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Sage Reveals 6 Tech Trends SMES Should Watch Out for in ‘17

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Sage Chief Technology Officer Klaus-Michael Vogelberg

Sage, the market leader in Cloud accounting software, has predicted that chatbots, collective intelligence and blockchain are some of the big technology trends that will change the way entrepreneurs run their businesses in 2017.

In this report, Klaus-Michael Vogelberg, Sage chief technology officer, talks about the role chatbots, collective intelligence and blockchain will play at start-up and scale up enterprises in 2017, saying, “As every business – big or small – is transforming more or less intensively into a tech-enabled business, today’s entrepreneurs should be on the lookout for the opportunities these technological developments can bring to their business.”

 Vogelberg sees six major trends in 2017 that could make a big difference to the way business builders will work in 2017 and beyond.

Trend #1: Chatbots and Autonomous Interfaces
Autonomous interfaces such as chatbots or digital agents will become increasingly common on different devices and user interfaces which entrepreneurs use to manage and control their businesses.

These interfaces will dramatically change the way that humans and computers work and interact with each other. While, in the past, people used a keyboard or mouse to interact with their PCs, they will gradually start talking with their systems or using gesture control such as hand, head or eye gestures to interact with them.

The user experience will not only become more convenient but also more enjoyable – these systems will work autonomously and have self-learning capabilities.

Eventually, software could act without user intervention, or ask a certain question only once and use this information for all further activities.

In June 2016, Sage launched the first accounting chatbot, PeggTM. Pegg acts as a smart assistant that allows users to track expenses and manage finances through messaging apps such as Facebook messenger and Slack.

Pegg hides the complexities of accounting and lets entrepreneurs manage finances through conversation, making the process as simple as writing a text.

By digitising information at the point of capture, it takes away the hassle of filing receipts and expenses, eliminating the need for paper and data entry.

Trend #2: Artificial & Collective Intelligence
According to Vogelberg, artificial and collective intelligence is another major trend to look out for, even for smaller companies.

With mushrooming data volumes being generated by all sorts of sensors and devices on the one hand (see trend #6), and computer power and special analysis software and intelligent agents becoming increasingly affordable and powerful on the other, companies need to find ways to extract knowledge from today’s wealth of Big Data.

Sage’s Klaus-Michael Vogelberg therefore advises SMEs to “team up”. “If small and medium-sized enterprises join forces and – while considering their corporate data protection policies and personal rights laws – share, for example, computer power and data with other companies in a structured and systematic manner, they could profit from this collaboration by receiving a better and larger data pool and superior data intelligence. Similar to crowdsourcing mechanisms, this enriched data pool would enable companies to better understand how customers behave, what they need, what to offer them and the business areas to invest in.”

Trend #3: Blockchain – Or How To Create Trust In The Digital Age
According to Sage, business builders should also carefully analyse if, and how, the new blockchain technology could impact their current business models.

Particularly all those industries which work as intermediaries between two parties – such as lawyers, notaries, or real-estate or financial brokers – could be affected by this new, innovative approach.

Bookkeepers and accountants might also be affected in the way they do business in the future, as blockchain has the potential to eliminate a significant part of the workload – such as checking and booking transactions, transferring money or paying invoices – handled by these professions today.

Why could this happen? Blockchain organises transactions of digital assets between two parties in a radically new way. Instead of using middlemen or intermediaries such as banks, notaries, state authorities or trading platforms to legitimise the exchange of certain assets – such as digital properties, digital trading goods, digital contracts, or even financial transactions via digital currencies such as Bitcoins – blockchains allow individuals to transfer these assets in a direct, safe, secure, and immutable way between each other.

A decentralised, distributed ledger, essentially an asset database shared across multiple participants, combined with crypto-economic algorithms serve as the technological basis of a blockchain.

All participants of a blockchain (so called nodes) have access to the distributed ledger, which contains an inventory of all the relevant digital assets. All parties within this network have their own identical copy of the ledger.

Any changes to it are applied to every copy in a matter of minutes or even seconds. Thus, the system is transparent and creates trust among all nodes without the need for legitimisation by any other third party authority.

Trend #4: Revolutionizing The Movement Of Money
The way people use money and transfer their payments from one account to another has already changed dramatically: at the frontend, in-app payment solutions nowadays enable users to effortlessly make one-click payments and purchase goods via mobile devices or websites. This functionality is already available in many apps today.

But at the backend, systems such as accounting software are less user-friendly and less integrated.

For example, companies currently have almost no possibility to make one-click invoice payments or easily manage their financial transactions between partners, suppliers and their bank with a fingertip.

In 2017, more and more new solutions will allow companies to establish an end-to-end payments value chain with their suppliers and customers.

These new solutions enable ubiquitous anytime anywhere, immediate and omni-channel payments and will be fully integrated into the financial accounting systems of tomorrow’s enterprises. All parties, such as e-commerce platforms, banks, fin-techs or partners, will profit from open API standards which will be used for creating new services and enable seamless, fully-automated processing of payments and financial transactions.

At Sage Summit in July 2016 Sage announced its partnership with US Bank, a technical example for this paradigm change in payments.

The AP Optimizer for Sage Live that Sage built in partnership with U.S. Bank marks a first truly digital accounting and payment solution that enables start up and scale up businesses to manage their cash flow through dynamic integration with customers.

AP Optimizer is integrated in Sage Live and determines for example the best time to pay bills and the best method for payment to optimise cash flow in near real-time, and then carries out the payment.

Trend #5: Platform-Based Infrastructure
In 2017, more and more SMEs will replace their stand-alone, on-site software systems with integrated, cloud-based software solutions that operate on global Cloud platforms such as Salesforce.com who are offering their users access to a wealth of business apps and integrated services.

Moreover, companies will also benefit from mobile-app platforms such as the one operated by the Apple Mobility Partner Program.

“The big benefit of these platforms is that they give even smaller companies access to innovative business software solutions and services which these companies would not have been able to afford five years ago.  To some extent, these types of cloud platforms are democratising the way in which companies gain access to state-of-the-art apps and smart and scalable technologies,” says Klaus-Michael Vogelberg. “They allow business builders to discover new ways of working and give them the infrastructure needed to receive every kind of data from partners or the Internet of Things, analyze it, and then – in a “citizen developer” style – create something new and productive,” the Sage CTO says.

Trend #6: Internet Of Things Will Create New Services And Job Profiles
Small and medium-sized enterprises should be on the lookout for new possibilities that emerge with the realisation of the Internet of Things.

Multiple data streams originating from all sorts of sensors built into e.g. machines, cars, mobile and immobile goods, clothes or even human beings (e.g. for medical monitoring purposes) will result in a true treasure trove of data, thus creating all sorts of new services.

SMEs should think about how to use these data streams to grow their business:

Mechanics will develop new services such as predictive maintenance for all sorts of technical infrastructures.

Logistic companies will optimise e.g. the navigation of their truck fleets by using traffic data from many different sources including smart city data from traffic lights, streets or other vehicles.

Concierge services will develop all sorts of surveillance services with the realisation of new smart home technology.

Retail companies and shop owners might connect to smart home devices such as refrigerators or Amazon-style dash buttons to supply customers automatically and predictively with goods and services.

Mobile medical care services will innovate their work with the assistance of all sorts of new devices e.g. to improve their support of elderly people living alone at home.

Early last year Sage demonstrated its partnership with TomTom telematics which enables Sage Live customers to keep track of vehicle journeys, and feed data into the accounting process in real time.

In summary, Sage Chief Technology Officer Klaus-Michael Vogelberg said: “In 2017, every business will need to start thinking of itself as a technology business. To stay competitive, they will need to grasp the opportunities that this development brings with it and change almost every aspect of today’s more or less traditional ways of working. The good news is that this technology means that we believe that very soon, business admin could become completely invisible, as easy as messaging a friend, or even completely automated, as machines learn like humans. This will empower entrepreneurs to stay focused on building their businesses, driving growth in the economy and contributing to their communities – not basic admin.”

 

Nigeria CommunicationsWeek believes that technology makes life more exciting and helps improve the lives of people around Nigeria and indeed the world. So since 2007, we have devoted our energy to independent reportage of technology and how they affect lives.

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E-Business

Visa Launches ID Intelligence for Smarter Customer Authentication

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Visa has launched Visa ID Intelligence, a platform that lets issuers, acquirers and merchants quickly adopt emerging authentication technologies, according to a press release.

Available through Visa Developer Platform, Visa ID Intelligence offers a curated selection of third-party authentication technologies that feature simple integration with Visa APIs and SDKs. This allows clients to create, test and adopt new authentication solutions.

This ultimately helps financial institutions and merchants to adopt effective and secure solutions and accelerate time-to-market with streamlined on boarding and implementation through Visa as a single trusted source, the company said.

Visa ID Intelligence features include: Identity Documents— the platform evaluates identification documents and matches selfies to photo IDs, while extracting document information and converting it into digital form.

Uses include creating new accounts, and performing password reset and lost or stolen card replacement.

-Biometrics — Visa ID Intelligence allows clients to use eye, face, fingerprint and voice to meet consumer needs for convenience, security and speed in authentication.

Uses include app login, payments, step-up authentication, and more.

“Traditional methods for authenticating a customer can create frustration or are simply not designed for the new ways people are shopping and paying. We built Visa ID Intelligence to help accelerate smarter and easy-to-use authentication solutions for any commerce environment — to better protect against fraud and to move closer to a world without passwords,” Mark Nelson, Visa senior vice president of risk and authentication products, said in the release.

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ESET Works With Google To Protect Chrome Against Dangerous Malware

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By peter oluka

ESET, a leading global cybersecurity company, on Thursday launches Chrome Cleanup, a new scanner and cleaner for Google Chrome designed to help users browse the web safely and without interruption.

Chrome Cleanup will be available for all Google Chrome users running on Windows.

As cyber-attacks become more complex and difficult to spot, browsing the web can lead users to dangerous sites which can install malicious software onto devices.

Chrome Cleanup will alert Google Chrome users to potential threats when it detects unwanted software.

Google Chrome will then give users the option to remove the software. Chrome Cleanup operates in the background, without visibility or interruptions to the user. It deletes the software and notifies the user once the cleanup has been successfully completed.

“Using the internet should always be a smooth and safe experience for everyone,” said Juraj Malcho, chief technology officer at ESET. “For three decades, ESET has developed a number of security solutions that allow users to safely enjoy their technology and to mitigate a variety of cyber threats. Chrome Cleanup addresses unwanted software that can negatively influence a users’ experience on the internet.”

Chrome Cleanup is included in the latest version of Google Chrome. For more information about these tools, read Google’s blog post, here.

For 30 years, ESET® has been developing industry-leading IT security software and services for businesses and consumers worldwide.

With solutions ranging from endpoint and mobile security, to encryption and two-factor authentication, ESET’s high-performing, easy-to-use products give consumers and businesses the peace of mind to enjoy the full potential of their technology.

ESET unobtrusively protects and monitors 24/7, updating defenses in real-time to keep users safe and businesses running without interruption. Evolving threats require an evolving IT security company.

Backed by R&D centers worldwide, ESET becomes the first IT security company to earn 100 Virus Bulletin VB100awards, identifying every single “in-the-wild” malware without interruption since 2003.

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A Buyer’s Market in the Global Economics of DDoS Attacks

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It’s a buyer’s market in the local property arena at the moment, according to certain industry experts.

 

This is largely as a result of the slower economy, which has seen a rise in the number of properties for sale.

 

But did you know that globally, it’s a buyer’s market as well when we look at the economics of Distributed Denial of Service (DDoS) attacks? The second, of course, is an underground market, largely regarded as a criminal one.

 

So said Bryan Hamman, Arbor Network’s territory manager for Sub-Saharan Africa.

 

Referring to recently released information from Arbor Networks, he said, “It is interesting to analyse the current economics in global DDoS attacks, which are attempts to make an online service unavailable by overwhelming it with traffic from multiple sources. Most people who are aware of DDoS attacks understand that there will be a perpetrator and a target.

 

“However, we’re now seeing a growing number of third-party providers of DDoS attacks as a service, who advertise their abilities online in order to either sell would-be attackers access to the tools needed to conduct a DDoS attack, or who perform the attack themselves on the customer’s behalf and provide reports afterwards.”

 

Hamman noted  that the fees of these underworld providers are lessening, due to rapidly expanding competition and the supply of readily available attack resources such as botnets. As a result, he says, the DDoS business is currently a buyer’s market.

 

Arbor reported that the prices for attack services, sometimes called “stressers” or “booters” vary widely, as do estimates of the total cost of an attack to the victim. But the economics are simple: DDoS attacks are becoming cheaper than ever for the perpetrator; are extremely lucrative for the attack service provider, and potentially financially devastating for the target.

 

Arbor noted that an increasing number of operators resemble legitimate service provider infrastructures with significant computing power, typically running their own botnet armies to unleash DDoS attacks. Perpetrators can essentially rent the providers’ botnets by the hour, day or week, or in some cases can buy a specific number of bots outright. The mechanics of transactions follow a classic web service model, meaning the perpetrator and the provider need never come in contact.

 

Providers that conduct attacks-as-a-service even post their services online, with tiered pricing reflecting the different types of attack that they offer. Prices are based on several factors. They can include the duration of the attack, the perceived value of the target, the country in which the attack takes place and/or the different methodologies employed.

 

In Arbor Networks 12th annual Worldwide Infrastructure Security Report, 59 percent of respondents estimated their downtime costs as being more than USD500/ minute in lost revenue (some ZAR6,700 per minute with the rand/dollar exchange rate on around ZAR13.50 to the dollar), with some indicating even higher losses. This also does not factor in the costs of repairing the damage, potential legal costs of settling with customers denied service, or reputational damage to the company’s brand.

 

Hamman concluded, “Here in South Africa, we may not yet face the overtness of DDoS operators advertising their services, as can be seen in the US. However, this does not mean that local companies shouldn’t be vigilant against DDoS attacks – protection is more vital than ever. A hybrid solution that combines on-premises and cloud-based protection is the industry best practice in DDoS defence. When you accept that DDoS attacks aren’t going away, and in fact are projected to escalate, it makes the best economic sense of all to make sure that you are adequately prepared against a DDoS attack.”

 

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