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Working With ERP Software To Grow Your Business

An organized business operates more successfully than a disorganized one. The problem is, entropy impacts profitable operations as it does the natural world. Systems of order trend toward chaos. To retain competitive edge, it's paramount to integrate the latest organizational paradigms into operation. SaaS solutions have their place, but ERP can be better.


Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) software is key in keeping operations organized in a visible, internally manageable way. Inventory management, planning, and production scheduling are all facilitated through such software.


This increases visibility, and makes it possible to function more efficiently as a business. Especially in complex operations like supply chains, ERP is a key factor of sustainable profitability.


The Value Of “Visible” Supply Chains


The more “visible” your supply chain is, the more closely you can manage it. ERP often includes APM. Consider these 10 APM features as you go about designing operational infrastructure, and establishing ERP protocols. Application Performance Monitoring is key in effective infrastructural management, and supply chain enablement.


Basically, with APM used in agreement with an ERP software option, you can determine specific Key Performance Indicators, or KPIs, pertaining to operations such as manufacturing, supply, Research and Development (R&D), and more. When the speed of delivery to X area increases or decreases, you can determine how effective transition Y was.


This is an illustrative hypothetical, but you get the idea: specific operational changes can be measured, or determined, using such options. Inventory planning and purchasing can be more clearly defined, allowing for more effectively managed financial resources.


With ERP and associated APM utilizing KPIs, insight into supply chain components is more clear, allowing you to identify where optimization or rethinking of protocols is necessary. Also, when issues arise, you can tackle them quicker, deferring negative fallout.


Productivity Enhancement


ERP makes areas of operation that require reworking more visible, additionally identifying those already functioning well. You can find “bottlenecks” that are neither anticipated nor necessary, and fix them. ERP additionally reduces the need for managers to foist non-productive and repetitive tasks on personnel, allowing them to be maximized in more appropriate areas of operation.


Automation is more effective and reliable than it's ever been, and this trend is on the increase. ERP automation helps you keep from assigning unnecessarily repetitive tasks to valuable personnel.


Information Available In Real Time


Owing to Big Data, solutions in terms of ERP provide more effective, elucidating information than ever before. Terabytes can be processed essentially instantaneously, which can help you direct manufacturing, supply chains, and other infrastructural factors more efficiently. Employees and investors can more clearly understand what is either hampering or enabling operations.


For meetings which may involve sales or merger, such real-time information is hard to over-value. Additionally, the majority of ERP solutions make it possible to pull information from diverse databases. Such information is consolidated in an easily-navigable interface for simplicity and understanding, facilitating more clear and successful growth in terms of scaling.


Cost Reduction


When everything is more visible, employees are maximized, and productivity is enhanced, associated operational costs are reduced. Reduced expenses yield increased buying power and freed up resources to be used in things like R&D. Human errors are likewise reduced via automation, and you can curb unnecessary spending.


Finding The Right ERP Software


Given these advantages, you'll want to carefully seek ERP solutions so that the greatest available advantage is sustained. Cloud monitoring solutions are presently available, and you should strive to find ERP solutions which facilitate the greatest visibility of the largest portion of data. The more data you can see in real time, the greater your optimization potential.


In terms of automation solutions facilitating cost reduction, supply chain maximization, manufacturing facilitation, and real-time data visibility, there's little better than cogent ERP software to maximize the potentiality of your enterprise.

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How data analytics is impacted by security threats and data protection

It is now several months since the GDPR came into effect. Worldwide, organizations have now been able to get a fair sense of how data protection works under the new policy. While the new regulation has been effective in staving off potential data misuse by at least among regulated businesses in the EU and worldwide, the loss of data due to security breaches and from individuals and countries not under the purview of the law continues unabated.

 

As organizations double down on their consumption of data and analytics in their decision making, the threat of security breaches and the regulations around data protection are two areas that are going to routinely come under the scanner.

 

Take the example of the ransom-ware attack that hit the Bristol airport a few months back that blacked out all the displays at the terminus. It is not far fetched to assume the likelihood of such attacks on other computer systems within the airport or elsewhere. This could expose critical financial data of millions of passengers, and also expose cities to cyber-based terror attacks.

 

So how exactly do organizations handle data analytics in the age of data protection and cyber threats?

 

One of the most effective ways to do this is through consolidation. According to an IDG report, unstructured data is growing at the rate of 62% annually and it is estimated that by 2022, nearly 93% of all data is unstructured. Unstructured data is not only more voluminous, but is also more vulnerable to security threats. This is because securing data costs money and this expense rises with the volume of data to protect.

 

Many organizations today invest in what is known as analytics stacking  - this is the transformation of raw and unstructured data into its structured and consolidated form that makes it valuable for business intelligence. Such structured pieces of data is more valuable than raw data. More importantly, it occupies a stunningly lower volume and this makes protection cheaper and effective.

 

However, it is not always possible to proactively transform all unstructured data into structured data for analytic purposes. This is especially true if an organization deals with a wide variety of data sources that have uniquely different purposes.

 

Such instances call for the use of forensic data analytics (FDA). In this case, your analytical tools query each of your incoming pieces of data to identify patterns that may be used to identify its utility. In short, such tools make it unnecessary for your organization to provide sampling data and instead deduce patterns based on previous inputs.

 

While protecting your business data from cyber-criminals is top priority, some organizations believe that data protection laws tend to hamper innovation. A report published by the Center of Data Innovation finds GDPR regulations governing AI to be slowing down research and innovation. The report specifically points to regulations surrounding the need for companies to manually review significant algorithmic decisions that could raise the cost of AI while the right to explanation could bring down accuracy.

 

In effect, data privacy regulations could potentially impact the trajectory that modern technologies like AI and machine learning could take. Some experts also warn that the need for machine learning algorithms to explain their output (as stipulated by GDPR) could make deep learning illegal. However, others point out that these strict regulations have paved the way for a more regulated nurturing and growth of AI/ML. In the past year, EU countries like France, Germany, Britain and Denmark have unveiled their own draft policies that would enable furthering research in the industry while ensuring that the technology is used ethically by corporates and governments alike.

 

Regardless of the massive strides we have taken in the areas of data analytics and AI/ML, the truth is that the industry itself is still at its infancy. The potential use-cases for data analytics, AI and ML is massive and is only going to grow in the next few decades. Regulations and the threat from cyber-criminals will help ensure that organizations tread a fine line and keep customer data secure while growing their own capacities with these technologies.

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How To Migrate Content Database From SharePoint 2010 To SharePoint 2013

In this article, we will take you through the database migration process from SharePoint 2010 to SharePoint 2013. An overview of the SharePoint database migration process to a new server is available on the ShareGate website. Here is a step-by-step guideline for the same.

Step 1 : Make two servers available for the process. Both the servers need to run on the same environment. For instance, Server 1 should run on Windows 2008, SQL server 2008 and include SharePoint 2010. Server 2 should run on Windows 2008, SQL server 2008 and include SharePoint 2013.

Step 2 : You must begin with backing up the data from Server 1. To do this, 

a) While on SharePoint 2010, pick the database of the port you want to back-up. Right click and from the options that appear, click Tasks → Back Up.

b) In the subsequent window that opens, click 'Add'

c) Copy the location available under the 'Destination' field and save it a notepad for later use.

Step 3 : On server 2, launch SharePoint 2013 and create a new web application under any port. If you are not sure, pick port 88. 

Step 4 : Once a new application has been created, perform the following steps: 

a) Under Central Administration, select Application Management → Manage Content Databases

b) Under the newly created web application, select 'Remove content database checkbox'. Click OK and SAVE

c) Under the Content Database section, you should now see a message that reads, “There are no items to show in this view'

Step 5 : The next step is to restore the database from SharePoint 2010 to the new server. To accomplish this, copy the WSS_Content.bak file from Server 1 on to the desktop or any convenient location on the computer handling Server 2.

Step 6 : In SharePoint 2013, launch SQL Server 2008 and right click on the node titled Database and from the options, choose 'Restore Database'. 

Step 7 : A new 'Restore Database' window now opens. Here, select the 'From Device' radio button and browse through your system folders to select the WSS_Content.bak file that we had earlier copied in Step 5. Click OK 

Step 8 : Next, under the 'Options' tab of the Restore Database window, check the box that reads, “Overwrite the existing database (WITH REPLACE)”. Press OK to continue. A message box appears that confirms the operation. Press OK to close this box. 

Step 9 : Open SharePoint 2013 and navigate to Central Administration → Application Management → Manage Content Databases. You should now see the WSS_Content.bak file displayed here. 

Step 10 : On the top of the window, you will see a message. Click on the 'Start Now' link to continue. 

Step 11 : In the subsequent window, click on the 'Upgrade the site collection' option. You will be shown a message box. Click 'I'm Ready' to continue. 

Step 12 : The upgradation process will now begin. This typically takes a few minutes. Once you are done, you will be shown a message that reads, “Upgrade Completed Successfully” 

This completes the process. Your content database migration from SharePoint 2010 to SharePoint 2013 has been completed successfully.

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Are E-Signatures Recommended For Your Business Website?

Electronic signatures, or e-signatures as they are popularly known, have really grown in popularity over the past 5-6 years. According to Gartner, the SaaS based esignatures today comprise 80% of all new purchases in North America compared to just 15% not so long ago in 2009. One of the major reasons for this exponential growth is the time and money that businesses save by moving to a paperless signature solution.

Consider this: the typical cost for a business to print all agreements on a paper and courier it to the customer for signing is around $30. Even if the business only signs 100 such documents in a month, the expenditure in paperwork amounts close to $3000. E-Signature technology on the other hand can be procured for as much as $15 a month. Not only is this cheaper, it also helps get documents signed and ready in a matter of minutes. It is no wonder then that 80% of the businesses involved in the consumer lending industry have today adopted e-signatures. (source: www.silanis.com)

How They Work

Before we go ahead and try to answer the question in the title, let us first understand how electronic signatures work. Firstly, electronic signatures are not always the stylized scripts that we use while signing on paper. The objective of an esignature is to get an official approval from the customer to the terms proposed in a contract agreement being signed. This is done without compromising on the safety and security of the data. There are various use-cases for an esignature medium:

1. Courier companies can register your acknowledgement of receipt online instead of over paper. This can help them capture the date, time, GPS coordinates and even the photo of the signatory along with the signature to ensure the authenticity of the person signing the document. This is called face-to-face esigning.

2. Small businesses that sign contracts with overseas clients can do so over a third party esignature platform to ensure all documents are securely signed by both parties without delay

3. Mortgage companies that deal with thousands of customers every day may integrate the esignature process within their enterprise website so that customers may read and sign documents electronically without breaking the navigational flow of the user experience for want of paperwork.

Security Aspects

One of the primary concerns with respect to esignatures is the security of the platform. This is because unlike traditional system, digital documents are prone to hacking, distortion and impersonation. Thankfully, most of these concerns are taken care of with the leading esignature platforms. These services tie up every document to the authorized email address of the recipient and are password protected. This ensures that only the authorized people are eligible to view the documents. In addition to this, contract documents that are electronically signed are also encrypted during transmission to prevent snooping and interception. Finally, these documents are also imprinted with what are called digital signatures. These are encrypted values that uniquely identify the timestamp of the document when it was last edited. This helps the involved parties to be sure that the document has not been edited or modified after the agreement has been signed.

Platform Agnostic

E-Signatures are today available for use on all kinds of platforms and applications. This technology can be integrated with enterprise CRM or ERP applications, may be used on touch screen based smartphones or tablets and can also be accessed from any part of the world thanks to the cloud-based service.

So finally to answer the big question - are electronic signatures recommended for your business? This can be answered by understanding your business requirements and alternatives. If you are a business that only needs to sign short contracts with customers once every few months, then there really is no need for you to subscribe to an esignature service - the costs involved in paperwork and signing may not be much. However, if your business is in an industry where you have hundreds of customers who are shipped bulky contract forms each month, then the costs involved with the traditional system are extremely high and it makes sense to migrate. Given the fact that esignatures today are extremely secure and reliable, the cost of the technology is what it finally comes down to, and in this case, esignatures seem to be a better bet than traditional paperwork based systems.

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How To Secure Your Company Website Against DDoS Attacks

DDoS, or Distributed Denial of Service attack is a threat that companies with an online presence have been increasingly facing over the past few years. According to a report released by Akamai last month, the number of such attacks have increased by over 54% compared just to the first quarter of this year. To give you a perspective on this growth, Akamai had late last year reported that they had seen a 200% growth compared to 2011.

Before delving on the topic of web security, it is important to understand how DDoS attacks work. As the name suggests, the objective of these attacks is to deny the availability of the website to its users. This is done by sending out hundreds of thousands of website access requests to the target server in a short period of time. Because of the volume of requests the server has to respond to, it either slows down that it becomes technically unavailable or the server ultimately crashes. DDoS attacks are extremely simple to execute considering that all that it takes to launch one is for a large team of attackers to collaborate and hit the server at a predetermined point of time.

Given the rising menace of DDoS, how can businesses make their websites DDoS proof? Here are some means to achieve that.

Distributed Load Sharing Technology

This is a networking method that enables the same website to be hosted across various servers from multiple locations. Each time a user request comes to the server, the data is retrieved from the server that is geographically close to the user and offered from there. However, in case of a DDoS attack, this request is immediately routed to an alternate server that is still healthy and active. This prevents legitimiate users from being denied access to the website even when it is under attack. While this is a viable option for small DDoS attacks, it does not help when there is a sustained attack that results in all the load sharing servers to fail. Consequently, this technology is now considered a “best practice” although cannot mitigate the attack by itself.

DDoS Traffic Filtering And Removal

One of the most effective ways to mitigate DDoS attacks is by constantly monitoring the incoming traffic for possible botnets and refusing access to these requests. By implementing technology that can effectively distinguish between a legitimate user request and a malicious visit, the server can be kept essentially available to genuine users. There are various technologies available to ensure this process although the more popular ones are offered by services like Arbor Networks. These technologies need not be purchased separately and can instead be availed as part of the business internet plans that your service provider offers.

Content Delivery Networks

One of the most popular ways to not only mitigate DDoS attacks, but also serve visitors better during peak traffic loads is to route your website traffic through a Content Delivery Network (CDN). What CDNs basically do is they periodically read through the content from your website and serve a cached version of this to the visitor. Consequently, visitors to your website do not access content directly from your website server but rather the cached content from the CDN. A sustained DDoS attack would hence be hitting on the CDN’s server instead of yours and is hence less prone to succeed. There is however a caveat here. Most CDNs charge customers based on the volume of traffic they receive. Hence, a prolonged DDoS attack can cripple you financially if not virtually by denying service to customers. So one best practice is to integrate your site with both a traffic filtering mechanism while routing traffic through a CDN. This ensures that your website can sustain a sustained attack.

While these are extremely tested ways to protect your server, they are still not fool-proof. That’s because no security cover is big enough for the largest attacks. However, every business needs to ensure that they are better protected than their competition at any given time. This will ensure that they are not the first to fall in case of a holistic attack. And in a PR-driven world, being the first one to fall under such attacks is not only a security issue but also a marketing nightmare.

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