Street Journal, the New York Times, and Forbes Magazine.

In 2020, like the rest of the world, Mr. Bern and his law firm faced their fair share of new and unforeseen challenges brought about by the Covid-19 pandemic. Adapting to working from home, setting up remotely, digitizing practices and maintaining the workforce throughout the pandemic has been challenging, but now the firm is focusing on creating a safe working environment as teams return to the offices across the United States, ensuring everyone is safe and healthy, both physically and mentally.

Despite the disruption of the pandemic, Bern & Partners foresees a future of continued growth through proactive recruitment via word of mouth, interpersonal relationships and professional organizations and headhunters. The additions to the diverse firm will enhance the internal culture that is devoted to success at every level, encouraging each member of the team along their own journeys of personal and professional development. This facilitates a culture of independence and advancement based on individual and group merit, which in turn translates to a firm committed to serving its clients at the highest level and with the best service possible for many years to come.

Unrivalled Technical And Service Support

Established in 1946, Davis & Shirtliff Group is the leading supplier of water and energy related equipment in the area. The organisation regionally distributes high-quality equipment sourced from a number of industry leading companies from around the world as well as carrying out distribution, manufacture and assembly of various water related products under its own brand Dayliff.
Business activities are focused around seven product segments – Water Pumps, Boreholes, Swimming Pools, Water Treatment, Irrigation, Generators and Solar Equipment.

The Group is Kenya based and the Nairobi headquarters cover an area of 10,000m2, with extensive warehousing, manufacturing, training and administrative facilities from where products are efficiently distributed by the company’s own fleet of trucks. The firm also operates through a network of Kenyan branches as well as regional subsidiaries in Uganda, Tanzania, Zambia, Rwanda, South Sudan, DRC, Zimbabwe and an associate company in Ethiopia.

Josfrider Musima is Head of Marketing at Davis & Shirtliff. To begin, she goes into great detail about the firm’s mission and objectives. 

Josfrider elaborates to further explain that the firm’s key focus to simultaneously develop the business across all activity areas to ensure that no areas of weakness can potentially diminish organizational capacity.

“Customer relationships are also very important to us,” she highlights. “The quality focus has built great confidence in the brand which has created an excellent market reputation.”

With a total complement of more than 800 highly trained and professional staff, Davis & Shirtliff lays great emphasis on having the right people in terms of intellectual capacity, skillsets and commitment. A combination of careful recruitment, culture, remuneration, training and openness are embedded in the management philosophy as staff are the front face of the organisation and oversee the building and maintaining of customer relations. “Our customers are vast and varied and include homeowners, organisations, industries, Government institutions etc. We approach potential customers predominantly through advertising, but also word-of-mouth referrals and by directly approaching some prospective customers.”

Giving back to local communities has been a commitment of Davis & Shirtliff since its founding in 1946. Through Corporate Social Responsibility, it helps solve some of the most pressing challenges and unlock the potential of communities.

“Davis and Shirtliff is converging people, technology and resources to improve lives in Africa through cooperation and a resolve to find sustainable solutions to existing challenges,” says Josfrider. “We continue to deploy millions of shillings in both resources and time to address these challenges. Our goal is to achieve real impact on people, the communities they live in, the society and ultimately our planet to preserve it for future generations.”

Regarding the future, Josfrider tells us that, operationally, the focus will continue to be on the support functions of the supply chain and systems, both of which are so essential in a widely dispersed distribution business, and are areas of considerable competitive advantage, as they are difficult for competitors to replicate.

“As we move forward, technology is also a key area of focus as the world continues to change. Davis & Shirtliff is at the forefront in ensuring that it continues to embrace technology, adapting and changing often to cater for customers changing needs and preferences.”

Marvels in Medical Malpractice

Every practitioner of law aims to provide the ultimate service to their clients, but few have gone to the lengths of Mr. Awad when it comes to the complex field of personal injury and medical malpractice. In such a challenging area of law, where the stakes are incredibly high for the client, the best help that someone can give themselves is a lawyer who knows what they’re talking about.

Working for the prestigious Silberstein, Awad & Miklos law firm, Mr. Awad has found the ideal place from which to practise his particular set of unique skills. He gained his Juris Doctorate from the Albany Law School of Union University in 1981, but had already begun working at the firm which would become the career of a lifetime in 1980. The firm has gone onto extraordinary success, gaining the title of Nationally Certified Preeminent Law Firm in 1996. It retains this title to this day.

Silberstein, Awad & Miklos, P.C. has grown incredibly over the years, finding new and exciting ways of ensuring that its clients are able to find the modest to substantial monetary compensation that they deserve following their trials. Naturally, the approach of Mr. Awad leads the way for the firm, and it follows his lead when it comes to performance, service and ethics. This means that in challenging cases, which many issues of personal injury and medical malpractice are, clients know that they can be certain that their legal matters will be handled with compassion and efficiency.

The record of achievement that Mr. Awad has cultivated over the years is truly exceptional, and he is now able to draw on a health of different cases when a matter goes to trial. He has advocated on behalf of clients who have suffered under matters of medical malpractice, construction site injury, premise security, automobile accidents, municipal liability and unsafe products. These are not small cases. For the client, they can be lifechanging. This is only matched by the rewards that Mr. Awad has been able to gleam from the competition.

Some of the cases that Mr. Awad has fought have resulted in milliondollar recoveries for some lucky clients. This number now reaches to over forty clients over as many cases. It’s an impressive track record for anyone, and reflects well not only on Mr. Awad, but the rest of the firm too. This achievement has secured the highest jury and appellate award in a single year.

When considered the length of Mr. Awad’s career, it might seem obvious that he has been able to find places where he can achieve impressive results for his clients. What cannot be understated is his position as a record breaker in the field of medical malpractice and personal injury, however. He has achieved the largest verdict in history for failure to timely diagnose cervical cancer as well as the largest verdict in history in the field of medical malpractice when it came to cause of action recovery for blindness. These successes are not just impressive for New York, where he achieved the largest medical malpractice verdict in New York State, but it’s a success that is within the top ten of results across the whole of the United States. Mr. Awad’s achievements are not just state-wide, they’re nationwide in their reach.

When people think of Mr. Awad, they might not consider the impact he has. His inspiring presence at the heart of Silberstein, Awad & Miklos, P.C. has led to the firm’s other personal injury attorney’s success. The team never stops thinking of new and exciting ways to develop their persuasion methods, effectively holding big business, corporations, and CEOs accountable to their clients. Despite the challenges inherent in the field, it’s little wonder that they’ve achieved such success.

The demand for Mr. Awad’s services has been a consistent feature of his career, with clients in the private and public sector hoping to utilize his talents. He has held membership of the New York State Governor’s Medical Malpractice Task Force from 2007-2010, and sits as part of both the New York State Court of Appeals Judicial Screening and the Committee for Nassau and Suffolk Counties since 2006. His long and varied history of cases has allowed him a unique insight that has long since been regarded as invaluable by those who have utilized his services.

Such a long history of experience and success has obviously created a demand for his services as a teacher and lecturer. Mr. Awad has plenty of skill to pass down to the next generation of lawyers and attorneys, which is why he has spoken at the New York State Trial Lawyers Association, the National Crime Victim Bar Association and the New York State Bar Association and various local bar associations. He previously held a position at the New York State Judicial Institute between 2002 and 2006 as a Faculty Lecturer to the Judiciary.

For many, the work of an attorney is one where the lawyer is looking at their own profit margin, but the success of Mr. Awad and the team at Silberstein, Awad & Miklos P.C. shows how people can find attorneys who are working with their best interests at heart. We hope and expect to see the names of the team from Silberstein, Awad & Miklos P.C. amongst our leading advisors for years to come.

Finding Fantastic Franchise Opportunities

There can be little denying that the COVID-19 pandemic has left many people feeling insecure and uncertain about what the future may hold in many areas of their lives. For some, they are worried about traveling and seeing friends or family. Others are worried about their job, or perhaps their lack of employment and the opportunities to get one during a national lockdown that has been forced by a virulent and highly transmissible disease. In this current economic and social climate, it can be hard to see positives and find new opportunities to get out of the rut of lacking employment opportunities, risk of layoffs, long-term unemployment outlooks, and competition in the workplace. The insecurity and uncertainty brought about by this period of pandemic-induced lockdown have led many people to rightfully re-evaluate their priorities and ask questions such as “Is this really what I want to be doing for the rest of my career?”. If the answer is no, there is a solution out there, just waiting to be seized upon. It comes in the form of Frannexus.

Frannexus is the brainchild of its outstanding CEO, Seth Lederman, and it functions as a leading franchise consultancy that has been founded by an entrepreneur for like-minded entrepreneurs. A selfconfessed entrepreneur. Seth founded Frannexus with a belief and passion that he could help people get into business for themselves, taking charge of their own professional lives and becoming their own boss. The overwhelming force of the pandemic and the national lockdowns that have happened worldwide have forced many people to seriously consider becoming their own boss and doing something different from what they have been doing for, potentially, a very long time. It is not surprising that many unhappy with the economy and their situations have considered business ownership. Not only is it great for the economy, but it is also a perfect opportunity for the potential business owner in question.

One of the strongest feelings that will often pull an individual towards leading a life of entrepreneurship is that they are tired of doing all the work while others reap the rewards and gain the plaudits. Seeing others claim the rewards after putting in all the hard work can be frustrating for many people. It’s enough to drive them to do something for themselves and work for their own reward. Starting a business can do many things for many people, from replacing lost or reduced income to providing relief from work burnout or giving flexibility in work-life balance that isn’t possible as an employee. There are many benefits to starting a business, and they are going to vary depending on a few variables.

Attaining the coveted status of a business owner is not as hard as it seems, and Frannexus is on hand to help clients achieve that dream. For professionals who crave the excitement that comes from waking up every morning ready to take on the world, looking to successful business people like Steve Jobs, Bill Gates, Mark Zuckerberg, and Seth Lederman of Frannexus is the answer. Rather than continuing to chase a ghost, their next perfect boss, they can take control of their fortune. If they are unsatisfied in their professional lives and want to take the next step towards something radical and life-changing, then Frannexus can help. Lederman helps his clients achieve what they want to achieve from franchise ownership.

Seth’s Lederman’s consultative approach focuses on understanding the person he is working with. Including gaining an understanding of their personal, professional, and financial goals. He focuses on his clients’ experiences, skills, dreams, lifestyles, and financial goals. Armed with this knowledge and from this place of understanding, Seth seeks to surprise and delight his clients with franchise ownership opportunities that they might have otherwise let pass. These opportunities always strive to take advantage of the client’s skills and experiences and feed into their dreams and personal ambitions for themselves. He also ensures that these opportunities are a good match and that the clients might not have considered on their own.

What makes Frannexus so successful is the determination and the dedication of Seth at the business’s helm. His passion for helping people has long been a staple of his character, which has been apparent since the early days of his career. From early on in his professional working career, two things were apparent to Seth. Firstly, being an entrepreneur came naturally to him, and that was not an instinct he could fight. Secondly, he has always known that he wanted to be in the business of helping people. When he first started out working, Seth became a healthcare provider. However, it was not until he read a book by his mentor, Michael Gerber, that he completely transformed his professional and business life.

The book in question, The E-Myth, granted Seth the knowledge of turning his practice into an enterprise. From the book, he had learned how to grow organically and ensure that every decision he made was for his business’ betterment. Seth was able to apply the knowledge from the book into his practice and soon transform it into an enterprise, growing it ten times in just thirtysix months. Eventually, he was able to get himself into a position where he could work on the business rather than work in it. In turn, this allowed him the opportunity to pursue other passions and business ventures, which would inevitably lead to the creation and foundation of Frannexus. Today, Seth continues to apply that knowledge from his mentor and helps individuals ready to make a career change do the same as he did. Matching their unique talents and passions with a franchise business that works best for their lifestyle, he is an outstanding role model and a savvy businessman.

That matching process has undoubtedly made Frannexus a highly sought after leader within the world of franchise consultancy. Leading the industry is one thing, but maintaining that lead for quite some time while never losing the sense of successful consistency is another thing entirely. Much of Frannexus and Seth’s success comes down to its extensive matching process and unique franchise search approach. Frannexus consultants, including Seth, are advisors and collaborators rather than salespeople. They value the person and their wealth of experience, practical skills, and aspirations. Seth has carefully selected a team that shares his vision and passion for helping them become the best versions of themselves, waking up each morning to a work they adore and are ready to get stuck into.

Professional and dedicated in everything they do, the team at Frannexus is all about helping individuals get ready to make a career change. Specifically, the team helps clients explore franchise ownership as a career transition option or a diversification strategy for their investment portfolio by matching their unique talents and passions with a franchise business that works best for their lifestyle. Lederman and his team work with established professionals, usually with some management experience, find the freedom to work for themselves, freedom of time, and freedom to live the life they have always wanted to live.

The team follows Seth’s example, taking care of everything in a wholly professional and personable manner at all times. Frannexus consultants are, first and foremost, trusted advisors to the clients at all times. They are focused on understanding the clients’ various experiences, skills, dreams, lifestyles, hopes, ambitions, and financial goals to help them make an informed and wise investment decision. Everyone at Frannexus is collaborative, cohesive, and focused on what’s best for the client at all times. Their sole function is to help clients decide if franchising is right for them and uncover the right opportunities.

Ultimately, the work of Seth and the Frannexus team is more valuable now than ever before, with more people taking the time to re-evaluate what they are doing with their lives. When economic uncertainty and the anxiety caused by the pandemic has people reevaluating their path, Frannexus is working tirelessly to give people options for their professional independence. Franchise opportunities are out there, and Seth Lederman is one of the leading advisers and most respected franchise consultants out there. 

Reputation for Dedication

Despite being a well-established firm operating for almost half a century, MLMJ prides itself on staying at the cutting-edge of its sector, investing time and effort into ensuring that their services are always relevant and topical. The firm’s ability to do this is enhanced by the strength of its associates and leadership, which is headed by the Principal, Mr. Matthews.

Mr. Matthews is licensed to practice before the United States Patent and Trademark Office, the state courts of Texas, the federal district courts for the Southern and Eastern Districts of Texas, the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals, the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals in Washington, D.C., and the United States Supreme Court.

A graduate of the University of Texas and the University of Texas School of Law, Mr. Matthews began his career in the United States Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) as a Patent Examiner and attended George Washington University Law School, concentrating on intellectual property related courses covering patent prosecution and litigation. He returned to Houston to join the patent law firm which soon became Pravel, Wilson and Matthews, before breaking away to begin his own firm in 1972, which focused on the litigation of intellectual property matters.

Throughout his prolific career, Mr. Matthews has served as lead counsel in many jury trials representing both plaintiffs and defendants throughout the United States and Western Europe, obtaining recoveries of $1 million, $10 million, and $50 million, including a jury verdict in excess of $350 million. During this time, he has litigated every type of intellectual property issue, including patent, trademark, trade dress, trade secret, and copyright cases, whilst also serving as a court-appointed special master over intellectual property issues. Mr. Matthews has also testified as an expert witness in numerous, highly technical business tort and patient litigation matters.

Mr. Matthews’ prolific career and national acclaim has earned him awards and notable positions throughout his career. He is a fellow member of the Houston Bar Association and a member of the State Bar of Texas, the Houston Bar Association, the Federal Circuit Bar, and the Fifth Circuit Bar. He is also active in the American Intellectual

Property Lawyers Association and the Houston Intellectual Property Lawyers Association. His long career that has garnered unparalleled experience and expertise has resulted in invitations to lecture at several bar and association meetings on the selection of juries for the trial of patent cases.

As MLMJ nears its fiftieth year of operation, Mr. Matthews says that he remains excited about the practice and its ability to continually deal with the ever-changing nature of the industry for the firm and its clients. We look forward to seeing the continued development and success of MLMJ for many years to come.

5 Tips For Relocating Your Business To Georgia

Whether it’s because of the GRAD program, the 6 percent corporate tax rate, or one of the many grants and loans available for business relocation, many businesses decide to move to Georgia. As when any business moves from one state to another, there are slight differences in the way things are done.  

A smooth, trouble-free relocation is essential for providing an uninterrupted service to your customers. To get the maximum benefit from your move but with minimum disruption to your business, you need to be aware of the key things you need to get absolutely right. With that in mind, here are the things you need to know when relocating your business to Georgia.

First of all, though, it has to be mentioned that you’ll be sharing your new home with some very big names. Georgia is also home to Google, NCR, UPS, General Mills, Boeing, and Home Depot, among many others. While you won’t exactly be rubbing shoulders with these giants, you may have competition when it comes to filling some of your top jobs.

However, Georgia’s well-educated young workforce should cater to whatever staffing requirements you have.

1. Finding your ideal location

This is #1 for a good reason. While mistakes in some of the other areas can be corrected later on, a poor choice of location can be impossible to rectify.

To decrease the chances of making this mistake, you need to have a very clear idea about what you want. Luckily, as you are relocating your business, you will already know what your business needs to operate well.

Relocating to Georgia means you may be able to benefit from the GRAD program though there are plenty of alternatives if your business is not reliant on any logistical links.

When you think of Georgia, the first place that springs to mind is Atlanta. You would be correct that it is very much the hub of the state from a logistics and administrative point of view, however, there are deepwater ports at Savannah and Brunswick in the south, which have large infrastructures.

If your business is service-based, there are places like Alpharetta, which have growing populations that will provide a customer base for your business.

 

2. Get the right insurance

Unless your business employs government, farming, domestic, or railroads workers (which is unlikely), as well as all of your business insurance, Georgia law requires that you have Georgia workers comp coverage.

Georgia workers’ compensation insurance works in two ways. Firstly it provides medical benefits to employees if they suffer a work-related illness or injury. Secondly, in the event of a work-related injury or illness occurring, it reduces the amount of liability you face and so protects you as well.

You’ll need this if you have three or more regular employees (either full or part-time), although, given the cost involved of an injury to an employee at work, it could be wise to get some anyway.

 

3. Boost your workforce

Georgia has a civilian workforce of around 5 million people, so any of your staff that is not relocating with your business can be replaced. As mentioned above, Georgia typically has a well-educated young workforce, so your worries should be minimal unless you are looking to recruit in the main growth sectors.

The growth sectors in Georgia, as with many other states, are healthcare and technology. This means you may face the same recruitment challenges in Georgia as you did in your previous location. However, if your business is in logistics or hospitality, you will have your pick from a wide range of candidates.

However, many of these trends may be particular to Atlanta. There are variations across the state according to which industries were prevalent in the area in previous years.

4. Check for any financial assistance or low-rate loans

While you relocated to either expand your business or make it more cost-effective, moving your business to another state tends to not be cheap. One of the reasons you chose Georgia, however, may have been because of the various financial assistance programs they have for attracting new businesses.

You would almost certainly be able to benefit from the State Small Business Credit Initiative (SSBCI) and, dependant on your industry, the Strategic Industries Loan Program. You may also be eligible for help from Federal Grants for Research and Innovation, and if your business is eco-friendly (or has aspirations of becoming so), there are also Green Loans. You might also want to check your availability for Clean Energy Property Tax Credits.

Other funding is available via many local schemes trying to attract businesses that are not intending on relocating or starting up in Atlanta, which as the state’s capital and most densely populated area, tends to get the lion’s share of new businesses.

5. Explore your local client base for new customers

Finally, even if the location of your business does not matter to your customers because you provide a remote service as IT support, or if your business is based around e-commerce and you moved to Georgia for a logistical advantage, there will still be new customers to be found in a new area.

Reaching out to other businesses in your new location using social media, local advertisements, or leaflet drops will not only kick start your new network, but you will also attract new business from those that prefer to stay local, and you may be able to benefit from a few cut-price local services yourself.

An Innovation in Artificial Intelligence

The use of Big Data has become increasingly important in the last few years, with companies leveraging whatever information they can access to provide a better service to clients, customers and users. Of course, making the most of this information is the challenge to companies, and the team at AI.io has been at the forefront of this development.

Led by six-time CEO Terence Mills, AI.io has broadened the scope of AI to businesses and enterprises, developing new and exciting ways of using this technology in a range of different environments. While many companies are investigating new ways of exploring the framing of AI, able to process millions of data points in seconds, AI.io has specialized in applying this ability to specific circumstances. This combines what is known as Black Box AI and Apps to create White Box AI. White Box AI is the final product, the use of technology with a clear purpose. With the ability to be both private and protected, White box AI is able to create the understandable, explainable, and accountable results that are key to success.

The application of this process, therefore, has been vital to the success of AI.io. The team currently specialize in three different areas, drawing on the information that is available to offer customers results that cannot be found anywhere else. In healthcare, for example, the sheer amount of data available is overwhelming, with the need to ensure that it is collated carefully at the heart of the process. AI can be used to scan patient records and convert them into a machinereadable format. Currently, the team at AI.io have been able to hone this process to 95% recognition accuracy from a PDF. With so many healthcare facilities still using paper records, with the association costs of storage and difficulty in converting to digital, it’s little wonder that this service has become more and more popular.

The team have also proven themselves in the world of travel, teaming up with partners Priceline (now Booking.com), Google, and Wex to create a true industry first. Halo is the first AI driven intelligent chatbot and is set to be a revolution in the travel field, as it answers the difficulty of booking airfare and hotel, complete with virtual payments. While booking with the voice was once a process that stopped at the payment point, AI.io has developed a system that reshapes what AI can do by building relationships with travellers to identify patterns and trends, creating a personalized booking experience.

AI has potential applications in the entertainment industry too. The perfect example is Broadway shows. Investors have long struggled to settle on sure-fire hits in this arena, often wiping out thanks to decisions that only seem poor in hindsight. The use of AI can take all factors into account when considering if a production will be a success or not. Variables such as a show’s director, cast, theatre, time of year, music team and production team are all taken into account when making judgements. This represents a tremendous leap forward that could transform the industry. Between these three projects, bound by the latest in technological steps, is just a taste of what a business like AI.io can provide to businesses. It sets an amazing precedent for the future.

As businesses continue to push forward, it is essential that they find new ways of using new technology. AI is unique, in that it can be of immense benefit to enterprises at every stage of the business process. With an uncanny ability to find applications for AI, it’s no surprise that AI.io has quickly grown into one of the industry’s biggest success stories.

What Soft Skills Can Trading and Investing Give You

We hear and read a lot about what skills you need in order to succeed at investing. Everyone wants to know the secrets to success, and what skills they need to work on to be able to get there. But what about the benefits that trading can give you as a person and a professional?

Trading is not something that one can just take up and instantly be successful at. It requires the application of various different techniques, constant evaluation and analysis, and ongoing development of your strategy.

There are many hard and soft skills that can be obtained through learning how to trade and invest in various markets.

Research skills

First and foremost, in order to be a successful trader you need to know how to conduct thorough and appropriate research. Once you master this, it can be applied in other areas of your professional and personal life. As per a ResearchGate study, reading news articles and evaluating the sources and reliability of their claims, double-checking information, knowing where to go for the inside scoop – all of this will help you in your day to day life when engaging with other topics. Having good research skills will come in handy when you need to buy a house, in academic work, or if you want to figure out if what the news is telling you is the whole story.

 

How practice makes perfect

If you are new to trading, you will soon understand that there is an element of having to keep practicing your strategy and tweaking it accordingly in order to improve. This can take time but thankfully trading sites like Trade 360 provide a selection of tools that can help traders with this. An example of this is a demo account that allows traders to experiment with trades and strategies before, and during trading with real money. Other features, like being able to see how others are trading, and then using that to perfect your own strategy, are also extremely helpful.

 

Patience

Investing in the stock market or in a certain currency can teach you valuable lessons in patience. If you’re a medium or long-term investor, you are not looking to make quick returns on your portfolio. This means that you will ride out tumultuous times as well as times when your interests peak, in order to secure a better position in the future. It can be so tempting to cash in when something is doing really well or to give it up when you’ve lost out. But successful trading means you have to learn to be patient and stick to the strategy you made in the beginning, regardless of what happens.

 

Financial literacy

When you begin trading and investing in stocks, you will start to learn a number of new words. These terms, such as spread, indices, dividends, ask, spread, bull, bear, leverage, and margin, may have had different meanings to you before but are used widely in the markets. Not only will you recognise these words, but you will understand what they mean and how they are used. In addition to this, you will understand more about the way companies work, how currencies can be impacted by certain events, and the concepts of supply and demand. As Investopedia notes, financial literacy is important in protecting consumers and the public.

These qualities are not just things that will stand you in good stead as a trader, rather they are things you will learn and you can apply in other parts of your life. Learning to trade is a crash course in financial literacy, economics, and business, and, in today’s world, it’s a valuable skill to be able to boast of.

Changing the Appearance of Your Business: A Guide

With the new year in full swing and with the long-awaited vaccine on the horizon, it is safe to say that life as we know it will be upon us in no time! Many people use this time of year to make changes to certain aspects of their lives, and this is undoubtedly something that many business owners and budding entrepreneurs among us choose to do. If you find yourself in the position where you are considering how you can change your business’s appearance as we make our way further into the new year, then look no further! We have compiled a helpful guide for all those searching for new design tips and tricks, which will be effective. Read on for more!

Colour Schemes and Logo

This is essential for anything in the business world, as it helps to distinguish you as a brand and tell you apart from the competitors. Colour schemes and logos can tell a story while letting customers know essential details about you as a brand and business. Whether you have the colour scheme and logo the same or in contrasting colours to attract customers’ attention, the choice is entirely yours. By ensuring that they complement what services or products you are offering while informing the customers of your name and motto – if you have one – you are making sure that even by walking past your business, customers know who you are. What’s more, refreshing logos and colour schemes is something that customers notice, mainly if they have grown accustomed to your standard colours.

The Layout of Your Premises

While this point may not apply to all business owners out there, depending on the industry that you are in, it is undoubtedly essential. It should be noted for those who own a physical store and have displays of products and items within their stores. The display placement is probably not something that many think of, but this is certainly something that could be changed in the new year to shake up your business. Whether you move the layout of the displays or move where specific items are being displayed, each decision can impact your business and the way that customers view you and the products themselves. If you are uncertain how to change the layout of displays in your business effectively, visit CJ Retail Solutions which will allow you to see the varying options that are available for your store. 

It may undoubtedly appear like a monumental task, mainly if you are the owner of a large business or one with multiple shops in different locations. While this can seem like a challenging task to some, this is also an opportunity to further the design exploration you are embarking on; consider using different colour schemes in other stores while using the same logo. Customers will know that it is the same business, but a little different. More unique, should we say!

Aligning Your Startup Business Strategy with Success

Are you ready to take the plunge into starting your own company? This decision is only the beginning. There are still several steps between making the decision and launching, and skipping any of them can reduce the likelihood of your success. By organizing your finances, writing a business plan, and working with the right professionals, you will be better positioned to deal with anything unexpected that arises and outlast your competition.

 

Get Your Personal Finances in Order

First, you need to organize your personal finances. This will help ensure that you do not mix your business and personal accounts. It can also help you be clear about what you need to be able to pay yourself as a salary for the company to be viable. You should have a good sense of your personal spending and a budget, and you should try to pay down your debt right away. There are a number of strategies for reducing your debt even if you can’t entirely pay it off. For example, you can take out a personal loan to pay off credit card debt. The advantage of doing this is that the interest rates are often much lower for a personal loan than for your credit card. It only takes about a minute to see your different loan options.

 

Write a Business Plan

You need a business plan if you are going to seek investors or loans, but even if you are not, a plan can give you clarity as well as showing you where there could be gaps in your thinking that you need to shore up. There is no single way to write a plan, but there are certain issues everyone should address. You need to be able to write a clear mission statement and think about what you need to get started, including how much money you need. An operating budget should include what equipment you will need and whether you should to hire any staff or contract out some types of work. One of the most important elements is thinking about your marketing, both who your audience is and how you will reach them. You may want to do some surveys online and research your competition for this section of your plan.

Get Help

It’s important that you establish yourself as the appropriate type of entity. This affects your taxes and a number of other things, so you may want to start by visiting an attorney to discuss whether you should be a limited liability company, an S-corp or another type of business. Creating a relationship with an attorney also means you have someone to turn to when you have questions about contracts, zoning or other issues. Even if you are a partnership or a sole proprietor, you may want to consider hiring a bookkeeper and working with professionals in marketing and IT. Finally, you should look into the types of insurance you need to get, including protection in case of equipment damage or having to close your company for a period of time.

Why Remortgaging is a Game-changer For Modern Home-owners

In the UK, whilst the numbers can fluctuate, roughly 39,000 remortgages occur on a monthly basis. In fact, in the first quarter of 2019, almost 40% of property loans were remortgages – with good reason. Getting on the property ladder is usually one of the main financial goals we set ourselves. It can take time to build up the deposit, and negotiate the rates. However, once you’ve got that first set of keys and the mortgage payments start going out, it might feel like the interesting part is over.

The remortgage process is where that changes. When interest rates fall, it makes more sense to move your money into investments, or somewhere we can potentially accrue some real gains, rather than a savings account. Remortgaging works in a similar way, a chance to renegotiate the terms of your mortgage payments. Here’s why it might suit you to remortgage your home sooner, rather than later.

Cashing in

Generationally speaking, interest rates have really lost their shine. For all the benefits you’ll see from dropping your cash into savings, you could almost justify keeping it under your bed. An alternative to putting money away could be simply changing the goalposts of your monthly mortgage payments. There’s a chance to save thousands of pounds, entirely through switching from your current rate to a new one. The options available can often be numerous and it’s vital to understand all the details, so it’s worth checking out a remortgage comparison platform for a clearer breakdown of your choices. With options from over 90 lenders at Trussle, for example, the potential outcome could be better value for you and your home.

Unlocked potential

In the vast majority of cases, remortgaging doesn’t add any additional fees and usually, you can acquire valuations and legal packages free of charge. However, explore your options – some remortgaging deals can even include cash-back bonuses.

Remortgaging doesn’t apply in cases where your mortgage is no longer affordable, either. If you’ve built up some equity in your home or property, you can push money saved on a mortgage into any other pursuit you choose. Potentially, even improving the house itself!

Shorter terms

When life gives you lemons, cut your mortgage terms down. Often, our earning potential can change as we grow older. If your monthly budget improves, you can realistically shave several years off of a mortgage term by upping your contributions.  The goal of every mortgage is to be paid off in full, and remortgaging can bring about that day all the quicker. 

Remortgaging is the popular choice because it allows the home-owner to build equity on their own terms, in a manner that suits them. Our lives and the world can change quite a bit over the terms of a mortgage, and a monthly outgoing should fit a budget, not the other way around. The remortgaging process, like many financial instruments, can be shrouded in jargon and confusing language but it’s really quite simple. It’s about structuring a mortgage to suit you and your changing needs, and making sure your money is invested back into your life as you choose – and granting yourself new opportunities along the way.

Spotlight on Mike Lord, CEO of Stiltz Home Lifts

AI: Hi Mike, to start would you be able to give us a brief overview of Stiltz Home Lifts – what you do, who you work with? That sort of thing.

ML: We make a product called a Homelift which Stiltz was first to design. This is targeted at the older generation and allows people to move between floors easily as they get older.  People will either fit our lifts as they need this help, or we’ll install it as part of a home renovation and to future proof the house.  Our products are designed to be a stylish addition to someone’s home rather look like an afterthought and an eyesore.

AI: When did the company launch and how long have you been a part of it?

ML: We actually had our 10th Birthday recently in September!  I have been involved from very early in the Stiltz history starting in 2012 as a consultant helping the company get ready for investment, then investing and becoming Chairman in 2014, followed by a management buyout of 3 of the 4 founders in 2017 when I became CEO as well as Chairman working full time in the company from that point.

AI: What makes your company standout? What would you describe as something particularly noteworthy about Stiltz?

ML: Besides our products, which are world leading, Stiltz has been a fantastic growth story with turnover doubling in year on year over the first 5 years then continuing to grow at 50% for the next 4 years.  Astonishingly, 2020 still yielded double-digit growth despite the impacts COVID-19. Moreover, we have been on the Fastrack 100 fastest growing export companies 3 times, we are on the FT 1000 fastest growing European companies list for the last two years and recently won the Queens Award for exporters.  About 60% of our lifts are sold outside the UK with the USA being our biggest single export market.

AI: Companies invited to participate in our spotlight series are typically doing amazing things; revolutionising, innovating, automating, scaling, disrupting or modernising. Which of these most strikes a chord with you and why?

ML: I would like to think we tick 5 out of 6 of those boxes! Our market has traditionally been full of products which can be defined as “make do and mend”.  Our range of products has changed the way people can maintain the use of their homes as they get less mobile.  We have broken in to about 30 different international markets and changed the choice people have to make from a “disabled” to a lifestyle product.  We can fit in to people’s home where they want us to, not where they have to.  We have built a digital marketing platform which is scalable across the globe and got close to out customers so much more so than anyone else in our market.

AI: How many people are currently employed at Stiltz?

ML: We operate across 3 continents. In Europe, we employ around 150 people but currently recruiting a further 20 installation engineers and builders. In the USA, we have 25 people and over 100 in China growing probably to 140 by the middle of next year.

AI: What’s your mission statement?

ML: Democratising Homelifts – we want Homelifts to be a common appliance in an ever-growing group of the population from young couples who want to live in style to the older generation who want to stay in their family home and use it how they always have.

AI: How would you define your corporate culture?

ML: The business founders were Australian so we have tried to harness that Aussie competitiveness we see in sports with the laid back and welcoming atmosphere.  We have an employee acronym to show what people who work here can expect, which spells SMAC.  So yes, we like to SMAC our employees!  We want our employees to feel Secure whilst being Motivated.  We like to show we Appreciate our employees but want them to feel Challenged.

AI: What are they key challenges, in your opinion, facing your industry right now?

ML: Other than the obvious pandemic there aren’t really any big challenges.  Demographics and housing needs are the two big drivers, and these are all in our favour.

AI: And, finally, what do the next 12 months have in store for the company?

ML: Lots more growth!

Organisational security and the hidden risk

The security needs of businesses vary greatly dependent on the sector they are in. For example, the financial sector is generally more developed than others due to the potential risks associated with a security breach. Despite the varying requirements, each business’ broader approach to security should follow a similar format where vital assets – those that needs to be protected – are surrounded by several security layers.

This approach helps ensure that if the first or even second layer is breached, the asset is not compromised or put at risk. But too often security measures are not thought about holistically, with physical, cyber and personnel risks all considered individually when in fact they are intrinsically linked. Often, there are hidden risks that may not even have been considered.

Here, we’ll explore the rounded approach that MASS takes with both public sector and defence organisations, and how this can be applied to improving security within all facets of the private sector.

Physical security

The first and most obvious security consideration should always be physical access to the organisation’s building or site. Even in sectors where physical security is well established such as finance or data centres, it remains vital.

Identifying the perimeter is fundamental, due to the potential of distributed site facilities, linked remote assets and supply chains, the perimeter may not be as clear as initially thought. To achieve this, the use of scenario-based analysis actor personas, motivations and objectives can be invaluable for exposing how a business could be targeted and exploited.

This should include a review of the physical barriers that prevent access to the site and their role as a deterrent and detection method for hostile activity.

But security measures are only as secure as the people applying and adhering to them. Factors including staff making simple mistakes (such as wearing security badges in the street) or poor motivation of roving security staff or those monitoring CCTV can cause warning signs to be missed – and allow for future security breaches to slip through the gap.

 

Cyber security and the aging risk

The risk of cyber exploitation has grown considerably in recent years due to the financial and technical barriers to advanced cyber-attacks being reduced. For this reason, levels of cyber security must be taken to a new level and any existing measures continually scrutinised.

The COVID-19 pandemic has brought this issue to the fore, with homeworking and remote access highlighting the importance of cyber security, and also shining light on the risks posed by aging equipment and systems.

Throughout 2020 the challenges associated with using legacy data systems have been highlighted, and with increased traffic and offsite access the user experience has become slow and often with intermittent access. Legacy systems are also more challenging and expensive to protect.

The efficient transfer of business data from legacy systems onto a modern platform and data warehouse can not only help protect information more effectively from cyber threats but is also often a more effective use of resource when compared to protecting legacy systems.

To help mitigate network cyber risks, penetration testing regimes can be vital but tools like ‘CBEST’ only offer a snapshot in time and therefore have limitations. Frequent, lighter touch assessments enhanced by modern threat intelligence techniques are recommended in line with these tools as they offer a more dynamic view of vulnerabilities.

Consider insiders

Those who might misuse legitimate access to an organisation’s assets are known as insiders and are often overlooked. Many security controls are now so effective that exploiting those with legitimate access is one of the only ways to circumvent them. The right insider or team of insiders can overcome almost all security measures, while insider breaches have a disproportionately high business impact.

Insider cases are typically individuals who have had a personal vulnerability exploited or have become disgruntled with an employer, and it is a challenging area to address. That being said, security culture, employee wellbeing and employee sentiment are just some aspects that a business committed to its security should consider.

It’s also prudent to examine the wider supply chain. Many businesses rely on an interconnected network of suppliers which makes it difficult to pinpoint risk, so identifying ‘hot-spot’ areas allows them to filter complex information and establish risk effectively.

Changing times

If these layers of security are not considered collectively, some areas can fall through the cracks. The COVID-19 pandemic has had an unforeseen impact on security, with some companies experiencing a change in working practices or accelerated growth. Yet their data is stored on legacy systems which unless addressed, are cyber-attacks just waiting to happen.

At MASS, our security experts consist of professionals with extensive experience in preventing security breaches and managing data from mission critical systems. We ensure our security analysis meets and exceeds industry best practice.

MASS has recently launched its Virtual Learning Environment allowing us to conduct Cyber Security Training remotely for whole organisations, individuals or management teams. For more information, please visit: https://www.mass.co.uk/what-we-do/mass-online-training/online-training-courses/

Building The Roads Of The Future

The Airolink group of companies was originally established in the Republic of Ireland, but has since grown all over the world with offices in Dublin, India, and the United Arab Emirates. Also in that time, the firm has grown to become one of the leading civil contractors in the United Arab Emirates. Now, it specialises in residential, commercial, hospitality, retail, education, roads, and infrastructure development, offering a complete package from land acquisition, design, and construction right the way through to completion. The expert team on hand at Airolink offers every project the benefits of quality, cost competitiveness, and the experience and a proven contractor. They make every effort to meet all the costs, schedule timings, and performance requirements for every contract it has ever been awarded, and this has seen the firm undertake a lot of projects with repeat clients.

At Airolink, the firm believes that time is money. In any business, the critical element to success is strategic business planning and decisive decision-making. This decisiveness in decision making, even amidst ambiguities, is what potentially converts efforts to results, and exactly what stands Airolink apart from its competitors and counterparts. Airolink is a sustainable business, with a healthy cashflow which allows it to undertake greater risks that its counterparts as well. When it comes to running a business, there are few that have the art of financial discipline more under control than this one. As far as project management is concerned, everyone at Airolink follows a very systematic approach, and spends lots of time effectively planning from day one.

Beginning at the conceptual stage, all possibilities are taken into consideration, with the technological, financial, and economic feasibility of each alternative being assessed and compared in order to select the best alternative that meets the needs of all stakeholders. This is the modus operandi of Airolink, and the team does not fluctuate from this. Following this process rigorously enables the expert to offer every project the benefit of quality, cost competitiveness, and the experience of a proven contractor that knows what it is doing at every stage.

Clients can hail from any industry or market, whether it be private, semi-governmental, or wholly governmental sectors. No matter the kind of client or sector that Airolink serves, it ensures that every project is programmed with respect to its completion. Once the project scope has been clearly defined and understood, a detailed engineering design will serve as the blueprint for construction, and a definitive cost estimate will serve as the baseline for cost control. Procurement and construction activities onsite are undertaken with careful planning and the utmost control, and procurement activities are carried out in a very systematic manner to ensure smooth delivery of materials onsite during execution. Post-construction, there is a brief DLP period which takes care of any snags, after which the complete handing over of the project is then undertaken.

Airolink is a relatively young company which does not have an organization inertia of any kind, enabling it to be open to changing industry and company dynamics on a whim. The firm believes in and encourages active participation of its employees in decision-making at various levels on a daily basis, in an effort to give team members a sense of inclusiveness within the organization as a whole. Also, as an established construction firm have multiple departments and employing thousands of people from a range of cultural backgrounds, Airolink makes every effort to break down the silos between departments and create awareness for unified goals.

6 Ways You Can Track Employee Hours Online

Employee tracking provides accurate logging of employee hours, giving smarter insights not only into projected labor costs but also into employee efficiency and productivity. Accurate employee hours allow employers to generate more accurate payroll numbers to ensure each employee gets paid according to the total hours rendered. Also, accurately tracking employee hours enable employers to comply to employment laws. But how can business owners accurately track employee hours?

In this article, you’ll learn the best ways to track employee hours online to help you make the best decision that will bring forth maximum benefits to your business and your employees. 

What Does Employee Hours Online Tracking Means?

You can now accurately track employee hours using web-based online tools, apps, and software programs, such as a time duration calculator, GPS employee tracker, biometrics, and internet browser tracking.

These tools are often integrated with payroll and employee management tools to ensure that employees get paid on time. Investing in these tools provides promising financial benefits for businesses because of cost-effective scheduling decisions. 

Ways to Track Employee Hours Online

Take a look at the best ways to track your employees’ hours online by reading below:

1. Spreadsheet Manual Entering of Employee Hours 

There are still employers who prefer manually entering employee hours on spreadsheets, most especially small and medium-sized businesses. These companies are not yet ready to migrate to an online system or the cloud. While this method may work best for them, it usually requires workarounds when interacting with other businesses and government authorities.

2. Using Wall-Mounted Card Swipes

These are the updated version of punch card systems. Traditional time keeping involves punching timecards. With wall-mounted car swiping, employees use their IDs to clock in and out, and the data is automatically transferred to a computer so employee hours are calculated for payroll employee attendance.

3. GPS Tracking or Geofencing

Choose this employee tracking tool to get more accurate data as to the number of hours an employee works than you would get with a simple mobile application.

Here are the important things to know about GPS tracking or geofencing: 

  • Setting up a geofence around your job sites is made possible with GPS tracking. 
  • The mobile time clock application sends notifications to employees upon arrival on the job site to clock in and to clock out if they need to leave the job site.
  • GPS tracking allows you to see where your field employees go during the day, verifying time on-site and en routes.
  • GPS and geofencing employee tracking usually require an upgraded software version of mobile device. So, it’s important to weight the benefits and hardware and software costs before you settle using it.

These are more sophisticated means of tracking your employees’ activities during work hours than the previous options. 

4. Browser Plug-in Tracking and URL Tracking

Employees who work heavily in front of computers, such as office workers and customer care representatives, can use this tool to track hours. Online timers and browser plug-ins are useful in determining total log time spent for a particular client or project. 

Browser plugin and URL tracking bring plenty of benefits, including the following:

  • Ensure that employees are getting paid doing their job and not visiting social networking or shopping sites to increase productivity in the workplace.
  • Employers can restrict employees from browsing websites not related to the job or inappropriate content, such as pornographic sites, using the online tool’s URL-blocking feature.
  • Employers can take screenshots during work hours to track employee activities too. These reports can be shared with employees to help them make smarter decisions as to how to effectively and efficiently use their work time.

This option is also easy to implement as it simply involves your employees adding a plugin to their computer, rather than you as the employer having to implement more personalized or physical means of tracking. 

5. Investing in Cloud-Hosted Software 

Today is the height of digital experience monitoring because of the current health crisis the world is facing. So, it’s the perfect time to migrate to cloud-based systems. Cloud-based employee tracking systems provide effective solutions to easily enter hours and quickly route time for approvals. With cloud-based systems, employee hours can be easily tracked to resolve regulatory issues and ensure accurate employee pay. 

In the past, companies spend much on hardware costs just to obtain accurate attendance records. But labor costs were still high due to various system loopholes. With cloud-hosted software programs, employers gain peace of mind knowing that their labor expenses are worth paying because of accurate data tracking. 

6. Biometrics

Large corporations use more advanced technologies, such as using retina and fingerprint scans, to keep their company secure. In addition to employee time tracking, biometric data have become essential requirement for companies needing to control access across different departments, buildings, and branches. 

How to Choose the Right Employee Tracking System for You

When choosing the best employee tracking system for your company, here are some tips you can apply:

1. Determine Your Readiness

While you’re fully aware of the benefits of cloud-based employee hours tracking systems, your employees might not be ready to migrate yet. It is best to take introduce changes gradually by holding trials and demos.

2. Consider Your Budget

Budgeting is crucial when applying new technologies in your business because reliable software programs and applications usually come with expensive price tag. Before you start searching for the right system to track employee hours, you have to set your budget without compromising your production or operational budget.

3. Check the Features And Benefits

It is important to take into account the employee tracking system’s features and benefits to fully maximize its use. You might not need all the bells and whistles and just prefer a simple and easy-to-use system for your small or medium-sized business. 

If you have a large company, it’s paramount to carry out more stringent features of tracking employee hours, given the large number of employees you have to manage. Take a look at the following important features and benefits of the best employee and productivity tracking systems available nowadays:

  • Straightforward Cloud Migration: It involves automated data transfer and seamless system integration.
  • Highly Secure: Encrypted and password protected employee tracking systems hosted by highly secured servers. 
  • User-Friendly Navigation Interface: Look for a system with easy-to-use menu, controls, and settings for office or field employee tracking.
Conclusion

You have just learned the different ways to track employee hours. If you’re still starting, you might want to use less complex and more affordable tracking system and then shift to a cloud and other advanced system later on. Choosing the right system for you includes preparing your employees for system changes, considering your budget, and taking into account the features and benefits they provide.

Ingenious IP Lawyer

The murky world of Intellectual Property is hotly contested, with many law firms handling portfolios on a client’s behalf. As we look once again to those lights of the legal profession, we turn to Santiago R. O’Conor, the Leading Intellectual Property Prosecution and Litigation Lawyer of the Year, Argentina in Acquisition International’s Leading Adviser 2020 awards.

O’Conor & Power Abogados was founded in 2013 by Santiago R. O’Conor, with the business built on the back of over thirty years of legal expertise. The aim was to provide the height of legal advice to clients, combining the ultimate in quality with a flexible and personalized service.
After working with many large IP Boutiques and Full Service Firms, Mr O’Conor saw the need for a firm that could offer a more precise service that was able to boast the same expertise as its competitors. Often the clients who turn to Mr O’Conor and his firm require needs that go beyond simple IP issues. Often, they require a lawyer who is able to include commercial needs that are directly related to this into their judgements. This is why Mr O’Conor has also built up experience in the commercialization of IP and related matters.

The clients that O’Conor & Power Abogados serve come from a broad selection, split between local businesses and business owners and foreign corporations and their associates. For the local businessman, O’Conor & Power Abogados is ideal for providing the necessary guidance and assistance that ensures their IP is protected, that this protection is enforced and that it can be commercialized in Argentina and internationally. This information is easily transferred to interests from foreign countries, and Mr O’Conor and his team are more than capable of guiding these organizations through the complicated system that will ensure their IP security.

As a while, the firm has been proud to handle clients operating in a number of different areas including food, winery, technology and telecommunications, pharmaceutical, entertainment, clothing and the textile industry. Needless to say, this breadth of knowledge puts both the firm and its clients in exceptional stead moving forward. Much of this is a credit to the lawyers, industrial property agents and select network of engineers and technical professionals who pull together to make O’Conor & Power Abogados the success it deserves to be.

Giving Healthcare A Helping Hand

Over the course of twenty two years, DC Risk Solutions has gained a reputation for being a company that has been able to take decisive action quickly in response to threats and opportunities. The philosophy of “find a need and work to offer a solution” has underpinned the work since its beginning, and it is unafraid of working with colleagues and competitors alike to support the market as a whole. In its latest venture of supporting the healthcare market, DC Risk Solutions has developed Integrated Payor Solutions. Currently, payor organizations need to access multiple systems and input the same information multiple times to be able to manage, pay, and provide reporting on medical claims to be compliant with the rules and regulations. Instead, DC Risk Solutions built a singlepoint of service system where all of the information resides, where administrators and any third-party service providers can access the information and work in a secure environment.

Integrated Payor Solutions was built to give a first-in-class Medical Claims Administrator Solution for small-to-medium firms built on Salesforce with all the security, integration capabilities, and scalability being salesforce-native brings. This is a SaaS model that is priced on a per-employee per-month basis, which tracks directly with their clients’ revenue. The current market offerings are a combination of homegrown and purchased technology for specific tasks that generally do not work well together. In many cases, clients have to bundle different programs together and build work arounds where they are not readily compatible, and there was previously no one platform that did everything.

Enter, Integrated Payor Solutions. DC Risk Solutions started by approaching traditional third-party administrators as the firm saw this opportunity to reduce costs and improve patient outcomes. The firm partnered early on with ancillary service providers such as Pharmacy Benefits Manager, and medical review and wellness companies, which revealed that technology was often the roadblock to total fluidity and success. Very little is possible without real time data delivered at the right place and time where it can be used effectively, so these partners wanted DC Risk Solutions to help them get the data they needed. The firm set about creating its system, which has subsequently been marketed to the entire claims paying universe. With its single modular system, Integrated Payor Solutions can act as a bridge or a complete solution.

The internal culture of DC Risk Solutions is one that has been cultivated from the ground up by founder and leader, Shawn Evans. Prior to working at DC Risk Solutions, Mr Evans worked at Lloyds, as part of a small team who specialized in the healthcare sector and needed to work together with a common goal whilst competing daily.

As a collective group, Mr Evans and his team had to look at all of the clients as an important part of the market, so everyone supported one another. This culture of positivity and collaboration has fed into the atmosphere that Mr Evans has cultivated at DC Risk Solutions. The firm is about delivering better, faster, and cheaper healthcare solutions to the employees and members that its clients serve, but the staff are at the heart of that mission.

Staff are critical to any mission, but at DC Risk Solutions, they are each handpicked by Mr Evans himself, who knows all too well what skills and elements make a perfect team. Each staff member adds to the organization with different ideas and perspectives that will make a difference. DC Risk Solutions has a very flat management structure where Mr Evans expects team members to look at their work, and the work of its clients, and figure out how it can be made more efficient. The entire Integrated Payor Solutions platform was a collaboration of individuals with programming, claims paying, healthcare, and operations backgrounds. Mr Evans assembled the team and empowered them to make a difference to the healthcare industry.

Recruitment has proven to be a challenge for DC Risk Solutions, as it is a Salesforce shop where the competition for talent is extreme and the healthcare sector cannot afford the wages presented by many competitors. Instead, DC Risk Solutions aims to hire students and new graduates for the technical positions as they are drawn by the appeal of helping others by making the healthcare sector better for everyone, and do not simply look at the salary. The firm also commits to the students and graduates that they will get a lot of interested projects and hands-on experience which they can take with them when they leave. In addition, the firm is always having to look out for talent wherever it exists in the world. As a cloud-based platform, much of the work can be done from anywhere in the world, including the United States, Turkey, and Lebanon.

Overall, the healthcare industry in the United States has been in a state of constant change since the mid-1990s, when Mr Evans initially started his career in the industry. Healthcare in the United States represents 17% of the nation’s GDP, but politics still remains the greatest challenge. Over the years, there have been many reforms and regulations which are then integrated into the business model. However, when elections see the power change hands, everything is rolled back. The Accountable Care Act is a prime example of DC Risk Solutions building systems to comply, only to then have them made redundant a few years later at great cost to everyone involved.

Yet, DC Risk Solutions launched the Integrated Payor Solutions under shelter in place restrictions. It has to change the rollout strategy, as the conferences have had to be virtual, but the success
has been unparalleled. With more and more people choosing to work from home, cloud solutions have been supercharged as clients and prospects need flexible, secure systems that can be deployed anywhere. As this may become the new normal, DC Risk Solutions anticipates the ability to work remotely will be necessary for the foreseeable future. At the same time, the firm is modifying the Payor Solutions solution for insurance agencies and underwriters, which it plans to launch in 2021 following the beta testing stage.

Few can predict which way the healthcare industry will be made to turn next, especially in an election year in the United States. That is why it is absolutely critical that DC Risk Solutions are about flexibility and change, as no-one knows what they future brings for the healthcare industry. Ultimately, the firm is flexible and adaptable enough to allow its clients to react quickly with minimal disruption and additional costs. With excellence at the helm in the form of Mr Evans, DC Risk Solutions is one of the finest innovators in an American industry that desperately needs it.

Helping The Elderly To Live Freely

Proactively aging may seem like an odd choice of wording, but taking control of the aging process and not letting it inhibit daily life is something that many people wish they could do. At LiveFreely, this vision has become reality. The company was born from the personal experiences of two brothers taking care of their elderly father and wondering how the process could be made easier. Over the years, the mission has become more refined, but LiveFreely’s core goals have never changed – to help elderly loved ones and those giving care to them gain true peace of mind. What makes the company most successful is their innovative mission and the team’s passion and drive to fulfill an urgent need for technology that improves the lives of seniors.

Each team member has dedicated himself/herself to LiveFreely’s mission of fostering a supportive ecosystem for families, health professionals, and friends, enhancing the security, well-being, and independence of seniors. LiveFreely’s most recent innovation is BUDDY, a versatile and reliable digital health solution that monitors and supports proactive aging. Powered by revolutionary artificial intelligence technology, families and loved ones can now enjoy unprecedented levels of freedom, connectedness, and safety while living life to its fullest.

Through the BUDDY app’s machine learning and artificial intelligence, users can monitor and manage fall prediction, prevention, and detection; medication schedules and reminders; GPS location; and emergency notifications. The platform even alerts smartwatch wearers, family members, caregivers, first responders, and emergency service personnel of irregular health patterns. BUDDY provides a central platform to keep track of health logs, where users and their caregivers can easily view their health history and even share them with their doctors.

The best part about BUDDY is that you can personalize it to your needs by selecting which health categories you want to track. The different categories you can monitor are reminders for medications or vital-sign measurements, falls, GPS boundary alerts for wandering, SOS alerts for immediate help, and code BLUE alerts for cardiac events. What is unique about BUDDY’s fall detection algorithm is its capacity to personalize itself to an individual’s activity and lifestyle, rendering it capable of alerting users when they become a fall risk. BUDDY’s medication reminders are especially innovative in their ease of set-up – just take a picture of your pill bottle and it’s automatically captured and entered. LiveFreely is working on developing even more categories to address specific chronic diseases.

The culture of the company is built around the principle of helping others and serving the community. While BUDDY is initially available on Fitbit smartwatches, more platforms are on the way soon. One of its key benefits is its ability to offer tremendous functionality in a simple and easy-to-use way for seniors. What was once available in very rudimentary forms through several different apps, is now available in one. LiveFreely hopes to especially keep seniors connected while allowing them to maintain their independence and also provide their care community visibility into their wellbeing.

For such a new company, LiveFreely has attracted a diverse team of high caliber talent in all disciplines. From the neurosciences to human engineering and artificial intelligence, the team is functioning on the cutting edge of emerging technology in the digital health space. Perhaps their greatest asset is their ability to bring novel perspectives from their individual specialities and collaborate with each other to innovate synergistic solutions. Characteristic of Silicon Valley start-ups, LiveFreely’s office is dotted with multi-colored bean bags, not just for sitting around, but also as tools of the trade for team members simulating falls.

At the head of LiveFreely is co-founder and CEO, Dr. Arthur Jue. Prior to co-founding the company alongside his brother Daniel, Dr. Jue worked extensively as a serial entrepreneur, corporate executive, educator, and author. Some of the leading companies in the world have benefitted from his expertise, having applied his trade as a senior leader with tech firms such as Oracle, IBM, Hyperion, Tectura, and Twilio. Outside of the technology world, Dr. Jue has also worked as a consultant for health and life sciences companies such as Danaher, Molecular Devices, ForteBio, and McKesson. When his incredibly busy life does leave room for other activities, Dr. Jue is an award-winning independent film producer, serves on a number of boards, performs frequently as a concert violinist, creates artwork, enjoys rock-collecting, Latin dancing, and even martial arts.

Daniel Jue serves as co-founder and CTO of LiveFreely. He has over 20 years of experience in emerging technology and professional software development in companies such as IBM. A self-taught programmer, he wrote his first computer game at the age of 8 on a Radio Shack TRS-80 with only 4k of RAM. Having lived and worked abroad for ten years, he can speak several languages. He has a deep passion for entrepreneurialism and has started several companies in the tech, import/export, and hospitality industries. He loves serving his community and exotic car racing.

The co-founders’ philosophy towards AI is that not only is it pervasive, it is an extension of our human capacity. Arthur and Daniel believe that AI is the next step in advancing elderly care, from not just predicting negative harmful effects, but potentially preventing a host of chronic illnesses. Looking ahead, LiveFreely is hoping to enable caregivers and elderly loved ones to take greater control of aging and increase awareness of the power of AI and technology in empowering a vulnerable community, particularly in the age of COVID-19. Studies are showing that seniors are ready to embrace technology like BUDDY globally. Incorporating real experiences in caregiving, BUDDY is addressing this need in an exciting, novel, and truly disruptive way.

Securing Repeatable Project Success

Founded in 2010, Cloud Coach is a firm who have created enterprise-class project management and productivity software, built on the Salesforce infrastructure that has been created specifically for businesses who are looking to make strategic investments in their success. The Cloud Coach suite of tools for, PSA, PPM, and Productivity, can be utilized to simplify everyday tasks. Simplifying tasks may sound routine, but the software has many knock-on effects and benefits that can seriously impact on a business moving forward. Effective simplification can lead to increases in productivity across the board, which in turn allows a business to grow by giving them the time to concentrate on core aspects of service delivery. Implementing and following these best practice processes in a repeatable and successful manner can lead to major strategic advantages for clients.

The mission for Cloud Coach is simple: to deliver ongoing value for its customers through providing Project Management solutions that help them to be more efficient every day in their various roles. Cloud Coach is a product-led company, and it has the same product architects and core software development team today that it had a decade ago. This has allowed the firm to take a long-term view with its product roadmap, and also repay the loyalty from its team with investment and opportunity to grow. One of the reasons that this system has worked so well for Cloud Coach is because many of its competitors do not think the same way. Instead, they outsource the design and build of their products, which is a ticking time bomb in the long-term.

How exactly does the Cloud Coach platform drive the success of its clients though? Well, it all begins with the software driving adoption and success throughout a client’s organization by using a platform that lets each department visualize work the way that it wants to, and the way that works best for itself. Whilst other platforms may lead to confusion and miscommunication between departments because of this, Cloud Coach ensures that this multitude of visualizations for the client does not take away from the teams following best practice business processes and remaining as communicative and collaborative as possible.

Each department within a company can work in a different way to all the others, and staying ahead of this as a business is core to keeping communication lines open and clear throughout the duration of a project, especially one that is multidisciplinary. Software that Cloud Coach provides can be tailored to meet the unique needs of each department within a business, or the process that it is currently going through. As well as having unique processes and departments, each business is also inherently unique from many others out there, and so the software provided by Cloud Coach has to be well and truly tailored in order to achieve the desired effects.

On top of the outstanding individualization that each client receives when it comes to their software, there is also an exceptional level of intuitiveness and seamlessness to the software provided. Each interface and platform that end-users come into contact with can both drive user adoption rates, and also supercharge the data accuracy that they are then later receiving. Anything to make the process smoother and more intuitive is undoubtedly a bonus, and Cloud Coach has certainly mastered that art. Clients are also able to access key performance indicators that drive decision-making processes at the higher echelons of a business. Leaders and decision-makers can visualize all the key insights they need to drive profitable decision-making across the company.

Throughout its ten-year history, Cloud Coach has prided itself on guiding its clients through the complete journey of finding a solution to a business problem, and making it into a positive and profitable outcome that a business can utilize. First and foremost, there is always an initial step to the process that ensures that Cloud Coach is a good fit for a client’s business, and that it is being used to the best of its ability. Too often, business productivity software is installed but never utilized correctly. Cloud Coach’s premium consulting and support system is there to make sure that the software is working properly for the client, and helping them generate success for their business.

As with any organization, staff are critical to the success that Cloud Coach has experienced. Blessed with a team that can all pull together to bring value for the customers every single day, Cloud Coach dutifully repays that blessing by giving young people a change through its summer internship programs at local universities. Many of those summer interns later return to the firm in full-time positions once they have graduated from their courses. With an atmosphere of innovation and creativity, Cloud Coach is a breeding ground for success amongst its employees, be they new graduates or seasoned veterans of the project management software industry.

Whether searching for project management, software as a service, portfolio delivery, or improved efficiency, Cloud Coach has the solution for every client need. In essence, there is no end to the excellence that the firm provides, and it can hold its head higher than ever before on the back of this latest success. As 2020 continues to be a year of uncertainty and difficulty for many, Cloud Coach stands as the perfect helping hand.

Kelly Stone Leads the Way as Best Family Support NPO Business Leader (Canada)

In 2014, Kelly Stone transformed a decaying national charity into Families Canada—the go-to place for those who work with vulnerable families. Now President and CEO, Kelly is steering Families Canada through a full digital transformation. In addition to a long career in public service centering around the rights and welfare of children, Kelly acknowledges her duty as an influential woman in business and works hard to offer other women starting out the opportunities and tools to reach senior levels of management.

When Kelly Stone assumed the leadership role of a national charity, she was confronted with an institution that had seen very little development since its inception in the seventies. With a weak business infrastructure, minimal digital engagement, staff lacking the right skills and a board that had disengaged, the charity presented Kelly with a size-able rescue operation.

Not to be deterred, Kelly took on the challenge, recruiting interns, drafting a priority-driven business plan, establishing a digital presence, and launching a social enterprise. By 2016, the regeneration of the organization revealed the new Families Canada.

A national charitable association of family support centres, Families Canada has a network of more than 500 member agencies and thousands of frontline family support practitioners who provide hubs of free services, programs, and resources to low-income and disadvantaged families across Canada.

With over forty-five years of experience and a strong staff team, Families Canada supports organizations dedicated to strengthening families by promoting the rights and interests of children and their families. Kelly has leveraged her professional network to bring together funders and partners to turn the best of social and health science into practice. As a result of Kelly’s exceptional and devoted leadership, Families Canada is once again the go-to place for those who work with vulnerable families.

Kelly’s legacy lessons about resilience under stress, risk management and thinking out of the box came from her role in the aftermath of the 2001, 9/11 terrorist attack. As part of the Government of Canada’s response team, Kelly’s functions evolved from protecting Canadians to aligning with international legislative obligations, earning Kelly the Head of the (Canadian) Public Service Award. The lessons she learnt during 2001 have stayed with her even today, as she says, “changing the engines while keeping the airplane flying is not easy for any organization nor leader. It takes determination, funds and nerves of steel.”

This mentality has remained consistent throughout her career, in which many years were spent taking on responsibility for public policy regarding child well-being and several Canada-wide children’s programmes. Kelly also worked internationally in the implementation of the UN Convention on the Rights of the Child (UNCRC), in which she worked with international partners to institute a children’s rights approach to state legislation, public policy and on-the-ground initiatives, implementing strategies concerning issues such as identity, health, education and child trafficking. Kelly remains committed to her efforts for the UNCRC and aspires to see governments and NGOs unite to better support marginalized children and communities.

Kelly is also a fierce advocate for the promotion of young women in business, recognizing her influence and using it. “Female Execs need to reach down and pull up competent women and take responsibility for advancing diversity,” says Kelly. Female executive sponsorship is an undervalued leadership quality and something that everyone benefits from, as businesses profit from the fresh perspectives of young people in return for exposure to business realities. Strong business practices such as these are essential for sustainability, and as such, Kelly promotes recruitment of corporate sector women onto her own Board. “Families Canada benefits from their professional expertise, and they gain valuable Board experience.”

Even throughout the global pandemic, Families Canada has stayed strong under the conscientious leadership of Kelly and her team. Focusing on remaining visible and relevant, Families Canada is continuing its digital transformation, whilst looking to corporate partners and all those who can lend their voice, a hand or even financial support to the organization. Thriving on the pressure to reinvent and develop, Families Canada remains a success story in its constant ability to pivot and innovate, ensuring that members always get the help they need to serve vulnerable families.

For more information, please contact Kelly Stone at Families Canada.

Web Address: www.familiescanada.ca

Making Mobile Devices More Magnificent

What exactly are RF filters? And why are they important? Radio frequencies occupy the range of electromagnetic spectrum designated for broadcasting over distance. Billions upon billions of mobile devices send and receive signals using chunks of RF spectrum, known as bands. Filters select specific signals from specific bands, whilst rejecting unwanted signals that would otherwise interfere with the selected bands. In a modern smartphone, there are currently more than fifty such RF filters, allowing operation anywhere in the world. As the number of filters increases, so too does the design challenge, both in the number of new filters and the complexity of those designs., all of which must work together seamlessly.

Currently, there are seven major players responsible for providing 98% of the RF filter production for mobile phones. These companies design, fabricate, and package the filters. However, the limited number of filter suppliers constrain the growth of the mobile phone market. With the impending transition to 5G networks and technology looming large on the horizon, the capacity to generate new designs and more RF filters than ever before will no doubt inhibit the success of the mobile phone industry and market. That is where Resonant comes into the picture.

The genesis for Resonant started in the early days of the cellular industry, when existing filter systems for cellular base stations took up an entire seven-foot high telecom rack. The company’s founders developed the design tools and manufacturing techniques to perfect a new kind of filter system that was roughly the size of a loaf of bread, whilst also doubling the area covered by the cell tower. In 2012, those engineers founded Resonant to apply their development expertise to filters in smartphones, which were growing in design complexity and in cost.

Resonant’s core values are transparency, accountability, and a sense of urgency. Transparency is about the firm being upfront and visible about the actions is takes, whilst the accountability focus is very much on being clear about Resonant’s vision for where it is going and what needs to be accomplished along the way. Finally, the sense of urgency lies in creating an atmosphere of urgency that can be embraced, and in turn bring about an atmosphere of achievement. The company was incorporated also in 2012, giving it the ability to develop new tools and technology to better design the filters. Resonant’s founders were also able to raise bridge financing from their investment banker, and this paved the way for success which they may never have considered before.

Resonant went public on Nasdaq in 2014, which in turn enabled it to create the first of many ground-breaking filters. Each one of these new innovations lent credence to Resonant as a company, and gave the company credibility, showing the industry that its technology could help to meet the challenges with design complexity that the industry faces today. RF filter design is a deeply complex combination of physics and electronics, but it is a combination that is done by most manufacturers using internal tools.

However, invariably, the results depend on trial and error to support the right frequency band. This means that the process is often a very long and arduous one which does not suit the speed at which new mobile devices are being released every year. A filter must be designed, fabricated, and tested, as well as tweaked which means conducting the whole process all over again.

With the entire process taking upwards of months, or even years, this is too long given the wealth of new and advanced RF filters – which are the most complicated ones to develop – are needed in mass quantities for modern 5G mobile devices. This is where Resonant delivers outstanding results. The firm’s Infinite Synthesized Networks (ISN®) addresses this problematic design process by providing the ability to design and simulate the filter electronically hundreds of times within a single second. Therefore, once the filter has been fabricated and tested only once or twice, ISN can ensure that it is ready for manufacturing.

Saving a huge amount of design time, ISN also allows Resonant to create RF filter designs for difficult bands, modules, and other complex RFFE requirements that have the potential to be manufactured with excellent predictability, enabling achievement of the desire product performance in fewer turns through the foundry, compared to traditional approaches. This increase in complexity will no doubt be further accelerated by the transition to 5G mobile services. In exploring the use of ISN for 5G networks, Resonant developed a brand new resonating structure, called XBAR®. XBAR technology is ideal for emerging 5G mobile devices that operate at higher frequencies in order to deliver higher bandwidths. Unlike other filter developments that push into higher frequencies, XBAR filters can be manufactured using existing fabrication processes for fast production.

Many of Resonant’s customers include RF filter companies that need a new way to design their products. Already, Resonant is working with some of the industry’s largest RF filter manufacturers to make their design processes even more efficient. Taking those extra months and years off the design, fabrication, and testing process can be supremely helpful for manufacturers as it allows them to make more and focus more on innovation. Another market for Resonant is mobile device component companies that would like to move into the RF filter market. The ISN Foundry Program is an ecosystem of RF filter manufacturing firms that are certified by Resonant on different manufacturing processes. Using ISN for design and the ISN Foundry Program, Resonant offers a turnkey capability to allow these companies to enter the RF filter market.

Resonant also believes that the only way the benefits of 5G networks become reality, is with more RF filter innovation. Resonant’s vision of the future is to enable RF innovation through the best software and the broadest IP library so that RF designers can do what they couldn’t do before. The firm has long believed that the future of the RF filter industry is tools, technology, and teamwork. Resonant will no doubt continue its push to become the leader of this paradigm shift.

5G wireless services are poised to make a significant impact for mobile device users and new IoT applications. For this to happen, however, all components and all parts of the mobile device must work seamlessly in tandem to ensure that they deliver on that potential. Without the exceptional work of Resonant, with its outstanding RF filter manufacturing tools and techniques, this future would take much longer to be realized. Higher frequency RF filters are needed to achieve the full benefit of next generation mobile devices and that takes new thinking and technology. With all the great software, cameras and other benefits of today’s phones, it’s easy to forget that without RF filters, user satisfaction would plummet. Thanks to Resonant’s ISN and XBAR technologies, 5G networks will be able to deliver all that they promise.

Ground-Breaking Approach To Legal Services

Established in 2013, Steele Rose is a Salisbury-based legal firm providing services in probates and estate administration, in particular for charitable organisations. In less than a decade, the firm has grown from a small local business to a nationally recognised group of legal firms offering a range of services to clients all over the world. 

Although a small family-owned business, Steele Rose has become well-known for its innovative approach to solutions with Estate Administrations, standing out from its competitors which are still stuck in the Dickensian model of legal services by creating a new, transparent model designed to benefit everyone, from their clients, to their team of legal experts to the local communities in which Steele Rose has settled itself.

Now operating across Salisbury, Essex and London, Steele Rose’s clientele is also growing, originating from all over the UK and even internationally. This growth has been totally organic, created through word of mouth and the positive referrals that are generated time and time again owing to Steele Rose’s dedication to winning customer service. Indeed, until this year, Steele Rose has had no marketing budgets since it first opened its doors, surviving and thriving on word of mouth alone.

The campaigns that have now been put in place are enhancing the exponential rate of growth that Steele Rose has experienced over the last few months. In a saturated and competitive market such as Steele Rose’s, it is vital to demonstrate the competitive edge of an organisation and as such, the firm is using new marketing to demonstrate its forward-thinking approach to an established sector. Steele Rose is challenging the norm of the market so as to deliver on their promise to offer the best, most up to date legal services to their clients.

This forward-thinking approach is also equipping Steele Rose with insights needed to educate the market and their clients. Whilst this is often a time-consuming process and has, at times, cost the firm business over the years, their market-leading approach to legal matters within Estates Administration is what will drive the firm to continued success for many years to come. Working with their loyal clientele of individuals, businesses and charitable organisations, Steele Rose’s vital and ground-breaking approach to legal services is a breath of fresh air in a traditional, Dickensian industry.

Experience in Economics Bring Great Greek Success

Since its inception, Serafim Sotiriadis and Associates has specialized in insolvency law, restructuring, bankruptcy, and other insolvency procedures that includes special administration amongst others. In general, the law firm deals with distressed companies which aim to settle their debt obligations and resolve their legal relationships with their creditors. In addition, the firm provides legal consultancy services to investors seeking to participate in non-performing loan processes. The core founding mission of the firm has always been to best service its clients in the most efficient manner. Every single case tried by the firm, and Mr Sotiriadis himself, is unique and therefore requires its own unique and specialized approach. The team do not apply the usual legal recipes and pre-formulated solutions. Instead, they methodically examine the facts in each case, and bring the expertise of the whole team to bear on it.

Mr Sotiriadis himself is the founder and inspiration for the work that Serafim Sotiriadis does as a business. He is one of the leading lawyers in Greece, particularly in the field of bankruptcy law and the business consolidation process. Recognized on a very large pioneering and inventive scale, Mr Sotiriadis has rightly established himself as a distinct personality in the above field, and has associated his name with many of the important issues that have occupied Greek society in recent years. He is also a regular honorary speaker at the most important conferences and workshops on business consolidation and bank loan restructuring.

The key element to the firm’s ongoing success is the combination of this legal expertise and in-depth understanding of the economic environment, with the wealth of experience that the business has in the Greek banking sector. These elements make Serafim Sotiriadis understand the needs of every single client, promoting the most suitable solution in every case. Also ,the management of the firm has invested in the formation of a specialized team which consists of experienced and motivated lawyers. These exceptional staff members serve clients that include major banks and companies in the fields of construction, energy, clothing, furniture manufacturing, shipbuilding, investment, and craft, as well as a number of investors and funds with a Greek presence. Due to the unique nature of the firm’s expertise, and number of lawyers and legal firms also entrust their clients to Serafim Sotiriadis in cases relating to the areas in which it specializes.

Whilst knowledge may be the greatest non-physical asset that the firm boasts, the staff are undoubtedly the greatest personal asset to Serafim Sotiriadis as a business. The firm’s “invest in people” approach has remained intact over the years, and during the recent crisis of the country since its establishment. One of the main goals is for the staff to be infused with the firm’s culture, and that is the key to its long-standing success. However, the recent crises in Greece and around Europe have not meant that the firm has escaped unscathed. In relation to these challenges, the firm had to deal with a severe recession that damaged the country in every aspect.

Nevetheless, Serfim Sotiriadis did manage to tackle all the obstacles posed during this time period by retaining the same level of the provided services. Also, the current health crisis with COVID-19 is expected to shake the grounds again all over the world, but the solid foundation of the firm will see it through. Ultimately, the firm is truly excellent, and Mr Sotiriadis’ expertise and experience at the helm will no doubt continue to guide it towards greater heights of success in the future.

Victory for Vitality

Total wellness is not limited to nourishing the body. Advancements in common understanding, along with medications that are administered by the pharmaceutical industry, have emphasized that total wellness encompasses not only the body, but the mind and home as well. Balance is key for a healthy lifestyle, and perfecting that balance sometimes requires the help of natural wellness products that can re-address that balance and bring some tranquillity to a person’s daily routine. Founded and established more than half a century ago, Swanson Health has devoted its entire business practice to the mission of offering high-quality wellness solutions to all at a great value. Now, more than fifty years later, they continue to innovate science-backed vitamins and supplements, healthy home and pantry, and self-care products that deliver wellness solutions for the mind, body, and home in ways like never before. In an effort to share wellness with more consumers, the Company has vastly accelerated their efforts to expand globally in 2020, with plans to continue the expansion going forward.

Swanson started in 1969 in the US heartland of Fargo, North Dakota. Back then, it was just one man looking to lessen his joint pain when playing a round of golf. Though the firm’s beginnings are humble, its journey thus far has been anything but.

That one man soon set off on a journey into the world of natural supplements, vitamins and health research. This journey became a passion, then obsession and finally a commitment toward wellness and lifelong vitality for both himself and his loved ones. This commitment matured into a mission that focused purely on providing wholly natural and potent health products directly to other people at a tremendous value. Leading a simpler and healthier life has never been easier for so many people, thanks to the hard work of Swanson.

In 2019, Swanson was excited to celebrate fifty years of service along with a product range that has grown exponentially since those early days. Back in 1969, the firm began simply with vitamin E products to help nourish healthy joints. It was not until the 1970s, after the company has been established for a period of time, that it then went on to expand its product offerings to include more than one hundred other supplements and healthy products. By the end of the decade in 1979, Swanson had garnered itself a customer base that boasted more than thirty thousand individuals at any given time.

The success would continue to grow for Swanson as the 1980s and 1990s progressed. At the dawn of the former decade, the company was able to open its first office and retail store with just ten employees in Fargo, North Dakota. From there, Mr Leland Swanson’s sons took over the business in 1982 and set out to transform it into a global organization. The turn of the millennium saw swansonvitamins.com launch as the company’s new website, taking full advantage of innovative technology to bring wellness to an even broader audience. Nearing 2001, Swanson had accrued more than two hundred staff members, moved into a new facility measuring over 11,000 square meters in size and opened its first ever customer service call centre.

More recently in the last ten years, Swanson has gone green, thanks to a commitment and follow-through to use geo-thermal energy. Soon thereafter, Swanson was able to open new distribution facilities in PA and NV, before reaching more than 500 employees in 2018. Swanson was also recognized globally for award-winning customer service, as well as the launch of award-winning new products that year. Finally, we reach 2019, and the 50th celebration of a company that has long held its place as one of America’s leaders in natural wellness products. Today, Swanson offers more products than ever before, along with a passion to take charge of the natural wellness product arena in the US and expanding new geographies across Europe, the Middle East, SE Asia and Latin America

Wondering what sets Swanson apart? While there may be many options for the same nutrient, Swanson uses only ingredients of the highest quality in their vitamins and supplements at a fraction of the cost so they can help customers focus on their wellness goals instead of their wallet. Whether it’s a beneficial bottle of omega-3s, a carefully crafted combination formula or even calming flavours of lattes and other spiced hot drinks, Swanson has evolved from one man’s joint discomfort to be the potential answer for a nation that wants to live healthier and happier.

Healthcare Heroes

Did you know that every three minutes, a traveller needs emergency medical treatment abroad? For those people in need of urgent assistance, the team at Angels of Flight Canada Inc. are a godsend, providing expert medical advice in a challenging situation. Earning the title of Most Outstanding Aeromedical Transportation Company 2020 – Canada in the ongoing Global Excellence Awards 2020, we look more closely at this incredible organization and the impressive work that its team undertakes.

Operating globally for over 30 years, Angels of Flight is a wholly owned and operated Canadian organization focused on finding solutions for those facing medical challenges away from home. Specializing in the movement of the ill or injured from countries around the world is a complex process and certainly daunting for the inexperienced. No two situations are ever alike which is why the comprehensive services of medical transportation by air or ground are tailored to individual needs. No matter where in the world you are is, this hardworking team are with you every step of the way!

Early intervention has always been the key to success, and much of what Angels of Flight does is designed to make the best use of a sensitive situation. People in a medical crisis need the right help at the right time, and time is seldom their friend in these situations. Saving critical time and hospitalization costs are the goals for achieving the best possible result.

While the principles of patient care are always held to a high standard, a trusting relationship must be established to instil confidence that the decisions being made will be in the best interests of the patient. To accomplish a successful outcome, not only are security and safety at the forefront, but it is incumbent that the best possible options are discussed and understood, expectations are managed, networking with service providers and stakeholders is continuous and the appropriate care team is selected.

CEO, Gail Courneyea, has plenty of experience in this field. She’s been CEO since founding the company in 1986. It was designed to fill a gap, to provide essential care that, at the time, had no provision. Her own experience, sixteen years as a critical care nurse at the Peterborough Civic Hospital is just one of the aspects that she has brought to her role.

We asked Gail to further explain the connection between Canadian healthcare and Angels of Flight: “It is the connection with our Canadian Healthcare Professionals with knowledge and experience acquired over the decades that not only makes the real difference but is the uniqueness of our service. Having a Registered Nurse advocate is a lifeline of hope when people are at their most vulnerable point. They have questions and they are often fearful of what comes next because for the first time, they are faced with many unknowns.”

It is the expertise of the company’s team of Registered Nurses – their patience, commitment and dedication to helping those in need with their medical situation – which drives the continued success of Angels of Flight. They are able to truly understand the unique challenges that are being faced by their patients. Adept problem solvers, every effort is made to ensure the anxiety and stress of an incident is alleviated, with many hours spent evaluating options and implementing the appropriate strategy. Many people fail to appreciate that flight environments are distinctive. It is the specially trained Registered Nurses who understand how to care for people with compromised health during flight which is unequivocally different from hospital environments.

“We are always looking for qualified Nurses to join our team,” Gail goes on to say. “However, because of the physical and mental demands placed on Flight Nurses, not everyone would find this a suitable occupation. This is a highly specialized career and it comes with its own set of challenges. Keeping current with the latest care methods is essential along with processes for responding to the stressors that come with flying. It is a journey of continuous learning.”

The clients that Angels of Flight attends to includes a mix individuals and families, hospitals and healthcare providers, government agencies, employers and insurers.

Many clients have related their frustration in spending days and weeks trying to find help. When travellers don’t have a back-up plan for a possible medical event, they can find themselves struggling very quickly. In an attempt to counter this trend, the team at Angels of Flight have created the Halo Medcard Program. We asked Gail to explain more about the benefits of this scheme. “Travellers need Peace of Mind and immediate access to Healthcare Professionals who can help them move forward expeditiously.” In practice, the Halo Medcard Program is a proactive card that stores all of a client’s vital information for use in times of crisis. Instead of struggling to get medical information across borders, this one-of-a-kind travel medical information card allows medical professionals to connect with this information worldwide. In cases of illness or injury, it’s an incredibly powerful tool.

To accelerate the process of getting in contact with a medical professional, when you need one, Angels of Flight has developed a free “Help Me” mobile app. Available at the Apple Store, or Google Play, this is sure to be an invaluable resource for travellers. A manual message mode provides travelers with the means to write a simple or detailed custom message that describes the problem. At the push of a button, regardless of time zones, the message will be received by a Registered Nurse who will be able to advise and take the appropriate action.

Gail is keen to warn that while some might see the service offered by Angels of Flight excessive, it’s a very wise precaution. “We firmly advocate that travellers purchase hospitalization and repatriation travel insurance but often travellers think “nothing is going to happen to me” and they choose not to pay the perceived high premiums. There are situations where the coverage is inadequate or there is a dispute over a claim. In the end, our duty is to make use of our expertise to help when we can.”

Of course, the impressive success of Angels of Flight has brought social obligation, and the team have responded with gusto to the call. There are people across Canada who are geographically or financially disadvantaged and unable get to the medical care they need. Medical transportation costs can be high for many and often out of reach. As specialists in medical transportation solutions, it’s clear that they are the right people to try and find a way to help.

The result has been the Global Angel Charitable Organization. Over the last 13 years, this incredible group has been able to contribute to ground and air transportation expenses for people of all ages across Canada. There is a sense of fulfillment to deliver a patient to their appointment, or treatment and even palliative care. The team have had the good fortune to work with and support this Canadian charity that continues to reach out and relieved the financial burdens for many families.

Now, more than ever before, travellers must choose their destination wisely, and the way they reach that destination even more so. Nobody wants the unexpected, but if it happens, it’s a comfort to know that a team of specialists in Global Medical Solutions have your back. No matter where you are in the world, no matter what the time of day, Angels of Flight will always answer the call.

The Golden Age of Digital Experience Monitoring

In the midst of a pandemic, using cloud-based technology such as Microsoft 365 has proven vital for employees to stay productive. In October 2020, Microsoft reported 115 million daily active users of Teams. This is where Martello Technologies comes in, offering outstanding Microsoft 365 digital experience monitoring solutions. Find out why Martello Technologies is 2020’s Most Innovative Digital Experience Monitoring Solutions Provider, as we take a closer look at the firm and what it has to offer for clients.

Headquartered in Ottawa, Canada, Martello Technologies is a global company that develops digital experience monitoring (DEM) solutions. These solutions provide monitoring and analytics on the performance and user experience of business-critical cloud applications such as video conferencing, while giving IT teams and service providers control and visibility of their entire IT infrastructure.

In its provision of these increasingly necessary DEM capabilities, Martello Technologies has become a leader in the market for Microsoft 365 user experience monitoring. Martello provides end-to-end monitoring and troubleshooting solutions for enterprises that rely on cloud-based collaboration systems. The range of products include unified communications performance analytics software, Microsoft 365 user experience monitoring software, and IT analytics software.

Since its inception, Martello Technologies’ purpose has been to make every digital experience one that is both seamless and productive. The world is becoming increasingly digital, with many workplaces around the world having shifted to a work-from-home system of working since the outbreak of COVID-19 began earlier this year. Cloud-based technology has never been so important to the daily running of businesses. Martello’s software provides IT teams with actionable intelligence, which they can use to deliver a positive digital work experience, anywhere in the world. This software also helps to proactively expose any obstacles in service delivery, so that enterprises can keep their employees productive while using these business-critical cloud applications.

Traditional network and application performance monitoring approaches lack the insight required to evaluate the user experience of cloud services. A true understanding of service delivery requires insight into not only performance, but the user’s experience. As an increasing number of users are now accessing cloud-based technology remotely, user experience can be harder to assess. Martello’s DEM solutions provide their enterprise customers with deeper insight by correlating data on network and application performance with insight into the user’s experience of the service. Whilst other digital experience monitoring solutions can make this connection between performance and user experience, Martello Technologies takes it a step further and demonstrates to enterprises why the problem happened.

One of the factors that has made Martello Technologies strong in this market is its thorough approach to monitoring the Microsoft Teams platform. With the latest release of its Gizmo solution, Martello is now able to test video and screen-sharing services via 24/7 synthetic transactions. Those capabilities come in addition to testing other services such as: login, chat, channel and file management, and more. If any service degradation issues occur, the IT team are alerted so they can fix the issue before users even notice. IT gets full visibility, so they know whether or not their network and applications are working to maximum efficiency.

Ultimately, Martello Technologies is right at the forefront of one of the world’s most important industries right now, in one if its fastest growing segments. Cloud technology is vastly important for so many individuals and organisations, and there is a clear need for cloud-based collaboration to be the primary method of remote working. Networks, applications and the users who need them require digital experience monitoring solutions of the highest calibre, and that is exactly what Martello Technologies provides. The company has earned its excellence and is fully deserving of this recognition.

Contact: Tracy King
Website: www.martellotech.com

Here Are the Most Popular Home Styles in the U.S.

Curb appeal is everything for a home. It’s the first thing you notice when you find the listing and visit in person. Your house’s exterior is a reflection of your personality, so it’s a major component in where you decide to live. Many styles are aesthetically pleasing, but a select few have taken over the national housing market.

Here are the most popular home styles in the U.S., which you can find in almost every state across the country. They might even influence how you picture your next home.

1. Modern Farmhouse

The cozy, old-fashioned vibe of a farmhouse makes many people feel at home. The modern farmhouse style combines that warmth with the sleek lines of contemporary architecture. You’ll still find natural textures like rustic wood floors, but these houses also contain neutral colors and metal accent pieces.

2. Mid-century Modern Ranch

After World War II, people needed smaller houses that fit tighter budgets. The Federal Housing Administration (FHA) financed mid-century modern ranch homes because they utilized smaller floor plans.

Now you can find this popular home style in various sizes. It has an open floor plan and one story, so the construction is quick and affordable. You can easily add dramatic roof lines or even glass walls because this style is easy to adapt to personal design preferences.

3. Bohemian Craftsman

Bohemian interior design captures a free-spirited love of nature within the four walls of your home. This house style is perfect for homeowners who want unique architecture. You could live somewhere that feels like a bungalow, combining textures and materials with natural colors and carpeting.

Eclectic furniture and earthy vibes are a big part of bohemian homes. Your house will be a relaxing, calming environment that might even give back to the planet. Bohemian design includes things like reclaimed wood flooring, which comes from weathered buildings and is transformed into residential home materials. It contributes texture and age to a new house, layering it with a rich history that adds character.

4. Spanish Colonial

The Spanish Colonial house style began in the Southwest. Homeowners needed a way to cool their house with the evening breeze, so they designed floor plans with glass-free windows with wood shutters and thick walls. You’ll find wraparound porches, adobe exteriors and red-tiled roofs. Although they’re still predominantly in the Southwest, people also build them in states like Florida and California.

5. Tudor House

Henry Tudor’s reign led to generational changes, including in the world of architecture. Tudor homes embrace asymmetrical styles with elaborate brick and stonework. These houses can have more than one chimney and pitched gabled roofs, plus window groupings that don’t have shutters. Because fireplaces and stonework are a crucial aspect of this style, these homes exist in the country’s colder regions.

6. French Chateau

Wealthy communities in many regions use the chateau house style to recreate 16th-century French castles and mansions. Iron-paned glass doors welcome visitors inside the stone exteriors. High ceilings and expansive windows open the home, while neutral colors and hardwood floors warm each room. Balconies and French doors look perfect with this style.

Homeowners who want to lounge in antique luxury should look for this style in whichever houses they consider.

Compare Each Style

The most popular home styles in the U.S. all offer something different. Compare them to discover your preferences. Whether you like stone walls or farmhouse kitchens, these houses are the perfect place to experience life and make memories with your loved ones.

How Businesses Can Improve Their Customer Call Engagement

Without a loyal and growing pool of customers, businesses can go down under. As such, it’s important to invest in tools and training that constantly improve the way that customers experience your service product. Businesses must have quality customer call engagement, because once customers get the impression that they are not valued, they will go on to search for a similar service product from competitors. Here are ways that businesses can improve their customer call engagement:

  1. Be Available

As a business, you must be available when customers reach out. This means that the business needs to prioritise updating communication tools and systems as much as possible. Being available for the customer means striking a balance between running the everyday demands of the business, and constantly keeping in touch with the customers when need be.

Call Cowboy is a system that makes communication efficient because of the several functions that serve your customers. Features such as auto responder mean that your business doesn’t run the risk of not being available when a customer reaches out. The custom notes feature means that messages don’t get lost in translation or forgotten. Your business is able to track calls, meaning such communication systems make for time efficiency in the event that you need to get back to several consumers or trace back your steps to a particular customer.

It’s important to carry out a communication audit, just so you see how you are performing as a business when it comes to interacting with your customers. Call Cowboy makes this possible because of the feature that analyses your performance. Also, you don’t have to worry about suddenly becoming unavailable because credit ran out—the unlimited business text feature makes sure that you remain on the ball. Such systems are worth looking into for your business to improve their customer call engagement.

  1. Brand Your Business

We live a time where customers are constantly in communication, whether with personal acquaintances, work or businesses selling their services and products. In some cases, a customer might not pick up a call, particularly one with a number that they don’t recognise because of the pressure that comes with having to be available for those that get in touch throughout the day.

You won’t know why a customer isn’t available. However, if a customer recognises your number, this may lower the risk of them not answering your call. VoIP numbers are linked to a specific account holder’s address. This means that your brand is recognised and may prompt more efficient communication.

  1. Training Your Team

A business must never overlook the importance of staff training. You may have all the tools and systems in place that make for efficient call engagement; however, if your team isn’t trained on how to use these, it defeats the purpose. You should train your staff how to use the various communication technologies. Set aside a period where you offer practical presentations and practice sessions of how various systems work. The more your team practices, the more efficient the call engagement becomes.

Training should also include the manner in which the staffs engage with customers. As a business, it’s advised that you have a standard introductory greeting for instance. It’s also important to state how many times the phone should ring before it is picked up. An example of a standard greeting is letting the phone ring three times, picking up, exchange greetings, and ask how the customer may be assisted.

Train your staff members to learn how to implement different tones depending on the content of the conversation. For example, the greeting should always be cheerful as you want to make the customer feel appreciated and not as an inconvenience. When the conversation takes a serious turn, your team should be able to notice this and adopt a listening and empathetic tone for example. Tone is easily picked up on the other end of the call making it a very important aspect to train.

The way that your team ends a call should also be structured. For example, after having conversed with the customer, they should ask if there are any other issues, thank the caller from reaching out and wish them a great day. These are the seemingly small communication etiquette rules that will make you stand out from competitors.

  1. Make the First Impression Count

A customer may decide whether they want to engage in business with you based on the first few seconds of interaction. If for example, a customer calls your business and can hardly hear because of background chatter, they may become put off. So, you need to make sure that your environment is conducive for a quality conversation to take place. The same applies to sounding distracted by your environment when you pick up a call or make one. The customer can notice this and interpret this as you have other priorities which aren’t them at that moment.

  1. Listen to Understand

Whenever a conversation is taking place, it’s either the people involved are simply hearing what is being communicated or are listening to understand the message. Listening to understand the message may be difficult in an instance where a customer is not satisfied and expresses this in a negative tone or uses harsh words. However, it’s important to screen through the emotions in the conversation and understand the root message. If you become defensive, you may risk deviating from the way that you are supposed to engage the customer. This may only escalate the issue and, unfortunately, brand your business in a negative light.

When in such a business communication scenario, you should remain calm and let the customer express themselves. Once that is over with, apologise accordingly, relay back the message as you understood it, ask for clarity and find out if the customer needs any help with anything else. This is the only way that action can be taken to rectify the misunderstanding.

  1. Sound Professional

The way you sound on a call when representing a brand or business must always be different from the way you sound when you speak to your friend or family. You must always sound professional even in the moments where you are having a friendly discussion with a customer. You can create a word book for your team which indicates the type of language that you expect them to use. You can also have a rules list regarding this—for example, it isn’t allowed to call a customer ‘sweetheart’ or ‘my friend’ no matter how familiar you become with them. The professional code of conduct has to be adhered to when it comes to call engagement.

  1. Don’t Keep the Customer Waiting

Another poor customer call engagement habit is to keep the customer holding the line. Making them hold the line for a long period may result in them hanging up. Customers don’t want to feel as if calling your business is an expense and cutting into their valuable time. If you aren’t able to immediately respond to the concern, rather express that you will call them back so that they can put the phone down while you look into it.

  1. Keep Your Word

Certain issues aren’t completed in a single phone call. Some may require a number of call-backs as the team may need time to look into the various situations. When you tell a customer that you will get back to them, you need to keep your word. If possible, you should indicate when you will get back to them. Keeping a customer waiting for lengthy periods of time because you failed to get back to them is a sure way of losing business. If you still don’t have a response for the customer by the time that you said you will ring back, it’s always advised to call the customer to check in regardless, and express that you are still looking into the matter.

  1. Follow Up Call

A follow-up call is a gesture that shows your customers that you care about their experiences. Once a situation or a request has been attended to, you can give a customer a few days after the initial call, and then follow up. This is the only way that you can determine whether a customer was content with your service product, or simply decided to go look elsewhere. Neglecting to follow up is one of the ways that businesses may unknowingly lose customers over time.

  1. Accept Feedback Conversations

Feedback is a type of quality audit for your business. You need to know how your customers are experiencing your product for you to rectify and organise your business strategy and service product delivery. You can set up days where staff members randomly call customers and have a conversation about the service product that they would have recently purchased. You can create a chart of questions where you also ask the customers to rank your service product and give a brief explanation as to why the specific grade was given. These phone calls will help you realise aspects about your business that you may not have before, and also communicates that you appreciate the customers’ experiences.

  1. Report Technical Faults

If a call experienced constant glitches, calls aren’t getting connected to consumers, or consumers are expressing that they can’t reach your business, you should immediately report these faults to your provider. Leaving these technical faults go on for long periods means risking having your customers look for assistance elsewhere. While the faults are being attended to, you can send messages or a social media post expressing how you are facing technical difficulties and that you will notify them once you are back up. 

  1. Get to Know Your Customers

When you know your customers, the call engagement becomes personalised. Personalised service encourages consumers to continue engaging your service product because of the way that they are made to feel important. You can get to know your customers’ names, professions, general family dynamics and preferences, so that you can include these aspects when you ask over their wellbeing. It shows that you have taken time to form rapport and see beyond their purses and pockets.

This kind or rapport will help your business by referrals, repeat purchases, positive branding and brand loyalty. Make sure not to become intrusive in the aim of getting to know your customers as this will make customers withdraw from you.

  1. Learn from Mistakes

You will make communication mistakes as you interact with customers. What is important is to learn from these mistakes. You can have team meetings where you discuss mistakes that were made in the hope of discussing how these can be avoided in future.

Conclusion

Your business should invest in communication tools and systems that make it available when customers reach out. Quality systems such as Call Cowboy make availability a constant because of the multiple features that encourage efficient and consistent communication. You can also use VoIP numbers for brand recognition.

Once you have set in place the various calling features and systems, you must train your team how to effectively use these. Training can include practical demonstrations and practice sessions. You should also train your team to practice quality communication etiquette so that your customers are encouraged to keep engaging your business.

Make sure that your environment is conducive for call engagement because first impression counts when talking to customers. You must always listen to understand the messages that are communicated by customers, particularly when they are disgruntled. Learn to filter the emotionally gestures and understand the root message so that you can decide on the action to take.

Regardless of how familiar your business becomes with a customer, always sound professional. Make sure to always keep your word when you say you’ll get back to a customer, and do follow up calls after they have been attended to. Always accept feedback as this will help your business grow. Report technical faults to fix a breakdown in communication and make an effort to get to know your customers.

What Can You Use A Business Administration Degree For?

Investing in education is always a wise decision. Many opportunities open up when you become more educated. A business administration degree emphasizes planning, administration, leadership skills, and other aspects involved in running or managing a company. 

Let’s take a look at the different career paths you can take with a business administration degree.

  1. Market Researcher

A market researcher analyzes the needs of a business target market, the existing competition, and how those competing markets might be addressed. This means they look at how consumers in one market behave, their purchasing patterns, and any relevant consumer trends. Market researchers spend a lot of time gathering this information so that it can be implemented in business strategy and projection.

Market research is a vital element of business strategy and an important factor in keeping competitiveness at its peak. Companies that depend only depend on consumers’ responses to products and services are seriously limiting their profit potential. Market researchers are qualified to ask the important questions that need addressing, so that the business keeps afloat by changing certain aspects that aren’t producing profit for them as well as adapting to the consumer environment. 

Some possible methods of research include surveys, interviews, participant observation, or focus groups to gather data. You learn about these different methods when studying business administration courses. The benefit of having a degree is that you can work in any sector of the market. You can venture into corporate, non-profit, or academic areas. Where there is business, a market researcher is required.

  1. Development Specialist

A development specialist measures the performance of a business, government agency, or non-profit group by identifying needs, suggesting absolutions and reviewing methods of operation. A degree in business administration is usually required to obtain a job in this field.

In the United States, many agencies such as the Small Business Administration (SBA) and the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) have developed criteria for employment which include the following:

  • Knowledge of business principles
  • Effective written and verbal communication skills
  • Problem-solving abilities; exceptional time management skills
  • Sharp mathematical and verbal ability
  • A working knowledge of technology
  • An ability to follow detailed instructions.

Besides, this position requires strong computer literacy, interpersonal skills, and organizational skills. You won’t go wrong by obtaining a business administration degree because these are the type of skills that are taught and enhanced during your classes.

  1. Loan Officer

Loan officers are in charge of processing loans, especially for those with poor credit histories. Loan officers evaluate, authorize or recommend the approval of certain loan applications to individuals and companies. This means that these people work very closely with the company or lending institution where the loan is processed. Some also deal with borrowers and help them understand what type of loans they qualify for and what their obligations are once approved.

These officers are hired by the lending institutions because they have extensive experience dealing with individual borrowers. The more experience a loan officer has dealing with specific types of borrowers, the better he or she will be able to serve the needs of these individuals.

  1. Financial Analyst

A financial analyst is a specialist, undertaking financial analyses for either internal or external customers as a core component of their job. Analysts are required to have strong mathematical skills and ideally a master’s degree in finance or a related discipline such as business administration. A qualified financial analyst should also possess excellent writing skills, both verbal and written, along with well-developed networking capabilities.

The primary task of a financial analyst would be to prepare financial statements (over specified periods), report analysis of the data, and provide recommendations about investment strategies. It’s the analyst’s responsibility to ensure that the recommendations are executed as per the data derived. The analyst then assists the management in taking strategic business decisions to ensure the well-being of the company.

Analysts are required to conduct regular financial analyses, as required by government agencies such as the Securities and Exchange Commission, to ascertain the risks that are involved in particular investments. For instance, if an investor wants to invest in a particular asset, the investment should be analyzed to look at the possible inflation effects, the effect on short term interest rates and other factors that could affect an investment decision.

Other tasks performed by financial analysts include preparing and managing financial data reports (for internal and external customers), preparing financial statements (for internal and external customers), analyzing the financial data for trends and analysis of the investment strategy, and communicating the findings of the analysis to key decision-makers.

  1. Bookkeeper

A bookkeeper is a professional who maintains the records of a business. Bookkeepers give businesses various advantages which, when realized, make it worthwhile to hire them as part of the staff or to outsource to a professional bookkeeping firm.

The majority of bookkeepers are responsible for the organization of financial transactions, preparing reports, and assisting the accounting staff in processing financial transactions. In short, a bookkeeper’s job duties are very similar to those of an accountant.

  1. Event Planner

An event planner is a professional who assists organizations or individuals with the planning and management of events. Event planning is the art of planning and arranging activities to meet an objective. The objectives may be to organize a special event for a special purpose, to share information or to build team spirit, through creative means, which can be achieved through the coordination of diverse efforts including technical, financial, marketing, public relations or entertainment aspects.

To become an event manager, you’ll need to acquire a combination of certain skills that are necessary to perform this task. Many event management positions call for hands-on experience in the field while others require training, certain educational qualifications, and licensing or certifications.

Generally, if you’re planning to enter a career in event planning, either as an employee or as an independent contractor, you may want to take a few classes related to this field. You may want to take courses related to communications, public relations, and business administration.

  1. Business Consultants

A business consultant is a qualified professional who gives expert or specialist advice in a given field such as accounting, management, law, technology, human resources, advertising, finance, technology, restructuring, e-commerce, and supply management.

Today’s business consultants are highly educated professionals who have expert skills in their domain of expertise. They understand the latest concepts and methodologies of business consulting. Many are self-employed and have built their consulting firms. Some firms offer a complete range of consultancy services, while others specialize in a particular field. Some firms focus on providing services to a single firm or multiple companies.

Most business consultants work as independent contractors. They’re paid by the firms they serve and receive a fixed rate for each task they complete. Consultants who work for larger consulting firms earn a percentage of the total fees earned by their employers.

  1. Human Resources Manager

A human resources manager is responsible for the proper placement, training, and evaluation of individuals for professional positions that involve interaction with customers, clients and other businesses. They’re involved in the screening, interviewing and hiring of employees. They’re also responsible for coordinating training programs for new employees and their continuing assessment and development as well as updating other departments of the organization on employment law and safety issues.

It is the primary duty of a human resources manager to coordinate employment practices with tax, legal and other enforcement authorities and make the employment practices of their organization as consistent and fair as possible.

  1. Procurement Manager

A procurement officer or an acquisitions officer is an executive position focused on the procurement, sourcing, and distribution of goods and services for a business. The officer is responsible for the analysis, selection, and evaluation of all goods and services to determine the cost and delivery or receipt for the services. An acquisition officer is also responsible for negotiating contracts and working with suppliers to ensure that costs and terms are consistent with the original investment made.

There are regular meetings held between managers and procurement officers. At these meetings, the managers would discuss the current issues affecting the supply chain and how they can be solved. Procurement departments, which consist of several people, are usually the root of many problems and issues facing a business. This is why it’s important for employers to hire procurement officers that have the necessary foundation, training, and experience to address the needs of the business.

  1. Sports Manager

A sports operations manager is in charge of supervising every step that takes place in the day-to-day operations of any professional sports league or sports team. They’re also considered as one of the higher-ranking employees in the office, responsible for everything from scouting players to keeping track of injuries, and managing training programs.

Most of a sports operations manager’s time is spent planning a team’s schedule, making sure that every event takes place according to plan, and ensuring that every player and every member of the organization are happy with their work rate. This job requires an individual who is very organized, knows how to delegate tasks, and gets things done without having to use his or her voice.

The education required for sports operations manager varies depending on the school or professional association in which the individual graduated. There are college courses on sports management, including how to draft a competitive strategy and managing a team’s performance on the field. More advanced degrees, such as business administration can teach aspiring sports managers how to handle business affairs and manage strategic planning.

  1. Construction Manager

A construction manager is the individual who takes care of a construction project’s budget, schedules, materials, technology, safety, as well as communication. Besides, they’ll have overall supervision of the entire crew that handles every aspect of the project. A business administration degree is recommended to grasp the skills of the detailed organization that’s required here.

  1. Information Systems Manager

Infosys managers are often called upon to create and design software programs that will allow companies to process large amounts of data and keep their business running smoothly. They’re usually responsible for designing the networks that will be used by their employer, as well as helping to implement and maintain them. This means they need to know very much about networking, databases, and security.

  1. Health Systems Manager

A health services manager is responsible for the overall management of the financial and operational aspects of the health system. This individual also handles employment contracts, labor relations, benefits administration and quality improvement.

Health systems managers are also involved in training programs, regulatory activities. Furthermore, they provide budget planning, establish and implement therapeutic service plans, administer nursing care, coordinate insurance claims processing, develop and maintain quality management systems and ensure compliance with regulatory requirements.

  1. Economist

An economist is a person who analyzes how people and institutions interact and choose to interact. Economists not only examine data and statistics to identify what’s going on, they also make assumptions and use models and mathematical equations to arrive at their findings.

Some topics that are analyzed by economists include:

  • How to regulate a business
  • What kind of government best governs a country?
  • What are the effects of international trade?
  • How does technology affect the economy?
  • What are the various drivers of globalization and why?
  • What are the best tools an individual can use to get ahead in life?
  • How does technology affect the education industry?
  • How does health care affect the economy?
  • What are the various ways that humans interact with one another?
  • What is the best means by which an individual can get ahead in the economy?

To efficiently discuss and deal with these topics, many economists can benefit from having a business administration degree.

Conclusion

A business administration degree is a flexible degree that can help you venture onto different career paths. Some of the career options that you have as a result of obtaining the degree include, market researcher, financial analyst, loan officer, event planner, business consultant, sports manager, human resources manager, construction manager, information systems manager and economist. It’s always a good idea to invest in your education to create the future that you want for yourself.

UK-based medicinal cannabis private equity fund-vehicle JPD Capital expands into Spanish market

Medicinal cannabis Private Equity fund-vehicle JPD Capital has announced it has entered into a joint venture with Verdex Group to create and scale a medicinal cannabis start-up in Spain.

Íbero Botanica has been added to JPD Capital’s investment portfolio offering, for private and institutional investors, creating a diversified vertically integrated portfolio of medicinal cannabis cultivation opportunities that already included Eco Equity, a London company with operations in Zimbabwe.

Íbero Botanica is the first European medicinal cannabis producer under the JPD Capital structure and is focused on delivering on its objectives to be the largest Spanish producer of effective European Union Good Manufacturing Practice (EU-GMP) certified medicinal cannabis to the global market.

Íbero Botanica will be initially operating as a CBD hemp production facility, whilst in parallel undergoing the relevant audits and licensing requirements for medicinal cannabis cultivation (THC), production and export. This parallel development of a THC production capability will take approximately 18 months and will yield a higher-priced commodity from cultivation for market and off-take partners.

The Íbero Botanica project will be set up under JPD Capital fund-vehicle structure, offering investors access to a new joint-venture known as “Íbero Botanica” an equal equity partnership of 50% each between Verdex Group and JPD Capital.

JPD Capital’s responsibilities will include investment and a regulated financial structure. Verdex Group will be responsible for the management of the cultivation including sales and distribution. Verdex group have existing sales contracts, that can be leveraged by the entire JPD Capital Group portfolio, which also includes a strategic customer base in the buoyant DACH market with an emphasis on Germany.

Íbero Botanica is set to gain its EU-GMP certification within the next 18-24 months and will become a vertically integrated medicinal cannabis supplier, with operations including a state-of-the-art integrated glass cultivation and extraction/processing facility, in Almeria Spain. The facility will provide a total cultivation space of approximately 40,000 square metres, located in Almeria.

By combining JPD Capital’s operational experience and fund-raising capabilities gained from scaling Eco Equity’s cultivation operation in Zimbabwe, with the solid and tested operational capability and pharmaceutical partner relationships that Verdex Group brings to the table, the joint venture is a “marriage made in heaven”.

The operation will leverage the best from both companies and produce a lean fast scaling operation (operational in 6 months) with customers and off-take agreements for its produce, leveraged from Verdex Group’s existing pharmaceutical industry relationships.

Jon-Paul Doran, CEO and Founder of JPD Capital, said: “The medicinal cannabis industry is showing continued resilience and even growth in the face of the pandemic when many other traditional industries are collapsing.

“The hard work of all those involved at JPD Capital and Verdex Group in creating Íbero Botanica highlights the opportunities that this industry can offer, whether it be sophisticated and seasoned investors, business leaders or entrepreneurs, and on a global scale as well.

“As countries around the world ease regulations, JPD Capital’s portfolio offers investors diverse opportunities in different areas of the world, including Africa as well as Southern Europe, allowing them to spread the risk of their investments.”

JPD Capital has also announced the acquisition of UK medicinal cannabis companies Tetra Global and Regent Pharmaceuticals. Tetra Global is a medicinal cannabis research and development company focused on proprietary genetics and hybrid strains through selective breeding programs. The company will be supplying medicinal cannabis growers with a strategic consultancy and a portfolio of unique strains for their cultivation operations via a subscribed service model.

Regent Pharmaceuticals is a UK pharmaceutical distribution company, with extensive sales and distribution in the UK and Europe direct to pharmaceutical companies and retail pharmacies and clinics. The company also offers an online clinic that combines online prescription and e-commerce for consumers and patients with online prescribing from clinicians for their patients.

Regent Pharmaceuticals has a commercial focus on medicinal cannabis distribution targeting the pharmaceutical industry, with a Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) certified processing facility and providing an Active Pharmaceutical Ingredient (API) for generic pharmaceutical manufacturers and the larger pharmaceutical formulators.

Tim Ambrose, COO and co-founder of JPD Capital, added: “The decision to expand into the Spanish market demonstrates our commitment to utilising the cannabis industry’s global reach to ensure maximum returns for our investors.

“The European market alone is set to be worth $39.1billion by 2024, and with the African cannabis market set to be worth $2.6billion at the same point, we are well placed with our operations in Zimbabwe and Spain and various distribution streams out of the UK to continue investing in early start-up companies.” 

JPD Capital is a Guernsey issued protected cell company, operating under a corporate structure in which a single legal entity acts as an umbrella for several underlying cells, the first being Eco Equity Zimbabwe. The company has since added Íbero Botanica, Regent Pharmaceutical and Tetra Global to its portfolio. This structure empowers investors to choose how much of their capital to invest in each cell, spreading the risk and achieving valuable diversification benefits and the vertically integrated operational capabilities complement the entire JPD Capital portfolio of companies.

Building a Successful Upskilling Strategy

Recent months, witnessing the unnerving theatre of the pandemic, has caused many businesses to review and revisit their skill availability across internal talent. One key insight unpacked from this has been the urgency to upskill and share existing expertise and knowledge across a business, especially disparate ones that have remote employees.

Skills, knowledge, and expertise – these aren’t static in a business setting. Rather, they need to be developed, refined, and shared. With swift and challenging economic changes afoot, the firms that seem to become more fortified, or resilient, against the disruptions are those willing to embrace upskilling as a strategy.

However, an astonishing 74% of CEOs are still concerned at a lack of availability of the right skills in their companies, according to PWC’s 23rd Annual Global CEO Survey.

Traditionally, upskilling is achieved through training or topical and knowledgeable seminars. Upskilling a workforce can seem a tricky feat. But CEO’s and other office managers can build strategies that captures this goal. Upskilling employees is about reinforcing existing expertise, while introducing new ones.

Your skill availability isn’t fixed, but rather fluid. What shapes the successful spread of expertise and knowledge in a workplace is policy and strategy. Furthermore, embracing new technologies can help you deliver an effective approach to upskilling. A roadmap to a greater skill availability in the office is never out of reach for those with a proactive strategy.

How can businesses better support L&D in their organisations and build effective upskilling strategies to remain competitive?

 

1)      Design a roadmap to skill discovery

Training programmes can be delivered to mixed results. Yet, with adequate pre-planning, training can become a useful tool for new skill discovery and acquisition, while closing down the ‘gaps’.

Through a focused approach, you can prioritise an upskilling strategy around those employees with niche or specialist expertise. If technology, or other external disruptions, pose risks on the skills shared between colleagues identify not only key people, but critical skills that could boost business performance.

Training courses should, of course, have strategic goals. But, ultimately, they should be built around people. This skills development process should include your HR team, which can be foundational in outlaying the right kinds of support. For example, building key policy that facilitates upskilling can establish a firmer framework for skill sharing. A firm might manage its resources accordingly, building out a company compensation and benefits scheme that nurtures upskilling and career development.

2)      Reflect on key learnings

The hopeful goal would be to nurture skills and expertise even outside of training courses. Lifelong learning is a no easy feat; but facilitating opportunities to continually, and proactively, learn is a practical and achievable goal that many businesses should aspire to.

Often a key mistake is to assume that learning ends when a training session expires. In fact, skill retention is much for effective for businesses that aspire to design roadmaps to upskilling and cross-pollinating expertise. Ensuring that employees who absorb new skills get key opportunities to apply, in-situation, these expertise and knowledge improves chances of retention.

After a training session, give the attending employees’ a chance to reflect on the key takeaways and allow them space to feedback into the process. Building a learning culture that features on its people is the best way to ensure skills are shared and reinforced.

 

3)      Embrace the right tech

Whilst upskilling is universal, the kinds of available investments can be very different. Big named companies like Amazon, Google, Microsoft, or Salesforce have committed financial resources to developing upskilling strategies through technology.

Where can I access these kinds of resources?

Start by reading new research and educational articles, found on platforms the likes of LinkedIn, GitHub, and other spaces Like Grow with Google, which unpack several digital skills amidst the growing paranoia of automation. Saleforce’s recent “Trailhead” app, for example, closes the knowledge gap of those wishing to learn about sales platforms.

The best tool for skill discovery is human interaction. Yet, technology can better facilitate this, especially where disruption from the pandemic has the potential to interrupt how we learn form one another. Communication platforms, such as Microsoft’s Teams, can not only ensure that that teams remain connected, but also that they have extra opportunities to learn from each other.

An upskilling initiative that centres on learning and development can be dynamic for an organisation. Training should be about people, and the kinds of skills a business wants shared and learned. Rather than fear automation, why not embrace technology as a means of facilitating, and distributing, skills in a workplace.

The article was written by Steve Cox, chief evangelist at IRIS HR Consulting.

How You Can Unify Data For Heavy Equipment Parts

Organizing data is a requirement in any business to run various areas smoothly. Gathering all relevant information is a must, so that you can find everything you need in one specific location, Be it of the financial, marketing, human resources, or equipment variety, unifying data on Fortis heavy equipment parts will take a meticulous methodology on inventory. If you want your business to keep up with the times, you should look into digital solutions that cater to specific types of enterprises like yours.

While business people understand the need for proper data storage, they most likely don’t have the time for complexities that IT personnel deal with daily. The following problems make data gathering and storage rather difficult:

  • Developers are constantly introducing new software and hardware with various programs, syntax, language and more
  • Application programming interfaces, or APIs, may not carry enough functionality
  • There are different types of data which systems cannot process
  • Servers and cloud base tools may not meet each other halfway

 

Why Use Analytics Tools?

Companies that are successful in utilizing business intelligence (BI) and forming contracts with tech firms on data analytics are finding it easier to make decisions, budget, plan, and create products to meet demands. The heavy equipment industry is facing a steady demand, and the market could reach $166.05 billion this year. Major dealerships are also targeting countries with a higher potential for infrastructure development. With many areas to cover within the growing business, advanced analytics come into play to simplify processes that help keep track of heavy equipment parts.

How BI and Analytic Platforms Unify Data

A unified database is possible through analytics platforms that consist of different features for managing a large business. An analytic platform combines all the necessary data to manage heavy equipment parts. BI and Analytics tools pool in data from various sources. You can categorize and keep them in single analytics software, readily accessible anytime. The following are features of an effective analytics platform and how to maximize data usage.

1. Integration With Other Systems

The analytics platform of your choosing will be able to work alongside other data sources that you have. You won’t have to transfer or move data to the platform, which would be a waste of time. Using systems integration gives you access to high-quality data from a wide range of sources.
As an example, the platform allows you to browse through your inventory of Fortis HD parts. You can integrate a spreadsheet of purchase data to check which parts you’re having the most issues with, and which manufacturer. You’ll also monitor the delivery schedule and pull-out information on weather patterns that can affect the delivery speed.

2. Intuitive Mobile Interface

Software that collects data allows easy access and visualization through dashboards. These apps are downloadable not only to your desktop computer but also to your smartphones and tablets. They are compatible with different operating systems to cater to gadget users on-the-go. Business owners can easily monitor data from different sources wherever they are, through a few taps on the screen. With this feature, you’ll be able to make an important trip and access crucial data at the same time.

3. Real-Time Customer Data

Proper dealerships keep track of customers who purchase their products. It helps to establish and maintain good customer relationships with other businesses who buy or rent heavy equipment. You can access data such as the business name and acquired products to help with maintenance, repairs, and replacements of parts; this will ensure better customer experiences, and help you to gain a following.

4. Quick Access To Subsets Of Data

Users of the platform may want to access more information on the cause and effect of sales, for example. They should be able to get more details on what could influence the increase or decrease of purchases, and which areas need improvement. The interface will have filters as well, to help you streamline relevant data on heavy construction equipment.
The platform that can help you navigate the fastest affects the speed of planning and decision-making.

5. Sharing Access To Multi-Users

Commonly, the CEO has shared access with the IT and warehouse staff to keep everyone involved in the loop. Analytics platforms help to encourage effective communication amongst your team. With analytics platforms, more people can access simultaneously and look through different related information. The CEO may access the platform and inquire about the availability of parts while the staff checks the warehouse. The IT personnel will verify data and fix systems errors immediately, while in communication with the others.
This feature helps keep the flow of communication clear, and minimizes errors since everyone is looking at the same information.

6. Sales Generation And Reports

Customers who manage fleets will benefit from an ordering system that is subscription-based to maintain recurring revenue. They can also choose to receive notifications on factory recalls to help to avoid future casualties. Sales teams can also track monthly meetings, which you can include in analytics platforms.

The team that keeps a record of monthly sales, performances, customer data and grievances in the platform can easily make comparisons during scheduled meetings. Unified data relating to heavy equipment parts is quickly accessed, allowing them to easily target problems and plan a course of action to deal with them. This is yet another feature that helps you keep track of customers, to improve relations and gain loyalty.

In Conclusion 

Data pooling in a single entity isn’t easy, because of the various software and hardware features that can clash. This incompatibility of programs can waste a lot of valuable time and make data synchronization next to impossible. However, with the help of analytics platforms, businesses can gather, store, and access related information anytime and anywhere.
They include features that allow systems integration, record keeping, and quick navigation which specific users can share. You can store as much information as you need in one system with a simple, user-friendly interface. Indeed, you and your team are not only wiser because of the amount of data you’ve gathered, but when you’re able to maximize the use of the available data, you can quickly process and make better decisions that can impact your business in a very good way.

Issue 12 2020

Welcome to December edition of Acquisition International magazine. Recognised as a voice of modern business, we are passionate about providing vital updates to corporate readers so that they can be one step ahead of the game.

As the final few weeks of 2020 are upon us, and many businesses hoping for a fresh start for the new year, it is hard to not reflect on the opportunities and challenges these past 12 months have presented. From closing office doors and reducing the size of your team, to working from home and moving to conducting meetings via video calls, we have all had to find new ways to continue providing the same level of service, despite the challenges we were faced with.

One business in particular which seemed to seamlessly navigate its way through the obstacles of this year, and who graces the cover of this issues, is Serafim Sotiriadis and Associates. During these unprecedented times, the firm was able to overcome the obstacles this year imposed by retaining the same level of professionalism and exceptional service they deliver to each of their clients. You can find out more in our in-depth profile of Serafim Sotiriadis and Associates and their renowned leader Mr Sotiriadis in this bumper issue.

There’s only thing left to say which is I hope that you have a Merry Christmas and a wonderful New Year, and we look forward to welcoming you back in 2021.

6 Common Reasons Why New Stock Market Investors Fail

While trading has been made easier than ever thanks to all the tools and options we now have at our disposal, it is still far from easy. It is estimated that out of all first-time investors, 90% aren’t able to make any kind of profit with the stock exchange. Over time, 80% end up losing money, 10% barely break even, and only 10% succeed.

These can be tough statistics to swallow, but you also have to understand that many investors fail due to their own actions, or lack thereof. Making money with the stock exchange is not guaranteed, but we’ve seen enough people succeed to know that there is a clear method that you can use to make consistent gains. You just have to get far enough in your journey to discover and apply it. Let’s take a look at some of the most common reasons why new investors in the stock market fail.

Overlooking Robo Advisors

A lot of people will either go in cold or go with a regular advisor before they use a robo advisor. They might be asking themselves how a bot could actually help them with picking stocks, but there are many reasons why robo advisors are such a great tool for new investors.

First of all, they’re cheaper than your traditional advisor but, more importantly, they can sometimes be more accurate as well.

Robo advisors have greatly evolved over the years, and they don’t all have to be on auto-pilot. You can use them to simply look at some of their decisions and see how they make sense. Some will even have training and learning resources which could be invaluable for anyone who’s just getting started with trading.

This greatly depends on which robo advisor you go with, however. If you want to find the best Roto advisor for you, we strongly suggest that you check out the review by WealthSimple. This will give you some of the best options available at the moment, and a quick overview of the features of each. You’ll be able to see which ones have a larger educational component and also some background information on how they were established and when.

They Don’t Have the Basic Skills

The truth is that investing is not for everyone, and some people may not realise which type of skills are needed to be a good trader. There are also some personality traits that all successful traders tend to share.

One of the most important traits for any trader is patience and willingness to learn. Those traders who take the time to really study the craft before they go in are already doing better than the majority of new traders out there. You need to at least have the patience to learn how to read financial statements, candlestick charts, and use technical indicators.

Traders need to have stellar analytical skills and an eye for research. They need to be able to gather and process large quantities of information fast and make a correlation. These split-second decisions can make all the difference in an important trade, and those who can assess and process the information the fastest are the ones that are going to end up succeeding.

Another very important trait to have as a trader is focus. Unless you’re able to stay focused on your monitors all day, you can forget about being a successful trader, that is if you were intending to take it seriously. A trading day can have but a few actions, but most of what will happen will be during those times when you wait. Focus will also allow you to cut through the noise and zero in on the information you really need to make a trade.

But probably the most important trait of them all is control. There has never been a successful trader who lacked self-control, so if you’re a compulsive person by nature, this may not be the best field for you.

There are also strategies where you will need to take some initial losses. Figures on candlestick charts may also take time for their effects to be reflected in the trend. Those who lack control will tend to throw everything out the window and go based on “gut” during these times. This is the worst reflex you can have and one that will ensure that you’ll never succeed long term.

Lack of Knowledge

Lack of knowledge is extremely common among traders, even those who have been at it for years. While some may be able to get by for a while and get lucky from time to time, they usually end up hitting a brick wall.

When you talk with people who trade regularly, you’ll often hear them talk about some of the winning trades they may have made. But when you dig deeper, you start realising that they knew little to nothing about the stock. They may have made a move based on some news or report. Some will even admit that they have no idea how to read a basic chart.

Someone who has real knowledge of investing will behave very differently. They will understand how important it is to have an actual plan. They will make sure to verify movements on a stock using indicators even if they’re sure of what they’re seeing. They will know how to use stop losses correctly to minimise risks. These are all small details that add up and make you a better, more disciplined trader. These are also what’ll help you to eventually become part of the 10%.

Having Unrealistic Expectations

You also have those who have wild expectations and a false image of what the stock market really is about before they start. Firstly, they think that they will be able to just hop on their computer and start day trading as they see in the movies. While not all countries will have minimal fund requirements in order to operate as a day trader, most brokers will still require that you have a significant amount in your account to get started. This can be anywhere from $1000 to $25,000.

Others think that they will be able to make trades solely based on what their favorite TV advisor says or by checking the news. While it is true that news and global events can influence markets, it’s not as simple as it looks.

Knowing when to enter trades can be much tougher than you imagine, and trends can sometimes take time to manifest. You also have no idea as a new trader how much news will impact a certain stock.

There’s also the possibility that another news negates the effect of the previous one. You also have to look at the whole picture of a company. While the earnings report might seem better than what was expected, it doesn’t make up for bad management, crippling debt, or semester after semester of bad decisions.

This is why trading the news can’t be the crux of your strategy. If you learn how to use them in conjunction with other tools, however, you will start to act like a real trader and be able to make better decisions. But you can’t expect to make consistent gains simply by throwing caution to the wind.

Not Using the Proper Tools

Trading is a craft, and just like any craft, you have to make sure that you have the right tools on hand. You may have the best plan and the best people helping you, but if you try to build a house without nails and a hammer, then nothing good is going to come out of it.

This is why it’s important that you have the proper setup and tools at your disposal if you want to be successful. This includes things like the right trading platform and the right software. You also need good hardware and a solid internet connection. Some will decide to invest in a multi-monitor setup later on. This is up to you, but know that the better equipped you are, the better you’ll be able to make decisions.

Going in Too Strong

While you’ll have less return potential if you start with small amounts, you’ll need to have the discipline necessary at first. You also have to at least have a basic money management strategy before you jump into any trade.

If you do something as simple as only spending 10% of your capital on any trade, you’ll be able to significantly cut your losses. Another benefit of taking this approach is that you’ll never be too emotionally invested in your trade. You’ll be able to stomach losses and stick to your strategy. This is often all that it takes for a trader to go from losing or breaking even to making steady gains.

These are just a few of the most common reasons why people who get started with the stock market fail. Avoid making any of these mistakes yourself by using the proper resources and adjusting your strategies accordingly if you want to succeed in the long run.

HMRC under fire for 11 ‘serious’ personal data breaches affecting over 20,000 people

HM Revenue and Customs (HMRC) has reported 11 ‘serious’ personal data incidents to the Information Commissioner’s Office (ICO) in the most recent financial year, according to official figures.

The incidents, disclosed in HMRC’s newly published annual report, are estimated to have affected 23,173 people in total and have been analysed by litigation practice Griffin Law.

The most widespread and serious personal data incident recorded in the report happened in May this year at the height of lockdown, when National Insurance number letters relating to 16-year-old children were sent out with incorrect details, impacting up to 18,864 members of the public.

However, the most severe incident occurred in February 2020, when a fraudulent attack resulted in 64 employees’ details being obtained from three PAYE schemes. Name, contact details and ID data, such as passwords and usernames, were leaked, and an estimated 573 people are said to have been impacted as a result.

According to the report, which was released on the 5th of November, the affected customers had not yet been contacted, but the incident is still under investigation.

Other data incidents documented by HMRC in their annual report include a cyber attack against an agent and their client data, affecting 25 people; an incorrectly accessed tax payer record, and resulting refund to the taxpayer’s mother; leak of addresses and property details due to usage of the incorrect Excel spreadsheet, and, leak of medical documents, private correspondence and company data due to paperwork being left on a train.

A further 3,616 ‘centrally managed’ security incidents were also recorded; however specific details of these incidents were not revealed.

HMRC stated the following in the report: “We deal with millions of customers every year and tens of millions of paper and electronic interactions. We take the issue of data security extremely seriously and continually look to improve the security of customer information. We investigate and analyse all security incidents to understand and reduce security and information risk. We actively learn and act on our incidents. For example, by making changes to business processes relating to post moving throughout HMRC and undertaking assurance work with third party service providers to ensure that agreed processes are being carried out.”

Cyber security expert Tim Sadler, CEO, Tessian commented:

“Human error is the leading cause of data breaches today. And given that people are in control of more data than ever before, it’s also not that surprising that security incidents caused by human error are rising. 

“That’s not to say, though, that people are the weakest link when it comes to data security. Mistakes happen – it’s human nature – but sometimes these mistakes can expose data and cause significant reputational and financial damage. It’s an organisation’s responsibility, then, to ensure that solutions are put in place to prevent mistakes that compromise cybersecurity from happening – alerting people to their errors before they do something they regret.” 

Donal Blaney, principle, Griffin Law added:

“Taxpayers have a right to expect their sensitive personal data to kept secure by the taxman. The Information Commissioner should immediately investigate HMRC for these breaches and hold the taxman to account for this breathtakingly incompetence”.

4 Benefits Of Hiring An Intern

Internships for companies come in many forms and can be offered at many times. Many businesses will pay for the intern, while others can offer some monetary compensation. This is usually in the form of a cash prize or prizes for various projects accomplished during the intern’s time with the business. Other companies may offer a free service or product developed during the intern’s time with the company.

Before you start an internship program in your company, understanding internships and how they work are a must. An intern is basically a cheap alternative to hiring a full-time employee. They can take on some of the tasks they did before the internship, and the employer will still be making money off of them.

Roles Of An Intern 

It’s important to understand the different roles that an intern can play in your business. If you are an owner of a new business, an intern can be quite beneficial, and you should make sure that you are getting the best of the best by offering good quality internships to interns.

An intern will have many duties with a company, but they are often assigned to work directly with one specific employee.

Some examples of the roles that may be assigned to an intern are as follows:  

  • Marketer
  • Accountant
  • Analyst  
  • Sales Representative 
  • Financial And Legal Staff
  • Accounting Clerk
  • Project Manager
  • Financial Planner
  • Budgeting Clerk  
  • Human Resources Specialist

The most common tasks that are done involve making an impact on a company’s business processes. This means that your intern will be expected to create a buzz about the company by bringing in new clients, getting new employees hired, and keeping current employees happy. 

It’s also a very good idea to show your intern all the different aspects of the company that they can apply to their work to increase their productivity. 

Why Businesses Should Hire An Intern 

Internship programs have a lot of benefits for students or fresh graduates. Internship programs develop leadership skills and other critical talents important for their careers. There are also many benefits businesses experience when they hire interns. Here are some reasons why companies should hire interns:  

1. Increases Business Productivity 

The benefits of hiring interns include providing employees with a new perspective on organizational problems. Interns bring new, fresh ideas to your business and challenge how you have traditionally done things. A strong, supportive, and experienced internship manager can help you find the best candidates. It’s a short trial period, which can lead to something much more.  

The intern can provide valuable input on how the company is currently doing things and how they can change things to suit the business and the customers’ needs. They can show how to create a marketing campaign that appeals to the target audience and use online marketing to generate more sales. They can help improve the company’s products and services. They can improve the performance of the team members they are working with. Business is going to get the same amount of help, but in a cheaper way. They will also save money on salaries and benefits because they can afford to pay a little more.  

This is the reason why you should also choose an intern based on what your company needs. It’s also best to have an internship program wherein you hire interns for every department in your company. The added help for every aspect of the business will enhance the efficiency of your business processes and increase revenue. 

2. Contributes To Company Growth

Internships can help you learn the skills and know the tools that can make your company grow in new directions, or it can help you improve on the skills and tools already available within your company. When you have an intern, you can help improve your company’s vision, you can learn more about a new or emerging product, and you can learn new ways to help your clients. To make this possible, you must train your interns properly and be sure to find a company that pays its interns on time and in full. 

3. You Can Convert Them Into Full-Fledged Employees 

Internships are a great way to find new talents and fill up vacant positions. However, not every intern is going to turn into an employee. Interns are in training for a job and will have to complete it, regardless of how hard it is. 

Most successful internship programs receive a head start on hiring efforts by recruiting interns in the summer before these programs begin. Companies should begin interviewing interns in the fall, typically, eight to nine months before the program’s start. And, interviewing isn’t the only step; reward and challenge them with actual work. 

4. Increases Employee Network

An internship is also a great way to give your employees a chance to network with like-minded people. This networking opportunity provides your employees with a great opportunity to meet and work with a wide variety of people in a fun and exciting environment.  

This networking opportunity can often lead to a promotion, a pay raise, or even a new job. You are looking for employees who can be leaders and who are willing to work hard. If you cannot find an employee who meets these criteria, companies out there provide excellent coaching programs. These companies will provide you with a professional who can be a great mentor and guide your employees along the way. Hiring interns will ensure that you are getting only the best people for your organization.

Final Words

Companies are looking for people who have shown themselves to be hard workers. They want people who will follow instructions and who don’t have a tendency to overstep boundaries. They also need people who can help them run their companies smoothly and efficiently. Therefore, companies should focus on getting interns who are motivated and are willing to learn.

These are the main reasons why businesses should hire interns. Interns add a new perspective to any business, and at the same time increases business productivity. Any company needs to keep track of its interns’ progress and ensure that they’re provided with the best training possible to attain business goals.

New research shows 88% of businesses trading internationally haven’t looked at switching their supply chains pre-Brexit

Across the UK, businesses have spent the last six months adapting to the ‘new normal’, changing their ways of operating to keep their employees safe, whilst keeping their business healthy. With this alteration in the ways of working looking likely to remain for some time, moneycorp Bank conducted research with over 170 businesses that are trading internationally, to understand how they are preparing for the future, with Covid-19 still present, and Brexit on the horizon.

The Covid-19 outbreak has had a significant impact on British businesses. Whether positive or negative, the overwhelming majority of companies have found that there’s been a complete shift in their day-to-day running – be it with the end-consumer or their supply chain.

While 18% of UK businesses trading internationally saw an uptick in demand, others have experienced the pandemic very differently, the research shows:

  • Over a half (52%) have suffered from reduced demand
  • 30% have suffered delays and uncertainty over the arrival of goods
  • 17% have reduced the volume of products ordered through specific suppliers
  • 10% saw a reduced web traffic
  • 6% found that they had to order through more costly suppliers

Consequently, there’s been a whole range of steps businesses have taken in order to shore up operations, and in fact, 43% have said that they’ve changed their business model altogether as a result of Covid-19.

We found that other steps businesses have taken have ranged from creating a comprehensive emergency operations centre, redesigning supply chains with local sources and second sources, to mapping suppliers to assess vulnerabilities and running outage scenarios to assess the possibility of unforeseen impacts.

Despite having made changes to adapt to the challenge of Covid-19, the research shows that businesses haven’t explored ways to safeguard their supply chains to mitigate the risks, and benefit from the opportunity that Brexit could bring. 88% of UK businesses trading internationally have admitted that they haven’t looked and aren’t going to look at switching their supply chains in preparation of Brexit.

With the Brexit deadline looming, and trade talks still ongoing, the results show that many British corporates aren’t thinking ahead to how Brexit may impact their supply chains. In order to utilise Brexit in the most beneficial way, particularly when it comes to international trade, they need to be prepared.

Lee McDarby, Managing Director of Corporate Foreign Exchange and International Payments at moneycorp commented:

“This year has been difficult for the majority of UK businesses, and the impact of Covid-19 can’t be downplayed. However, by focusing on the impact of the pandemic, many entities are taking their eye off Brexit, which could cause even greater disruption further down the line.

“With less than 30 days to go until the UK leaves the EU, it’s vital that businesses get ready for the transition that will take place. Fundamentally, the way we conduct business will change. Companies need to understand how this change will impact their operations, and what mechanisms need to be put in place to ensure they thrive post-Brexit. One thing that businesses can be sure of, as the 31st December approaches, is turbulent market winds. Now is the time to be assessing your currency exposure, to ensure international supply chains do not end up eating into British businesses’ bottom line.”

To keep up to date on how they could be impacted, moneycorp Bank is encouraging all UK businesses to visit the government website for live updates.

Bad First Impressions Drive One-Third of Consumers to Delete Apps

 ForgeRock®, the leading provider in digital identity, today announced the release of volume two of its global report, “The New Normal – Living Life Online.” The study polled 5,000 consumers throughout the U.S., U.K., Germany, Australia and Singapore to understand consumer preferences when it comes to online experiences, including how they log in and what app features they value most. The report also uncovers what is at stake for organizations that fall short on delivering digital experiences.

UK findings

The study surveyed 1,000 people in the UK, and found that the majority of Britons are sick of the traditional username and password login journey. UK respondents were, like their counterparts in other countries, critical of poor online experiences – with disatisfaction more pronounced in younger generations than in older age groups.

Key UK findings:

  • Those surveyed aged 18-24 said they have had the best digital experiences with entertainment (62%), retail (56%) and banking (53%) apps.
  • Many Britons will uninstall or stop the registration process if it is too complicated to set up (46%) or if asked for credit card details (45%).
  • 29% say they would cancel or delete an account or app if they have login issues and 25% noted they would switch to a completely different service or app.
  • 60% of consumers preferred alternatives such as facial recognition, fingerprint recognition, or multi-factor authentication, with the percentage rising to 73% amongst those aged 18-24.

“Consumers will no longer settle for a poor user experience, choosing instead to abandon registrations and shopping carts in search of a more digital savvy customer journey. As digital increasingly becomes the default channel this provides an opportunity for companies to clearly differentiate themselves,” said Tim Barber, Senior Vice President, Europe, Middle East and Africa at ForgeRock. “The majority of consumers are now clearly open to alternative authentication methods powered by technologies such as biometrics, that are easy to use, whilst remaining secure and trustworthy. The companies that can provide those experiences are set to win new customers and build lasting relationships. Putting digital identity at the heart of those digital relationships will help them to stand out from the competition.”

Global findings

On the global level, difficulties with the registration and login processes were found to be similarly frustrating across the board, with consumers likely to drop an app if there was too much friction. Getting locked out of an account was listed as a top frustration during the pandemic.

Key global findings include:

  • Almost half of consumers (46%) said they wouldn’t register for a new account if it was too difficult to sign up.
  • Consumers have a short fuse when it comes to poor digital experiences, with 35% cancelling or deleting an app if they have trouble logging in, while 32% said they would switch to a competitive service or app.
  • Getting locked out of accounts is more frustrating for nearly three-quarters (72%) of consumers than forgetting their mask at home (44%) or not finding toilet paper at the store (51%).
  • Globally, consumers are turning away from traditional passwords and usernames, preferring passwordless options like biometrics or multifactor authentication (MFA) to log in where available (57%).
  • Consumers said preventing their data from being resold to third parties is a top priority when considering app features (70%).

“With consumers continuing to spend more of their lives online for the foreseeable future, it’s imperative that organizations simplify how consumers sign up, log in and engage with their apps and digital services,” said Ben Goodman, SVP of global business and corporate development, ForgeRock. “Consumer identity is at the heart of any digital experience. By putting identity at the center of the digital relationship, organizations can provide better and more secure access for consumers.”

Based on survey findings, consumers 65+ gave the highest ratings overall for digital experiences, but those 18-24 are the most critical digital graders. Across the globe, the Gen Z age group is most likely to delete their account (37%) or change service providers (34%) if they have a difficult login experience. This shows that organizations that do not provide a seamless log in experience could hurt their brand reputation with these young buyers for years to come.

The full findings of the report can be found here, including regional insights specific to the U.S., Germany, Australia and Singapore.  A handy infographic with the big picture findings can also be found here.

This report is the second installment evaluating how consumer behaviors have changed how and what digital activities they engage with since the start of the pandemic.

6 Ways Blockchain Will Impact The Telecoms Industry

As the telecoms industry nears the new era of 5G and disruption, organisations need to focus on innovation, and how to continue competing in the sector. To become more efficient and customer-friendly, many companies are looking for new technologies to help reinvigorate and future-proof their business; preparing them for the unescapable disruption to come. When it comes to streamlining their operations, unlocking new business models and reducing operational costs, there’s one technology that’s helping CSPs transform their business — blockchain. With this in mind, Lars Rensing, CEO and Co-Founder of enterprise blockchain provider Protokol, outlines 6 ways blockchain will impact the telecoms sector:

1. Securing the future of 5G

5G will allow connected devices to interconnect instantly and without friction, as well as over wider ranges. With predictions that by 2022, two-thirds of almost 30 billion connected devices will be IoT devices, 5G will certainly play an important role. There are, however, a few creases which still need to be ironed out to successfully implement 5G. Take the current Access Network Discovery and Selection Function System (responsible for selecting the most appropriate access network for a device) for example. The system is centralised and prone to delays and issues surrounding provisioning of networks. With a blockchain-based solution, smart contracts can make the provisioning between networks and the end user seamless. By enforcing dynamic rules and contracts across these networks, blockchain can also unlock discounted rates or better connections.

There are also some security concerns around 5G. To be implemented safely, the data being received by connected devices must be trustworthy and free from the intervention of those with malintent. To enable 5G to reach its full potential and protect against large-scale security breaches, blockchain can ensure that data transferral is tamper-proof, decentralised and verified in real-time.

2. Keeping customer identities secure

When a customer registers for a new account with a telecoms company, they have to go through a sign-up process, which requires sharing and uploading sensitive personal information. Being stored with a third-party, however, could place customer information at risk of inefficient management, fraud or hacks. Hacks are happening all the time, such as the Equifax hack in 2017, or the recent breach of EasyJet’s customer information. In response to potential breaches of user data, some telecoms networks are looking to integrate blockchain, meaning that customer identities are stored in a decentralised, tamper-proof ledger with no single point of failure, rather than with a third-party. It is also a technology based inherently on cryptography, and as such is immutable and unhackable at its core. This is enabling providers to enhance security, as well as reduce both the legal costs and brand damage associated with data breaches.

3. Handing control back to the customers

Many telecom solution providers have begun working towards blockchain-powered identity-as-a-service solutions, which has led to the idea of self-sovereign identity. These solutions hand the power over a consumer’s digital identity back to them, while simultaneously making it easier and less invasive for the telecom company to manage. Not only does this alleviate storage concerns for providers, but it also allows consumers to take back control of the information they share online; which has become an increasing priority for consumers following large-scale data misuse scandals, such as Cambridge Analytica.

This self-sovereign identity movement also presents a largely untapped revenue stream for telecoms providers, who can offer ‘identity-as-a-service’ solutions to their customers. These solutions can also be offered to their network partners to create more streamlined and profitable relationships between them. The vast amount of data that Communications Service Providers (CSPs) possess, combined with the prevalence of smartphones means that CSPs are in a unique position to become the primary source of identity and authentication services. CSPs who are ahead of the game and act on this now could find themselves in a position where they are providing and managing blockchain-based identities that their customers use not only with them, but across all of their devices, apps and organisations. This helps consumers reduce the hassle and privacy threat of identifying themselves to government agencies, banks and other businesses.

4. Automating data roaming

Currently, when customers travel outside of the EU, a large number of intermediaries are involved in ensuring they can access mobile/data networks. Roaming charges have previously been settled by carriers after checking the roaming information provided by international data clearing houses (DCH) and financial clearing houses (FCH). This process has led to a considerable amount of time and money wasted in checking the real-time usage history through DCHs and FCHs and adjusting the errors.  Not only is this expensive and inefficient, but it also makes for an inconvenient experience for the customer.

To combat this, some telecoms providers are using blockchain to create smart contracts that can be executed without human intervention. The smart contracts can automatically trigger settlements in real time, allowing settlement systems to verify and confirm the usage data which is exchanged by mobile operators to provide roaming services to their customers. It then settles the charges in real-time if it finds no errors in the verification process. Customers benefit from a transparent, automated experience, and companies can cut costs and increase efficiency.

 

5. Streamlining the automation of SLAs

SLAs (Service Level Agreements) are crucial to the telecoms sector, but their monitoring is often inefficient and subject to delays and disputes. Many telecoms organisations are investing in the automation of SLAs, although this can still involve manual processes. To avoid this, some companies are using smart contracts on the blockchain, in order to clarify the conditions of SLAs and to make monitoring more transparent. Not only this, but smart contracts allow payments to be automated on completion of the agreed-upon terms; for instance, if a client is without service for a period, they’ll receive a rebate automatically, without having to claim one.

6. Making mobile number portability easy

Although mobile number portability has been available for some time, it is often difficult to execute. Disconnect between providers who need or hold necessary information to complete the transfer makes the process difficult and full of delays, which is frustrating for customers, and delays onboarding for providers. Telecoms providers can use blockchain to accelerate the process, using it as one network for all providers to access the same information. Blockchain technology can help ensure that this information is trustworthy and secure, allowing network providers to offer a seamless, cost-effective service to their customers. 

How the Business Community Uses Bitcoin Despite Its Volatility

The eventual goal of Bitcoin is to supplant fiat currency but volatility still remains the biggest barrier.

Ever since Bitcoin’s whitepaper was revealed on October 31, 2008, cryptocurrency purists have had a single goal: Break the hold of the banks and supplant fiat currency. It is safe to say that we’re not there yet. It’s been a goldmine for some speculators, but not for individuals to use like US dollars. And businesses face significantly more hurdles still. But some creative companies have found ways to do so.

 

The Challenges of Cryptocurrency Are Significant

Cryptocurrency has a lot of potential but it’s difficult for many businesses to justify the risks of using it. Setting aside the regulatory difficulties, which businesses can’t control, there are two interconnected problems to manage: price volatility and scalability.

 

Volatility

The reason that fiat currencies work is that they are broadly stable. There might be fluctuations and inflation, but barring a hyperinflation event, businesses know that $1.20 is still going to be around $1.20 at the close of business.

With cryptocurrency, this isn’t the case. Prices can rise or fall rapidly.

 

Scalability

This volatility is partially caused by Bitcon’s severe scalability problems. Bitcoin is capable of processing under 5 transactions per second. Traditional solutions, like Visa, are able to process around 1,700 transactions a second.

This makes cryptocurrencies difficult and expensive to be used for small e-commerce or even in-store purchases. And in turn, it hampers adoption, and therefore the number of companies that actually accept cryptocurrency payments.

 

Businesses Have Found Creative Solutions

These problems are difficult but not insurmountable with a bit of creativity. In fact, some businesses have managed to turn these challenges to their advantage.

One of the best examples is business intelligence company MicroStrategy. Crypto analyst Kevin Rooke estimated that the company had made over $100 million in profits on its Bitcoin purchases made in October. In contrast, the company’s net income from its business operations in the last three and a half years was only $78 million.

Aside from holding Bitcoin as a speculative asset, other businesses have found that offering the opportunity to buy and sell crypto has proven popular. For some time, CFD broker eToro has made it possible to buy and sell crypto. And British company Revolut has made it possible to trade crypto.

For the moment, the majority of non-crypto businesses have focused on making it easier to buy and sell cryptocurrency. This makes sense as the barrier to entry remains a big block on adoption. However, there are signs that big business is coming on board.

 

Scalability Remains the Real Challenge

Companies are attempting to move beyond speculation and accepting cryptocurrency. Most recently, PayPal announced that it is allowing users to buy crypto and most importantly, use it within their network for goods and services. PayPal has over 350 million users and 26 million vendors in its ecosystem.

Bringing these people into the Bitcoin network would help inject new blood into the system. PayPal’s ease of use would theoretically make it easier for merchants to accept Bitcoin as payment. However, there is still a problem: scalability.

Bitcoin transactions need to be processed via Proof of Work (PoW). This means that networks of specialized computers, or miners, must find solutions to complicated problems in order to process a transaction. For providing their computing power, miners are rewarded with Bitcoin.

This helps to ensure the system is secure but it also means that there is a limit on the number of transactions that can be processed. As demand on Bitcoin’s blockchain increases so does the cost of each transaction. And so does the amount of time a transaction takes.

 

A Second Layer Could Make Bitcoin Scalable

This means that any sudden influx of users would essentially render Bitcoin unusable. There are a number of solutions designed to resolve this. The most promising is building a second layer for Bitcoin. An example of how this works is the lightning network.

The problem is that currently every transaction needs to be recorded individually. A layer 2 protocol would allow for peer-to-peer micropayments. They essentially create a list of transactions. This would allow instant transactions between merchants and buyers to take place but not be recorded on the blockchain until all transactions have been finalized and confirmed as completed.

Other scalable alternatives are being built for the Ethereum blockchain in the form of DeFi. The Ethereum protocol makes it possible to build complicated financial institutions using smart contracts. They have already built a number of promising crypto derivatives with everything from lending platforms to decentralized exchanges. These are important because they lay the foundations of a proper financial ecosystem.

These new crypto businesses provide a way for Bitcoin holders to make their currency liquid without selling their assets. For example, by putting BTC up as collateral on a lending platform it is possible to gain interest rates far beyond the market average for fiat. This provides an incentive for investors to hold their Bitcoin, rather than trade it, and in the long term should help stabilize it.

 

Businesses Will Find Ways as Long as It Provides Value

Successful businesses are practical. This is why PayPal is making early(ish) moves into the cryptocurrency sector. This is also why businesses will be willing to accept and use Bitcoin when it makes financial sense on their end.

This will be especially true for businesses that deal with regular currency exchanges or cross-border transfers. Paying in a single currency like Bitcoin could provide them a way to significantly reduce operating expenses.

However, for that to happen, Bitcoin needs the proper infrastructure. Paypal is clearly preparing to build that, but it will take time. Until that happens, most businesses will continue to view Bitcoin as an asset class that can be used to supplement their regular income but isn’t integral to it.

Sunak’s Green Gilt shows it’s time to Reinvest in Earth

When it comes to climate action, the pandemic has opened our eyes to the scale and speed of change that is possible. We know now that we can change the way we do things—and change quickly. And while governments and policy makers have been slow to respond to the Climate Crisis, their massive fiscal response to COVID shows that we can take similarly decisive action to save the planet.

The financial services sector is an integral part of this journey. And there are signs that our public and private institutions are beginning to understand this reality. Rishi Sunak, for example, recently announced plans to make the UK a world leader in green finance and financial technology, by launching green gilts — or “green sovereign bonds” —to fund low-carbon infrastructure projects. 

Interest in ESG investing, meanwhile, has risen in popularity in recent years. But while there’s no doubt that committing to sustainable investing is important as we move forward, we need to re-think the role that capital plays in tackling the Climate Crisis. We must apply our finances to climate action beyond the scope of ESG investing.

Private companies can only tackle a selection of the problems presented by climate change. In reality, solving the Climate Crisis requires action in multiple areas, and many problems have no market solutions. There is no market mechanism in place for suing polluters, or for protecting the rainforests and other habitats, for instance. That’s a role filled by not-for-profit organisations.

Supporting not-for-profit climate solutions yields returns like any other investment. The returns are shared and global, but they are real and identifiable. Funding a healthy future for our children is money well spent. 

And financial institutions can also play a key role in the effort to fund these not-for-profits.

Financial institutions already have raised significant concerns about climate change, with many senior figures openly calling for their peers to take more action and leverage their power for the good of the planet. Now there is an opportunity for them to take even more decisive action.

At the Global Returns Project, we’re ready to work with financial institutions how to support not-for-profit climate solutions at incredible scale.

We want to empower individuals to “Reinvest in Earth”. That is, to commit just 0.25% of their savings and investments annually to the most effective not-for-profit climate initiatives.

By Reinvesting in Earth, just 3% of people with savings could raise a staggering $10B every year for those vital not-for-profits. And that kind of transformational fundraising is possible through the support of financial institutions. If the financial services sector made Reinvesting in Earth normal and easy for all their clients, they could raise incredible sums for the climate. By offering Reinvesting in Earth as a tick-the-box option to clients, these institutions will change the way we fund climate solutions.

Behavioural science tells us that if we normalise Reinvesting in Earth, more of us will choose to participate. So, in giving their clients the ability easily to commit 0.25% of their savings and investments annually, financial institutions will enable a huge boost for funding climate initiatives.

More and more, the realities of extreme weather, flooding and natural disasters – along with the warnings of high-profile public figures like David Attenborough and the Prince of Wales – underline the need for immediate climate action. And research shows that donating to climate charities is the most effective personal action someone can take to help tackle the Climate Crisis.  

Reinvesting in Earth allows individuals to make a meaningful difference in combatting the climate emergency. And with financial institutions on board, we can increase that critical climate funding exponentially. Ultimately, we need to save for a future that is worth saving for. We must fund not-for-profit climate solutions alongside sustainable investing and ensure that our finances are supporting their efforts.

What lessons has the pandemic taught us about the fluidity of labour in the run up to Brexit?

By James Clifton, Group Chief Executive at The MISSION

A short while ago I wrote about the upsides and downsides of the enforced shift to an online presence for retail brands caused by the original COVID lockdown. Little did we suspect we’d be doing it all again. 

To paraphrase my earlier self (and it took me 1,200 words last time so you’re getting a good deal here): shifting to being an online provider opens up a vast new marketplace for brands (big upside) but means you are going toe to toe with the very best in the world (big downside) in a truly global marketplace. 

So, the outtake was to make sure that your proposition and delivery were genuinely world-class.  No more hiding behind “local” as an excuse for “not really very good”, or “charming” really meaning “um, we lost your order but Maureen is back next week and she’ll get to it then”.  In short, we were all moving up to “big school” and the game would get a lot more real – i.e. very terrifying – very quickly.

It got me thinking about our own business and it struck me that two very important factors had manifest themselves this year. 

First, a fundamental recognition that talent is independent of geography. Yes, there are clear nodes where clusters of talent congregate: London, Chicago, San Francisco, Singapore, Shanghai, Seattle, Munich.  That’s why we have MISSION offices in each of those locations.

But we also know that award-winning, game-changing, jaw-dropping talent can live and thrive in all sorts of places.  That can be for all sorts of reasons: family commitments, personal preferences, stage of life, health – the list is as varied as humanity.  But, whereas in previous times, being out of the physical loop meant being out of the game, now, thanks to the liberation of digital technology, the 5G loop runs right through your village, town, hamlet, yurt or island. In fact, sometimes it feels like it’s impossible to escape the damn loop.

The upside is we can have super-bright people developing paradigm-shifting campaigns and technology, working out of camper vans in the back of beyond if that’s where they feel most creative and happy.

It means that the teen prodigy who doesn’t want to leave her home town, but can code faster than Neo in The Matrix, doesn’t need to end up working in the local store. She can develop her award-winning app in her cottage by the river, while conversing in real time with colleagues in Tokyo, Paris and Miami. Yet still walk her dog through open fields of an evening whilst earning the true going rate for her prodigious talent.

This means that we, collectively, have access to lots more talent.  All we have to do is identify it, then connect it in ways that allow it to flourish fully. 

Which brings me to the second key factor that’s emerged from these past few months.

You’ve heard the phrase “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade”?  Well, we can probably all agree 2020 has been a bumper harvest of citrus fruit.  Despite this, the lemonade we’ve made may yet prove to be pretty potent. Because, out of the COVID chaos, we’re being forced to finally take remote working seriously, with proper systems and processes that are not just sideline projects to make HR feel warm and cozy but real, core business processes engineered to deliver full scale results.  

For years we all spoke earnestly about achieving a better work/life balance, usually in the pub after a few drinks, but we were all locked into the mutually assured destruction of ever lengthening work weeks. 

Universal lockdowns change that of course.  They necessitate that everyone who can, has to work from home.  Consequently, we have had to develop systems and processes that support that working model. Failure isn’t an option because too much is at stake both in the short term and also, it seems increasingly clear, the longer term if we want our companies to thrive. 

A survey of global workers by Microsoft earlier this year found 71% of people expressing a desire to continue working from home, at least part time, once the pandemic is over.  Larry Fink, CEO of Blackrock, said recently that he didn’t believe his firm would ever return to full time office work but instead see a mix of flexible, rotating working arrangements.  And Facebook expects half of its employees will work remotely in five to ten years’ time.

Based on this paradigm shift, we took the decision to reduce our London footprint from four offices to two, allowing a more flexible mix of office and home working supported by enhanced ways of working.  Many other companies are taking similar steps. 

These two factors – geographically-agnostic talent and superior remote-working practices – open up a whole new world of opportunity.

At MISSION, we’ve always made it our business (literally) to recognise and embrace talent wherever it is: to judge the work, not the postcode. We were doing this long before the pandemic, which is why we have extremely bright people in some exotic places (Harefield, Norwich, Dorset, Devon…) as well as the usual suspects mentioned above.  

But, like many businesses, the pandemic accelerated our investment in systems and processes to allow us to work cohesively together, at speed, to deliver results for clients.  And now those systems – and the confidence they’ve helped foster – have allowed us to go a step further.  We can now offer clients a 24/7 centralised creative production, product and innovation facility run virtually, weaving together the best talent for each task, from wherever that may be around the world, on-shore, off-shore, anywhere. For some clients, it will mean work can progress seamlessly with zero downtime, effectively following the working day round the planet, tracked by our universal project management systems and managers. 

From a business point of view, the effectiveness and efficiency this brings is very exciting but, personally, I love the way it lets people thrive, on juicy projects they may not have been exposed to simply because of their geography.  And it produces innovative solutions that we may never have realised with the previous ways of working.  That can only be to everyone’s benefit.

Which brings me to the other 2020 bogeyman: Brexit.  So much time and angst has been spent on the B word since May 2016, much of it around the issue of fluidity of labour across borders.  But what this year has shown is that technology and talent refuse to recognise borders: try building a wall in the cloud. So maybe Brexit is actually a bit of a red herring, which would be ironic after all the turmoil?

This is not about offshoring jobs from the UK: that was tried in the noughties and didn’t work.  The new approach is more about attracting work into the UK, because the highest value projects will naturally flow towards the best talent, something we have in abundance and now accessible in effective ways. It’s the global marketplace in action, in real time.

If we can fully grasp the opportunities presented by these fundamental work changes, then maybe the future will prove brighter than at first thought. We find ourselves at the confluence of technology, talent and a unique point in time where new possibilities are emerging from the detritus of this awful year.

And wouldn’t it be good for something genuinely positive to come out of the chaos, so that 2020 wasn’t seen solely as a lost year but as the kickstart of a new decade of opportunity?

Awesome Approyo

Since its inception, Approyo has specialized in SAP technology, providing SAP solutions as a service to companies of all sizes and industries. The firm is a global Managed Services Provider (MSP) that also specializes in any SAP core competencies, including SAP HANA, S/4HANA, Leonardo, and many others. In essence, Approyo assists clients in reaching their highest potential by implementing, migrating, and upgrading systems, giving them better real-time data, organization, and reduced complexity. The firm operates under the motto of “SAP Made Simple”, and it couldn’t achieve that any better. Approyo makes the huge process of making changes to any Enterprise Resource System (ERP) less daunting, and helps clients every step of the way when it comes to making a business the best it can possibly be.

Across its broad range of truly exceptional services, Approyo provides tailored services packages that are based on the needs of a client business, before then going on to work with the client in perfecting that package. Complimented by 24/7 support for clients, the firm is wholly reliable and willing to assist clients with any problems or requests they may face. The founding mission of Approyo has been, and will always be, to help businesses be better. The entire basis of the firm is to help companies transform their business processes, and utilizing the power of SAP is key to that. SAP can help businesses improve their decision making, and then ultimately improve their ROI in the long run.

For the team at Approyo, the client always comes first. Believing strongly in integrity and trust from all involved parties, the firm aims to ensure healthy business relations at every stage of the process. Approyo provides quality services and quick time-to-value as it is extremely important in building the trust, and it’s the teamwork from the staff that allows this to transpire. Staff are true experts in SAP, and that is evident by looking at others working in the ERP industry. Oftentimes, companies similar to Approyo do not have a main focus of their work, and instead provide any and all ERP solutions by request. What makes this firm so different and so exceptional is that its focus is only in SAP, making it a reliable and trustworthy expert with all the knowledge. Though it does provide integrative services such as SAP combined with Microsoft Azure or AWS, SAP is always involved.

Now that technology is so widely available to businesses across the world, Approyo prides itself on being able to work with and serve clients throughout all industries, and of all sizes. Any business that needs the firm’s assistance can receive it at a time that suits them best. The largest portion of clients comes form the hospitality and hotel industries, though clients have hailed from industries including oil and gas, information technology, and many more. Not only does Approyo serve its own clients, but the firm also works with partners to serve their clients as well. For its partnerships, Approyo serves as a sort of external IT team for them, managing their clients’ SAP systems for them.

Approyo is not a typical IT company. Contrasting to a lot of stereotypes about companies and individuals who choose to work in the IT industry, Approyo is a bright, vibrant, and exciting place to work, and one which employees genuinely look forward to coming to each week. Employees who love their job will work harder and feel more passionately about what they are doing, leading to better results for the client. Though work comes first and the demands that Approyo must help clients, there is a fine balance in every day to ensure that employees are happy and healthy. There are unlimited drinks and snacks in the office, nerf guns, scooters, and a whole lot more to help the atmosphere feel as though it is one of warmth and welcoming. This is perhaps emphasised best by the Approyo CEO, Christopher Carter, who always says “Life is too short. You have to have fun while you’re still here.”

This atmosphere feeds into the fact that the staff at Approyo are the foundation of the firm’s existence. Service delivery teams and helpdesk employees are the ones taking care of the clients on a daily basis, doing the dirty work behind the scenes that allows the clients themselves to focus on their business. Then, there is the executive sales team who are the one making the business decisions regarding partnerships and clients, all whilst organizing objectives and strategies. One team brings in new clients, whilst the other team assists the clients with their business needs and helps them reach their potential. Across both teams, recruiting the best and brightest in the industry is of the utmost importance.

Approyo wishes to hire those share a passion and the drive to learn new things. Recruiting online is the simplest way to do this, but it can be difficult to find locals with the SAP experience the firm requires. The firm really dives deep during the interview process to ensure whether or not someone is a fit for Approyo, but it is also willing to help them learn and give them the tools to do so. Interns are a huge asset for the firm, allowing itself to train them in specific skillsets and hopefully add them to the team once they have shown improvement and understanding of the job role. However, it is not just about getting interns and staff members to understand what the services are.

One of the key challenges that Approyo has faced in the past is the level of understanding of the cloud amongst clients. In the beginning, people were just discovering the cloud and its benefits, but they did not understand the why or how of it all together. With continuous innovation and technological advancements, people are finally beginning to truly understand the cloud and ERP. As such, Approyo has overcome this challenge of misunderstanding and misinformation to be in a position where more clients than ever before can benefit from the SAP cloud solutions that the firm offers.

Ultimately, Approyo is in the business of transforming other businesses and companies for the modern world with technologies that are becoming increasingly accessible. Machine learning and artificial intelligence can do so much for a business, and Approyo is at the heart of bringing those technologies to the modern business world in a manner that is exceptional in every sense of the word.

5 Effective Leadership Styles in Education

Creating a positive learning culture in school is what is one of the most important and challenging jobs for any teacher. That’s because education is not only about going to school and giving a lecture. It also has a lot to do with instilling confidence and inspiration in young minds as well as to motivate them to do well in their lives. That is why it is vital to learn about effective leadership practices that can be followed in school. 

There are many different effective leadership styles that are used in schools. The Democratic Style, which is one of the Goleman leadership styles, is one of the most effective ones. It uses the basic principles of democracy to find solutions to certain problems. To understand how democracy works in the classroom, you first need to learn what democracy is. To do so, some of the free democracy essays can help you out a great deal. Even if you’re working on a research paper or essays of your own about democracy or the democratic leadership style, looking at some of the free examples available online will give you a strong base to work with. 

To help you write your essay about the various educational leadership styles, some of the best ones have been listed below. There are many more that you can research, but these are a few of the most popular ones that will give you an idea of how different leadership styles are used in the classroom and the school structure in general. 

1.   The Democratic Style

As mentioned before, this is one of the best among effective school leadership practices. It encourages conversation among peers about a problem and then looks for a consensus to find the solution. School administrations use it when a problem needs to be solved or a decision needs to be made about the curriculum or the school’s functioning. Teachers who use this way of leading a class to instill the values of collaboration, communication, and teamwork in their students. All of these values are crucial for young students to give them a chance to succeed in their future lives. 

2.   The Instructional Style

This method of leadership focuses on the quality of teaching directly. A school that employs it concentrates on the development of its teachers in order to ensure that the students get the best possible learning experience in their classrooms. This has been found as one of the best educational leadership styles in terms of students’ performance. By working with teachers to improve their skills through coaching, the school leaders help in strengthening the school’s grasp on educational quality.

3.   The Authoritative Style

As opposed to democracy, this style is used in order to drive people towards a particular vision. The people who use this in school or in the classroom are those that are self-confident and like to inspire change. For a school, this kind of leadership style is very effective whenever a new vision is required or when things need to be changed at a fundamental level. The ‘leader’ decides what this change will be and then motivates others to work for that change. 

4.   The Coaching Style

When you research effective school leadership practices, you’re likely to find this as one of the best styles to develop a strong base in people for long-term development. It encourages teachers and students to try some samples of new things in order to develop their own strengths and be more aware of their weaknesses. This leads to more self-awareness, which helps people focus on their strengths in a much more positive way. 

5.   The Transformational Style

Essays about educational leadership styles should include this one too, as it is a very effective way to not only teach but also to run a school. It focuses on role-modelling, whereby the leaders create an innovative culture in the school by inspiring others. People running the education institute share a sense of purpose as a result of this style and are also given a chance to have their voices heard during the process of decision-making. 

Conclusion

If you were wondering why leadership is important in education, you should have a clearer idea now. The use of effective leadership practices in school is crucial in order to provide students with an environment that is conducive to learning. There is no one ‘best’ leadership style in education. Each of the different leadership methods may be employed in different situations based on what the need of the time is. There are many other styles that you will find in your research, but these were a few examples of those that are usually practiced in schools. This knowledge should help you create a detailed essay or research paper about why leadership is important in schools and what ways it can help create a culture of innovation, learning, and self-awareness.

Increased responsibilities are pushing IT to breaking point

IT is now an innovator as well as a caretaker in mid-market organisations, but increased pressure is driving teams towards burnout.

Increasing pressure on IT teams is pushing many IT decision-makers to the brink of burnout, according to new research from Pulsant, a leading UK provider of regional data centre and cloud infrastructure services.

Nearly two-thirds of UK IT decision-makers (65%) have felt under increasing pressure to keep the organisation running effectively over the past 12 months, with 80% of these admitting this has harmed their health and wellbeing.

The research, which was conducted on 201 UK IT decision-makers in mid-market organisations, finds increased pressure on IT has manifested in various ways: 40% of IT decision-makers impacted say they are experiencing anxiety as a result of increased pressure; over a third (35%) are suffering from increased stress which is unsustainable and will result in burn out if not addressed, and nearly a quarter (24%) have experienced burn out which has resulted with absence from the business. Plus worryingly for businesses, 20% have either resigned or started looking for a new job.

The rise in pressure could be due to an increase in expectations with 77% of IT decision-makers saying expectations of IT have risen within their organisation in the past 12 months. The biggest reasons for this increase were noted as a greater focus on security and compliance (45%), the expectation for IT to work with more areas of the business (39%), the expectation for IT to support and have knowledge of a broader range of technologies (38%), increased pressure to update ageing infrastructure (36%) and being expected to deliver projects quicker (35%).

This, in turn, means that IT teams are left stretched across a wide range of responsibilities, with over a third (34%) of IT decision-makers saying too much workload/not enough time is one of the top challenges within their teams. 

“An accelerating pace of change means that IT teams are under more pressure than ever to support more critical business initiatives and deliver results faster, while at the same time ensuring business systems remain available, secure and compliant,” says Pulsant CTO, Simon Michie. “This can place IT teams under immense strain which is detrimental to both the success of the business, and more importantly employee wellbeing, with staff left stressed, anxious and having to take time out from the business. “

The research also revealed a divide in opinions on the purpose of IT, with IT seen as both a caretaker of information and technology and also the driver of innovation across the business. Over half of IT decision-makers (58%) and business leaders (55%) believe the primary role of IT is either a help desk or technical support function or to be responsible for maintaining and running business-critical systems, while 40% of IT decision-makers and 45% of business leaders see the main role of the IT department as an enabler of innovation.

IT has also become influential in board-level business decision making with the majority (87%) of IT decision-makers saying IT is involved in setting the business strategy for the year ahead. An overwhelming majority (93%) say their organisation has a representative from the IT team on the board/leadership team, highlighting that IT is now widely regarded as a critical function.

However, while there is clear recognition for the role of IT in driving the business strategy and innovation, IT teams face challenges in delivering on expectations. Nearly two-thirds of IT decision-makers (65%) say their team is under pressure to be more innovative but there is not enough investment for this to be possible. IT decision-makers are also put off from driving new ideas forward by challenges including conflicting priorities (38%), lack of resource (36%) and time (35%).

“It’s hugely positive that both business leaders and IT decision-makers recognise the role of IT in driving innovation, but it’s clear that more attention needs to be paid to providing the IT team with the right support and resources it needs to perform both functions effectively and maintain the wellbeing of IT professionals,” concludes Michie.”

The research was conducted by Censuswide on 201 IT decision-makers and 200 business leaders in UK mid-sized companies (200-2,500 employees). The full report – The IT Paradox: Balancing support and innovation – and further insight into the findings can be found here.

What You Could Be Losing Out On By Not Using Hotel Revenue Management Technology

Hotel revenue management systems are used to analyse the correct rate at which a hotel room should be charged. The purpose of them is to help hotels generate more profit, as it prevents rooms being underpriced. At the same time, they also prevent revenue loss by checking hotel rooms aren’t overpriced either.

Several factors such as holidays, weekdays, weekends, festive or wedding season, competitor rates, and other market conditions are taken into consideration for predicting the price of the hotel room inventory. As a result of these factors mentioned, hotel prices need to be modified from time to time. Hotel revenue management systems are the easiest way to do this, and ensure you’re keeping up with competitors.  

Why Hotel Revenue Management Technology

Hotel revenue management technology may seem like a lot of calculation and numbers however, artificial intelligence is at your service. Software is available that does all the combination permutation work of the factors mentioned above. Apart from pricing your rooms just right, they also analyse client reviews, OTA performance and other operational tasks and alert you of these. It will ensure you’re available to focus on each customer personally.

So How Does the Technology Boost Hotel Revenue?

Price Fluctuation

The alerts set in automation catch every market trigger and alter your room price accordingly. It could be your competitor changing rates or a sudden surge in the market. The technology catches them all and calculates the price change multiple times a day.

 
Managing Marketing Channels

Hotel businesses can be run through various channels. Some of them are through OTA platforms, websites, local agents, and in-house marketing teams. The automation can place alerts for every forum. It can generate a performance report for each channel for you. It can also automatically adjust the price in OTAs and hotel website according to their reach or TG.

One-Stop Solution

Most of us are tired of different excel spread sheets and reports, but having a hotel revenue management system can solve this. The system can generate all of the following statements for you: 

  • Pricing strategy
  • Property performance report
  • Revenue analysis & prediction
  • Profit report and estimate
  • Competitor’s price analysis
  • OTA channel performance
  • Staff performance
Market Forecast

In any business, prediction and forecast are vital. The hotel business is no exception. Now you don’t need to find a “Market Guru” who can provide you with quarterly, half-yearly, and yearly forecast. All this is possible through Hotel Revenue Management Technology. With this, you can be better prepared for the ups and downs of the market.

Imagine all these functions performed without human error and extra monthly cost!

Issue 11 2020

Welcome to the November issue of Acquisition International magazine. As the voice of modern business, we are dedicated to delivering vital updates to our corporate readers so that they remain ahead of the curve.

But first things first, I hope everyone is safe and well?

While we approach the end of 2020, there’s a certain retrospective perspective setting in, while we look forward to (what we hope is) a fresh start in the new year. It’s been a year of stops and starts. Plans halted. Adaptions made. We’ve been working from home here at AI Global Media, which has certainly been a unique challenge. Quick conversations had across tables, or between departments have been replaced with emails, phone calls or virtual meetings. Though, ultimately, we’ve had it pretty easy being a digital publication company. Others have had to pivot immensely and show remarkable ingenuity and drive to overcome the very new challenges that this year has delivered.

After all, we’ve had no frame of reference for anything we’ve faced in 2020. How do you navigate a lack of footfall when your business relies on it? Certain things we’d taken for granted – the smallest of things like customer’s reaching out or stepping through the door – has been turned on its head. Calling 2020 a challenge would be a colossal understatement, with success now being defined by a lower bar – yet these smaller successes are no less deserving of celebration. Maybe that’s the message behind 2020: a reset to what we hold as important. While business growth is a fantastic thing, every sale, every product launch, ever new hire, is truly worthy of celebration. Maybe that’s something to think about.

Structuring Strategies for Survival and Growth during Difficult Times

The legal form and structure of any business can contribute to its success or failure, especially in difficult trading conditions such as the economic slump caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. A successful structuring strategy will enable a business to:

  • take advantage of lucrative opportunities for growth with more speed and ease than its competitors;
  • incentivise and reward its senior people whilst motivating the next generation to join the ranks; and
  • adapt and respond to changing market conditions.

International and national organisations have a number of structural options in the UK. The most successful structure will depend on the organisation’s aims and objectives and may involve a combination of different forms of legal entities. Each structure has advantages and disadvantages (as summarised below). In every case, a regular structural review is recommended to maximise opportunities for growth and to mitigate the effects of an economic downturn.

Corporates

The most widely recognised entities in the UK and internationally are a private limited company (Ltd) and a public limited liability company (Plc).  

The familiarity of Ltds and Plcs mean that they tend to be more attractive to external investors. Investors can be offered equity securities (such as shares) or debt securities (such as loan notes and bonds) with a varying voting and economic rights. Investors benefit from limited liability, which means that, in the event of the Ltd or Plc’s insolvency, their liability is usually limited to the amount of capital that they paid for their securities. Plcs have the added advantage in that can be listed on a stock exchange; which enables a business to raise funds in the capital markets. During difficult trading conditions, access to capital can be crucial to prevent liquidity and cash flow problems spiralling into an insolvency situation. It can also enable a business to take advantage of strategic opportunities to fund mergers or acquisitions for expansion or to diversify in response to changing customer demand.

Ltds and Plcs can also incentivise and reward their employees and directors with an ownership stake in the business through tax efficient share schemes.

Although Ltd and Plcs are relatively easy to set up, they are subject to wide-ranging regulatory restrictions (including restrictions on the use of capital and distributions to shareholders) and governance controls (such as rules governing shareholder decisions). They are also subject to public scrutiny through public disclosures of their annual accounts. Listed Plcs are subject to even greater governance and disclosure rules. 

LLPs and Partnerships

Organisations which provide professional services (such as legal, accountancy, tax, consultancy and architectural firms) tend to be structured as a limited liability partnership (LLP) or, in an increasingly small number of cases, as an unincorporated partnership (Partnership). Partnerships are also commonly used in the private equity, asset management and real estate sectors.

LLPs and Partnerships are taxed differently to Ltds and Plcs. For example, LLPs and Partnerships do not pay employers’ national insurance contributions (currently at the rate of 13.8%) in respect of genuine self-employed members of the LLP or partners of the Partnership (who tend to be their highest earners). LLPs and Partnerships are treated as “tax transparent” and are not subject to corporation tax. The profits of an LLP or Partnership are taxed as income/capital gains in the hands of their members or partners. In contrast, the members of a Ltd or Plc receive their dividends from profits after corporation tax has been paid by the Ltd or Plc.

LLPs and Partnerships are free to determine their own profit-sharing, capital and decision-making arrangements, which can be all be changed with relative ease and speed (e.g. by an oral or written agreement or by a vote of a specified majority of the members or partners). This flexibility can make LLPs and Partnerships more agile during turbulent trading conditions.  

As with a Ltd or Plc, the members of an LLP benefit from limited liability so that their personal exposure for the debts and liabilities of the LLP is usually limited to the capital that they contributed. This provides an important degree of protection if the LLP is facing potential insolvency. In contrast, partners in a Partnership have unlimited liability and are at risk of personal bankruptcy if the Partnership becomes insolvent. 

An LLP is a hybrid between a Partnership and a Ltd. This can cause issues for international businesses as some countries do not recognise their hybrid status. LLPs are also required to comply with many of the regulations governing Ltds and Plcs (including public disclosure of its annual accounts and the identity of its members). 

Branch office

International businesses can register as an overseas entity with a branch office in the UK.

A branch office is relatively easy and cost-effective to establish. However, there are potential tax, regulatory and risk management issues in operating an international organisation through a series of branch offices in each country. In particular, a branch office does not have a separate legal identity from its overseas parent, which means that the parent will be liable for the debts and liabilities of the branch office, creating a high risk of group contagion should one branch office fail.

Associations

International and national organisations may operate through a network of independent entities which are connected by a contract between them or through membership of a common governance entity (such as a Swiss verein, an English company limited by guarantee or a European Economic Interest Grouping). These types of international structures are commonly used by professional services firms such as the “Big 4” audit firms and international law firms.   

An association allows for rapid expansion and is an attractive and (relatively) low-cost alternative to mergers and acquisitions (which can often involve a lengthy process of negotiations, implementation and integration). This is useful for taking advantage of growth opportunities quickly.

If desired, each member of the association can be legally and financially separate from the other member entities. This helps to prevent any group contagion should any member entity face financial difficulties. This is also particularly useful where there are regulatory obstacles that prevent members of the association being fully integrated.

However, the separation between the member entities can often make it more challenging to create a unified culture. To combat this, the member entities often agree common governance arrangements,  use of a common brand name and align their standards and strategy and share centralised services (such as IT systems, intellectual property and training).

Furlough Scheme Extension – the Good, the Bad and the Ugly Cost

Shaw & Co, the Bristol-based specialist corporate finance advisory firm, has responded to the announcement made by Rishi Sunak, Chancellor of the Exchequer, on Thursday 5 November in the House of Commons announcing the extension of the UK Furlough Scheme.

The Government has approved a five-month extension of the Coronavirus Job Retention Scheme (CJRS), which will now run until the end of March 2021. The scheme enables employees to receive 80% of their current salary for hours not worked, up to a maximum of £2,500 per month.

Furthermore, Sunak confirmed that the CJRS extension will be reviewed in January 2021 to determine whether employers will be required to increase contributions, should the economy show signs of improvement and recovery.

Colin Burns, Director – Debt Advisory at Shaw & Co provides his insights on the implications the extension of the furlough scheme will have for British businesses and the UK economy overall.

Is this a welcome announcement?

This will be very welcome news for many businesses who are on the cusp of laying off staff permanently and potentially closing their doors for good. This will not however be enough for some businesses where other fixed costs (rent / finance costs etc.) remain a heavy burden in the absence of any trading revenue.

What does the extension really mean for UK businesses?

It provides some assurance that they will be able to retain key staff when lockdown ends in early December 2020, however this may continue for longer than first expected, if we remember the situation in March 2020!

Should the Government start thinking longer-term?

Although it is difficult to accurately gauge when the economy will return to ‘near-normal’ – with or without a vaccine – the Government must now start thinking longer term and what schemes may work, while carrying public support, in case of future lockdowns or indeed another pandemic.

We have spoken to lenders who now say that any credit assessment must include risk analysis on the impact of a pandemic – something no lender was even considering 12 months ago!

Should we be worried about what this means for the level of public debt and the likely rise in taxation?

Public debt has and will rise and the obvious route to address this imbalance will be on future tax rates. However, there are other issues which will cause imminent economic stress, such as Brexit, so I would not expect any radical repositioning of public sector finances until later in 2021. Plus, the Bank of England has already signalled additional monetary easing to support the economy, so we may see an effort by the authorities to chip away at the debt burden through a degree of inflation.

The other issue to consider is the private sector (mainly banks) who will have their own capital issues in 2021/22 as their loan portfolios come under pressure from delinquencies and may mean lessening their risk exposure which will very likely dampen their appetite to support UK Plc from 2021 onwards, to a certain extent.

9 Ways to Prepare Your Business for the Next Recession

1. Pay Off Existing Debt

Existing debt looms like a dark cloud. When a recession hits, those obligations remain regardless of your profit and loss margins.

Design an aggressive plan for paying it off as soon as possible. You’ll have an easier time finding investors and acquiring a line of credit if you’ve paid off your existing debt. Start with the higher interest loans that will compound faster than others.

2. Understand Your Numbers

To prepare your business, you must understand your financial numbers and projections. Create a detailed plan of projected income and expenses each year. Evaluate efficiency — where is the money going, and how can you increase your return on investment?

Discover what aspects drive the most value. Are there areas that could be grown and improved? Keep an eye on your financial statements and review updated reports regularly.

 

3. Expand Your Customer Base

A recession-proof business model utilizes multiple revenue streams and an expansive customer base.

A business that operates in nine countries has greater market diversity than those that operate in the U.S. alone. By establishing a diverse collection of clients, you reduce the risk of losing all of your revenue during a recession.

Look into new client acquisition channels to ensure a steady growth rate during economic decline.

4. Cut Expenses

Look for ways to cut expenses in your business. Can you change suppliers without sacrificing quality? Are there services or perks you could reduce? The key is to trim your costs without losing value.

When faced with a difficult situation, know what you can — and can’t — live without.

5. Set Aside Money

When a recession hits, you’ll be better off relying on savings before taking on more debt. This could be a problem if your cash reserves are empty. Start setting aside money now, while your profits are steady.

6. Manage Inventory

If you keep inventory low, your money won’t be tied up in stock when a recession hits. Liquidating assets can be complicated during economic decline. The solution is to manage inventory costs without inconveniencing your customers.

Review your system to determine if you are ordering too many items. Perhaps you can outsource part of the process to reduce inventory requirements.

7. Diversify Your Marketing Channels

Look to diversify your marketing channels to draw in new clients and promote your company.

Diversification means your efforts have a greater reach, and you can gain new customers while continuing to engage your regulars. It will help your business become more resilient because you’ll be gaining exposure from multiple channels.

8. Establish a Growth Mindset

The saying mind wins over matter holds some validity in the business world. You need to establish a growth mindset to foster innovation and expansion. You must lead by example so your employees believe in the mission and future. When times are uncertain, you need a staff who believes the company will succeed.

9. Think About Credit

What’s your credit score? Did you know your business credit score is separate from your personal score? Evaluate ways you can increase your credit scores so your business looks dependable to lenders.

Consider opening a line of credit — it’s easier to launch before a recession hits. If you decide to start a line of credit, only use it for emergencies to keep debt low.

Preparation Is Key

Preparation is the key to surviving a recession. Focus on these nine ways to ready your business for uncertain financial times. You want to employ strategies that will land you on top and allow your business to continue growing even during the most challenging economic periods.

Essential eCommerce Features for Major Growth

Is your eCommerce business struggling for growth and you want to finally break through to compete with the industry leaders of your marketplace? Achieving fast growth is not always possible as there are a lot of factors at play. Your market may be too saturated or new products have made old ones obsolete.

However, with the right strategies, you can give your eCommerce business the best chance of success regardless of the circumstances. A mixture of customer loyalty, building a modern eCommerce website and focusing on long-term marketing efforts has proven to work for other businesses. Focusing on these 3 areas of your eCommerce business is doable and can make your business thrive.

 

Encourage customer loyalty

You’ll see an improvement in profits by 25-95% if you manage to improve customer retention by 5%. Therefore, establishing a loyal customer base that keeps coming back is a great way to improve profitability and grow your eCommerce store.

There are various ways to encourage loyalty, which means any business can do it in any industry. Here are a few ideas to get started:

  • Create a newsletter where you provide regular discounts and updates on your product range. It gives customers a reason to shop at your store and they are informed about the latest products. Take care not to spam your customer lists and add personalization to achieve the best engagement.
  • Loyalty program. Create a loyalty program that rewards repeat buyers in the form of discounts, samples, and loyalty points they can spend on your store. Ensure that loyalty program rewards are attractive without denting your bottom line too much. You can do this by giving a discount on your highest profit margin products or creating cheap samples.
  • Brand message. Buyers want to purchase from a company that has a good back story. It might be that they are trying to reduce the use of plastics across the world or use their profits to improve struggling communities. Promoting your brand narrative can have wonderful effects on loyalty if there is a message they can get behind.

Loyal customers are essential for huge growth because they will make up the biggest portion of annual sales. A loyal customer base makes forecasting sales and profits predictable. Attracting new customers is a hit and miss game as it depends on too many variables. Therefore, focus on customer loyalty and you’ll be tilting the odds of eCommerce success in your favor.

 

Build a modern eCommerce website

Your website will be the single digital asset that cannot be taken away from your business. Other digital assets such as social media account and videos on YouTube can be closed down because third party companies run them.

Start by coming up with a domain name for your brand. The name should be closely linked to your brand or ideally include your brand name. You’ll also need to invest in an eCommerce platform to help grow your website and add sales promoting tools. For example, did you know that the average cart abandonment rate is 68.8%? Ecommerce platforms offer the functionality to target visitors that have abandoned their cart.

When choosing an eCommerce platform consider the features to see if they line up with your requirements. Also, note the possible integrations. Ideally, existing software integration is possible with the eCommerce platform you choose.

The user interface is another vital aspect of your website that contributes to growth. Customers should feel comfortable while in your store. Therefore, a minimalist approach works best with clear menus and a logical navigational structure. You’ll see that the top eCommerce stores have a white background – it contributes to the minimalist approach.

Don’t fall into the trap of adding too many graphics and pictures. They add to the loading time, which decreases website performance. Long webpage loading times are linked to a higher bounce rate, so you need to prioritize website performance.

Focus on long-term marketing

Marketing is an essential component of growing your eCommerce business, but you need to know where to spend your marketing budget. Short term instant traffic methods like pay-per-click have value but focus on sustainable long-term generating traffic for major growth. Here are a few examples of long-term marketing to consider:

Social media

Marketing on social media platforms takes time because you need to generate subscribers by releasing a consistent content dose. The power of social media lies in viral content. Create controversial, funny, or thought-provoking posts and you can generate floods of traffic to your sales funnel. Each social media platform requires a unique approach. For example, Instagram audiences digest pictures more readily, but you can add more words to each post on Facebook.

Search engine optimization

eCommerce websites can achieve amazing growth for sustained durations with good rankings in the search engine result pages. It’s a long-term strategy because the ranking algorithm tends to increase rankings slowly as the backlink profile grows and the domain builds trust. Solid SEO practices are a mixture of good content, a user-friendly interface and strong backlink profile. It’s a daunting task for beginners, but you can use eCommerce SEO services to help your site get on the right track.

Build a YouTube channel

You may have noticed that an increasing number of brands and celebrities are regularly releasing content on their YouTube channel. It’s a smart idea that will pay off once your audience grows to a sizeable number. Big eCommerce brands should have no trouble generating many subscribers by promoting their channels on the website.

The great thing about long-term marketing strategies is that it takes little effort in the future to generate floods of traffic. At first, you may pour in resources for months before seeing meaningful results. Overcome this hurdle to reap the rewards in the future.

Final thoughts

Growing your business today is easier than ever before in the history of eCommerce. The range of tools at your disposal for generating new customers is overwhelming. You can grow a massive following on YouTube, utilize SEO, fight for social media attention or combine each strategy for massive growth.

The good news is that the buyer base across all industries is exploding online. Therefore, you have a lot of room for error. It gives you the freedom to try new strategies to see what works best for your eCommerce business. Get started today so your business can experience major growth sooner rather than later.

Acquisition International Announces the Winners of the 2020 Legal Awards

United Kingdom, 2020 – Acquisition International Magazine has announced the winners of the 2020 Legal Awards.

The legal landscape is peppered with extraordinary practitioners and paragons – indeed, enduring success in the industry demands a dedication to excellence and an ability to meet a client’s needs. Regardless of where you are in the world, there will be legal experts that work to redefine best practice. Whether it be through nurturing an impressive track record, or by offering a truly personalised service, there are plenty of ways for legal experts to distinguish themselves from what is, ultimately, a competitive industry to be in. Talent is in no short supply, and firms look to recruit rising stars that will help forge the future of law while preserving the knowledge and experience of its current leaders. The legal world is constantly on the pursuit for perfection, whatever that might mean to each sector and field.

As such, Acquisition International launched the Legal Awards to recognise those individuals and firms who seek to better the industry and serve their clients with excellent counsel. Commenting on the success of these deserving winners, Awards Coordinator Kaven Cooper said: “I offer a sincere congratulations to all of the well-deserved winners of this year’s programme. I hope you all have a fantastic 2021 ahead.”

Acquisition International prides itself on the validity of its awards and winners. The awards are given solely on merit and are awarded to commend those most deserving for their ingenuity and hard work, distinguishing them from their competitors and proving them worthy of recognition.

To learn more about our award winners and to gain insight into the working practices of the “best of the best”, please visit the Acquisition International website where you can access the winners supplement.

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS

About Acquisition International Magazine

Acquisition International is a monthly magazine brought to you by AI Global Media Ltd, a publishing house that has reinvigorated corporate finance news and reporting. Its topical news articles make it a valued read, and this readability ensures that advertisers will benefit greatly from their investment.

AI works alongside leading industry analysts to ensure we publish the most up-to-date figures and analysis. The magazine has a global circulation, which brings together all parties involved in deal making and, in an increasingly global deal market, we are uniquely positioned to reach the deal makers that matter.

6 Small Business Costs that are Often Overlooked

Most people who start a small business may be aware of the general costs of incorporating their business, buying initial inventory, and securing a location. Then they start looking into the everyday operational and organisational costs. But there always seem to be categories that people either forget or downplay. When they start to add up, however, they will affect your bottom line and you’ll be forced to make adjustments if you want to remain competitive. Let’s take a look at some of the common costs of running a business that are overlooked.

 
Insurance

There’s a lot of insurance the average business has to worry about. You have to get insurance for the contents of your factory or storefront as well as for the space itself. You also have to get liability insurance. Errors and omission insurance will also be needed if you’re manufacturing a product. These are all things you’ll need to look over with an expert who’ll be able to show you the full scope of coverage that you need.

Water Bills

Most business owners will try to keep their gas and electricity bills in check, but many will overlook their water bills. They will assume that there isn’t much that they can do to change their water consumption or that the results won’t be worth the effort. However, you’d be surprised at how much money you could save if you simply shopped around.

You are totally free to look around and negotiate a better deal on business water. Many services will allow you to make a business water rates comparison and find a deal that will be tailormade for your needs. There is absolutely no point in staying with the same provider when you have so many choices, so take advantage of it.

 

Permits and Licences

This is another area a lot of business owners aren’t prepared for when starting up. You need to have a full compliance rundown of every permit and licence you will need to operate your business lawfully. These might be for you or your employees. They also usually have to be renewed often, so you have to factor in the recurring costs as well.

If you want to keep your costs to a minimum, we suggest you become a member of a few professional organisations in your sector. These will not only allow you to stay abreast of the most recent regulation changes in the industry, but they usually offer all sorts of discounts on things such as loans, credit cards, insurance, and more. You have to make sure to be selective, however, as membership can end up costing in the hundreds of pounds.

 

Space

Office space comes at a premium and some equate the idea of having a business with having a spacious office. This is all fine and well, but do you need all that space? It is apparent now that the world is much better prepared than we imagined for remote working, so how much square footage do you really need?

There are cases where you’ll absolutely need space to work. In this case, you need to calculate how much space you need now and how much you expect to need in the future as you expand. You could also try using temporary office spaces until you can assess your needs and move into a permanent space.

 
Small Equipment

We also tend to overlook less important equipment like furniture and other things like electrical cords, routers, network adapters, phones, etc. This is why you need to find ways to save if possible, without sacrificing comfort and quality.

So, buy used when you can, and since you’re going for office furniture and equipment, look for any office trying to unload some of their equipment or furniture in your area. This could allow you to save by buying in bulk and you could get your hands on some items that were barely used for pennies on the pounds.

You have to be careful with buying second-hand equipment, however. This is because maintenance costs are rarely factored in. You might need to buy an expensive part at a certain point. This could come sooner rather than later as well, as many sellers will sell knowing that certain parts are due for replacement. So, before you buy an important piece of equipment second hand, make sure that you’re aware of the major issues with it and how much it will cost to service them.

 
Benefits

Another thing a lot of business owners overlook when calculating wages is the benefits that they’re going to offer employees. You have to consider major things such as additional insurance and holiday leave as well as smaller things such as free beverages or wellness programmes. These essentials are not only for compliance in some cases, but also for the wellbeing of your employees,

The worst thing you could do is cut back too much on the benefits in an attempt to save. This will create a hostile and unproductive environment in your company, which will eventually affect your bottom line. Not only that, but you can expect your turnover rates to skyrocket. Make sure that your employees are happy and that your benefits packages are at least up to par with the rest of the competition.

These are just a few examples of business expenses that are often overlooked. Make sure that they are all kept in check if you want to avoid unpleasant surprises.

Reshaping Business Communication Strategies for The Post-Covid Landscape

Rapid and major shifts in the economic and social landscape in the wake of Covid-19 are fundamentally changing the nature of interactions and relationships among enterprises and individuals. Business leaders, therefore, are now determining how enabling technologies can help their organisations thrive well past the immediate crisis. Rachel Bradbury, Head of CCB Client Relationship & Development at Paragon Customer, discusses the strategies driving effective recovery efforts.

Rarely has one single event had such a profound impact on the overall business landscape than the onset of the coronavirus pandemic. From the global economic hit of lockdown measures, to a shift towards much of the UK’s workforce operating remotely, as well as the prompt acceleration of digital transformation across numerous industries, the ‘new normal’ looks destined to be a much-changed environment than ever previously experienced.

For certain organisations in particular– especially those within the large financial services sector who have grown accustomed to face-to-face interactions for driving growth – this has marked a paradigm shift not only in the way they do business but also in the strategies they deploy to provide a memorable customer experience (CX).

Of course, with the return to business continuity likely to take different shapes and happening at differing speeds for individual industries, there is no single strategy which will deliver a silver bullet for attracting and retaining customers in the new market.

Longer-term transitions in consumer behaviour resultant from this crisis, for some, means digital channels will likely remain the key enabler for maintaining connections with consumers in a post-COVID-19 landscape. While for others it may result in the resurgence of more traditional marketing channels such as Direct Mail and print – channels deployed extensively by both the Government and the NHS, amongst others, who prioritised addressed mail for delivering critical communications to the general public during lockdown.

Although the full fallout of the current pandemic is yet to be determined, there are certainly ways that businesses can prepare themselves for what lies ahead. So how can brands adapt, pivot and change their strategies in order to prepare for a post-COVID-19 landscape?

 

Innovating legacy

The very fluid nature of the ongoing pandemic has presented myriad challenges for modern businesses, perhaps none more notable than the pace of change required to meet ever-evolving customer dynamics and behaviours. Enterprises once afforded the luxury of time to deploy significant changes across their business, have in recent times had to adapt, pivot and change strategies virtually instantaneously to adjust to market changes.

During this ‘age of uncertainty’, this necessity to rapidly deploy advanced technologies and new communication channels has only served to emphasise previously unrealised shortcomings in organisations’ legacy systems and internal structures. Many leading businesses have been confronted with the very disappointing conclusion that the convoluted IT frameworks and legacy systems they had in place were simply not adequate to deploy such rapid and widespread change across all of the communication channels.

What’s more, once changes were eventually deployed, many found that systems often failed to provide the adequate delivery infrastructure to support the heavily data-rich CX strategies and customer communications management (CCM) delivery models essential for modern omni-channel customer journeys.

The result was often siloed marketing channels and customer journey disconnect – with 58% of consumers claiming they feel like they’re communicating with separate departments and not one company across multiple touchpoints[1]. Given that some 70% of consumers say a company’s understanding of their individual needs influences their loyalty[2], the failure to understand customer behaviours and adapt strategies accordingly can have particularly damaging consequences.

A cohesive ecosystem

Acquiring a centralised view of all communication channels, be they digital or traditional, across the entire customer journey is often fundamental to gaining a controlled-perspective of omni-channel strategies. A single, consolidated system, underpinned by a cohesive eco-system of leading-edge technologies can provide the delivery infrastructure to support truly frictionless customer communications. While at the same time, it can also unify previously fragmented communications technologies across the breadth of any organisation.

Particularly critical in these times of crisis, where customer journeys have transformed virtually immediately, the resultant centralised view of how organisations communicate with their customers makes deploying changes across all channels much more frictionless.

As digitally-driven experiences and data have assumed even greater significance in modern CX strategies, having a unified view of existing customer data can present countless advantages. Not only can it lead to a critical understanding of customers’ unique behaviours, preferences and their stage in the customer journey, but also communication strategies that are engrained with customer-relevant messages and incisive targeting.

Of course, innovating legacy systems is just one aspect of effectively re-shaping communication strategies for the ‘new normal’.

Considering customer journeys

Equally as imperative for today’s brands, is having an in-depth understanding of consumers, their channel preferences and unique behaviours, and learning from the fundamental understandings that such insights can deliver. In an age where customer expectations continue to evolve, the ability to comprehend the most important channels for your consumers and evolve them to improve the overall CX can be critical to maintaining competitiveness in the ‘new normal’.

Unfortunately one of the major shortcomings of many organisations during the pandemic has been the failure to consider their own unique customer journeys. For many business leaders the focus has instead remained on targeting ‘quick fixes’ for improving customer-centric experiences, typically in the shape of delivering improvements across digital channels such as web, social and mobile.

By failing to consider their distinctive customer journeys, and adapting the channels that consumers engage with most often, business leaders run the very real risk of omitting critical customer engagement points from their overall communication strategies. This, in turn, can create customer journey disconnect by missing critical buyer engagement points.

Undoubtably the lack of suitable systems to implement business wide changes across all marketing channels has played a major role in such a ‘singular’ approach. Nonetheless, the neglect of traditional communication channels such as print, which may still have a fundamental role to play in customer journeys, also comes down to a failure to interpret key data and insights.

An experience partner

While being equipped with the most appropriate technologies and systems will position business leaders strongly for the post-Covid market, they must also be empowered with the knowledge to be the driving force behind their organisation’s transformation.

The positive news for today’s enterprises is the capabilities of an experienced customer communications partner can add significant value in every aspect of communications strategies from channel selection, to customer profiling, data analysis, campaign management and personalisation, plus much more.

Marketing expertise can also ensure the most valuable technologies and systems are implemented, enabling businesses to quickly, efficiently, and cost effectively, accommodate seamless shifts in business strategies to hone in on critical opportunities as client dynamics shift. This will ensure business leaders will be better positioned for when the market environment stabilises.

For more information, visit: https://oneplatform.paragon-cc.com/en/one-platform

 

[1] https://www2.deloitte.com/si/en/pages/strategy-operations/articles/changing-consumer-digital-marketing-impact-Covid-19.html

[2] https://www.salesforce.com/research/customer-expectations/#:~:text=Seventy%2Dtwo%20percent%20of%20consumers,a%20number%2C%20not%20an%20individual.

Greenwashing, Social Washing and other Laundry Matters

The recent COVID-19 pandemic has unified the world of business across the globe, and with it the world of the law, in a way that no one could have foreseen. Profound change has been experienced, some of which has been embraced willingly and some of which has just been, well, embraced. Whether large or small, multi-disciplinary or niche, law firms might have experienced things differently from some other businesses, but disruption was felt by all. As we start to consider what the future might look like, heightened personal feelings and emotions are motivating the choices and changes being made, even at the most corporate level, in a way that is new to many. Across the world businesses are reappraising how they operate and, in many cases, challenging what is really important to their workers.

One does not need to look far to see that the crisis has accentuated social inequality at a global, national, regional and local level. Economic fears seem only to widen this gap. For many the crisis has changed how we live and consume, whom we support and purchase from as well as the sorts of relationships we want with suppliers and work colleagues. Along with this, as more questions get asked of businesses, more terminology is creeping into use. What, for example, is greenwashing, and what is social washing? How do you know a socially washed company when you encounter one?

In our world we are growing increasingly aware of the green, eco-friendly, or worker friendly credentials of businesses. Greenwashing describes attempts by companies to present themselves or their products as being rather more green and ecologically aware than they actually are. In many cases this can lead to deliberately misleading terminology in a business’s communication with the world. Labeling a product as, for example, ‘sustainable’ or ‘environmentally friendly’ may lure consumers to assume green or ecofriendly credentials that the product does not, in fact, possess. To the consumer looking to make informed choices this is a relatively easy concept to grasp because choice will often be made at the point of holding a product in hand and reading what its label has to say.

Social washing is a similar process but relates to a business’s treatment of human capital and, as such, is a little more complex. Companies are increasingly aware of the expectation that they will prioritize the rights and wellbeing of their employees and show social engagement with the communities in which they are based. Not surprisingly, some companies are more interested in appearing to do this than actually doing it. There is outright trickery going on out there.

The COVID-19 pandemic has forced companies radically to rethink and refocus ways of working. Lockdowns that have necessitated employees working from home have, in many cases, forced businesses to make changes that in any other circumstances might have been at odds with shareholder return’s primary importance in the business model. Suddenly the needs of all stakeholders, not just shareholders, are taking center stage. The public knows this, and has its eye on business. 

So, if we as the general public want to engage with this process in a way that genuinely effects and improves the lives of those around us, we need to know how to spot social washing when it occurs. What we do with that information – from ignoring it, through to becoming social media warriors for fairness, and all points in between – is our choice. But if we can at least spot it then our choice will be informed. Let us take a look at some of the key signifiers.

1. Living wage

A living wage is not the same as a minimum wage. If a company is claiming to have an “inclusive company culture” in its job advertisements, then it should be paying wages that adequately reflect the realities of life for its employees living in the communities from which it draws. A living wage should provide an acceptable quality of life. The pandemic may have forced companies to reduce wages. In and of itself this need not be incorrect, inappropriate or unethical, but the reductions should have been applied fairly across the board and everyone should have been treated similarly.

2. Payroll Protection Abuse

Where companies and businesses have received government money to furlough staff and deal with legitimate outgoings such as the repayment of loans, that money should have been used for the purpose for which it was intended. The sad reality is that some businesses have found ways in which to lay staff off and pocket the government funding. Where this has occurred, it should be called out.

3. Adequate and affordable health insurance

The potential for life-threatening issues arising from this may apply more to American than European businesses, but any employer offering healthcare insurance as part of an employee’s benefits package should be ensuring that workers are fully aware of what that healthcare actually covers, especially where deductions to cover it are optional. A number of insurance schemes cover only preventative care options. In the USA this may leave employees liable for crippling bills should they need any more substantial treatment. In Europe, and especially in the UK, employees who have paid into schemes in good faith may find themselves questioning why they have given up money when, at the moment they actually need the insurance, they find that it doesn’t cover the procedure required. So, making a virtue of offering private health insurance is no virtue at all unless the insurance is meaningful.

4. Treatment of customers

Some companies have not needed, necessarily, to change the way that they deal with their customers, but this is not to say that they should not have done so anyway. Car insurance, for example. Should full insurance premiums still have been charged when people were not using their cars? The gulf between ‘could’ and ‘should’ is wide here.

5. Holiday entitlements

Some businesses employ a mixture of workers, some paid a salary for a standard set of working hours per week, and others paid by the actual number of hours worked. For the latter, fair treatment at times of holiday is a potential issue. Consider national holidays such as Christmas Day. Most businesses will close on these days, but employees paid by the hour will directly be affected by this in a way that those on a salary will not. They are, in effect, subject to a compulsory wage cut on these days, so a business that is genuinely invested in the wellbeing of its workers will have mechanisms in place to ensure fair treatment that does not result in people’s feeling obliged to take less holiday than they are entitled to, or come into work when ill just so that they can accrue the hours.

Some of the issues listed above may seem directly relevant to the current pandemic but, in fact, all of them should apply at any time for companies genuinely invested in the ethical treatment of their workers. Companies that really deliver on the promises they make need to be applauded and supported, and the available certification options are good starting reference points for the public here.  B Corp Certification, Certified USA Social Enterprise and Certified UK Social Enterprise are some of the most trusted distinctions. Businesses cannot achieve these certifications without proving their credentials, and they would not try to do so in any case if they were not genuinely invested in the ideas and philosophies considered here. So, consumers seeking these certifications out on websites or packaging can know immediately that they are spending their money in places that are not guilty of social or green washing.

5 Reasons Why the Energy Industry Needs Blockchain

As the climate crisis becomes an increasingly high priority for consumers, energy providers are facing a number of challenges. They have a customer base who are looking for ways to make their energy consumption more sustainable (whether this is by generating their own energy or choosing sustainable providers), whilst also demanding more streamlined and convenient experiences from their energy providers.

The ways in which people consume energy is also changing, with the rise of smart meters and Renewable Energy Certificates meaning that energy consumption can be greener and smarter than ever. However, with these developments come more challenges – from tackling fraud to protecting a huge amount of sensitive consumer data, energy providers have their work cut out for them, and are looking for new and innovative solutions, which is where blockchain comes in.

According to Global Market Insights, the adoption of blockchain technology in the energy sector will generate over $3 billion by 2025 owing to an increase in deployment in the power, oil and gas sectors. Lars Rensing, CEO and Co-Founder of enterprise blockchain provider Protokol outlines five blockchain use cases for energy, oil and gas, illustrating why the energy industry needs to adopt blockchain now.

1. Creating a peer-to-peer energy marketplace

Blockchain can have the hugely transformative effect of facilitating new peer-to-peer energy markets, or microgrids. Using blockchain to power energy trading allows consumers to sell their energy to other participants in their network in automatically verified transactions, without the need for third-parties or central authorities. Microgrids installations are on the rise, with a record number installed in the United States in 2019.

Although this would seem like a rival to traditional energy companies, peer-to-peer energy trading can reduce the costs of managing supply and demand for energy providers, as well as reducing maintenance on the infrastructure delivering energy from generators to consumers’ homes, cutting costs for both providers and consumers. Having the ability to sell excess energy also reduces waste, making it much more environmentally-friendly. Companies have been trialling this solution in order to provide services to homes and businesses interested in managing their own energy supplies.

 

2. Preventing Renewable Energy Certificate Fraud

As climate concerns grow and consumers demand greener everything, proving that your energy has been generated from renewable sources is becoming more important for energy companies. This is where Renewable Energy Certificates (RECs) come in. These certificates allow consumers to confirm that the energy which they are producing comes from renewable resources, while allowing energy companies to confirm that they are purchasing renewable energy from prosumers. They are the currency of the renewable energy markets, allowing people and organisations to choose cleaner sources of energy, and renewable energy suppliers to tap into consumers who would have been previously unable to access and support them. However, as these certificates are bought and sold as a commodity, it leaves them vulnerable to fraudulent activity. Blockchain can help renewable energy providers to combat this.

Blockchain technology solves the problem of the “double spending” of renewable energy certificates, which in this situation would prevent companies from wrongfully transferring the certificates, and also prevent them prosumers from double spending their renewable energy credits. This means energy providers can guarantee and demonstrate the sustainable origins of their energy, and fraudulent claims at renewability can be prevented.

3. Streamlining the invoicing process with real-time tracking

Billing issues can be a serious problem for oil and gas providers, as evidenced from British Gas’s £9.5 million fine for inaccurate billing in 2017. Providers are looking for new solutions to make the invoicing process as accurate and streamlined as possible. With a combination of blockchain, plant equipment, and sensors mounted onto pipelines, companies can track output in real-time. Sensors can monitor several points on the pipeline to execute accurate billing based on blockchain-powered smart contracts. The blockchain then records and tracks all data related to these smart contracts, and once the sensors confirm the fulfilment of the contract’s terms, the system will execute payment autonomously. Customer invoice processing can then be automated, creating a more streamlined, secure and accurate process. 

4. Eliminating the middle-man from trade settlements

Trades between energy companies are often complex. Records of the trades are often kept separately, and are still frequently tracked on paper, meaning that both parties can come out of the trade with different numbers, which can at best create inefficiencies, and at worst breed hostility between trade partners. In business arrangements like this, it doesn’t make sense for one party to take responsibility for tracking costs, so having a single, unchangeable source of truth for transactions can remove these issues. Blockchain allows energy and utilities providers to automatically record and settle transactions, creating a network of partners where no one party owns or controls the data. Without the need for intermediaries, such as brokers or clearing houses, the process is not only made more efficient, but cheaper, due to a reduction in costs associated with trade matching.

5. Accessing smart meters directly

Research predicts that the global smart meters market will grow 9.34% between 2017 and 2022. Smart meters allow for more accurate readings of the energy that consumers use by determining power usage at regular intervals throughout the day. This information is sent back to utilities companies, although it often goes through a number of intermediaries. As an alternative, blockchain allows this information to be stored on a distributed ledger and be automatically accessed by the energy provider. Removing the need for the information to pass through intermediaries saves on costs and increases efficiency for the energy provider, as well as helping them to provide a more customer-centric approach through direct interaction with users.

Personal data being collected in real-time is also a huge concern, as there is a possible risk of violation of users’ privacy. As there are quite a few critical access points, accessing consumer data would be easy if there is a privacy breach and someone gains control over a smart meter connection for conducting billing fraud. Blockchain technology can help secure this process, protecting smart metres against cyber-attacks. The underlying technology offers identification security via private-public encryption with key access and as it is decentralised, blockchain also avoids single points of failure.

Partnering With The Perfect Public Relations Firm

NRPR Group first came into being back in 2014, under the sage guidance of founder Nicole Rodrigues. Today, the agency works closely with CEOs, CMOs, other C-level and VP-level executives, and internal marketing and PR teams to uncover the passion, vision, and differentiators within any given company, before communicating those stories to media and other influencers. Building a brand with NRPR Group means engaging with relevant and key audiences through powerful storytelling to build visibility for products, executives, and organizations. The NRPR Group team educates clients on how public relations works, and what it can and cannot do. This agency is different in the best way possible; it specializes in helping businesses of all sizes reach their business goals with tailored plans that map back to results.

NRPR Group partners with clients, and works closely with CEOs and key executives to help them increase their footprint and drive areas of the business that they want to call attention to. If the CEO cannot make themself available to the agency and the media, then there will be no successful relationship and communications will break down. NRPR Group always operates ethically and honestly, with integrity, truth, and transparency at the centre of all actions. The extremely high-touch and results-oriented approach to public relations that the firm offers includes marcomms, digital marketing, social media, and video production to help to propel a client to success.

Neither the corporate mission nor the values of the firm have changed over the last six years, and the ongoing mission remains focused on having an agency where both clients and employees are entirely satisfied. Employees who feel empowered are more motivated to deliver high-quality results for clients. The agency is staffed by strong and determined writers, communicators, thinkers, and doers who understand the value of relationships and continue to build long-lasting ties between clients, the media, and influencers who touch key audiences. NRPR Group team members also bring creativity, hard work, and passion every day so that it offers the best work to clients. Everyone at NRPR Group takes pride in their work and in the agency because they have a stake in the success of the agency as a whole.

Over the years, NRPR Group has been incredibly successful thanks to the hard work of the team, and a commitment to excellence across every area of the business. As a result, it has become well-known as an agency of the future, delivering extraordinary results through passionate execution of big ideas, close client partnerships, and exceptional service. It concentrates its efforts on creating relationships and building friendships with the media that result in wins for both the client and the media. Becoming that future of public relations is something that NRPR Group prides itself on and is continuing to work towards by staying ahead of technology and innovation curves.

Looking ahead, the firm has a bright future ahead of it. In 2020, NRPR Group opened its newest division, NRPR Productions, which will increase the agency’s capabilities to include a full-service production company that specializes in branded content, commercials, YouTube series, and corporate videos. As more and more people get connected to the digital world, having branded content across major platforms is a must for businesses that want to succeed in the modern world. In the next year and beyond, NRPR Group is wholly focused on working with more clients than ever to extend their visibility and bring their stories to life in meaningful ways.

Privée At The Pinnacle

Everybody should be able to receive the very best healthcare, and Privée Clinics has made sure that it is focused on that mission by anyone that walks through the doors. Successful people from all walks of life who are dedicated to getting the best out of themselves, and people who are dedicated to achieving the best state of wellness, mood equilibrium, and happiness are all welcome at Privée Clinics. Privée Clinics offer various techniques and technologies to provide stress relief, tension reduction, and achieve an optimum balance of mood to promote happiness.  

The company culture at Privée Clinics is one where staff are wholly dedicated every single day to providing the client with his or her best experience to promote happiness, vigour, and the experience of being completely cared for.  All of the staff at the firm are trained to focus on providing the best healthcare experience that any client will have ever had in their life, delivered by a personalized and private service where clients can feel at ease around their health care providers. Every team member ensures that no stone is left unturned when it comes to optimizing the complete experience of mind-body wellness. In everything they do, the staff are dedicated, resourceful, empowered, focused, caring, and engaging with clients –  treating them as valued people and as if they were members of their own close family.

Working for Privée Clinics requires all staff to go through a multi-process recruitment system that includes thorough screening, before being interviewed by every member of staff to ensure that any potential hires will maintain, and even augment the culture already in place. All staff are interviewed from the perspective of both a psychological match in terms of temperament to ensure that they can succeed when faced with any challenge that may come their way as well as clinical skills and technical acumen. For those staff who are weighing up several options, Privée Clinics also offers one of the most attractive compensation packages in the industry, to ensure that its staff choose the firm, as much as the firm chooses the staff.

Maintaining the highest quality of service is an intensive and continuously challenging process, with expecta