How Prepared Is Your Board for Cyberspace?

While cyber security is an important issue for boards, it has not always been top of mind. Because a major corporation like Equifax had a breach in its IT system, many companies are rethinking how to secure cyber security.

Boards around the world are examining the Equifax case to determine how to best secure their organizations valuable information stored in their IT systems. So who is responsible? Since the CEO has stepped down, it is apparent he was being held accountable. However, where was the board of directors?

In today’s world of cyberspace, corporate boards have to think about more than governance, CEO compensation and strategy.

As it stands, it is in the board’s best interest to ensure the company is not exposed to debilitating risks. Companies have workplace safety standards and sexual harassment policies to mitigate lawsuits. They even have disaster recovery plans in the event of natural disasters or occurrences like the World Trade Center plane crash. These plans and policies are in place to keep business running smoothly and perpetually. It protects customers and employees.

However, with sophisticated computer hackers around the world, it is no news that computer systems and valuable information can be breached and stolen. There are hackers who breach computer systems as a business. They ask for ransom in the amount of tens of millions of dollars. If it is not paid, they threaten to release the companies secure information, which sometimes could contain private email communication from top executives.

While many enterprises as large as Equifax may have disaster recovery plans for their physical operation, they may not have the same plan for cyber breach. The disaster recovery policies would include immediate action steps based on size of the breach, who made the breach, what information was taken, were company smart phones breached, what to communicate to employees, the public and shareholders as well as other important factors.

In some cases, it may make sense to inform the FBI. In other cases, it may be better to pay the ransom. The challenge with calling the FBI is that the hackers could be in countries like Russia. In Russia, the FBI may not pursue them. Why? Because the Russian government is always looking for good hackers. If the FBI exposes the hackers in Russia, the government may hire them, which can present long-term problems for the US. When it comes to paying ransom, it’s tricky. If you pay, they may hack you again as though you are an ATM machine. If you don’t pay, they may expose confidential information. These are also the kinds of challenges that directly involve the board.

What’s most important is that the board is talking about cyber security before there is a problem. There should be constant audits of the cyber security system to mitigate any risks. In addition, as a board, they should hold the CEO accountable for that security. Furthermore, there should be clear policies to guide the board and the executive team on how to handle the various moving parts in a delicate situation. Boards with disaster recovery plans and high accountability with the CEO are more likely to be forward thinking about cyber vulnerabilities and proactive about updating the security system.

Pigments, Dyes & Inks

Pigments are items that are insoluble and need to be blended in binders so that they hold on to the substrate.

Dyes are used for artistic, decorative and aesthetic reasons but besides these applications did you know that they play a vital role in medical and biological imaging. Some fluorescent and contrast dyes highlight specific organs or cells during medical testing to indicate presence of certain diseases. They assume great importance during election times in some countries by acting as identifiers, for example purple dye is used to mark the fingers of voters. Sheep herders use wool dyes for marking sheep in the flock. Lasers that are dye-based emit laser light over varied wavelengths resulting in laser beams that are ‘tunable’ and these in turn perform important functions in astronomical research, medical applications, manufacturing and spectroscopy.

Pigments occupy a place of great importance in the world of plastics, paints, inks, cosmetics, textiles, food and many more. Car finishes, artist’s paints and light reflecting signs get their glow from the pigments which can be either organic or inorganic. They are superior to dyes in the context of retaining their color for many years and being able to withstand powerful light, intense heat or extreme chemical agent or weather conditions.

Inks are a liquid medium containing pigments or dyes and they are utilized in printing, pens and tattoos. There are some inks which can cause a permanent change in colour and they include anti-counterfeiting inks, a few fountain pen inks, some gel inks and the paper currency inks. Reaction with the cellulose in the paper results in the permanency of colour. Though they do not fall under the conventional inks, liquids that go into the inkjet technologies also are benefited from the research conducted to further develop the conventional inks.

Professionals engaged in the field of pigments, dyes and inks are focused on developing novel formulations that require less expensive materials, are steadfast in their colour, have good flow properties, more stability or interact more efficiently with substances they come into contact with. Pigments and dyes used in ancient pieces of art and historical artifacts are being analyzed by the relevant professionals to find out new substances that will be compatible with the ancient pigments and dyes for deciding the ways and methods of restoration and preservation.

Owners of varied dyes and pigments production facilities like organic pigments manufacturers, vat dyes manufacturers, pigment blue manufacturers and napthol manufacturers in India strive to supply sustainable colorants that are of top quality and cause minimal harm to human and environmental life. All of them have well equipped technical facilities that test the stock mixes, incoming materials and outgoing orders of the customer. Each one of them is committed to provide products of highest standards to the customers and ensure their maximum satisfaction.

One Bad Decision Can Cost a Hospital Millions

Things can go wrong without the right team in place

I recently read an article that was attempting to explain the cost overrun experienced by a hospital during the launch of their new EMR. The article was clear on what caused the overrun but failed to communicate why the decision was made that created the cause.

In many hospitals, emotions can run high fueled by attitudes of resistance to change. The pressures and stress associated with go-live can be a challenge to manage; however, allowing those forces to affect decision-making can have lasting adverse financial effects. When all planning, budget, constraints, and common sense that should be applied are set aside, you can almost always expect the worse. It may feel like appeasement is the right thing to do to relieve the stress, but it may not be the best thing. Sticking to the plan, and staying within the budget should always be the guiding factor that drives decisions even when the pressure is great.

It’s unfortunate, but some decisions are based on problems that may not exist at all but are only perceived based on excessive negativity. Having an experienced team in place that can help make decisions based on fact is vital.

Negotiating Skills Do Pay Off!

When doing logistics, treat it like it’s your money

Getting one of the best hotels in the city to give you the lowest rate with great concessions is excellent. In this agreement, the hotel managed the flight itineraries and provided transportation to and from the airport. They supplied one large conference room for orientation and then surprised us in the contract with a complimentary welcome reception for 120 guests with heavy hors-d’oeuvres. Provided two fifty-six seat luxury buses and several shuttles to transport consultants to the training facility and back. They also agreed to use their shuttles to take those consultants that worked within two miles of hotel to work and back each day. Everything listed above was in the price of the rooms $105.09 with tax. Note, this took a huge burden off the consulting firm, and the savings were passed on to the hospital.

When a hospital hires a consulting firm, that consulting company should put forth all effort to save money, not spend money. Creating a positive cost variance (CV) indicates the consulting firm is in fact on your team. Negotiating for the best price is good, but getting the most value for the lowest price is better.

Consultants Saved the Day!

Good consultants can mean the difference between success and failure

I sat in an auditorium with over three hundred consultants when the speaker invited to the podium the senior implementation project manager. “Dr. So and So has overseen the EMR implementation of nineteen plus hospitals please give him a round of applause.” Wow, nineteen projects that’s impressive. However, it turned out to be a challenging project in many areas but mainly with significant workflow issues.

Although it is confusing why this happens, it is clear the leadership was out of touch. Seeking someone with excellent qualifications can be attractive for any hospital, but having someone with the insight that can eliminate problems before they exist is priceless. I am not sure why this project manager didn’t know this.

Fortunate for everyone the consultants came with the experience and knowledge necessary to handle these types of issues. Jumping into action and based on past experiences they began the process of educating the staff and leadership on what works. This go-live would have never survived without the tremendous efforts of the consultant.

How to Become a Successful Distributor in the FMCG Sector

The Fast Moving Consumer Goods or the FMCG sector is a place where goods are sold at a relatively low price and includes products which sell out much quicker than other products. They mostly keep perishable items as opposed to durable items. For example, packaged foods, beverages, toiletries, over-the-counter drugs etc.; whereas durable items include kitchen appliances, textiles, items which can be used for many years. FMCG goods mainly compose of items which have low shelf life. Because it includes items which are required by masses in their daily lifestyle and because this sector has a huge demand, it is essential that this sector divides it work amongst various other short segments. The major segments in the FMCG sector are Manufacturer – Packaging – Sales and Distributorship – Retailer/Wholesaler.

A distributor is someone who will ensure that all your products reach the right people. Whether it is business to business or business to personal. In any emerging market, as demand for a product increases, so does the need for distributors. From everyday use items like cooking oil, packaged foods like biscuits, snacks and everything else with an expiry date, every new trend which comes up as a team of dedicated distributors hard at work to find quality manufacturers and help them bring their product to retail.

Steps to follow to become a Distributor:

Decide what type of distribution business you will run: Distributors can be split into two categories based on who they serve. The first category is, retail distributors buy from wholesalers or manufacturers and sell products directly to consumers. The second Category is, wholesale merchant distributors buy from manufacturers and resell the products to retailers or other distributors. You need to decide which type suits you best and work upon that.

Decide what you would like to distribute: You could focus on a specific product or offer a variety of items. You could base your decisions on a product about which you may feel passionately or any product which you think is not available much in the market. While many large companies are served by equally large distributors, these distributors are unwilling or unable to serve smaller, more specialized business.

Estimate your start-up costs: In addition to a business plan, you will also need some idea of how much money it will take to get your business up and running. As a distributor, your major area of expense will be your inventory. This means that your start-up costs will go parallel as to what product or products you choose to sell. If you are selling a single product then the pricing will depend on how many retailers you are targeting.

Figure out how to sell your products: This will depend largely on who your customers are and what type of products you’re selling. In any case, you have to chalk down specific goals on what methods you can adapt to sell your goods. One of the best ways to do so is to connect more and more with the manufacturers as well as the Retailer/Wholesalers. The more connections you build, the better opportunities you get. This can mean anything from advertising to personal meetings with store owners to search-engine optimization (SEO).

Form your company legally: You’ll have to legally create the company before you can do business. Check with your state regulations and see if you need to create an operating agreement or another type of founding document. Gather any business partners you have for this venture and have them sign any legal documents you fill out

Make your business licensed and registered: You will have to register your business with the correct places or business association as and when required. Your company should be listed in the legal list of companies. Other legal steps may be required to get your business started.

Contact manufacturers or wholesalers of your products: You will need to find sources from which you will buy your product. To locate manufacturers and wholesalers, you will need to build Relationships and connections which will help you to define your work. Networking is the foundation of the distribution industry. You must gain a deep understanding of your target market and clients to develop stronger partnerships. Keep communication open and available.

Purchase inventory: Once you’ve found a source for product, it’s time to place your first order. You’ll need to purchase however much inventory you need. Keeping in mind the budgetary and space constraints you will also need to buy products pertaining to the limit of your users. This is especially true of products with a short shelf-life or FMCG goods. Also, consider the logistics you will require to distribute your goods.

Find a location for your business: The size of the space you need to hold your inventory will be determined by the size of your product and your delivery method. You should consider starting off small as your business builds a reputation. As your business grows, you can move into larger facilities that can accommodate your inventory needs.

Create a website for your business: Creating a customer friendly website is essential in today’s business model. The website should describe prices and product offerings. This is especially important if you sell directly to consumers. You can also invest in search engine optimization (SEO) that directs potential customers directly to your website by placing it higher in search engine results.

Market your product to potential customers. Send out your catalogue to potential customers in your area. The tools of marketing that you can find in today’s digitally marketed world are immense and of huge influence.

Breakdancing: The Roots of The Street Dance

Breakdancing is the street dancing which began around 1969. Most people will agree that the superstar James Brown began the whole thing with a dance called the “Good Foot”. James Brown was a real innovator and his dancing was something to behold. He did things with his feet that would give most of us a couple of broken legs!

Simultaneously in the ghetto, what is known as the “dance battle” became very popular and in many cases replaced gangster warfare as a method to end disputes. Breakdancing lent itself very well to the dance battle and the Good Foot was a perfect base for breakdancing.

Street dancers adopted the Good Foot which, for a short period, became known as the B-Boy and then breakdancing. Back then the dance moves were a lot different to the kind of breaking we see today. There were no popular, documented moves such as the headspin or the windmill. The dancers simply used their feet and nothing else. Some would argue that this “old style breaking” is more complicated than the kind of dancing we see these days.

Some of the floor work improvised back then was fantastically complex. If you go to a modern breakdancing competition you won’t see many of the old school moves but you will see a lot of gymnastics. Impressive though this is, there are those that think breakdancing has lost its roots a little. On the other side of the coin you have people saying that it’s just an evolution.

As a way to solve street battles and gang violence it was inspired. You were finding that amazingly, the gangs were using breakdancing instead of fighting. The breakdancing “battle” took on a world of its own. Of course there were still fights and inevitably sometimes a sore loser in a breaking battle would resort to violence.

Out of all this, breakdancing crews were formed. The members of a crew would practice and dance together. This is when the first very basic breakdancing choreography came about. One crew would invent a move which would inspire an opposing crew to go one better. For some of these guys breakdancing was literally the difference between life and death. They were very dedicated to what they were doing.

Just as all these new breakdancing crews were bursting onto the scene a guy called Afrika Bambaataa embraced the genre. Afrika Bambaataa is a legendary figure in the hip hop world. He was largely responsible for bringing breakdancing into the general public’s consciousness. He got to know all the crews and encouraged them to develop what they were doing. Bambaataa’s “Zulu Kings” breakdancing crew became a force to be reckoned with, winning many battles.

Since then breakdancing has continually progressed and more and more very talented dancers were bringing their skills into the arena. There were new moves being invented by the week and it wasn’t long before we had headspins, windmills, backspins and all the other high energy, acrobatic moves we see these days.

The “Rock Steady Crew” were one of the groups to pioneer this new school breaking. These guys along with Charles Ahearn who made the seminal hip hop movie “Wild Style” were to bring breakdancing fully up to date and the dancing phenomenon became much more popular. There was no stopping the onward march of the break dance.

Nowadays breakdancing influences a lot of the choreographed dance routines which are an integral part of a modern pop record release. You have young kids coming up who are really into it and the genre is experiencing something of a renaissance. There’s no doubt about it, breakdancing is here to stay and if you want more info a quick search on the Internet will turn up thousands of references to this modern art form.