ImpacT: The Imprints of Information Technology

ImpacT2

What does it mean when something has a strong effect on you? It moves you. It could be in a positive or negative way but one thing is for sure, it simply takes you somewhere uncharted, offers you something new, or takes away aspects that do not sit well with the currents. Impact gives birth to change.

If we compare the world with how it is 1000, 100, or even just 10 years ago, we will be able to easily point out the stark differences. One of the things I consider as the most significant forces of change in the world today is information technology (IT). Time and again, in my every blog post over the trimester, I have expressed how information technology brought our lives to a whole new different level may it be in a personal sense, or in the course of our professional journey. A millennial like me lives and breathes IT. Of course, IT really matters. IT has such a great impact in my life in particular that if IT is a person, it could have squealed Regina George’s famous line, “Why are you so obsessed with me?” right to my face! Because I really am!

 

 

Because of information technology, I get to experience a new way of doing things in line with my job as an auditor and the way I interact with the people around me. It upped our game in the way we do our work and live our lives. Take it away and everything becomes haywire. Here are the impacts that information technology has in my life in professional and personal aspects.

 

Increased efficiency in doing tasks

Information technology has greatly influenced the physical structure of almost all businesses today. It has shaped the way offices are being designed to promote efficiency in carrying out tasks. Work environments have become smaller to save cost on additional personal spaces in offices.

 

 

Wireless networks have become so popular to achieve space saving structures with lesser maintenance and replacement costs for unnecessary cables. In our organization, the IT department is gradually moving towards a complete wireless revolution. The elimination of LAN cables have improved working conditions especially for us, auditors, who are on field most of the time. We can easily transfer from one building to another and still have our laptops usable because of the internet access in all our buildings.

One IT invention that I find to be very helpful in making my day-to-day tasks easier is the use of electronic spreadsheets. In our work, we deal with large volume of data to be processed and analyzed through available spreadsheet applications. When I was first exposed to the use of spreadsheets in data analytics, I took a very slow pace in tapping keys on my keyboard because I was so afraid of making mistakes. Through constant use of this tool, I was able to memorize the different formulas and shortcuts which helped me save a lot of time in doing complex calculations. Now, I am much confident with tasks involving the use of spreadsheets that I was even asked to train my fellow auditors on the spreadsheet tips and tricks. I am slated to do a knowledge sharing session with my peers within the year.

(Word of caution:  Because of the above, sometimes I type like this cat 👇)

 

On a larger scale, IT has influenced the business structure of most companies. Their strategies and business models are dependent on the availability of IT tools, products, and services, as well as available funding.  A large chunk of a company’s budget are often incurred for these IT resources as companies take the big switch to more streamlined, paperless processes.  Here, companies explore the wonders of IT and the opportunities that await their businesses such as E-business, enterprise resource planning, database application, among others where they can utilize business intelligence tools, collaboration tools, among others.

In 2012, the management of the company where I am currently employed decided to take the big leap towards the implementation of SAP system, one of the most popular ERP systems currently available. It was a bold plan that achieved great success due to the full support from the top management. The group of companies already experienced growth through using manual processing techniques. How much more with using automated processes, right? They gradually changed their processes to adhere to internal control principles and ISO standards. The group experienced a wonderful transformation. Bundy clocks were replaced with biometrics devices. The buildings were equipped with CCTV cameras with an outsourced monitoring unit, and servers were set up and upgraded as necessary. Desktop computers were slowly replaced with laptop units for managers and on-field employees. Service vehicles were equipped with GPS tracking devices for better monitoring. Business structures were examined and redundant processes were eliminated. The group was able to focus more on the primary business objectives and decided to outsource other functions like security, utilities, labor in warehouses and shipping operations, among others. The group was able to reach a wider scope in terms of establishing customer relationships, expand their businesses and explore other industries to penetrate, and make use of available technology like tele/video conferencing to cut costs in the conduct of meetings and reporting procedures. Overall, it was a sweet escape to a more efficient, transparent, faster, simply better way of doing business.

This aspect of the business is very significant to me as an auditor of the group because this would dictate how we do our audit procedures in terms of testing the design and implementation of internal controls put into place by the management, assessment of compliance with company policies and procedures, as well as analysis of financial and operational data to evaluate the effectiveness and efficiency of operations. As auditors, our efforts are more focused on further improving the processes and identifying process gaps that could have been missed out along the way during transition. We integrated IT-specific procedures in our audits such as identifying breaches of proper segregation of duties especially in the assignment of roles in SAP, potential glitches in the design and integration of various modules to the main ERP which can be uncovered through analysis of data, assignment of conflicting transaction codes to the employee’s function, among others. IT has shaped the business which in turn shaped the way I do my job.

 

Promotes collaboration among workmates

With the popularity of reduced personal space to cut costs, it brings another advantage to the business which is increased collaboration. Work environments have become open space instead of having individual closed offices or cubicles. This gives the employees a chance to work closer, even next to their bosses which improves communication. Immediate concerns are quickly given attention and resolved. This also gives way to better knowledge sharing among peers as coaching becomes readily available. Progress of teammates can be easily monitored and instructions can be given instantly. Barriers to effective communication are eliminated which results to work accomplished in a faster and more fun way.

Image result for office collaboration
Source:  openofficespace.typepad.com

 

Improved security measures both physical and logical

In the advent of technological breakthroughs, a lot of threats exist which could compromise businesses. One of the most alarming threats today is cyber crime. With the integration of IT in business, security measures also need to cope with these changes. Companies nowadays invest on IT security to protect privacy as well as advocate for ethical use of IT.

In our company, we are regularly reminded of changing our passwords especially after an incident of hacking directly affected my corporate email account. I logged out of my computer at around 7 pm and proceeded home. When I checked my email at around 10 pm, I noticed that my corporate email was flooded with unscrupulous messages from an unknown source. It continued for the rest of the night until the next day. When I got to the office the next morning, I immediately reported the incident to the IT department which worked closely with us to resolve the issue. I found out that I was one of the 10 victims that day. The incident greatly affected my work during that day because of the occasional pop-ups for username and password every time the fraudster attempts to hack my account. Our IT department proved to be very reliant that day as they closely monitored to block the hacking attempts.

 

 

Cyber crime is somewhat prevalent in our company. Several incidents of hacking/phishing attempts are reported on a monthly basis and what I experienced was only the first wave of it.

From that experience, I always ensure that my accounts, not only my corporate email are properly protected. I have also pledged to live by the principles of computer ethics so that I do not burden others with my bad IT practices.

With all these advantages, what we need in our organizations are managers equipped with IT knowledge. Otherwise, managers should acquire a background in IT to be able to give sound advice on IT matters as it affects all the others areas of business. They must be able to integrate IT in decision-making processes like the preparation of strategic plans and managing projects, as well as on the creation of enterprise architecture. This way, as future managers, the decisions we make are value-adding to the business and are in line with the direction that the company is taking such as its mission, vision, values, goals, and objectives.

IT is a product of the effort of humans to bring change in the world. In turn, IT moves us because it has a strong impact on us, on the world around us. It changed the landscape of business and society throughout the years and continues to leave a remarkable imprint in history and a vision of a strong and promising future. Indeed, our relationship with IT is a two-way street. As Father John M. Culkin said, “We shape our tools and thereafter they shape us.” ★

 

References:

http://creativeofficepavilion.com/impact-of-office-technology-on-workstyles-and-workplace/

Credits:  All GIFs are from Giphy.com.

This blog claims no credit for any media posted on this site unless otherwise noted. Images and videos on this blog are copyright to its respectful owners. If there is an image or video appearing on this blog that belongs to you and do not wish for it appear on this site, please email with a link to said image or video and it will be promptly removed.

Social Media is <3

Image result for social media
Source: tresnicmedia.com

Decades ago, the title of this post could be interpreted by most people differently.  ‘Why is social media less than three?’ some math buff may ask, or ‘What even is social media?’  Thanks to Web 2.0, programs nowadays allow user-generated content which ultimately gave birth to what is known today as social media.  People felt the need to express, inform, communicate, and reach out, among others. And to do that, sometimes, words are not enough! Before emojis, we used symbols to intensify the message that we try to convey.

Rabbit made of text characters holding sign reading 'When did this start?'

(Flashback to the time when text art was a thing — the mother of emojis!!! :p)

Thus, in today’s age, the title needs no 89-word introduction even to a five-year old kid.  This is how social media is so popular in this age and time. Social media is a daily staple in everyone’s lives.  It has dominated the extra hours of almost every person, young and old.  In fact, people nowadays struggle to get that highly-coveted ❤ in most of their posts, may it be in Instagram, Pinterest, and even Facebook after it revamped with “reactions” last February 2016.  And the development and growth are expected to continue as demand for smartphones, computers, and internet access continues to increase.  Last April 2016, a survey conducted by PEW Research Center reveals that 76% and 51% of Facebook and Instagram users, respectively, log in to their accounts daily.  This only goes to show that social media is something that is very important to everyone.

As a now 26-year old professional, social media is very integral in my personal and professional growth and development.  Here’s why:

 

  • Awareness

As someone who works in an 8:00 am to 6:30 pm shift, I can no longer take hold of a newspaper or even spare my precious time in the morning to watch some news.  That is where social media comes in to the rescue.  Social media can be used as a tool to gain awareness of everyday mundane things to the large scale trending news.

DR

It is in Facebook where I usually get my daily dose of news by going through my newsfeed on my way to work.  Even local newspapers have put up their own Facebook pages to reach out to a wider scale of population.  Through posts from these pages and shares from friends, I also keep myself well-informed.  Aside from that, I also browse through Quora to indulge on new information.  A lot of interesting topics are posted on this platform.  Questions from other people can sometimes be really thought-provoking and really interesting like “What should I not order from McDonald’s?” or “If you got a call at 11:59 that said ‘they are coming for you at 12:01,’ what would you do?”  These kind of questions pop up occasionally on my Quora newsfeed and would immediately catch my attention. Seeing these kind of questions make me aware that I am not the only one who has these weird pressing questions and also keep me well-informed especially when the respondents share based on their own personal experiences and are trusted and credible sources on such topics.

There are also times in my life where I go to YouTube to look for answers for questions such as “How to bake a cake?” or “How to pack light for travel?”  One thing I also enjoy doing is watching archives of TED and TEDx talks. This site definitely has a lot to offer when information is what you are looking for.  Surprisingly, YouTube can be a very informative social media platform.

 

  • Entertainment

This is social media’s fun part.  This could very well be the very reason why most people started to engage in social media (before all those “personal development” bluff some try to rub in.  Just kidding!)

As for me, I definitely enjoy browsing songs through Spotify, to strengthen my singing prowess.  Again, I am kidding but I truly truly truly love music though.  I love several bands like All Time Low, Paramour, Ecosmith, and some duo and solo artists such as He is We, Ingrid Michaelson, Kinna Grannis, Us the Duo, Jason Reeves, and a lot more!  By having a Spotify account, I develop my musical talents which I am still trying to discover as of the moment and also improve on being a fan of these artists as I keep myself updated with their latest songs, concerts, and even merchandise.

Spotify

Aside from that, I also enjoy watching videos on YouTube which include travel vlogs, DIYs, photography, short films, and visual arts.  These videos help keep me sane by giving me an avenue to indulge in the “other side” of me apart from my work as a corporate auditor.  I may not have the time to travel or do arts and crafts but by watching these videos, I am able to keep my connection with my hobbies which make me very happy and motivate me in my job as I crave more for vacation. 😀

 

  • Communication

I make use of Messenger when contacting family members abroad.  I have some relatives working in other countries and having social media helps in communicating with them.  This is very helpful especially that these messaging apps can be used for free.

Source: www.techtimes.com

Aside from that, I recently appreciated the existence of Messenger because it helped me settle an invalid charge to my credit card.  Now I will not dig deeper to the details of this very unfortunate event in my life but this is to point out the importance of having a social media account.  Because of the slow response from the support team of one Australian-based website (Clue:  They offer online typing jobs!) that I subscribed to, I resorted to leaving a message in their Facebook account.  Upon seeing the text, “Typically replies within an hour” on their Facebook page, I immediately grabbed the chance.  I sent the details of my concern and the reply was indeed fast.  I even got to send screenshots of my transaction to them via the Messenger app to further prove my claim for a refund.   The personnel on the other line was very helpful and supported my claim as well.  I took screenshots of our conversation in Messenger and sent it to the Support team via their own website and Voila! After 24 hours, I got an email saying that my claim for refund was approved. 😀  Social media has indeed upped our communication “game”.

 

  • Collaboration

We often make use of online collaboration tools to virtually meet and discuss our group projects and reports.  We put up a chat group in Messenger to facilitate discussions as well as help us in exchanging files and creating polls.  This facility helped us in making better decisions and encouraged the participation of everyone even those that are not physically present during group meetings.

Source:  zoom.us

As a student taking up Masters, it is often difficult to align schedules with my group mates especially that I often go to out-of-town locations for fieldwork and three of them are working in banks.  #MonthEndBlues often require them to stay late in the office to finish some month-end report.  Just recently we tried using the app, Zoom to discuss a group report.  I was able to contribute in the discussion even though I am travelling from work to my home.  This was made possible by a steady data connection on my phone, and my earphones.  Our lesson in our Mgt 286 subject regarding collaboration tools has indeed helped each and every one in our class appreciate the importance and usefulness of these available collaboration tools online.

 

  • Expression

Social media has also been a way for me to express myself.  I post about things that I like and I make it known to the world how I love what I posted.  I also express how other people’s posts make me feel by reacting to them through “reaction buttons” like in Facebook and hearts for Instagram.  I also comment on posts when I feel like it.  I share stories that move me and I love how social media can create such kind of connection with other people from all over the globe.

Feeling

Ever since the emergence of social networking sites, a lot of people felt empowered to speak their mind on issues like terrorism, politics, gender, religion, etc.  I think, the more informed we are, the more opinionated we become.  The only question is how one was informed — misinformed or well-informed?  Truly, social media has become an avenue for feelings and opinions to meet or collide because of the power to express that it gives us.

Social media like any other things, is double-edged.  It depends on us, users whether to use this tool for our advantage or destruction.  That is why these trends must be followed up with responsible use.  As a responsible social media user, I commit to do and live out the following:

  • Never post when I am emotional. There is a thin line between posting to simply express your feelings and reckless ranting.
  • Value real relationships over virtual ones. I will always see to it that more importance is given to physical connections with my family and friends rather than spending time browsing through social networking sites.
  • Not always believe everything I see on the internet. I will be more skeptical before I share things or proceed with making payments online.
  • More honest to people when I cannot answer their messages and make it clear to them that my social networking time is limited. I sometimes tend to ignore messages or calls on Messenger especially from people I barely communicate with and let it pass as it is.  Now, I will try my best to tell them when I cannot attend to them timely or ever to help them not waste their time.

“You are free to choose, but you are not free from the consequences of that choice.”  This universal paradox resounds fittingly to the use of social media.  Social media is gift — let us not use it for wickedness and regret afterwards because we made the wrong choice.  Before you click anything, let us think and reflect.  Choose to be a responsible social media user.  Above all, when you are made to choose, let love be your compass.  Always choose to spread some love and keep those ❤ ❤ ❤ coming up!★

 

References:

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2016/feb/24/facebook-reactions-like-button-angry-love-haha-wow-sad-faces-heart

http://www.smartinsights.com/social-media-marketing/social-media-strategy/new-global-social-media-research/

 

This blog claims no credit for any media posted on this site unless otherwise noted. Images and videos on this blog are copyright to its respectful owners. If there is an image or video appearing on this blog that belongs to you and do not wish for it appear on this site, please email with a link to said image or video and it will be promptly removed.

Don’t Hate, Just Educate: A Softer Approach to Software Piracy

 - Dilbert by Scott Adams
dilbert.com

There is no justifiable reason for using pirated software copies.  Piracy is stealing and stealing is illegal and immoral.  Supporting piracy is tantamount to using poverty as an excuse for robbing a bank.  If people have the money to buy a computer, then they should also have the money to buy legitimate software copies.  However, to blame someone for doing it may not be a reasonable approach.  The better approach here is proper education.

According to the World Anti-Piracy Observatory (WAPO) program of UNESCO, one leading cause of piracy is the low level of public awareness.  Piracy has somewhat become socially accepted that people do not feel guilty in doing it.  It lacks the social stigma brought by any other criminal activity.  Also, the public often has misconceptions about this practice.  For most, it is a means of getting by.  They think that since it is easy to do, it is not illegal, that they were in dire need of it and it came at so cheap a price, therefore their actions were justified.

People should be educated on the impact of using pirated copies. The dangers include the following:

  1. Using pirated copies may subject you to severe copyright infringement penalties. Companies did not simply invest their millions to be taken advantage by software pirates.  They are bound to protect their hard work by implementing legal reassurances.
  2. Illegal copies may infect your computers with malware which could damage your files or expose confidential information like contracts, bank account numbers, passwords, contacts especially customer lists, etc. Your computer may suffer a crash which defeats your purpose of saving money.  Most of the time, damages brought by malware are irreparable and could lead you to buying a new computer.  So much for saving on software!
  3. The program may not work properly after quite some time as developers push product updates which could render your copy unusable if detected to be a pirated version.
  4. You may not avail of customer support and other after-sale services. You cannot enjoy professional assistance since the copy you have was not purchase legitimately.  You have to figure out things on your own which is very inconvenient.

 

Related image
www.academia.edu

Software companies may initiate campaigns to raise awareness about these dangers of piracy and partner with associations and organizations that advocate against this practice.  Case in point is Microsoft Corporation’s efforts in establishing a trade group, The Software Alliance, also known as Business Software Alliance (BSA), in 1988.  This organization is a member of the International Intellectual Property Alliance and represents a number of the world’s leading software developers such as Adobe, Apple Inc., Autodesk, Cisco Systems, IBM, among others.

The 2016 BSA Global Software Survey indicates that:

  • 39% of software installed on computers around the world in 2015 is not properly licensed
  • CIOs estimate that 15% of their employees perform unauthorized installation of software in the network, while almost 30% of workers admit doing this practice. Simply put, a large number of CIOs are not aware of how frequent such practice takes place in their organization.
  • 49% of CIOs identified security threats from malware as a major threat posed by unlicensed software.
  • Worldwide rate for using unlicensed software is 25% for the banking, insurance, and securities industries – critical industries where stricter controls are expected.

Through these studies, organizations are able to obtain data which can be applied in the implementation of their strategic plans.

Alongside pushing for proper education and information dissemination, software companies may adopt other methods to fight off the problem on piracy and at the same time build up consumer’s capacity.  These are the following:

  • Offer low priced versions and cut out some of the features like introducing starter packs to reduce the barriers to purchase legitimate copies
  • Target businesses that use illegal copies instead of pressuring the government. Without the demand for these illegal products, factories serving these will experience a slump thereby killing their businesses.
  • Make freeware compatible with operating systems to empower people to shift from piracy, but at the same time maintain the company’s competitive edge. A plethora of free versions of almost every program is available at CNET, Sourceforge, Brothersoft, and Get Jar.

 

 

In this pressing piracy problem, people need to understand that it is not a victimless crime.  The price one pays today is nothing compared to the price one may pay in the future which could include considerable jail time.  Piracy is a criminal offense.  It is not justifiable to rob yourself of your future for a few present gains.  Remember that ignorance of the law excuses no one! Let us kill ignorance.  Spread information, spread awareness, and softly, we kill piracy. ★

 

Resources:

http://portal.unesco.org/culture/en/ev.php-URL_ID=39405&URL_DO=DO_TOPIC&URL_SECTION=201.html

https://sourceforge.net/

http://www.makeuseof.com/tag/the-5-best-most-reliable-srces-to-download-freeware-programs/

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/BSA_(The_Software_Alliance)

http://globalstudy.bsa.org/2016/

https://securitygladiators.com/2014/09/17/why-not-use-pirated-software/

https://www.bitdefender.com/tech-assist/self-help/dangers-of-using-pirated-software.html

 

This blog claims no credit for any media posted on this site unless otherwise noted. Images and videos on this blog are copyright to its respectful owners. If there is an image or video appearing on this blog that belongs to you and do not wish for it appear on this site, please email with a link to said image or video and it will be promptly removed.

Knowledge is a Gift, Pass it On

As an internal auditor in a diverse company, knowledge management (KM) is very important.  In my one year experience in the company, I have found out that KM is a big part of our organization’s existence.  We apply knowledge management from the start of our audits which encompasses the review of prior years’ working papers until the time that we archive our audit reports. As the cycle goes on, KM is implemented as we ensure that the bits of knowledge in our reports are properly captured, organized, shared, and used. Sustaining this practice is quite crucial and indeed the #StruggleIsReal.  Before I joined the company, the department as what my boss explained is somewhat experiencing a rebirth.  Almost all the employees were new and came from different backgrounds.  Due to this, there was a serious need to revisit the department’s KM efforts.  If only knowledge can be bottled up…

Despite this tedious task, our department prioritized boosting KM efforts in 2016 and moving forward.  This is due to the following benefits brought by KM which just cannot be discounted.

1. Encourages collaboration among employees

Image result for collaboration
Photo credit: www.aiim.org

There is faster decision-making because information is more properly and systematically organized to be readily available for use.  It creates an avenue for easier access to relevant information.  In our practice as auditors, we often stumble upon data that requires further research or information which needed to be reviewed against standards or industry practices.  Having everyone contribute to the KM “potluck” encourages knowledge sharing within the department.  Having known that a certain team has encountered a certain issue before that is relevant to their current audit, the team will feel the need to consult the previous auditors in order to discuss the issue at hand.  Thus, collaboration takes place.  These resources are collections of contributed information from different employees and accumulated on file as years go by.   Scarce resources before now become widely available through the establishment of knowledge portals, “lessons learned” databases, risk universe, database of reports, etc.

2. Helps protect intellectual capital

Ongoing efforts to ensure that knowledge collected from various employees are properly shared and used also help protect information from threats of theft, misuse, and loss. Files such as presentation materials and training manuals gained from company sponsored seminars are used during monthly cascading sessions to the team and are kept in a secured storage.  Access to these scarce and oftentimes, confidential information is very much limited to the contributors and immediate users.  This helps secure information and preserve them to be utilized by future generations.

Image result for intellectual capital
Photo credit:  www.linkedin.com

3. Improves company culture and performance while reducing costs by incorporating knowledge sharing strategies

KM gives the company a chance to innovate and learn.  Because of increased collaboration among employees, new experiences are shared from which fresh ideas spring.  To encourage the use of KM in our organization and help embed it in our culture, knowledge-sharing efforts are considered in the performance evaluation.  Now, in our monthly departmental meetings ideas are welcomed.  A portion is dedicated for knowledge sharing may it be issues encountered in current audits which are subjected to comments from the VP right away, training cascade, explanation of technical terms, discussion on common helpful Excel shortcuts, and more.  There has been an increase in employee participation after a revised performance review form was released incorporating KM initiatives.  This in turn increased performance of the department due to readily available information.  It helped avoid redundant efforts and chances of making the same mistakes twice.

Image result for company culture knowledge management
Photo credit:  http://knowledgemanagementinternational.com

4. Aids organizations to focus on more important areas of the organization

A better KM system eliminates the need to tackle large amounts of information on a daily basis.  Because the reports, files, and  other documents are organized for easy retrieval on a continuous basis, organizations can skip this monotonous task and focus more on other more important areas.  Efficiency is therefore improved.

Despite the obvious benefits of knowledge management, certain barriers exist preventing its smooth implementation.  These are the following:

  • Lack of support from management to change company culture

It may be hard to introduce KM since the existing culture of the organization does not support KM practices.  This bars the integration of KM strategies into the company’s goals and strategies.  A link cannot be established, is unclear, or is simply missing.

The main contributing factor to this is the lack of direction and leadership from the management.  There is no initiative to propel clear communication and understanding of KM through the creating a clear picture to be presented to the organization regarding its benefits and values.  Due to this, employees, though may be willing will not have the time or resources for knowledge sharing activities since these are not part of the organization’s budget or priorities.

  • Limited physical resources to carry out knowledge management strategies

There may be constraints in the physical work environment which hinders knowledge sharing practices.  The layout of work areas may restrict KM efforts because of having separate closed offices instead of open work spaces.  This lessens the chances for interaction between knowledge sources and recipients.  Also, the employee size may prove unmanageable and cannot be well supported by the existing physical resources as there may be shortage of formal and informal spaces where employees can reflect to gain new knowledge, store this knowledge, and share it.

Information technology plays a vital role for the successful implementation of KM.  IT-related limitations may also pose as a constraint to KM efforts such as the lack of integration of KM tools and venues with the organization’s IT systems and process, or the lack of technical support and maintenance of integrated IT, if any.  This obstructs communication flows in the process of carrying out KM efforts and impedes the efficient conduct of work routines.

  • Reluctance to share or gain knowledge to and from others
Image result for what's in it for me meme
Photo credit: https://memesuper.com/

A lot of “experts” in the company may question, “What’s in it for me?”.  This barrier exists due to the lack of a rewards system to encourage people to share their knowledge and the fear that the credit may be stolen from them.  Knowledge, especially tacit ones is considered as an asset of an employee, a competitive advantage over those who do not possess the rare skills which make one more effective at work.  Below are examples of these skills:

– superb expertise on Excel shortcuts and functions

– technical knowledge over audit procedures

– project management skills including variance analysis

– knowledge on auditing standards, industry practices

– background on the different process involved in various types of business industries

– soft skills such as dealing with difficult auditees, carrying out engagement procedures, cost-saving practices, etc.

 - Dilbert by Scott Adams

Organizations, as part of KM efforts often make a way to discover and extract knowledge of this kind from the employees they hire.  It is often shared through your curriculum vitae and during employment interviews in order to convince employers to hire you — a way to market your self.  Once you get in, you are then required to contribute in a organization’s KM database.  However, there are people who believe that this advantage is lost once they start sharing it.  They began to question their job security because they feel they lost their edge and that they have began feeding competitors with a weapon that can be used against them.  This is quite a selfish view towards knowledge sharing, right?  The internal competitiveness within organizations make it hard for others to share.  Organizations should try to project a “one team” concept instead of feeding the need for power of other people. Having a flat organizational structure may help the organization soften up this aspect.

Often, the reason to hoard knowledge is the belief that people may misuse the knowledge one has imparted.  To combat this, organizations should improve their measures in securing their KM databases and implement strict control of documents and files.

Further, others choose not to rely on the KM database due to the lack of trust on the accuracy and credibility of the knowledge source.  Organizations should implement strict measures in verifying sources and filtering contributions being made to the databases.  A dedicated knowledge management team, led by a Chief Knowledge Officer (CKO) should be established to work on the tasks of screening and authentication of entries to the knowledge pool.  This may be done if the organization is very much passionate towards their KM efforts and the Company’s resources would allow them to do so.

  • Deficiency of skills

Soulless Container Of Knowledge - Dilbert by Scott Adams

There are also employees who are hesitant to share knowledge because they believe that they are not capable because they lack the proper skills.  A number of organizations in the Philippines consist of “old” population who belong in generations that lack the familiarity on IT systems.  They do not have any experience with modern technology thus, they lack the appreciation towards opportunities that they may exploit like IT systems, tools, and processes.  Others also blame their poor verbal  or written communication skills although they are brimming with the right technical skills to share.  They claim to not have the appropriate experience levels for these KM tasks.  Organizations may eliminate these hesitations by offering soft skills training to these employees.  This gives the organization all the more reason to pursue their knowledge management efforts.

As the saying goes, “Knowledge is power but knowledge sharing is empowerment.” Knowledge being hoarded is only selfish potential power.  We gain knowledge through the things other people share to us.  This is empowerment that we receive from others.  Let us not close the loop.  Knowledge is a gift that others have gladly shared to us, let us promote empowerment by choosing to pay it forward.★

 

References:

https://www.forbes.com/sites/lisaquast/2012/08/20/why-knowledge-management-is-important-to-the-success-of-your-company/#76959b633681

https://www2.deloitte.com/lu/en/pages/strategy/articles/benefits-knowledge-management.html#

http://www.stephendale.com/2011/10/26/36-knowledge-sharing-barriers/

 

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An Intelligent Approach to Business Intelligence Tools

In my previous job as an external auditor, I remember being assigned as a trainer to promote a new business intelligence tool internally developed by a new venture team in one Ernst and Young (EY) office in the United Kingdom.  Our office here in the Philippines, being a local affiliate of EY needed to stay attuned to the latest trends in the global scene.  The tool aimed to simplify the audit process by providing quick links and dashboards to users to assess engagement status at a glance.  It also enabled the uploading of data from spreadsheets and the performance of financial analysis within the tool itself, allowing users to easily view year-to-year comparison of balances, as well as streamline the organization of audit evidences with the audit procedures within every milestone in the audit roadmap.  It provided a systematic approach to gathering, sorting, and filing the soft copies of audit working papers as well as handle the tedious task of monitoring their preparation and reviews.  At a glance, teams can say how far they have gone with their audits.

Business intelligence (BI) as a tool is relatively new and many business users still do not know how to actually take advantage of this technological innovation.  To inject this abruptly in an organization would prove detrimental due to resistance of people to change.  So, what now? After your organization has spent a big chunk of this year’s budget to these BI tools, how can the business users be influenced to utilize these?  How can organizations encourage a more effective use of business intelligence tools?

 

The tool developed by EY was a very helpful tool, and of course at a very expensive cost.  It was a giant move for EY to introduce this tool worldwide.  The promotion lasted for over a year before pilot testing was done on selected teams which included the team I was in during that time.  Based on my experience, in order to effectively implement this modern concept, a marketing approach needs to be considered during its introduction.  Here are some steps on how to do about this approach and why this has actually worked.

 

  1. Start with the “big fish”

A sudden full blown implementation is destined to fail.  Whether the tool is directed for use of customers or employees, it is always advisable to start with your organization’s big players since they are the ones with the most significant impact on the use of BI tools.  Begin the implementation roll-out with the top management, the biggest project teams, the higher-profit customers — their voice is the voice of the majority and is loud enough to cause revisions on the tool or on its implementation before a 100% roll-out is achieved.  Doing a pilot testing of the tool and focusing first on the few important players will help you fine-tune the tool before exploding to the repulse of the big crowd.

 

  1. Encourage co-creation

Once you have tapped the “big fish” in the organization, the next thing to do is gain their support.  You sold them the BI concept which they willingly bought.  Now is the time to make them partners in promoting the tool.  This is best achieved by making them feel part of the implementation process.  Gather their feedback and see which are valuable enough to be considered to give more value to the tool.  Doing this gives the big players a sense of ownership over the tool.

In my previous job, the big teams were selected for our tool’s pilot testing.  We had to meet weekly to attend webinars with other participants from all over the globe.  Webinar topics include the basic guidance on the proper usage of the tool and the required equipment.  We were also tasked to submit reports at certain points during the testing where we document our own team’s implementation plan and feedbacks on how effective the tool is for its purpose. In the process, the pilot teams were assigned to cascade the webinars to the other teams, thereby providing a venue for co-creation and collaboration.

 

  1. Implement a rewards program

To give credit to the teams that contributed valuable knowledge in the further development of the tool, a rewards system would prove enticing.  An organization may do this by compensating the efforts of the pilot teams through bonuses.  Another fun way is by letting everyone join a slogan-making contest or a propaganda video making for the new tool in exchange for prizes.

These will encourage more participation and support from the business users.

 

  1. Go big on ads and promos
Photo credit:  EY Global

 

Inform your business users of the upcoming improvements.  Release regular advisories or teasers to give everyone a heads-up that something big is about to land on your organization.  Create infographics and promotional videos to get people to start talking about this and also to lay out what these users may expect out of this new tool.  This will also help you gather initial reactions from the rest of your business users that will also facilitate the proper fine tuning to suit specific needs of the smaller players in the organization.

 

Aside from the pilot testing done for the big teams in EY, we also had a second wave of pilot testing for the small teams using the EY Canvas version applicable for smaller engagements.  Based on the pilot testing done for the big teams, small teams already had an idea of the common functionalities of the tool also through the help of email blasts, posters, banners, roadshows, and of course, knowledge sharing.

 

  1. Provide support and proper training

After the introductory phase, comes the trainings conducted to properly guide users on how to use the BI tools.  Organizations should dedicate a significant time to better condition their business users before laying their hands on these new applications.  Trainings should include keywords familiarization, lectures, and simulations, among others.  It will also help to send manuals and infographics to the emails of these users or maintain a portal specifically for the purpose of hosting all materials related to this new BI tool.

 

For the EY Canvas, we conducted weeklong trainings for the new users before the use of the tool was formally fully rolled out to the whole organization.  At the end of the trainings, timelines were defined for every audit team to follow so as to gather feedback from the users based on their initial use of the tool and relay these insights in the Global office.

 

  1. Incorporate its use in users’ KPIs

The most effective way that users will be encouraged to make use of the tool is through enforcing it as part of the users’ key performance indicators (KPIs).  Find an aspect of the tool which can be translated into performance indicators and set the applicable measures.  Also, find an area in your business process which can become measure of individual or team’s performance and is dependent on the use of the BI tool.

 

EY Canvas being a project management tool, provides statistics on how far the engagement team has gone.  Managers can easily pick up information from the dashboard and reflect the same to the team members’ collective and individual performance assessment forms.  Further, an archiving period of 60 days has been established after the final engagement sign-off.  Late archiving would mean a big blow to the engagement team’s performance evaluation.  This way, users will dedicate more time in understanding the tool and thinking of ways on how to use it more effectively and efficiently.

In implementing business intelligence tools, a marketing approach is the best way to go, coupled with rewards system and corresponding sanctions once KPIs are not met.  It involves studying human behaviour and applying the concept of rewards and punishments.  Make them interested, entice them to participate. In the end, it is the users’ insights that are always more valuable.  It is up to the organization how to add flavor to this approach.  The ultimate goal is complete diffusion of the tool to the intended business users and making them advocates for these BI tools in the process.  Let us not take for granted the organization’s efforts in trying to maintain quality of work and making tasks more operatively effective and efficient.  It always pays to be intelligent when handling business intelligence tools.★

 

References:

http://www.docurated.com/all-things-productivity/50-best-business-intelligence-tools

https://blogs.sap.com/2013/09/05/internal-marketing-efforts-promoting-your-bi/

 

This blog claims no credit for any images posted on this site unless otherwise noted. Images on this blog are copyright to its respectful owners. If there is an image appearing on this blog that belongs to you and do not wish for it appear on this site, please email with a link to said image and it will be promptly removed.

 

 

 

Point, Click, Buy!

dass

Retail therapy is something I enjoy.  However, with the busy schedule that I have – Sunday being my only free day – there seems to be less time to do some shopping.  This may be a common ordeal for working professionals who get to earn money they can’t spend simply because of the lack of time for shopping.  Thanks to technology, online shops were created.  Online shopping offers an alternative shopping venue which is more accessible, less expensive, and basically more convenient!

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My favorite online shops right at my fingertips!

I started to became a fan of online shopping about four years ago.  I actually have on my phone the mobile versions of some online store platforms like Zalora, Etsy, Lazada, and Uniqlo.  I usually purchase clothes, shoes, and computer parts and accessories.  Having done this for quite some time now, I’ve had my fair share of ups and downs when it comes to online shopping.  To share some, here are my lists of Yays and Nays of online shopping:

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YAYS: Why I love online shopping:

  • It offers a wide selection of items for purchase

When you go to the mall, not everything you’re searching for may be available.  You may not even finish visiting all the boutiques and floor in the mall within just an hour of shopping.  But with online shopping, you get to check out international and local brands.  You have a variety of items to choose from ranging from fashion items, home and living, arts and crafts, books and references, music, games, electronics, and even groceries.  Your selection is endless.  You may also choose between new and secondhand items, whichever fits your budget.

  • Makes finding the specific item easier

After I became engrossed with online shopping, going to the mall to find the exact item I am looking for became a very tedious task.  How I wish that when I step in the mall building, I can filter all the jeans from the different stores and pick exactly which one I want.  That would be kind of cool, right?  That’s exactly one advantage of doing online shopping.  You simply type in “Jeans” and voila! With some quick swipes and clicks, you can easily trim down your choices from a plethora of suggestions.

  • Can be done any time of day, anywhere

As someone who is constantly busy, you sometimes wish you could teleport to an F21 store and  forget all your deadlines through just a few minutes of shopping.  With the many online stores available in the internet or through phone applications, you are sure to have access to your dose of retail therapy.  You can do it while while watching TV, in between your morning exercises, while on your way home, or even before you go to sleep.

  • Offers convenient payment methods

Avoid the inconvenience of queuing for payment.  With online shopping, you may choose from among the different ways of settling your order.  You may pay through cash on delivery basis, credit cards, bank transfers, online payment systems (e.g., PayPal, PesoPay, GCash, DragonPay, 7Connect, etc.), and authorized payment centers.

  • Helps you avoid extra expenses

Aside from the cost of the items you bought, when you decide to go to malls, you are also obliged to pay for your gasoline, meals, or even service fees for using pay restrooms! There are just a lot of additional charges that come with it. Through online shopping, you only pay for the items plus of course, shipping costs (which could sometimes be free if you purchase over a certain amount).  Plus points from all of us, financially conscious people.

  • Gives a more controlled shopping experience

Sometimes, the mall could be a temptation island.  You leave your house to buy medicine and swear to yourself that medicine is all that you will buy.  However, the mall’s drugstore is strategically located at the heart of the ground floor.  This means you will be passing by a lot of clothing stores.  And as you did, what a twist of fate:  the dress you have been eyeing for months now suddenly becomes on sale! So you say to yourself, it must have been written in the stars that the dress is for you.  So you exit the mall with the medicine you planned on buying plus a paper bag from clothing store!  When you arrive home, remorse is all that you will feel over being weak and easily swayed by things on sale.  That is one thing that online shopping aims to do — help people lessen the practice of impulsive buying.  Put in the virtual cart whatever you want, “heart” them, place them on your wishlist. After quite some time, review your list and eliminate those items you think you can live without. Tadaaah! Sound shopping judgment, right?  That is what I personally do.  I usually give myself one to two days before I make my final decisions on my purchase.

  • Provides more privacy, no crowds

Do you sometimes feel ashamed of buying something because you feel like you are being judged?  Yeah, fellow introverts, please stand up 🙋🏻! I sometimes hate it when the salesperson would ask me a lot of questions while I am trying so hard to concentrate and decide whether I should buy the gray or the black shirt.  It is even more cringe-y when they follow me around, trail behind me, and rearrange the displays I skimmed through, flash a suspicious look as if I am going to steal the items I took off the rack.  Maybe I am just overthinking but we do want some privacy in shopping sometimes, right?  Online shopping eliminate this.  Also, you avoid going through the rush when malls get crowded.  It gets you hard to find a parking space and you simply have a lot of competitors for the things you want to buy.  This also lessens your chances of contracting germs (I am not a hypochondriac, okay?).

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NAYS: Why I sometimes shun shopping online:

  • Uncertainty on the quality of the products

I am reluctant in buying items which I have not physically inspected.  Everyone is.  It is really hard to trust online advertisements that when you receive a product, you just wanted to do a vlog on “Expectations versus Reality”.  I have had a lot of experiences on online shopping disappoints like purchasing a dress with a different material as described online, or receiving a defective product.  Before purchasing, make sure these are brands you have tested before and grew to be trusted.   Do check the feedback section for ratings and reviews.  Make sure to be alert for any “horror” stories, if any.

  • Risky payments

When paying online, you cannot ensure that payments are secured since you will be sharing confidential information regarding your bank accounts and/or credit cards.  My personal pick for a term is cash on delivery (COD).  You are sure to pay only for orders you have actually received.

  • More difficult procedures for returns

When shopping in physical stores, returns are processed easy breezy that you may already get a replacement within seven days from purchase.  In online shopping though, it will require you to ship back your items and process for reimbursement or replacement.  You may have to wait a few more days as processes like this could actually take time especially when your location is far from the supplier.

Three products I would have no hesitation buying over the internet:

  • Kitchenware and home decors

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I have quite a knack for home decorating and cooking (though my skills are not reliable at all). But I am not that particular of the brand for my home ornaments or kitchenware.  Items like these have standard qualities, and can be very cheap when purchased online.  

  • Kids’ toys

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Most kids I know break their toy after a few minutes of handing it to them.  So, when purchasing kid’s toys, quality is not a main concern.  

  • Books and art supplies

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If the book title has the same author and same publishing house, then I would not worry about buying them online at all since the quality is standard.  Anyway, the most important thing for me is content.  For art supplies, i need to buy online for items that are hard to find in malls nearby.  You can hit great bargains for paintbrushes if you buy it directly from the online shop of the manufacturer.

Three products I may want to think about before buying:

  • Shoes, bags, and wallets

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I only buy shoes online from tried and tested brands.  Buying from brands that are new to me could be risky since the size may not fit as shoe sizes tend to vary significantly between brands.  Also, bags and wallets sold online could be of substandard quality.  When I buy, I make sure to know which party actually fulfills the order.  If it is exactly the manufacturer, I may give it a go.  If not, the clear answer, is no.

  • Clothes

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I am a bit flexible in terms of clothing sold online.  I only pick medium-sized clothing since my weight tends to fluctuate.  Sometimes I like using loose clothing so any size variances would be okay with me.  However, I have experienced not getting the level of quality I expected from a jumper I recently bought that is why now, I become more skeptic before adding any clothing items in my virtual shopping cart.

  • Computer parts and accessories

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Items like these could cause you a fortune sometimes.  Just like clothes, shoes, bags and wallets, I buy computer parts as well as accessories only when directly fulfilled by the manufacturers I trust.  Sometimes, the only source could really be online shops, so I do not have a choice but buy online.  However my skepticism is on high alert in situations like this.  I read tons of reviews before finally hitting “Buy Now”.

Three products I will never consider buying online:

  • Appliances, furniture, and gadgets

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These are quite expensive things that I would prefer buying from a brick-and-mortar store.  Not being able to personally inspect these could result to safety and quality issues which are hard to resolve.

  • Food and medicine

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I simply do not recommend buying anything that you will eat, drink, or take from online shops.  If you buy a fake version, it could simply cost your health, and even your life.

  • Beauty products

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Same as with food and medicine, anything you apply on your skin could be risky if not well-inspected.  A lot of fake beauty products may be advertised on online stores, waiting for your click, so be careful!

Online shopping is one of the most important gifts of technology.  It is up to us, consumers whether we are up for the related risks and rewards. The most important thing is making informed decisions before you finally decide to point, click, and buy! ★

References:

https://www.lifewire.com/shopping-online-pros-and-cons-3482632

https://www.techinasia.com/10-alternative-online-payments-consumers-merchants-philippines

This blog claims no credit for any images posted on this site unless otherwise noted. Images on this blog are copyright to its respectful owners. If there is an image appearing on this blog that belongs to you and do not wish for it appear on this site, please email with a link to said image and it will be promptly removed.

Less is More

In the language of technology, the word “wireless” has become synonymous to “a cut above the rest”.   When we hear that something is wireless, we often consider it better and more advanced than its wired counterparts.  Wireless technology is not something new.  The earliest forms appeared back in 1896 in the form of wireless telegraph to the communications satellites in the 1960s.  In the present age, these forms continue to evolve with increased sophistication and functionality.

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Bluetooth and Wi-Fi have become everyday household words.  The use of GPS has become a staple when hailing a cab through online applications and navigating around cities.  Our life is defined by the battery life of our cellular phones.  These wireless technologies have surfaced due to their increasing demand as consumers, most significantly business organizations discover the related business value from these breakthroughs.

In the organization where I am in, wireless technologies have paved the way to more efficient execution of tasks.  A significant part of our time is spent on fieldworks at remote areas and the team where I belong is based in La Paz, Iloilo City which is 412.2 mi away from our head office in Tondo, Manila.  The geographical distance proved to be a challenged to our team and we owe our smooth operations to these wireless network technologies.

There is increased efficiency due to mobility and improved collaboration.  We can go the distance and not be limited by the length of our wires.  When working on our laptops, we are free to move at our own convenience without fear of losing access.  Our office buildings are equipped with wireless networks that we can access our emails and reports no matter where we are in the office premises.  We can easily work together with our team in Manila through the use of shared folders within our network.  Exchange of information becomes seamless and hassle-free.

Wireless technology allows for better multi-tasking.  Since we are free from the hassle of cables, there is increased freedom of movement which in turn results to getting more things done.  We no longer have to decide whether to print first our report (which has to be done at our office’s printer’s area located at the far end of the floor opposite our work area) or take a call from our boss on our cellular phones.  With wireless technology, we can do both at the same time.

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Information exchange becomes more responsive.  No more waiting on long queues at payphones as business can be done right at our fingertips.  We can make calls, send text messages, and even check our emails through our mobile phones anytime and anywhere we like as long as there is available network connection.  Due to this, matters are easily and timely discussed, examined, and resolved.

Further, there is a wider reach through access to remote areas that cannot be reached by wired networks.  Information gathering becomes timelier.  We can easily conduct meetings through the use of videoconferencing facilities in the office and easily obtain feedback from our auditees through virtual sit-down discussions.  GPS technology proved very useful in our audit engagements in the conduct of visits/confirmation/survey with our business partners especially in remote towns all over the country.  We can easily locate their addresses through the use of map applications, and download information through the use of mobile data connection to be used offline when network is not available.

Going wireless also facilitates easier expansion.  There is no need for additional wires or cables and related labour and maintenance costs when new connections are added.  Office furniture are more movable and spaces become more flexible due to the lesser infrastructure requirements of wireless technology.  There is also improved health and safety at work as dangers of tripping over wires are eliminated.  No disposal costs are incurred for old and damaged wires.  Environmental waste is also reduced.  We can maintain tidy desks and become free from the eyesore brought by tangled cables.

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For organizations to be able to preserve the business value brought by these wireless network technologies, below standards and guidelines, among others should be complied with to ensure safe usage:

  • Define access requirements

Organizations should develop a remote access policy.  Access should be limited to specific devices or authorized persons only.  Device should prompt the user for username and password before any activity may be started on the device.

  • Change default access details

Do not make it easy for hackers to guess your Wi-Fi name and passwords by sticking to the default access details.  Make sure to regularly change passwords at least every 30 days.  For computers, it would be better if a notification pops out of the screen to remind the user to update the security details.

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  • Use encryption to avoid data theft

Outgoing files may be regulated through the use of encryption on your computer, router, and other devices to prevent hacking attacks.  In order for be the information to still be usable after encryption, protocols on decryption should also be observed, such as controlling the access to decrypt within a group of authorized individuals especially when sensitive information is involved.

  • Develop a system for reporting and responding to security attacks.

Phishing attempts and other security threats should not be swept under the rug.  A system of communicating these incidents should be in place for the IT department to promptly identify risk areas and take action on securing vulnerable data.

As long as security is ensured, wireless network technologies can bring significant changes and advancements in an organization which could most likely spell their success by promoting the achievement of an organization’s primary business objectives.  In wireless technology, businesses grow but most especially, learn.  According to computer researcher John Seely Brown, “If you can design the physical space, the social space, and the information space together to enhance collaborative learning, then that whole milieu turns into a learning technology.”  Indeed, wireless networks offer more.  In less, there is more. ★

 

 

Online References:

http://www.cse.unt.edu/~rakl/class3510/CHAP1.pdf

www.cisco.com/c/en/us/solutions/small-business/resource-center/work-anywhere/why-go-wireless.html

This blog claims no credit for any images posted on this site unless otherwise noted. Images on this blog are copyright to its respectful owners. If there is an image appearing on this blog that belongs to you and do not wish for it appear on this site, please email with a link to said image and it will be promptly removed.