Management + Information Technology

The trimester is about to end, but it certainly did not take the whole trimester for me to realize that beyond its importance, there lies the strategic value of Information Technology. From an organization’s Board of Directors from which Corporate Governance springs from, to how entry level employees are instructed in their duties through Knowledge Management, Information Technology has pervasive applications in every level of Management and in the manner that business and work is being done.

management functions
POSLC – Any first year MMBM student should be able to enumerate these functions by heart. These functions are termed by Koontz and O’Donnell. Some versions substitute the function of Leading for Directing, while Luther Gullick’s keyword “POSDCORB” incorporate Coordination, Reporting and Budgeting, while dropping the function of Controlling.

There are five functions of Management: planning, organizing, staffing, leading, and controlling. In each function, there has been and will always be the use of Information Technology. Information Technology and Management functions have been so closely linked in such a way that Chief Information Officers, who used to merely stand guard at the organization’s stores of data and information, are now part of the elite circle that is expected to report regularly to the Board of Directors, formulating and implementing Information Technology projects that support the organization’s goals. This alone is an indicator of how Information Technology has risen to be a related field highly esteemed in the world of business and management.

If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants. – Sir Isaac Newton

Information Technology used to be just synonymous to computerization and automation which ease the workload, when in reality, IT (pun intended) is so much more than that. This is why, beyond having the required business acumen, managers must be able to grasp Information Technology concepts and recognize the strategic value Information Technology has in meeting the organization’s ultimate purpose: its mission, vision and goals. The long list of concepts we were able to discuss in our Mgt 286 subject will not remain merely classroom topics for us current and future managers- these are strategies, best practices if you will, with the ultimate aim of achieving an organization’s purpose:

  • Project management ensures the effective and efficient delivery of a collaborative enterprise.
  • Business Process and IT Outsourcing free up valuable resources to focus on the organization’s core strengths.
  • Enterprise Resource Planning Systems provide software platforms that enhance department functions and inter-departmental teamwork.
  • Collaboration tools and wireless networks provide conduits that update in real time, transcending physical space, for work to take place.
  • Enterprise Architecture is a more detailed subset of planning, wherein Information Technology infrastructure is closely intertwined to support the operational model of the organization.
  • E-Business widens the international market for goods and services, again transcending physical space, for trade and exchange to take place between customers and businesses.
  • Business intelligence creates usable information by matching sets of facts and determining the relationships between them.
  • Knowledge Management speeds up the process of getting employees to contribute to the organization’s purpose by giving them the needed information for them to do their tasks better.
  • Innovation is both highly enhanced and birthed by Information Technology.
  • The ubiquity of Social Media and Information Technology gives rise to ethical, privacy and security issues, which each individual would do good to abide by a set of ethical standards and commit to responsible usage of social media.
  • The efficient use of office applications such as Microsoft Excel and Access require skills training for managers in order for them to maximize the features of such programs that would further aid them in carrying out their managerial functions.

 

Effective and efficient use of Information Technology brings results, not just for business organizations, but for individuals as well. I have always shared it in my blog posts, and will say it again: in this time and age, power is owned by those who have Information, over those who have brute strength and riches. To be more is to do more, and to be able to do more is to know more. Thus, IT matters – for each organization, regardless of its purpose; and to individuals who work and study and transact and relate to others, to the one who does all, or just some.

***

I believe a shout out is in order to the following:

  • My noisy seatmates and kewl classmates- Tito’s and Tita’s, may we make more productive noise through sharing intellectual arguments related to the discussed topics, as we master Management together in the next trimesters;
  • Sir John Lorenz Belanio, who has been patient in answering my many questions in class and through Facebook, tolerating my and my seatmates’ “productive noise”, being clear and understandable in making concepts come to life in classroom discussions, and lightening the drudgery of having one less day in a weekend with his trivia and #Hugot bonus questions during quizzes;

and the loudest one is for

  • Our Lord Jesus Christ, who has and will enable me to surpass this trimester, and from whom all wisdom and knowledge come from. *Soli Deo Gloria*

Postscript to Social Media and Me

I like cartoons. Aside from the adage that says that a picture is worth a thousand words, cartoons combine words and pictures to bring out a thought that neither could bring out on their own.

One of my favorite cartoonists is Nick Seluk, the creator of The Awkward Yeti. In this lovable comic strip, he captures, using a big blue Yeti, awkward moments in work, dating and socialization that are relatable – well, to awkward people (like me, at times. 🙂

the awkward yeti

The comic strip featuring an awkward blue Yeti, his Heart and his Brain just recently gained 1 million Facebook likes for its page: https://www.facebook.com/AwkwardYeti/

A spinoff to The Awkward Yeti is Heart and Brain, personifications of what people think versus how they feel. Often, Heart is impulsive and easily distracted, and yet is optimistic. Brain is logical and somewhat distant, more of a realist, less of a risk taker, and is in tune with the times.They banter about a lot of things, especially when the Heart and the Brain are at odds in their arguments.

As I was browsing The Awkward Yeti’s page, I came across Heart’s and Brain’s exchanges regarding social media, and realized that these form 2 of the cornerstones of Responsible Use of Social Media:

 

12527862_1363667106992721_107130854_n

RUSM Cornerstone No. 1: Spend less time in social media (and more on humans)! Interaction via social media should not be taken in lieu of face-to-face relationships. Credits: Nick Seluk, The Awkward Yeti

12498998_1363667080326057_475173795_n

RUSM Cornerstone No. 3: Think before you post and click. The temptation to post when emotional is great, but Facebook is not a good substitute for a diary. Credits: Nick Seluk, The Awkward Yeti

 

Heart is a really cute character. But somehow, it is deceitful above all things (Jeremiah 17:9). The Brain is located above Heart in the anatomy of the human body, which is why decisions should not be made solely on emotions, but should be anchored in logic. Like, for example, calming yourself down before you rant about politics on social media. 🙂

Social Media and Me

First it was Friendster. I started with it in high school and carried it over until I was in college. There were several friends asking me to make testimonials on their accounts (my first taste of “social media begging”). As early as 2005, some hipster-looking acquaintance asked me if I was on Facebook because he wanted to add me to his list of friends. I dismissed the thought of creating one until in my first job, when I felt I had to make an account because I was missing out (my first taste of #FOMO).  I joined Twitter in 2011, Instagram in 2012, Pinterest in 2013, Viber in 2014, and although I don’t have an account on it, I regularly tune into YouTube as an alternative to television.

 

Inconsiderate Tagging and Unsolicited Comments

It started out as a harmless prank of take-a-picture-of-your-sleeping-officemate done to me while on a staff outing. Then a staff member senior to me jokingly posted a slightly green and distasteful comment it, which to my embarrassment, was read and commented on by relative. He still had to gall to defend his joke after I asked him to delete it, again in the comment section. The photo was not my post so I couldn’t delete his original comment. Eventually he did, but only after I sharply commented that Facebook was public domain and that he needed to be more sensitive about his comments. It wasn’t pleasant being at the receiving end of such comment then, and I would imagine it worse by a thousand times if someone such as a celebrity or a public figure were to receive such comments (and even worse) from the thousands of bashers and trolls hounding him or her online (which is why I do not comment on someone else’s posts, unless I and the person who posted are good friends). This was one of the lessons I learned about responsible use of social media.

Modern Conveniences

Social media accounts are my primary gateway to the Internet. Through them, I would not probably be surfing the Internet on a regular basis. I use Facebook and Twitter to keep abreast on the latest news and trends. I used Twitter to figure out the traffic situation and or depth of flood water in areas in Makati when I was still working there. I use Instagram to source affordable fashion finds. I use Facebook to communicate with my parents when they were both out of the country. I chat and catch up with friends and colleagues I haven’t been in touch with for a long time, especially those I left behind when I moved back to Iloilo last year after working in Metro Manila since 2009. I communicate with my grad school classmates about our reporting and other projects. I’ve even been able to score job interviews from Facebook groups posting legitimate job ads. I express my thoughts and opinions over social media and am given insight into my Facebook friends’ thoughts and opinions as well without being blatantly intrusive. Sometimes, I still cringe when an awkward post I made before comes up in my Facebook memories, because time has passed in a way (read: I got older, haha) that made me realize that social media is something that would either bring me up or tear me down personally and professionally.

ThinkBeforeYouClick400

I personally admire GMA-7 for initiating the first responsible usage of social media campaign in the country. Launched in 2011, the network urged responsible tweeting, but the responsible usage of social media applies to any and all platforms of social media. Credit: http://www.gmanetwork.com

Personal Commitments

I have a choice as to the manner of how I conduct myself online and post statuses that present me as a competent professional, without losing the essence of being myself and the voice of my opinion.  After all, the divide between the Facebook persona and the person in real life should not exist, or else we would only be creating Internet illusions and fool other people and worse, ourselves, even if what we have in Facebook is a termed as a “profile” (#WYSIWYG).

So, I commit to do the following:

  1. I will post or share only post-worthy ideas, pictures and articles.

Post-worthy = anything that is true, noble, right, pure, lovely, admirable, excellent or praiseworthy

  1. I will fact-check before I share articles. The Internet already has a lot of garbage and hoaxes in it as it is.
  1. I will avoid destructive and/or annoying social media behavior. Examples are vaguebooking, trolling, bashing, using harsh words, humblebragging, sending unsolicited game requests, inconsiderate tagging, commenting in bad taste, etc.
  1. I promise to post maturely and responsibly.I promise not to overshare and/or post when emotional. 

    In the end, social media is just a tool: it would reflect me, but it does not define who I am, nor will I ever let it. And I hope my use of it would reflect that.

Piracy, Ethics and Economics

The advent of piracy in the area came at the height of Spanish colonial rule although… [it] was not a response to colonialism for it had existed before the arrival in the area of Western empires…

Piracy …provided the natives the opportunity and resources to be able to trade and maintain local political and economic control despite the Spanish colonial claims on the islands. Until its decline, piracy symbolized the ‘shame’ of Spanish colonizers’ failure to dominate, and its continuance, especially in the enslavement of captives, became the ‘embarrassment’ to liberal values espoused during the subsequent American colonial period.” – Rolando B. Tolentino, University of the Philippines Film Institute

moros

Moro warriors preparing for a raid. http://cebueskrima.s5.com/about.html

The excerpt is from a paper presented on a workshop on media piracy and intellectual property. It aimed to trace Moro participation in historical piracy up to their participation in current piracy issues, which do not occur in Philippine seas and waters anymore but in the bangketas, sidewalks, and tightly-packed blocks of kiosks in seedy shopping malls. Lest you think I am one of those stereotyping our Muslim brothers to those who sell illegally reproduced CDs and DVDs, the point here simply is that, piracy in the Philippines is an age-old problem.

 

“Wannabe Middle Class”

In the same paper, he also explains that the Filipino’s penchant for pirated material stems from the desire to be middle-class: some of us Filipinos, by our own standards, are middle-class and enjoy middle-class finery such as cool music, quality software and entertaining movies. In reality, we are not really in the same middle class as the rest of the developed world, and so we make do with unacceptably obtained middle-class things. Piracy in the olden times symbolized the shame of the Spanish and the embarrassment of the Americans: in modern times, it could mean the lack of political will in the current Philippine government to curb intellectual property crime and improve living conditions for “wannabe middle class citizens” to be able to afford such software or music. However, it is still no excuse for someone to use and purchase pirated software or downloading music. Having less financial resources does not entitle one to use and enjoy the fruits of a programmer or a musician or a film producer without giving appropriate credit and obtaining the right permissions by purchasing original work. If you use something without permission, or enjoy something that is not yours, that is plain and simple theft.

 

The Economics of It

As much as the fault is on the pirated-consuming public, the economics of this is that the “invisible hand” plucks out legitimate creators of software from the market due to competition from pirates. Competition among heterogeneous products is killed, and consequently, the creativity of the film producer, the musician and the programmer is stifled and goes unrecognized.

Software companies must be able to (if I may borrow a title of a best-selling management book) differentiate their products, or die. If it would be possible to go as far as create technology that could not be replicated, they must find ways to achieve that. If not, they must create advertising that appeals to and educates consumers about the ills of piracy. Also, understanding the economics behind the reason people patronize pirated products is the key: in a free market economy and holding all things equal, price is the determinant of the quantity demanded and purchased by consumers. Software companies must lower their prices far enough to enable the “wannabe middle class” purchase their product.

 

MS Office as an Example

Last February 25, 2013, Microsoft announced results of forensic studies that sampled laptops which had pirated software installed and counterfeit software DVDs. They noted that that 68% of the laptops and 74% of the DVDs contained malware in them, and releasing such results enlightened the public. Also, they have released Windows 10 for existing users of both original and counterfeit Windows users, and it supposedly detects and disables pirated copies of Microsoft games. Currently, Microsoft Office provides more affordable packages of their best-selling and widely-copied Word, Excel, Powerpoint and One Note applications for student and home use. A well-heeled student and even an entry-level employee could now afford to buy one of these, which is tagged at around P5,000, when they can afford to buy a mid-quality smartphone that costs double, and a laptop they will use the programs on costs 3 or 4 times as much.

 

If Muslim Filipinos have historical ties to piracy, the rest of the Filipinos have a penchant for imitation. This gift showcases our creativity, as well as our lack of originality. Piracy is an age-old problem, and a cultural one at that, but it does not mean we stick to our victim mentality by patronizing pirated products. After all, Filipinos are God-fearing and piracy is theft.

 

Sources:

http://www.rappler.com/life-and-style/technology/22533-malware-risk-with-piracy-use-microsoft

http://www.asian-edition.org

Turning Information into Knowledge and Managing It

Knowledge Management: A discipline that promotes an integrated approach to identifying, capturing, evaluating, retrieving, and sharing all of an enterprise’s information assets.
(Duhon, 1998)

My Sociology professor in college told us that society had three phases basing on which power was sourced. The first phase was when brute strength was the source of power, and the best warriors won conquests over lands. The second phase was when money was the source of power: during feudal times, kings with riches could pay for the services of knights to defend them and their kingdom. The last phase is right here and now: information is the source of power, where those who know and are in the know hold power over those who don’t. Indeed, knowledge, or understanding how to use information, is power.

knowledge

From brute strength to information turned into knowledge: this picture provides a good illustration for the change in the source of power in society. (source: Pinterest.com)

It goes without saying that Knowledge Management will benefit all types of organizations; the only difference would stem from what knowledge an organization has, how it is to be captured and subsequently disseminated for those who need to know. Knowledge Management in its earliest forms in the Philippines may have taken the form of the traditional seminars and workshops, but in the advent of information systems, these systems have evolved into more than the usual accounting system, to intranets keeping information which is needed by employees to do their tasks well, and ultimately achieve the organization’s goal. According to an article by Michael Koenig in kmworld.com, there are three categories of knowledge: explicit, implicit and tacit. Explicit knowledge is documented; implicit information is not documented, but could be and is easily made explicit, and tacit knowledge is that which someone who has it would find extremely difficult to document.

 

One way of efficiently harnessing Knowledge Management is by providing employee self-service knowledge. In the bank that I used to work for, a desk manual, both in soft and hard copies, would serve this purpose. According to Trisha Morris, there are seven benefits from employee self-service knowledge:

  1. Employee engagement. Employees feel connected by having the information they need to learn and know to do their jobs.
  2. Profitability. Knowledge is a big factor in the whole sales process.
  3. Productivity. Employees are encouraged to do more because they know more, and know better how to act on what they know.
  4. Consistency. When same queries arise from employees, having an official knowledge management channel would provide a consistent answer to these queries.
  5. Churn/ Employee Turnover. Employees churn or do not stay long in their jobs due to frustration in not being able to obtain adequate information needed in their jobs.
  6. Culture. Knowledge management and employee self-service knowledge creates a culture of constant learning.
  7. Customer Service. Customers appreciate getting better answers from customer support representatives who are more informed and knowledgeable.

 

Some challenges to knowledge management include decisions to be made on content, which types of information could be considered valuable and relevant, how to capture such information, and how to present such information that employees have easy access to these and are not drowned in information overload. From a human relations point of view, some senior employees may feel threatened to share their knowledge because they believe that their knowledge is what keeps them valuable to the organization. This could be addressed when the organization advocates and promotes a culture of openness and knowledge sharing, and employee performance could be rated on how employees share their knowledge and not just merely on how they do their jobs.

 

To take the much-loved adage a step further, knowledge management is empowerment. Employee empowerment is when employees are given a certain degree of autonomy and responsibility for decision-making regarding their specific organizational tasks. Employees are given power to do their jobs excellently instead of relying on the answers their superiors give them to their questions, where the probability of miscommunication increases. As a result, the employees, their superiors and the organization as a whole, are benefited in a win-win situation.

Business Intelligence: Harvesting Ideas from the Organization’s Own Brains

Business intelligence used to conjure up images of corporate espionage in my mind. One of my favorite heist movies, Inception directed by Christopher Nolan, captures the action and the drama of stealing and planting ideas from major stockholders and top corporate managers. However, in real life, top management need not look very far and hire a team of “dream extractors”, as played by Leonardo di Caprio, Joseph Gordon Levitt, Tom Hardy and Ellen Page in the movie, to gain useful and actionable information to support their decision making: business intelligence does these, and what they only need to look into is found in the organization’s data.

 

inception- business intelligence
In the movie Inception (with the teaser movie poster pictured above), Leonardo di Caprio plays Dominic “Dom” Cobb, a “dream extractor” who steals ideas from corporate competitors’ subconscious minds, tasked to plant an idea in the mind of an heir to a conglomerate. Such espionage may border on the illegal if in real life, but if a corporation wants to obtain ideas and intelligence without resorting to espionage, it may “harvest” such trends and information from its own data through several business intelligence tools, as listed in the diagram below.

 

As with any information technology initiative, the use of business intelligence must be aligned with the vision, mission and goals of the organization. And as with the implementation of any project, all stakeholders must understand that the use of business intelligence tools would help the organization achieve its goals. Thus, the use or non-use of business intelligence tools would depend on how the stakeholders, especially the employees and managers, perceive either the benefit afforded or the inconvenience caused by these tools.

 

In the organizations I had the opportunity of working in, business intelligence tools took the form of the following: use of spreadsheets, journal entry testing and account balance analytics, reporting and query tools built into ERP systems such as PeopleSoft by Oracle, use of performance metrics and/or key performance indicators, and the use of a balanced scorecard. When an organization includes process improvement in its main thrusts, its employees are encouraged to improve the way work is done, and effective use of business intelligence tools can help with that.

 

In my experience, most companies use punitive measures to ensure that their employees maximize the business intelligence tools the company has invested in by including this in employee performance management criteria. Personally, depending on the type of tool, the convenience of using business intelligence tools and understanding their relevance to my job is encouragement enough to use them. For example, in my former job as an auditor, I used analytics to process financial data, as this process discovers the relationships between account balances to lessen the audit risk*. In another company, I was also tasked to use queries embedded in an ERP system to perform reconciliations used in monthly reporting reviewed by top management and is part of internal control.

 

In conclusion, I do not think that the company has to stick with one approach in using business intelligence use: depending on the nature and purpose of the business intelligence tool the company has invested on, top management can decide to use the carrot-and-stick approach. A “carrot” or rewards program encourages employees to go beyond and discover best practices in the use of business intelligence tools, and a “stick” or punitive measures are meted out when performance metrics are not met and similar business intelligence tools, such as dashboards and other reports, are not used.

 

 

*audit risk- refers to the risk that an auditor may issue unqualified report due to the auditor’s failure to detect material misstatement either due to error or fraud. (Wikipedia.com)

Online Shopping Through the Eyes of a Retail Therapist and MMBM Student

[Online] retail therapy. [Online] bargain hunting. [Online] killer deals. Whatever euphemism you call them, online shopping is still shopping, less the physical travel to and moving around a brick and mortar store, and the sensory perception of a product. The convenience of online shopping amazes me: with just a few clicks, value is received and given up by both parties consummating a purchase or sale transaction. Time and energy that would have been spent travelling to and from the place of sale, waiting in queue and even requesting assistance from salespersons is saved and could be spent elsewhere. The Internet opens a worldwide marketplace where items that are difficult to find are now available at our fingertips.

 

However, no rose is without its thorns, and as much as online shopping seems to be a rose too fragrant, there are downsides to the convenience brought about by it. These may include the following possibilities: erroneous or misleading product descriptions as posted on the website; purchasing rip-offs, faulty and/or fake items due to the inability to inspect the item prior to purchase; receiving damaged or the wrong quantity and/or quality of the purchased product; credit card information theft and/or misuse when buying over unsecure websites; slow and inefficient product delivery; and poor after sales service, where returns and exchanges are not adequately entertained.

rustans makati

Personally, “retail therapy” is actually relaxing for me: the aesthetically pleasing layout of the stores, the customer service extended by well-trained salespersons, the ability to use my senses on the product I am about to buy, for me is part of the thrill of purchasing and enjoying the product itself. As aesthetically pleasing window displays are designed (a personal favorite of mine is Rustan’s Glorietta along Ayala Avenue in Makati as pictured above), web developers can always make the website layout equally as eye-catching (as with the screenshot of the victoriassecret.com website below).

Victorias secret.png

With the pros and cons of shopping in stores versus online, I believe that there are items that are better purchased online. Without hesitation, I would buy the following items online: Airline tickets, hotel accommodations, and movie tickets. Booking airline tickets and hotel accommodations allows easy comparison among competing hotels and airlines in terms of rates, and flexibility for preferred schedule when purchased online. Purchasing movie tickets online allow for convenience in selecting the scheduled screening time and available seats.

I would think twice to buy the following items online: clothing from unrecommended online stores, online review courses/ test banks, small or medium-sized appliances. Clothing sizes are usually not standardized, so a “Small” for one brand may mean an “Extra small” for another; the fit and textile may not seem as advertised; the seller may be bogus- these inconveniences make me think twice to buy clothing online. Online review courses and test banks are usually expensive, and customer care after sales might not be adequate enough to compensate for the high price, but if needed, I would proceed to purchase with care. Small or medium-sized appliances such as blenders popular in websites such as Lazada pose risk in terms of defects and damages upon receipt, but the price must not be too expensive, that receiving a defective or damaged item with no return would cause a significant dent in the wallet.

I would never consider buying the following items online: medicine, gadgets (laptops, cellphones and tablets) and high-value items (jewelry, appliances and designer bags). Buying medicine online is available in the States, but is not yet popular here. Given the proliferation of fake goods, medicine is too valuable a commodity to risk buying online. Gadgets and high-value items are not advisable to buy online because of the sheer price, unless through a trusted dealer, however, there may continue to be inconveniences in the shipping, and may also be subject to damage or theft by unscrupulous shipping personnel and customs employees.

Ultimately, it is best to ask around for recommendations in terms of buying online to make your shopping experience a better one. And whether shopping online or not, one must also be careful not to fall into the grip of consumerism.

 

Photocredit: http://www.forurbanwomen.com/2013/02/rustans-makati-february-window-display.html

Wireless Networks: The Advantages of Invisibility and Needed Precautions

Way back in college, when Nokia colored phones were all the rage, I had my 6600 then. I could swap business cards through infrared, instead of dictating numbers. My classmates would pass time during the boring NSTP Saturday assemblies by opening their Bluetooth and sending messages to chat with other freshmen who were as bored as we were. Little did I know that wireless network technologies were to shake the very way we were to study. An excellent example would be, in our senior year, I and my groupmates finished our research and feasibility study using the WiFi connection of a review center housed in the same building as her dormitory (which did not require a password to be able for us to connect, to our delight).

 

Wireless technology is not limited to WiFi, or Wireless Local Area Network (WLAN). These include Bluetooth, Infra-red, WiMax, Zigbee and satellite technologies, with applications of such technologies used in a myriad of common devices such as wireless mouses, cellular phones, cordless telephone sets, two-way radios, baby monitors, TV remote controls, satellite TV and the like. Wireless networks have the advantage of convenience: the Internet becomes available from a convenient location. Users have mobility in accessing the Internet, not being restricted to the confines of a desk in order to plug in the LAN cable to the computer port. Wireless networks have expandability, being capable of adding more users without creating additional wiring.

The Advantages of Wireless Networks:

convenience

mobility

expandability

More than being able to use a mouse to shift between slides when doing presentations, wireless technologies have a lot of implications on the way work is being done in the organization I work in. I am now able to work in any workstation in the office, even in the pantry or canteen, because of WiFi capability. Video conferences are regularly being held in meeting rooms for town hall meetings and job interviews. In case employees cannot leave home to report to the office during calamities, we are able to work at home to ensure business continuity, as long as we have a stable connection.

LAN router

I used to work in a company where only one router was available for a staff of 30 people more or less. Around only ten had a steady LAN connection, the rest had to make do with a router like this. The work space was so poorly designed that the router was almost always in the way, and a slight shift of the router due to accidental touches would mean getting dirty looks from the rest of the staff, who got their work interrupted. This inconvenience would have been resolved by using a secure wireless network.

One of the requirements to avoid unauthorized use of WiFi is to change the default passwords and name of the network. Then, a strong password must be created, that must be 1) at least eight characters long, 2) does not contain the user name, real name or company name, 3) does not contain a complete word, 4) is significantly different from the previous passwords, and 5) should contain an uppercase and lower case letters, numbers and or symbols found in the keyboard, including spaces, if possible. The password must be known to the IT Department personnel only, and they must be prohibited from sharing the password to other non-IT staff. Encryption and firewalls must be turned on.

The crux of the matter is, security must not be sacrificed for convenience.

 

Sources:

https://www.efxkits.us/different-types-of-wireless-communication-technologies/

http://windows.microsoft.com/en-ph/windows-vista/tips-for-creating-a-strong-password

https://www.fcc.gov/consumers/guides/protecting-your-wireless-network

Complete and Unofficial Results! UPV MMBM 2nd Trimester Seksyon Uno Mock Elections

I did a mock poll as part of our class exercise in making Google doc surveys, and here are the results:

Total Number of Respondents: 15

Question No. 1: Who will you vote for President in the coming national elections?

Miriam Defensor-Santiago       (8)

Undecided                                  (4)

Rodrigo Duterte                         (2)

Mar Roxas                                  (1)

 

Question No. 2: Who will you vote for Vice President in the coming national elections?

Leni Robredo                              (7)

Undecided                                   (5)

Ferdinand Marcos Jr.                  (2)

Alan Peter Cayetano                    (1)

 

Question No. 3: How optimistic are you that the elected government will usher in better changes?  (1 being the least optimistic and 10 being the most optimistic)

Average:                                        6.1333

Least Optimistic:                          2 (2 respondents)

Most Optimistic:                           10 (2 respondents)

Other responses:                           5, 6, 8 (3 respondents each); 4 & 7 (1 respondent each)

 

I’m not limiting this survey to my classmates, so if you’d like to participate in this poll, you can find the survey here:

https://docs.google.com/forms/d/1w9XDBxxZEZ8vugsk9n4ANNdVImNbN6YYP68kDUr0WbI/viewform

Thanks classmates for participating! 🙂

Outsourcing IT Security: Service from the Outside

Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) is one of the current buzzwords in the world of commerce and trade. It shouldn’t really come as a surprise, given the rate globalization has been sweeping the international business scene. More than your typical call center, Business Process Outsourcing is a strategy to transfer functions not limited to marketing, collections or customer service to the care and expertise of another company, including the crucial function of Information Technology as well. A company that offers services such as IT Security and Payment Card Industry (PCI) compliance is called a Managed Security Service Provider (MSSP).

Advantages of outsourcing IT security include:

  1. Better-managed costs and manpower: A company may choose to pay a blanket fee to an MSSP instead of investing in office space and incurring related utilities expenses, hiring costs and salaries and wages.
  1. Better Technology, Expertise and Support: MSSPs are bound to invest in hiring highly-skilled IT personnel and purchasing technology in order to survive competition. In addition, most MSSPs offer technical support to their client to resolve issues immediately, which is something which may take time for a company that does not have IT as its core competency.
  1. Increased Focus on Core Competencies: If the company considers IT as a non-core business competency and outsource this, it is able to free up valuable resources, focus and improve on the things it does best.

Disadvantages include:

  1. Loss of control: A company’s control over their IT is diminished because the MSSP is not subject to the same management direction given by the client company management.
  1. High Cost of Switching: Contracts may not be easy to get out of if standards of quality is not met by an MSSP.
  1. Bad for employee morale: Outsourcing leads to layoffs in the in-house IT department, and disgruntled employees may find a way to compromise data security.

So, should IT security be outsourced? Given the above pros and cons, the answer would be, it depends. Management must be able to weigh each of these and check if outsourcing IT security would support the business objectives. Outsourcing IT security is not a cure-all for all organizations. For example, the shared services company I work in has an internal IT department to help deal with onsite technical issues, such as setting up video conferencing equipment, installing programs on company-issued laptops and other hardware issues, so entirely outsourcing IT to offshore locations would not help business objectives.

Should management decide to outsource IT security, they must be able to agree on an almost-foolproof airtight service level agreement (SLA). It must be noted that in IT security outsourcing, the customer has more leverage in the drafting of the stipulations of the SLA, whereas the MSSP will have more leverage upon commencement of the outsourcing. To gain leverage during the negotiation stage, the SLA should include but should not be limited to (in my humble opinion) the following stipulations:

  1. Defined classifications of confidentiality and data security: For example, credit card information of customers and personal information of employees are strictly confidential (e.g. Level 1), whereas advertisements launched in public are not (e.g. Level 5).
  1. Appropriate treatment for each classification: For example, Level 1 information may be retained in permanent files, accessed only by those in a need-to-know basis, and no personal copies must be made or kept. Advertisements, before public launching, may be a Level 1, and classified as Level 5 after such launching.
  1. Conditions constituting breach of information and resulting penalties: For example, an advertisement was leaked prior to public launching. An investigation ensued and an employee of the MSSP was faulted. Depending on the gravity of circumstances, the contract may be revoked, monetary penalties may be imposed, and lawsuits may be filed against both the employee and management.

 

BPO friends.
Me and my young professional church friends in Makati, from L-R: Lou-Ann, Zinnia, Pam, me, Karen, Camille, Divine, Sheena and Jolly. All but Pam, who is a preschool teacher, have been employed in a BPO company at least once in their career. I’ve learned a lot about the BPO industry from them.

Outsourcing is a double-edged thing; it has its risks and rewards. Being in the BPO industry and having friends who otherwise couldn’t have been gainfully employed if not for it made me realize the many implications the industry has: more than just a calculated business move, business process outsourcing is a mainstream of the service industry. If you can’t serve yourself well, pay others well to serve you, but make sure that they serve you better than you can serve yourself.

 

Sources:

http://computers.in4mnation.com/pros-cons-outsourcing-security/

http://www.journalofaccountancy.com/issues/1998/jun/antonuci.html

 

Postscript:

Sorry, I went overboard in the word count for this blog post. But I hope I did justice to an important managerial issue by translating it down to everyday speak. 🙂