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Friday, December 26, 2014

Investors Seek Entrepreneurs With Fire in the Belly

Marty Zwilling Headshot

Investors Seek Entrepreneurs With Fire in the Belly

Posted: Updated:
I've noticed that some entrepreneurs seem to have no trouble attracting investors, while others with a great business plan struggle. The reality is that "angel investors" are humans, and personal traits often make or break the relationship, even before the investment is considered.

On the top line, angel investors look to invest in entrepreneurs that have an almost unwavering passion and sense of urgency. In the business, this is commonly called "fire in the belly." If you don't have it, you probably won't succeed, even with funding.
Of course, this fire has to come in concert with a variety of visible characteristics that indicate that you, as the entrepreneur, have the attitude and practical skills to make it happen. Here are some key ones they look for:
  1. Talks and writes well. Can concisely explain the unique, compelling value of the proposed venture in written terms and in oral presentations (elevator pitch), recognizing that some investors rely more on one than the other. Listens before answering questions.
  2. Networked and connected. Successful entrepreneurs already have a visible network of trusted suppliers, potential customers, partners and even investors. These are critical to any venture. A successful track record with previous investors is a home run.
  3. Full disclosure attitude. Clearly willing to provide details of weaknesses as well as strengths of the proposed venture, and the challenges ahead. You must be willing to welcome the participation of the angel investor in the company, at least at the advisory level.
  4. Values intellectual property. Convincingly presents a patent, trademark or other "secret sauce" that can create equity value, not just current cash flow for the owners. This has value now, and is critical for maximum value in a merger or acquisition.
  5. Not in a heated rush. Calm and self-assured, rather than desperate. Can show milestones achieved, as well as planned, which indicate rational expectations. Allows sufficient time to find capital, including due diligence time for investors.
  6. Realist. The best entrepreneurs recognize and accept things as they are, and react accordingly. They are quick to change their direction when they see that change will improve their prospects for achieving their goals.
  7. Domain experience and expertise. Investors realize that passion is no substitute for knowledge and experience, and every business is more complex than it might look on the surface. They will pay a premium for someone who has "been there and done that."
At the stage during which the angel is normally investing, the entrepreneur may be all the angel has to go by to decide whether the deal is worth pursuing. The technology or product may be at an embryonic stage. There may not be any customers to talk to in order to evaluate the market need.

The investor, in order to eventually be successful, has to spot not only winning technologies but winning people, and all investors have a slightly different view of what a winner looks like. So, of course, they try to guess the internal traits, like honesty, dedication, vision, intelligence and leadership based on external traits listed above.

If you think you want to be your own boss and run your own business, look in the mirror to see if you have the right traits to be an entrepreneur in your domain of interest. Better yet, ask a real friend, who won't just tell you what you want to hear. We can't change you, but you can change yourself, if the current pain level or the future reward is high enough.

Monday, December 22, 2014

3 Ways Steve Jobs Made Meetings Insanely Productive — And Often Terrifying

3 Ways Steve Jobs Made Meetings Insanely Productive — And Often Terrifying

Steve Jobs pointJustin Sullivan/GettySteve Jobs.
American businesses lose an estimated $37 billion a year due to meeting mistakesSteve Jobs made sure that Apple wasn’t one of those companies. 
Here are three ways the iconic CEO made meetings super productive.

1. He kept meetings as small as possible.

In his book “Insanely Simple,” longtime Jobs collaborator Ken Segall detailed what it was like to work with him. 
In one story, Jobs was about to start a weekly meeting with Apple’s ad agency.
Then Jobs spotted someone new. 
“He stopped cold,” Segall writes. “His eyes locked on to the one thing in the room that didn’t look right. Pointing to Lorrie, he said, ‘Who are you?’”
Calmly, she explained that she was asked to the meeting because she was a part of related marketing projects. 
Jobs heard her, and then politely told her to get out. 
“I don’t think we need you in this meeting, Lorrie. Thanks,” he said. 
He was similarly ruthless with himself. When Barack Obama asked him to join a small gathering of tech moguls, Jobs declined — the President invited too many people for his taste.

2. He made sure someone was responsible for each item on the agenda. 

In a 2011 feature investigating Apple’s culture, Fortune reporter Adam Lashinsky detailed a few of the formal processes that Jobs used, which led Apple to become the world’s most valuable company.
At the core of Job’s mentality was the “accountability mindset” — meaning that processes were put in place so that everybody knew who was responsible for what.
As Lachinsky described
Internal Applespeak even has a name for it, the “DRI,” or directly responsible individual. Often the DRI’s name will appear on an agenda for a meeting, so everybody knows who is responsible. “Any effective meeting at Apple will have an action list,” says a former employee. “Next to each action item will be the DRI.” A common phrase heard around Apple when someone is trying to learn the right contact on a project: “Who’s the DRI on that?”
The process works. Gloria Lin moved from the iPod team at Apple to leading the product team at Flipboard — and she brought DRIs with her
They’re hugely helpful in a startup situation.
“In a fast-growing company with tons of activity, important things get left on the table not because people are irresponsible but just because they’re really busy,” she wrote on Quora. “When you feel like something is your baby, then you really, really care about how it’s doing.”

3. He wouldn’t let people hide behind PowerPoint.

Walter Isaacson, author of the “Steve Jobs” biography, said,Jobs hated formal presentations, but he loved freewheeling face-to-face meetings.” 
Every Wednesday afternoon, he had an agenda-less meeting with his marketing and advertising team. 
Slideshows were banned because Jobs wanted his team to debate passionately and think critically, all without leaning on technology. 
“I hate the way people use slide presentations instead of thinking,” Jobs told Isaacson. “People would confront a problem by creating a presentation. I wanted them to engage, to hash things out at the table, rather than show a bunch of slides. People who know what they’re talking about don’t need PowerPoint.”

The post 3 Ways Steve Jobs Made Meetings Insanely Productive — And Often Terrifying appeared first on Business Insider.

Monday, December 8, 2014

Obama at ASU: Commencement Speech with intro by Michael Crow

Conan O'Brien's 2011 Dartmouth College Commencement Address

Stephen Colbert 2011 Commencement Speech at Northwestern University

Meryl Streep: College Commencement Address (2010 Speech to College Stude...

Ellen DeGeneres University Commencement Address (2009 Speech to College ...

Published on May 10, 2013

Ellen Lee DeGeneres (pron.: /dɨˈdʒɛnərəs/; born January 26, 1958) is an American stand-up comedian, television host and actress. She has hosted the syndicated talk show The Ellen DeGeneres Show since 2003.
As a film actress, she starred in Mr. Wrong, appeared in EDtv and The Love Letter, and provided the voice of Dory in the Disney-Pixar animated film Finding Nemo, for which she was awarded the Saturn Award for Best Supporting Actress, the only time a voice performance has won a Saturn Award. She was a judge on American Idol in its ninth season. DeGeneres has hosted both the Academy Awards and the Primetime Emmys.
She starred in two television sitcoms, Ellen from 1994 to 1998 and The Ellen Show from 2001 to 2002. During the fourth season of Ellen in 1997, DeGeneres came out publicly as a lesbian in an appearance on The Oprah Winfrey Show. Shortly afterwards, her character Ellen Morgan also came out to a therapist played by Winfrey, and the series went on to explore various LGBT issues including the coming out process. She has won thirteen Emmys and numerous other awards for her work and charitable efforts.

DeGeneres launched a daytime television talk show, The Ellen DeGeneres Show in September 2003. Amid a crop of several celebrity-hosted talk shows surfacing at the beginning of that season, such as those of Sharon Osbourne and Rita Rudner, her show has consistently risen in the Nielsen ratings and received widespread critical praise. It was nominated for 11 Daytime Emmy Awards in its first season, winning four, including Best Talk Show. The show has won 25 Emmy Awards in its first three seasons on the air. DeGeneres is known for her dancing and singing with the audience at the beginning of the show and during commercial breaks. She often gives away free prizes and trips to her studio audience with the help of her sponsors.
DeGeneres celebrated her thirty-year class reunion by flying her graduating class to California to be guests on her show in February 2006. She presented Atlanta High School with a surprise gift of a new electronic LED marquee sign.
In May 2006, DeGeneres made a surprise appearance at the Tulane University commencement in New Orleans. Following George H. W. Bush and Bill Clinton to the podium, she came out in a bathrobe and furry slippers. "They told me everyone would be wearing robes," she said. Ellen then went on to make another commencement speech at Tulane in 2009.[10]
The show broadcast for a week from Universal Studios Orlando in March 2007. Skits included DeGeneres going on the Hulk Roller Coaster Ride and the Jaws Boat Ride. In May 2007, DeGeneres was placed on bed rest due to a torn ligament in her back. She continued hosting her show from a hospital bed, tended to by a nurse, explaining "the show must go on, as they say." Guests sat in hospital beds as well. On May 1, 2009, DeGeneres celebrated her 1000th episode, featuring celebrity guests such as Oprah Winfrey, Justin Timberlake, and Paris Hilton, among others.

Image by Tulane Public Relations derivative work: Morn (Ellen_DeGeneres-2009.jpg) [CC-BY-2.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons


*If you received this via email, click on the link at "Posted by ECGMA to EC Martial Arts Blog" to view the blogpost"*

Friday, December 5, 2014

40 Incorrectly Used Words That Can Make You Look Dumb

Jeff Haden


Ghostwriter, Speaker, Inc. Magazine Contributing Editor

40 Incorrectly Used Words That Can Make You Look Dumb

December 03, 2014

While I like to think I know a little about business writing, I still fall into a few word traps. (Not to mention a few cliché traps.)
Take the words "who" and "whom." I rarely use "whom" when I should -- even when spell check suggests "whom" I think it sounds pretentious. So I use "who."
And then I sound dumb.
Just like one misspelled word can get your resume tossed onto the "nope" pile, one incorrectly used word can negatively impact your entire message. Fairly or unfairly, it happens -- so let's make sure it doesn't happen to you.

Adverse and averse
Adverse means harmful or unfavorable: "Adverse market conditions caused the IPO to be poorly subscribed." Averse refers to feelings of dislike or opposition: "I was averse to paying $18 a share for a company that generates no revenue."
But hey, feel free to have an aversion to adverse conditions.

Affect and effect
Verbs first. Affect means to influence: "Impatient investors affected our roll-out date." Effect means to accomplish something: "The board effected a sweeping policy change."
How you use effect or affect can be tricky. For example, a board can affect changes by influencing them and can effect changes by directly implementing them. Bottom line, use effect if you're making it happen, and affect if you're having an impact on something that someone else is trying to make happen.
As for nouns, effect is almost always correct: "Once he was fired he was given 20 minutes to gather his personal effects." Affect refers to an emotional state, so unless you're a psychologist you probably have little reason to use it.

Bring and take
Both have to do with objects you move or carry. The difference is in the point of reference: you bring things here and you take them there. You ask people to bring something to you, and you ask people to take something to someone or somewhere else.
"Can you bring an appetizer to John's party"? Nope.

Compliment and complement
Compliment means to say something nice. Complement means to add to, enhance, improve, complete, or bring close to perfection.
I can compliment your staff and their service, but if you have no current openings you have a full complement of staff. Or your new app may complement your website.
For which I may decide to compliment you.

Criteria and criterion
"We made the decision based on one overriding criteria," sounds fairly impressive but is also wrong.
Remember: one criterion, two or more criteria. Or just use "reason" or "factors" and you won't have to worry about getting it wrong.

Discreet and discrete
Discreet means careful, cautious, showing good judgment: "We made discreet inquiries to determine whether the founder was interested in selling her company."
Discrete means individual, separate, or distinct: "We analyzed data from a number of discrete market segments to determine overall pricing levels." And if you get confused, remember you don't use "discretion" to work through sensitive issues; you exercise discretion.

Elicit and illicit
Elicit means to draw out or coax. Think of elicit as the mildest form of extract. If one lucky survey respondent will win a trip to the Bahamas, the prize is designed to elicit responses.
Illicit means illegal or unlawful, and while I suppose you could elicit a response at gunpoint ... you probably shouldn't.

Farther and further
Farther involves a physical distance: "Florida is farther from New York than Tennessee." Further involves a figurative distance: "We can take our business plan no further."
So, as we say in the South (and that "we" has included me), "I don't trust you any farther than I can throw you," or, "I ain't gonna trust you no further."

Fewer and less
Use fewer when referring to items you can count, like "fewer hours" or "fewer dollars."
Use "less" when referring to items you can't (or haven't tried to) count, like "less time" or "less money."

Imply and infer
The speaker or writer implies, which means to suggest. The listener or reader infers, which means to deduce, whether correctly or not.
So I might imply you're going to receive a raise. And you might infer that a pay increase is imminent. (But not eminent, unless the raise will somehow be prominent and distinguished.)

Insure and ensure
This one's easy. Insure refers to insurance. Ensure means to make sure.
So if you promise an order will ship on time, ensure that it actually happens. Unless, of course, you plan to arrange for compensation if the package is damaged or lost -- then feel free to insure away.
(While there are exceptions where insure is used, the safe move is to use ensure when you will do everything possible to make sure something happens.)

Irregardless and regardless
Irregardless appears in some dictionaries because it's widely used to mean "without regard to" or "without respect to"... which is also what regardless means.
In theory the ir-, which typically means "not," joined up with regardless, which means "without regard to," makes irregardless mean "not without regard to," or more simply, "with regard to."
Which probably makes it a word that does not mean what you think it means.
So save yourself a syllable and just say regardless.

Number and amount
I goof these up all the time. Use number when you can count what you refer to: "The number of subscribers who opted out increased last month." Amount refers to a quantity of something that can't be counted: "The amount of alcohol consumed at our last company picnic was staggering."
Of course it can still be confusing: "I can't believe the number of beers I drank," is correct, but so is, "I can't believe the amount of beer I drank." The difference is you can count beers, but beer, especially if you were way too drunk to keep track, is an uncountable total and makes amount the correct usage.

Precede and proceed
Precede means to come before. Proceed means to begin or continue. Where it gets confusing is when an -ing comes into play. "The proceeding announcement was brought to you by..." sounds fine, but preceding is correct since the announcement came before.
If it helps, think precedence: anything that takes precedence is more important and therefore comes first.

Principal and principle
A principle is a fundamental: "Our culture is based on a set of shared principles." Principal means primary or of first importance: "Our startup's principal is located in NYC." (Sometimes you'll also see the plural, principals, used to refer to executives or relatively co-equals at the top of a particular food chain.)
Principal can also refer to the most important item in a particular set: "Our principal account makes up 60% of our gross revenues."
Principal can also refer to money, normally a sum that was borrowed, but can be extended to refer to the amount you owe -- hence principal and interest.
If you're referring to laws, rules, guidelines, ethics, etc., use principle. If you're referring to the CEO or the president (or an individual in charge of a high school), use principal.

Slander and libel
Don't like what people say about you? Like slander, libel refers to making a false statement that is harmful to a person's reputation.
The difference lies in how that statement is expressed. Slanderous remarks are spoken while libelous remarks are written and published (which means defamatory tweets could be considered libelous, not slanderous).
Keep in mind what makes a statement libelous or slanderous is its inaccuracy, not its harshness. No matter how nasty a tweet, as long as it's factually correct it cannot be libelous. Truth is an absolute defense to defamation; you might wish a customer hadn't said something derogatory about your business... but if what that customer said is true then you have no legal recourse.

And now for those dreaded apostrophes:

It's and its
It's is the contraction of it is. That means it's doesn't own anything. If your dog is neutered (the way we make a dog, however much against his or her will, gender neutral), you don't say, "It's collar is blue." You say, "Its collar is blue."
Here's an easy test to apply. Whenever you use an apostrophe, un-contract the word to see how it sounds. Turn it's into it is: "It's sunny," becomes, "It is sunny."
Sounds good to me.

They're and their
Same with these: They're is the contraction for they are. Again, the apostrophe doesn't own anything. We're going to their house, and I sure hope they're home.

Who's and whose
"Whose password hasn't been changed in six months?" is correct. Use the non-contracted version of who's, like, "Who is (the non-contracted version of who's) password hasn't been changed in six months?" and you sound a little silly.

You're and your
One more. You're is the contraction of you are. Your means you own it; the apostrophe in you're doesn't own anything.
For a long time a local nonprofit displayed a huge sign that said, "You're Community Place."
Hmm. "You Are Community Place"? No, probably not.

Now it's your turn: any words you'd like to add to the list?

Friday, October 24, 2014

From a Rwandan Dump to the Halls of Harvard -

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Is Kay Lee Roast Meat Joint Worth S$4 Million? - Yahoo Singapore Finance

Is Kay Lee Roast Meat Joint Worth S$4 Million?
By Yeap Ming Feng
Wed, Oct 22, 2014 3:42 PM SGT

Some call them the best char siew and roast meat store in Singapore, or the meat that simply melts in your mouth. Kay Lee Roast Meat Joint, located at Upper Paya Lebar, was finally sold for SGD$4 million, two and a half years after it was put on sale. An amount which is half a million dollars more than their initial asking price.

In this article, DollarsandSense will take a look at why Aztech Group was willing to pay such a hefty sum of money to purchase the business.

Every business model consists of tangible and non-tangible assets.

Tangible assets of Kay Lee Roast Meat

Tangible asset is defined as assets that have physical form, which, simplistically, means anything that you can see. Tangible assets of Kay Lee, are the shop space along with all the machines and equipment present in the shop.

In this case, the tangible assets of Kay Lee Roast Meat only amounts to$SGD1.5 million.

So why is it that Aztech Group was willing to folk out an extra $SGD2.5 million to purchase only $SGD1.5million worth of business? The answer is logically that a business extends beyond just its tangible assets.

Intangible Assets of Kay Lee Roast Meat

Intangible assets are non-physical assets of a business. Examples of intangible assets are patents, trademarks, copyrights, goodwill, brand recognition and business methodologies (think recipe in this case).

Most business owners have little understanding of how much intangible assets such as customer base and recognition of their brand can have a huge impact on the value of their businesses.

With this, we take a look at the value of Kay Lee Roast Meat using the three traditional valuation approaches.

1) Cost approach

For the cost approach, we try to calculate how much it will cost us to recreate a brand which has the same impact as that of Kay Lee Roast Meat.

This is done by adding up the present value of all the past expenses Kay Lee Roast Meat spent, in order to obtain the brand recognition it has today.

Kay Lee Roast Meat has spenthundreds of thousands of dollars since 38 years ago to arrive at the reputation it has today.

The actual amount which Kay Lee spent on marketing is unknown. Assuming

Kay Lee only spends $5000 on marketing starting 38 years ago on a yearly basisThe inflation rate 

The present values of $5000 from 38 years ago is about $16,069.

The present value of $5000 from 37 years ago is about $15,583.

Continue this for 38 years and we will get a sum of about $369,382 on advertising.

However, cost approach does not allow us to factor cost such as time spent on the running of this business and creation of the recipe.

2) Market approach

Market approach identifies a brand comparable to that of another and using it as a proxy.

Hence, competitors who possessed the same qualities to that of Kay Lee like my favourite Foong Kee Coffee shop can look at this case as a rough gauge of the value of their business if Foong Kee Coffee shop were to be put on sale.

3) Income approach

The income approach measures the benefits that the intangible asset of Kay Lee Roast Meat can bring to the business.

Intangible assets such as loyal customers are usually the most important value-generating factor in a business. When customers frequent Kay Lee Roast Meal regularly, predictable revenue is generated.

Currently, the shop generates a revenue of around $2000 daily. Given that it is a freehold, there cost incurred comes mainly from the ingredients and the wage of the workers.

Given that they are open 6 days a week, in one year, the revenue generated will be $624,000 from the joint alone.

Aztech Group plans to open at least 10 casual restaurants under Kay Lee name in the next two years. The brand recognition that Kay Lee Roast Meat is a name which produces one of the best roast meat in Singapore. Coupled with the well guarded recipe, it makes similar tasting roast meat to that of Kay Lee difficult to imitate.

Opening the restaurants under a name, new to the public, will expose the group to higher risk.

The fact that the sales of Kay Lee made it to Straits Times, DollarsAndSense and many other websites and newspapers will probably keep the public wanting to have taste of Kay Lee Roast Meat or anticipating the arrival of the new restaurants. That, itself, is an intangible asset.


In conclusion, brand recognition and customer loyalty, may be worth more than tangible assets. They allow earnings steadily over time, and the understanding of this value while managing your business may allow you to bargain for higher premium to potential buyers one day.

Why your future is in the public cloud

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Monday, October 20, 2014

Another executive fired over social media remarks

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When HRMS Is a Mess | HRO Today

By Christian Baader, Gianni Giacomelli, and David Ludlow
We all have heard about the phenomenon. Patchy, inconsistent deployments, siloed across organizations, resulting in painful, sometimes embarrassingly situations such as: poor visibility of even basic HR data across countries and lines of business; erratic and inconsistent management of HR processes; ineffective talent management; inability to properly run processes in a shared services environment, resulting in high costs and poor quality; and more recently, the inability to address economic, environmental, and social sustainability challenges such as generational shifts, diversity, employee health, and safety.
Do you remember where the problem started? In many cases, these now patchy solutions were implemented, sometimes quickly, around the time of the "Y2K" change when the need for a new system to handle four-digit years was mandatory. The implementations were often done quickly, without any reengineering of business processes and with heavy modifications to support the old processes. While those systems might have been technically upgraded, the processes still go back 10 years or more and don't—or can't—take advantage of technology that more modern systems offer. Another situation: Implementations that got core HR like payroll and benefits up and running, but then fell victim to other IT budget priorities. The consequence is limited ability to leverage the HRMS for more strategic HR initiatives like compensation management or succession management. Adding to this problem are environments that grew from global expansion, resulting in multiple systems from multiple vendors across multiple geographic regions.This is simply a loss of business potential.
Single Vendor Value
Leveraging the standardization of a single platform that embeds best practices can bring value to organizations in many ways. Consolidating multiple systems can lead to "one version of the truth." No longer are complex data downloads and manipulation of spreadsheets required. A single system can produce the elusive "global headcount report" every CHRO, CFO, and even CEO is looking for. A consolidated platform can also provide the basis to reengineer outdated and inefficient processes, resulting in higher data quality and reduced cycle costs. Data quality is the "human capital" of the organization and accurate, consolidated, global data supports better business and workforce planning.
And once the data is consolidated and accurate, it can be used as a hub of master data to support strategic HR processes like talent management, as well as non-HR related processes like shift scheduling optimization, project costing, and compliance activities. 
Many HR directors have to cope with at least some of this every day. And while many know what they could do about it, in the absence of hard ROI (or at least as hard as the data from invoice or sales force automation tools, for example), they are forced to take a backseat in the CIO's pecking order.
There are solutions, but they require HR strategy and technology—together. And even more importantly, they will require the HR director, the CIO, the HR service provider (be it a BPO or on-Demand), and the related software vendor to work together. Each of them has a part in "dividing and conquering" such a seemingly intractable conundrum.
But there are two prerequisites. First, a portfolio approach of on-premise solutions (e.g., for the core HR system of records), on-demand software services (e.g., for specific tasks in recruiting or performance management), and outsourced business process services like payroll and benefits administration is needed. That can be boosted by appropriate technology usage—as long as you plan with technology in mind. Each solution part must cover its purpose, and together they also must combine into a meaningful whole, delivering comprehensive end-to-end business process and data. For example, data structures and operational processes must be consistent, otherwise the end-to-end integrity of process and data is jeopardized—or becomes exceedingly costly to maintain.
And secondly, there is simply no way to have "all things for all people." Just like cars are made out of standard components, the HR service puzzle is made out of many pieces, a large part of which should be standardized to some extent. This means ensuring a proper two-way matching between what is possible and what is really needed. How to find the proper trusted advisor for this task? Start with someone who will not say 'just tell me how you want it to be done.' Because that is how the mess got started in the first place so don't make the same mistake twice. Errare humanum est, sed perseverare diabolicum— making mistakes is human, persisting on them is devil's work.  

"Errare (Errasse) humanum est, sed in errare (errore) perseverare diabolicum.", attributed to Seneca; which translates to: "To err is human, but to persist in error (out of pride, stupidity, ignorance or all 3 or more) is diabolical."

Christian Baader,, is vice president BPO for SAP Americas.
Gianni Giacomelli,, is head of strategy and marketing, BPO for SAP AG. 
David Ludlow,, is vice president, HCM solution management for SAP Americas.

Hong Kong tech's "Iron Lady" | Computerworld Hong Kong

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Wednesday, October 8, 2014

IBM Watson: 29 Signs Of Progress - InformationWeek

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Low quality Malaysian education more alarming than household debt, says World Bank economist - The Malaysian Insider

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What to do in the aftermath of the JPMorgan breach

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Russian hackers reportedly behind JP Morgan data breach this summer

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Three scary, but true, security tales

Three scary, but true, security tales

Eric Cole | Oct. 7, 2014 

While Halloween only comes around once a year, there are some truly frightful security mishaps occurring on a daily basis. Some of these mishaps have made headline news, while others were too terrifying to share... until now.

Just in time for Halloween, renowned cyber security expert and SANS Faculty Fellow, Dr. Eric Cole, shares three horrific tales of hideous human behavior which he has personally witnessed and lived to tell! Warning: What you are about to read is real.

Ghosts of Employees Past
Consider this frightening tale. When performing a routine security assessment for an organization, it was discovered that more than 145 accounts of employees who no longer worked for the organization were still active. GASP! Even scarier, when looking for possible activity on these accounts it was discovered that 17 of them were still actively being used. You can imagine the horror, but it gets worse.

After approaching HR to find out if there was anything special about these accounts it was revealed that seven of the 17 people who were actively using their old accounts were fired five months earlier for stealing information about the company and giving it to a competitor. Talk about a nightmare! Fire an employee for stealing, take away their badge but forget to cut off account access, only to learn they continue stealing from the organization even after termination. Now, that is terrifying!

Global Terror
If you don't have goose bumps yet, this global tale will likely raise a hair or two. A large US manufacturing organization with state-of-the-art industrial technology was under constant attack by the Chinese. Every four to six weeks for several years this grotesque scene continued to play out. These compromises wreaked havoc within the manufacturing organization's security environment. Yet despite the disturbing efforts of the Chinese hackers, the company was able to keep its technology a secret. However, for some mysterious reason (OK, because of costs), the executive team decided to move all of its US manufacturing and production to... China. GASP! The security team was left screaming in horror as their worst nightmare came true. Despite being able to successfully fend off the attacks over a three-year period while located in the US, within just two years after moving overseas the Chinese hackers were able to successfully infiltrate. As if this story couldn't get any more horrific, it didn't take long for them to develop a competing product which outsold the US company's product. The US company was forced to close its Chinese operations, as it was unable to compete. While the US manufacturing company is still in business today, its product line went from a billion-dollar product line to a mere million-dollar product line. How's that for a gruesome tale?

A hideous discovery
Still not scared? Here's a wicked story that is sure to give you nightmares. A typical full security assessment of an organization includes the facility as well as the data center; this means checking all policies, personnel, cyber security, and physical security. It was 11 p.m., haunting hours, the ideal time to test out the physical security of a building. Creeping through the dark to make sure the doors were locked, a horrific discovery was made. A door in the back by the loading docks (which just happens to be next to the data center) was unlocked. As if that wasn't frightening enough, right next to the door, along the edge of the wall and out of reach of the motion detector, was all of the company's taped storage! PII and PHI were easily available for any ghoul to take. Because this was a major exposure, someone within the organization had to be alerted immediately, otherwise, walking away knowing there was exposure could result in liability. Thinking this nightmare could not get any worse, the closest person within the organization to the office was the company's CFO who arrived to re-secure and lock the building in flannel, footy pajamas (how about that for a creepy image?).

So what can we learn from these terrifying tales? First, don't assume that processes, procedures and policies are being followed. Verify and check to make sure they are. Second, common sense doesn't prevail in most environments, so don't assume people will make the right decisions. Ensure that employees have the data to support all decisions, so that they are making them in a proper and correct manner.

From Big Data to Botched Data: 5 Steps to Total Big Data Failure

Sri Narayanan | Oct. 7, 2014 

Just because something is shiny and new, or is now the 'in' thing, doesn't mean it will work for everyone.

Sounds familiar?

If you're a CIO, the temptation of shiny new technology is almost too hard to resist. Nowhere is this more evident than in the dozens of failed Big Data projects deployed across enterprises. The problem is that there is a right way and a wrong way to do Big Data, and judging from recent corporate history, most IT departments and CIOs don't know the difference.

Take JC Penny. Once a darling of the retail consumer experience, the company is a cautionary tale on how not to deploy Big Data. From a leading light in the retail consumer space in 2012, JC Penney witnessed a mass exodus of customers in under a year, prompted by ill-advised and drastic store changes. The culprit? Poor deployment of a large scale, merchandising retail analytics solution.

A few months into a complete store revamp, CEO Ron Johnson implemented what he called a "complete, open and integrated suite" of retail analytics solutions. The hope was that JC Penney would have new customer shopping insights to respond faster to customer preferences.

Johnson began a process of modernising the existing business intelligence (BI) software by deploying a retail merchandising analytics program that provided real-time, mobile insight into item and category performance, including key metrics such as inventory position, sales, stock ledger, cost, forecast, and promotions. On paper, this would simplify processes and capture structured and unstructured data (customers sentiment, etc) so it could deliver the best possible customer experience.

But neither Johnson nor his team gained any meaningful insight from all that analytics solutions. Instead, sales levelled off sharply from US$17 billion in 2011 to US$12.9 billion in 2013. After 17 months on the job, Johnson was fired.

So what went wrong?

Focus on the Data, Not Its Application
The surest way to scupper your Big Data project before achieving any meaningful outcome is to fail to ask one basic question: What do you want to do with the information? Too often, companies don't know what they are looking to achieve with Big Data but they think it will solve their problems. They process large volumes of data without any idea what problem they are actually trying to solve.  Or expect more than it can deliver.

Assume You Have the Right Skills

JC Penney deployed a sophisticated predictive analytics solution and failed to draw meaningful insight from the data. Why? Because they had IT personnel and data scientists asking questions to problems their marketing, sales and merchandising experts should have been asking in the first place.

There is an acute shortage of skilled data analysis employees in the labour market and the situation is likely to worsen. But more than data crunching and creating fancy algorithms, a failure to deploy the real 'experts' in your industry to a Big Data project will certainly doom the effort.

Process Any And All Data Indiscriminately

If you fail to plan, you plan to fail. There's just too much unsorted data to process in most Big Data projects. Failing to run a data audit so you know what bits you actually want to process will most certainly cost money, loss of time and resources that will detract from the project's primary goal. JC Penney transitioned from a traditional BI environment managing structured data to a huge Big Data effort involving large datasets of unstructured information, processed through fancy predictive analytics and algorithms. The results lacked context and relevance, and the project failed.

Selecting wrong use cases

Seduced by the potential of Big Data solutions, many companies aim too high for their initial efforts. They study successful deployments from other organisations and attempt to apply the same use case scenarios to their companies without the relevant skill sets or experience. Others use the same cases from their previously installed traditional BI programmes, and wonder why they don't see any benefit when migrating to a Big Data initiative.


Go For Broke
JC Penney's first foray into predictive analytics was a massive undertaking that was just too ambitious, too soon. It was expensive and high-risk. No one knew how to make meaningful decisions with the information gathered.   Often a narrow focus and a smaller project will reap far more significant results.  

Modernising BI: Doing Big Data The Right Way
If you haven't already noticed, a huge shift is taking place in the corporate world. Companies are moving from traditional BI to predictive analytics with high volume, unstructured data to help their businesses extract insights and drive them forward.

Modernising BI to a more open Big Data effort is a journey you really can't take alone. It's fraught with landmines and requires careful consideration. As the JC Penney example illustrates, any company can and will get this wrong.  HP Business Intelligence Modernization Services identifies three major service needs your company will require to get your Big Data projects on the right track:

- Discovery environments: "Data lakes," data visualization tools and services enabling rapid, enterprise-wide data sharing and discovery collaboration.

- Analytics solutions: Addressing specific analytics needs to run the business better.

- Hybrid data management: Enabling enterprises to deliver production-grade analytics integrated into business processes and systems that leverage relevant data.

HP believes the hybrid approach retains the best of traditional BI and Big Data even though both use different technologies and methods. By extending and applying BI methods in the context of Big Data, the hybrid approach can deliver more precise and granular insights across all types of large, complex data.

Traditional BI and data warehousing methods will always be important but to make better decisions, and gain insights from new kinds and higher volumes of data, your company can't afford to do Big Data wrong. To learn more about the hybrid management approach to modernising BI and implementing Big Data,

This byline has been sponsored by HP Enterprise Services Asia Pacific & Japan. 

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