Better Business Technology

CreditorWatch keeps an eye on the future while scanning the business past

By Leon Gettler >>

CREDITORWATCH chief technology officer (CTO) Joseph Vartuli says workplaces have changed tremendously with the pandemic.

Remote working will now become permanent – and businesses will have to have to make most of machine learning, data analytics and artificial intelligence

CreditorWatch was started about 10 years ago to manage the trend of ‘debt hopping’ where suppliers switch companies without paying their arrears. Generally, it’s been the same offenders, according to Mr Vartuli.

CreditorWatch was started as a crowdsourcing business to share the names of dubious businesses. It now has the technology to provide ‘deep dive’ insights into businesses and their practices.

With the impact of COVID sweeping through the economy, businesses are now turning to CreditorWatch to assess the risks on their ledgers. CreditorWatch also provides data for the Federal Government’s economic index, giving it insights into trade payment behaviour of individual businesses and industries. 

Mr Vartuli said that as technology experts, CreditorWatch was not shying away from the prospect of employees working remotely. But as it appeared working from home was going to become more or less permanent, then the big question for companies was about looking at the work environment of their employees.

Was it a distraction free environment? Were there enough rooms with a partner working from home as well? How did they manage to work from home while home schooling their kids?

“Flexibility is what we’ve always been proud of. We provide a lot of autonomy to our developers and give them goals. We need to be a lot more flexible during these periods,” Mr Vartuli told Talking Business.

GOODBYE 9-TO-5

Mr Vartuli said the 9-to-5 model does not work anymore.

“We’re finding it’s unrealistic,” he said. “People need breaks throughout the day.

“They need to find a little more autonomy in terms of how they manage that workload and deliver that weekly workload each and every week,” he said.

“So giving them that autonomy and giving them that ability to choose, themselves, when and how they work is a big part of it. Supporting them in terms of resources, whether that’s stand-up desks or chairs has played a big part as well.

“We’ve also given all our developers an extra day off every month to take a long weekend every month, to let them recharge during this pandemic.”

Because developers are less committed during the pandemic when people are working from home, CreditorWatch provides online team bonding, continual education, as well as packages every month.

“I think we’ll have a remote working lifestyle pretty permanently,” Mr Vartuli said.

EYE ON THE FUTURE

He said when developers came back to the office at the end of the first lockdown, the company implemented a two-day-a-week-in-the-office policy, which worked well.

He said businesses needed to watch out for machine learning, data analytics and artificial intelligence. These were the big trend ahead and had been going ‘gangbusters’ in the last few years because the technology had become more accessible.

Mr Vartuli said businesses could now examine the data coming in to see what they could monetize and examine the big trends ahead.

“I think 70 percent of CEOs globally think AI is going to play a big role in the next five years in most industries, if not all,” he said.

“So even if you‘re not keen or don’t understand it, I think you should start dabbling in it. It’s definitely going to be a big part of the next five to 10 years for every single business.”

www.creditorwatch.com.au

www.leongettler.com

 

Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at www.acast.com/talkingbusiness.

https://play.acast.com/s/talkingbusiness/talking-business33-interview-with-creditorwatchs-cto-joseph-

The FluBot virus: is it Android's COVID?

By Ash Klemm >>

THE Android malware called the FluBot virus is still spreading throughout South East Queensland and Australia, with people reporting up to 10 messages a day from random numbers. 

But, FluBot doesn’t just send annoying messages. It also steals passwords and login information to your online accounts, personal details, and banking information.

FluBot uses the data to steal your money, take over your accounts and perform online identity theft while sending SMS messages to new victims to spread itself further. All without the users’ knowledge. 

FluBot has so far been detected mainly in South East Queensland. However, it is likely to spread to the rest of Australia, as it has in Europe and the States.  

How the FluBot virus works 

An infected device sends an SMS message that contains a phishing link. The message claims the user has a missed call or has a new voicemail. 

The message provides a link to retrieve the voicemail or see who the missed call was from. Following the provided link will take you to a web page displaying a trusted brand (like Telstra or Optus) and prompt you to install an app to listen to the voicemail message. If you permit the install, the Flubot malware will be loaded on your phone.  

Once downloaded, FluBot, asks for accessibility permissions. If granted, it gives itself more extensive app permissions and becomes a system app. Then it wreaks havoc.

How to remove FluBot virus

Although many companies have offered ways to remove FluBot, they can be tricky, with no guarantee they work. The safest and surest way to remove the FluBot virus is to do a factory reset on your phone, which erases the malware. Here’s how you do a factory reset.

Remember, restoring any recent backup may restore the malware if your data was backed up while the malware was installed. Be sure to use a backup that is dated earlier than when you think you got FluBot.

After you’ve removed the malware/virus from your phone, change your passwords as a precaution. Do not change your passwords before removing FluBot.

Remember: A factory reset on your phone will delete everything, including photos, phone numbers, apps.

How to stay safe from FluBot and other mobile malware  

Mobile phones are not immune to online threats. Malware, phishing, unsafe networks, and other threats for mobile phone users also exist.

FluBot is just one of the newest threats out there. Here are a few things you can do to protect your mobile phone and digital life on the go.

Use antivirus for mobile devices: 

Malware targeting mobile devices is becoming increasingly common. A quality antivirus for mobile phones will help keep your data safe and warn you of any nefarious software. A lot of anti-virus companies offer bundle deals for PCs and mobile phones.

Don’t open suspicious links:

Stop and think critically about the message and the link, if you think it could be malware, contact the sender via a phone call before clicking any link. Mobile devices are used on the go, making it easier to fall for phishing scams, because we aren’t always paying attention. Remember, no reputable company or authority will ask for personal information through email or SMS.  

Avoid shady apps:

While there’s no unambiguous way to tell a suspicious app from a genuine app, start by thinking about what you use it for. If it’s not necessary, there’s no point in getting it.

If it doesn’t work for you, delete it immediately. In the case of voicemail, your phone can do that; you don’t need a separate app for it.

Don’t download apps from unofficial app stores. It’s not a good idea to enable the 'Install from Unknown Sources' option.

www.suretyit.com.au

 

 

About the author, Ash Klemm

Ash Klemm is Surety IT' s business development manager and senior relationship manager, with more than 20 years experience in sales and marketing. But it is his curiosity and natural problem-solving abilities that make him the perfect first call for all Surety IT's new customers, to help determine what is wrong, how Surety IT can help and what the best solutions are moving forward.

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Stripe Technology revolutionises payments

By Leon Gettler >>

STRIPE Technology is revolutionising payments for businesses of all sizes, ranging from start-ups to the world’s largest companies. It is actively bringing us closer to a cashless society and speeding up e-commerce.

Stripe Technology basically powers payments on the internet across the whole of Australia, and globally, and the company onboarded tens of thousands of customers during 2020, providing them with the tech stacks they needed to survive the economic after-effects of the pandemic.

Stripe is an international payment technology company providing Australian businesses with a platform that will accept payments from anywhere in the world. It offers 250 different payment methods in over 187 currencies around the world.

Importantly, Stripe Technology allows businesses to choose what sort of channel they want to meet their customers in, whether it be over the counter or through a mobile device, app or online. 

This is critical for any company planning to go global.

It is also perfect for businesses where the demographics of their market are quite young and looking for a buy-now-pay-later process or paying through a wallet.

SETTING THE STANDARD IN PAYMENTS

Stripe does it across different platforms, like buy-now-pay-later systems, All-Pay, Google Pay, Apple Pay, We Chat and Microsoft Pay.

Stripe’s customers are coming from all over the world and it’s processing billions of dollars. In Australia, Stripe’s big customers include Atlassian, Canva, Airtasker, Shopify, Vincomofo and Who Gives A Crap.

“We look at the infrastructure in a few ways,” Hayley Hopwood, head of growth at Stripe Technology told Talking Business.

“We make it easy and secure and compliant for businesses to quickly move money around globally or locally. Since COVID in the past year, 80 percent of Australian internet users have actually bought something from a Stripe-powered business, although very few people know about it or know about Stripe.”

Ms Hopwood said there were two ways to look at the Stripe infrastructure.

The first was to help businesses receive funds and also to help send and settle funds as well. She cites an example where someone has ordered food and the app sends a dual notification to the restaurant and the driver. The funds hit the platform and are split between the restaurant and the driver.

The stuff under the hood, the payment infrastructure, plays an invisible role

The other aspect of Stripe Technology was how it enabled business to transact in new and ever-evolving ways. Ms Hopwood said there had been a massive uptick in the business in the last 18 months with COVID changing the way people were buying goods.

“As we’ve opened and closed in Australia, we’ve seen a new normal being set. If I cast my mind back to March (2020) when the pandemic hit, from March until June, we saw 10,000 businesses on board with Stripe and that was in Australia alone,” she said. 

“If I drill down into some of those industries, we saw a massive shift for businesses that are in perishable goods and alcohol deliveries.”

As an example, she cited the High Street butchers which had never had an internet presence before now needing to move all their meat in a COVID-safe way.

There had also been a massive spike in tele-health platforms.

FOUNDATION FOR FINANCIAL GROWTH

Just as importantly, Stripe provided a platform to future-proof businesses from the impact of continuing lockdowns. She said businesses using Stripe had now developed new revenue streams and were looking to go global.

“In general, most businesses have become switched on to the importance of having a variety of ways to engage with customers and meet customers where they actually interact,” Ms Hopwood said.

“Millennials and Gen Y are happy to speak to a bot and they want that one-click checkout experience, regardless of what they’re paying for it.”

She said QR codes and mobile devices were creating a cashless society.

“The most adopted payment in Australia today is paying by mobile phone,” Ms Hopwood said.

Consumer behaviour was now being driven by ‘mobile’ and 78 percent of Australians were taking to subscription models.

Consumers now wanted to buy their goods how and when they felt comfortable and that is via a mobile device.

www.stripe.com

www.leongettler.com

Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at www.acast.com/talkingbusiness

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Mindfulmeets: new Aussie technology helps fight global Zoom fatigue

A BRISBANE-BASED start-up, Mindfulmeets, has developed a technological ‘antidote’ for work from home (WFH) online meeting woes, including a clever video loop called ‘On Hold’, allowing participants to sneak away from Zoom calls without the others realising.

With more than 18 years in the tech space, developer and co-founder Ben Flux created the Mindfulmeets app with co-founder Karina Castex, after seeing their colleagues struggle with prolonged screen time during the pandemic.

The world-first free Google Chrome browser extension, designed to enhance video calls with a slew of mindful features, now has more than 3000 users around the world, including in the US where half the population continues working from home.

“Having a tech team situated globally, we were needing to navigate different time zones, varying lifestyles and the day-to-day realities of working remote,” Mr Flux said. 

“I started to think of ways to simulate the in-person interactions we had been missing, that help us survive the workday; shaking hands, clowning around and showing a bit of comradery. We need technology that considers the way we operate and live as humans as well as the value of time.”

Features include the ability to record a short video loop, so users can appear present while grabbing a coffee or answering the door – perfect for a quick and much-needed moment away, according to Mr Flux. 

CLEVER COMMUNICATING

Mindfulmeets can also create virtual agendas to keep discussions focused or send reminders to ensure meetings do not overrun.

Importantly, Mr Flux said the extension allowed users to break through awkward silences with emojis and GIFs.

“Without face-to-face interactions, we’re seeing an increase in people feeling overwhelmed, irritable and anxious – presenting a challenge to most modern workplaces,” Ms Castex said.

“While a free and simple to download extension won’t address all the impacts, we know Mindfulmeets will make a difference to the digital wellness of users.”

Research conducted by Mindfulmeets, to identify the top frustrations experienced by remote working, revealed overrun and unstructured meetings, the lack of quality social interaction and the quantity of meetings were key pain points.

With video conferencing established as a new norm, the reality of mental fatigue poses a real threat to the mental health of users and the productiveness of businesses and education providers, the creators believe.

FOCUS ON ‘FACE’ FATIGUE

The inability to read body language cues, intense focus on conversation and sustained eye contact are key factors contributing to the mental exhaustion resulting from over-use of video conferencing.

Susan Long, a registered psychologist and clinical services manager with Workplace Wellness Australia – a leading provider of proactive employee assistance programs – agreed that a mentally healthy workplace recognises the unique needs of its employees.

“Moving to working online and offsite from the physical workplace increased a sense of isolation and aloneness for many people,” Ms Long said.

“Our sense of connection and feeling heard is often related to eye contact and physical social interactions. This can be difficult to maintain when there are a number of participants in an online meeting.

“Without the reinforcement of connection through eye contact, the brain needs to work harder than it would typically in a face-to-face interaction causing people to feel fatigued.

“For many workplaces, the move to online highlighted the importance of checking in with their colleagues and employees who lived alone or were isolated. The pandemic caused many workplaces to relate to their peers and consider how each other were going,” Ms Long said.

“Staying well is important to work effectively and workplaces that can introduce a more psychologically appropriate format of how meetings progress are invaluable.”

Mindfulmeets is available to download and is compatible with Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Google Meet.

The extension currently includes capabilities including the On Hold feature, letting users create a video loop to step away from the keyboard;  add an agenda to a meeting; see the profile of all attendees, including name and position; share emojis and gifs; see the time zones of each attendee; and gracefully exit and enter meetings with helpful prompters visible to everyone on the call.

https://www.getmindfulmeets.com/

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Distributed edge computing: a cost-effective way to harness the future

By Matthew Oostveen >>

THE GARTNER Hype Cycle report in 2020 posits that edge computing is close to the peak of inflated expectation.

Despite this viewpoint, it is undeniable that edge computing is having a meaningful impact on our lives, and in the process is transforming the way we live.

A constant stream of new use cases are emerging as technology and connectivity both converge and evolve. Consequently, this year, edge computing will come of age as more sensors and machines come on-line connected through the surge of 5G connectivity.

The global pandemic drove the biggest change to digitalisation that the world has ever seen. Every business on the planet raced to use technology to survive as disruption flooded whole industries. Distributed edge computing brings data storage closer to where it’s needed to improve latency and save bandwidth. 

Edge computing is a technology that wears many hats, including the Internet of Things (IoT) and the convergence between IT and operational technology (OT). In its purest form, it’s automating technology to improve human life and the applications are almost limitless.

For example, sensors in the fields can track crop health and trigger fertiliser or pesticide application, self-driving machines can work 24/7 on mining sites, automated factories that operate without pause, and tiny drones that can revolutionise surgery.

THE CHANGES FOR IT INFRASTRUCTURE

Leveraging edge computing effectively requires a strategic approach that builds in distributed edge computing when creating IT solutions. The sheer volume and complexity of data involved will also need to be addressed and decision-makers may need assistance in determining what’s most important.

IDC (International Data Corporation) research projects that IoT devices alone will generate over 90ZB of data by 2025. With edge computing comprising more than just IoT devices, the data load generated by distributed edge computing applications will be astronomical.

Data centres will need to be designed, built, and even located with this in mind. Putting data centres physically closer to where the data is generated is necessary to overcome performance issues associated with managing such massive amounts of data.

Beyond location, data centres will also need to be able to accommodate massive amounts of unstructured data and be built on cloud-native technologies such as containers, to support a wider variety of application needs.

In reality, the cost to move all data to an ideal central location is cost-prohibitive. So, there will likely be a shift that will see applications and infrastructure also become more distributed.

This will see the demise of a pure core cloud approach to one that involves a distributed cloud at the edge working in tandem with the core cloud.

IT’S NOT WITHOUT ITS CHALLENGES

These smaller data centres need to have speed, flexibility, and operational simplicity in each location. This doesn’t come without its own set of challenges, though.

Latency has grown into a larger concern in recent years due to big data, streaming services, and IoT. Slow performance is no longer tolerable for the modern-day user.

Edge data centres solve this problem with a high performing and cost-effective way to provide functionality and content at speed.

Edge sites are small and often are in thousands, so all data can’t exist in every site. Edge data centres are a connectivity tool into larger central data centres. Processing data as close to the user as possible reduces latency and improves the customer experience.

New architectures are being built where edge applications generate, store, and interact with data at the edge.

Coupling these edge sites with core data centres means syncing all data and storing less used data. This needs infrastructure to support data access and movement and running applications in a much more distributed manner.

The second challenge is edge applications are being built generally as microservice applications. This means they can start, stop, and scale as users come and go from the services delivered at the edge.

Because edge sites are small, every application can’t have its own dedicated servers or storage, they must all share infrastructure.

Containerisation helps solve this problem by spinning applications and their storage up and down. It lasts only while that user or device is accessing a particular cell tower or edge data centre and is run on shared heterogenous infrastructure.

THE WAY OF THE FUTURE

Distributed edge computing is creating opportunities for technology to dramatically alter the way humans interact with the world.

From smart cities and more effective food production to automated mining and manufacturing, medical advances, and technologies not yet even dreamed of, distributed edge computing is the way of the future.

Combined with other emerging technologies such as 5G and artificial intelligence, reality will soon come to more closely resemble science fiction, with humankind as the winner.

www.purestorage.com

 

About the author

Matthew Oostveen is the chief technology officer(CTO)  for Pure Storage in the Asia-Pacific and Japan region.


Reference:
The Gartner Hype Cycle report - https://www.gartner.com/en/documents/3989981/summary-translation-hype-cycle-for-edge-computing-2020  

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Personalised care for the aged boosted by computer comms

By Leon Gettler >>

A COMPUTERISED care plan is improving quality of life for aged and dementia care residents.

Person Centred Software is used exclusively in aged care facilities. Traditionally, nursing staff members would be delivering care and at the end of their shift, they would sit down at a computer and evidence their care.

Person Centred Care changes that through technology, with a care app for carers to evidence their care at the point of delivery. There is also a Care Monitor for managers monitoring care in real time. This creates data driven decision and better care for the residents and their families.

The company also has another piece of technology called the Relatives Gateway, allowing family members to log in and be part of that care. They can send video links and sign off on care plans. 

This is all done with the approval of the resident and what they want their family member to see. 

“Traditionally we see the eldest daughter is the care taker of mum or dad living in aged care so if the resident wants that daughter to see an activity summary and perhaps a hygiene chart, they can actually have access to see that,” Person Centred Software CEO, Tammy Sherwood told Talking Business.

MEETING PANDEMIC CHALLENGE

The app was adjusted with COVID-19. As the country went into lockdown, Person Centred Software went to its customers and asked what they wanted. It introduced a coronavirus slider to evidence symptoms of the disease very quickly.

It was also able to do contact tracing to see which carer had been in contact with the resident. Family members wanted to stay in contact, so a new feature was put into the Relatives Gateway allowing residents to video conference with up to 25 members of their family.

The service also gauges the resident’s happiness level via a ‘happiness indicator’.

“So the family member can see that mum is happier in the afternoon, not so happy in the morning,” Ms Sherwood said. “Maybe I’ll increase my visits in the morning to encourage her to do more activities.”

SOFTWARE MEETS VITAL NEEDS

Ms Sherwood has been working in the aged care industry for a considerable time. She first saw Person Centred Software four years ago when she was on a study tour of the UK. She was fascinated by it when she saw it in operation at a facility in Battersea Place in London.

Sometime later, she was introduced to the co-founder of Person Centred Software who was visiting Brisbane for 36 hours.  She was introduced to him and he asked her to re-sell his product.

She said the technology gave residents a better quality of care. It allowed them to plan for residents’ needs: what time they wanted to get up, when they wanted to have a wash, what staff members they wanted to work with them.

“If we’ve got a resident that was a car collector, we can match them up with carers that have interests in cars,” Ms Sherwood said.

“Because they’re not documenting all of this care at the end of their shifts, carers get all this extra time to spend with the residents, talking to them and doing thigs they want to do with them.”

CASE STUDY SUCCESS

Ms Sherwood said the company conducted a case study last year with Southern Cross Care in South Australia, the firm’s largest client, with the help of Flinders University to examine the data.

The case study found a reduction in critical incidents, better outcomes for residents and staff had an hour extra every day with residents, through the use of Person Centred Software systems.

Person Centred Software operates in 75 aged care facilities after just two years of operation. It has just gone live with a dementia specific facility in Tasmania.

The company has a strategy of integrating with subject matter specialists like, for example, specialists in pain assessment, or medication management providers.

It develops its road map by listening to customers, their families and the carers.

www.personcentredsoftware.com/au/

www.leongettler.com

Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at www.acast.com/talkingbusiness.   

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Buildkite helps tech developers fly higher, faster

By Leon Gettler >>

MORE BUSINESSES are now going online, to overcome COVID-19 affected markets, and the demand for software has increased. Companies now want their software done quicker than ever.

Enter Buildkite, the Melbourne-based software firm that gives developers the tools they need to keep up with demand for software built with speed, scalability and security. Buildkite helps software companies build software, test it and release it.

Buildkite CEO Lachlan Donald said as software has become more complicated over time, the craft of assembling it has become more complicated.

Back in the 1980s and 90s, the release cadences were every 12 months – or even two years. As the world has moved online, software delivery has moved to the real-time end of the spectrum. 

CONTINUOUS DELIVERY

Buildkite works in a space known as ‘continuous delivery’ and it builds tools to help some of the best software development teams in the world ship software faster.

Mr Donald said continuous delivery is one of the most critical factors for successful businesses today and Buildkite, which grew out of the high growth tech companies in Melbourne, delivers its goods with parallel testing.

He said software companies build complex software with millions of lines of source code and changes happening every five minutes. This is done with test suites.

For smaller companies, it’s very quick, say about 30 seconds. But the larger companies like Shopify and 99 Designs, the test suites would take an hour or two to run.

“Continuous deliver tools like Buildkite take those test suites, carve them up into small pieces, and run them over the cloud,” Mr Donald told Talking Business.

“If you take Shopify as an example. They joined us when they were 300 engineers. Their tests were taking 40 minutes and their mandate was to get it under five minutes. They used Buildkite after breaking all our competitors’ previous tools – we got it down to five minutes.”

This was done using parallel testing. Buildkite has grown with the Shopify firm, which now has 2500 engineers and is driving the state of global e-commerce.

Mr Donald said continuous delivery was one of the key differentiators for Buildkite.

HELPING MOBILE AND WEB

Another differentiator is that Buildkite offers the only continuous delivery tools for mobile and web development teams.

“We provide the one tool that unifies all the engineers across the process,” Mr Donald said.

He said Buildkite runs a hybrid delivery model that is both on-premises with good security, and in the cloud where the source code is handed off.

“We’re a hybrid architecture where we give you what we call an agent, which you can run on your servers or your cloud, your infrastructure, so that runs the heavy lifting of the tests without Buildkite getting access to the source code. But then we have a SaaS (software-as-a-service) side of the business, the interface that developers interact with, all the external integrations, and Buildkite runs that,” he said.

“That architectural separation, turns out to be magical. It’s exactly the right compromise between those two worlds. You get strong security but you also get unlimited scaling and all the other niceties that cloud computing brings.” 

Mr Donald said this has been run on so many different platforms.

One of its customers, Cruise, the self-driving car company headquartered in San Francisco, runs the agent on their cars to test the software before it’s deployed there.

“With the emergence of next-gen tech, like IoT, and other things like AI, Buildkite provides that hybrid architecture and provides interesting ways to do new things,” Mr Donald said.

www.buildkite.com

www.leongettler.com

Hear the complete interview and catch up with other topical business news on Leon Gettler’s Talking Business podcast, released every Friday at www.acast.com/talkingbusiness

 

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