Is Enterprise Service Management’s Sweet Spot Sweet Enough to Really Matter? By Sumit De

Just under a half of business leaders (46%) are unfamiliar with Enterprise Service Management (ESM). This is somewhat surprising considering that ESM is a method used to reduce costs, increase efficiency, and achieve quality customer experience – something most businesses strive to do, right?

Unfortunately, statistics are never as simple as what they seem on the surface, which we recognize with the misunderstanding of ESM. There are peaks and troughs in knowledge when it comes to company size, for example, suggesting that ESM is operating in a ‘sweet spot’.

Let’s explore who sits in this sweet spot and examine whether ESM familiarity is only prevalent in this category because elsewhere it’s irrelevant. Or if this sweet spot is truly sweet enough to really matter.

Identifying ESM’s sweet spot

Delving further into the knowledge of ESM reveals a specific bracket of businesses where ESM familiarity is at its strongest: those with 251-500 employees. Seventy-three percent of leaders within these organizations are familiar with ESM.

For context, this figure is reduced to just 21% in companies with 1-50 employees, 45% in those with 51-250 employees, and 51% in business with over 500 employees.

The stark differences between ESM familiarity provide fuel to the theory of a sweet spot. And this makes sense as this section of company’s sit centrally in the midsize enterprise category (which Gartner classifies as organizations with 100-1000 employees) who typically benefit the most from ESM.

They are likely to have the maturity for several service departments that serve multiple teams and users. In which case, a shared services solution can provide maximum value when it comes to improving efficiency, collaboration, and saving costs.

So, yes, ESM has a sweet spot: organizations with 251-500 employees. But what does this mean for everybody else?

The definition of a sweet spot

To better understand ESM’s sweet spot, we need to truly understand what it means. A sweet spot is an optimal point for action or a combination of qualities.

There are many sweet spots outside of the realm of ESM. Take cricket as an example: When a batsman is looking to strike the ball, there is an area on their bat where contact will be most effective. Hitting the ball on this exact spot will provide the optimal use of effort and power to achieve the desired score of a four or a six. Making contact with the ball outside of this area doesn’t mean you cannot still score runs, it just means that the effort and power are not as effectively used. The shot won’t be as impactful, more often than not failing to make it to a boundary, meaning the player is limited in what they can score and could be caught out.

To summarise, a sweet spot provides an optimal area for success. But making contact outside of this area doesn’t mean an automatic ‘out’ in cricket and the same is true for ESM.

Can we still succeed outside of this optimal point?

Earlier we established that ESM can be most effective within midsize enterprises (specifically with 251-500 employees). But it is also true that ESM has huge benefits for those with more or less employees than this so-called sweet spot suggests.

In fact, this system of working can help any organization with departments. A start-up with just two employees per department can benefit from ESM as can a global organization with departments of 100+ people. Why? Well, departments, no matter how big or small can be working in collaboration with one another or in their own silo. And regardless of whether you’re a start-up, midsize enterprise, or huge corporation, working in silos is detrimental to success.

Silos are a conversation of their own, but simply put they cost us money through the duplication of work and software, customers through a fragmented service experience, and employees through dis-harmonious ways of working.

ESM, on the other hand, is our key to achieving a collaborative way of working: sharing processes and systems, providing consistent services for our users, and sharing knowledge throughout an organization to help us all level up.

So, for those in ESM’s sweet spot, they may be hitting the boundary with every shot, but even those outside of this category can score points with this system of working.

ESM is relevant, sweet spot or not

Let’s head back to our original question: Is ESM’s sweet spot, sweet enough to really matter? The answer is no.

It’s ok that ESM has a sweet spot, most things do. Cricket has a sweet spot when it comes to batting. Organizational sweet spots are usually their ideal consumer. There’s a sweet spot when it comes to planting specific seeds during the year. But not all sweet spots are a be-all-and-end-all. If you’re growing tomatoes, you do need to sow the seeds between February and April to achieve any kind of harvest. But if you’re buying an iPhone you are not required to be within Apple’s target market of 22-55 years old.

Those businesses outside of ESM’s sweet spot could potentially see more long-term benefits from this way of working. It’s easier for a smaller organization with fewer departments and employees to adapt their way of working and collaborate better. Plus, setting the foundations with ESM will mean avoiding the natural development of the silos as a company grows into a midsize enterprise.

Additionally, an organization with 100 departments using 100 different systems is likely to experience higher cost-savings and improvements in efficiency when implementing ESM than an organization with say 50 departments.

Key takeaway: More organizations should know about ESM

The statistics show that knowledge of ESM is higher within its sweet spot. And it’s also very low in some areas outside of this bracket. However, we cannot put this lack of familiarity down to ESM being irrelevant to organizations with less than 250 employees or more than 500.

We’ve established that ESM’s sweet spot is not sweet enough to matter, so instead of discounting ourselves from this way of working because we’re ‘too big’ or ‘too small’, it’s time to realize that ESM is for every organization and more of our business leaders should know this.

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5 Steps Toward a Successful Annual Budget By Hailey Friedman

Creating a successful annual budget is one of the most important things you can do for your company. As a strategy, it allows you to know and view the use of company resources. Those resources include people, time, capital, and products or services. A good budget allows you to formulate a strategy. It also helps you to manage performance and make critical adjustments before a significant downward impact is felt.

If you are a small or mid-sized business, you may not believe you need to create a fiscal year budget. It is more critical for smaller businesses to have an annual budget because it quickly identifies cash flow issues. A good budget helps you to avoid potential bottlenecks and spotlights resource misuse. Organizations that spend the time to create dynamic budgets minimize adverse financial surprises and experience production at peak levels. This all translates into success. Not sure how to create a budget? Use this quick start guide to begin.

Establish Strategic Priorities and Timelines

The first step in creating a budget process is to double down on your specific financial goal. Once you have the end goal in mind, work backward to establish a timeline. If you have department leaders, make sure to gain their input on the timeline, as this allows for ownership of the timeline and encourages participation. Most companies begin their budgeting process for the upcoming financial year around October. For example, begin work on the 2022 annual budget in October of 2021. This allows you to have the budget process completed and ready for implementation on January 1st. Some great online programs exist to help you make a timeline.

It is difficult to create a timeline for a goal if you have not identified strategic priorities. What are your business’s priorities, and more to the point, how do they line up with budgetary goals? Moving targets are harder to hit. Take the time and gain input from others to make your goals well defined and attainable.

Revenue Projections, Expenses, and Cash Flow

If you are a small or mid-sized business, then your projected income projections might formally have been quite simple: Make More Money. But simply stating the obvious does nothing for bringing you closer to that goal. Forecasting your income and tracking your sales for the upcoming year is not as impossible as you think. If you are not certain what your annual revenue will be for the next year, most experts suggest projecting three different scenarios: the most likely projection, the best-case projection, and the worst-case projection. It takes more time to project three different scenarios, but it allows you to adjust up or down more readily as revenue shifts up or down. Several financial planning and analysis tools exist to help you do this, with a “wizard” that takes you through the process.

A good rule of thumb is to create a financial cushion around the worst-case projection so that if the worst does happen, you are prepared to weather it. In the event you enjoy the benefit of a best-case financial year, then use that money to expand or supply backup capital for leaner times.

Once you have your projected income, begin calculating estimated costs for the upcoming year. The easiest place to start is with fixed expenses. If you plan to expand, include the cost of the expansion. When it comes to your workforce, make sure to account for those expenses as well. These can include:

  • Computer and office equipment.
  • Employee compensation programs.
  • Raises and salaries.
  • Training programs.

Enlist the aid of department leaders because they can specifically provide costs for resources needed. Department heads are up to date on any new regulations or algorithms and offer great insight into costs. Make sure to communicate that you want the status quo projection and not “wish list” costs. It is great to have that as well, but make sure it is separate from the actual required costs.

Preparing a budget must include and allow for capital expenses. Capital expenses are those costs you spend on business cars or trucks, office furniture, computer upgrades, or construction to expand the building. Keep in mind that for tax purposes, such purchases are depreciated over time. This impacts your projections. Cash flow is created from the compilation of projected revenue with expected expenses figured in. This gives you a clearer idea of when your company may experience a lean month and which seasons will see a financial surplus. With this data, you can formulate a plan to see you through the projected lean months by saving surplus from other months.

Implementation and Monitoring

After your budget process is complete and all department heads have agreed to it, you need a plan for implementing it. If you have a team, this is the best time to have a strategic meeting. In the meeting determine how you will introduce the new plan to the rest of the workforce. Clear guidelines and expectations, as well as consequences, must be evident and agreed upon. This allows the transition to be a smooth one. While most companies implement their new annual budget at the beginning of the year, if your business is a new one, it is important to get started immediately. This allows you to learn how the process works and to make adjustments as needed. Make sure to take notes on things you wish to change for next year’s annual budget. It is advisable to review your financial statements often. A good way to do this is to use revenue management tools, which allow you to compare your actual income/expenses to the projections.

For example, when looking at your monthly financial statements, you discover that you had to dip into your cash reserve to pay a bill. You would then go to your annual budget projections and discover where your projection was off, and you exceeded your projected cost. This allows you to make the adjustment for upcoming months and thus head off a repeat occurrence. In essence, your annual budget helps you keep track of all the moving parts of your business in one document.

Monitoring the plan as it is implemented is crucial to its success. How will you judge performance? A good way to start is to compare the income gained against the actual projections you made. Compare on a monthly or weekly basis. Waiting to do this quarterly may not leave you enough time to make quick adjustments before it impacts your bottom line. If the numbers do not closely match, then you must determine why the financial goal was not reached. Many companies do a ‘revised budget’ every quarter using the data generated for several months. If your company is service-based, then a customer service assessment is also recommended. Qualtrics customer experience platform helps you gauge whether this department is meeting prescribed goals and targets.

Think Forward

Many business owners dislike preparing a budget. Most are not in the habit of revisiting them every month. However, to be proactive, you must keep an eye on the annual budget. It is your roadmap or blueprint to financial success with your company. If this is the first time, you have created a budget, understand that some adjustments will be necessary. Give yourself the leeway to make these adjustments as you go. One of the best practices is only to make adjustments and changes to the budget once you have determined there is an issue and after discussing it with department heads. All too often, new business owners are unrealistic with their projections. It may be tempting to project wild success, but those inflated numbers spell disaster when it comes to implementation. The best rule of thumb is to use conservative numbers when making projections. It is often the most accurate model.

Revisit Regularly

Building an accountability factor with your department heads is crucial to productivity. But how do you get them to buy into the new direction and budget process? One of the best ways is to be inclusive and listen to the feedback offered. Leaders of departments like to know they are being heard and that their opinion is valued. Often the solutions offered are excellent and end up saving the company money. This accountability factor also allows for future communication in the quarterly budget strategy meetings. If your company outsources much of its leadership, then using webinar conference software can create a secure space for the team to meet, which is essential. In these meetings, your department leaders can tell you why certain financial goals were not met and suggest ways to meet them.

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2021 Engagement Benchmarks for Media Apps By Ashley Sefferman

Media and Entertainment apps played a critical role in helping us get through 2020. While the world around us shifted in response to the pandemic, consumers turned to media apps as an outlet to stay informed, connect with loved ones, decompress, and even have some laughs.

In our 2021 Mobile App Engagement Benchmark Report, a study of 1,000 apps across a billion+ app installs, we take a close look at apps in the Media and Entertainment category. But the category is broad, encompassing everything from news to games to sports, and consumer expectations and behavior varies dramatically between industries.

In our data, Media apps are segmented into six subcategories:

  1. News (global news networks, newspapers, etc.)
  2. Music (streaming, broadcasting, etc.)
  3. Technology (media creation, connectivity, etc.)
  4. Games (mobile games, gaming studios, etc.)
  5. Sports (leagues, teams, betting, etc.)
  6. Telco (communications providers, wireless networks, etc.)

Below are short summaries of the six subcategories included in our research, with engagement benchmarks for companies to aim for in 2021.

2021 Engagement Benchmarks for Media Apps

News Apps

What a year for news. News apps saw incredibly high retention rates, likely due to how much news people consumed and the fact that there was breaking news almost daily. Their 90-day retention was 72%, much higher than the macro average of 48%; annual retention was 56%, again much higher than macro average of 35%.

Media Apps Retention

Due to the amount of breaking news coverage, News apps had a high interaction rate of 41% (macro average is 26%), with a response rate of 95% that remained consistently high throughout the year.

News Apps Monthly Interactions and Responses

News apps prioritized hearing from customers by prompting 32% of consumers for in-app surveys, higher than the macro average of 25%. Their survey response rate was 11%, slightly lower than the macro average of 16%—but when surveys were presented with a Note, response rate went up to 71% (macro average 60%).

News apps did, however, respond to many fewer inbound messages than other apps (17% vs macro average of 72%) mostly due to how much trolling they receive about the news itself rather than their product; those messages are not typically responded to.

Music Apps

Music apps had the most app store ratings and reviews out of all Media subcategories. However, their overall ratings were slightly lower than the category average.

Media Apps Ratings and Reviews

Music apps saw strong retention for both their 90-day rate (50% compared to the 48% macro average) and annual rate (38% compared to the macro average of 35%). Their interaction rate (16%) and response rate (85%) were slightly lower than macro averages (26% and 92%). However, consumers showed their love for Music apps by giving them a Love Percent of 87%, way above the macro average of 65%.

Music Apps Monthly Interactions and Responses

But while many consumers shared their love, Music apps also experienced lots of shifting emotions at -10% (macro average is -4%).

Music Apps Shifted Emotion

For success in 2021, mobile teams have an opportunity to proactively get ahead of shifts in emotion by reaching out to a higher percentage of consumers; Music apps only prompted 2% of consumers for surveys, well below the macro average of 25%.

Technology Apps

Technology apps saw lots of consumers shifting emotions in 2020, with -8% shifted emotions vs the macro average of -4%.

Technology Apps Shifted Emotion

They also had low retention across the board, with a 90-day retention rate of 27% (macro average is 48%) and an annual retention rate of 14% (macro average is 35%). These low numbers are partly due to not reaching out to enough consumers. Technology apps only prompted 9% of their consumers for surveys compared to the macro average of 25%, and didn’t prioritize responding to inbound messages (27% response rate vs the macro average of 72%). But when they did prompt for surveys, their average response rate (18%) was higher than the macro average of 16%.

Media Apps Interaction and Response Rates

While they saw a Love Percent of 79% (above the macro average of 65%), it’s likely inflated as not enough consumers were asked whether or not they love the company.

Technology apps have a big opportunity in 2021 and beyond to reach more of their consumers through proactive engagement to get ahead of shifting emotions, and ultimately improve retention.

Games Apps

Games apps saw poor retention in 2020, with a 90-day retention rate of 12% (macro average is 48%) and an annual retention rate of 6% (macro average is 35%). While higher churn is common in the gaming marketplace, these numbers are still low and can be improved.

A big contributor to Games apps’ low retention was not reaching out to a large enough group of consumers in order to gauge sentiment and build out product roadmaps that work for the majority—Games apps only reached out to 2% of consumers for surveys, far below the macro average of 25%.

Media Apps Surveys and Messages

But while few in number, their surveys were successful. Games apps saw a survey response rate of 25%, above the macro average of 16%. They also had a high inbound message response rate of 77% compared to the macro average of 72%.

The 2021 strategy for a successful Games app includes expanding consumer reach to gather and act on a more accurate voice of the customer.

Sports Apps

Sports apps had a high interaction rate (44%) compared to the macro average of 26%.

Mobile teams sent many fewer interactions in the first half of the year while sporting events were put on pause due to the pandemic, while August saw a spike in interactions which then held through the end of the year.

Sports Apps Monthly Interactions and Responses

Sports apps had a consistently high response rate (95% compared to the 92% macro average). Their retention rates were relatively normal for the category, with 90-day retention less than the macro average (27% compared to 48%) but annual retention higher than the macro average (39% compared to 35%). This is mostly due to seasonality (e.g. a consumer can disappear for the off-season then reappear the next season).

While Sports apps had a high survey response rate of 27% (macro average is 16%), they prompted a very small amount of consumers (4% compared to the macro average of 25%) for feedback—an opportunity to improve upon in 2021 and beyond.

Telco Apps

2020 retention for Telco apps was slightly lower than the macro average. They saw a 90-day rate of 43% (vs 48%) and an annual retention rate of 21% (vs 35%).

Telco apps’ lower retention could be impacted by their lower number of interactions. The apps engaged fewer interactions than the macro average (19% compared to 26%), although their response rate remained relatively high (87%) and consistent throughout the year.

Telco Apps Monthly Interactions and Responses

But it’s not for lack of trying. Telco apps prompted 31% of consumers for surveys, higher than macro average of 25%. As a result, their average response rate was 26%, higher than macro average 16%. And while Telco companies aren’t necessarily known for prioritizing customer love, consumers love their apps. Telco apps had a Love Percent of 70%, higher than the macro average of 65%.

Working in Mobile Media in 2021

Media apps helped connect us in a year where we were distant. The rapid adoption and sustained use of Media apps has shaped the trajectory of the industry, and mobile teams are only beginning to explore the full impact their work has on their business as a whole. 2021 is an opportunity for those working in mobile media to capitalize on new market share, explore new engagement opportunities, and deeply understand how customer emotion impacts in-app actions.

For more on how mobile teams in Media can improve feedback-based innovation, read our 2021 Mobile App Engagement Benchmark Report.

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Estimating the Cost of Embedded Business Intelligence Solutions By Mike Brody

Business intelligence (BI) solutions are costly, and embedded business intelligence solutions even more so. Why? Because embedded solutions have to do everything standalone solutions do as well as integrate with a host application (front and backend), provide ultra-flexible administrative controls, and support full-stack multi-tenancy.

Quick sidenote: this is one of the key differences between “SaaS BI” and “BI for SaaS.” SaaS BI, like all other software-as-a-service solutions, is a turnkey application hosted by the provider and made available via a browser. BI for SaaS, more commonly known as embedded BI, is an enterprise business intelligence solution designed to integrate with SaaS applications, becoming part of their product offering to end users.

So SaaS companies should be prepared to pay more for an embedded BI solution than the $3,000 general BI solutions are estimated to cost on average each year. The question is, how much more?

You may have noticed that software providers almost never list the sticker price of an enterprise-tier application on their website. This is so you and the vendor can first discuss what the solution’s value and ROI would be for your company, as both should be factored into any budget projection.

This is the five-step process for estimating your embedded BI project costs, complete with tips to help you avoid common pitfalls.

Step 1: Collect Price Quotes

Experienced software buyers will know this seemingly simple task can be riddled with surprises, so come to those initial calls armed with lots of follow-up questions regarding price. Be sure to cover:

  • Scaling costs. Will you be charged by the user, server, or something else?
  • Add-ons. Try to get a complete list of what is included in the contract price and what will cost extra.
  • One-time fees. Will there be costs associated with your onboarding or launch, for example?
  • Contract terms. Take note of the contract’s fine print regarding duration and cancellation.

Try to get as complete a picture of your projected expenditure as possible, and keep an eye out for flat-rate pricing options.

Step 2: Factor in Any Ancillary Products or Services

Launching an embedded BI implementation can, depending on your company’s circumstances and the BI solution in question, require any number of additional tools or services. This is the time to factor in those costs, which might include:

  • Data warehousing or migration. If this will be your first time offering data analytics as part of your product, there’s a good chance your data sources will need some preparation before they’re ready for prime time. If users are confused by field names, overwhelmed with data tables, or frustrated because data takes forever to retrieve, your BI project will backfire. Be sure to give this aspect of the project the budget it deserves, even if it means investing in an ETL tool or data cataloging software.
  • A consultant to assist with implementation and/or maintenance. Some embedded business intelligence solutions are easier to implement than others, and not all providers offer onboarding and upgrading services. Some may include these services in the price of the software while others charge a hefty additional fee. You may get a better deal with a third-party consultant, so shop around and keep those rates handy as you build your projections.
  • Help training staff and/or business users. Again, some providers offer free training while others charge extra for it. Consider what it will take to get your staff building out a library of canned reports and dashboards in time for launch. What will your technical support staff need to prepare for customer questions? If you want to offer users live training sessions, will you need outside help or additional staff?
  • Help crafting documentation and training materials for your end users. Embedded business intelligence solutions, particularly white label ones, often give application administrators a great deal of control over the software’s look and feel. This is great for user experience, but it can make it difficult to repurpose the BI provider’s documentation. Your implementation may look and behave so unlike the default that you have no choice but to build your own documentation library. Consider what resources this will require and factor them into your cost projections.
  • Assistance in building and/or migrating your report library. Depending on how aggressive your launch date is, you might need a hand getting all your canned reports built in time. This is especially true if you’re transitioning from a homegrown analytics solution or legacy provider. There are a number of ways to migrate an existing library to a new system, but they all take some amount of time and expertise.

Step 3: Assess the Solution’s Total Cost of Ownership (TCO)

This step is intended to root out any lingering ownership and maintenance costs that have yet to make it into your projections. Check out our guide outlining the factors to consider as you calculate the cost of owning an embedded business intelligence solution. Personnel are often the trickiest to estimate, as it can be difficult to forecast what roles will emerge as you scale, so keep your numbers on the conservative side.

Step 4: Pick a Target Launch Date

Again, be conservative. Humans are notoriously bad at estimating project times and especially prone to optimism bias, so take these steps to mitigate planning fallacy as you pick your target launch date.

Your launch date is a critical component of the budgeting process because it marks the point at which you will begin recuperating costs.

Step 5: Project Your Returns

Now for the fun part. Since you’re going to be using the embedded business intelligence solution to increase the value of your product, begin drafting a new pricing model that takes the additional features into account.

Once you have a sense of your new prices, use past growth metrics to estimate how many subscriptions you could reasonably sell at each tier over the course of the first several months or years, depending on how extensive a projection you want to build. Be sure to factor in subscription upgrades as well.

At this point, you should have all the information you need to begin finding key price-comparison metrics, like your break-even point, required budget, and return on investment after time t for each vendor. Building these projections can be time-consuming and arduous, but the results may surprise you. Perhaps the most expensive solution actually saves you the most money in the long run!

Completing this five-step process for each business intelligence solution you consider will not only make it easier for you to compare on price but also help persuade stakeholders that the solution you choose is best for their bottom line.

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General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) By Ty Mezquita

gdpr cybrary

The General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) was passed in the European Union (EU) in 2016 and requires all businesses to protect an updated definition of personal and private data of EU citizens for transactions occurring within EU member states. The directive establishes data privacy rules that provide transparency and expanded privacy rights for EU citizens.

What is the updated privacy definition?

The basic definition of personal data is any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person (data subject).

Examples of private data covered by GDPR include:

  • Name and surname
  • Email address
  • Phone number
  • Home address
  • Date of birth
  • Race
  • Genetic markers or identified pre-dispositions
  • Gender
  • Religious Affiliation
  • Political opinions
  • Credit card numbers
  • Data held by a hospital or doctor
  • Photograph where an individual is identifiable
  • Identification card number
  • A cookie ID
  • Internet Protocol (IP) address
  • Location data (for example, the location data from a mobile phone)
  • The advertising identifier of your phone

When a data breach has been detected, companies are now required by GDPR to notify all affected persons and the supervising authorities within 72 hours. GDPR regulations apply to all privacy data created for EU residents regardless of whether or not they are citizens of EU countries.

GDPR defines penalties for noncompliance. Failure to comply with GDPR prescriptions can result in fines ranging from 10 million euros to four percent of the company’s annual global turnover.

Under GDPR, companies can’t legally process any person’s personally identifiable information (PII) without meeting at least one of the following six conditions:

  1. Express consent of the user; or processing privacy data is necessary:
  1. for the performance of a contract with the user or to take steps to enter a contract; or
  2. for compliance with a legal obligation; or
  3. to protect the vital interests of a user or another person; or
  4. for the performance of a task carried out in the public interest or in the exercise of official authority vested in the controller; or
  5. for the purposes of legitimate interests pursued by the controller or a third party, except where such interests are overridden by the interests, rights, or freedoms of the user.

In addition, companies that conduct data processing or monitor data subjects on a large scale must designate a data protection officer (DPO). The DPO is the figurehead responsible for data governance and ensuring the company complies with GDRP. This person is responsible for ensuring appropriate data protection principles are applied to the maintenance of personal data.

What does this mean for an SMB?

Businesses that operate outside of the EU and do not process private data on EU data subjects, as outlined in the list above, need not worry about GDPR itself. However, similar legislation is in place throughout most of the world, so businesses should instead focus on examining their local country’s data privacy rights. Once you understand your legal obligations in your own home country, you’ll want to develop a breach notification plan.

The importance of a Breach Notification Plan

It’s very important to have a plan to notify any users and applicable agencies involved in a data breach. The time to work out how to notify and what the applicable home country laws and requirements are is not during a breach but before one. In the US exists a patchwork quilt of data privacy laws by individual states. There is no federal law in effect. In preparing your breach notification process, make sure you seek outside counsel and expertise to help you comply with each state you may have data on (or country as the case may be).

Data Privacy Regulations by Country (a Sample):

CyberHoot recommends you know the laws affecting your company and you prepare a Breach Notification process document reflecting those laws. Don’t forget to test the process annually as well.

The best Defense against Data Breach Fines is no Breach at All

Beyond establishing a breach notification process, there are many other actions your company can take to reduce the risk of a breach. CyberHoot recommends the following basic breach counter-measures:

  • Train and test employees on how to spot and avoid phishing, smishing, and vishing attacks;
  • Govern employees with a set of cybersecurity policies that establish company cybersecurity requirements;
  • Employ the principle of least privilege by taking away admin rights from user desktops and laptops;
  • Adopt a password manager to improve employee password hygiene;
  • Enable two-factor authentication on all critical accounts (email, bank, etc.); and
  • Authenticate callers into your business when they are making high-value requests (asking for information, changing bookings, charging a credit card etc). Companies with access to client mobile phone numbers should text an authentication code to each change requestor.

Sources:

CSO Online

TechTarget

ZDNet

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Top 3 Video Converters for Mac OS X By Shadab Khan

One of the popular video programs that getting more and more attention is the video converter. The best video converter will allow you to convert the files to various formats for playback on a wide range of devices.

Now, you can easily find out the great video converter for Mac and surely enjoy hassle-free conversions. Whether you are making videos for education, entertainment, or interest, you have to make up the videos with a lot of content.

With the great support of video converters, you can simply take a hassle out of seeing the multiple video files and it allows you to convert them into a vast range of formats.

This means that you can able to see any file yourself virtually and convert the files to a perfect format before sending it to your colleagues, friends, or share it on social media.

Top 3 Video Converters for Mac Reviews

In the market, there are many software developers that promising able to produce the best video converter. Of course, not every program is developed equally, and hence every tool has its own strengths and limitations.

How to choose a great converter is another topic, but in this article, we will let you know the top video converters for Mac. We already evaluate and come out with the pros and cons of each program to help you make a concise decision on which program to buy.

  1. VideoProc

The VideoProc is actually a lightweight program developed by Digiarty. Also, it is one of the top lists of best video converter tools for Windows and Mac OS. You can even download a free trial version of this tool, but you will have to pay the yearly subscription fee to utilize it for any video no longer than five minutes.

There are four main features that you can do with this editing software:

  • Convert and edit video – You can do high-speed audio, video, and DVD conversions
  • Convert and edit DVD – Convert the DVD contents for great quality output
  • Video downloader – Use the program to download movies online (support 1000+ sites)
  • Screen recorder – Record anything that plays on your computer screen

The price tag of VideoProc is fairly low and surely it is worth it. Particularly, this converter is most famous with Go Pro users and it has few features that certainly improve the Go Pro conversion process.

For more info, visit their official page at https://bit.ly/3ahUofk

Pros:

  • Clean software, no bothersome ads
  • Amazing speed
  • Video recorder added
  • Able to convert HD and 8K video
  • Denoise and de shake features for Go Pro
  • Simple to use application

Cons:

  • Free trial is only limited to five-minute video conversions
  1. Wondershare UniConverter

The Wondershare UniConverter is a premium video converting software that offers high speeds and the best quality. Apart from providing you a leading conversion process as well as the final product, opting for these paid tools means that you will even have to deal with the upsells or ads.

Here are some of the notable features:

  • If you are a first-time user, the software comes with an intuitive interface and you can simply attempt the free trial version.
  • This simple to use service software provides 30x faster conversion speed and also makes use of the disc burner, screen recorder, and downloader as well.
  • This software supports 1000+ audio and video formats such as the popular MP4, MPEG, MP3, and MOV and also handles 4k conversions.
  • You can utilize the video editor to cut, trim, change speed, contrast, resolution, etc.
  • It can do 1:1 video recording with multiple capturing options
  • You also can download the favorites movies from over 10000 sites and enjoy them on your TVs or portable devices & gadgets.
  • Also included are DVD and Blu-ray copying and burning.

For more info, you can visit their official page at https://bit.ly/2OVARKl

Pros:

  • No ads or upsells
  • Friendly user interface suitable for newbies
  • Quality 1:1 output file
  • Fast-speed conversions with their technology
  • Handles 4K conversions
  • Includes disc burning and copying

Cons:

  • The free version is limited
  • Little costlier than some rivals
  1. Allavsoft Video and Music Downloader

The Allavsoft is a foremost video downloader, but also it comes with a strong converter as well. This tool actually permits you to download the videos from virtually anywhere and also compatible with more than a thousand sites such as Spotify, Dailymotion, and YouTube as well as converts them very quickly.

It also works with both audio and video and the batch downloading option makes rapid work or getting various files. Actually, the free version of Allavsoft is one of the excellent free video converters for Mac available now.

It allows you to download up to five files as well as convert and combine any video smaller than five minutes. It works with a lot of formats such as MOV, AVI, MKV.4K video, MP4, and WMV is supported.

For more details info, visit the official page at https://bit.ly/3mS8yZK

Pros:

  • Handles 4k video
  • Plenty of format choices
  • Beginner-friendly
  • Converts quickly
  • Downloads from more than 1,000 sites

Cons:

  • Does not come with the video editing and DVD tools

Indeed, the above three top lists of video converter for Mac can handle the conversions to many output formats. Also, you can convert the movie to audio format or just extract an MP3 file from the video.

Of course, if you want to use the free video converters there are also many programs available in the market. However, the free tools may lack some features if compared to the paid alternatives.

Conclusion

Overall, the video converter tools for Mac can greatly assist you to convert to audio files such as MP3 and other file formats. These files can be more beneficial for multiple reasons such as the possibility of very small file sizes and compatibility with the number of players.

With this quality video converter for Mac, you can simply convert the videos between any two HD video or standard formats. Before converting the videos, you are able to edit them or change the encode settings as you need.

Also, you can download the trial version to test the program before really buy the software. We hope that this article can help you in getting a great video converter for Mac.

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Booking.com Fined Following Vishing Attack By Ty Mezquita

booking.com breach

Summary Message: Working out your Breach Notification during a Breach is a recipe for disaster.

Back in December of 2018, Booking.com experienced a breach, where the company was exploited through a Vishing attack. For those who don’t know, Vishing is the hacking method in which phone calls and voicemail messages pretend to be from reputable companies, convincing users to give out personal information such as banking information, credit card numbers, or other non-public personal information. This is similar to phishing and smishing but uses phone systems and voicemail instead of email or text messages. What makes this breach important is not the breach itself but the subsequent fines issued by the Dutch Data Protection Authority (DPA). Read on to find out why fines were assessed.

How Did It Happen?

According to the report, the attack was conducted against hotels in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), using social engineering tricks over the phone. The hackers called staff at 40 different hotels in the region and talked them into handing over login credentials for hotel accounts in the Booking.com system.

With these stolen credentials, the ‘Vishers’ retrieved data on 4109 customer bookings, including customer’s names, addresses, and phone numbers. Although, the criminals also got hold of credit card data from 283 of those bookings. Hackers even stole 97 CVV’s (3-digit code on the back of the card) which should never be saved in any electronic system!

Monique Verdier, deputy chair of the Dutch Data Protection Authority (DPA) pointed out in the Authority’s report of the breach:

By posing in emails or on the phone as hotel staff, they attempted to steal money from people. Such an approach can seem highly credible if the fraudster knows exactly when you made a booking and what room you booked, then asks you to pay for the nights in question. Large amounts of money can be stolen in this way.

Everything discussed to this point in this article explains how most breaches occur. Very few breached companies receive additional government fines, so what happened to cause that here?

The Breach Happened in 2018

Dutch DPA regulators fined Booking.com almost half a million Euros not because there was a breach, but because the company didn’t report the breach quickly enough:

The Dutch Data Protection Authority (DPA) has imposed a €475,000 fine on Booking.com because the company took too long to report a data breach to the DPA. When the breach occurred, criminals obtained the personal data of over 4,000 customers. They also got their hands on the credit card information of almost 300 people.

Timeline
  • December 2018: Data breach started
  • 13 January 2019: Booking.com became aware of the leak.
  • 04 February 2019: Booking.com informed affected customers.
  • 07 February 2019: Booking.com informed the Data Protection Authority.

EU businesses have 72 hours to report a breach from the time they confirmed it occurred. While Booking.com knew a leak had occurred on Jan. 13th, they might not have known the extent of the breach which would require government notification. However, in Jan. at the moment in time that Booking.com confirmed the breach affected more than 500 records, they needed to notify the DPA within 72 hours. They failed to do so, which is why they were fined so heavily.

What Does This Mean For My SMB?

Breach Notifications

Regarding breach notification, it’s extremely important to notify the affected users and applicable agencies like the DPA in Holland quickly. Since 2002 there have been countless data privacy laws enacted all over the world. The US has a patchwork quilt of data privacy laws for each state, but no federal law in effect. In preparing your breach notification process, if you do business internationally, you will need to consider the following regulations:

Sources:

NakedSecurity – Sophos

Wikipedia – Breach Notification Laws

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The Impact of AI on B2B Payments By Srushti Shah

The revolutionary movement of the digital payments landscape is well underway, with new entrants and technologies in the B2C and peer-to-peer lending (P2P) sphere evolving continuously. However, there has been one sphere where the rate of innovation hasn’t yet been reflected by other industries, specifically the B2B payments domain.

According to CB Insights, the B2B payments sector is set to become a $20 trillion business by the end of this year. A multitude of payment providers, including PayPal and various other Fintech startups, have already sought to reduce the burden and repetitive processes associated with B2B payments. But the decisive question here is why has it taken so long for B2B payments to make its way to the digital age.

“Today’s $3 trillion worldwide SMB credit gap is narrowing because the criteria to secure loans are changing, and increasingly, embracing alternative data sources.” – Ken So, Founder and CEO at Flowcast

B2B transactions include analog procedures, and obsolete technologies and are a major pressure point for small and medium businesses (SMEs), which account for 80% of total labor and processing expenditure in the U.S.A, while SMBs expend almost $2.7 trillion on accounts payable alone. In the midst of all this, the digital payment movement buoyed by machine learning and artificial intelligence (AI) systems has begun revolutionizing processes by abolishing repetitive administrative tasks altogether, making legacy systems obsolete, and reducing a host of other inefficiencies.

AI-powered virtual assistants such as chatbots popularized by consumer technologies have now become a mainstay in B2B purchasing, aiding customers along the procurement complexities journey and simplifying B2B payments subsequently. Vendors are of the opinion that more such AI-enabled bots will help improve procurement efficiency, further assisting users in expediting processing efficiency and diminishing errors. These tools are part of more overarching initiatives to utilize AI to automate and ease sophisticated B2B processes.

The Evolution of AI and B2B Payments

Until a few years ago, payments included manual procedures and legacy systems, which was a big pressure point for SMEs. These difficulties can be reduced or rendered obsolete by AI-enabled solutions.

Today, AI is deeply entrenched in the payment environment. Traditional banking, lending, and financial institutions have boosted their active investment in AI and integrated it into their technological infrastructure. In fact, the rate at which it’s going, the global investment in AI by the Fintech market will reach USD 22.60 billion by 2025 at a CAGR of 23.37%.

Image Source: Juniper Research

A majority of these technological disruptions help processes such as transactions and/or detection of fraudulent activities. Alongside this, there is also greater attention to the evolving requirements of the consumers. So much so that chatbots operated by AI are increasingly emerging and becoming native to customer-oriented approaches.

Chatbots are simplifying and automating the dynamic B2B acquisition process. They significantly minimize the time spent producing invoices, seek out substitutes for customers, guarantee timely and correct compensation, and provide buyers with the right details.

These technologies are increasingly transforming the digital and offline transaction process dramatically, eventually resulting in increased conversion rates and enhanced protection. AI is expected to have a major influence on the whole industry by strengthening the following areas: operational performance, growth & innovation, and risk mitigation.

In our diverse regulatory, technical, and socio-economic environment, enhancing operating effectiveness is indeed one of the first areas where AI has produced numerous benefits. It can simplify routine, rule-based, labor-intensive activities to increase output quality, and free up resources.

RPA Market

Image Source: Horses for Sources

Indeed, the value of robotic process automation (RPA) is expected to reach $4.3 billion by 2022. This can be utilized to drive accounting efficiencies by information management to boost consolidation, the company’s cash flow, and the reliability of financial management.

In fact, the automation of accounts receivable and payable is now a popular use-case. Furthermore, according to a Paystream Advisors report, the greatest benefit experienced by organizations that adopted AI tools for their accounts receivable & payable was a significant decrease in paper invoice volume.

AI has now become non-invasive to the point where minimum convergence with current systems infrastructure is needed. This, in essence, boosts efficiency by doing away with the human efforts needed to boost labor-intensive activities. Other systems apart from accounting and finance have also been implemented, for example, in payroll and insurance, application management, and sales-related jobs.

There are several other use cases of AI where it can improve operating performance, such as enhancing the efficiency of procurement processes. One instance is contract management, where AI bots can be deployed to collect data and illustrate contract content.

This will facilitate the restructuring and re-negotiation of a large number of contracts, minimize possible conflicts, and improve the output. In more general terms, AI can also be used to boost the process improvement.

How Do AI Tools Simplify B2B Payments

AI, though in its nascent stages, is having an indelible effect on B2B payments. In the coming future, it will inevitably transform the way institutions of all sizes handle financial management. Smart chatbots will also be used to ease workflows, digitally connect systems and accounts, and allow everything from automatic record-keeping to new types of digital payments.

As time evolves, companies will depend heavily on digitalized processes that will enable them to concentrate on what counts as the most important to them: building their brand. Here, we will take a look at how AI can simplify B2B payments in the years to come.

1) Automating accounts payable

Most SMBs pay almost $16 – $22 to process invoices manually. However, Goldman Sachs says that businesses can reduce this down significantly to almost $6-$7 straightaway by automating accounts payable.

Automation helps companies to remove several unnecessary elements, dramatically reducing the time and expenses involved with processing and handling payments. Standardizing financial transactions with automation software also helps to minimize the risk of operator error and to control payments.

2) Improving access to credit

Apart from standardizing accounts payable, automation technology eases the process of receiving financing by SMBs. This comes as a huge relief for 81% of SMB invoices whose invoices are due for at least a month. Moreover, the average SMB, which has only 27 days of cash on hand, can simplify its cashflow a lot through automation.

AI-enabled credit scoring can evaluate businesses for far less than it would have had they done it manually. In addition, AI tools can abolish any bias and use contemporary as well as historically available data to make credit decisions where conventional financial information may be lacking.

3) Detecting and preventing fraud

Did you know that 58-68% of respondents in a CFO Insights report claimed that transaction security was the attribute of utmost concern when it came to a payments solution? Couple this with the concern that at least 78% of B2B businesses experience payment fraud, and it’s easy to see how AI can intervene to help resolve such security risks.

AI and ML are now not only driving fraud detection but also fraud prevention. Many fraud prevention tools already use AI to encrypt or safeguard client and supplier information. More sophisticated tools are now incorporating ML to help identify and assess potential risk factors and to discover any suspicious behavior or vulnerabilities that might otherwise go unnoticed by humans.

Signing Off

In summation, AI has made it possible for important players in the Fintech and payments ecosystem to easily bypass the risks associated with both their front and back-end processes. It can eradicate repetitive processes that curtail business development and let SMB(s) free up resources and money to focus on more relevant issues. This will consequently lead to increased investor confidence in B2B Fintech entities as the B2B payment area continues to grow and evolve.

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How to Use Microsoft Graph API in App Development By Mohammad Makkajiwala

Microsoft Graph is a means to access the wealth of data and intelligence residing in Microsoft 365, Windows 10, and Enterprise Mobility + Security. This RESTful web application programming interface (API) has a unified programmability model, and is suited for both enterprise apps and even consumer apps with millions of users.

If you need more background about Microsoft Graph, we suggest that you read this introduction from Microsoft. The overview goes into a lot of detail and does a great job of flagging up the API’s capabilities. And if you want to get under the hood of this “unified programmability model,” then this could be worth six minutes of reading time.

But, for the remainder of this post, we will assume that you are broadly aware of its capabilities, as we explain how to generate three useful outputs using Microsoft Graph:

  • Sending an email using Microsoft Graph API.
  • Creating a calendar event using Microsoft Graph API.
  • Creating an online meeting using Microsoft Graph API.

Preliminary Steps

Before you start delivering outputs, there are preliminary steps you need to take to be able to read and write resources on behalf of a user. Firstly, your app must get an access token from the Microsoft identity platform and attach the token to requests that it sends to Microsoft Graph.

The exact authentication flow that you will use to get access tokens will depend on the kind of app you are developing and whether you want to use OpenID Connect to sign the user in to your app. One common flow used by native and mobile apps, as well as some Web apps, is the OAuth 2.0 authorization code grant flow.

The basic steps required to use the OAuth 2.0 authorization code grant flow to get an access token from the Microsoft identity platform endpoint are as follows:

  1. Register your app with Azure AD.
  2. Get authorization.
  3. Get an access token.
  4. Call Microsoft Graph with the access token.
  5. Use a refresh token to get a new access token.

When authorization is granted, you are ready to start delivering outputs from Microsoft Graph.

Sending an Email using Microsoft Graph API

To call this API, one of the following permissions is required.

Permission type Permissions (from least to most privileged)
Delegated (work or school account) Mail.Send
Delegated (personal Microsoft account) Mail.Send
Application Mail.Send

Request header

Header Value
Authorization Bearer {token}. Required.
Content-Type application/json

Request body

Parameter Type Description
message Message The message to send. Required.
saveToSentItems Boolean Indicates whether to save the message in Sent Items. Specify it only if the parameter is false; default is true. Optional.

Response

If successful, this method returns 202 Accepted response code. It does not return anything in the response body.

Example

Creating a Calendar Event using Microsoft Graph API

One of the following permissions is required to call this API.

Permission type Permissions (from least to most privileged)
Delegated (work or school account) Calendars.ReadWrite
Delegated (personal Microsoft account) Calendars.ReadWrite
Application Calendars.ReadWrite

Request header

Header Value
Authorization Bearer {token}. Required.
Content-Type application/json

Request body

In the request body, supply a JSON representation of an event object.

Since the event resource supports extensions, the POST operation can be used and custom properties can be added to the event with your own data while creating it.

Response

If successful, this method returns 201 Created response code and an event object in the response body.

Example

Creating an Online Meeting Using Microsoft Graph API

One of the following permissions is required to call this API.

Permission type Permissions (from least to most privileged)
Delegated (work or school account) OnlineMeetings.ReadWrite
Delegated (personal Microsoft account) Not Supported
Application OnlineMeetings.ReadWrite.All*

Important

Administrators must create an application access policy and grant it to a user, authorizing the app configured in the policy to create an online meeting on behalf of that user (user ID specified in the request path).

Request header

Header Value
Authorization Bearer {token}. Required.
Content-Type application/json
Accept-Language Language. Optional.

Request body

In the request body, supply a JSON representation of an onlineMeeting object.

Response

If successful, this method returns a 201 Created response code and an onlineMeeting object in the response body.

Example

So, now you understand the basics of working with Microsoft Graph API, how could you use it to drive productivity in your business?

And don’t forget that the API is built to access a significant amount of data, so that makes it a useful tool to have at hand. Even if you just want to make sure that you deliver an effective way to separate any work and personal information on a smartphone.

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3 Benefits of Gaming That Defy Outdated Stereotypes By Austin Smith

The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic hasn’t just changed how we work; it has also forced us to find new ways to play. In most major cities, recreational sports leagues remain closed, public basketball courts are vacant, gyms are dark, and movie theaters are largely empty. With fewer entertainment options outside of our homes, many Americans are turning to a new (yet familiar) outlet for socializing and connecting with friends and loved ones: video games.

Even before the pandemic, gaming was a firmly established American pastime. A 2018 study from the Entertainment Software Association found that 75% of households contained at least one person who spent three or more hours each week playing video games. Despite this growing popularity, many misconceptions about video games persist.

Critics often paint a negative picture of the typical gamer as a socially inept and unmotivated male teenager who spends hours each day in solitude, wasting time shooting at pixels. You wouldn’t want that person working at your company, right? However, research shows that playing video games with co-workers for 45 minutes can improve employee productivity by 20%. If you want to find a new way to bring your team together, you should explore the benefits of gaming.

The Toxic Minority

Some companies are hesitant to implement recreational programs because they worry about potentially toxic behavior. As with almost every other online social platform, gamers are prone to online disinhibition (i.e., the lack of restraint that often accompanies anonymous interactions). In addition to anonymity, individual personality traits contribute to online disinhibition — although disinhibition doesn’t always lead to toxic behavior.

Players who rage over teammate performance or repeat racist, sexist, and homophobic slurs can ruin the collective experience of other gamers who simply want to have fun in a competitive environment. You don’t want to encourage employees to play video games only for them to experience toxicity instead of stress relief and improved productivity. Fortunately, the community is starting to take real action.

Last year, more than 30 major gaming companies joined the Fair Play Alliance in the hopes that “by sharing research, lessons learned, and best practices, the companies will be able to develop a better understanding of why toxicity happens” and how it can be prevented.

Our organization, Mission Control, holds users to the highest standards of behavior on our platform. From within our application, all users can report any inappropriate behavior to Mission Control and their league administrators to resolve issues quickly and effectively. We believe all organizations that support recreational gaming must firmly oppose harmful comments and hold individuals who display this behavior accountable.

Setting and enforcing high standards is the right thing to do, and we know it’s essential for building inclusive communities that people embrace. So, don’t worry about the toxic minority of gamers. There are plenty of safeguards in place to ensure your employees only experience the many benefits of gaming.

The Benefits of Online Gaming

As the video game community becomes more welcoming and less toxic, more businesses can leverage the many positive benefits of playing video games. Here are three ways video games can help in a business setting:

1. Stimulating Cognitive Development

A growing body of research has found that video games can strengthen a range of cognitive skills, including problem-solving ability, spatial attention, multitasking, memory, and more. How does gaming help your brain? Unlike other forms of digital entertainment, games present players with challenging tasks that require quick thinking, strategic planning, and collaborative goal-setting. About 80% of Fortune 500 companies evaluate potential hires using cognitive tests, which shows how valuable these skills are considered in the corporate world. By helping your employees develop them through gaming, you’ll invest in their success.

2. Teaching Communication and Teamwork

Research shows that 39% of employees think their companies aren’t collaborative enough. Even if your employees don’t work on teams, they likely interact (or should be interacting) with people in other departments or on different projects. Flip the script and help your employees creatively develop teamwork skills. Video games encourage teamwork and cooperation when played with others, so a regular gaming opportunity for employees should boost companywide collaboration.

3. Encouraging Social Interaction

Despite common stereotypes, most gamers prefer playing with other people. Adult gamers also tend to be social, using games to stay in touch with old friends and meet new people. Given the clear link between social interaction and overall emotional health, it’s no surprise that more than 40% of gamers in a recent Qutee poll said improvements to emotional well-being were the No. 1 benefit of playing video games. Many professionals are struggling with social isolation during the pandemic, but you can help them feel more connected with a recreational gaming program.

While problematic gaming is an issue that can lead to potentially negative side effects — especially among people who are naturally introverted and inclined to prefer solitude — the overwhelming focus on this relatively small segment of the gaming population tends to drown out other research demonstrating the powerful benefits of gaming. If we work together to counteract toxic behavior online, then everyone can freely enjoy the multiple benefits of online gaming.

Need more reasons to implement a recreational gaming program at your company? Check out the whitepaper on the topic today.

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