28 August 2015

Preparing your company for a cyber-incident

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Data and information security is a high priority for many companies around the globe in this era of digital revolution. The risk, threats and vulnerabilities are also evolving as companies adopt emerging digital technologies.

The growing popularity of cloud, mobile technology and apps present new challenges for IT and risk staff in an organisation. These could range from ensuring secure access to the corporate network to protecting data.

Employee training and education is paramount in staying cyber secure for many companies. Floyd Woodrow, CEO, Chrysalis-Worldwide said that I think we all agree it is about education as a front line defence. Once our workforce are aware of the threat and how they can protect company assets/their jobs it is amazing how effective they are at spotting attacks and then not being afraid to tell someone they think something is wrong with their system.”

Effectively working with your chosen vendor to address these emerging risks and threats is also vital. Tyler Shields, principal analyst from Forrester Research highlights the importance of having security measures in place for vendors in a recent article where he said “Defence in depth, data encryption and requiring all vendors and service providers to be bound to strong security standards in writing are musts”

Heimdal Security, a solution provider highlighted 10 cyber security risks that companies need to prepare for: 

1.       Failure to cover cyber security basics: Often companies lack the fundamental cyber security measures

2.       Not understanding what generates corporate cyber security risks

3.       Lack of a cyber-security policy: The need for specific standards is vital: this is because security risks are not always obvious

4.       Confusing compliance with cyber security: Compliance with company rules is not equivalent of protecting the company against cyber attacks

5.       The human factor: The human factor plays an important role in how strong (or weak) a company’s information security defences are

6.       Bring your own device policy (BYOD) and the cloud

7.       Funding, talent and resources constraints: Tight budgets and scarce resources can also incur cyber attacks

8.       No information security training: Increasing awareness and employee training about these risks is vital

9.       Lack of a recovery plan: A effective recovery plan can minimise damage and also allow companies to resume operation quickly 

10.   Constantly evolving risks: Need to be aware of polymorphic malware, trojan, spyware, etc

Companies adopting digital technology increases innovation, collaboration, productivity and competitiveness however it is vital to be cautious of the threats and risks that they pose.

Floyd Woodrow in an article also mentioned that Cyber crime is here to stay and will become more complicated, the key element is how we defend against current and future threats. We must be more proactive in our approach to developing counter measures of the future.”
I couldn’t agree with his view more particularly in today’s highly connected society where companies of all sizes must prepare for the unknown and have the ability to withstand high impact security events.
When Aranei was seven she truly believed she could one day train turtles in the Galapagos. Unfortunately she came to the realization that such a thing could never happen. A couple of years later, she decided to be a conference producer and has never looked back. The best part of her role is exploring different sectors and getting in-depth insights from thought leaders and well-experienced specialists from varying sectors.      

26 August 2015

Why online learning was right for me…

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Last week Theo Teeder from Chisholm Online was featured on the blog asking: What does an online learning world look like for you?

This month marks one year since I began studying in a completely online setting through Deakin University and Theo’s blog has got me to reflecting as to why I chose online study.

When deciding to return to tertiary studies, many professional are plagued by the same question:

Do I have time for this?

The adoption of technology by the education sector has made balancing a full-time career with achieving a tertiary qualification possible. By placing the content in the student’s hands online delivered courses provide all of the learning with none of the travel and scheduling requirements of traditional study.

In my opinion there are three reasons why online learning was right for me:

1.       Flexibility

Like most people based in Sydney, I have a substantial commute each day. Whereas previously this was lost time I am now able to use those 2 hours each day to stay in touch with course content. Whether you’re an early bird or prefer to burn the midnight oil, your ‘classroom’ is always open online, which make squeezing it into a work schedule all the more achievable.

2.       Support

In answer to Theo’s questions: What is the student experience like? While there is no true substitute for face to face connection, an accessible and supportive online environment goes a long way toward developing rapport and enhancing the student experience. Relatively simple things such as scheduling dedicated online classes for assignment questions can make autonomous study feel collaborative.

3.       Practical

Last but not least, my experience with online education has been highly practical. Let’s face it, those who return to study while working aren’t looking for lofty and philosophical discussion, they want practical takeaways to apply in the workplace. The added benefit of balancing work and study is students won’t leave a class asking: Will this work in reality? They can walk into work the following morning and try it!

The education sector’s adoption of technology has greatly increased the appeal and accessibility for further education for many, significantly reducing the most common barrier, time poorness, and making personal development achievable.

Having unfulfilled her childhood dream of becoming an international spy, Ellise is loving her position as Conference Production Manager at Akolade. Her favourite thing about the role is that it allows her to stay abreast of the latest news across a variety of industries while constantly learning from experts in their field.

24 August 2015

9 Ways to be social media-genuine

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It’s a given that the vast majority of public sector organisations, not-for-profits and corporate businesses are now present on social media with one of the major – if not sole – purpose of engaging with their public. This does not mean that it’s always easy to converse with your public in the casual, chatty tone that social media interactions normally call for.

Make your audience want to continue clicking on your links by following these 9 tips to humanise your social media strategy and discover the happy medium between deafening silence and cacophony of carnival barkers.

1.    Don’t be a stranger. Don’t hide behind a logo. Let your audience know that your organisation isn’t run by robots. Your audience will connect as much, if not more, with your emotions as they do with your information. Check out the Victorian Country Fire Authority to have amazing example on how it’s done!   

2.    Talk in the first person. You have a name and you can say ‘I’ or ‘we’. We all hate engaging in a conversation with someone who refers to themselves in the third person and social media isn’t an exception.

3.    Avoid corporate talk. Let go of the jargon and remember non-experts are reading you. You want to portray yourself as an authority in your field, but don’t act like you’re above everything.

4.    Share real-time content. We understand that you have to schedule some posts in advance if you want to get anything done, but these shouldn’t make up the most part of your social media activity. Be reactive to stuff that’s going on now and jump into conversations that are already going.

5.    Images. Images. Images. You can be the best copywriter in the world; there is a reason why we say an image is worth a thousand words. And do you know what’s worth a million words?...

6.    Videos. On 1 January, Social Media Examiner predicted that videos would be the social media content of choice. The introduction of Periscope in March 2015 definitely cemented this prediction. There’s a reason why Periscope’s tagline is ‘Explore the world in real time through someone else's eyes’ (we know Periscope is a live stream and not videos, but you know what I mean). So go ahead, start filming and give your audience a glimpse of who your company really is!

7.    Laugh a little. Again, you don’t want to come off as a complete goof ball, but it’s always good to have a bit of a chuckle. Hey, even NSW Police knows how to laugh sometimes!

8.    Listen and Help. Social Media isn’t just a free (… free-ish) way of promoting yourself; it’s also about customer service. Listen to questions, complaints and concerns and not only will you get to know your audience a little better, you will also enhance your ‘good guy’ image.
9.    Admit mistakes. Mistakes are human, so if you want to humanise your social media strategy you have to put your pride aside and know when you have to say ‘I’m sorry’. That being said, don’t go out there and intentionally make any faux pas just to appear more genuine!

Although Alexandra didn’t know much about conference production before first coming across this opportunity with Akolade, she has quickly become passionate about her job. Gaining in-depth knowledge in a variety of new fields without going through exam stress? Who could ask for more? If ever you speak to Alexandra and wonder what that funny accent is, it is from Quebec, French-speaking Canada. Do not hesitate to ask Alexandra about her former life on the 47th parallel; she will be thrilled to talk to you about snow storms, skiing and -35⁰c!

21 August 2015

Guest blog by Wendy Perry: 11 tough questions to ask your RTO

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With a number of RTO Strategic Reviews completed around Australia, there are key questions that Registered Training Organisation (RTO) CEO’s, owners, board and team members need to be asked.  Responding to questions like these requires a level of trust, honesty, openness and a positive attitude.

1.     Why do you exist?

Starting with understanding the RTO’s background, when it was established, with what purpose in mind and the history to date gives a good sense of what it has been like.

2.     Who are you?

Some RTO’s have been reactive, pursuing government funding over fee for service, expanding their scope, adding programs and moving into new industry areas.  This has left them now asking who are we and what is our focus resulting in an identity crisis and muddled branding.  Other RTO’s have stood firm with who they are which hasn’t been swayed by changes in VET policy.

3.     What VET markets are you in?
There are different ways to think about VET markets considering:
  • Businesses – working with small and medium enterprises, medium-large businesses government, industry associations and groups, co working spaces
  • Partners – partnerships with schools, community providers, private and public providers, higher education providers and Universities, youth organisations, influencers and referrers
  • Students – what do each student cohort have in common, what are they motivated by, are their specific needs covered because of their backgrounds?
  • Local, state/territory, national – where are you?
  • International – which countries and regions?

4.     How do you know your scope and product mix works now and into the future?

Often an RTO’s scope has been added to as opportunities arise or markets change but how does that serve you now?  Pathways into and out of programs, with breadth and depth of industry expertise, shows a commitment to industry sectors and knowledge of the skills required for job roles.  A balance between accredited and non-accredited is a good approach.

5.     What are your measures?

Sustainability of the RTO over the longer term means you must look at profitability or surplus but not only overall but product by product.  Trends over time give insight into where demand might be headed or perhaps area to delve into and find out more.  High cancellations, low completions and a high percentage of active students could mean they are taking too long to complete – a combination that is undesirable.

6.     What are your strengths?

Perhaps the easiest of the ‘tough’ questions but is your list short, about right or overly long?  Be honest here and use evidence from clients to back up your statements.

7.     Where are the areas for improvement?

Asking this question and receiving a response such as, “Well where shall I start?” signals a potential overwhelming to do list and so picking the priorities plus actions that will have the most impact, is critical.  If responses here are little then flip the question and focus more on into the future.

8.     What are you trying to achieve?

Maybe you think there are things you should or could be doing, you’ve noticed subtle (or direct) shifts and are wondering what to do.  A clear purpose statement for your RTO can be what all potential actions are checked against.

9.     Where are the new market opportunities?

Now we are starting to get into the area that is exciting and many people like to discuss, where can we help people change their lives and businesses improve?  A practical market analysis based upon your region, clients, industry sectors, partners, products and capability can uncover all sorts of new ideas.  Rather than putting a great deal of time and effort into new programs, validating a minimum viable product is a must do.  Ask do people need this program, will they buy it now, and what will it lead to?

10.   What are your aspirations?

Others may prefer to ask this question and the next first, but without context, history and understanding, it can be very difficult to answer.
Where do you want to be?  With whom?  What do you want to be doing?

11.   What is your vision?

You may have an existing vision that has served you well but out to 2018 or 2020 even will it cut it?  Have a big but simple vision that is easy to communicate, that gives you laser focus inspiring you, your team and your RTO community.

If you are thinking about your RTO and what you might need to do into the future and you’d like some assistance from Australia’s leading VET Strategist, please express your interest by emailing wendy@wpaa.com.au.
Wendy Perry, Head Workforce Planner of Workforce BluePrint was a speaker at our Enhancing VET Business Models Conference which was held in Sydney end of July. Click here to read up on the top 5 key takeaways from this conference.
Wendy's reputation as a leading authority on Workforce Planning and Development and Vocational Education and Training (VET) is well earned with extensive experience working across Australia and internationally in the Agriculture, Banking and Finance, Building and Construction, Civil Construction, Community Services, Contact Centre, Defence, Disability, Education, Employment Services, Energy, Events, Food and Wine, Government, Health, Higher Education, ICT, Manufacturing, Mining and Resources, Sport and Recreation, Small Business, Telecommunications, Tourism, Vocational Education and Training (VET), and Water sectors.  Wendy is known for her pragmatic and collaborative style.

19 August 2015

Guest Blog by Stephen Moore: Workforce Resourcing is not Workforce Planning!

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After more than a decade working with HR leaders in developing their Workforce Planning capability and know-how, I’ve witnessed the many benefits that can be achieved by expanding the definition of workforce planning from a strictly resourcing based focus to one adopting a more universal approach. 

As illustrated in the following diagram, Strategic Workforce Planning actually comprises three key elements that must all be effectively integrated via a systematic process in order achieve the best possible results  throughout an organisation.

1. When properly designed and executed Workforce Labour Demand Forecasting enables Line Managers to determine the organisation structures, occupational groups (job families) and specific FTE headcount they will require moving forward in order to effectively deliver key business plans and objectives.

2. Once completed, Workforce Labour Supply Forecasting enables Line Managers to identify and determine those specific job families where future resourcing is considered to be a critical risk, whether it be in relation to labour market availability or the cost of procurement. Pro-active intervention strategies that enhance bench-strength and depth can then be developed, in order to ensure the ongoing availability of the right people, at the right time, at least cost and risk to the organisation.

3. Workforce Labour Sustainability Forecasting compels the organisation to undertake a structured “snapshot” of its current workforce composition and operation (present state) in order to then project out over the horizon (future state) to identify critical/endemic Labour Sustainability issues that necessitate the design and implementation of effective strategies and solutions now.      

By effectively integrating Workforce Resourcing as a key element within an overall Workforce Labour Supply Forecasting process HR Departments will ensure that a high degree of alignment and cohesiveness exists between future Succession Planning, Talent Management or Multi-Skilling programs and the forecast labour supply needs of their organisation. Not to mention the added capacity to extrapolate labour resourcing requirements out over a timeframe of several years rather than for just several months.
Stephen Moore is the Founder and Managing Director of Optimum Performance Human Resources Consultants. He will be facilitating the Workforce Planning & Resourcing Masterclass in September.

After more than 20 years in corporate life Stephen Moore established Optimum Performance Human Resources Consultants way back in 1995 with the joint objectives of empowering and enabling astute HR professionals to:
1. Develop and implement advanced programs and services that would continuously improve workforce management and performance within their organisations
2. Progressively transform their HR Departments from an operational support role to that of value-added business partner, thereby achieving “C” level recognition and support.