Why Is Diversity Essential In The Modern Business?

Image

By, Sue Andrews, FCIPD Business & HR Consultant, Kis Finance

Many companies will claim to embrace diversity but what practical benefits can this deliver to a small business? Genuine diversity is more than just the gender or ethnic mix of your workforce.  To be truly diverse companies need to incorporate the principles into their fundamental design. 

This involves proactively seeking out the best talent from across a range of backgrounds, ethnicity, gender, geography, religious and political beliefs.   To have any real impact, diversity needs to be at the core of your business rather than seen as an “add-on”.

 

What benefits can diversity deliver?

 

Fresh thinking

When it comes to recruiting staff, embracing diversity opens up a far wider talent pool.  Those who only recruit in their own image miss out on the opportunity to bring in fresh perspectives and greater creativity.  Different ways of looking at the issues can help to deliver new solutions.

 

Greater motivation

A team with a fully inclusive culture will have a well-developed team spirit and be strongly motivated to succeed.  Operating in this type of “safe” environment enables people to be confident and give the best of themselves, which will help push performance to new levels.  Turnover and sickness levels also tend to be lower, avoiding the associated high costs to the business.

 

Competitive Edge

People will identify positively with organisations that employ a workforce that mirrors the wider population and hence their customer base.  This acts as a practical demonstration of the values of the business – something much more powerful than statements or slogans.  This type of positive PR has real commercial value.

 

It’s all about reputation

The company’s reputation can also be enhanced as a good place to work and do business.  This is becoming increasingly important when dealing with the millennial generation, who are far more interested in social policies and diversity when choosing where to work.

 

Delivering diversity in practice

So what practical steps can an organisation take to embed diversity into the business and deliver on the associated benefits?

 

– Address attitudes in the current workforce – prejudices usually arise out of fear or lack of knowledge.  Start the conversation with staff so that the next time the business is recruiting, teams will be in tune with the idea of looking at a wider pool of applicants.    

 

– Avoid unconscious bias – talk openly about unconscious bias – most people are completely unaware that they carry these preconceptions into day to day decisions.  By bring this out into the open you can encourage people to make more balanced choices.

 

– HR teams have a key part to play – in helping translate a company’s Equal Opportunities policy into something more meaningful.  This can involve arranging workshops or refresher training for staff to find ways to apply the policy in a more practical way.

 

– Build your team – find ways to bring your team together with a shared goal.  Differences give strength to a team, but they need a clear common purpose to be effective.

 

– Create an inclusive culture where ideas are welcomed – maximise the benefits by using internal audit to track ideas.  By recording and monitoring the progress of suggestions you can learn from experience and encourage future best practice.

 

– Audit against other organisations – comparing against others in the sector or your locality will enable you to benchmark the company on a range of diversity measures.

 

– Survey your staff – to monitor whether staff genuinely feel that there is a culture of inclusion.  Use the data obtained to address any issues highlighted.

 

– Have a clear and accessible grievance procedure – this will make sure any issues that arise are acknowledged and addressed.  Ignoring issues is no different than condoning them.  Make sure you carefully audit any complaints and review the outcomes.

 

– Compliance with legislation – make sure you comply with all relevant legislation and reporting requirements e.g. gender pay gap.   Audit and review data to ensure action is taken to address any issues highlighted.

 

In today’s highly competitive climate, those businesses who successfully embrace diversity will be the ones to thrive.

Six Tips to Measure the Success of your Digital Marketing

Image

Technology has fundamentally altered the way we search for products and services, meaning it is now more important than ever to invest in digital marketing. But how can you know what’s working? Chris Robinson, the Managing Director at leading digital marketing agency Adtrak, gives us his six tips for measuring success.

Visitors to your website

The starting point for assessing the success of any digital marketing campaign is to find out how many people visit your website as a result. This is simple enough to do in Google Analytics as you’ll be able to see exactly when people visit, allowing you to compare spikes in visitors with your marketing activities.

If you’ve invested in the subtle art of SEO, you should also be looking at a gradual increase in the number of visitors you receive.

Lead to visitor ratio

The best way to assess the effectiveness of your website is to check your lead to visitor ratio. If your marketing is doing its job, you should not only see plenty of visitors to your website, but also lots of leads – whether in the form of a phone call, email or contact form completion.

You can monitor the number of online leads you get by setting up ‘Goals’ on Google Analytics. Then, you can simply log into the dashboard and compare the number of leads to the number of visitors.

Call tracking software

Call tracking software may not be something you’ve considered before, but it can give you a real insight into the success of each marketing campaign.

Simply put, call tracking software allows you to allocate a different phone number to each marketing channel or platform you use. This means you can easily report on the number of leads you receive and measure the success of each campaign, allowing you to refocus your strategy and gain maximum return.

Impressions and clicks

If you have produced paid marketing campaigns, the best metrics to review are the number of impressions and clicks you are achieving. The number of impressions each advert achieves will let you know how many times the ad has been displayed and by comparing this figure with the number of clicks you receive, you’ll get a good idea of each advert’s effectiveness.

If you get lots of impressions, but not many clicks, you can tweak your advert, perhaps to focus on a different offer or unique selling point. You pay per click, so it’s essential your ads are relevant to the search term.

Ask for a report!

If you’re paying for digital marketing and aren’t sure about its return, ask for a report.

Any reputable marketing agency will be happy to share the secrets of your campaigns with you, make recommendations based on your business objectives and talk you through how they measure the results.

Sales

Ultimately, the best metric to gauge the success of your marketing is the number of sales you make. Whilst you may be looking for creativity from your marketing team, it’s essential that the content is effective, not just attractive.

Whilst paid advertising should provide a fairly fast return on investment, not all marketing efforts will pay off immediately. Traditional SEO techniques rely heavily on organic rankings and this can take a few months to establish. But if you aren’t seeing an increase in enquiries within six months, you should consider an alternative route to marketing your business.

Adtrak is a leading digital marketing agency based in the heart of Nottingham in the East Midlands, working with clients in all sectors across the UK and internationally. For more information visit www.adtrak.co.uk.  

2

Teaching kids about finances

Image

Financial education was introduced into England’s secondary school curriculum in 2014. While this represented a step in the right direction in improving financial education for children and school-leavers, it certainly hasn’t solved the problem.

Research carried out by The Money Charity in 2016 revealed that 90% of schools were delivering financial education. While uptake figures are pleasing, the quality of the education delivered tells a different story.

Rather worryingly, 66% of teachers who responded believed the financial education delivered was either somewhat or very ineffective. In fact, three out of five teachers said the curriculum change had no impact, while one in three didn’t know financial education was on the curriculum.

There are several factors which are responsible for this poor outlook on the UK’s financial education, ranging from its position within the wider curriculum, to a lack of in-depth training for teachers.

So, is the lack of financial education and responsibility having a major impact? Research from The Money Advice Service has found that 12-17-year-old children whose parents made their spending decisions for them were more likely to spend unnecessarily and have poorer money management skills.

It’s clear that young people require strong financial education as well as hands-on experience of managing their money, and this responsibility lies with both their parents and teachers. Eighty per cent of parents believe it is their responsibility to teach their children about finances — yet one in six don’t feel confident doing so.

To help, pensions specialist and investment expert, True Potential Investor, has provided a range of tips to help you teach your children about finances and how to be responsible with their money.


Start their financial education at a young age

The Money Advice Service identifies that your child’s attitude towards money can be determined by their seventh birthday. It’s important that you start talking to them about money and what it means early.

Ask your child to help you count your cash to pay for something. Doing so can help them not only get used to handling and counting money, but also improve their numeracy skills.

Allow your child to pay the cashier to educate them about the exchange transaction.

Teach them through play. Many children will like to play shop, which will again help them better understand money and value while still remaining fun.

Underline the difference between essential and non-essential spending
Of course, there is a difference between what your child would like and what is a necessity. In many cases, children simply don’t understand the cost of what they are asking for.

If your child asks you for a new toy or item of outfit, don’t be afraid to say no. Encouraging your child to save up for something they want rather than you buying it for them will help your child understand the value of money and delayed gratification.

Explain the cost of what they’re asking for in real-life terms if they’re older. For example, is a £300 games console enough to cover the family’s monthly food shop? This perspective can help children realise the difference between what they want and what they need, and realise that they can’t always have everything.

Help them to set goals and work towards them
As stated above, it’s possible to influence your child’s attitude to saving as well as spending. If they start saving towards a games console or other item, encourage them to budget with the money they have. This is applicable whatever the age of your child, whether they’re dealing with pocket money or wages from their first job.

Encourage your child to split their money between spending, saving and donating. By giving them three jars or piggy banks, they will be able to see a clear divide in their money. For older children, this can be done through having a separate current account to their savings account, while you may want to give younger children their pocket money in lower denominations so it can be easily split.


Teach teenagers what they’ll need in future

The transition between attending school and becoming more financially responsibly as they move onto college and university can be difficult for teens. As a parent, you’ll need to prepare them the best way you can:

Take a step back and allow them to make their own mistakes. As they join the working world and start earning money for themselves, they may be tempted to splurge with their first wage, leaving them short for the rest of the week or month. You can disagree with their purchases, but try not to be too controlling over how they spend their cash. Eventually, when they’re tired of being skint for the majority of the month, they’ll realise the importance of budgeting and will consider a purchase more before buying it.

Earning on their own is one of the best ways to understand the value of money, so encourage your child to keep working.

If your child is leaving to attend university, make sure they are aware how to remain financially responsible. When the student budget is limited, it’s very easy to turn to credit cards with a high APR. Make sure they understand the options available to them as a student and encourage them to choose the best ones.

By making sure your child is aware of financial responsibility from a young age, it will be easier to prepare them for managing their money in later life.

Of course, leading by example is one of the best ways of doing this. True Potential Investor’s parent company, True Potential LLP, has partnered with the Open University to establish the True Potential Centre for the Public Understanding of Finance, establishing three free personal finance courses to help improve financial confidence across the UK. More information can be found here.



Sources
http://themoneycharity.org.uk/financial_education_schools/

https://www.moneyadviceservice.org.uk/blog/young-people-and-money-having-the-conversation

 https://www.theguardian.com/money/2014/nov/10/tips-teach-child-money-matters

https://www.theguardian.com/lifeandstyle/2017/mar/18/how-to-teach-your-kids-about-money

6

The digital experience in the high street

Image

The high street has been hit pretty hard by the advent of technology – footfall took a dip in numbers as customers flocked to the online world of retail. But it seems as though technology is beginning to show some love to the physical world now too, as data reveals weekly shopper numbers were up 40% for the high street in 2015. It’s further predicted that high street footfall will increase by 44% in 2018.

To explore how in-store technology has helped rekindle retail’s physical stores, QUIZ Clothing, who have enjoyed success in their wide range of party dresses sold both online and on the high street, have created the following article.


Bringing technology into stores
To begin with, technology brought a primarily internet-based update to the world of shopping, with less offered by the ways of in-store technologies. But, recent research still indicates that people value brick-and-mortar stores — in fact, 81% of UK customers said that the physical stores were vital to the shopping experience. So, when it comes to improving the high-street and implementing in-store technology, what should retailers be getting involved with?

In-store kiosks, which offer information via artificial intelligence, have proven popular with shoppers. However, not all retailers are getting on board — 66% of those surveyed in one study said that they were yet to encounter artificial intelligence in-store. Do retailers realise the huge potential of this type of technology? In fact, 60% of consumers are attracted to the idea of using them to find products that they weren’t aware of before. As an example, in QUIZ’s digital stores, an in-store kiosk enables visitors to browse the full collection (even if some products aren’t available in-store) and order them to their homes or local store.

Technology is a great asset for staff too, one that can be used to further help customers efficiently. One way to do this is by providing employees with handheld iPads or other smart tablets. This allows staff to find the answer to a query, check a product’s availability and place orders for the customer without having to use a fixed computer. This can improve the customer’s experience and help build a stronger brand-to-customer relationship.

Augmented reality is set to shake up technology as well, and retail is no exception. This can help the customer with their purchase decision and help them visualise themselves with the product. Although this can be made available through an app, there are also ways to introduce it in-store. In a fashion store for example, a smart mirror can allow customers to dress themselves in different outfits without actually trying them on. Similarly, in a furniture store, visitors can upload a photo of their home and try out pieces of furniture to see if it would suit their rooms.


Brand loyalty and technology
Technology makes in-store experiences much more enjoyable and can even help secure further revisits. It’s possible that having in-store technology in a physical shop can make a brand more attractive to customers, and potentially a better option over competitors. Some retailers are recognising this too as one report suggested that 53% of retailers view investments in new automations and appliances in-store as vital to keep up with their competitor activity.

A brand can also benefit from in-store technology, as using up-to-date technology can connotate a brand’s upkeep in trends. One study revealed that 46% of those surveyed said that a positive experience due to well-functioning technology increases their brand confidence.


A glitch now and again
It’s not uncommon for technology to fail at the worst times, however! This can be frustrating and add time onto a customer’s visit which may result in a negative experience. RetailWeek found that two thirds of those surveyed had experienced problems and breakdowns in-store with the technology. Unfortunately, this then affects sales — one third of customers said that they were unable to complete their transactions because of the technology difficulties.

It’s vital that in-store technology is a positive experience; as with any element of a visit, a bad experience can cost potential revisits. Retailers must keep software and technologies updates and well-maintained to avoid issues like this.

Be wary of using overly-complicated technology too. This could make people feel excluded too — in-store tech should be simple to use, and visitors should be accompanied when using it if it’s more complex.

In-store technology is a vital component to the modern retail experience. Although customers are happy to shop online, they also enjoy shopping as a leisure activity and appreciate an interactive experience when doing so.

Sources
https://www.pwc.com/gx/en/industries/retail-consumer/consumer-insights-survey.html

https://www.forbes.com/sites/forbescommunicationscouncil/2017/06/20/the-future-of-retail-how-well-be-shopping-in-10-years/#21188bbe58a6

https://www.itproportal.com/features/consumers-love-in-store-technology-so-its-time-for-retailers-to-respond/

https://internetretailing.net/themes/themes/quiz-brings-digital-into-westfield-stratford-store-15243

https://www.fool.com/investing/2018/07/06/can-in-store-technology-slow-the-retail-apocalypse.aspx

7

The decrease in adult learning

Image

The decrease in adult learning — are we clued up on funding?

Despite evidence that adults who continue to learn after compulsory education experience better health and are more productive, the number of mature students returning to education continues to fall. Those in higher education has fell by more than half since 2011.

Although there are a range of factors that may have caused this, many are concerned that it’s down to confusion surrounding access to funding. Together with members of the Newcastle College adult learning department, we investigate further and explain the types of funding available:

 
Changes in government funding
It’s clear that the decision by the UK’s coalition government to decrease grants and treble tuition fees has deterred some people from applying to higher education.

To increase participation and application numbers and reduce the impact of the fees, many of the big UK universities have focused their efforts on school leavers. Therefore, while younger students are fully informed and prepared to take on student debt, adults are less likely to want to be saddled with this financial obligation, especially those with existing financial commitments.

It’s not only tuition fees for higher education that is a concern for adult learners. Many are discouraged from developing their skills and gaining new qualifications at any level, as they worry about meeting the costs of courses. But, there are funding options out there that can help.


Access to funding
Following the changes in fees and funding applications, another possible deterrent for mature students is the confusion over their eligibility to receive funding and what options are available ­– something that is well-discussed for school leavers.

When it comes to college, some courses and adult learners can qualify for free or partially funded learning. This is completely dependent on the type of course and the college that they’re applying to.

There are also other forms of financial support available, such as adult learner loans, funding to support travel and childcare.

It’s possible that the application process and lack of promotion surrounding these funding options are deterring adult learners. So, what are the types of funding and how do they help?


Changes in the Adult Education Budget (AEB)
A new advancement in the Adult Education Budget (AEB) means that there will be a one-year trial for the 2018 to 2019 funding year, which means more adults will be eligible for AEB funding. While functional or introductory English and maths courses at colleges are free, students often need help with Further Education courses. This trial aims to increase adult learning participation and reduce the barrier of unaffordable fees. There’s also an aim to support those in low-paid employment who want to progress in work and their career.

To receive full funding during the trial, you must earn less than £15, 736.50 annual gross salary based on the Social Mobility Commission’s low-pay threshold of £8.07 and on the assumption of a 37.5 hour contract with holiday entitlement. The funding is also offered on a first come, first served basis. Check with the college you are applying to for full eligibility requirements.


Professional and Career Development Loans
This scheme is closing — the last applications will be accepted on 25 January 2019. This is a low-interest bank loan up to £10,000 which helps cover costs of courses and training that could help your career. See an overview of the loan here and find out if you’re eligible.

19+ Discretionary Learner Support Fund
If you’re aged 19 or over and studying a further education course, have a single household income of between £7,800 and £15,000, or a joint household income of less than £25,000, you may qualify for course related costs, which could include the following:

·         Travel cost contribution.

·         Free stationery pack.

·         Free meal entitlement.

·         Free equipment and trips.

·         Free childcare support. *

Costs covered in the fund varies by college and course, so it completely depends on your individual circumstances. Find out more here.

*Only available to learners aged 20 or over. Learners aged under 20 must apply for childcare support through a Care 2 Learn application if studying in a school or sixth-form.


Advanced Learner Loan
If you are older than 19 and studying for a Level 3, 4, 5 or 6 qualification at an approved college or training provider in England, you could be eligible for an Advanced Learner Loan. The minimum loan you can get is £300 and this is paid directly to your college or training provider.

You may also be eligible for an Advanced Learner Loan Bursary to help with course related costs such as accommodation and travel, course materials, childcare and classroom assistance.  Again, costs covered in the bursary varies by college and course, so it completely depends on your individual circumstances.  Find out more here.


Course-specific grants
Depending on the course you’re planning to take, grants or bursaries may be available. If you’re training to be a teacher, a nurse, social worker or work within certain trades, there are often bursaries available for example. For those studying creative courses such as dance or drama, there are often scholarships and grants available.


Childcare Funding
One huge barrier for many parents returning to education is the struggle to balance education, employment and childcare, including childcare costs. As well as the childcare support available for those who qualify for the 19+ Discretionary Learner Support Fund in further education, those choosing full time higher education may qualify for a childcare grant on top of any student finance loans or grants they may receive.

As we can see, the government and training providers are trying to combat the issue of reduced adult learning participation with financial support. If you’re an education provider, make sure that you promote adult learners’ financial options sufficiently. As a learner, do your research to see if you’re eligible for extra funding.

 


Sources
https://www.theguardian.com/higher-education-network/2018/apr/19/the-world-of-work-is-changing-we-need-more-adult-education-not-less

https://www.universitiesuk.ac.uk/blog/Pages/The-real-casualty-of-2012-tuition-fees-shake-up-mature-and-part-time-learners.aspx

https://www.gov.uk/advanced-learner-loan/what-youll-get

7

How to Make Your Meeting a Success?

Image

8 tried-and-tested ways to make your meetings a success

Recent research suggests that unproductive meetings are costing the UK a staggering £582m a week, so if bad meetings are a regular occurrence in your workplace, it could be seriously damaging your bottom line.

Nick Pollitt, Managing Director at office furniture supplier DBI Furniture Solutions, explains that bad meetings can easily become a culture in any company if left unaddressed. “When you’ve got a million and one things to do, it’s often easier to throw a meeting in the diary and assume your problem will be fixed,” he said. “But without proper planning, that doesn’t happen, and you just end up more frustrated.”

So how can you ensure that your meetings achieve what they’re supposed to? DBI Furniture Solutions identified some of the key areas you might need to work on, which — when addressed — will ensure you spend less time in pointless meetings and more time getting things done.


1. Make sure you actually need the meeting

About to drop a meeting in your calendar? Take a second to sit back and think about whether or not it’s really necessary.

There are a few things you can ask yourself that will help you decide either way:


What’s your objective? — If it’s to reach a decision among a group of people, a meeting might be necessary, but if it’s just a status report, email instead.

Does you need an answer to a question? — If it’s a question that can be answered by one or even two people, it might be better just to go over to their desk and ask them in person without needing to book out time and a room.

What would happen if the meeting wasn’t held? — Could you get the information another way?
 

2. Nail down your agenda

Writing an agenda for a meeting should be common practice within your business. Without one, you set yourself up for an aimless discussion that comes to no real conclusion and wastes the time of everyone involved.

When writing an agenda, start with your key objective: what’s the one thing you want to get out of the meeting? You can then tailor your agenda around that key goal and share it with attendees ahead of time so they can prepare their key points.

You should empower employees to turn down meeting requests that don’t include an agenda.


3. Make your invite list more exclusive

Take a look at your invite list. Is there anyone on there who won’t be able to contribute anything of value?

Remember: a person might be involved in your project, but they don’t necessarily need to be at every meeting to stay updated.

Instead, separate anyone out who won’t be involved in providing vital input, and make sure they’re CC’d into the meeting notes afterwards. That way, they stay in the loop without having to sacrifice their time..


4. Involve a decision maker

One of the most frustrating things that can happen in a meeting is for everyone to be in agreement about something but unable to move forward with it because no-one in the room has the authority to give the go-ahead.

If a decision is beyond your remit, invite someone with the power to approve a new approach into the meeting itself. Be sure to speak to that person face-to-face before the meeting takes place so they don’t send a delegate instead.

5. Start on time

If you delay your meetings to wait for someone else, you’re permitting a culture of lateness. All that empty time costs your business money, so even if not everyone is at the meeting, you need to set an example by always starting on time.

Start the discussion the minute you said you would. Remember, people will have other meetings scheduled in their diaries, so if yours overruns, you have a domino effect on the productivity of all the other meetings that day.


6. Cut down the length of the meeting

When people know they have an hour to discuss something, they’ll do so at a fairly leisurely place, allowing space for tangents that can be detrimental to the productivity of your meeting.

Try halving the time of your meetings. For one, you’re halving the cost to your business, but what you might be pleasantly surprised by is how much you’ll still cover in that time. Having a clear agenda (see point 1) will help you blast through all the key points you need to discuss with time to spare.

If you’re still struggling to keep on top of the length of your meetings, try starting a timer. For added effect, you can start this meeting timer, which calculates the second-by-second cost of your meeting based on the number of people involved and the average salary.


7. Try a stand-up meeting

Stand-up meetings are becoming more and more popular because, like standing desks, they help get oxygen to the brain better than the typical reclined position you might adopt in a meeting room.

Standing meetings also help keep the length of time to a minimum: after all, who wants to be on their feet for a full hour?


8. Appoint a scribe

Everyone leaves a meeting with a different idea about what’s been said. Appointing a scribe ensures that there are no key details missed and that everyone is in agreement.

A scribe should take notes on key updates that have been shared for the benefit of those that aren’t at the meeting and keep track of any actions that are brought up.

When the meeting has finished, ask the scribe to read back the actions. You should collectively decide who should take responsibility for each action so there has been a public commitment made.

Have the actions distributed to everyone that was in the meeting immediately afterwards so that there’s no delay in getting started on them. You should include a review of these actions in your agenda for a follow-up meeting.

8

Achieving the Gold Standard in Healthcare

Image

Aafiya is a specialised healthcare management company based out of Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates. In May, Aafiya was recognised in Corporate Vision’s Corporate Excellence Awards with the title of Most Innovative New Service of the Year, for their newly-launched and exclusive ‘Dahab’ benefits programme. On the back of this win, we looked to profile the company and find out how it has distinguished itself in the highly-competitive healthcare market.

Aafiya has long been synonymous with providing an excellent standard of healthcare in the United Arab Emirates. Built on a platform of transparency, reliability, innovation, and the constant pursuit of excellence and knowledge, Aafiya is an advocate for facilitating comprehensive health insurance services across the UAE.

Launching ‘Dahab’ in December 2017, Aafiya had an aim to address discrepancies between their client’s healthcare requirements and their lifestyles. In a nutshell, Dahab is the very definition of exclusive, with a plethora of benefits for those that subscribe to the programme. From fast-track approvals, priority access, and a dedicated service team to a personalised relationship doctor, and door to door medicine delivery; Dahab is the ultimate choice for those wanting access to the very best healthcare in the region.

This, along with their commitment to value-added services for its customers, has been the
driving force of Aafiya’s enduring success; offering an adaptive, innovative response to the very real, very present demands of the sector and its clients. Dahab is only the latest development for a firm that has always had a gift for seeing the ‘next big thing’ in the sector.

With 600,000 members and counting, Aafiya’s success is undeniable. It has, in many regards, become an integral part of Dubai’s consumer services sector, a must-have commodity for those wanting a comprehensive and expert management company guiding their healthcare. This success has been reflected in the accolades it has received over the last couple of years. These awards have predominantly, celebrated Dahab’s inception, which – for many industry experts – heralded the beginning of a paradigm shift in the market.

Though, by all regards, Aafiya has long been considered one of the best insurance third party claims administrators (TPAs) in the Middle East. This is, ultimately, their legacy. Dahab
will continue to impress, but Aafiya has an intrinsic standard of excellence that runs deep, and sets a robust foundation for anything yet to come.

For their dedication to improving healthcare services in the UAE, and for the launch of their Dahab programme, Aafiya were recognised amongst the esteemed winners of the Corporate Excellence Awards. As a pioneer in the sector, moving into the luxury healthcare sector with the creation of Dahab, it looks set to dictate the future of the healthcare industry in the United Arab Emirates and Middle East as a whole.



Contact Details:

Address: Owais Building, Al Ittihad Road, Dubai, P.O. Box 232400, UAE

Website: www.aafiya.ae

Telephone: 00971 4 2838 116

6

Issue 8 2018

Issue 8 2018

In recent news, the leading field service management software provider in the U.S., FieldEdge announced on the 1st August their live integration with Profit Rhino, the creator of the most innovative and concise flat rate price book and selling system in the home services industry.


This month’s issue of Corporate Vision Magazine, we cast a light on The Vanbex Group, a full stack end to end professional services and development company that specialises in blockchain technology and the overall industry. We were fortunate enough to speak with Kevin Hobbs as looked to gain an insight into the success of the company and its achievements.

BlackPepper Technologies is a full-fledged silicon and system player for the global semiconductor market. Recently, we spoke with the firm’s Executive Vice President of Strategy and Marketing, Basavaraj Nagaraju, to find out more about the outstanding work they are doing in this innovative, forward-thinking sector.

Also, in this edition, Fresh Milk Software is the company behind ‘Flobot’, a cloud-based field service job management software. Taking the time to reveal more about the firm, is Fresh Milk’s Founder, Rob Barney, to find out how he is involved with developing Fresh Milk Software and driving the success of the business on a day-to-day basis.

The team here at Corporate Vision Magazine truly hope that you enjoy reading this month’s issue and look forward to hearing from you soon.

The 2018 Business Innovator Awards Press Release

Image

Corporate Vision Unveils the 2018 Business Innovator Awards Winners

United Kingdom, 2018– Corporate Vision Magazine has announced the winners of the 2018 Business Innovator Awards.

Now celebrating our second year, the 2018 Business Innovator Awards are back once more to recognise and showcase businesses showing the versatility to standout at the forefront of leading edge services and product delivery.

This industry agnostic award program showcases companies from across the globe, whether they provide advanced customer services and relations, or offer breakthrough modalities in professional services and back office administration.

Discussing the success of their winners, Laura Hunter, Awards Coordinator commented: “Businesses from across the corporate landscape rely on innovative staff and visionary leaders to drive change and create success. As such, it is my privilege to showcase the very best of these innovators and the innovations they have created through this awards programme. I would like to offer each and every one of my winners my personal congratulations, I hope the future brings even greater success.”

To learn more about these illustrious winners, and to find out the secrets behind their success, please visit http://www.cv-magazine.com.

ENDS

NOTES TO EDITORS

About Corporate Vision Magazine

Created by a highly experienced and passionate team of business experts, advisors and insiders, Corporate Vision provides discerning readers worldwide with a wealth of news, features and comment on the corporate issues of the day.

Reclaim your work-life balance for good

Image

By Geoff Lawrence, marketing director at Vistage UK

Bosses across the UK are burning the candle at both ends, putting both their well-being and business performance at risk. In fact, we found that more than a third (36 per cent) of SME CEOs and business owners struggle to completely switch off from work when on holiday. This inability to maintain a healthy work-life balance is not only negatively impacting their bottom line, it’s setting a poor example for junior management and putting their own health at risk .

The myth of a work-life balance

While many of us strive to achieve it, improve it or find it – do we really know what “it” is when we talk about having a work-life balance?

On closer inspection, the idea of work-life balance is a misnomer – an ideal which leads us to believe that our work and home lives occupy two separate spaces, divided by an invisible line. In reality, the line is hugely blurred. According to a recent study from Harvard Business School, a CEO typically works 48.5 hours per week. This is a significant amount of time in one’s life, so instead of chasing an abstract notion about the balance between ‘work’ and ‘life’, it’s time to change the conversation.

In today’s increasingly mobile and community-oriented world, work-life balance has evolved into work-life blend. Striving for personal balance and wellbeing offers us a more holistic approach to achieving better productivity and happiness in all aspects of our lives. So how do you do it?

A healthier you equals a happier you

We all know the health benefits of eating well and exercising, yet many CEOs do not take the time to look after themselves – last year, FreeAgent found that 82 per cent of small and micro business owners worked through their illnesses, simply because they did not feel they could afford to take any time off. Ultimately, this behaviour only creates a bigger problem.

Running a business is both mentally and physically demanding, yet many business leaders underestimate the impact it can have on their mental health and the dangers burnout can have on the rest of the workforce.

Overworked business leaders make poor decisions and set a bad example for their employees, which can adversely impact organisational culture. Incredibly, 18 per cent of CEOs haven’t taken a holiday – excluding Christmas – over the last 12-24 months. Having an ‘always-on’ boss gives staff the impression that they too must do the same, hindering their productivity in the long term.

Whether it’s work-life, home-life or anywhere in-between, taking a break from your professional duties are crucial to relieving stress, powering your immune system and improving your overall wellbeing. Make time for yourself and guard that time fervently.

Share your time (and burden) with friends and family

Typically, business owners are on their own at the top of their organisations, and perhaps only accountable to a board of directors. This solitude can wreak havoc on your stress levels – even though CEOs may be some of the most capable people in an organisation, like any professional, they will eventually encounter situations they have no experience in, and will require support networks to help navigate those tricky moments.

A report from the Scale Up Group revealed that nine out of ten business leaders in high-growth companies see peer-to-peer networks as a vital source of help, understanding the complexities of the position, and providing different perspectives to shared problems and opportunities. It is crucial to network and meet like-minded executives with whom to share their concerns and spend time with away from the day-to-day routine.

Similarly, the people in your personal life are just as important – spending time with friends and family can help take your mind off work. Recognise that healthy personal relationships can help you better manage stressful situations at work.

How do you plan a guilt-free holiday from the office?

Sometimes, planning and actually taking your holiday can be harder than your actual job. Philip White, Vistage member and managing director of Audacia Consulting, follows these simple rules:

Empower your workforce: If you are needed in the office at all times, perhaps there is a fundamental issue with the company. If a business struggles in the short absence of senior executives, it is an indication of a lack of leadership at the company, and potentially signals a broader problem. CEOs and business owners must make it their charge to empower their team to think independently and to take on more responsibility.

Communicate: The higher you are in an organisation, the greater the expectation that you’ll be in some way contactable during holiday. For today’s CEO, it’s almost inevitable that you’ll dip into emails from time to time whilst out of the office. But don’t let the flashing icon on your phone become a constant preoccupation either.  Instead, communicate when you’ll be available online or offline with your staff and with whomever you are on holiday. By setting time aside for work in advance, you remove the stress of disappointing the people around for stealing precious hours away on your laptop.

The key is understanding that work-life balance isn’t necessarily a complete separation of work from home life, but recognising that one doesn’t have to impede the other. Whenever you are at work, allow yourself to take some time to gather your thoughts and spend time with family and friends. However, also accept that other times you might have to take an urgent conference call from your holiday home in the middle of Easter celebrations.

Whether you are jet-setting to another country or enjoying a low-key staycation, time off is an opportunity to dedicate time to friends and family, whilst also being a great opportunity to reflect on issues and opportunities without the day-to-day responsibilities and stress of work.

Want to go cloud-first? Get cloud-ready

Image

By, Matt Piercy, EMEA VP, Zscaler

For any organisation, reducing costs while increasing productivity and performance is an ongoing challenge. Successfully identifying how processes can be trimmed, adapted or cut can have a huge impact on the bottom line and businesses are turning to technology – and the cloud in particular – as a result.

This trend has led many companies to adopt a cloud-first strategy. Motivated by the idea of migrating apps to public cloud providers like AWS and Azure and benefiting from increased accessibility and cost effectiveness, it seems a relatively straightforward way of enhancing performance. However, to truly take advantage of the cloud, a business needs to ensure its architecture is cloud-ready. Legacy setups within offices and branches have limitations which are quickly reached when relying on them to support cloud use. This can leave a company vulnerable, in terms of security and stifled performance, so the common pitfalls need to be considered and addressed at the highest level and not just left to IT teams to sort.

The five common pitfalls of a cloud-first strategy

1. Relying on regional gateways

Instead of deploying security at every branch, many organisations backhaul traffic to regional hubs or a few data centre gateways using Multi-Protocol Label Switching (MPLS). The lower upfront costs may make it seem less expensive than outfitting each branch with a security gateway, but it can end up costing far more in practice.

Backhauling traffic introduces a hairpin effect forcing the business to pay twice for internet-bound traffic – once to carry traffic from the branch to data centre, and again to return it to the end-user. Furthermore, it can cause traffic bottle necks and latency, restricting productivity. It can also complicate privacy and security issues, particularly if data is being transferred between regions and through different security systems.

2. Believing that virtual appliances are ready for the cloud

A virtual appliance is a pre-configured system or solution that has been developed for a specific need. Many firms still have a wide variety of virtual systems deployed across networks which are tasked with completing vital functions using sensitive data. Often a left over from legacy setups, businesses that use them to support cloud use are likely to soon experience performance issues.

Being pre-configured for a particular job means that virtual appliances have pre-configured limits. They can cope when data flow is relatively consistent and predictable – as it would have been during the more traditional years of strict network enterprise computing where all work was conducted from within an office’s four walls – but cloud use adds traffic volatility they just were not designed for. Sudden spikes in traffic require seamless scalability but upper boundaries cannot be shifted. Unexpected data deluges could even take systems offline, much in the same way as a denial-of-service attack could.

3. Putting up with security gaps

Continued reliance on legacy solutions will see businesses falling short in the protection provided to their corporate data in a cloud first environment. Just like virtual appliances, more traditional offerings aren’t suitable for today’s complex cloud traffic. For instance, old-fashioned firewalls cannot proxy HyperText Transfer Protocol (HTTP) or File Transfer Protocol (FTP) traffic, meaning that do not have the full context of the type of security required. They often only inspect traffic based upon known signatures (which catch only three to eight percent of all vulnerabilities) leaving firms vulnerable to threats such as DNS tunnelling.

In another attempt to keep costs low, some deploy smaller equivalents of their HQ’s cybersecurity stack at each branch. Replicating stacks exactly would cost a considerable amount, with purchasing, configuring, managing and maintaining such a complex ecosystem across numerous sites a resource-intensive undertaking. As such, enterprises deploy and rely solely on smaller firewalls and unified threat management (UTM) tools which typically have less that optimal security controls. This patchwork of tools make it very complex for centralised IT teams to maintain, and the variations in capabilities creates compliance issues, inconsistent policies and fragmented audit trails. These security compromises leave branches, and therefore the entire network, vulnerable.

4. Bolting on a proxy

The use of Secure Sockets Layer (SSL) encrypted traffic is increasing and so are the number of threats hiding within it. According to Google, more than 90 percent of the traffic crossing its properties is encrypted, so SSL inspection is no longer a novelty. However, such a capability requires a particular software meaning it’s something that most traditional appliance-based firewalls and UTMs cannot provide. As a way around this, and to avoid forking out for completely new solutions, businesses tend to adopt bolt-on proxies. 

While seemingly the low-cost option, bolt-on proxies can have multiple drawbacks for branches. They require significant bandwidth, restricting the amount available for other functions and impacting performance. They are often also tied to vendor development cycles and the enterprise’s own appliance lifecycle, which could see tools refreshed every 3-5 years. This requires branches to accurately predict what their future SSL performance requirements will be, or be stuck with tools that cannot support performance.

These challenges may result in branches feeling that proxies are more hassle than they’re worth and completely switching them off. Yet, with 41 percent of network attacks using encryption to evade detection, according to the Ponemon Institute, the risk to data is obvious.

5. Leaving bandwidth to chance

Ensuring consistent performance for users is dependent on them having seamless access to network and business-critical applications. However, companies that leave bandwidth as a free-for-all, even if connections are deployed locally at each branch, are likely to soon find that their critical applications are being choked.

The steadily increasing use of applications and the bandwidth needed to run ever-more advanced functions, traffic growth, and user base can crush performance and drive up costs. Moreover, the desire to watch global sporting events such as the World Cup and Tour de France while at work can see already limited bandwidth being used for streaming. As such, companies must have the ability to manage traffic, which includes allocating bandwidth for business-critical applications and limiting how much any app can use.

Using cloud to enhance the cloud

Businesses must move away from legacy architecture and security solutions. Tools that are developed to enable cloud use ensure the accessibility, security and performance migrating to the cloud provides.

This could mean adopting software-defined wide area networking (SD-WAN) to create local internet breakouts that provide branches with direct-to-internet access and removes the need to backhaul traffic to the centralised hubs. When then deployed alongside a global cloud security solution – which can be deployed across all offices to standardise capabilities, has elastic scalability, are advanced enough to spot more sophisticated cyberthreats, as well as being regularly updated – then businesses have assurances that their branch traffic is secure. Furthermore, such technology often provides greater bandwidth management. Allowing companies to granularly control bandwidth use and prioritise the performance of critical functions.

Ultimately, a cloud-first strategy will enhance user experience and a business’ productivity and flexibility, but a successful campaign is dependent on adopting the tools that make a company cloud-ready. Those that continue to rely on legacy tools and setups are simply negating the very benefits moving to the cloud offers.

15

Ahead of the Curve

Image

Softlink Global offers end-to-end technology solutions to the global logistics and supply chain industry. We profiled the team as we seek to gain an insight into the company’s ongoing success and achievements.

Located and founded in India, Softlink now operates in every continent with its own offices or partners. Softlink’s cutting edge technology is used right from small medium enterprises to large conglomerates including DHL, FedEx, TNT, DB Schenker etc.

Cutting edge technology and unmatched domain understanding has been a key factor in Softlink’s exponential growth and its solutions being accepted in over forty-five countries. Softlink’s unbeatable team designs products to address the pain areas of supply chain industry and offer path breaking solutions.

Softlink’ derives its strength from its deep domain knowledge, strong technology capabilities, comprehending customer needs and the knack to perceive the future trends of the industry. Softlink has been relentless in its research and development work directed towards the innovation, introduction, and improvement of products and processes. Over the years, Softlink has been remarkably successful in exceeding customer expectations and even providing solutions to customers before its need becomes apparent to them.

Right from the DOS era to the present times of cloud technology, Softlink has always been ahead of the curve, working on new developments and evolving new technologies to augment its product line. The company is also simultaneously working on many
new ideas. Softlink‘s product range includes Logi-Sys — The Next Generation ERP for Logistics and Freight Forwarding, and TradeSys — Global Trade Management application. Logi-Sys is a futuristic solution that is Blockchain ready.

Excitingly, the prodigious capability of Logi-Sys has made it a phenomenal success globally, and the Logi-Sys product has garnered a huge market base internationally, with many freight forwarders and logistics companies across the world using the application to take their organisation beyond just productivity and deliver superior services to their clients.

As a part of its learning curve Softlink has been studying the inconsistency of industry players in embracing of technology. Softlink has been active in creating awareness through various public forms and mediums on how their reluctance to go full throttle in adoption of technology has had an adverse effect on their competitiveness.

Softlink is a keen observer of emerging trends in the industry and develops a strategy for its course of action well in advance, in order to meet future requirements. It has borne fruit by establishing and maintaining the leadership of Softlink in the industry. Softlink has spearheaded innovation and introduced new and emerging technology trends that have given its products distinctive edge. The company’s products are designed to be future proof and be ready for new technology like Blockchain and other advances.

Ensuring the success of the company moving forwards, the team strives for excellence right from the time of hiring employees. Softlink’s human resource department scouts for the very best talent who live by their work. Softlink has been working to foster the practice of enquiry and learning among its people to drive them towards excellence. The work environment offers greater transparency and the employees are given immediate feedback on their performance.

Internally, the culture at Softlink follows a threefold pattern of Mentor – Space – Challenge (MSC). All employees are Mentored by experience senior to bring to the fore their innate talents. They are then given the Space to perform and Challenged to deliver their best. A work policy follows a methodical program to align the employees with the vision of the company.

Under the guidance and vision of Amit Maheshwari, the company Founder and CEO, Softlink has been continuously delivering superior products to the logistics industry across the world. His passion for technology has seen the company deliver exceptional cutting-edge solutions backed by innovations that have brought about a paradigm change in the way the logistics industry operates today.

Furthermore, the logistics industry and the supply chain are undergoing unprecedented changes. The industry will probably not exist in its current form in the near future to sustain themselves and stay competitive, players have to recalibrate their business to the changing ecosystem. Softlink is continuously evolving itself and is working unrelentingly to help its customers evolve.

Overall, there are many attributes which the company possesses which have contributed to the team’s continuous success and achievements. Under the leadership of CEO Amit, the company has been named in CV’s Corporate Excellence Awards in 2018, and Amit himself has been selected has the Most Influential CEO of the Year 2018 for his Technology prowess, leading to widespread optimism amongst the team about what the future holds.


For more information visit: http://www.softlinkglobal.com/

11