Tag Archives: Small and medium businesses

How CrowdFarmX Aims To Tackle World Hunger With SAP!

How CrowdFarmX Aims To Tackle World Hunger With SAP!

On 28 September 2018, SAP announced that CrowdFarmX will use S/4HANA Public Cloud to bring on-board 10 million Southeast Asian farmers over the next 22 years. Let’s find out from CrowdFarmX CEO David Tan on how they intend to do that in their mission to tackle world hunger!

 

How CrowdFarmX Aims To Tackle World Hunger With SAP!

The CrowdFarmX platform connects farmers directly to the global market and equips them with the technology know-how to deliver higher-quantity and quality yields, potentially increasing their net yield by up to 10 times and contributing towards global food sufficiency.

By leveraging the SAP S/4HANA Public Cloud, an intelligent ERP (enterprise resource planning) suite, CrowdFarmX will be able to accelerate the on-boarding process for farmers across Southeast Asia. Let’s find out from CrowdFarmX CEO David Tan on how they aim to accomplish that.

Currently, 80% of global food supply is provided by small farmers in a USD6 trillion-dollar industry, but these farmers receive low economic returns for their labour despite increasing consumer demand.

Through smart contracts, CrowdFarmX links them directly to wholesale distributors and retailers, helping the farmers to gain a greater cut of the selling price. Farmers can also leverage brand marketing and financing resources, as well as opportunities for exclusive partnerships with retailers to boost sales through Food Cradles that will be rolled out across the region.

The end-to-end visibility of the supply chain also increases food safety, ensuring that quality food such as pesticide-free produce gets onto tables.

 

How S/4HANA Public Cloud Helps CrowdFarmX

CrowdFarmX will leverage S/4HANA Public Cloud to drive and integrate production planning and management of associated business processes like sales & distribution, procurement, supply chain, finance control and monitoring.

The SAP S/4HANA Public Cloud reinforces predictive analytics for optimised growth, supporting integration of the supply chain with customers, and supporting the track and trace of safe produce from farmers. The SAP S/4HANA Public Cloud implementation is expected to go live in December 2018.

CrowdFarmX aims to impact more than 1,000 Southeast Asian farmers under a pilot phase by 2020, providing access to sophisticated agriculture technologies that were not readily available before.

This includes IoT irrigation monitoring systems and data analysis on micro-climates and soil moisture, enabling them to maximise the yield per square foot of land by up to 10 times. The higher levels of crop production secures food sufficiency for a growing world population especially amidst declining farmer populations.

 

Who Is CrowdFarmX?

CrowdFarmX is part of the Netatech Group of Companies, one of Singapore’s leading integrated solutions provider for water and food sustainability technologies. The CrowdFarmX Singapore Food Cradle was established in 2014, comprising of a high-tech greenhouse, automated seeding line, post-harvest packing and cold storage facilities.

With more than 20 farm technologists, researchers, agronomists at the helm, the CrowdFarmX Food Cradle engages in agricultural research and development, farm network connection and safe food production supplying to premium supermarkets islandwide.

 

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The Economist : Malaysia LEAST CONFIDENT On Future-Readiness!

In a shocking report presented yesterday, The Economist Intelligence Unit revealed that family businesses in Malaysia are LEAST CONFIDENT in Southeast Asia about their future-readiness. What exactly does the report state, and what does this mean for Malaysia?

 

The Economist : Malaysia LEAST CONFIDENT On Future-Readiness!

At an Economist Intelligence Unit event at the Majestic Kuala Lumpur, EIU’s Corporate Network global editorial director, Andrew Staples, revealed some sobering statistics from their study of family business leaders from Southeast Asia :

  • Malaysian family businesses report the lowest levels of confidence in the future-readiness of their people, business environment and technology.
  • They are the least likely to adopt new business models, offer new products and services, and enter new markets.
  • Not surprisingly, they have the least confidence in their employees’ digital proficiency or development of new skills.
  • They also ranked very low in being prepared for technologies like data analytics, machine learning, automation and cloud computing.

Interestingly, the Economist Intelligence Unit’s report also pointed out that :

  • Malaysian family businesses believe that government regulations are the biggest threat to their growth over the next three years.
  • So they see large foreign companies and other local SMEs as their best partners for the next three years.
  • They are focused on leveraging those partners to drive costs down, instead of developing new products and services or to enter new markets.

 

The Economist, MDEC and SAP On Malaysian Family Business Future-Readiness

Now, the Economist Intelligence Unit’s study brings up some questions :

  • Do the results actually resonate with reality on-the-ground?
  • Is the low readiness due to a lack of funds, lack of opportunity, or lack of understanding about the value of digital transformation?
  • How can these family businesses and SMEs, in general, boost their confidence and ability to transform their businesses?

So we sat down with Andrew Staples, the EIU’s Global Editorial Director; Gopi Ganesalingam, Vice President of Enterprise Development at MDEC; and Duncan Williamson, Managing Director of SAP Malaysia, for an exclusive media briefing and Q&A session.

On the burning question of the future-readiness of Malaysian family businesses and SMEs in general, the panel identified talent retention as a key issue :

“People don’t leave companies, they leave managers. You need to put time and effort into changing the company culture, and the mindset of the managers to retain talent. People start to call you when you are recognised as a great place to work. I think there is a tremendous opportunity for us in Malaysia to address the movement of talent. More people want to come back to Malaysia now, and if we can address the challenge of making Malaysia a great place to work, the threat (of losing talent) will diminish,” said Duncan Williamson.

“The work culture is changing, the ecosystem is changing. These are helping to retain talent, and bring the talent we lost back to the country. In the last two to three years, more companies are redomiciling in Malaysia, than there are companies leaving Malaysia; and there are good talent coming back to Malaysia. It’s a good change, and it’s very positive right now,:” said Gopi Ganasalingam.

They also have some advice for businesses in Malaysia :

“Business leaders need to focus on the outcomes. The organisations that are successful are the ones that clearly define the outcomes, and hold their management team accountable for those outcomes. You can then build the technology you need to deliver those outcomes, but you have to be clear on the outcomes to start with,” advised Duncan Williamson.

“The gig economy will be a major change in the way we work, particularly for the younger generation. At MDEC, we already run a programme call eRezeki to educate Malaysians about the earning a living through the gig economy. Co-working spaces are also changing the way we work, and set-up our businesses. They will also change the way our talents are being trained, Gopi Ganasalingam pointed out.

 

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SAP & IDC : The Future Of The Malaysian Internet Economy

On 24 November 2016, SAP and IDC hosted an exclusive briefing on the future of the Malaysian Internet economy. The timing is impeccable because the Malaysian government has declared that 2017 should be the “Year of the Internet Economy“.

Their analysis and opinions on how Malaysian businesses and entrepreneurs should chart their courses going into 2017 are invaluable for anyone who wants to stay relevant in the new age of the Internet economy. We all need to stay on top of the wave of new developments, or risk having it crash on us.

 

2017 – The Year Of The Internet Economy

In 2015, the Malaysian Internet economy contributed 17.8% to the GDP (Gross Domestic Product), just shy of the 18.2% target set for 2020. On the back of this rapid growth in importance, Prime Minister Datuk Seri Najib Tun Abdul Razak called on Malaysians to “embrace, adapt to changes and explore new areas of growth to accelerate the economy“.

SAP Malaysia is in full agreement of this view. In the past decade, the rate of adoption of new technologies has accelerated and technology is changing the rules of business with disruption becoming the norm. This will accelerate in 2017 and local businesses need to absorb, understand and adapt to these underpinning seismic shifts taking place, particularly with regards to Internet of Things and Big Data Analytics.

SAP Malaysia Managing Director Terrence Yong kicked off the session with his view on the Malaysian digital economy, and how IoT and big data analytics are changing the way we make, buy and sell products and services.

IDC Asia-Pacific Research Director Chin Jun Fwu then shared his findings on the adoption of the latest IoT and big data analytics here in Malaysia, before SAP (Southeast Asia) Head of Analytics Kathleen Muller touched on the impact of data analytics and the Internet of Things, particularly for SMEs (Small and Medium Enterprises).

Unfortunately, the current adoption of big data analytics and IoT in Malaysia is low. The key takeaway is that price is not really the issue, but rather inertia. Even if they are aware of what they must do to adapt to the changing world, there is resistance to learning new ways.

That will have to change, soon. Otherwise, even the most established businesses may lose out to their more nimble competitors.

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Setting Up A Secure Storage System For Team Collaboration

Small businesses often operate in lean teams, with each staff member behaving as a “jack of all trades.” This attitude can be useful for acquiring customers and putting in the extra effort SMBs sometimes need, but it doesn’t work for data management and security.

Cyberattacks are not only a risk to large companies like Target or Sony, but are a costly danger to small businesses as well. According to a report by the National Small Business Association, 50 percent of small businesses experienced a cyberattack in 2014, costing an average of more than $20,750.

Storing, managing and protecting sensitive company and customer data is a cumbersome process that can become even more daunting with an expanding team. With tight budgets and an often non-existent IT department, implementing a strong system becomes even more challenging.

Small businesses need a secure storage solution that offers cloud access with local back-up abilities and is scalable (that is, robust enough to meet their current needs, but also able to grow and adapt to future demands). Here are four steps a small business should take to set up and maintain a strong, fast and adaptable secure storage system:

 

1. Identify needs and create a plan.

Work with your key decision makers to determine what kind of file access and management the business needs. Does your sales team need access to documents outside of the office, or does your customer service team need to be able to review complete customer records at any given time?

Identify who in the organization needs access to which data, and develop a written plan. The file management plan should include who will manage the content and be responsible for data backups and who has access to the most sensitive information. The plan will also help determine what storage hardware solutions best fit your needs.

 

2. Set up a scalable storage server.

A network attached storage (NAS) device is an easy and affordable solution that allows designated users to share and access files, media and more from multiple computers and devices. Instead of being tethered by USB cables, users can access data across the business’ personal cloud, via your Wi-Fi network, and still back up data locally.

At a minimum, you’ll want to choose storage that gives you the ability to manage permissions and folder privileges. But to maximize your investment, you should look for a drive that can scale. Some storage drives, like Western Digital’s Red Drive, are built from the ground up to combine easily, so that as your business grows, it’s easy to increase the number of users needing access.

With the WD Red drive, your employees are able to quickly share their files and back up folders reliably. It also comes with software that enables seamless integration with your existing network infrastructure.

 

3. Optimize systems to maximize performance.

Be sure to keep your entire technology network up to date before, during and after installation of a storage server. Ensuring a healthy ecosystem of your storage, router, and modem units is crucial to delivering services to customers in a timely manner and avoiding bottlenecks in the system.

 

4. Enable and manage user access.

When storing sensitive company data, restrictions on security and access are your primary concern. Implement a storage system that allows you to grant file access to those that need it, and rescind it for those that don’t. User access should be described in detail in the written plan, so staff know exactly where to place and find the data they need.

Small businesses typically try to grow quickly, which means shifting roles and responsibilities. When new employees come on, and old ones depart, make sure you are able to maintain control of all of your data. When an employee leaves, revoke access immediately, and when on-boarding an employee, take the time to review your policies and expectations when handling company data and information.

 

5. Develop a good file naming strategy and folder structure.

[adrotate banner=”4″]Keeping your centralized storage system organized, makes it less likely that information will be mismanaged. “Document A” and “Spreadsheet 3” are useless filenames when you are searching through hundreds of documents for one particular file. Use names that are meaningful, but still short.

To help with version control, employ a date and initial system that tells you when and who last updated the document. Descriptive folders will also help you and your team navigate media quickly. Designate folders for financial, sales and operations documents to keep everyone organized.

File storage is only one piece of the puzzle to consider when growing your business, but when properly implemented, can save you and your business thousands of dollars and countless hours. There are a lot of factors to consider, but if you take the time to determine your needs and develop an actionable plan for your company now, as well as in the future, it will give you time to explore your options and make the best choice possible.

 

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Trend Micro : Worst Cyber Threats Facing SMBs

Hackers have plenty of impetus for targeting large enterprises, especially government agencies, financial institutions and health care organizations. Even large entertainment firms such as Sony Pictures, retailers like Target and telecommunications companies including TalkTalk have been exploited by cyber criminals.

That said, the highest valued companies are not the easiest targets, especially since there are relatively few of them compared to the amount of small and medium-sized businesses. Hackers on the prowl will follow any and all leads to a quick payday. Often, this means firing into the crowd, so to speak.

Cyber criminals will have better success going after a larger number of targets than trying to orchestrate advanced targeted attacks against one bigwig organization. Even as cyber criminals continue to become more ambitious, in all likelihood, cyber attackers will continue to go after smaller businesses in 2016. For this reason, it’s worth reviewing some of the biggest cyber threats currently facing SMBs.

 

DDoS attacks

Distributed denial of service attacks represent a huge cyber threat to any business, but especially to SMBs that can only afford limited bandwidth. As hinted at in the name, the purpose of a DDoS attack is to shut down a server, thereby blocking user access to specific Web services or applications. This is accomplished by flooding network intrastate with meaningless traffic. Hence the name, the heavy distribution of requests results in a network crash.

There are countless motives for orchestrating a DDoS attack. For example, it may be executed in an attempt to shut down specific security services, so as to orchestrate a more serious, supplementary attack. However, more often than not, the goal is extortion. Hackers will flood a network, and will send ransom notes to the company stating that they won’t ease up until a certain amount of money has been paid to them. This is precisely what happened to ProtonMail in late 2015. Cyber attackers shut down the company’s central data center, and then requested a ransom of 15 Bitcoins, the rough equivalent of $6,000. In response to pressure from third parties, ProtonMail paid the ransom. However, the cyber criminals did not ease up.

The first main takeaway here is that DDoS attacks remain a significant threat to all organizations, but especially companies that offer Web-based services, and in particular, SMBs that might not have significant bandwidth. The second lesson from the incident is that any SMB that falls prey to an attack should not pay a ransom. Recovery will be time consuming, and will most likely impact revenue. However, paying cyber criminals a ransom only for them to continue the attack will result in even more lost money. When it comes to prevention, network vigilance is key. Any early signs of an impending DDoS attack may make it possible to mitigate the effects. Laying out a smart network infrastructure that can evenly distribute barrage of traffic may also alleviate some of the strain.

 

Striking the point of sale

Point-of-sale malware is not a new cyber threat, but it’s one that has become especially prominent in the past few years. According to Trend Micro, SMBs were hit particularly hard in 2015, having accounted for 45 percent of all scenarios involving POS malware. Everything from restaurants to boutiques to small service providers are heavily targeted, mainly because cyber security is not quite as strong for these companies. Not to mention, smart, sneaky new strains of POS malware are always being created.

For example, Trend Micro researchers recently discovered a form of malware that seeks out POS systems in a network. Dubbed “Black Atlas,” the malware does not appear to target specific companies in any particular industry. However, SMBs are the most likely to be affected.

Other POS threats come in the form of skimmers. These are basically rigged payment processing units that are designed to collect card information, which is then sold on the Dark Web. Part of the reason this is such a big problem for SMBs is because smaller businesses are more likely to purchase less-expensive, poorly vetted card payment systems. Some of these are actually pre-configured with skimmers. In fact, Trend Micro noted that in China, cyber criminals can actually receive text messages every time a skimmer successfully plunders payment information.

In order to avoid being snagged by a POS malware scam, SMBs are encouraged to always purchase verified, well-known payment processing systems. This will significantly reduce the threat of skimmers. Defending against POS malware is slightly more complicated as strains continue to become more elaborate, and generally more difficult to detect. There have been several cases in the past few months of hotel chains having customer payment information stolen as a direct result of POS malware.

The good news, however, is that the use of EMV chip technology significantly reduces the chances of payment information being pilfered. Rather than using the same code for every transaction – as magnetic stripes do – these chips generate a single-use script for each purchase, so that even if hackers to manage to collect this information, it is essentially useless.

Therefore, SMBs are encouraged to make the shift to EMV card processing systems as soon as possible, especially considering that as of October 2015, liability for stolen payment data shifted to merchants. Any business that does not have EMV card reading technology, and is hacked, can therefore be held accountable for the ensuing damages. Many small businesses can hardly afford to become the victim of a POS malware ploy, let along cover subsequent legal damages.

 

Phishing scams

Phishing scams will always be a problem for companies of all sizes. As long as corporations continue to fall for these ploys, hackers will work tirelessly to bring down their targets, which include SMBs. Much like DDoS attacks, modern phishing scams often take the extortion angle. One of the most prominent, recent examples is the notorious CryptoLocker strain. There are various forms of encryption malware, and many of them start off as phishing scams.

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Basically, an employee might receive an email with a request to download a certain PDF or XML. In theory, an aware user should be cognizant of the danger involved with downloading a shady file, but on a particularly busy day, a phishing email may trick even the most wary of workers. Upon opening the cleverly disguised executable, files on the network are locked down. What typically follows is a payment request in order to decrypt the files.

Other phishing ploys might target social media portals, so as to take control of an account. For an SMB that relies on its Web presence to drive traffic to brick-and-mortar locations – for example, a restaurant, bar or mechanic shop – a hacked company Facebook page isn’t exactly choice marketing. Regardless of the targeted medium, a phishing scam can cause serious productivity setbacks for SMBs.

When it comes to securing against phishing scams and cyber threats in general, employee vigilance is hugely important. Granted, even this won’t always be enough to prevent a business from becoming the victim of a cyber attack. For the real tricky threats, SMBs will have to rely on threat protection.

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