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3 ways you can stay compliant when it comes to data governance

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3 ways you can stay compliant when it comes to data governance

By Peter Bradley, CEO at Torsion Information Security (www.torsionis.com)

Info security, data governance, data access…name it what you will but for the finance industry there are hoops galore that you must jump through if you want to remain compliant.

As well as regular scheduled compliance checks from internal auditors, there can also be spot checks without warning from the external regulators.

What do you need to show them? Well you need to demonstrate that: you know exactly who has access to what information,why and when; that you have the right processes in place to keep access to this information correct and appropriate; and that you are asking the right questions internally and externally. You must prove that you are in complete control when it comes to owning and sharing data.

Financial organisations typically manage high volumes of sensitive data that needs controlling. There’s financial data, commercial data, customer data, and if you’re publicly listed the level of control required is even higher.

As well as the compliance checks there are various standards that you may operate under such as PCI DSS for customer payment data and ISO 27001 for info security.

And while SharePoint and other collaboration tools such as Office 365 and Microsoft Teams are great for sharing files, folders and sites with colleagues (and those outside your business)access can quickly get out of control. ‘SharePoint Sprawl’ is therefore one of the major drawbacks of collaboration platforms, particularly as it affects crucial business practices such as data governance, cyber security and data management.

Add all of this together and firms simply have too much data, too many people, and too much constant business change for sprawling data access to be effectively managed by manual processes or tools. Access to data, for instance, is shared on average, up to forty-four times more than it is revoked, presenting a situation where ‘who has access to what’ tends to accumulate and sprawl at a rapid rate.

So how can you ensure you are data governance compliant 24/7?

Know who has access to what information

There are plenty of processes you can put in place to monitor who has access to which documents and folders such as creating a thorough catalogue of sites, restricting permissions and providing clear site descriptions. However, these processes are highly manual, the extent of which is far beyond the resources of most data rich firms.

The good news is that, thanks to the latest machine learning technology, there are automated solutions designed to engage business users without being a burden on their day to day activities.

The new tools apply machine learning, data science, the mass of resources of cloud-based computing and AI to integrate with existing collaboration systems such as SharePoint and Office 365 to constantly monitor and control who has access to what. The sprawl, and data governance, can be controlled.

Prove that you are in control

When it comes to data, it often comes down to the firm being able to prove they are in control of access.So, you need to go that extra mile and prove to the auditor that you knownot only who has access to what documents but also the reasons why somebody has access to a specific piece of information. The business process which leads to the list of who has access to something must be proven to be appropriate and working well – just presenting a list of names is no longer sufficient.

Put another way, only when you know the reason why someone has access, can you prove to an auditor whether they should have access, by demonstrating that the reason is actually true.

So, if someone shares a file or site, you need to capture the reason why.This could be part of their job role or department, the account they’re working on, or that they’re temporarily covering for someone else.Then you need to monitor those reasons, detect whenever they are no longer true, and proactively revoke access which is no longer appropriate.

For example, if Jane is covering Mary’s maternity leave she should only have access to Mary’s documents for the period she is off, and any permissions should state both the reason Jane has access i.e. maternity leave and how long for. If an auditor sees this rule, they can easily cross check to see if Mary is still on maternity leave or if she has returned. You have therefore proven that you are in control of why each person has access to specific information.

Of course, this is too onerous to manage manually and there are now automation tools that can record access permissions, set rules and automatically revoke access when it’s no longer valid or required. At any point, the auditor can see who has access to what information, why they have it, and most importantly have proof that access is correct and appropriate.

Carry out regular security certifications

Another tactic you can employ is to carry out periodic security certifications, by asking business users to certify that access to the information they are responsible for is correct. This further demonstrates that a firm is in control of their sensitive information.

It’s not viable for a central IT department to know who should have access to what, particularly in a large financial institution. Info security needs to engage all business users and become everybody’s problem and responsibility. All staff need to be made aware of how to handle information safely and securely, how to spot incidents and what to do in the event of a breach. Therefore it should fall to the business users to certify access to their own data.

But business users are busy carrying out their day to day jobs so once again it makes sense to introduce software that can carry out the security certifications automatically, making the onus on the business user as minimal as possible.

Data access compliance in action

CPS is the industry’s only independent global provider of data-driven cash management solutions. They provide cash centre consultancy, data & software solutions and sorting machines, supported by a global service team, to central banks, commercial processors and retailers as well as single note inspection systems to banknote printworks.

They use an automated platform from Torsion Information Security to ensure they are compliant at all times and minimising the chances of any security breaches.

The software they use monitors and detects any inappropriate access, out of date folders and permissions, duplication or the movement of files. If anything doesn’t look quite right it will promptly alert a business user associated with the file and shut down any potential breaches. Other than that, it runs in the background until it is required. It carries out periodic security certifications by briefly prompting a user to check any access is still current. At any time they can produce a record of who has access to what information, when and why and prove they are in control of it.

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Research exposes the £68.8 billion opportunity for UK retailers

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Research exposes the £68.8 billion opportunity for UK retailers 1
  • Modelling shows increasing the proportion of online sales by 5 percentage points would have significantly boosted retailers’ revenues during the first lockdown
  • 72% of Brits want retailers who started an online service during the pandemic to continue operating it full time

New data released today by global payments platform Adyen, outlines the economic gains that could be accessed by getting more UK retailers online.

Economic modelling conducted by Cebr for Adyen indicates that if the retail sector increased the proportion of turnover stemming from online channels by 5 percentage points, £68.8 billion would have been added to the economy during the first lockdown.

While retail turnover stemming from online sales has grown significantly during 2020 – from 19% to 28%[1], there is still considerable room for growth.

Myles Dawson, UK Managing Director of Adyen comments: “The UK retail sector is facing an incredibly tough quarter, so creating the link between physical stores and online channels is more important than ever. With the festive period approaching and many shoppers unable, or uncomfortable leaving their homes, establishing and maintaining a positive online experience is a billion-pound opportunity for retailers.”

The research[2] of 2,000 UK consumers found that 31% are less likely to shop in physical stores now because of positive experiences shopping online during the pandemic. Furthermore, 72% of these consumers want retailers who started an online service during the pandemic to continue operating it in the long term.

However, making the process of shopping online as frictionless as possible will be key to unlocking the opportunity presented by online channels. 70% of Brits say that when shopping online, the ease of use is as important as the quality of the product, and 72% won’t shop with a retailer whose website or app is difficult to navigate.

Myles Dawson concludes: “Many retailers did amazing things during the pandemic in terms of adapting and creating new experiences – it’s a testimony to their agility that 57% of Brits said their expectations of the retail sector has improved during the pandemic. The challenge now is to consistently meet these expectations going forward. With local lockdowns in place, online channels will be key to serving many consumers in the short term. However, retailers need to see the shift to unified commerce as a long-term trend. The sooner they can demonstrate agility and jump on board, the longer they’ll reap the rewards.”

[1] https://www.ons.gov.uk/businessindustryandtrade/retailindustry/bulletins/retailsales/august2020

2 Research conducted by Opinium Research LLP

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Want to serve your customers better? An effective online strategy is what financial institutions need 

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Want to serve your customers better? An effective online strategy is what financial institutions need  2

By Anna Willems, Marketing Director, Mention

A strong online presence matters.

Having a strong online presence, that involves social media is now a crucial part of all business strategies. Whether they are retail brands, sports teams, libraries or even restaurants, most companies are investing more and more in developing their digital brand image and online presence – financial institutions are no exception.

When it comes to market trends and innovation, financial institutions are first on the line. After all, we — people and companies — trust them to manage our money to the best of their abilities. And even more so than any other market, we demand secure, trustworthy, fast and user-friendly services.

Reaching such high expectations is not a given. To this point, banks and other financial institutions have no other choice but to have a perfect understanding of their market, their audience, and their needs. What they need to get there is a fail-proof online strategy.

Gaining a deep understanding of your market

One of the best things about using social media to learn about your audience is that people give unsolicited opinions. They speak their mind and share their thoughts candidly.

This is the key to help any business to learn about themselves. They get to analyze their audience’s challenges and aspirations without having to ask them directly or serve them time-consuming surveys and polls.

UK-based Asto, a company that is part of the Santander Group, is committed to helping small businesses have access to financial and non-financial tools. Asto was looking for something that could help them discover what their target audience was talking about and find opportunities to add to the conversation. Mention enabled Asto to keep on top of reviews and customer comments, which has helped us provide a better service for our customers.

Which platform suits your offering the best?

There’s no point choosing to create campaigns on TikTok if your customers don’t use it – you need to think about who they are and work back from there.

You do this by automating the process using a social listening tool. A social listening tool will help you to view your market as a whole and identify where the key conversations are happening — and, therefore, where you should be. What’s more, you will never miss any relevant mention of your institutions, products, services, or competitors.

Handling a crisis

Financial institutions need to watch carefully for negative press – social media is the first place people will go to if they feel they’re not getting the service they need. In theory, rogue employees or unhappy clients can post anything they like online to try and hurt your brand. And if their messages gain traction, you’ve gone from one person saying bad things, to thousands.

That’s why listening needs to be part of any crisis management plan. Now, sometimes, there are crises you cannot prevent. And those usually hit pretty hard.

Power of influencers

For an influencer marketing campaign to work for your financial institution, partnering with nano content creators may well be the best way to go. They’re ability to play a part in how they shape your brand story can make a huge difference when it comes to engagement and reason to believe in your service.

Many financial institutions are already leveraging influencer marketing. It’s an efficient strategy to: Build trust and gain credibility, reach out to new audiences and share engaging stories.

The online review conundrum

94% of consumers check online reviews before they decide to buy something or subscribe to a service. They need what we call social proof. It says that the more people say they use your service, the more it will look like a good service. In short, you need to show how happy people are using your service. But not all online reviews are positive.

Having said that, we find that financial institutions shouldn’t ignore negative reviews. Instead, embrace them as an opportunity to rebuild trust in your brand. Less delicately put, take the bull by the horns and turn them to your advantage. Always respond to relevant complaints (and as fast as possible). Take responsibility for what happened. Be helpful.

And ignore trolls.

Learn from the competition

Over the last two decades, a marketer’s daily life has greatly evolved. Most importantly, we now can measure everything we do, including the consequences of our actions on our business. Having said that, you can’t evaluate how well you’re doing without comparing against

others.

Truth is that 77% of businesses rely on listening to keep an eye on their competitors. What this means is that 4 in 5 of your direct competitors are likely watching each and every single step you take. And you should do the same.

Setting the trend

From staying up to date with the latest industry trends and innovations, to keeping an eye on the competitors’ newest services, to being the first to know of potential brand crises – tracking relevant online conversations lets marketing and communication professionals working for financial institutions to stay one step ahead in an industry that is leading change and innovation.

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Why the Boom is Long Overdue (and Here to Stay)

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Why the Boom is Long Overdue (and Here to Stay) 3

By Roger James Hamilton, CEO, Genius Group

Virtually every aspect of our lives has been taken over by tech, so why is it that our schools, that are educating the business leaders of tomorrow, are still operating in much the same format as they did 100 years ago?

The global pandemic put digital learning in the spotlight and an Edtech boom has ensued, with companies like Coursera, Quizlet and Udemy seeing unicorn style growth. And the market is not slowing down. The education technology (Edtech) boom will continue.

Resilience and Growth

Unicorns are defined by rapid growth. Traditionally, these companies are not overly concerned with early profitability, long-term sustainability or value creation as much as with putting their competitors out of business.

But something different is going on in the Edtech market. The unicorn has lost its appeal. When learning platform Quizlet achieved unicorn status this year, CEO Matthew Glotzbach was keen to play down the moniker reserved for start-ups valued at $1 billion or more, preferring to liken his company to a camel.

Unlike unicorns, camels are real, hardworking beasts. Respected for their adaptability to various climates, resilience, and abilities to survive for long periods without sustenance. These are all traits much better suited to weather the economic storms created by the pandemic.

Despite their considerable abilities to adapt to challenging conditions, the climate is looking particularly sunny for camels within the Edtech market. In fact, all creatures great and small have the potential to capitalise on unprecedented growth in this sector.

The nature of education makes it a traditionally slow-moving area, which renders it unattractive to some investors. Yet, the coronavirus outbreak and subsequent surge in remote learning this year triggered a flurry of uptake in e-learning platforms.

We’ve seen the adoption rate for new technologies be accelerated by events like this before. For example, the SARS crisis of 2003 contributed to the boom in China’s ecommerce industry, as quarantines lead consumers to shop online. Of course, this market trend did not slow down once quarantine restrictions were lifted. Ever since, global online sales have risen exponentially. The same is set to happen in the Edtech market.

Providing a Solution

As with ecommerce in 2003, the demand for Edtech in 2020 was already there. It has been there for years. For the past decade at least, there has been a notable need in recruitment for qualified talent in data science, coding and digital. Edtech can bridge the skills gap, not only within formal education but also for adult learners upskilling and reskilling for today’s digital world.

Similarly, the financial crash of 2008 had the effect of fast-tracking the rise of the gig economy, requiring millions more to learn entrepreneurial skills. The idea of a job for life is now a distant memory. The Edtech sector can deliver the tools to equip students of all ages with the skills necessary for creating their own opportunities, as well as exchanging knowledge and collaborating in a digital economy.

Rising unemployment, as well as competition for jobs and government furlough schemes has seen interest in digital learning courses for adults also soar during the past few months. Figures show that the corporate e-learning market is set to increase by as much as $3.09 billion between 2020 and 2024.

Roger James Hamilton

Roger James Hamilton

The Edtech boom kickstarted by the pandemic is just the beginning in a paradigm shift in how we view education and work.

Over the next 10 years, with the rise of artificial intelligence, automated technology, and augmented reality, traditional, manual and customer service based roles will diminish and there will be less need for a large workforce when computers and machines can do the role equally well.

The need for a truly 21st century education system that reflects the needs of the job market is long overdue. Edtech companies are offering solutions to many of these issues that have troubled the economy for the past decade or more.

A Different Animal

Enter the zebra (back to our animal analogies). These types of Edtech businesses will be the ones to watch within the sector. With zebra companies, there’s a sense of community and collaboration, rather than competition. They understand that there’s room for more than one superstar in a market. Zebras are herd animals after all. The zebra believes that competition is healthy for everyone involved—something to watch and use for motivation and growth. It closely observes consumer trends and continually strives to solve new and developing problems for those consumers.

For zebra companies, profit margin is vital because it is necessary for steady growth and sustainability. Revenues hover between $5M and $50M, it serves customers within a specific niche, requires annual growth capital of $100K to $1M, and generally has more than four streams of revenue.

Zebras are both black with white stripes and white with black stripes – they have a fluidity in their approach and are camouflaged at the same time. This creates a double bottom line: Zebras want to conduct real business, by solving a pressing problem in a sustainable way, whilst reacting to contemporary challenges. This too could be said of the Edtech industry as a whole.

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