Identity and Access Management (IAM): How Risks and Cyber Threat Possess Challenges to Businesses.

There has been overwhelming incidents of data breach and unlawful access to information and sensitive data across business organization and governmental agencies across the world. The new age of cyber threat and attacks has now risen beyond just rouge individual phishing for information on consumers by luring then with suspicious emails asking for bank account numbers to deposit large sums of amount money from a foreign country. The treat now encompasses the likelihood of company and governmental secretive information been stolen by organized groups of highly trained and sophisticated computer wizards. Often times these threats are identified within an organization’s own four walls. It has become evident that the most common places where data breach occur is right within an organization—where employees pic2mistakenly or purposefully access data that they are not privileged to access.

These issues have made organizations become more aggressive in protecting their sensitive data from such intrusions whether within or outside their premises. An example of a global data breach is the massive Panama papers. According to this article, “Nearly half of companies do not evaluate the risk of vendors before transferring them data, but change may be underway. Law firms report facing more diligent scrutiny of their security capabilities, but all industries should pay attention to the missteps of Mossack Fonseca. The Panamanian firm employed outdated software with critical vulnerabilities, including that for its customer portal”. This is where Identity and Access Management policies and initiatives come into play.

Identity and Access Management (IAM) is the security discipline and process of managing who has access to what information, applications and systems over time within an Organization. Resources within an organization must have access to systems and applications in order to be efficient and productive. Such resources are often granted access based on their roles and job functionality. The introduction of role-based access control (RBAC), as part of a holistic IAM initiative gives accesses to these resources and individuals through roles that relate to characteristics such as the individual’s job function. The Cross-functional process provided by identity and access management system (IAM) is to initiate, capture, record, and manage the user identities and related access permissions to the organization’s proprietary information and systems- among these are a defined user rights, access rights and their active and inactive periods.

Identity and access management has not been a top priority for many organizations nor has it been systematically organized at different platforms until recent years. Although many executives view IAM as an Information Technology (IT) function, but this process also affects every business unit throughout an organization. The IAM system is a centralized user and access rights database integrated to many different target systems-These users may extend beyond corporate employees. Businesses are currently experiencing an ongoing transformation when it comes to information security. In light of this, a best practice for an enterprise is to implement an Identity and Access Management (IAM) solution that handles the creation and management of connected device, information as well as user’s access and authentication into external and internal applications, databases, or networks. For instance, users could include vendors, customers, floor machines, generic administrator accounts, and electronic physical access badges. Identity management can be roughly divided into user rights management, access management and provisioning. However, the core premise remains the same.

The choice between a cloud-based and on-premise IAM system often depends on the business’s strategic goal. Some of which could be a mixture of cost savings and security. There are several challenges that urge businesses to embark on an effective implementation of an on-premise solution or cloud-based identity and access management system. For many organizations, this is as much a compliance decision as it is a business decision. Many still believe that on-premise solutions provide greater security and control, and, realistically, it’s often the path of least resistance for a large enterprise with the resources to manage the operation and integration. On the other hand, cloud solutions offer immediate cost savings, faster implementation, easy scalability, and much greater flexibility. There’s no right answer here and you’ll find many solutions offer both cloud and on-premise, as well as hybrids of the two, which may be the best answer for getting something in place sooner rather than pic4later. With or without an identity and access management system, there is always the existence of a weakest link, a link that could lead to risks that cannot be easily mitigated and among such risks are:

  • Lack of Regulatory Compliance.

Corporate governance and data privacy protection depend on strong security over applications and IT infrastructure. Without such security, internal controls cannot be relied upon and regulatory compliance cannot be assured. One of the weaknesses of manual user administration is that people are not consistent – they make mistakes. As a result, security administrators cannot be expected to reliably enforce standards regarding what access rights users should have. Regulatory compliance like Sarbanes-Oxley, HIPAA, SOX, and other regulations have significantly impacted organizations worldwide. Organizations must be able to provide auditable evidence that these controls are in place and effective. Section 404 of Sarbanes-Oxley specifically states that management must assess the effectiveness of internal controls on an annual basis. Organizations must automatically inspection a request to check whether it violates any business rules. For example, requests should not trigger violations of Segregation of Duty (SOD) rules, nor should it specify invalid department or location codes, etc. Periodically inviting managers and application owners to review users and security entitlements within their scope of authority and flagging inappropriate entries for removal should be an ongoing activity if a company wants to boost its regulatory compliance initiatives. A user awareness program should also be considered, to ensure that all users understand what the system is, what it is intended to accomplish, where to find it and how to use it.

  • Information Security Risk.

If an organization fails to deactivate the access rights of a departed user, then that user or an intruder impersonating him might abuse the infrastructure or compromise sensitive data. In many organizations, the removal of user access rights or access rights for a digital identity can take several weeks if not months. This may present an unacceptable risk to the organization, especially if an individual is able to continue accessing company systems and resources during the access removal period. With that said, Access termination must be quick, to minimize the time window available for the aforementioned exploits. The difficulty in modeling complex, heterogeneous entitlements is compounded by the fact that although users accumulate entitlements over time, they rarely ask IT to terminate old, unneeded rights. Moreover, it is difficult to predict when, after a change in responsibilities, a user will no longer function as a backup resource for his old job and so old entitlements can be safely deactivated. It is not enough to deactivate a departed user’s login IDs on major systems. Every access right should be revoked, to eliminate the possibility of abuse by users inside the network.pic-5-jpg

  • IT Operating and Development overheads

Considering the different number of credentials often needed or giving to an employee, where a typical employee may have a username and password for their desktop, a different Usernames and password to gain access to other systems, multiplied by their frequently expiring passwords, credential maintenance can become overly complex and unreasonably costly in terms of department overheads and often times result in employee writing down these numerous passwords in an attempt to remember them when needed—these actions  often result in  the potential of an employee leaving a notepad full of passwords that could be stolen, which in this case could result in a security breach. Wouldn’t it be better if we all have one login credential for all our office systems and applications? The common answer will be yes, right? The benefits of single sign-on (SSO) are compelling; reduced password fatigue from different user name and password combinations, reduced time spent re-entering passwords for the same identity, and reduced IT costs due to less IT help desk calls about passwords.

  • Ineffective Systems Access Control

Users typically require access rights that span multiple systems. High-value, high-risk employees and contractors are often unique and are consequently not usually well served. A new user may need a network login, an e-mail mailbox, and firewall access and login rights to multiple applications. These accounts are typically created by different administrators, using different tools. Some people in the organization often bypass defined processes and protocols in an attempt to get their requests implemented more quickly. This is often done by calling a helpful friend in IT rather than going through the standard IAM process. These activities often undermine the effective control of system access across the organization. For an organization to effectively control its user access, the following questions must be answered: How will each type of access request be validated?; Who are appropriate authorizers for each type of request?; What is the expected response time from authorizers?; What parts of a request are authorizers allowed to see?; What parts of a request are authorizers allowed to modify?. Once these questions are answered and measures are put in place to control these variations then a more sound and secure access control environment can be created.pic-3

 Organizations have faced the complex problem of managing identities and credentials for their technology resources. What used to be a simple issue that was confined within the walls of the data center has become a growing and exponentially complex problem facing organizations of all sizes. To mitigate some of such complex problems, implementing an IAM solution should not only be limited to the “NOW” problems, but rather gauge future need especially if your business is poised to expand its processes. Simple questions like; is the solution simple to implement across disparate systems? Is it scalable? Is it well supported with fixes, updates, and new releases? Will your solution be developer-friendly and cost-effective for the duration of its deployment? Even the simplest things are important. For example, you wouldn’t buy a solution that is only offered in English when you’re planning to open an office in China in two years, a holistic approach and strategic implementation should always be a part of management’s decision-making not just from a compliance stand point alone.

Acknowledgement: Some content in this blog can be attributed to. “GTAG-Identity and Access Management”.

Advertisements

Policy Risk- Navigating an Unseen Risk in Emerging Markets- By:Fkmensah

As national companies face steep competition in their home countries in recent years, the need to go abroad to build a competitive edge is now on the rise. Some government entities in such countries welcome such decisions of foreign business and often times encourage business to choose their countries by relaxing their tax systems and other attractive measures to lure   foreign companies to establish locations in their countries. Many a times, some companies relocate or open branches in emerging markets through means like Turnkey projects, Strategic Alliance, and Joint venture. All these mode of entry simple help business enter a market for the first time to build relationships. However, these methods sometimes provide companies some sort of protection and minimize the potential risk associated with doing business abroad. Over the past two decades, the most thought about of such risk is the “Expropriation Risk”- which simply means the likely hood of a foreign government seizing the assets and resources of a foreign company. With international trade laws and regulations, such risk is not as prominent as it was. Instead it has been replaced by “Policy Risk”- The risk that a government will discriminatory change the laws, regulations, or contracts governing an investment—or will fail to enforce them—in a way that reduces an investor’s financial returns is what we call “policy risk.images

According to the Harvard Business Review, although the data on policy risk are less clear-cut than the hard numbers on direct seizures, press mentions of policy risk indicate that it has risen dramatically as seizure risk has fallen. Even though there are business laws and contractual agreements surrounding every business activity, any business that befalls such maneuvers by foreign governments turn to have limited options since the traditional contract laws and mechanisms that applied in their home countries often times does not apply in foreign countries because of the political situations and the less than perfect democratic systems. Therefore, business looking to do business abroad must adopt a strategic risk management capabilities and political-management strategies that limits foreign government entities’ incentive to divert investors’ returns. As your business deliberates on going into emerging markets, you should remember that managing uncertainty will help avoid loses but having a strategic long-term risk mitigating plan would be a source of competitive advantage in addition to a means of avoiding losses.

Global Workforce Crisis Puts $10 Trillion at Risk in World Economy, Study Says: by BCG.

July 01, 2014

Global Workforce Crisis Puts $10 Trillion at Risk in World Economy, Study Says
By 2030, the Potential Value Squandered Because of Labor Shortages and Surpluses Could Exceed 10 Percent of World GDP, or Nearly 60 Percent of U.S. GDP, According to a New Report by The Boston Consulting Group
BOSTON, July 2, 2014—Workforce shortages and surpluses worldwide are becoming so acute that they threaten $10 trillion of world GDP over the next one to two decades, according to a new report being released today by The Boston Consulting Group (BCG).

This projected value loss stems from acute shortages and unrelenting surpluses that are being exacerbated by a range of factors, from anemic economic growth and aging populations to low birth rates and restrictive immigration policies.

BCG examined workforce supply-and-demand dynamics in 25 major economies—including the G20—to forecast the extent of labor shortages and surpluses for 2020 and 2030. Overall, by 2020, many countries will still be experiencing a surplus. But by 2030, this surplus will for most have turned into a massive shortfall, according to the report, The Global Workforce Crisis: $10 Trillion at Risk.

“The consequences for many nations’ growth and competitiveness are serious,” says Rainer Strack, a BCG senior partner and a coauthor of the study. “Governments, companies, and other institutions must begin to take action now if they hope to avert the potentially long-lasting damage to national and regional economies, as well as to the global economy.”

The impact of the labor imbalances worldwide will be neither simultaneous nor uniform. Here are some of the crippling shortages and chronic surpluses that the world will face:

• Germany will see a shortage of up to 2.4 million workers by 2020 and up to 10 million by 2030—23 percent of the labor supply. The country will not reach its historical GDP growth rates unless it takes action soon.

• Brazil will have a shortage of up to 8.5 million workers in 2020; by 2030, that figure could increase nearly fivefold to 40.9 million people—at 33 percent of the labor supply, more than 10 percent worse than Germany’s and the highest projected 2030 shortage of the 25 nations studied.

• China is expected to have a surplus of 55.2 million to 75.3 million workers by 2020. By 2030, that surplus could reverse sharply, turning into a shortage of up to 24.5 million people.

• The U.S. is expected to have a surplus of between 17.1 million and 22 million people in 2020. By 2030, it will still face a surplus—at a minimum, 7.4 million.

• France, Italy, and the UK, all projected to have single-digit surpluses in 2020, face labor shortages by the subsequent decade.

• South Africa faces the gloomiest prospects, with a projected surplus of 36 percent in 2020 that’s expected to grow to 39 percent by 2030.

The problems associated with labor surpluses are well known. High unemployment cuts the tax base and raises the cost of social services while raising the risk of social instability. In the long term, surpluses can lead to the attrition of skills and ultimately reduce an economy’s competitiveness and attractiveness to investors.

But the problems with shortages can be equally harmful to the economy because job openings cannot be filled. This fuels wage inflation and, above all, impedes business growth and competitiveness.

The authors used two scenarios for GDP- and labor- productivity-growth rates over two periods (the past 10 years and the past 20 years) to forecast two different future scenarios. They calculated the size of the labor force that each country would need to keep GDP and productivity growth for 2020 and 2030 at historical levels.

The report features a number of tables and charts, including graphs comparing labor supply-and-demand trends among countries within major geographic regions and a table benchmarking key labor-supply levers across the 25 countries. (See Exhibit 6 below, from the report, which highlights the projected imbalances.)

Click to Enlarge

In addition, the authors outline the basic levers and interventions that governments can put in motion to mitigate the imbalances, such as modifying the official retirement age, liberalizing immigration policies, and encouraging greater labor force participation by specific demographic segments.

The Global Workforce Crisis: $10 Trillion at Risk is the first in a series of reports on this issue. Subsequent reports will break down the surplus and shortage numbers by education levels to reveal in greater detail the severity of global labor imbalances. They will also illustrate the consequences for companies.

“A country may appear to have a perfect balance of supply and demand,” observes Strack, who is a coleader of BCG’s human resources work within the firm’s People & Organization practice. “But after breaking down the numbers, we might find that it actually has a surplus of 1 million people with a primary education but a shortfall of 1 million with a secondary education. This kind of de-averaging reveals the crucial challenge ahead for governments and businesses. Both will need far more sophisticated tools to analyze supply and demand and devise solutions.”

To download a copy of the report, please visit http://www.bcgperspectives.com.

Risk Mitigation Plan: Are you or your Business taking a Risk thinking you don’t need it! By: F.kMensah

images risk    In the world of finance, risk management refers to the practice of identifying potential risks in advance, analyzing them and taking precautionary steps to reduce/curb the risk. The global business environment  is constantly becoming complex, new models of how to run your small or large-sized business is  brought to light everyday by the expects, but what these models do not share light on is the constant risk that every business small or large are prone to on a daily basis in local or international markets. Many local, national and international business owners or corporations succumb to the notion that just having business insurance is good enough, and forgetting that running any type of business has risks associated with it that needs a strategic risk mitigation plan and ignoring these risks or how to mitigate them when they arise has caused many businesses to fail. JFK once said, “There are risks and costs to a program of action. But they are far less than the long-range risks and costs of comfortable inaction”.  It’s far better to find out problems before it finds you, and when you identify such problems, having the right action plan always comes in handy. Yes the insurance may cover some of the risks, but relying on your policy alone without a strategic plan to combat such risks undermines your original idea and goal of going into business in the first place, thus, success and maximizing shareholders profit.

Expects in the Risk management industry has strongly echoed the notion that inadequate and poor risk mitigation plans or even no plans are not only reckless on the part of a business owner, but also a quest to throwing away your dreams of running a successful business for the long run because every business be it small or large, regardless of industry are prone to unexpected events that could dramatically raise your cost of operations if not shorten the life of your organization, and in this competitive business environment, Can you afford to take such risk and be less competitive than your direct competitor? Competition is a good; having a business plan is great, but maintaining a carefully crafted risk mitigation plan when your business finds its self in a crisis mode is crucial and it is what will define the faith of your business and whether or not the business can still remain competitive after all the chaos.

Internal and external risks such as accidents in the workplace or fires, tornadoes, and other natural disasters, not forgetting complex  legal risks  such as fraud, theft, and sexual harassment lawsuits, business practices,  market uncertainties, failures in projects, credit risks, or the security and storage of data and records. Do you still think your policy alone without a comprehensive mitigating plan serves you better?

The above stated risks are not only associated to local and national businesses within the continental US market. In today’s global business environment, never has it become more important to consider such risk elements when venturing into international markets. These risks become more eminent once a business makes a decision to go global. Depending on the nature of the business, there are external risk elements like political climate, cultural sensitivity of your niche market, infrastructure compatibility to your business needs— internet and cyber security, industry legal frame-work, Etc. All these factors could have certain imbedded risks that can hinder the growth and success of your business in a particular market.

The awareness of having a strategic risk mitigating plan does not sometimes translate into a proactive action by decision makers in an organization. Among the many reasons why businesses choose not to actively strategize in anticipation of such risks is that, they either fall for the perceived notion that having an insurance policy alone takes care of the problem, and may also feel that it is unlikely that prior events will happen again, or that the effects if they were to occur would not be overly severe or destructive. In conclusion, the primary purpose of this article is to remind organizational decision makers about the fact that poor risk mitigation. Ignorance or mismanagement of risk always does result in loss of assets, shareholders’ investment and one important element— which is loss of reputation or goodwill built over the years. Why come up with a great business ideas, implement it, and set the ball rolling without a strategic risk management plan? Or not thinking you need such plan? Rethink again.

Winning in Africa: From Trading Posts to Ecosystems

JANUARY 09, 2014by Patrick DupouxTenbite ErmiasStéphane HeuzéStefano Niavas, and Mia von Koschitzky Kimani

Article image

Africa is growing larger on the corporate map. Mostly ignored by multinationals since the 1980s, the continent is now receiving their attention and investment, and for good reason. Growth rates are rising, and many long-running wars and conflicts are giving way to democracy and bureaucratic competence. Infrastructure and connectivity are improving.

As competition for growth in Southeast Asia and Latin America gets fiercer, companies are seeking the next frontier market. They have understandably trained their sights on Africa, whose growth trajectory has been the steepest in the world over the past decade and is likely to remain so into the future, with forecasts projecting 6 percent annual increases over the next decade. Emblems of optimism, progress, and consumerism abound in the form of smartphones, paved roads, bank accounts, and peaceful transitions of power. Over the past two years, dozens of media and analyst reports have increased awareness of Africa’s rise and the opportunity for private investors and multinationals.

Awareness of the Africa opportunity is one thing. Winning in Africa is another. The continent remains a dizzying collection of emerging markets, each with its own unique business environment, risk profile, and potential. Success in places like China or India will not necessarily translate into success in Africa. Many companies have been operating in Africa for decades and have learned the hard lessons that await newcomers. Unilever, Coca-Cola, Nokia, and a few others generate up to 10 percent of their sales in Africa. But companies just starting their Africa journey in earnest do not necessarily know how much to expect, where to start, and how to win.

In 2000, The Economist declared Africa “hopeless”—the conventional view at the time. In 2011, the magazine revised that assessment to “rising” and in March 2013 to “aspiring.” In fact, the seeds of Africa’s resurgence were already planted in 2000 but had not yet borne fruit. Today the fruit is ripening.

 

The tension between global norms and national interests

Fareed Zakaria

By Fareed Zakaria/The Washington Post

Russia’s aggression in Ukraine has unified Western democracies, at least in their robust condemnation of the action. But farther afield, one sees a variety of responses that foreshadow the great emerging tension in 21st-century international life: between global norms and national interests.

Consider the response of India, the world’s most populous democracy. New Delhi was mostly silent through the events of February and early March; it refused to support any sanctions against Russia, and its national security adviser declared that Russia had “legitimate” interests in Ukraine — all of which led Vladimir Putin to place a thank-you phone call to India’s prime minister.

India’s reaction can be explained by its deep ties with Russia. From 2009 to 2013, 38 percent of major weapons exported from Russia went to India, far more than to any other country (and more than triple the next-highest recipient, China, at 12…

View original post 606 more words

Institutions Must Adapt to the Needs of Five Distinct Groups Within the Online Education Population

http://www.bcg.com/media/PressReleaseDetails.aspx?id=tcm:12-164117  June 18, 2014

Schools That Reach Emerging Segments of Students and Parents Will Tap into New Sources of Growth and Innovation, New BCG Research Finds
BOSTON, June 18, 2014—A survey of more than 3,000 U.S. students and parents conducted by The Boston Consulting Group’s Center for Consumer and Customer Insight has identified five distinct segments of the online education population. The report, The Five Faces of Online Education: What Students and Parents Want, is being released today and is the latest in BCG’s Consumer Sentiment series. The survey shows that schools must vary their approaches in order to best reach the following five segments:

True Believers. These students take the majority or all of their classes online. This population will be familiar as the original group that online education grew to serve.
Online Rejecters. These students have tried online courses, but they have decided not to take more in the future because they see problems with the quality, outcomes, and reputation of online programs.
Experience Seekers. These students uniquely emphasize the experiential, social, and emotional benefits of education. To them, it does not matter greatly which form their education takes, so long as they achieve their goal of a degree for personal and social advancement.
Money Mavens. Members of this segment are primarily motivated by the financial outcomes of an education. They view an online education much more as a transaction than as an experience.
Open Minds. This segment will become True Believers if the experience of online learning meets their high standards and offers benefits beyond that of traditional classrooms.
“The needs of the current mix of students are different from those of the past, driven by broader generational, digital, and marketing trends,” said Christine Barton, a partner and coauthor of the report. Consider, for example, the overall finding that students rank academic advising ahead of faculty and teaching quality for the improved online education experience of the future. “What worked for online education in the past won’t work in the future, and what will work in the future, won’t work the same way for all institutions,” says Barton.

Despite the differences among the segments, the survey also shows that universal attitudes exist. More than 60 percent of respondents who have taken an online or blended course believe the following: online offerings can improve the quality of education; online courses and degrees are gaining in importance as a part of the criteria for choosing an educational institution; and the traditional classroom experience benefits from online instruction.

Students are combining the best of online, blended (a mix of online and in-person instruction), and traditional academic settings into a new learning experience. In fact, BCG’s survey suggests that the proportion of students currently taking at least one blended course is more than 25 percent.

At the same time, students are demanding much more from online education than in the past. All types of students surveyed wanted greater real-time interactivity and contact with faculty, advisors, and other students. And parents in particular are not sold on online-only degree programs: They were significantly more likely to withhold financial support for a child pursuing a fully online degree than for a traditional or a hybrid degree that mixes online and traditional classes.

Ultimately, BCG’s survey found that online education has reached the mainstream: 67 percent of secondary and postsecondary students report experiencing online education to some degree. (The survey defines those with online education experience as students who have taken an online or blended course and parents whose children have taken an online course.) In addition, the survey confirmed other estimates that the proportion of studentscurrently taking at least one online course stands at 30 percent of postsecondary students, and that 16 percent of postsecondary students are currently learning primarily through online courses.

“Growth in the future will come from altogether different sources than in the past,” said Allison Bailey, a senior partner and coauthor of the report. “Successful institutions will understand how groups of students differ, which segments to target for growth and innovation, and how to prioritize investments, operations, and marketing messages to meet more needs with fewer resources.”

A copy of the report can be downloaded at http://www.bcgperspectives.com. To arrange an interview with one of the authors or receive a copy of the report, please contact Patrick Riccards on +1 703 298 8283 or patrick@exemplarpr.com.

Garbology Market Research: Is it Effective? by: FKMensah

Competition in the consumer goods market has become more intense over the past decade. There are many reasons for this competitiveness in this industry but the most talk about is globalization. In this new age of internet and technological advancement consumers now have more choices when it comes to purchasing household consumable products among many other items they use on a daily basis. Gone were the days when a consumer only has to run to the convenient store in the neighborhood to buy items. The internet has now made it easier and presented many alternatives and choices for the consumer. Typical consumers who use to go to the grocery store now have a choice of just having to order groceries over the internet and have it delivered to their homes.i,e. Shoprite.  This has created a marketing environment where companies do whatever it took to have such consumers become aware of their products and brands that may not even be at every store in a community.

Companies have long been faced with the difficulty of being able to particularly define their customers’ purchasing and consumption patterns. This has led to marketers exploring all marketing strategies available to them to capitalize on the consumption patterns of their customers.  They use brand engagement platforms like social media to not only create awareness of their products, but also engage consumers of their products through comments made about their products by these consumers– which is a huge trend in this modern era in marketing. One other trend that has been explored but not increasingly popular is Garbological marketing research—when people in a neighborhood place their trash outside their homes for pickup, and a marketing researcher sorts through the garbage as part of a brand-preference survey. To a marketing staff or firm, such consumption patterns or information revealed in this research could guide them by providing first-hand knowledge of what customers in this particular area are willing to spend money on, and what products will not sell.

ImageA garbological study, in relation to marketing is an observation technique which adapts the process in which a researcher combs through people’s trash to assess the things they’ve consumed… (Hyman, Sierra 2010).  During a garbology study in Tucson, a survey found that all Hispanic women in the area did not use bottled baby food. However, it was discovered through the analysis of these women’s garbage that they used just as much prepared baby food as other households within the region. Thus, through studying garbage we can analyze the belief system surrounding food consumption (Rathje, Murphy 2001).  A marketer’s ability to have a first-hand knowledge of what products and how often consumers go through a product in a period through these marketing research means can add to the mitigation of the complex customer consumption pattern. Obviously, one may see this type of research as an over stretch and going too far but in this competitive global market having a slight edge over a competitor does go a long way to capturing or increasing a company’s market share.

Others have argued that there is a downside to this garbology marketing research, thus, violates respondents’ privacy (unless they’ve consented to sharing their trash for this purpose). This is a strong argument against the concept. After all is not that easy to walk in neighborhoods dressed on “research gown” scouting through one trash after the other without either being questioned by owners of these trash cans or even being perceived as some sort of “lunatic” or “spy”.  But having these individual trash owners understand your quest and reasons for this unusual act and persuading them of the benefits of your research to them could be very useful—this is where marketers need to define their marketing objective and also determining what information is needed and how that information can be obtained efficiently and effectively.

The goal of competitive intelligence is to provide a reliable and effective information that is mostly backed by facts to support the decision making process of a business in a competitive or non-competitive market, on the other hand, garbology market research and the “dirty” business of competitive intelligence and a company’s ability to acquire first-hand knowledge of consumer consumption habits maybe what makes trash searching legal in some sense, at least market researchers do not have to trespass on private property or even grabbing those trash bags before it hits the pavement. Some lawyers and strategic intelligence professionals like Richard Horowitze has argued this as the legality of dumpster diving for research intelligence purposes. Regardless of its legality, there is the another task of being able to either talk to the right consumer whose permission you may need to search their trash or finding the right neighborhood or consumer segment that may have the right “trash” to solidify your market research—whether or not those consumers use the types of product pertaining to the research. This is where market research and competitive intelligence come into play.

 There is a clear distinction between garbology/ market research and competitive intelligence—Competitive Intelligence is not about talking to lots of people or in this case going through every single trash in a particular neighborhood, it is about talking to the right people or looking through the right trash. When conducting Competitive Intelligence, if three reliable sources give you the same answer to a question, then the intelligence is considered triangulated and the analyst moves on to the next question. While Market Research generally focuses on customers, gathers information by surveying lots of people, usually customers, in order to gather their opinion and insights on certain topics. Once the survey is complete, analysts apply various tools and techniques to extrapolate the data and postulate on its meaning.

Even though there may be a fine line between the legal and illegal aspects of this garbology research methodology, I do believe that the end result is what justifies garbology market research as either an effective or ineffective tool, and since many consumer goods companies have tried it and may still be using it tells of its existence as a useful marketing research tool.

Reference

Michael Hyman, PhD, Jeremy Sierra, PhD “Marketing Research Kit For Dummies” John Wiley & Sons, Mar 5, 2010 – Business & Economics

Rathje, William and Cullen Murphy  2001 Rubbish! The Archeology of Garbage. Harper Collins. New York

Karl Moore, Niketh Pareek ,Routledge, Nov 24, 2009 – Business & Economics

Heath Gross, Market Research and Competitive intelligence. Accessed 1/1/14. <http://engrossed.me.&gt;

 

Every-woman’s Struggle With Society. by: Fkmensah

Mary Wollstonecraft once said’ “I do not wish women to have power over men; but over themselves,” but the question still remains, how many women can truly testify to this quote about having power over themselves? Thus The power of responsibility; self sufficiency; independent; pride; self reliance and the “can do” ability which I believe comes natural to most, if not every woman.

Among many, there would only be a few women who can genuinely and boldly admit to this. When you literally scratch most feminists, you will see that underneath them is a woman who longs to be anything but oppressed. But the real truth is that, that is not all she wants to be! Most, if not all of these women want love, affection and most of all respect that is not based on looks and body features alone. But the mutual respect for being human and being a woman. Frederick Douglass once said “Woman should have justice as well as praise, and if she is to dispense with either, she can better afford to part with the latter than the former”. Many books have been written on inequality with regards to women. Many stories have been told. But yet many are the women who still live under the oppression of their husbands, boyfriends and other men in their community.

Do these women just lack the power to overcome this oppression? Or did they just fall victims to this situation by virtue of being born a woman or because men are depicted as superior from time immemorial! The emotional, sexual, and psychological stereotyping of females begins when the doctor or midwife says, “It’s a girl”. Society has put so much sexual pressure on women and this has created an environment where most women feel they have to attain perfection in order to please a man or to “fit in” and not to be looked down upon. Some of these women, with their low self esteem, turn to allow themselves to be oppressed in many different forms by men. For the longest time, Henrik Ibsen’s classic play, A Doll’s House, in my mind, is a clear example that illustrates such dilemma and also a feminist piece that draws attention to the plight of women in the Victorian Era which still exists in our society today.

 In this play, Nora Helmer’s struggle for independence often leaves me with the impression that the play is a tale of “Everywoman’s struggle against Everyman”! Although there is no denying that an element of feminism exists in this play, the stranglehold that society has over a female is often overlooked. It is a tale that analyzes society in a scope that extends much further than women’s rights. Throughout the play, it is apparent that the majority of the feminine characters are caught within the grip of a society that confines and shapes them.

            Nils Krogstad is a perfect example of a character bound by his role in society.  Although he is a forger and a blackmailer, it is difficult not to have a bit of sympathy for him. Krogstad is a man with bad reputation. As Dr. Rank puts it “he’s rotten to the core” (Ibsen 1822). At one time, Krogstad was the fiancé of Mrs. Kristine Linde, until she left him because he “hadn’t much immediate prospect in anything,” (Ibsen 1850). Eventually, Krogstad married and had children. His wife passed away, leaving him to raise and support his children alone. Mrs. Linde’s rejection of their relationship and denial of her true feelings for Krogstad for financial support has had long-lasting psychological impact on Krogstad. In other words, society tells him that if he wants to be truly worthy of a woman’s love, he must be able to provide a stable financial environment for his wife and family. It can be assumed, based on Mrs. Linde’s rejection of him that he either consciously or subconsciously attempts to attain society’s goal of wealth by committing an act that is outside society’s acceptable parameters.

            While on the topic of Krogstad, it is hard to ignore the effect that society has had on his former fiancée, Kristine Linde. Mrs. Linde left Krogstad to marry a man with money. Unfortunately, she did not have much of a choice, being left with her brothers and ailing mother to take care of, with no way to support them on her own. Her husband eventually passed away and left her penniless, forcing her to work her hands to the bone to survive. This is a typical situation that befalls many women who in some cases do not have the power to stand strong and fend for themselves without the help of a man. And this is what sometimes leads to some men taking advantage of a woman who lacks the will to fend for her self.

Kristine took on a mother role to her siblings and to her mother. Thus, this is what she has been trained to do in life right? Women in that time were not encouraged to get an education and pursue a career. Although it was possible for women to obtain jobs, they were not the types of jobs that led to any type of success, or even provide comfortable working conditions, as a result of the role that she has been forced to take on, she has been made to feel useless and without purpose because she does not have someone (a man, in other words) to take care of.

 Nora reacts not to the explosiveness of his vituperation, but to the realization that he has thought only of himself. Rather than live up to his claims of willingness to sacrifice himself for his wife to save her from a great peril, he submits to Krogstad’s blackmail. Thus, Torvald selfishly violates his arrogant morals in an attempt to save his reputation. Torvald’s moral view of the world is not the only aspect of his personality that can be scrutinized. However, this same principle runs much deeper than just the obvious in the Helmer household.

Additionally, Ibsen makes reference to the fact that Torvald likes to have the house kept a certain way. Nora speaks of her urge of “making the house nice and attractive, and having things just as Trovald likes to have them” (Ibsen 1820).  This is a woman who yearns to have an independent life, but is caught up with the dilemma of just doing nothing but please her husband. Due to Torvald’s attitude and lack of respect for his wife, it first appears that Nora’s role in the household is reduced to merely a pawn on Torvald’s grand societal chess game. She is expected to be the perfect Victorian wife: beautiful, entertaining, and subservient. Torvald expects her to present herself in a certain way, thus illuminating the idea that Torvald is ruled by society and not only accept this role, but choose to project its standards upon his environment and others around him. His actions are an attempt to create a beautiful façade that fulfils society’s aspirations. He thus embodies the paradox of being the oppressor and the oppressed.

This story expresses the absurdity of Victorian society and its effects that still exists in present day. Likewise, it will not be entirely denied that Ibsen is making a statement on the right of women in this era; So had immortal guinuse  like Sojourner Truth in her famous speech “Ain’t I A Woman?” However, this aspect is merely a symptom of an all-encompassing epidemic. My writing of this blog is an intention to make a statement on society, and certainly not exclusive to the plight of women in society. However, it would have been impossible to avoid the issue on the basis that women and their counterparts symbolize the offspring of a broken society. After all, societal pressure is a consistent one. Society’s stranglehold transcends gender barriers. Although some suffer more than others, society is a dictating force in all classes especially among women. Whether one is male, female, rich, or poor, the norms and morals of the society permeate and eventually begin to control the actions of its inhabitants if not its women. But rest assured, any day now; anyway now, most of not all of these women will once in their life, find their voice and their oppressors will find their shame.

Image

 

Ibsen, Henrik. A Doll’s House. Ibsen: The Complete Major Prose Plays. Trans. Rolf Fjelde. New York: New American Library, 1978. 119-196.

            

Managing Diversified Groups In A Global Economy. by: Fkmensah

Management theories and the concept of business management mutate in accordance with changes in the global market. Managers and entrepreneurs together agree on that fact that business practices change almost every decade. Business culture in the US in the 60s through the period of the Vietnam War changed drastically after the Cold War. The 80s through the 90s presented different business environment and organizational climate, and consequently, the millennium and the emergence of globalization presented a new culture and business practices, i.e., Diversification—this may be explained in other words as the act of introducing different varieties of workers based on gender, race, culture and color into a working environment to accomplish a common goal. Diversification is a simple process, however, its implementation is anything but simple. Managers in corporations in recent years have had problems managing a diversified group of workers. This may not necessarily mean managers are not capable of managing their diverse groups of workers; it may mean managers need a carefully crafted approach to their managing style when it comes to overseeing a well-diversified work group. Globalization and the turn of the millennium have had a cross-cultural influence on most management and leadership styles in domestic and international corporations around the world. This is more eminent in the western countries where immigration has given way to a diverse cultural groups working together to promote the business goal. In today’s economic environment, more businesses are seeking other opportunities across their shores and at the same time these corporations are also attracting foreign talents to contribute to their corporate ventures. Globalization has created a global demand for talented and well educated individual from all parts of the world to share and contribute their knowledge and ideals to transform local and national companies into global companies with culturally diverse work groups. Diversification does transform a work place by way of creating a thriving workforce with different ideas and perspectives on issues that pertain to the growth of the company as a whole. A well-diversified company benefit in many ways, such as workers being able to tolerate different background of workers based on a mutual respect and the attainment of company goals and values. On the contrary, there may be some down sides to this perspective. Such transformations sometimes do create an environment whereby lower and upper management personnel strive to find ways by which they can manage these individual workers of different cultural and management backgrounds effectively and efficiently. This however, does not mean that diversifying the work place is a bad thing. According to the Wharton Article, “the goal is to understand the meaning of diversity in the work place and learn from the most effective diversity programs—even as it is clear that what makes a company truly diverse has become increasingly complicated over the years. Most agree that an effective diversity program is one designed to reduce racial and gender inequalities in the American economy…” (p1) . Over the past decade, most local companies in developed economies have experienced a cultural change with respect to management styles. Before this massive impact of globalization and migration, companies in their local markets were accustomed to a definitive style of management which conforms to the cultural patterns of their local market. In today’s economy, global social change and multi-cultural influences are impacting the fundamental change in organizational values and a sense of diversity within a local or multinational company. Irrespective of the kind of company or organization whether local or global, there is always the need for an organization to adopt and grow with currents trends not only with its current or potential customers but also with its employees through cultural and ethnic diversity─ the fact is that, the working environment is constantly changing; which makes it more eminent for corporation to adopt and restructure their management policies to accommodate these swift changes in their internal or external environment. images (1) Wharton, “Diversity in Corporate America: Still a work in Progress” Upenn.edu