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UK BUSINESSES DIVIDED AS SMBS PLAY CATCH-UP 

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UK BUSINESSES DIVIDED AS SMBS PLAY CATCH-UP 

New research conducted by Altodigital has revealed a startling divide between the attitudes and strategy of SMBs in comparison to larger organisations when it comes to tackling a range of crucial IT issues such as security, print services and digital transformation.

The findings revealed that 51% of small and medium sized businesses simply aren’t interested in using managed print services. In addition to this, an emphatic 78% also admitted that they had no policy in place, despite the proven benefits for smaller organisations. This was a distinct revelation considering 82% of large organisations revealed that a print policy was already in place.

The research commissioned by the office technology solutions provider consisted of two individual studies, one that polled 100 IT decision makers from corporate UK companies with 500+ employees and a further survey that delved into UK SMBs with less than 500 employees.

The results uncovered a stark contrast between the attitude of large and small businesses in the UK when it came to digital transformation. In this area, 36% of large corporate businesses revealed that they had completed digital transformation, with a further 46% saying it was well underway in their organisation. In terms of SMBs the gap was extensive, exactly a third (33%) admitted that they had not started the transition yet and had no plans to do so.

Alistair Millar, Group Marketing Manager at Altodigital said: “It is really surprising to see such a gap between large organisations in many areas, you would typically believe that small businesses are more forward thinking and agile than larger enterprises. However, these results indicate that in some areas, such as managed print services and digital transition, they could be missing a trick.”

The results also discovered an apparent lack of awareness in terms of IT issues, just 3% of large firms believed their organisation had ‘no IT challenges’ in comparison to 34% of SMBs. This is somewhat surprising considering the fluid and challenging nature of the IT environment, highlighted by the recent spate of cyber attack hacks on both large and small companies.

The corporate survey also provided an interesting insight into a larger firm’s top IT issues, with 40% listing that maintaining their existing infrastructure was the top concern.

“While it is encouraging to see that SMBs appear to have very few IT issues, it is important that businesses stay alert to any potential threats while also optimising and improving their IT infrastructure”, added Millar.

Business

Why CMOs Should Care About Customer IAM

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Why CMOs Should Care About Customer IAM 1

By Darshana Gunawardana, Associate Director/Architect at WSO2

The surge to move online in 2020, in turn, has driven demand for high-performance, cost-effective customer identity access management solutions. And as we kick off 2021, customer identity and access management (CIAM) have become essential for any business to really understand their customers which is why CMOs should actively engage with and care about their CIAM system.  I say this because within the various stages of a customer’s buying journey, such as awareness, consideration, purchase and service, more often than not a CIAM is running in the background ensuring the right solution enhances their digital experience by providing significantly better onboarding, personalisation, omnichannel experiences, and privacy controls and building that all-important trust with the customer.

So, let’s take a look at how CIAM works and the benefits it provides in the various stages of the customer journey:

The awareness stage is the very first step where a customer interacts with a company’s brand. This is where customers get to know about the product or the service offered by the business, which may lead them to access the company website or content on other platforms such as social media.

At this stage, customer interactions typically occur at an anonymous level. Therefore, the involvement of a CIAM solution will be minimal as no identifying information is available. However, it’s important to make use of products such as web analytics to preserve customer interest, which can be beneficial at a later stage.

At the consideration stage, customers will have more focused needs and they will show more engagement by downloading datasheets, following product demos/trials, etc. Typically, one or two customer attributes are captured in the CIAM at this level. Depending on the prominence of the attributes, this would be the starting point of representing the customer as a light user account in the CIAM system. These accounts do not have any credentials associated with them since customers have not gone through an onboarding process.

At this level, the CIAM’s inbound and outbound provisioning capabilities play a key role. For example, a prospective customer downloads a catalogue from a product website by providing their email; then, the website would create a light account in the CIAM system using a standard provisioning protocol like SCIM. Next, the CIAM solution will (outbound) provision that user account to different marketing tools – for example, Hubspot, and CRM tools like Salesforce, or web analytics such as Mixpanel.

Likewise, the organisation might correlate the light account with web analytics. This helps to obtain more insights about users, such as geolocation and what type of content they looked at during the awareness stage. These details can be used to provide more relevant, personalised information in the future.

The purchase stage is the level that receives the most amount of attention from most organisations. Depending on laws and regulations, it will be crucial to have verified user details. However, it’s important to ensure that the customer registration and onboarding process is simple and user-friendly.

Minimising the mandatory information fields requested from a customer helps significantly. This can be done by auto-filling information that is already associated with the light account. Another way to do this is by using progressive profiling so that the customer has to provide additional details only when they access a specific service that requires these details.

Having to maintain many accounts and credentials is a major pain point from a customer’s perspective. The ability to bring your own ID (BYOID)  to help simplify the registration process is important. This will also help to reduce self-service or call centre interactions in later stages as it will lessen the need of having to recover an account owing to misplaced or forgotten credential details.

Moreover, having direct integrations with identity verification services like Evident ID in the CIAM solution reduces the overhead of providing various documents or having to go through a manual process to verify customer information, such as proof of citizenship, insurance validity, and so on.

The service stage is also a key stage for many consumer businesses. The user experience at this level determines whether existing customers become champions or detractors for the brand.

From a CIAM standpoint, users should have seamless access to any product or service they consume. If there are multiple services involved, basic things like the ability to consume both services with the same account and having single sign-on among multiple applications have become must-have capabilities. Strong authentication with additional factors is also a need when accessing sensitive applications. In addition, adaptive authentication also plays a key role to balance convenience over security. Having mechanisms like account locking, and risk-based authentication gives more assurance to protect customers’ accounts from malicious parties.

This leads to another vital requirement: self-service. Customers should be able to update and review their privacy preferences, such as the use of different emails for different activities, change associated profile information, and update contact information. At the same time, a user should be able to adjust their security profile by configuring recovery mechanisms and register trusted devices for login. With the advancement of privacy regulations across the world, modern businesses must also give users data portability and the ability to deregister.

Additionally, during the service stage, a business might also go through changes, e.g., mergers and acquisitions of other brands, and these activities should not drastically impact the customer experience. The right CIAM solution can facilitate these moves in an incremental manner.

CIAM can even help initiatives such as loyalty programs, which aim to increase customer engagement. Loyal customers might opt for early access to new products and give more accurate feedback, which can be utilised in A/B testing for product or service changes.

As a CIAM solution is well connected with every system involving the customer, it enables organisations to generate enhanced and actionable behavioural data that can be used to predict and determine possible interests. Even during unprecedented times, this information helps to make better-informed decisions.

Enhancing the customer experience is at the heart of digital transformation. Today’s increasingly sophisticated customers view digital interactions as the primary mechanism to interact with products and services and, consequently, expect deeper online relationships delivered simply, securely, and seamlessly. CIAM plays a vital role in connecting applications and APIs to customers and provides all the capabilities needed to deliver a customer experience that is second to none.

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Volkswagen faces EU fine for missing 2020 emissions targets

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Volkswagen faces EU fine for missing 2020 emissions targets 2

BERLIN (Reuters) – Volkswagen faces a fine of more than 100 million euros ($121 million) for missing EU targets on carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions from its 2020 passenger car fleet, the world’s largest carmaker said on Thursday.

It cut average CO2 emissions in the fleet in the European Union by around 20% to 99.8 g/km, but that was around 0.5 g/km above its target, Volkswagen said.

That implied EU fines amounting to a “very low triple-digit million amount”, a spokesman said.

European policymakers have clamped down on exhaust emissions, forcing carmakers to spur development of low-emission technology or face a penalty of 95 euros per gram of excess CO2 they emit.

“We narrowly missed the fleet target for 2020, thwarted by the COVID-19 pandemic,” CEO Herbert Diess said in a statement, adding he hoped to meet the target this year as the company’s main brands bring out new electric models.

Volkswagen is reducing the combustion-engined cars it offers and retooling more factories to build electric vehicles in an effort to keep up with electric carmaker Tesla.

It has said the EU’s more stringent emissions targets will force it to boost the proportion of hybrid and electric vehicles in its European car sales to 60% by 2030, up from a previous target of 40%.

Volkswagen admitted in 2015 to cheating emissions tests on diesel engines, a scandal which has cost it more than 30 billion euros ($33 billion) in regulatory fines and vehicle refits, mostly in the United States.

($1 = 0.8237 euros)

(Reporting by Jan Schwartz, writing by Emma Thomasson; editing by Jason Neely)

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Oil dips after unexpected rise in U.S. crude stocks

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Oil dips after unexpected rise in U.S. crude stocks 3

By Ahmad Ghaddar

LONDON (Reuters) – Oil slipped on Thursday after industry data showed a surprise increase in U.S. crude inventories that revived pandemic-related demand concerns, but United States stimulus hopes limited the price downturn.

Brent crude futures fell 47 cents, or 0.8%, to $55.61 a barrel by 1030 GMT.

U.S. West Texas Intermediate (WTI) crude futures fell 43 cents, or 0.8%, to $52.88 a barrel, following two days of gains on expectations of massive COVID-19 relief spending under new U.S. President Joe Biden.

U.S. crude oil inventories rose 2.6 million barrels in the week to Jan. 15, according to data from industry group the American Petroleum Institute, compared with analysts’ forecasts in a Reuters poll for a 1.2 million barrel fall. [API/S]

Official Energy Information Administration (EIA) inventory data is due on Friday.

“If delayed EIA numbers tomorrow show a similar crude oil build, it would be the first build seen since early December,” analysts at bank ING said.

Rising COVID-19 cases in China, the world’s largest crude oil importer, also weighed on prices.

Beijing plans to impose strict COVID testing requirements during the Lunar New Year holiday season, when tens of millions of people are expected to travel, as it battles the worst wave of new infections since March 2020.

The commercial hub of Shanghai reported its first locally transmitted cases in two months on Thursday.

Elsewhere, new U.S. President Joe Biden’s administration has committed to curb carbon emissions and among his first actions as president, Biden announced America’s return to the Paris climate accord and revoked a permit for the Keystone XL oil pipeline project from Canada.

The administration is also committed to ending new oil and gas leasing on federal lands.

The administration will also seek to lengthen and strengthen the nuclear constraints on Iran through diplomacy and will be raising the issue in early talks with foreign counterparts and allies, according to the White House.

(Additional reporting by Sonali Paul in Melbourne and Koustav Samanta in Singapore. Editing by Jane Merriman)

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