Wednesday, March 23, 2011

A glance at where the world is moving toward ...

I am a lady, but not any kind of lady, I am a lady who is completely and utterly in love, no, obsessed with technology and the way the world evolves around it. I love it so much that I made a career out of it. Fourteen years later, here I stand. Every now and then, I gaze at what is, what was and what will be?

The evidence that technology is made the world flat is irrefutable. Those of us who are technophobes are being roped in by new user interfaces such as touch screens and voice activation. Gone are the days where one could shy away from being connected and gone are the days when we could simply disappear for days without an IM, DM or SMS asking "where are you?" Yes, technology has invaded every sphere of life.
As a consumer, the way we transact online is becoming simpler yet more complex. We demand user friendly front-end experiences, safe and secure back-end experiences and because of our assumptions that is should be there, sometimes, we fall prey to hoax sites and scams.

Here are some tips to keep you safe online:

  • If the company is a relatively new one, search for it via GOOGLE and BING, legitimate companies have a track record, even the new ones.  If you cannot find anything on them, step away from the browser!
  • Look for Trust Seals or Digital Certificates which indicate that the company belongs to some kind of membership organisation or has been verified by a trustworthy company.

  • When transacting online, ensure that your browser displays a secure lock and https (not only http).
  • Browse around to see which other companies offer the products you are looking for. This will give a relatively good idea on what to expect on this kind of business website.
  • Email the company and ask for information on delivery or products, if they 
    • don't respond, this is a bad sign of service and or their non-existence
    • respond one week later, also a bad sign, it may take you ages to receive your goods as well
  • My Favourite, find them on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn. Most companies have profiles set up on at least these social networking platforms and judging by the amount of fans and followers, this is a good indication of the kind of business they operate.

What about businesses? How are they affected? Businesses are being bombarded by information overload, a flurry of new and ever improving web applications and life is starting to move into the Cloud. Bottom line? Businesses need to ensure that:
  • their existing processes cater for new set of demands consumers make
  • their networks need to be secure and stable enough to handle the extra load due to:
    • smart phones
    • cell phones
    • table pc's
    • laptops
  • their company policies are modified for information sharing and "leakage"
  • their staff pc's, laptops and smart phones are protected against hackers and viruses
  • they have a presence on social networking platforms
  • they engage with their consumers/customers
  • they move to web application environment, since staff are travelling more and working remotely
Tips for business?
  • Be VIGILANT against VIRUSES. Audit your existing Anti-Virus packages and update regularly
  • BACKUP your data, daily and by the hour
  • Monitor bandwidth consumption and make adjustments where needed
  • Communicate and engage with your customers, they are starting to expect this as the norm
  • Allow your staff to engage on social media platforms, they too are the voice of your company, although audit sites (such as pornographic ones) when monitoring bandwidth
At the end of the day, be careful online but enjoy it. There are so many applications and websites designed to enjoy and make life easier. Knowing how to filter the fluff from the awesomely-incredible is an art you learn over time, but ...... it does happen. 

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