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Business and Technology Articles Contributed by UWA Students

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Public Wifi connection security, is your data secured?

The first thing anyone does upon reaching a new destination is hunt for a free wireless connection to connect to, or seek out someone who is able to provide the password. We do this at our friend’s house, when we are at our relatives but most of all, we do it when we are out in public. Airports, cafes and hotels, all of which are hotspots for hackers and snoopers. Here’s how to keep yourself safe.

  1. Secure your connection

Before you connect to the first available network, check to make sure that it is legitimate. You can do that by clarifying the name of the network with the host and this is done to dissuade from falling into ‘honeypots’. Generally set up by data thieves or hijackers who hack into your internet session and steals your cookies which, allows them to pass off as you on various websites.

  1. Connect through a VPN

Unless you are only planning to read the news and not intending to key in any sensitive information whilst connected to a public wifi, use a VPN. Virtual Private Networks encrypt your data much like putting a two-way mirror up between you and the world. You being behind the clear side. Even if a hacker manages to get into your open session, the data they steal would be encrypted and scrambled.

  1. Use encrypted websites

Regardless whether you are able to ascertain your wifi security, always connect through encrypted websites especially when sending sensitive data. Login information and other such data. To check whether the website is encrypted, look at the URL bar of the browser and there should be ‘https’ rather than just ‘http’.

However, be wary that there are website which look extremely similar to verified sites such as ‘bankfamerica.com’ that has managed to obtain the certificate. Therefore, always make sure the URL in your web browser is spelt accurately.

  1. Be cautious

Don’t ever think that it will not happen to you, as what a journalist onboard a plane thought when his emails were hacked and the details repeated to him verbally after the flight. The hacker told the journalist, Steven Petrow, that he has hacked into the emails of everyone onboard but wanted relay this information to him as he gleaned that he is a journalist. His parting words being, “That’s why this story is so important to everyone. It’s about everyone’s privacy.”

  1. Turn no two-way authentication

Wherever possible, take the extra precaution of having a two-way authentication. This way, even if some hacker managed to obtain your login credentials, they would not be able to log on without access to the secondary code usually sent to your phone number or email.

Bear in mind that no matter how well you keep yourself invulnerable, do not assume for one moment that if someone really wanted to steal your data that they are on a fool’s errand, for that is the day you stop being careful. Always keep your security measures updated and constant vigilance.

Top 5 reasons why startups fail even when they are well-funded

If you are aspiring to be an entrepreneur, the most important thing you have to know is that only a few startups are successful. The internet is flooded with postmortem commentaries on failed startups that include entrepreneurs recalling mistakes that proved fatal to the company. You may have heard that failures are the stepping stones to success but isn’t is preferable to learn from other’s mistakes than make your own?

Although lack of funds are responsible for shut-downs, it is not the only reason. The following are the top five reasons why startups fail even when they are well-funded. The good news is, knowing is half the battle.

  1. Lack of demand for the product

According to a research, the top reason why a startup is unable to succeed is because there is lack of need for the product/service in the market. Even a great marketing plan cannot force people to buy a product they have no use for. The best way to get around the problem is to have a realistic understanding and judgement about market conditions before launching the product. If market research is not your forte, then outsource the task to professionals who can take care of the whole process, right from survey design to data analysis.

  1. Absence of the right team

The second biggest reason for unsuccessful startups is the inability of the founder to bring together the right people for the job. It is not enough to just hire a bunch of smart people with fancy alma mater. Members of a good team should be able to balance each other’s strengths and weaknesses, while pursuing a clear common objective. Correspondingly, even a good team can fail to deliver in absence of efficient leadership.

  1. Not gauging the competition properly

This is another area where a good market research plan can save a budding company. Many startups fail because they don’t have a good answer to the question-What are we doing so differently that we can win the market? It is important to monitor your competition, not only for valuable inputs about the market, but also to identify holes in your own business model that can be plugged before it is too late.

  1. Pricing

You may have developed a great product, but it is important to know how much the market is willing to pay for the product and to what extent that pricing will sustain your business. Whether you price it too high or too low, you will struggle to generate revenue in both cases. Also keep in mind that when the company fails to live upto the expectations of paying customers, it constitutes to charging a high price for an average product. Bad pricing strategy doesn’t take long to sink a company.

  1. Ignoring customer feedback

Being unmindful of feedback can only lead to failure of the product and company. In this digital era, when collecting user data has become so easy, hearing what the customer has to say is as important as rolling out a great product. Customer feedback will help you in adapting to demand and stay competitive.

How Product Reviews Are Defining Ecommerce

 

Data suggests most consumers read online reviews before making a purchase online, even if it is an “impulse” purchase; a consumer will still dive into reading reviews. A study reveals, most consumers actually give the reviews the same weight as the recommendations of friends or family. Personally, I am big on product reviews and take them very seriously before buying a specific product or using a service.

The setback of a negative review can be profound for business owners. Researchers at the Harvard Business School found that an extra star on Yelp is usually an increase in sales by 5 to 9 percent.

“Product reviews have become a part of our everyday life, as many of us are constantly shopping online”, says Matt Stathis of product review site Lodlois.com. These reviews can vary from a tangible product such as a book or a service such as AirBnb.

When consumers browse and read through reviews, most of the time they look for consensus. Naturally if you find a group of people saying the same thing, it probably indicates they are onto something. When you are on an unfamiliar website, with few reviews to read from, it might be harder to trust the product and the website itself – is it trustworthy and reliable?

I believe as a consumer it is important to write your own review for the product. Reviews should not take up too much of your time; they should be designed to be helpful for other consumers. Even if you did not like the service you received or the product you received, your review should not be a banter, that is not the purpose of the review – take your complaints to customer service feedback instead, which should be better equipped to resolve your problem. Your job is not to humiliate the seller or service provider; your job is merely to help other consumers.

When writing your review, try to be precise specific. Remember you are trying to be helpful to your fellow consumers. Tell them the length of the pants was longer than you expected or described, or if a colour of a shoe was slightly brighter than the image posted. Include information that will be relevant to other shoppers.

If you disliked the running shoe you purchased from Puma and realized you should have purchased a Nike shoe instead and you write that as banter for your review, most likely that information will be unhelpful detail for the next shopper who really just wants a decent pair Puma shoes.

I am a frequent traveller so I am always on travel hotel websites; I read many reviews all the time. Many times people will write things such as; “The Street facing the hotel was very loud, many drunk people walking around do not stay at this establishment.” This review is not really useful for the consumer and it is negatively impacting the hotels image for absolute no reason. Instead you can write that the location of the hotel was not suitable for you, instead of negatively stating irrelevant facts that have nothing to do with the establishment itself.

Online reviews will never be flawless; either they will be fake or there will always be people who will rant about the product or service. At the same time, we can be honest and relevant with our reviews and persuasive enough to steer consumers toward the good things in life, reputable businesses that try to make the best product or experience.

How Blockchain Technology is Transforming the Real Estate Industry

 

In a recent study, it was revealed by International Real Estate Adviser, that the Global Real Estate Market was valued at $217 trillion.

To put things into perspective, here is a comparison of some other sectors:

  • Gold – $8 Trillion
  • Cryptocurrency – $150 Billion
  • Stock Market – $67 Trillion

We are now all familiar with the Blockchain technology by now. Blockchain technology has significant potential to drive transparency, cost savings and efficiency. This technology is being used in the business, health, logistics and financial sector. However, more recently the Real Estate industry is beginning to explore with the technology.

Normally, Real Estate interactions and dealings take weeks to months to conduct in person, with more than one party involved. This is usually the norm in methodology when dealing with exchange of assets of high value. Blockchain technology now wants to change this process by digitalizing the financial exchange across the industry. It was only a matter of time that the Blockchain technology was going to leave its mark on this industry as well.

Thanks to Blockchain technology, investors and owners don’t need to be present to broker or obtain a sale. It will all be done digitally, with transparency and high security.

So how will Blockchain Technology change things in the Real Estate industry?

  • Smart Contracts- Smart contracts are now becoming admissible records in the American Court system, raising their overall credibility and familiarity. The process used to be complex and quite lengthy, but now with Blockchain it becomes a secure, efficient and transparent transaction. You can complete this transaction from anywhere in the world with the simple use of your computer or handheld device.
  • No more Intermediary- Another benefit of implementing Smart Contracts is that it cuts out the middlemen, such as agents, attorneys and banks. By eliminating these liaisons reduces costs, because it eliminates commissions, service fees from the equation of a deal. Therefore, registration, taxes and inspection fees become entirely neutralized during the procedure. In addition, buyers and investors can participate in real estate auctions on their own with this technology. Blockchain Technology and Smart Contracts are able to take on the processing of payments, listings, legal documents, simplifying and expediting the entire process.
  • Affordability- You don’t have to be a millionaire to own equity in a new construction project, whether it’s a commercial, residential or an existing property. Any amount can be invested, without a minimum entry threshold requirement, and simple attain ownership. This technology allows entry to almost everyone with different financial background to participate in deals. New technologies such as Blockchain will allow a large group of investors to combine their assets to purchase any size of property, saving time and money for the seller and bringing new investment opportunities to the buyers.

 Blockchain Technology will provide the opportunity to assets such as real estate and land to be quantified as cryptocurrency and traded, bought and sold with convenience, security and transparency. Purchasing businesses, commercial and residential properties will become less tedious and affordable for everyone in the comfort of their own home, office or holiday.

Addressing the global skilled labour shortage

Shortage of skilled labour is common across the world. A google search using the words “skilled labour shortage” followed by the name of a random country is likely to throw up thousands of search results.

According to the Hays Global Skills Index 2016, one of the main reasons for the skill shortage across the globe is the chasm between academia and industry. Given the speed at which technology is evolving, the inability of the education system to cope with the rapidly transforming requirements of the industry is likely to worsen. However, the following measures can help address the gap:

  1. Industry-academia collaboration: The academic curricula of the universities need to be regularly updated to keep them relevant to the industry. To this end, businesses can collaborate with universities in designing the syllabus.

    Additionally, businesses can provide students extracurricular support. For instances, guest speakers with industry expertise can be called periodically to share practical insights with students. The interaction can be taken further by assigning students mentors from the industry. Fortunately, potential employers have already begun to play a proactive role in this regard.

  1. Updating skills of faculty: It is not the students alone, but even the educators whose knowledge and skills need to be periodically updated to ensure that they are better placed to impart their students the knowledge and skills relevant to the industry. This could be achieved through a combination of training programs and interaction with industry experts.
  2. Employee Training: Another possible way for employers to get around the limitations of the academic systems is through training, be it in-house or using the services of an external service provider. Candidates with potential can be recruited and then given the necessary training to make them industry-ready. This would be particularly relevant in developing countries, where the shortage of skills is usually dire due to inadequate or outdated education infrastructure.

    Employers have already started working in this direction, at least in developed countries. The idea is still at a nascent stage, but the results so far are encouraging, and it is likely that this will be the way forward for the industry to bridge the skill gap.

  1. Upskilling through alternate education: Due to the speed at which technology is evolving, the employability challenge persists even after getting employees work ready, since their existing skills may become irrelevant. Fortunately, upskilling existing employees does not require a significant investment in terms of time or money and good quality courses are easily available. For example, Apache Spark and Scala Training require just over thirty hours at no extraordinary cost.
  2. Workplace Exposure: Internships are an integral part of most management courses globally. In addition, students can be required to undertake part-time projects with companies. This will give them insights into the skills relevant to the industry as well as the ‘soft’ skills required at workplace. From the point of view of the industry, it can help identify potential employees and groom them so that they are ready to be employed by the time they graduate from university.

Why UWA Comp Sci Students Should Learn Scrum Developer Training

In addition, they must become specialized through a Certified Scrum Developer Course. This course is generally offered over a period of a few days and allows the professionals to be fully encased in knowledge. These three days are generally conducted in a classroom setting to ensure there are no distractions while they learn how to implement the tactics it takes to be a Scrum developer.

These programs are specifically designed to target people who are already in the field, but want to showcase or expand their skill set. The learning environment enables them to learn from people around them and learn as they go. It also enables the same professionals to take what they have learned back to the companies that they work for, making it a solid investment for all parties involved.

It also enhances the projections and ability to design new goals for the company. The Scrum Developer is an essential role in the company. They help the Product owner (one who has product knowledge) take that idea and turn it into reality by following the proper protocol. That is because they are taught through a Waterfall methodology.

Each area of the topic is fully condensed and placed together so the professional student can understand how the process works, and why it is important that it cannot go backwards. That is because each area of the project needs to follow a linear path to the end product with minimal room for error. Since there is minimal room for error, the production must remain in a constant phase of testing. This constant testing will allow for mistakes to be caught quickly with a decrease to that same caught mistake causing a larger issue for the overall product.

This is why a Scrum developer is so essential. They understand how a product needs to be completed and the developer builds and designs the product until completion. The Scrum developer is a broad and deeply knowledgeable person that covers all areas of the project from the analyst to the system engineer. This person connects with every person at every aspect of the project to keep them on task and identify issues as they arise.

They are also able to identify when changes need to occur, or how they should happen. Finally, the Scrum developer is a dynamic person who is worth investing to send for certification. This will increase their capabilities to lead the team and connect with all members of the project.

Ransomware: 2018’s top cybersecurity concern

Earlier this year the business world was rocked by the ransomware attacks WannaCry and NotPetya. Companies were affected across the globe. Every industry felt the sting, chocolate factories in Australia, shipping companies in the Netherlands, even the UK’s National Health Service fell victim. The attack caused hundreds of millions of dollars in losses to both government and industry.  

In 2015, the global damage caused by ransomware attacks was $325 million US dollars. By the end of this year, that figure is expected to exceed $5 billion.

Ransomware is a type of malware that blocks access to a computer or the data on a machine, and then demands money for its release. Hackers made out with hundreds of thousands of dollars as individuals and some corporations affected by the malware gave in to demands and paid up to $600 in ransom to unlock their machines and regain their personal data. WannaCry used worm functionality to spread the malware, and NotPetya spread through a software update mechanism in an accounting program that companies working with the Ukrainian government are required to use.

But ransomware is just one part of an already global problem. Malware is one of the most prolific and adaptive cybersecurity issues. Within the third quarter of this year alone, over 400 million malware incidents have been detected world-wide. Ransomware proving to be a particularly tricky and growing problem for businesses right now. Twenty-six percent of ransomware attacks in 2017 directly targeted companies. 2018 is only going to see these threats and large-scale attacks increase.

The Internet of Things is only going to contribute to the risks, with a greater range of devices connecting to the internet, such as medical devices. The greater connectivity means more accurate data and analytics and presumably, better patient care, but it will also fuel new data security concerns surrounding patient information and their legal rights.

Cybercriminals will target and exploit security software directly, targeting trusted programs. Hackers will exploit security products, like your anti-virus or a website malware removal service  by intercepting and redirecting cloud traffic, or even directly subverting the agent on the endpoint, that is the human being sitting in front of the infected machine. Attackers will also leverage growing technologies, like blockchain and machine learning, to act as a smoke-screen against traditional cybersecurity protections.

Every year, we see both the sophistication of hacks and data breaches reach new heights in costs, both loss and damages, and the news headlines are becoming all to frequent.

These events are a cause for concern for those in the business of cybersecurity. Hacks like the Equifax hack in September of this year contribute to a risk in the deterioration of public perceptions regarding the effectiveness of security software and anti-virus solutions. The good news is destructive attacks like those seen in 2017 have made the importance of effective cybersecurity obvious.

Now the task is to ensure that 2018’s solutions evolve with these trends and provide businesses with multiple layers of protection against damaging malware attacks.

What it takes to be successful on social video platforms

Each culture and era defines attractiveness differently but in the current age it seems that everything goes. As proven by rags to riches Michelle Phan, transformation queen Promise and many other youtubers with makeup tutorials as their forte. Aside from talent and an eye for aesthetics, what is it that makes them so popular and well received?

  1. They know who they are

Before marketing themselves to the masses, they stripped themselves down to the bare minimum and identified their image and their vision. Without a clear idea regarding what they are about, it would be easy to get lost in the crowd. Anyone can be an imitation, but in order to be successful, strive to be the imitated.

  1. Planning goes a long way

If you think writing essays for university require a lot of planning, you clearly haven’t tried creating a marketing campaign. Too many people assume creating a channel is as easy as uploading a video and waiting to be picked up by the masses. But as a brand, a channel must be grown and cultivated. Determining an upload schedule and the social media posts to go with video uploads helps, as well as maintaining a presence online. Sure, there might be those who are discovered and just rocket to fame. However, rather than relying on pure luck, there are many things a youtuber can do in order to get where they want.

  1. Collaborations can boost audiences

They do not try to climb their way to the top by using others as a stepping stone, but rather they form friendships with other creators and join forces to bring a project to life. Furthermore, both youtubers are likely to have different viewers which they might appeal to and therefore gain exposure on the others’ channel.

  1. Be active on replying

While this might seem like a no-brainer, one that even Taylor Swift employs, it is crucial to communicate with followers and subscribers. It comes with no cost and has a high return. Furthermore, without these fans, youtubers would be nothing.

  1. Not being afraid to do whatever it takes

The internet rewards weird content such as makeup with food or office supplies with virality. It does not pay to be safe and conventional. Many YouTube celebs have gone out of their way for increased publicity, from breast augmentation to Botox. Wengie, an Australian beauty guru, worked extremely hard on her blog before moving on to youtube. She made sure all her media platforms were personalized to her brand image and even bought advertisements on facebook to gain exposure. Today, she has been contacted by Cartoon Network to voice the long lost sister of the Powerpuff Girls: Bliss.

Regardless whether a channel has 300 subscribers or 3 million, being passionate about what they do makes them authentic. That is why so many brands reach for influencers these days rather than big name celebrities. It is like swapping out a public figure with an older sibling. Not only are influencers less pricey, consumers are more likely to relate with them and take what they say much more seriously.

From Australian track athletes to Slovenian singers, this professional network is inspiring teens worldwide

Riddle me this. Where does one go to find the crème de la crème of talented youth these days? LinkedIn? An Ivy League university? Upper Manhattan? The Cirque du Soleil? There are a plethora of amazing websites, organizations, platforms and networking events available for ambitious adults and college graduates hoping for better opportunities or looking to score their dream job, but let’s take a moment to consider the options a high-achieving 16-year-old might have for showcasing their talents and experience.

Interschool conferences? College visits? School open days? Snapchat?

There is one particular platform whose founders set out to solve this dilemma for go-getting teens, and today we can unreservedly say that it has achieved its mission. Goodwall, an app that connects accomplished high school students with prospective universities, institutions and could-be-employers, now has a membership of over 1 million high achievers across 150 countries.

Already the platform is proving popular with some of the most recognized and selective universities and institutions around the world, as a means of connecting them with high potential future students or members.Goodwall has partnered with Yale Young Global Scholars Program, Les Roches, United Planet, ICLA, CSR Match and The University of Kent among others, with the University of Kent having already used the platform to successfully engage with over 7500 students across 135 countries.

And from Australian track athletes to Slovenian singers, this professional network is inspiring and captivating the attention of ambitious teens worldwide. Here are five burgeoning superstars currently listed on Goodwall that you ought to know about – because they might just rule the world one day.

  1. Priyanshi Patel | India

This 17-year-old NGO founder was a published author at 13, an intern at 14, a CEO at 15, and the founder of an NGO dedicated to helping the homeless and the ill around her community at the age of 16. As an accomplished public speaker, Priyanshi has also organized and attended several national and international Model United Nations conferences, where she has won multiple awards including ‘best delegate’.

  1. Melis Gurel | Germany

Founder and host of Model United Nations at her school, robotics enthusiast and First Lego League Robotics mentor, Vice President of Rotary Interact Club, Creative Director of World Art Fortress and science ambassador for the ILO International Autism – to list just some of her brilliant achievements. When Melis has free time from her busy schedule she takes on challenges such as writing for ‘Environment Builds Bridges’ — a journal about environmental conservation under the auspice of the President of Germany.

  1. VitorSiqueira| Brazil

If it isn’t enough that this guy is an aspiring physicist and astronomer who has at the ripe age of 18 already published multiple papers on mathematics and won multiple medals in scientific Olympiadshe’s also a trumpeter and clarinetist for the Mutuense Music Band, a volunteer at Gaturamo Astronomical Observatory and a singer at Maria Penedo Choir. Oh and he was recently chosen to join the highly competitive Brazilian team for the International Olympiad on Astronomy and Astrophysics.

  1. Adam Ramgoolie | United Kingdom

This 16-year-old education activist, linguist, historian and Mandarin poetry readeris also the founder of Get2Learnan organisation which aims to create awareness and action for educational aid, as well as to promote young people helping other young people by providing educational resources and materials. Nice one!

  1. Take your pick for the fifth ‘superteen’ – be it Slovenian basketball national team player Satja Skobalj, an aspiring doctor with her heart set on becoming a top 5 player in the upcoming European championship; Jordanian aerospace engineer Dana Andrews; wheelchair international athlete with a love for creating change in the world; Julie Charton; or Zaina Awan – aspiring humanitarian lawyer, athlete, TEDX speaker and founder of school-based initiative the Blank Project.

There you have it. The leaders of the next generation. You’re welcome.

4 Challenges Every Business Should Prepare for in 2018

2017 was the year of disruption, and every industry was in some way affected by the advances in technology and communication. With 2018 just around the corner, there’s no better time to look at the fresh set of challenges the new year will bring, and work out what that means for your business.

The Marketing Challenge

If anything is going to be challenging for businesses in 2018, its marketing. This is partly because there are so many new channels through which to advertise. Thanks to the proliferation of smart phones and the internes, businesses need to be active within traditional marketing channels as well as multiple social media platforms, search engines and email marketing campaigns. The new marketing landscape can be a little overwhelming.

To remain competitive through 2018, businesses need to place a special focus on the user experience, mobile marketing and social media strategies.

Retaining Good Employees

Hiring new employees is an expensive investment that goes beyond the cost of a yearly wage. Disengaged employees end up costing companies even more money, both in loss of productivity and the eventual cost of replacing them. Recruitment and training also must be factored in, and in the current environment of rapid technological advancement, new skill-sets are becoming required, making the hiring process more complicated than ever. Companies who want to win the war for talent have to boost salaries, expand benefits programs, and offer additional training.

One solution is to partner with recruitment or labour hire organisations to reduce the costs involved. These companies maintain large databases of skilled workers looking for positions, many of whom will already have the expertise necessary to perform the role without additional training.

Technology Buzzwords Abound

We couldn’t stop talking about tech in 2017. Artificial Intelligence (AI), machine learning (ML) and the internet of things (Iot) were the talking points in every industry. You can expect to see more conversations surrounding how these technologies will impact businesses through 2018.

Chatbots, big data, hyper local advertising. The changes that these technologies are bringing to businesses are shaking things up, and even small businesses who may never directly implement tech like AI or ML will find themselves using applications, software or services that do tap into this new tech.

Cyber Security

2017 saw some major data breaches shake some of the world’s largest companies. Equifax fell victim to a hack which stole the personal information of 145 million Americans, and it was recently discovered that Uber hid evidence of a hack that exposed confidential information of thousands of the company’s drivers.

The short story is, everyone should be worried about cyber security. Make sure your business has a plan in place, strong password systems and experienced network and IT administrators, because we’re going to see more security risks online in 2018.

Change is a natural process, and businesses are not immune. In today’s fast paced digital world, companies can’t afford to ignore changing trends. Pay attention to shifts, learn and observe, then decide what actions are best for your situation.

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