Retailers Need Managed File Transfer(MFT) to Secure Data

Retail has an information security problem. Hundreds of retailers have been hacked in the last decade and latest reports suggest that it could be just the top of the iceberg. More than 1,000 U.S. retailers could be infected with malicious software lurking in their cash register computers, allowing hackers to steal customer financial data, the Homeland Security Department said Friday. Information security is a big challenge for any company but even more so for retail. Credit card theft wary customers may stay away from stores and impact bottom line. Earlier this year Target blamed the data breach for 46% slide in earnings.

Information security is a complex and tricky topic and one of the technologies which improves data security tremendously is Managed File Transfer(MFT). Retailers store and move quite a bit of data between stores and central IT. Additionally they have to exchange lot of data with the suppliers and other partners. Managed File Transfer (MFT) is a class of file transfer systems that use state of art security technology to centralize data transfers in a single system. This protects unauthorized access of data and limits exposure as file transfers happen through one central system. Since this central system uses state of art security and encryption to protect data both at rest and in-transit, it protects against hackers.

Managed File Transfer is finding its use in several sectors in Banking/Finance and Healthcare sectors. As more and more records become digital e.g. EHR (electronic health records), there is an increasing need to encrypt this data and protect it when it is exchanged.  Retailers need to review their security infrastructure to improve security on both ends – the Point of Sale (POS) and enterprise IT side. MFT can provide a secure backbone for enterprise data and work with secure POS systems to keep hackers at bay. Multi channel retail requires that data from each channel be secured and MFT can be the most important system in the middle that secures customer and financial data.

As customer go out and shop this labor day, hope retailers learn from the past breaches and take steps to protect shopper data.

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Energy & Utilities B2B Integration Has Become Mission-Critical

The electric utilities industry is undergoing a revolution, according to Europe’s trade association Eurelectric.

“The EU power sector is going through one of the most profound changes in its history,” the report stated. Strategy consultant Jesse Jenkins, in noting the report, speculated that Europe’s need for revolution reflects conditions in the energy industry world-wide, the message being, “they must evolve or die.”

Four major trends are reshaping the power sector, he said: the growth of renewables, a more decentralized system, foundations of the smart grid, and retail competition/new services.

The Eurelectric report cites several evolutionary improvements in services that are critical to the future, including improved system flexibility: “A market involving B2B [business to business] customers is already emerging and is likely to extend to the B2C segment through two-way digital communication enabled by smart grids and the increased penetration of smart appliances and home control technologies.”

The report concluded that real evolution in the industry requires not just technological innovation, but new innovative business models. A successful example is Entsog, the European Network of Transmission System Operators for Gas, which is smoothly facilitating the integration of trading across borders by leveraging the AS4 interface standard.

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Poor B2B Integration Has Serious Impact on Financial Partnerships in England

A lack of solid B2B integration between financial institutions in the UK has had a negative impact on profits and public confidence, according to a study by Freeform Dynamics, an analysis firm.

Over a third of the financial organizations surveyed, 35 percent, reported that they qualify as “bottom-tier” B2B performers, the study said. Failed updates between partners, visibility issues and lack of motivation to improve were cited as key problems.

Industry integration failures making the news have only underscored the problem. The Bank of Scotland’s issues with the accuracy of mortgage payment records were a cited example.

The report, commissioned by Liaison Technologies, cited lack of B2B integration skills and knowledge, poor management support, ownership issues as major contributors to the shortfall.

“It’s clear from our study that the shortcomings of B2B solution providers have played a significant part in perpetuating the low levels of integration we see among UK businesses,” said Dale Vile of Freeform. All the more reason, per Vile’s observation, that financial institutions should invest in a reliable and flexible B2B integration solution from a reputable integration software vendor.

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Hidden Barriers in Customer-Centric Supply Chain Strategy

Customer centricity is informing and advancing strategy in a number of product and service delivery domains, overwhelmingly for the better. The increasing ubiquity of big data and feasible analytics implementation have worked to make customer-centric strategy viable at many levels.

But there are some potential difficulties in realizing a customer-centric strategy in supply chain operations that might not be readily obvious, suggests industry commentator Steve Banker. For one thing, what customers say they want and what they really want are not always the same thing:

“If you ask customers what they want, they will say ‘We want lower prices, cooler products, and better service.’ But what really matters to them? What will cause them to buy more goods from you? What will they pay extra for?” Banker has said that deeper study – conjoint analysis, in particular – might be required to tease out the data needed to make the supply chain truly customer-centric.

Analyst Lora Cecere points out another hidden barrier: a lack of organizational alignment.

“As long as sales incentives are tied to volume, marketing is rewarded on market share, and operations on cost, companies will never achieve a customer-centric response,” she said. “In a customer-centric strategy, the value chain makes choices on how to serve and respond to the customer based on cost-to-serve, channel and value chain strategies…the key is to orchestrate cross-functional alignment with an outside-in focus.”

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