Get a vault for your data!

It’s not often that we readily endorse a product or company. However, when the nature of work they engage in is considered ground-breaking and has a positive impact on our lives – it most certainly warrants a mention.

The rationale for considering such tech-driven projects as highly significant is neither due to ‘gut feeling’. Nor that it is simply fascinating and therefore must be an excellent product. This project actually has a value proposition for you!

We are indeed well into the information age and while we have written extensively about data, its importance to marketers and its fragility when used and abused by unscrupulous third-parties for their financial gain.

The issue of data security is however, quite a serious issue. You just need to pay attention to the news to become even more aware.

 

Data breach incidents

In Europe, the where security is supposedly more advanced, we have seen the likes of renowned airline British Airways, being hacked. Several hundreds of thousands of customers’ personal data compromised.

These were followed by hacks on other major airlines such as Cathay Pacific.  Aside from airlines, other business outfits have suffered a similar fate.

The perpetrators are getting a lot more brazen and very recently, a cable car, used as public transport in Moscow was hacked, leaving vulnerable passengers terrified and stuck high up in the air. And this probably to the amusement of the pranksters (hackers).  

Can you imagine the chaos and commotion that would be caused if their control systems of driverless cars were to be hacked? 

The digital intrusions get even more sophisticated.

This time, affecting the very wealthy:  private yachts are now being hacked and taken into the pirate waters, all via uniquely coded signals, reading data from their antennas!

 

Data security 

On the issue of data security, you often hear about extra protection but not just anti-virus and anti-phishing software. The more secure and heavily encrypted Blockchain technology is, however, making waves in the digital sphere.

It is mainly for the escalation of its once shining star by-product designed for discreet transacting – the Bitcoin.

Blockchain technology has also triggered several other technologies based on its digital cryptology technology to ensure that your information is kept safe from prying eyes while stored, used or transferred online.

Blockchain products such as cryptocurrencies, however, are not completely safe from hackers!

 

A solution

Zortrex400x400The company we chose to highlight uses a unique vault system and is called Zortrex. It has adopted one of such Blockchain technologies dubbed tokenization. It will be using it to ensure that highly sensitive data online is kept safe.

“Our tokenised solution would have protected their customers’ personal identification information (PII) details. Instead the hackers ran off with the date of birth; passport numbers; financial data etc,” says Susan Brown, Chairperson of Zortrex – relating to the British Airways incident.

 

Tokenization is the process of converting rights to real-world assets into a digital token on a blockchain.

Brown’s background in data privacy systems as well as her devoted passion for the protection of PII, financial and healthcare data led her to start up and chair Zortrex. 

 

The law

“Companies have disrespected your data for over 25 years, and if left unattended, there will be nothing left to protect,” Browns says.

Thanks to new laws like the European GDPR law which is now imposing the data protection, data breaches and abuse of customer data is now met with hefty financial penalties.

Companies now think twice about consent and how to use and share your data digitally. But is it enough? The simple answer is no.  

The authorities just do not have the resources to investigate every complaint nor to actively enforce all data breaches – yet.

We have ingeniously invented systems that automatically align with financial messaging, payments and securing information. All of which require data. 

“However, we should and need to go a step further to secure all the PII details with tokenisation so that in the event of a hack, the cookies and trackers will only be following a ‘useless’ token as there is no real identification on it,” Brown explains.

Zortrex would naturally like to tokenise all healthcare data so that vulnerable people living outside of major cities can also feel assured that their privacy is protected.

In a previous blog, we wrote about the new Internet of things (IoT). All those devices being built for it. They would all need  their IP addresses and the serial numbers tokenised for instance.

 

Using Blockchain

The application of the all-powerful blockchain is not limited to use in the financial sector and will be applied via the supply chain to all industries that deal with data – especially the most sensitive ones.

An angel investor or any investor for that matter looking to get onto the next best thing since Amazon would therefore be unwise to pass up the opportunity to back the Zortrex venture given its scope.

Furthermore, regulations are currently being implemented primarily in the pharmaceutical sector.

A tokenised supply chain such as what Zortrex offers would be ideal for this new law which is planned to be implemented by 2023.  A judiciary blockchain, for instance, would enable the police to “talk” to the prison service,  who in turn, will communicate with the legal sector or public health institutions (NHS).

Forensic evidence would in such instances be tokenised and kept secure (away from tampering) during legal hearings.  In another practical scenario, Smart Contracts (which are touted to replace lawyers) can spark off legal aid assistance.

You court cases will be heard quicker and be more efficient.  Protection registers can also be protected with tokenisation rendering it more secure.

Blockchain technology offers quality assurance making sure that no shortcuts are taken. The smart contracts specifically, trigger any possible malfeasance.

This will enable the monitoring and tracking of any data sharing to third parties once it is tokenised. The third party apps would only gain access to the data once the trigger has been activated.

Like other pioneers and visionaries, Brown’s futuristic hope that every child being born will have their name, date of birth, blood type data being tokenised, might seem farfetched. However, given the nature and rise of data breaches it is evidently necessary.

Zortrex wants to use their technology to put the hackers out of business! 

Tokenisation cannot be mathematically reversed and thus it will least it will stop the hackers for a while.

Scalability

For such high ambitions, the creators of Zortrex’s software have adequately ensured that the technology used is fully scalable. One stumbling block many Blockchain projects now face is what is referred to as scalability – which in tech terms, is the ability of a network or software to grow and manage increased demand.

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Cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin and Ethereum specifically – which is used to build a lot of Distributed Applications, however, have massive scalability issues.

The growth in demand for DApps is crippling those systems. They need to investigate the incorporation of alternative technologies, upgrade or split their platforms to cope with such high demand.

Someone must take the first step in securing this data forever. You should be able to purchase what you want without being harassed by trackers and cookies.

The need for tokenisation is endless and further, down the line, celebrities and government official’s PII can be secured by it to protect them from damaging schemes, ‘bad press’ and scandals.

In a previous blog, we “prophesized” that data is the new commodity – like gold or oil. However, the actual value with that data will lie in its privacy, the ability to store it securely and unlock it only with legal permission by its rightful owner.

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Digital Fundraising

The latest abbreviation in finance and crypto-world is ‘ICO’. A word that gives both local and global financial authorities like the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) nightmares for several reasons.

Not to be confused with Initial Public Offering (IPO) which is used by firms to raise cash through the issuing of shares to the public. An ICO (Initial Coin Offering) serves the same function and works like crowdfunding , but for digital currency and tokens only.

We recently covered a feature on raising funds and capital for a business but missed out on one relatively new method. More and more companies are using ICOs to raise capital for their businesses.250x250

The concept of an ICO works similarly to how a company raises capital through shares in that it is all based on contrived value.

Funding raising in effect boils down to sales! If your actual product or service has nothing substantial or intrinsic to offer a client base, then it is nothing more than a scam.

Launching an ICO is quite easy, and to an extent, many tech companies are now catching onto it.

An ICO is the cryptocurrency space’s rough equivalent to an IPO in the investment world. ICOs act as fundraisers of sorts; a company looking to create a new coin, app, or service launches an ICO — Investopedia.

If you still do not believe it is possible, just listen to this testament from someone who did it after unsuccessfully knocking on doors of conventional funders – the angel investors, venture capitalists and banks.

The alarming spurt rate of ICOs often brings with it a scourge of potential scammers. The SEC and other institutions have to step in to monitor and regulate them.

Social media Platforms like Facebook and Google – which house a bounty of users (potential investors) have banned ICOs ads due to possible prey on unsuspecting investors; exposing them to con artists.

Basically, the scammers use fancy websites, laden with impressive figures and terminology to con users into buying into their coins or tokens.

Though the tokens barely even cost a cent, it adds up if they have millions of people buying in.  Once they have reached a certain amount in funding – they close shop and disappear!

Hypothetically speaking if one wanted to create a new coin called ‘DebunqedCoin’, these are the steps:
  • Create a product concept or Business Plan for the coin or what is called a Whitepaper. This describes in great detail what the coin or token aims to do; the core technologies behind it; the team and their qualifications; the product’s lifecycle/growth path etc.

  • Once completed and water-tight, the whitepaper would be submitted along with an application to one of the best Cryptocurrency Exchanges for review.
  • Naturally, the business would need some initial working capital for liquidity. Some of this is raised by the owners and other institutions (through loans) etc. These will serve as collateral/insurance that there is indeed genuineness in the venture for all stakeholders.
  • You must then assure your investors of a solid return on investment (ROI) and deliver – which goes back to sales and growth. Unless your offering is a scam you actually need to do some work! This comes with regular updates (marketing campaigns can have a tremendous or adverse impact on the uptake and price) on milestones reached.
  • The above is necessary to keep the investors abreast with progress and in the process, getting them to possibly increase funding. Growing interest and addition of more funds creates demand for the coin/ token which, in turn, drives up the price and market capitalization.
  • Voila! you would then be in business!

Here are some of the most successful ICOs of all time

NEO:

Known as “China’s Ethereum”, and backed by Microsoft, Alibaba and the Chinese government, NEO uses smart contract applications. It does so, however, with the addition of decentralized commerce, digitized assets and identification.

It enjoyed a considerable hike in token value from $0.03 to $88.20, NEO has big things coming with a 294,000% ROI.

Ethereum:

Unlike Bitcoin, the second-most valuable cryptocurrency in the world has more functionality than just being a coin. Its ledger technology is used to build and deploy decentralized applications a.k.a. “smart contract” technology.

Ethereum’s ROI has been nothing short of jaw-dropping at 230,000%. Having sold its tokens at $0.31, an Ether token now sits at a whopping $713, second in value only to Bitcoin.

Spectrecoin:

The “premier privacy-focused cryptocurrency” enables users to send and receive currency worldwide with total anonymity. It is currencies like SpectreCoin that have most government tax offices quaking in their boots.

If you had repurchased a token in November 2016, that puny $0.001 would be worth $0.64 today, or an ROI of 64,000%.

Stratis:

This UK-based start-up has craftily created a platform that is compatible with .NET and C#. As a result, the product appeals to veteran users of Microsoft products.

Raising 915 BTC in 5 weeks, those who cashed in on the low investment of $0.01 per token have seen a titanic ROI of 56,000%.

Ark:

With Ark, collaboration is the name of the game. The platform’s SmartBridge is a lightning-fast ecosystem designed to integrate other cryptocurrencies into its blockchain.

Investors were eager as any to buy in, and they have made a 35,400% gain given today’s token price of $3.54.

DigixDAO:

DGD, which stands for Digix Decentralized Autonomous Organization, is a self-governing community. It gives out grants to different projects which will promote the growth of the DGX network.

At a current value of $346.88 per token, this gives them a return of 10,722%.

Quantum (QTUM):

QTUM is an open-source value transfer platform which focuses on mobile decentralized apps or Dapps. QTUM is the world’s first proof-of-stake smart contracts platform.

They hosted a highly successful ICO in March 2017, and since that time has seen an ROI of 6,400%.

Source: investinblockchain.com

The prospect can be daunting for a cryptocurrency investor looking to make money off new investment opportunities, while remaining cushioned from fraudulent ICOs and dodgy coins and tokens.

As there is no guarantee that any cryptocurrency or blockchain-related start-up will be genuine or successful. One simply needs to be vigilant and take steps such as getting to know the core team, poring over the whitepaper with a big magnifying glass. Naturally you should be monitoring progress of the token sales.

Most importantly, one must  just using common sense to gauge just how feasible the project is to ensure that you’re not falling for a scam.

Remember, if it’s too good to be true, then it isn’t true!

Vocations of the Future

There is a lot of banter, which is backed up by well-research papers on how Automation and Robotics (powered by machine-learning systems) will replace jobs in the manufacturing and labour-intensive industries.

Blue-collar jobs are not the only ones however, that face imminent and progressive extinction.

A recently survey report conducted by the World Economic Forum predicts futuristic trends affecting certain jobs in the modern workplace.

Robert Solow predicted decades ago, in his Solow-Swan model, a massive driving force of global growth: technology.

And the evidence is prevalent with the likes of Apple, Microsoft, Google and Amazon championing stock markets with Billion-dollar market capitalizations and in the process creating an abundance of jobs globally.

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Disruptive technological advances such as AI (Artificial Intelligence); the ubiquitous high-speed mobile Internet (5G); widespread adoption of big data analytics; cloud technology; and the recent Blockchain technology will be the drivers of this job evolution.

Based on the report, by 2022, this job evolution will be firmly in place as it has already.

In a matter of just 4 years, we could have a situation where jobs such as postal service clerks, data entry clerks, and bean-counters (accountants and auditors) would be made redundant.

Impact on services

Software like Microsoft’s Dynamics 365, aims to remove ‘silos’ within customer relationship management (CRM) and enterprise resource planning (ERP) processes.

The latter takes over (fully automates) back-office operations such as stock-taking and supply chain management.

Such tasks will be performed via software, reducing the need for more human supervision. Consequently, the focus would be more on managerial roles.

In the sales and customer service realm, technologies like Microsoft’s AI will provide automated insights to guide employees on improving customer experiences.

Furthermore, it may lower support costs by using virtual agents or Chatbots to eliminate in-house AI experts and those writing code. This will  result in more redundancies!

World's jobs

On a positive note, newer and more exciting jobs such as data analysts, machine learning and AI specialists, digital transformation experts and in general information system services will be on the rise – up to 135 million globally, according to the Report.

The fields to benefit directly from new technologies would be information technology; information security; innovation; customer services and risk management (financial services).

Impact on finance

Another group of professionals whose nature of work will be affected due to the advent of ‘disruptive technology‘ are financial middlemen. Likewise, smaller banks and money transfer institutions.

Decentralised systems were primarily put in place to eradicate extra fees associated with transferring money across borders, and from one account to another. This because fees increase due to such intermediaries (financial middlemen).

Cutting them out completely undoubtedly renders them redundant. It is therefore pertinent for them to innovate their products in order to open up sufficient job position.

Read more about the effect of Cryptocurrencies on the banking sector here

Recently, Malta’s finance minister whilst in a private interview during a Blockchain Conference, echoed this. He said that the advent of cryptocurrency has changed financial middlemen into traditional “photo developers”.

“I can see this, just like in photography when you could tell that […] those who process the photos will lose their jobs; a lot of financial intermediaries will be facing the chop in the not too distant future,” says Edward Scicluna.

The good news for governments will be that the trend shows that the jobs created will surpass those lost.

Be proactive and skill yourself accordingly or get the right personnel who can quickly adopt some of the mentioned skills so that you do not fall behind!

Accountable Supervision

Leadership values are not only confined to the running of a political campaign, party or country for that matter, however, like in any venture that has an objective and deals with human beings – it forms the backbone of a successful any business.

Consequently, what leaders such as CEO of Tesla Elon Musk, for example, say or does, have a positive or, in the recent unfortunate case, a negative impact on the shareholdings of his business.

The share price can decline sharply and worse yet, it can lead to the exit of senior staff members and thus undermining the business, its leadership values and objectives.

This why it is critical for companies to adopt the right practices and responsible leadership to enable them to address both internal and external issues affecting them.

This is even most relevant when dealing with a company that has a multinational operational facet such as the Murray and Roberts Group – a South African company that operates in a global setting.

This specific multinational company was used in a case study for a research paper because it is firmly entrenched in the construction and engineering industry.

More specifically, they service the global natural resources market sectors of underground mining; Oil & Gas; Power & Energy.

Such a diverse set of operations requires a varied set of objectives spearheaded by a solid leadership path.

New model of leadership

We have covered the topic of Emotional Intelligence before. It now surfaces again within a brand-new leadership model known as the ARCHES model.

The name derives from a key characteristic of the physical structure of an arch and its durability. Coupled with its diversity in models and materials and its depiction as symbols of triumph, it represents an apt analogy of what responsible and effective leadership should be.

The model was especially derived by an academic* for a syndicate group assignment and is based on six key characteristics that should be imparted in a leader.

An effective and responsible leader is one who is attuned to their followers, responsive, possesses the necessary competencies, serves with humility, is ethical and adopts a sustainable approach to leadership.

A leader who possesses all these attributes is one who can rise above adversity and lead their followers in a way that promotes innovation, motivates, develops skills, promotes personal growth and encourages improved performance – B.Moyo

Application of the model

The model defines attuned leadership as the act of being self-aware, informed and  aware of the environment in which you exist – servant leadership.

Employees should be encouraged to take responsibility for their actions because responsibility and effectiveness are complimentary. The demise of US energy company Enron, for example, was due to a failure of management to execute communication-based responsibility, internally and externally.

ARCHES

A volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous environment in which a business operates can result in many potential projects not coming to fruition.

In such an environment, leaders that are attuned, responsive and possess the right competencies can expert power as their way to influence followers to exhibit the same traits.

Referent power develops out of admiration of another and a desire to be like them. Expert power on the other hand, is a person’s ability to influence others’ behaviour because of recognized knowledge, skills, or abilities.

This requires the leader to have a tolerable level of humility. This is defined as a personal quality reflecting the willingness to understand the self (identities, strengths, and limitations). That combined with a purpose in the self’s relationship with others.

Once again, the emphasis on Emotional Intelligence coupled with traditional leadership competencies is needed to steer multifaceted companies.

Even more so when dealing with diverse cultures and work ethics across borders and continents.

Direct consequences

Being the largest employer in the locality directly implied that Murray and Roberts had to be consistent with the idiomatic Zulu expression of “Umuntu ngumuntu ngabantu”. This means: I am because you are, you are because we are.

Good leadership in the Ubuntu philosophy is based on the engagement with communities and defines a well-led organization.

Not paying attention to ethical issues surrounding a community or the environment can have an adverse effect on your values. This would also affect your staff and the image of the company you steer.

A bitter consequence of the failure of ethics was evident in the $4.2m (64.1 million ZAR) fine to the said company. This was for its involvement in sector collusion related to construction projects for the 2010 World Cup.

Finally, a practical leader will also consider any upcoming projects with the lens of understanding the environment that surrounds them to incorporate the concept of sustainability.

These traits might sound like they need to be learned but most should be already ingrained or come naturally to you or your leaders.

If not this is not the case, you need to quickly install the right personnel with such to help steer your business enterprise or economy for that matter, to success.
*This blog post contains excerpts and is derived from a master’s research paper. It was conducted by Bonnie Moyo for the Rhodes University Business School.