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  1. The recent theft and subsequent leaking of the personal information of users of the Ashley Madison dating site for married people, and including some of it’s other brands is not the biggest data breach we have seen in the last few years, but it is quite probably one of the most controversial.

    The data breach is Illegal, and no matter what we think about the nature of the business or the people who sign up to the site, it still remains illegal.

    It is therefore... ...right that everybody who deals in the handling of personal data should look to see what they can learn from this event.

    The sensitivity of information, and therefore the lengths we should go to protect it, is often more reliant on context than the information itself.
    Email addresses are personal information, yet we don’t generally think of them as being particularly sensitive or that they need close protection. After all, they are about communication, so designed to be shared aren’t they?

    However, sharing your personal email with total strangers on a site where you are looking for an extra marital liaison isn’t a particularly good idea. Being found out, at the very least will spell the end of marriages or even careers for some, and in more extreme circumstances, as has been pointed out elsewhere, some emails are from Saudi Arabia where adultery is a capital offence and could lead to people being condemned to death.

    If you read the terms and conditions and look under Privacy and Use of Information – you see that looking after your data seems to be a bit of a half-hearted job, and more about looking after themselves.
    The site clearly ignores EU Cookie laws, which require you to consent to allow them before you move on to the site. Email addresses were allowed onto the system without being verified, but how many of us ever actually read a privacy policy when you join a site?
    How many of us realise that privacy is NOT security?

    And as the membership on the site continues to grow in the thousands since the data leak, how many of us actually really care?
    jeffnev and Xavier McKnight like this.
  2. Embarking on a joint venture (JV) is an enormous decision that should not be taken lightly.
    Theoretically these powerful partnerships are designed to be profitable and act as a springboard to new markets and distribution channels.

    They can likewise bring a wealth of advantages such as sharing risks, costs and limited commitment if the joint venture is deemed to have a limited life span.
    There is conversely a raft of risks associated with JVs which are important to assess before charging ahead.

    Determining whether your company is ready to take on a joint venture requires a robust review of your business strategy and a SWOT analysis to examine its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

    If your business is geared up to taking on a JV, the next step is to take the time to select the right partner. You may consider competitors, suppliers or existing customers - or you might decide to link up with somebody new. Whoever you choose, there are certain criteria that must be fulfilled to ensure any risk is minimised.

    If this is your first joint venture ensure both parties share the same outlook, objectives, vision and culture – the latter which includes ways of working, commitment to developing staff - and corporate social responsibility. Conduct your due diligence to ensure your potential partner’s business is financially secure.

    Establish early on that both parties will inject the same level of commitment to the venture, maintain a degree of scepticism - and avoid being too trusting. Another critical success factor to consider is your new partner’s reputation with its customers and suppliers.

    If you are satisfied that this is the way forward for your business, establish ‘the rules of the game’ and clearly define the roles and responsibilities of the key players to avoid any misunderstanding further down the line.

    Now find a good legal firm and draw up the equivalent of a business ‘pre-nup’. This should include the specifics of what your agreement with the other party involves - as well as an exit clause if things do not work out. Failure to do this could be costly.

    Other details that should be documented include stating how and when profits will be divided and be realistic when it comes to profit expectations.

    In the same that most real life marriages are not made in heaven and encounter their respective challenges, following these processes will maximise the chance of your joint venture holding its own as opposed to falling apart spectacularly.
    Webespire likes this.
  3. How true the words of American business Lee Lacocca resonate when he said “If you want to make good use of your time, you’ve got to know what’s most important and then give it all you’ve got.“

    We all have the same amount of time – but it’s how we use it that matters and effective time management can elevate businesses to the next level and help them to leapfrog their competitors.

    We have all met bosses and managers who seem to be constantly busy – from my own experience in the retail world where I worked alongside some that appeared to be permanently overworked and exhausted. Going the extra mile to ensure customer service exceeds expectation goes with the territory but if you find yourself constantly playing a relentless game of catch up, question whether your frenetic activity is effective – or if you are simply playing the proverbial busy fool?

    Take some time out if you feel your role in the business is comparable with Groundhog Day. The iconic Bill Murray film has become cultural shorthand for being trapped in a scenario where the same events repeat themselves over and over again.

    Spending most of your time doing small, routine tasks will not help you find new customers and grow the business forward. Instead there is a danger you will be overwhelmed rather than alert and energised in order to boost performance and gain competitive advantage.
    Escape from the business for a day and choose an activity that helps to blow away the cobwebs and reinvigorate your thinking.

    When returning to your desk the next day, make the decision to start running the business and stop letting it run you.

    Take action by delegating and hand over the tasks that threaten to bog you down and stop you maintaining the bigger picture.

    Here are some fundamental questions to help you ramp up your efficiency and drive your business to the next level:
    1. Are your daily activities driving - or deviating from - the company’s goals and vision?
    2. If they are detracting from them, what do you need to do differently?
    3. Do you communicate your vision and goals to your team?
    4. Do you have the right people in place to delegate effectively to?
    5. If you don’t have the right people, what are you going to do about it?
    6. Do you have proper processes and systems in place to free you up?
    7. Do you make time to keep any eye on the bigger picture?
    8. Do you know your company’s competitive advantage?
    9. Do you innovate to stay ahead of the game?
    10. Do you know which of your products/services are the most profitable?
    Your responses will give you clarity and focus to move forward with purpose and enable you to make the necessary changes and decisions to reinvigorate yourself as the owner and your teams.

    Coach and motivational speaker Anthony Robbins, said: “One reason so few of us achieve what we truly want is that we never direct our focus; we never concentrate our power. Most people dabble their way through life, never deciding to master anything in particular.“

    Follow the above steps to stay focused and disciplined – and start enjoying the great results you will achieve.
    Geri Karakasheva likes this.
    • 1. There are many benefits both for the business and the employee of allowing BYOD – short for Bring Your Own Device – which relates to companies that actively encourage their staff to bring in and use their laptops, tablets, smartphones and other personal devices for work-related tasks. There are also risks involved as well.
    • 2. Having a BOYD policy can maximise performance and boost productivity if employees are comfortable with their devices. Their efficiency is also likely to improve because they can access their work documents when they need to, not only when they are in the office.
    • 3. Sometimes small businesses can be hampered by limited access to the latest technology. Having a BOYD policy can enable firms to benefit from up to the minute innovation – such as the ability to integrate different types of communications on various mobile devices and software platforms – but without needing a large budget to facilitate this.
    • 4. Avoid being swayed by the potential costs savings such a policy can bring, namely that employee and not the organisation usually pays for the device and the data plan. Without a carefully thought out policy, this could be false economy.
    • 5. Remember that smartphones and tablets are designed as consumer devices, not as workplace equipment, and as such there is a significant difference in the level of durability. Issues can arise when devices are replaced with newer and better versions, which can then cause problems with a firm’s IT department, especially regarding security issues.
    • 6. Carefully consider small practical issues before any policy is introduced. Signal coverage is one such problem, because depending upon the provider, service in some areas can prove unreliable. A policy which limits who can use it, simply because of location, may prove difficult to implement.
    • 7. A BYOD policy increases the risk of a security breach of important data. When an employee leaves the business, they are obviously not required to hand back the phone or tablet as they own it, so company applications and other data may still be present on their device. This can lead to some company data being unsecure. The firms would also need to ensure that their IT department can support the varying types of devices and operating systems – something which may be challenging for smaller businesses.
    • 8. Beware of mobile phone theft – losing personal data is problematic enough, but if an employee is also using the device for work, there is also the risk that commercially sensitive information could end up in the wrong hands.
    • 9. Ensure the business has robust anti-virus software if considering a BYOD policy. While employees would not be expected to be downloading games or other entertainment applications on their work computer, they may do so on their own device – leaving the device and all the data stored and shared on it, open to an increased risk of attack from a downloaded virus. To help limit any potential risk, firms should decide which types of devices and providers they will allow and support. This will enable them to respond quickly if an issue arises. Businesses also need to ensure that they can remotely troubleshoot devices and back-up and restore corporate data on devices
    • 10. Instead of BYOD, firms could offer CYOD – choose your own device – from a range offered by the company. In addition to addressing all of the concerns of BOYD, selecting specific devices for employees can also provide the added benefit of being able to tailor and integrate features with the companies’ phone system so that staff can take and transfer calls.