Family security concerns for 2016

Security is vital for everyone: we all want our loved ones and the things we own to be protected. To that end we need to consider what kinds of protections will be most important, going into the new year – especially as the things we want protected are themselves operating differently than before, which means how they’ll be protected will change, too.

For example, an obvious focus is data and digital security. Here, we are no longer storing information and other valuable assets in raw form – but in our drives and computers, making them easily accessible no matter where we are in the world.

This means anti-spyware and virus barriers are not just recommended, but mandatory if you have a computer in the house. Hackers can do enormous harm to you and your family; data can be stolen and identities lifted.

Michael Kaiser, executive director of the National Cyber Security Alliance told Yahoo!:  

“Every family needs its own chief security officer, someone who spends time thinking about all the digital components in their lives and what they’re doing to secure them.”

This interconnectedness of all the things in your home however is not just an issue for your computer. This is known as The Internet of Things, where everything is connected to everything else – and not necessarily only computers.

As Wired points out, “Security researchers exposed holes in everything from Wi-Fi-enabled Barbie dolls to two-ton Jeep Cherokees.”

Indeed, cars can be hacked. As Fortune outlines, there are multiple ways hackers can get into your vehicle. Automakers are taking a more aggressive stance when it comes to preventing such interference, though they still have a long way to go before it can be accepted as actually safe. To protect your family and yourself, it is essential you have knowledge about the dangers you could be facing.

Of course, if you want to avoid this entirely, you could rather look at getting second hand cars: for example, used BMW cars for sale often are not hackable due to being of the time just before cars became so dependent on connectivity to function. Further, the BMW 3 series is universally regarded as one of the finest models to ever be made and can be found second-hand.

Phones are also at risk – similar to protecting your computer, what also matters if teaching your family about actions they can take or avoid to prevent security breaches.

2016 will be the year when so many aspects of life change, especially regarding the technology we use every day. It’s time we prepared.

Ensuring safety in used car purchases

Buying from the classifieds has always been a risky business, particularly in terms of bigger purchases.

Trust is such an essential part of the process, but not everyone adheres to the honest seller-buyer ethos required in such transactions.

Particularly with classifieds moving from print to online, the landscape has become littered with scam artists seeking to prey on unsuspecting victims.

News feeds are awash with horror stories of victims looking for rental accommodation or used cars being fleeced by fraudulent sellers, who trawl the internet in the hope of finding someone they might con into parting with thousands of rands.

Motoring classifieds are especially precarious. A buyer looking for used Chevrolet cars for sale, for example, will never be entirely sure that the advertised vehicle will be roadworthy or in tip-top condition, as the seller suggests.

Fortunately, in South Africa measures are being implemented to formalise motoring transactions so that both the buyer and seller are protected.

In July, Gumtree Automotive formalised its relationship with Motofinn in order to ensure safe and secure transactions.

Andrew Sutherland, of Motofinn, told iAfrica Motoring the solution was born out of a need for safety as well as convenience from both buyers and sellers.

“Buyers and sellers are being steered towards the informal motor trade due to financial pressure, but they would still be willing to pay a small fee for the benefits that have traditionally been limited to professional dealerships alone.

“Financing, a full HPI check, secure payments, a full service history, police clearance, administration – all of these services can be accessed easily and without delaying the transaction.”

While it is believed accredited third parties will increasingly be used to negotiate terms between a private seller and buyer, it is still advisable that people exercise caution when dealing with automotive sales in the classifieds.

Although many people like to communicate via email when finding out more about the vehicle, it is advisable that they rather do so telephonically. Scammers frequently use the internet to lure people, so actual conversation lends credibility to any offers that might be made.

When meeting the seller for the first time, there are a number of factors to keep in mind, according to Cars.co.za. These include:

  • Meet the seller in a public place or at the seller’s home, never meet in quiet or deserted locations;
  • Have someone accompany you when meeting the seller;
  • Never carry large amounts of cash with you;
  • Let other people know where you are;
  • Always be aware of what is happening around you

 

 

 

Importance of proper inventory management for business

It’s essential to businesses to be able to have as much data as possible. Information is key to all we do; we create business through conveying information every day. When customers request data, we can provide it and they can follow through with a sale or payment of services.

That’s why many businesses find it important to use software that can aid them with acquiring data that informs them instantly. Consider, for example, an app that automatically tracks the details of car seller’s inventory.

“AIM Capture… is what dealers will use on the lot to add inventory to the system. Dealers can walk up to a vehicle, scan the VIN, and then start taking pictures.

“…These listings will syndicate anywhere the dealer wants to go… The dealer also has the option to take video, or send pictures to the company to create a stich video. These videos are then sent to YouTube as well as the dealership website and any other third-party site that will accommodate the media.”

This makes it easier for dealerships to keep track of their system, as well as automatically create content for advertising. Since much of the detail is automated, they can spend more time refining than collecting the data – presenting it on the product in such a way as to make it more enticing to potential sellers.

Inventory management software, however, is however essential to a business, these days. Keeping track of items means we have better information for ourselves, making it better for the business in terms of knowing what is happening with the items we acquire in its name. This matters to ourselves, our clients, government bodies and so on. Knowing how our inventory is doing means we can also make decisions about future acquisition from, say, suppliers – an accurate record means we know precisely how it’s moving.

As Udemy highlights, it can be beneficial to a business in cutting costs in other second-hand ways, especially for ones that use storage spaces:

“effective inventory management would lead to low storage costs, which will in turn lead to an increase in the company’s profits. Storage space is expensive; if you are able to manage your inventory well and able to reduce the amount of goods that you need to store, then you will require less space, which will in turn lead to low warehouse rental costs.”

Any and all business should be investing in software that helps them better take stock of what’s involved in the business.

How to spot a weak manager

horboss

It is a sad truth that at some point in your working life, you will encounter a poor manager.

Corporate politics being what it is, people who are not at all suited to managerial roles are nevertheless appointed to these positions for one or other reason.

Nepotism, while frowned upon, remains all too rife in today’s business world. Employees who have given their all are time and time again overlooked for senior positions in favour of those who have family or other connections to the decision-maker.

While there are exceptional cases, where connected superiors do prove to be incredibly effective, among staff there will always be an overriding sense that this person simply should not be there.

Nepotism aside, the appointment of toxic managers can also simply be a case of poor judgment on the part of the company owner. During the interview process, they might have been “taken in” by the prospective manager’s charms, or be led to believe that the applicant might be the solution to all their problems.

Staff, unfortunately, have to be bear the brunt of the decision to hire or promote such people.  In their minds, managers should be extremely competent and able to command respect naturally. If they are saddled with someone who does not share any of the responsibility but wants all the glory, odds are that they will shoulder all the burden yet consistently feel undervalued.

Employees can tell if a manager is weak by looking out for any or all of the following signs:

  • Berate employees in public forums

Demeaning others in public is an attempt on the part of the manager to make themselves look superior. Usually it is because they incorrectly assume that such action will instill fear into employees, and they will get the desired results. However, in almost all cases this approach backfires. Instead, both bosses and subordinates view the manager as unstable, suffering from acute esteem issues.

  • Commitment without consultation

Everyone likes to look good in front of their bosses and clients, but there at least has to be some evidence as to why praise is deserved. Talking the talk is one thing, but it needs to be remembered that there is still a lot of work to done. Managers who promise the earth without consulting those responsible for the manufacture of the actual product will soon find themselves a new set of enemies. In addition, to clients they will be seen as people who have no follow-through.

  • Directionless

Many companies invest of lot of time and effort in leadership skills training but some managers still choose to ignore what they learnt, believing their approach is better.

This can be chaotic for everyone involved. A random mess of ideas leaves everyone feeling confused, and a manager’s indecision or last-minute change of mind can wreak havoc on deadlines and targets. Eventually, a situation develops where a strong, respected employee takes charge and become the “manager” in everything but name (and pay grade). This leads to further resentment of the appointed superior.

 

How business cut costs

The ideal for any business is having fewer expenses and plenty of income; the picreality is that businesses today aren’t about enormous profits but survival: that means, being able to generate enough income in order to keep off the debt, to make it into a new month or year. Businesses can’t merely do all they can to, for example, get more customers – they also need to consider where they can cut down in order to retain the income from existing customers.

There are small and large interventions businesses can implement which can aid this – but all of them come down to saving in the long run.

For example, to start off on a basic level, all businesses could probably use better strategies to save on power. Considering the concern for power usage is global, there are plenty of resources on how to do so effectively.

We could encourage staff to turn off computers when they’re not in use; install more windows to allow for natural light, instead of relying on electric; buy LED, use small fridges, get rid of our ovens and so on. These are all effective strategies: if it’s not necessary, then it’s merely desired. And then we must balance our desire to satisfy our staff with cost-savings for the business.

A compromise can often be reached if we take a few moments to think about it – including buying energy saving alternative products, that might be expensive now, but will be cheaper, in terms of usage, in the long run.

Another way businesses can cut costs is to create systems that allow employees to work remotely. Aside from the fact that you need less space, it also benefits the employee who won’t have to pay for travel commuting expenses – hours lost to simply arrive, when they could be using those hours to work. This does have tangible benefits to any business.

As Personnel Today notes:

“Homeworking can save on car parking space, office rent and running costs. BT saves £2.2 million per year through homeworking and flexible working, whilst Suffolk County Council was able to cut the size of its new central services office block by one-third by using these practices.”

Regardless of the business, looking into better financing is also essential. For example, getting loans might seem counter to saving, but it can mean more effective management of finances. For example, if you have to use machinery, we might not have the funds to pay for it – but with machinery finance, we can obtain the equipment now and cut costs with more effective financial management. You don’t need to guess the expenses you have to pay – you know precisely what it is. Having solid knowledge about what you’re paying for helps you manage finances more effectively; which means avoiding unnecessary expenses.

These are just some ways business can cut costs and more effectively handle their finances.

The science of protecting pedestrians

One of the most essential parts of designing roads and cities is taking care of pedestrians. Too often, we forget roads aren’t solely designed for the ease of access for vehicles, but for pedestrians, too – this also means safety for both groups.

The recognition of pedestrian needs matters a great deal and is seen in recent developments like traffic lights that use sounds. This was implemented in many places, like the city of Cape Town in 2009.

“The Audio Tactile Pedestrian Detector has a vibrating button which emits both audio and tactile signals indicating that the green man signal is lit and that it is therefore safe to cross the road.”

These can be found in increasingly greater numbers throughout the city, benefitting the visually and hearing-impaired; making safer for them to cross roads, while also preventing car accidents. (After all, though pedestrians are of course harms in car accidents, many drivers react by sudden swerving to avoid collisions, missing pedestrians but severely injuring themselves.)

Cities have implemented other aspects that can aid pedestrians: for example, bollards act as barriers that allow for the steady flow of pedestrians but keep cars out.

The CityFix points out that speed matters above all. Cities should be “designing to automatically control excessive speeding”. This “will have a far greater impact on road safety than any other measure. In fact, the most effective way to control speed is through road design.”

In Sweden, for example, three separate types of roads were designed to cater to three very specific speed limits. The designs themselves meant the drivers knew the speed without having to check signs; by instilling the correct speed in the drivers, it meant the drivers were driving at a speed of their own choosing. They weren’t being “forced” to do so.

Automakers themselves are finding ways to reduce the danger to pedestrians. Whether it’s removing hood ornaments or other protrusions, automakers are still making efforts to make it safer for pedestrians to not be unnecessarily harmed – or harmed further – by virtue of cars’ designs.

Edmunds notes some subtle changes that are probably overlooked by most of us.

“In recent years, vehicle design has focused on making subtle changes to the front end of the vehicle that aren’t obvious to consumers. One example is changing the way that the fenders, hood and windshield wipers are attached, so their performance strength is maintained but they can easily collapse when impacted by a pedestrian. Vehicles from Acura, Honda, Infiniti, Lexus, Nissan, Toyota, Volkswagen and Volvo among others have these types of features.”

Protecting pedestrians just is protecting drivers. With everyone protected, we have better – and therefore more efficient – transportation.

 

How to market your new business

 

plannerOnce you get financial backing and have finalised your research on starting a business, then marketing the business to prospective clients should be next on the list. Starting a new business venture is already a tough one to manage, so when it comes to placing major advertisements or the budget for hosting social events, then the harder it gets. Marketing a new business does not have to be a glitz and glamourous, it simply needs to grab the attention of clients.

 

Use social media to your advantage

Whether you have completed events management courses or not, the fact of the matter is that as the business owner, you need to get your brand out there. Social media is fast becoming the number one advertising platform. Simply create a page for your business and get your friends, family and clients to share it. Word will soon spread once you have a strong following. Take a look at your demographic and decide how the business marketing strategy will appeal to them online.

Are they 40-year-old working mothers or are they trendy, young people? Defining the business demographic will give a better indication to figure out in which tone you should post your updates. Clients can’t see the person behind the screen and should thus be able to relate to the business just by the tone of the posts

Have an online presence

The company brand should be exposed to every business platform managers can find. LinkedIn is a great opportunity for all new businesses to start spreading their footprint. It has also become a favourite amongst business owners for networking opportunities and to get a vast amount of information on the competition.

Get a professional to create a business website. Too many websites have lost creditability due to it looking unprofessional. Rather spend a couple of rands on something professional than let customers think the business has no value. Millions of people surf the web every day which could lead to good traffic to your site, which lead to business for your new venture.

Leave a paper trail

Business card will never go out of style. People still need to check their wallets, and until that day is over, you should continue to print business cards for your company. Have business cards ready for every occasion, because you never know when a top executive in the industry might give your business a boost. Leave your business cards with people you can be sure will hand them out. Do whatever you must to get as much brand awareness as possible.

How shops treat security during the Festive Season

Shopping during Christmas is a nightmare for most of us, but it is especially a daunting task for the shops themselves. Indeed, we saw this last year, when even months before, shops in South Africa, were preparing for festive season.

As IOL reported last year:

“shopping centres began preparations for the festive season months in advance. These included keeping communicating [sic] lines open with the nearest police station, and establishing details of how law enforcers would respond to a crisis.”

SA Council of Shopping Centres CEO Amanda Stops said: “Having detailed centre floor and layout plans enables centre management to aid police, staff, and shoppers in the event of an incident.”

Shopping during the Festive Season is known to increase almost everywhere, as people rush to purchase last minute Christmas gifts for loved ones and prepare for long holidays.

This is particularly of concern to South Africa, when you consider the country has over 2 000 shopping centres, making it the 6th highest number of shopping centres in the world. This combined with the large number of robberies has malls on edge, as we approach and enter the holiday season.

In response, stores have tightened security in all sorts of ways: both in individual shops and also in malls. This means all sorts of responses: increased number of guards, using video wall systems or other physical interventions, or implementing new policies.

Business cannot afford to underestimate the impact crime can have. Speaking in 2013, LeRoy Munetsi, Executive Head of Auto & General Business Insurance said: “Crime has a debilitating impact on local businesses. The World Economic Forum’s Global Competitive Report 2013/2014 ranks South Africa 141st out of 148 countries in terms of the costs of crime and violence, indicating that crime is costing businesses significantly.”

The report indicated, at the time, that crime and theft ranked seventh in terms of the most problematic factor for being able to do business in South Africa.

“From fraud to theft,” Munetsi said, “businesses are having an increasingly tough time trying to protect the assets, and personnel, that enable them to keep operating.”

Little has changed from 2013 in terms of crime dropping. Now, more than ever, businesses need to take a firm grasp on their security to protect themselves, their assets and their customers. Everyone benefits from better security; no one wins from laziness.

Combatting shopping mall crimes this season

 

securityIt is the season of giving and the season of spending. South Africans beware; it is that time year again where robberies, burglaries and shoplifting are on the rise.

 

However, we do have The South African Council of Shopping Centres, the Consumer Goods Council of SA (CGCSA) and SAPS on our side ready to fight the war on crime of our seasonal shopping.

 

More police visibility

 

Consumers need not worry this season as CGCSA’s head of consumer goods crime risk initiative, Graham Wright, ensured that there would be more police visibility in and around malls across the country.

 

According to Wright, there are vast amounts of people buying goods at malls this time of the year and the annual programme is to ensure consumers safety. Due to the high demand of products, services and more foot traffic, the programme will focus on combating crimes such as robberies, burglaries and shoplifting.

 

Consumers are urged to stay alert

 

The onus is on consumers to be alert while shopping or taking their goods to their vehicles. Fortunately speedgates are part of the measures used by shopping malls to combat theft, but vigilance on the part of the part of the consumer can also go a long way.

 

Tyger Valley Shopping Centre spokesperson Lareta Blom gave a few important tips on being safe and vigilant:

 

  1. Check where security staff members patrol in case you may needed them in a hurry.
  2. Keep a close eye on your kids when you arrive at the mall. Point out the security staff and tell them to ask only these people for help if they lose you. Make sure they know your cellphone number so that security can call you
  3. Check that your car is locked before walking off and try the door handle to ensure that it is properly locked.
  4. Take parcels back to the car regularly and put them in the boot. Don’t leave anything visible inside the car as it might lead to a smash-and-grab.
  5. Keep your handbag in front of you and shop with a zipped up sling bag. Pickpocketers thrive in crowded areas.
  6. Be careful using Wi-Fi in public places as some hot spots does not encrypt wireless data and this could lead to identity theft.

 

There is no telling what could happen while at the mall, staying vigilant at all times is the best method of preventing possible theft from occurring. Also, try not to remain for hours on end at the mall, if you can. It’s best to not roam too long in a possible hot spot theft.

Why do you need a mentor?

mentor

There are all sorts of theories about whether people are smarter today than they were 50 or even 100 years ago.

Some argue that because of the internet, people have learnt to assimilate information faster and in greater quantities. Others believe that greater access to education has meant more people are given the opportunity to develop their minds.

Recent studies also seems to indicate that people are getting smarter over time. An analysis conducted by researchers at Kings College London found that on average intelligence had risen the equivalent of 20 IQ points since 1950.

The researchers harvested IQ test data from more than 200 000 participants, captured over 64 years and from 48 countries.

However, having a high IQ does not always translate into success in the workplace.

“An IQ score doesn’t measure your practical intelligence: knowing how to make things work, Richard Nisbett, a professor of psychology at the University of Michigan, told CNN. “It doesn’t measure your creativity. It doesn’t measure your curiosity.”

In today’s work environment, the components Nisbett mentions are crucial. They fall into the categories of emotional and social intelligence, and in a world in which communication and immediacy are dominant, it is arguably the latter that are more the measure of an employee’s success.

Highly intelligent people are certainly valued for their ideas and creative input, but it is important that a business makes use of coaching and mentoring  programmes to help them understand the roles of others within the company structure.

Ideally, the business owner or manager would want mentors who are on the same intelligence level as their mentees, as they themselves would have learnt the finer points of company structure and EQ and SQ but will still know how to relate well to their young charges.

Here are some reasons why a mentor is important:

 

  • Experience

Those in mentoring positions have oodles of experience, and have literally seen and done it all. For mentees, the “elder statesmen” are not only the perfect people to show them the ropes, but will school them in issues that can help them grow in the company. Personal ambition is natural, but a mentor will help to harness this ambition so that enemies are not made along the way.

  • Accountability

As Lisa Quast, the founder of Career Woman Inc. explains: “A mentor brings accountability and this breeds responsibility. I’ve found that within a very short period of time, my mentees fall into the habit of holding themselves accountable for completing their action items. They learn from me, as their mentor, and then the excitement of completing tasks and seeing the results motivates them even more to hold themselves accountable and strive for achievements they previously thought were impossible.”

  • A ‘lifelong’ ally

 

Mentors by their very nature want to see their charges succeed, not only because it is great to see youngsters succeed, but because it is a good reflection on their own abilities and teachers. Because of that, mentors tend to support their mentees no matter what. That kind of relationship naturally breeds trust, giving the mentee the confidence to try new things safe in the knowledge that even if they fail, someone will be there to catch them.