Compliance

Introducing xECM for Oracle E-Business Suite

What an exciting week at Enterprise World as we announce so many new innovations! One of the great new ECM focused product offerings being announced is OpenText Extended ECM for Oracle® E-Business Suite. This new product brings together OpenText industry leading ECM with Oracle’s best-selling ERP system, E-Business Suite to drive productivity and governance within critical ERP-driven business processes. What does it do? Within Oracle E-business Suite, users work on business activities – processes driven by their ERP system. Some of the information they need lives outside the ERP environment – things like documents, spreadsheets, and mail are all information the ERP users need to complete their work. Extended ECM for Oracle® E-Business Suite (xECM for Oracle) creates a connection between the ERP system and the ECM system within the organization so that relevant content in the OpenText Content Suite can be viewed and worked on within the familiar E-Business Suite interfaces in the context of the process. This makes work easier, faster and more accurate for the E-Business users. Some of the people that work with ERP business processes are only occasional Oracle users. These people spend most of their day in their Office applications, email or within other common ECM environments. xECM for Oracle makes it easy for them to work on ERP driven processes by bringing all of the objects, relationships, and content together within their familiar Content Suite interfaces such as MS office, Outlook, SharePoint, web, and mobile. Everything they need is at their fingertips without needing to learn a new system. Content both inside and outside the ERP system needs to be governed consistently, ensuring compliance to regulations, protecting the content, keeping it as required for compliance, ensuring it can be discovered during investigation, and deleting it when allowed or mandated to do so. Because xECM for Oracle is built on the foundation of OpenText Content Suite , this information governance and security is built in. Content such as HR documents, purchase agreements, and contracts are managed through their lifecycle with the same consistency and rigor as the associated email, documents, and CAD diagrams. Organizations can ensure their regulations and policies are adhered to regardless of the source of the information. Extended ECM for Oracle® E-Business Suite from OpenText How is it built? OpenText are experts at integration between ERP and ECM. Many organizations benefit from the depth and breadth of offerings we have that extend the ECM platform to provide integration and specific solutions with SAP systems. This experience has been used to create a similar foundational integration between Oracle E-Business Suite and OpenText Content Suite . Integration is built as core extensions to the Content Suite Platform, tied directly into the foundation of Content Server so that administration and configuration of the ECM system automatically applies to the E-Business Suite components. Within the Oracle system, standard E-Business APIs are used so that ECM components are natural extensions to the infrastructure and common UI’s. The beautiful thing about the way this application is designed is that it works for all Oracle E-Business Suite processes within the Oracle HTML and forms based interfaces, and within standard ECM interfaces such as MS Office, SharePoint, web, and mobile. Let’s take the example of a project so we can walk through how the integration works. When the project is created in E-Business Suite, xECM for Oracle creates a workspace for the business objects within the project. The workspace shows the folders, structure, and relationships between objects. It reflects the users that have access, the metadata associated with the project and the content. This business workspace is made available to users within both the ERP and ECM systems. Transactional content is added within the Oracle system, unstructured content is added within the ECM system. All content is visible to users in their environment so they can work where they are comfortable. When users are given access to objects within the process, they are automatically given access to the workspace. Metadata and classifications associated with the project are automatically applied to all the related content. Information governance is provided on all of the content from both systems ensuring compliance and risk reduction for the organization without adding extra work for users. Costs are kept down due to archiving of content into the OpenText archive where content is compressed, de-duplicated and stored on appropriate media on premise, in the cloud or both. What are the key benefits? · Productivity gains through users getting consolidated access to ALL information surrounding the transaction · Increased user adoption as users work where they are comfortable · Increased accuracy because there is no lookup and manual copying of information from one system to another · Cost and risk reduction through information governance and archival · Compliance with regulation and corporate policy What is next? Extended ECM for Oracle® E-business Suite officially releases in March 2014. Expect to see future releases of this product with added functionality, solution blueprints, and perhaps packaged applications for critical processes such as project management. In future there may be similar integrations to other Oracle ERP systems. Learn more! There is more to see and learn about this exciting new offering from OpenText. Visit www.opentext.com/oracle for further information. To learn more about the release of Content Suite, visit www.opentext.com/content . Follow and join in our Twitter traffic this week with hashtags #OTEW2013 and #OracleECM.

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Clear Out the Clutter: Modernize Your International Payment Communications

Are you ready for the dawn of a new era for corporate-to-bank communications? Dr. Leo Lipis of Lipis & Lipis GmBH recently asked that question in a GXS webinar titled “Clear Out the Clutter: Modernize Your International Payment Communications.” The focus of the webinar is the need for streamlined payment solutions as international business speeds up. The session also includes a discussion of multi-platform, cross-channel corporate-to-business communication platforms such as EBICS and the use of SWIFT CGI messaging standards. Dr. Lipis laid out a number of business and technology drivers affecting payment communications for consumers, corporates, and banks both inside and outside of the euro area. Business Drivers Developments in the corporate to bank communication space are changing global commerce. SEPA and PSD2 will directly affect consumers, corporates, and banks Competition Consumer protection and choice Transparency Changes in Europe are significant for non-EU corporates and banks too … Although European banks and technology providers mitigate these challenges SAAS and cloud computing are enabling new operational and service models Technology Drivers Communication is changing to match the demands of modern payment methods Legacy standards appear to be in their last technology cycle Numerous initiatives are looking to help banks and corporates bridge the gap to ISO 20022 Protocols are undergoing similar changes Large corporates are being courted aggressively by SWIFT Many corporates also wish to use communication standards such as EBICS The variety is overwhelming SEPA, PSD2, EBICS and ISO 20022 The session outlined the challenges with SEPA compliance, particularly for small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs). Dr. Lipis quoted a survey that found that “46% of companies will have cash flow problems within 2 weeks” if there are unable to use direct debits. In addition to SEPA, another regulatory effort that will impact communications is the revised Payment Services Directive (PSD2) published on 24 July 2013. The PSD2 covers new services such as mobile payments and B2B transfers, and providers such as third-party payment initiation services. Other drivers such as the pan-European adoption of the EBICS communications protocol and the expansion of ISO 20022 XML corporate-to-bank initiatives are increasing the “clutter” that corporate treasurers and financial services firms must deal within in the near-term. For Dr. Lipis’s suggested solutions to clearing out the clutter and real-world examples of how institutions have simplified their payment communications, check out the recorded webinar and download the presentation slides here (registration required).

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Email Compliance Made Easy

Email Compliance Made Easy Secure email has a bad reputation for being a complicated and difficult undertaking. But when you stop and consider that 35 percent of all data loss incidents within enterprises come from email, it’s a compliance risk you need to gain control over right away. You have to be smart and make a plan for securing your organization. There’s no magic wand to instantly make your email compliant, but there are some important steps you can take to get started on the path to secure messaging. Get Smart about Regulations You can’t determine your compliance without knowing what you’re on the hook for first. Do you know which regulations apply to you and what they entail? What are you already doing to meet them? Do any of them overlap or contradict each other? Once you have a clear idea of what you’re responsible for, you can then determine how many compliance policies you require and what they need to include to put together a comprehensive plan. Know Your Data Is the data you’re sharing via email confidential? If you’re sharing personally identifiable information, the likelihood is that you are sharing information that is subject to regulation. Once you identify what it is, stop and ask, “Who really needs to have access to this?” and include appropriate access levels in your policies. That way when it comes time to integrate an email solution, you can put the proper protocols in place. Identify How Data is Leaking Out While you’re tracking your data, you may discover that your biggest fear has come true – you already have data leaking out from inside the organization. Before you can plug the leaks, you have to determine how and why they occurred so you can include the necessary precautions in your policies to prevent them moving forward. Find Solutions to Implement Your Policies Once your policies are in place, it’s time to identify the right set of solutions to help you achieve your compliancy goals. Having a solid security plan is important, but without the right systems to help you enforce them, your policies will be for naught. When looking for secure messaging, make sure that it incorporates end-to-end encryption, data leakage prevention, archiving, and antivirus solutions to help you address technical security safeguards. Choose Solutions that Integrate into Your Workflows You can create an intricate compliance policy and purchase secure email solutions, but your organization will still be at risk unless your solutions integrate into your existing workflows. If the solution interrupts your workflows or is so complicated your business users dread it, they won’t use it. You will end up being just as at risk for noncompliance as you were before this exercise, because users will find unsecure workarounds. Find the right solution and educate your users – secure email doesn’t have to be difficult. Want to learn more about secure email options and download the full whitepaper: 5 Steps to Improve Email Compliance? Visit our OpenText Secure Mail page and discover what simplified and integrated secure email in the cloud can do for you.

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A Guide to SEPA Penalties and the True Costs of Failed Transactions

What happens if a Bank, Corporate or Payment Services Supplier (PSP) fails to comply with PSD and SEPA rules by February 1st 2014? What penalties are applicable if the wrong file format or bank identifiers are used? What deadlines and penalties has each Euro-area country implemented? It is becoming increasingly important to be able to answer these questions because there are growing concerns about potential market disruption if businesses or banks are technically unable to send or receive payments. In a recent webinar, Dr Leo Lipis presented key findings, one of which is he estimates that 46% of European companies will have cash flow problems within 2 weeks (1), because they will be unable to use SCT/SDD, or because their clients and trading partners won’t be ready. To really frame the size of this issue at a country level, of the 736 businesses that responded to the Irish Small & Medium Enterprises (ISME) survey in May 2013 (2), 63% were unaware of the compliance date while 71% of businesses had not started the process of becoming SEPA compliant. Hard rejection of payment remittances and direct debit submissions may be the first wake-up call for many mid-market businesses across Europe. So, it’s now time for a quick reality check: what direct and indirect costs are involved and what do the domestic regulators have in store in terms of penalties or flexibility? Direct and Indirect costs of failed transactions Manual Repair is often a chargeable service that banks offer to their clients, however SEPA and the PSD prohibit much of what a Bank or PSP is allowed to “modify” in a client’s submission. Manual repair on the corporate side is the most likely scenario after a rejection; however this could be an intensive, error-prone and costly exercise. Think of the picture: duplicate rejections, fixing submission dates and manual reconciliations. The main cost here is the full time employee’s efforts… I forecast busy nights ahead for them! Interest on missed payments could result in suppliers facing disruption as delayed payments impact their working capital. Trade and Supply Chain Finance include highly time-sensitive processes such as early payment programmes, dynamic discounting, factoring and reverse factoring. Late payment penalties will be the biggest risk factor for buyers. Penalties for non-compliance to SEPA, country-by-country The European Payments Council is maintaining a summary of domestic laws and local regulator’s decisions regarding penalties, exceptions to the scheme or delayed “full compliance” for some elements until 2016. I compiled the table below based on the information available as of November 2013. Unfortunately very few countries differentiate between what is applicable to the Payments Services Providers, versus what is strictly applicable to businesses. Some of them have a clear stance on the penalties, others simply point to older domestic laws written in local language. (Please note the table below only covers countries in the Euro currency area) According to the European Payments Council, SEPA credit transfers still remain at 56.3% of total transactions, while SEPA direct debits are as low as 6.8% of total transactions (September 2013). In summary, there is an awful lot of ground to cover between now and next February if we are to avoid the disruptions and costs outlined above. (1): source: ibi research: SEPA Umsetzung in Deutschland (2): source: ISMA May 2013

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ABA Convention 2013: Banks Bounce Back and Look for Ways to Improve Customer Experience

First published on ECM Trends from the Field. The 2013 American Bankers Association (ABA) Annual Convention in New Orleans has just drawn to a close. Banks are bouncing back! Actuate Content Services Group attended the ABA Convention to greet C-Level bank executives from all over the US. We also held a Power Breakfast Session to exchange ideas on how modern banks use analytics to improve customer experience. But first let’s talk about the Convention experience and at the end – about the feedback we received from the Power Breakfast Session attendees. Most of the ABA Convention attendees were C-Level executives from small, community banks with assets of <$1B and they were mostly from the Southeast given that the venue was New Orleans this year. We talked to many banks, and received great insight into some of the things that are important to them. Dodd-Frank is in the midst of being fully implemented with tighter lending guidelines for QM or Qualified Mortgages hitting in Jan 2014, however, the head of the CFPB stated that there would be a gradual easing-in of the guidelines with little to no litigation in the first few months. The bottom line for the small banks was that if they have a traditionally good track record making loans in their markets with acceptable loss rates, this new legislation should have little or no impact. The reaction of the CEO’s ranged however from activist “we should show up with thousands to march on Washington” to more resigned “let’s not dwell on the regulation but focus on our business.” The attitudes of the CEO’s matched almost exactly the geographies from which they hail. The West Coast CEO focusing on a vibrant, young work force, the East Coast bank implementing new technology but only to the extent that it would pay off with its specific customer profile. The CEO from a deep south bank explained how his bank’s branches had been “slabbed” during Katrina, a verb meaning completely demolished save the cement slab upon which the building used to sit. But the employees were at work the next day at fold-out tables doing business, ultimately handing out up to $100M total in cash to bank customers needing money to evacuate immediately. I’m not sure what was more moving – the image of employees at those tables in front of their erstwhile branches, or the news that the bank experienced less than 1% loss from this cash handout despite the complete lack of ID validation. “How can you force someone to produce ID, when you can plainly see that they ‘swam’ out of their house this morning.” This, said the CEO, is proof positive that we are still a nation of trustworthy individuals. This particular bank has expanded rapidly since Katrina, capturing a double digit increase in market share right after the storm. How’s that for a positive customer experience? The best part of Actuate’s presentation to the ABA attendees during the Power Breakfast Session on 10/22 was not the presentation itself but the really good questions that followed. Doug Koppenhofer, Regional VP, delivered the presentation and answered the questions: Q: Is it possible to do Communication Management completely independent of Analytics? We answered that yes, one could definitely find low hanging fruit in the customer communication area especially in correspondence, without having to tie in analytics. We explained that many banks in particular are getting a better handle on the way they manage the correspondence with their clients to ensure that they leverage their brand, manage message consistency and even compliance. We mentioned the example of the bank we met at the Customer Experience Exchange who found countless examples of letters to customers stating that they “did not meet their standards.” We do believe that analytics helps you embed much more personalization and power into your messaging and that most banks will at some point couple analytics to their communication hubs. Q: Can you elaborate on what impact privacy laws might have on using publicly available social media and other content as your source for customer messaging? My only answer to that was that we are not the compliance or bank law experts. In talking with a compliance vendor later, he saw no issue with this because as individuals we opt in to disclosing all manner of personal information to Google, Facebook, etc. Bottom line: if the banks decide not to take advantage of this publicly available information, somebody else may do so instead. Q: Any ideas on how to know the identity of clicks to specific ads you would embed? That’s a darn good question, and I wonder if there is any way the e-Ad could somehow capture session information. The question was posed by an SVP of Marketing of a 20 branch bank who is doing very well with embedding ads in their real estate channel that should drive sales to their lending channel and they are getting a lot of good clicks but, how could they ever tell who it is that they need to follow up with. More to follow as we could not come up with a complete answer to this very good question. This Q & A session was first published on ECM Trends from the Field Blog by Doug Koppenhofer. You can find the Power Breakfast Session presentation here.

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EIM Success Stories: Turning Information into Innovation

A major natural gas company is experiencing a higher level of internal control over its procure-to-pay process and an 85 percent success rate for vendor compliance of invoice requirements, enabling them to comply with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act. One of the largest financial services institutions in the U.K. has reduced their cash transfer time from 21 to 15 days, secured a 25% share of the ISA market, and eliminated 8 million pieces of paper for savings on associated IT and infrastructure costs. A municipality released a new website that has become the Number 1 information source for its citizens, delivering an enhanced visitor experience and giving constituents immediate access to accurate, real-time information and the services they need. A leading research institution has increased the quality and output of its research by giving students and researchers improved, remote access to modeling applications and visualizations tools with three dimensional representations of large datasets. A national newspaper is delivering rich, relevant, and contextualized content experiences on its website for improved customer satisfaction and higher revenues based on increased click-through rates. What do all these organizations have in common? They have all turned their information into innovation using Enterprise Information Management (EIM). EIM: Using Social Media to Support Multilingual Dialogue As the set of technologies and practices that maximize the value of information while minimizing its risks, EIM provides control for the information enterprise, creating the opportunity for unlimited growth and responsiveness. It builds information confidence through security, insight, governance, and agile processes from a set of comprehensive capabilities that lay clear the path to innovation and growth. As a suite, EIM assembles information flows and expands them beyond single tasks to help drive value as information moves through the enterprise. At every touch or click or process, opportunities for efficiency and innovation are created. I invite you read the next installment in my white paper series, EIM Customer Case Studies: Turning Information into Innovation. This paper paints a portrait of the information enterprise through a collection of stories about organizations that have embraced EIM to address the challenges of their information and capitalize on its potential. Read the white paper.

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How the ‘Internet of Things’ will Impact B2B and Global Supply Chains

Over the past few months CIOs and executives around the world have been trying to embrace a new set of IT related buzzwords, namely The Internet of Things (IoT), The Internet of Everything and the Industrial Internet. All three terms are essentially used to describe machine to machine (M2M) connectivity across the internet. The IoT relies on any machine or device being connected, via fixed wire or wireless communications links to the internet and then being able to transmit information in one form or another. There are countless research articles that have been published on the internet describing these three terms and I do not want to spend too much time discussing these in detail, instead I will discuss how they relate to B2B and the Supply Chain and how they are going to change the way in which companies work with each other in the future. The IoT has provided a much needed boost to the high tech and manufacturing sectors, but the technology being deployed is usable across virtually any industry sector and there lies the business opportunity. The most widely published figure estimating the market size for IoT was produced by Cisco who believes the market will be worth $14.4 trillion by 2020. Cisco has taken the lead in terms of developing thought leadership in this area, their recent Internet of Everything study provided some interested insights including the benefits chart shown below. IDC estimates an IoT market size of $9 trillion by 2020. Either of these estimates are very big numbers which is why IBM, GE, Infineon, Qualcomm and many other companies are investing significant amounts of money on IoT based technologies and services. IDC suggests there are three enablers driving the IoT, namely: On-going development of smart cities, cars and houses Enhanced connectivity infrastructure An increasingly connected culture where everyone wants to be connected to the internet at home, at work or in the car IDC goes on to predict that there will 212 billion ‘things’ connected to the internet by 2020. It is important to stress that the IoT is in its infancy but wired connected devices have been in use for many years. The idea of the IoT initially became popular through the Auto-ID Center, a non-profit collaboration of private companies and academic institutions that pioneered the development of a web-like infrastructure for tracking shipments around the world through the use of RFID tags carrying electronic product codes. The IoT relies on web-enabling virtually any type of product or piece of equipment so that data about the object can be captured and communicated. Once captured, the information would be transferred from the remote device and then processed via some form of middleware to an integration platform. Ideally from a business point of view, all connected devices would be connected to the same integration platform to allow them to work seamlessly with back office business environments such as supply chain management and ERP platforms. McKinsey & Company recently said in a report that the manufacturing sector is likely to see the most benefits from the IoT and they went on to predict that we are about to enter the fourth industrial revolution, or Industry 4.0. The industrial internet will see the world of manufacturing become more and more networked until everything is interlinked with everything else. GE sees so much potential in the industrial internet that they have setup a software division, called GE Software, based in California to look at how they can exploit this across the various products and services that they offer. McKinsey also believes that the IoT will lead to an exponential growth in data flowing across the extended enterprise and companies will have to acquire personnel with the necessary data analysis experience to be able to process this information. These people will have to design robust algorithms for processing IoT related information and then translate what happens in the physical world into a format that can be handled in the digital world. This requires mathematical, domain, market and context know-how. In the connected world, the physical world should be integrated with business processes, including delivering data, sending events and processing rules. The area of Big Data may just be starting to gain acceptance across different industry sectors, but the IoT will see interest in Big Data Analytics grow exponentially over the coming years. With a piece of integration software or middleware acting as the interface between the physical and digital supply chains, how can companies leverage this connection and more importantly how could it help to streamline supply chain processes across the extended enterprise? There are a number of ways in which the IoT could add value to supply chain strategies, not just in manufacturing, but in other sectors such as retail as well. We are at the very early stages of understanding how the IoT will impact the enterprise, but from a supply chain management point of view here are three initial areas where the IoT could impact global supply chains: Pervasive Visibility – relates to the way in which shipments are tracked at every stage of their journey from their point of manufacture to their point of delivery. The IoT not only provides ‘information everywhere’ but will offer ‘visibility everywhere’ as well. RFID is one such technology that was introduced to provide improved visibility of shipments, but has sometimes struggled to offer full end to end visibility across a supply chain due to the fact that the infrastructure to track RFID tags has not existed on a truly widespread, end to end basis. As more pieces of equipment, infrastructure and vehicles are connected to the internet, it means that traditional ‘black spots’ or visibility gaps across a supply chain where shipment visibility is limited will begin to disappear. Connected devices or infrastructure will help to plug these visibility gaps and allow shipments to be tracked end to end across a supply chain. The IoT will also allow companies to have two way communications with their shipments at each stage of its journey across the supply chain. For example a piece of equipment could be remotely contacted and instructed to go into an ‘installation mode’ before it arrives at the site where it will be delivered. Proactive Replenishment – efficient inventory management has always been a challenge across the retail industry, especially when one considers the various channels that consumers can purchase goods today. Whether buying online, or through traditional brick and mortar stores, managing inventory levels and being able to replenish stocks efficiently is a constant challenge. It is not just the retail outlets, keeping vending machines stocked up is another area that could be considerably improved. Many vending machines are typically in remote locations and the only way a company gets to monitor stock levels is to physically visit the vending machine and replenish the stock as required. What if the vending machine could be connected to the IoT and when the vending machine detects low stock for a particular item it is able to automatically place an order for new stock which can then be delivered before it runs out. What if this was expanded to normal retail outlets and low stock signals from a sensor fitted to shelving in the stores triggers the ordering of new stock. In France many supermarkets have RFID based price tags to allow pricing information to be updated centrally, extending this capability to check for stock levels will change the way in which retail outlets manage their inventory levels. Predictive Maintenance – In an earlier blog I highlighted a case for how the IoT could support the replacement of parts in serviceable products such as industrial equipment and office equipment for example. If a piece of equipment is able to self-diagnose a potential problem and then place an order for a replacement part, then it can be fitted before the part fails. I used an example of a car engine detecting reduced flow rates across a water pump. A seal on the water pump could be leaking, causing inefficient operation of the cooling system. Before the water pump completely fails, the car’s ECU sends information via the internet to a local service centre about a potential problem and at the same time places an order for a new seal to be delivered directly to the car owner’s normal location where they get their vehicle serviced. The service centre then automatically checks the service schedule and emails the owner of the car to notify them of an impending issue with their car. This scenario could be applied to an aircraft, a piece of construction equipment or even a fax machine in an office, any serviceable equipment will be connected to the IoT to help detect potential problems and get them resolved ASAP. Direct integration with a B2B platform allows all ordering and shipment related documents to be created and tracked automatically so that service centres know exactly when the replacement parts will be delivered. Key to all three of these areas is the ability to integrate the physical and digital supply chains. Companies will need access to a cloud based integration platform that can integrate to a wide variety of connected devices, equipment and services. An M2M API or middleware that sits between the piece of equipment and the supply chain management environment will be key to providing the link between physical and digital supply chains. Therefore common standards will have to be developed to achieve this seamlessly and IBM has started the ball rolling by proposing their MQTT standard as the basis of how machines will communicate with each other across the internet. But this is only one part of the equation, as document/file standards and ways to process the information being transmitted between these devices must also be developed. The key challenge to widespread adoption of the IoT relates to achieving seamless interoperability and common standards that need to be developed to allow machines to be able to communicate at a technical level and across different borders and cultures as well. In North America an alliance of ten companies including Cisco and GE are working to lobby the US government on the importance of developing open standards that will encourage broad adoption of the IoT. The alliance is aiming to address the following IoT related issues: Co-engineering cyber and physical systems Identifying cyber-security issues and solutions Addressing concerns about interoperability Identifying ways to maintain robust wireless connections Setting standards for real-time data collection and analytics It is not just in North America where IoT related standards are being discussed. The European Research Cluster on the Internet of Things has undertaken some interesting research over the past couple of years, one of the more interesting reports tried to define all the areas that had to be addressed to develop an IoT related platform. In China the government sees the IoT as being able to offer a key competitive advantage in the global economy. So as not to miss out on the next big internet revolution they have instructed numerous government departments to come up with policies for how the IoT can be deployed across China. Pervasive, Proactive and Preventative, three words that begin to define the benefits of the IoT, especially from a supply chain perspective. The IoT will allow the seamless exchange of information in real time between a shipment, its surroundings and a common, cloud based, integration platform that is used to connect all trading partners across the extended enterprise. I have not had time to discuss other areas such as Smart Grids and how for example the IoT will impact the Electric Vehicle industry, I will expand on these in future blogs. I am fortunate to be attending the Internet of Things World Forum in Barcelona in two weeks’ time and I will provide an update on the latest IoT related trends when I get back from this conference. In the meantime have you given any thought as to how your business could benefit or embrace the IoT?

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Data Center for EasyLink Fax Services Recieves PCI-DSS Certification

OpenText has received compliancecertification at our Ashburn, VA data center with the Payment CardIndustry (PCI) Data Security Standard (DSS). This certification by anindependent auditor confirms the care we take to protect customer data –specifically it ensures our processes around transmitting faxes withcredit card data in them are complaint with the PCI-DSS standardsrequiring that payment card data be kept private.. Many times neither organizations, nor their customers, realize thatfaxes contain payment card information. In true credit card fashion itwould benefit them to “read the fine print” and understand that if abreach occurred they’d experience significant losses – including damagedbrand reputation, loss of sales, and payment card issuer fines of$5,000 to $100,000. Even if organizations are suspected of a breach, thePCI-DSS folks can levy additional “fees” in the form of forensicexaminers rigorously inspecting everyone involved, including theircustomers and vendors. OpenText’s compliance with PCI-DSS certifies our ability to protect against the risks above by offering: encrypted transmission security encryption of data at rest immediate fax document deletion no archiving of fax data controls preventing OpenText personnel from accessing customer fax data Ultimately, more than anything else, meeting this standard furthersour pledge to continue implementing the policies, procedures andtechnology necessary to keep our customers’ fax data protected and ourtransmission network secure.

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Ignoring Privacy Compliance can Trigger a Public Problem

The paperless office inches closer every day. Nosurprise there. It has long been heralded as the promised land oforganizational operations for its efficiencies, cost savings andproductivity increases for both public and private entities. Andever-improving technologies such as the OpenText ECM platform have made the collection, management, and application of digital data effortless. That’s all well and good, but what fascinates me is how the digital information landscape offers intriguing data sharing possibilities. And that, of course, opens the door to a host of operational and compliance quandaries in the process. Let’s dig in. Here’sa theoretical example: National government agency “A” makes theinvestment and converts a previously physical data collection process todigital. It works great, reams of paper disappear along with the laborrequired to manage it all. Records are instantly retrievable by agencystaff and can be trusted for accuracy and timeliness. The world is awonderful place. However, with all thisconstituent-related content now condensed down to an electronic stream,opportunities for information sharing are hard to ignore: Theconstituents themselves have long complained that they have poor accessto information collected by the agency. Hmmm, a simple query-driveninternet portal wouldn’t hurt, would it? Otherfederal government departments, both within this agency and others,could certainly benefit from seeing this data. Why not develop a simplereporting function that draws from the database and allows them togenerate a more complete constituent profile? Similargovernment bodies from regional, municipal and even foreignjurisdictions would find value in the data. No harm in taking requeststo pass on data sets, is there? Thesame scenario can also be applied to the private sector, as well. Justsubstitute a multi-national financial institution and its relatedcontemporaries into the equation above. The intentions driving thesehypothetical situations‑everything from increasing case-management efficiency to furthering public relations to improving decision-making accuracy‑maybe admirable, but there are a number of data management factors thatmust be considered and implemented first. Together, they form elementsof a comprehensive information governance program that will reduce risk, improve effectiveness, and instill institutional confidence in the whole process. Legacy SystemsFormany organizations, years of mergers, acquisitions and siloeddevelopment have resulted in a convoluted web of marginallyinterconnected data collection tools and repositories. The good news isthat a best-in-class ECM solution can be configured to work within this environment, but job #1 requires stakeholders to get a handle on what’s where and why. Data Classification and RetentionWhichinformation to keep? Where? For how long? And then what? With theamount of information flowing into and out of organizations growing atexponential rates, simply defaulting to archiving it all forever is nolonger an option. Incorporating the best practices of records managementis a great place to start, allowing organizations to clearly classifyall forms of structured and unstructured information and definecollection, access, archiving, and disposition parameters. Privacy ComplianceThisis the big one. Every organization is subject to corporate, industryand government regulations defining in the simplest terms who can accesswhich pieces of accumulated information and what they can use it for.Attaining compliance may involve addressing everything from geographicalstorage locations to security framework to auditable data trails. Form aworking committee, incorporate an appropriate privacy policy, andsource an optimal content management solution. Your brand credibility,operational efficiency, and legal fees depend on it. Withouta comprehensive information governance policy encompassing the pointsabove, there’s a very real possibility that instituting any level ofinformation sharing will have serious operational, legal, or integrityrepercussions. Non-compliant data sharing and privacy practices are oneof the few areas where there is virtually no margin for error in the public’s eyes. Fortunately, introducing a solution is not as overwhelming as you may think. Believeme, as part of the ECM team here at OpenText, we’ve more than likelydesigned, developed, and implemented a program very similar to one thatwill work for you. The exact level of secure, defensible compliance andtransparency you need is attainable. And it begins with educatingyourself. Start with an information governance whitepaper, case study, or eBook and then let’s talk.

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Top 3 Questions about your ECM Migration Project

A successful document migration involves planning and the proper technology, as well as a strong methodology to see it through from start to finish. The following are some of the common questions Actuate has received about ECM migration best practices. Q: How long does an ECM migration typically take? Many of the methods used for extraction are time-consuming and without the relevant expertise can literally take years to perform on large datasets. However, with the proper professional expertise and tools, the time spent implementing these methods can be greatly reduced. It ultimately depends on many variables including volume of content, transformation of content, changing the index structure from the source system to the target and others. All of the processes involved into managing these variables can be automated with technology. Q: We’re extracting data from a legacy system built before XML. How does that affect the process? With legacy systems built before XML, it’s particularly difficult to maintain existing metadata associations – an important step when you’re extracting data to move to another ECM system. In a system such as this, it’s complicated by the fact that different document types often infer different metadata rules and indexing requirements. One solution is to rebuild the indexes during migration through a technique known as “re-indexing.” Q: Besides converting content to a compatible format, we have heard that the transformation stage migration process can have added benefits. What might those be? On top of converting and repurposing data, the transformation process helps to organize data as well. Some of the print resources – such as fonts and images used by different document types – can lead to problems if they’re not dealt with properly: resources with duplicate names may lead to the wrong logo or signature showing up, for example. The transformation process allows those embedded resources to be extracted and catalogued, aiding the retrieval process later on. The transformation process also introduces additional benefits to the overall outcome of the migration project: Document proofing. Data is validated to ensure that what came out of one ECM system is exactly what goes into the other. Long-term storage. Data is transformed into standard formats to comply with records management and industry regulations as well as potentially being generated as PDF/UA making them fully accessible for the visually impaired. Reverse composition. The elements of the content can be extracted into formats such as XML, to be used in other applications. Enrichment. Color, images and other creative touches can be added to refresh old content. Compliance. Data can also be redacted to ensure that information is not viewable based on any PCI standards or compliance issues. For more information on the document migration process, and to help ensure that your document migration is well-planned and non-disruptive to your business, read ECM Content Migration: Best Practices in Document Archive Convergence, co-written by Actuate and AIIM, a global community of information professionals dedicated to sharing thought leadership content.

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Document Accessibility Q&A: Meeting Accessibility Standards

The Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) is the federal law that oversees accessibility in the United States; it’s also the law that requires that online statements provided by financial institutions be accessible to individuals with disabilities, including visually impaired and blind customers. As the creator of PDF accessibility technology that makes online statements available to screen reader solutions, Actuate often gets questions about the ADA. Read some of the most common ones here. Q: What do organizations need to do to ensure that their online statements meet the accessibility requirements of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), and thereby avoid expensive lawsuits? Meeting accessibility regulations means developing inclusionary practices based on universal design standards. Information systems must be flexible enough to accommodate the needs of the broadest range of users of computers and telecommunications equipment, regardless of age or disability. For it to be accessible to persons with disabilities, including the visually impaired or blind, electronic information technology must be compatible with screen reader and screen magnification technology. Q: What standards do web designers need to consider? Standards for designing universally accessible websites can be found at the Worldwide Web consortium’s Web Accessibility Initiative. These guidelines, known as the Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG 2.0), combined with the other information available on the site, provide a foundation for designing website structure and content that is accessible and usable for people with a range of disabilities. Q: What format works for creating accessible documents? The Portable Document Format (PDF) is the most common for financial, insurance, healthcare and other institutions creating statements in an electronic format. The benefit of PDFs is that they appear the same regardless of the computer platform you present them on, and can be made compatible with screen reader and screen magnifier software when proper design and tagging techniques are used. To learn more about creating accessible PDF documents at your organization, read PDF Document Accessibility: Regulations, Risks and Solutions for Compliance, co-authored by Actuate and The American Foundation for the Blind.

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The File Share Dilemma

You’rein IT management. Let me ask what keeps you up at night? Standard stufflike health and retirement savings? Or, is it that new hire inmarketing? The one leaving the office every night with confidentialcampaign plans copied to a flash drive. Or maybe it’s the R&Dmanager who’s using public file-sync and share services to transfersensitive product development specs between their work and homecomputers? Ifeither of those scenarios is familiar, that’s what you should bestressing over. And for a couple of reasons: At the most basic level,that’s your organization’s critical information‑it’s lifeblood‑out thereroaming beyond the firewall. At a higher level, it also means yourenterprise probably doesn’t have a secure, compliant, user-friendly filesynch and share solution integrated into its ECM platform. You’renot alone. If it makes you feel any better, many organizations arestruggling to adapt to a rapidly evolving work environment that nowencompasses anywhere, anytime, and on any device. To help put thechanging landscape in perspective, here are some results I’ve pulledtogether from a few surveys: 65% of respondentshave accessed work-related data on their mobile device, though only 10%have corporate-issued devices. Shockingly, over 50% said access totheir devices wasn’t password protected. 78% of companiessay the number of personal devices connecting to their networks hasdoubled over the past two years. However, less than 10% are fully awareof which devices are logging in. 93% of companieswithout an enterprise file sync and share platform say their employeesare specifically using Dropbox, despite (or, more likely, unaware of)several recently documented security issues. BYOx has Arrived. What’s Your Response? Factis, companies are expecting more out of their employees, andresourceful staff are doing their best to deliver. So much so that theconcept of BYOD (Bring Your Own Device)is quickly morphing into BYOx, where “x” is defined as whatever’snecessary to get the job done‑devices, applications, web services, cloudstorage, and more. Good on the staff for showing initiative, but it’snow all on the infrastructure architects to provide them with a secure,productive sandbox to play in. I’mnot alone in saying that adopting an “anything goes” policy forexternal information sharing and storage is a no-win proposition. Itresults in an inefficient, tangled mess for users and gruesome security and governance risksfor information guardians. There really is only one, true win-win inthis new world, and it’s in the form of a cohesive, dedicated file syncand sharing application that’s built from the ground up with inherentsecurity and compliance to excel at all three aspects of the corporatesync-and-share paradigm: Usability, Governance and Security. The Best of All File Sharing Worlds is in One Simple Solution So, at the most basic level, it seems there are two paths to meeting thedemands of the next-gen workforce and workplace. Sadly, one involvestrying to grow a business through public file sync and sharing toolscreated for non-business use. Tools that are incompatiblewith your tech environment, ask you to rely on someone else’sdefinition of security, and can’t tell you where your data’s beenhanging out. Truth is, solutions like OpenText Tempo Boxare the foundation for the future. Tempo Box is built on an ECMinfrastructure and operates in the cloud, on-premise, or as a hybridmodel that incorporates both. It’s time to take the leap and implement atrue enterprise-grade, sync-and-share solution that effortlessly bringsthe best advantages of external file sync and sharing‑ contentcreation, collaboration, and storage‑back behind the firewall and into asecure, governable structure where it belongs. I guarantee you’ll sleepbetter. Try Tempo Box today!

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The Art of Banking: How Financial Services Approach Great Customer Experiences

This is a CMSWire cross post by Deb Miller. During a recent conversation with colleagues from the Financial Services sector, one person challenged: “Is there really anything new and innovative for banking technology, or have we already seen it all?” The lively discussion led to a far more interesting and important question:“Where are banks finding the inspiration and tools to drive customer-focused innovation?”Here are my thoughts on Financial Service Industry (FSI) innovation and how bankers are increasingly taking cues from consumer tech and smart retailers as they practice the art of banking. I see opportunity for bankers to capitalize on changing consumer views of risk and what constitutes a good customer experience. What’s New in Bank Technology? I’m hearing a lot lately about exciting new technologies driving innovation in banking. There are conferences dedicated to the topic, analyst reports and whitepapers being published, webinar series and more. If you Google “technology innovation in the financial services industry,” you get more than 200 million results. A sampling of intriguing hits includes mobile technology that reportedly can save the banking industry US$ 1.5 billion annually, Digital Shadows footprint based cyber-attack protection technology, Virtual Piggy that can support gaming and other social micro-transactions, and my favorites (because they both include awesome dogs) are Simple.com with a cool and intuitive way to save and pay and FloatMoney that helps build interest free credit by shopping (okay, the shopping part is good too). I could go on and on with this list, but as readers of my CMSWire article series know, I really do prefer to start with the customer motivation and let the technology discussion drive from there. While it’s important to consider new external technology forces impacting a market, I like to think first about the desired customer impact, not the technology. So what are banker customer concerns that present opportunities for technology response these days? Here’s my take on what a banker “bucket list” might include: Deal with the loss of customer confidence that came with economic market upheaval Capture and retain clients who have changing attitudes and expectations for online and omni-channel communication Satisfy customers who come armed with their own new technology like mobile, BYOD and social apps Read on for some artful approaches banks are taking to “check off” the list. Banks are reimagining how to create and sustain customer relationships In order to drive customer-focused innovation, banks are reimagining how to create effective customer relationships in today’s environment. For the mega banks, and the banks who inherited customer accounts from them during the market turmoil, dealing with customer confidence means restoring positive experiences. These experiences in the past were often represented by personal relationships and interactions with key bank branch personnel. Now, innovative technology, much of it inspired by consumer and retail examples, can be used to achieve these objectives. For example, case management technology is a perfect approach to preserve the personal service that attracted many bank customers in the first place and at the same time bring down cost to serve. What was perhaps once performed by a representative with a personal relationship with the customer can now be assisted with case management apps that bridge channel, information and process gaps. With this assist applied to account opening and customer onboarding, it becomes possible to “know your customer” not only for compliance but also to intelligently suggest appropriately targeted product options, much like consumer retailers do. This also reduces the transaction costs involved and saves the lost opportunity cost. Case management also enables knowledge workers to innovate, that is, to perform work in their own unique ways to best respond to managing error exceptions as well as unusual circumstances. This is one of the distinctive elements of this technology — the concept that the process participants are at times involved in defining specific actions for a case and at other times involved in responding to actions taken in a case. Rather than modeling the entire business process ahead of time, you have an environment that supports access to information and progression through tasks as needed to achieve the goal. While this is not the same as the unique personal interactions that banks once had with their customers, it does enable more personalized and personal service to occur. The added advantage is that these interactions are now less costly and more streamlined because they are no longer bogged down in a paper chase or manual efforts. Thus fees and rates can be more competitive without sacrificing profitability. Banks are creating value through online experience Changing customer expectations for online banking require that customer experience needs to be consistent and coordinated across channels and yet adapted to specific channel characteristics. It also means that internal processes and interactions must be enabled to support this new omni-channel world. One of the most impressive examples I am familiar with is Wells Fargo who has 275,000 team members using the latest in Web Experience Management (WEM) technology with responsive design, enabling the enterprise to be agile and adaptive to the consumer at the moment they want to engage. This is all about increased productivity and access to information that in turn improves the end customer experience. Another cool example is what mBank is doing with Accenture. mBank is a Polish direct bank that originally launched as a greenfield venture. mBank is trying something new that has foundations in gamification and clever deal offers that mimic the best of Groupon and Pinterest. “By making the site, for lack of a better word, fun, mBank has changed the relationship between bank and customer. This is important in almost any B2C environment and more important when the traditional customer/business relationship in banking has always been vaguely adversarial”. Banks are combining technology in new ways around the customer experience Banks have always been concerned with how to satisfy their different customer demographic segments. Today’s changing customer demographics mean increased challenges to ensure a satisfying experience, and I’m seeing some interesting responses. Social and mobile dynamics figure prominently in this. A recent CEB TowerGroup study found that 42% percent of banking executive respondents now believe that a key value driver of social technology is competitive advantage over others in their industry, while 25% of respondents also think social offers important functionality. Further, 65% rank social networking as a top technology for near-term investment, while 56% rank mobile banking as a key technology for investment. One of my favorite examples has banks innovating by combining new technology with existing technology; ATMs with human teller video chat. NBC news recently highlighted Interactive Teller technology from NCR that is being used to remotely control the ATM and all of its functions. What’s interesting is that the machine can work like any other ATM unless the customer pushes a button to request a human teller. The customer can use all the self-serve menus as normal, but they have the option to call the teller if needed. According to the NBC report, analysts believe it’s critical that customers decide when they want to do a totally self-service transaction and when they want some help. Banks are also experimenting with integrating social and mobile applications and smartphones into the ATM experience. With this, a customer approaches an ATM and launches the application. After the app loads, the customer enters the four digit PIN number tied to their bank account on the smartphone touchscreen. Then once the pin is accepted, the app brings up all bank accounts related to the customer’s account and transactions can proceed. Which came first, the customer or the technology? It’s clear that banks are doing some interesting and artful things with technology these days, and to my mind the truly important “bucket list” innovations are focused around the customer and their experience. Early in my career there was a time when I worked closely with the GE Research & Development Center around new and exciting distributed data processing technologies for banking and commercial industrial use. I was very proud of the work, but when friends would ask what I did at GE, I always said, “I do the quality check to make sure light bulbs really turn off when you close the refrigerator door.” (Okay it seemed funnier back then.) My friends would smile and change the subject, commenting that I must be doing bleeding edge innovative research that required secrecy. The truth was I didn’t think my work would make any sense or be very interesting to them. In retrospect, I should have shared more; not about the technology itself, but about the intended applications and benefits for my business customers and their data-dependent consumers. Fast forward to today and I am much more likely to talk about what I do, but always in the context of what I think it means to my customers. Sure I do get the occasional blank stare and at times responses like, “Blah bah blah, that’s so boring…” but I also often hear, “That’s so cool and tell me more.” Of course maybe my circle of friends has changed.

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This is a CMSWire cross-post. Duringa recent conversation with colleagues from the Financial Servicessector, one person challenged: “Is there really anything new andinnovative for banking technology, or have we already seen it all?” Thelively discussion led to a far more interesting and important question: “Where are banks finding the inspiration and tools to drive customer-focused innovation?” Hereare my thoughts on Financial Service Industry (FSI) innovation and howbankers are increasingly taking cues from consumer tech and smartretailers as they practice the art of banking. I see opportunity forbankers to capitalize on changing consumer views of risk and whatconstitutes a good customer experience. What’s New in Bank Technology?I’mhearing a lot lately about exciting new technologies driving innovationin banking. There are conferences dedicated to the topic, analystreports and whitepapers being published, webinar series and more. If youGoogle “technology innovation in the financial services industry,” youget more than 200 million results. A sampling of intriguing hits includes mobile technology that reportedly can save the banking industry US$ 1.5 billion annually, Digital Shadows footprint based cyber-attack protection technology, Virtual Piggy that can support gaming and other social micro-transactions, and my favorites (because they both include awesome dogs) are Simple.com with a cool and intuitive way to save and pay and FloatMoney that helps build interest free credit by shopping (okay, the shopping part is good too). I could go on and on with this list, but as readers of my CMSWire article seriesknow, I really do prefer to start with the customer motivation and letthe technology discussion drive from there. While it’s important toconsider new external technology forces impacting a market, I like tothink first about the desired customer impact, not the technology. Sowhat are banker customer concerns that present opportunities fortechnology response these days? Here’s my take on what a banker “bucketlist” might include: Deal with the loss of customer confidence that came with economic market upheaval Capture and retain clients who have changing attitudes and expectations for online and omni-channel communication Satisfy customers who come armed with their own new technology like mobile, BYOD and social apps Read on for some artful approaches banks are taking to “check off” the list. Banks are reimagining how to create and sustain customer relationshipsInorder to drive customer-focused innovation, banks are reimagining howto create effective customer relationships in today’s environment. Forthe mega banks, and the banks who inherited customer accounts from themduring the market turmoil, dealing with customer confidence meansrestoring positive experiences. These experiences in the past wereoften represented by personal relationships and interactions with keybank branch personnel. Now, innovative technology, much of it inspiredby consumer and retail examples, can be used to achieve theseobjectives. For example, case management technology is a perfect approach to preserve the personal servicethat attracted many bank customers in the first place and at the sametime bring down cost to serve. What was perhaps once performed by arepresentative with a personal relationship with the customer can now beassisted with case management apps that bridge channel, information andprocess gaps. With this assist applied to account opening andcustomer onboarding, it becomes possible to “know your customer” notonly for compliance but also to intelligently suggest appropriatelytargeted product options, much like consumer retailers do. This alsoreduces the transaction costs involved and saves the lost opportunitycost. Case management also enables knowledge workers to innovate, that is, to perform work in their own unique ways to best respond tomanaging error exceptions as well as unusual circumstances. This is oneof the distinctive elements of this technology — the concept that theprocess participants are at times involved in defining specific actionsfor a case and at other times involved in responding to actions taken ina case. Rather than modeling the entire business process ahead oftime, you have an environment that supports access to information andprogression through tasks as needed to achieve the goal. While this isnot the same as the unique personal interactions that banks once hadwith their customers, it does enable more personalized and personalservice to occur. The added advantage is that these interactions are nowless costly and more streamlined because they are no longer bogged downin a paper chase or manual efforts. Thus fees and rates can be morecompetitive without sacrificing profitability. Banks are creating value through online experienceChangingcustomer expectations for online banking require that customerexperience needs to be consistent and coordinated across channels andyet adapted to specific channel characteristics. It also means thatinternal processes and interactions must be enabled to support this newomni-channel world. One of the most impressive examples I am familiar with is Wells Fargowho has 275,000 team members using the latest in Web ExperienceManagement (WEM) technology with responsive design, enabling theenterprise to be agile and adaptive to the consumer at the moment theywant to engage. This is all about increased productivity and access toinformation that in turn improves the end customer experience. Anothercool example is what mBank is doing with Accenture. mBank is a Polishdirect bank that originally launched as a greenfield venture. mBank is trying something new that has foundations in gamification and clever deal offers that mimic the best of Groupon and Pinterest. “Bymaking the site, for lack of a better word, fun, mBank has changed therelationship between bank and customer. This is important in almost anyB2C environment and more important when the traditionalcustomer/business relationship in banking has always been vaguelyadversarial.” Banks are combining technology in new ways around the customer experienceBankshave always been concerned with how to satisfy their different customerdemographic segments. Today’s changing customer demographics meanincreased challenges to ensure a satisfying experience, and I’m seeingsome interesting responses. Social and mobile dynamics figure prominently in this. A recent CEB TowerGroup studyfound that 42% percent of banking executive respondents now believethat a key value driver of social technology is competitive advantageover others in their industry, while 25% of respondents also thinksocial offers important functionality. Further, 65% rank socialnetworking as a top technology for near-term investment, while 56% rankmobile banking as a key technology for investment. One of my favorite examples has banks innovating by combining new technology with existing technology; ATMs with human teller video chat. NBC news recently highlighted Interactive Teller technology from NCR that is being used to remotely control the ATM and all of its functions. What’sinteresting is that the machine can work like any other ATM unless thecustomer pushes a button to request a human teller. The customer can useall the self-serve menus as normal, but they have the option to callthe teller if needed. According to the NBC report, analysts believe it’scritical that customers decide when they want to do a totallyself-service transaction and when they want some help. Banks are also experimenting with integrating social and mobile applicationsand smartphones into the ATM experience. With this, a customerapproaches an ATM and launches the application. After the app loads, thecustomer enters the four digit PIN number tied to their bank account onthe smartphone touchscreen. Then once the pin is accepted, the appbrings up all bank accounts related to the customer’s account andtransactions can proceed. Which came first, the customer or the technology?It’sclear that banks are doing some interesting and artful things withtechnology these days, and to my mind the truly important “bucket list” innovations are focused around the customer and their experience. Early in my career there was a time when I worked closely with the GE Research & Development Centeraround new and exciting distributed data processing technologies forbanking and commercial industrial use. I was very proud of the work, butwhen friends would ask what I did at GE, I always said, “I do thequality check to make sure light bulbs really turn off when you closethe refrigerator door.” (Okay it seemed funnier back then.) My friendswould smile and change the subject, commenting that I must be doingbleeding edge innovative research that required secrecy. The truthwas I didn’t think my work would make any sense or be very interestingto them. In retrospect, I should have shared more; not about thetechnology itself, but about the intended applications and benefits formy business customers and their data-dependent consumers. Fastforward to today and I am much more likely to talk about what I do, butalways in the context of what I think it means to my customers. Sure Ido get the occasional blank stare and at times responses like, “Blah bahblah, that’s so boring…” but I also often hear, “That’s so cool andtell me more.” Of course maybe my circle of friends has changed.

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Five Steps to Accessible PDF Documents

How do banks and financial institutions make their PDF statements accessible to individuals with disabilities, including blind and visually impaired customers? This process includes 5 key steps, ensuring that required characteristics that make online PDF statements accessible to screen reader technology are in place: 1. A logical structure and reading order. This will assist the screen reader technology, making it easier for tags behind the scenes to identify the reading order of the content on each page. Reading order is specifically important in financial documents, where tables will make no sense without specific order established. 2. Alternate text descriptions for figures, form fields and links. Graphics, figures, form fields and links are page elements in a PDF that are traditionally presented only visually. For the visually impaired, the documents must include descriptive alternative text, which screen readers can interpret. 3. Navigational aids. Navigational aids – including headings, links and an optimized tab order for forms and embedded links – allow users to go straight to a specific point in the document, rather than having to read every line and page. 4. Security that doesn’t interfere with assistive technology. The restrictions that are sometimes added to PDF documents – that prevent users from printing, copying, extracting, commenting or editing text – can be a hindrance to screen reader technology and its ability to convert on-screen text to speech. 5. Fonts that allow characters to be extracted to text. Fonts must contain enough information to be extracted as text. If that information isn’t all there, the PDF reader can’t substitute characters correctly, making the output incomplete. That may cause the screen reader to omit words or characters. To put all of these in place, financial institutions can manually tag their PDF statements internally or hire a third-party specialist. However, both are costly, time-consuming, and prone to a human error. The other alternative is Actuate’s PDF Accessibility solution, which automates the process – ensuring online documents are readable by everyone without the need for opt-in or lengthy wait times for the requested accessible formats. For more on what it takes to make a PDF statement accessible, read PDF Document Accessibility: Regulations, Risks and Solutions for Compliance, co-authored by Actuate and The American Foundation for the Blind.

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5 Ways Cloud B2B Integration Makes Procurement’s Life Easier

In my previous procurement related blog I discussed some of the significant challenges facing today’s global procurement teams. I highlighted a couple of reports, one written by Cap Gemini that focused on how consumer based technologies are likely to impact the procurement organisation moving forwards. The report highlighted that 40% of procurement organisations are involved in augmenting their practices with ‘digital tools’. Digital procurement, or more simply using B2B tools to automate manual based processes, is an area that is going to become more popular across procurement departments in the future. To be honest I would expect the figure of 40% to be much higher today as cloud based B2B technologies can streamline the operation of a procurement team as well as contribute towards the bottom line. In my earlier blog entry I highlighted a number of issues faced by today’s procurement teams and how cloud B2B integration could help address some of these challenges. This blog will look at the five ways in which cloud B2B integration can make procurement’s life easier. The cloud enables procurement teams to do business with any trading partner, anywhere in the world. Comprehensive on-boarding services allow a procurement team to reach out to potentially 100% of their trading partner community and ensure that they can exchange business documents electronically with them. Using a comprehensive on-boarding service, such as the one offered by GXS, makes it easier and quicker to work with trading partners located in emerging markets such as China, India and Brazil. Trading Partner ramping times can be significantly decreased and costs associated with connectivity testing etc can be significantly reduced as well. Cloud collaboration platforms enable all of your supplier contact information to be held in a central repository, so that you can communicate more accurately, more often and hence foster greater collaboration across your trading partner community. Procurement teams have traditionally held supplier information across multiple business systems, spread sheets and databases. This information can potentially become out of date very quickly, for example a key contact at a supplier may leave the business but none of the procurement systems have been updated to reflect this change. How much time and effort would it take to enter a new contact name or update an address across multiple procurement systems? Would it not be easier to push the responsibility of maintaining up to date contact information back on to the supplier concerned and may be make it part of their contract to update their own details as soon as any changes are required to their contact information? Cloud based community management platforms can not only maintain up to date contact information, they help to improve day to day communications and provide traceability of all outbound communications with a trading partner community as well. All of this can be achieved through one centralised contact database which if necessary can be integrated to other business systems, such as ERP platforms so that contact details are up to date and consistent across your entire business. Regardless of the size of your trading partners, or their technical capabilities, there are B2B enablement tools in the cloud that ensure that no trading partner is left behind. Whether connecting with suppliers, customers, banks or logistics providers, cloud based B2B tools simplify the process of exchanging information between these trading partners and your procurement organisation. As part of the on boarding process it is possible to quickly determine the technical and connectivity capabilities of each and every trading partner and then assign a B2B enablement tool to help with the exchange of electronic information. The cloud provides a single point of entry into your procurement department, whether through a web form based environment or one that utilises a Microsoft Excel based platform to exchange B2B information, the cloud offers a single integration platform that anyone across your extended enterprise can use. The cloud offers procurement departments a wide range of hosted applications that require minimal IT infrastructure involvement so that you can automate more business processes and remove extensive amounts of paper. You can deploy these hosted applications either ‘off the shelf’ or with some form of customisation, for example integrating with other back office business systems or tailoring the web forms to incorporate company speci9fic branding such as logos. Either way, hosted applications provide a convenient way for your trading partners to be integrated more tightly with your procurement processes. For example being able to track the progress of an order or implement full traceability of all interactions with each and every trading partner. The light weight nature of hosted applications means that your trading partners, in most cases, will simply need an internet connection to get access to your cloud based applications. Once you have on-boarded your new trading partners, captured their contact details, deployed B2B enablement tools and given them access to your suite of hosted applications, the final area that procurement teams should be considering is support. Working with a global community of trading partners requires a follow the sun, multi-lingual support service to allow supply chain issues to be resolved proactively before they impact your procurement processes and ultimately your business. Establishing a multi-lingual helpdesk is beyond the reach of many companies and this is a key area where a vendor such as GXS can bring real value to the management of your trading partner community. B2B outsourcing, via a cloud integration platform such as GXS Trading Grid, provides procurement teams with a ‘one stop shop’ in terms of enabling and managing a community of trading partners. Many companies take a step by step approach to deploying cloud based services and this can be achieved with the five areas described above. Cloud B2B environments offer procurement teams a significant step change in how they enable and manage their trading partner communities. Using a cloud based approach to community enablement and management takes away the day to day concerns of looking after a potentially global, diverse group of trading partners. For more information on how GXS can help move your procurement processes to the cloud, please visit www.gxs.com.

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A Hitchhiker’s Guide to SIBOS, the Universe and Everything

SIBOS is only two weeks away and the GXS Financial Services team has already organised more than sixty meetings with Financial Institutions, clients, partners and other delegates. I will be there, in Dubai, taking the opportunity during the event to drill deeper into the industry themes and hear first-hand feedback. I thought I would share my SIBOS shopping list with you and my goal is to collect more information on the following items: Payments Services Directive 2.0: This directive has been out for a couple of months now, and there are several white papers available from various institutions and independent analysts which provide a summary of the changes and impacts on market infrastructures, banks and service users. I am interested to hear first-hand at SIBOS the views from Heads of Payments and Cash Management on the impact PSD 2.0 has had on their existing business processes and what it means from an end-to-end perspective. Securities regulation, LEIs progress and T2S membership uptake: The area of securities, funds services and post-trade is going through simultaneous step changes, affecting the end-to-end business and operational models across all counterparties. Risk management, interoperability, visibility and transaction efficiency are the key themes driving those changes, however I don’t often hear about the commercial impacts, IT transformation steps and the changing competitive landscape. I am hoping to hear more about this at SIBIS though. International expansion: Supporting the needs of multinational corporate clients that are expanding to new geographies is a very challenging opportunity. Providing a consistent, predictable experience across cash, trade and securities globally is the ultimate goal for most Financial Institutions. I am keen to discuss how the leading banks are trying to mediate this expectation against the fragmented local regulations, technologies and client business practices. SEPA migration tracking: There is an opportunity to hear directly from the European Central Bank during a keynote session. It is now a certainty that many corporates will not be compliant by the end dates, also that a few banks plan to offer alternatives slightly outside the mandate. For me the real question is what will the impact be at a local level between banks and their non-compliant clients? At a macro level I’m still convinced there is a small systemic risk: a few isolated glitches, a lack of fully tested processes from Banks or corporates might impact end-to-end financial supply chains and business transactions between corporates. FATCA 6-month extension: The IRS recently released a notice (2013-43) allowing additional time to comply with the reporting requirements. Apparently it was triggered mainly by non-US Financial Institutions. This is a good opportunity to probe both national and regional non-US Banks at SIBOS about their views. There seem to be a few remaining legal conflicts between local governments and the IRS directives as well. ACH and CSMs market infrastructures in Europe: EBA Clearing /Step2 is starting to make the news more and more often, especially about a push to accept Direct Participants over EBICS connectivity. I’m very familiar with the Corporate-to-bank side of EBICS for cash and securities, but I think that the inter-bank side is an interesting area to explore now. While most of the European Banks are using EBA for cash clearing and settlement, I’m curious to understand the opportunity to use an alternative to SWIFT in the world of inter-bank. Bitcoin: Every week I hear news about exchanges being shut down by local regulators and the volatile nature of the virtual currency. GXS met with several players in the Bitcoin arena at the NACHA’s Global Payments Forum, who were seeking a place within the global Financial Services landscape. I am keen to collect the views from senior banking professionals and regulators on the subject at SIBOS. My colleague Patty Hines and I will be providing you with updates during SIBOS, and if you are attending SIBOS and want to catch-up in Dubai, let us know. Also watch this space for more on my shopping list soon.

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Top Ten Trends That Will Impact High Tech Supply Chains in 2014

The global high tech industry is currently going through a period of immense change. From restructuring global supply chains through to diversifying operations into other industry sectors, companies across the high tech industry are having to embrace new technologies and new markets in order to survive. So I thought it would be useful to summarise some of the key trends that will impact global high tech supply chains for the remainder of 2013 and the first half of 2014. If you would like to understand some of the trends that are likely to impact the automotive industry in 2014, then please CLICK HERE to read my predictions…… Consumer demand for tablet devices is changing the face of the PC industry, not only are PC sales continuing in a downward spiral but the structure of the tablet related supply chain is very different to those suppliers found in the PC supply chain. This is due to the difference in components used in tablet devices. The tablet market is also driving increased innovation and development costs across high tech suppliers, for example the introduction of flexible OLED displays. High tech suppliers are diversifying into other industry sectors, one example is the automotive industry where consumer demand for connected vehicles is providing new opportunities for companies such as Qualcomm who are designing bespoke semi-conductors for next generation in car entertainment systems. In future, there will be a greater emphasis on in car software with Apple expected to license their IOS platform to allow car manufacturers to improve the interaction with vehicle systems. Increasing interest in wearable high tech devices, a potentially lucrative new sub-sector of the high tech industry where Google, Sony and newcomers such as Jawbone are starting to introduce new, wearable devices. This provides a great opportunity for the high tech component supply industry but at the same time presents challenges as components have to be scaled down in size even further and there is a much stronger emphasis being placed on extending the battery life of these devices. The so called ‘Internet of Things’ is providing another sub sector for high tech companies to diversify into. Improving machine to machine (M2M) communications is driving the need for connecting more devices to the internet and being able to remotely monitor equipment such as power generators or wind turbines. GE, IBM, Cisco and Infineon are some of the leading companies who are starting to explore new business opportunities in this particular market. There is an increasing shift for software companies to develop their own hardware. Microsoft was one the first to do this by introducing the XBOX console. But now Google, Facebook and others are keen to either work with external hardware partners or acquire other companies. For example Motorola Mobility has just released the Moto X phone, but this company is owned by Google. Software companies do not have a direct supply chain as such and they certainly do not have production facilities. So this presents a strong opportunity for the contract manufacturing industry as Google and others will be reliant on these particular companies to bring their products to market. New regulations being introduced in 2014, for example Dodd Frank, will make high tech companies and their suppliers more accountable to ensure they do not use any conflict minerals in their electronic components. Every company submitting a filing to the SEC in North America in May 2014 will have to prove they do not have conflict minerals in their supply chains. This means that companies will have to improve the way in which they assess their supply chains and improve day to day management of key contacts at every company across a high tech supply chain. This will become increasingly important as we move into 2014. As production costs start to rise in China, more high tech companies will continue to look at alternative manufacturing locations. Taiwan, Vietnam and Thailand are expected to grow their respective high tech industries considerably as they attempt to attract inward investment from the world’s leading high tech companies. The Japanese high tech industry has primarily been built upon home grown software based ICT infrastructures. Recent natural disasters have led many Japanese companies to rethink their ICT and supply chain strategies. Moving into 2014 it is expected that more Japanese high tech companies will look to upgrade older legacy ICT platforms and it is very likely that more companies will adopt cloud based services in order to support their rapidly expanding global operations. The PC industry is expected to contract still further with consolidation and merger and acquisition activity expected to rise significantly. Whereas the software companies are diversifying into the hardware space via their contract manufacturers, traditional PC manufacturers such as HP and Dell are expected to adopt/acquire more service based solutions to help maintain or better still increase revenues. China is expected to continue globalising their own high tech operations by acquiring distressed assets in other markets. Lenovo is a good example of a Chinese manufacturer acquiring an established business and this trend is likely to continue as we head into 2014. Whereas many western manufacturers have expanded their operations into China over the past two decades it is expected that Chinese companies will now continue the globalisation trend as they look to acquire recognised high tech brands in other markets.

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Dr. Seuss and the Internet of Things

This is a cmswire cross-post by Deb Miller. What ever happened to the Internet as a social phenomenon? You know the Internet where peopleare connecting, investigating, collaborating, envisioning and creating. Oh that’s so yesterday. Now what’s trending is the Internet of Things(IoT), with machines talking to machines. Here is my take on the IoT and how it will impact the world of enterprise information management. In the spirit of Dr. Seuss, we’ll look at ‘what a CIO should do if a CIO only knew’ to get things under control. Our World is becoming an information system TheInternet of Things is very much in the news these days and seems tohave captured the imagination of academics, consultants, businessleaders, technologists and investors alike. I too am intrigued by theIoT and, it won’t surprise readers of my CMSWire article series, particularly interested in what it might mean to CIOs and information management professionals. Tofully appreciate what the IoT is all about, it’s important to considerboth its history and its context in today’s technology ecosystem. The term itself was coined in 1999 and there is a fascinating IoT timeline that runs all the way from the era of the Victorian Internet(telegraph) to the recent creation of the IoT-GSI (Global StandardsInitiative). Gartner describes IoT as “the network of physical objectsthat contain embedded technology to communicate and sense or interactwith their internal states or the external environment.” A moreaspirational view comes from McKinsey who tell us that with the IoT,“the world becomes a type of information system through sensors andactuators embedded in physical objects and linked through wired andwireless networks via the Internet Protocol.” Gartner has the IoT approaching the peak in their hype cycle for emerging technologies, but according to market watchers like Matt Turck, the IoT is quite real and not just an over-hyped concept destined to fade with time. In fact, the IoT is already being applied; examples range from whimsical to global impact. There are creative applications from Makey Makey like “Cloud Server BLT”(not a typo – check out the video) that have the serious purpose ofmaking everyone experience what it means to be an engineer. At the otherend of the spectrum, GE envisions the IoT as the next industrialrevolution,a new Industrial Internetwhere the major industries save more than $270 billion over the next 15years by improving their efficiency by just one percent: “By connectingintelligent machines to each other and ultimately to people to changethe way the world works.” I like to think of the IoT as “seriousfun,” the kind that promises exciting possibilities if we know how toget it under control. From Dr. Seuss’ Cat in the Hatwe learn, “It is fun to have fun but you have to know how.” So with anod to two of my favorite Dr. Seuss characters Thing 1 and Thing 2, whoare “released from the box” to wreak havoc until brought back undercontrol, here are my “Thing 1” and “Thing 2”. That is, two things Ithink will be important for CIOs to get under control if they plan toeffectively deal with the IoT in the future. THING 1: With the IoT, information and physical flows will be inextricably tied together Withthe Internet of Things, physical devices and flows are inextricablyunited with their information. As Dr. Seuss would say, “This may notseem very important, I know, but it is, so I’m bothering telling youso.” It turns out that this tight coupling, along with a concomitantconvergence of operational and business systems, raises some very biggovernance and risk challenges for those in the enterprise concernedwith information management. We have certainly had to learn todeal with and orchestrate multiple flows (materials, financials andinformation) over our supply chains for some time. With the IoT or“fourth industrial revolution,” there will be a new sets of informationgenerated in new ways that must become a part of the enterprisegovernance plan. Imagine the somewhat futuristic scenario that is sharedin McKinsey’s “Internet of Things and the future of manufacturing”: “Mostcompanies think of physical flows—meaning the flow of materialcomponents through the supply chain—as separate from information flowsand then consider how and where to coordinate and synchronize them.After the fourth industrial revolution, there will no longer be adifference between information and materials, because products will beinextricably linked to “their” information. For example, unfinishedmaterial already knows for which customer it is intended and carrieswith it all the information about where and when it will be processed.Once the material is in the machine, the material itself records anydeviations from the standard process, determines when it’s “done,” andknows how to get to its customer.“ Future scenarios like this willrequire a platform for information governance much like the enterpriseinformation management (EIM) technologies that I work with today. Aplatform that can combine structured and unstructured data – includingdata from the IoT and its related systems – with a content managementconstruct to capture all the information for regulatory and auditcompliance and for archiving governance. The CIO is going to need toensure that this platform is implemented across the enterprise toachieve an effective customer-centric information approach that can be used in context for critical business decisions. Inaddition, CIOs are going to need to be especially attuned to theconvergence aspects of the IoT that raise critical infrastructureprotection requirements. I did some early work around cyber securitychallenges with the National Infrastructure Advisory Council (NIAC)that provides the President with advice on the security of the criticalinfrastructure sectors and their information systems. At the time, our Convergence of Physical and Cyber Technologiesreport looked at the emerging trend of critical physical infrastructurecontrol systems being interconnected with business systems and therisks this presented. By way of background, industrial control systemslike SCADA (supervisory control and data acquisition) systems haveevolved through at least three generations. At first, these systems werehighly independent with no connectivity to other systems. Then systemprocessing was distributed across multiple stations which were connectedthrough a LAN and they shared information in real time with networkprotocols that were still mostly proprietary. Today the systemsare being integrated and also interconnected with business systems usingInternet protocols. We hear from engineers like Johnny Doin about the evolution of standalone embedded systemsinto “massive and powerful networks of devices that deliverunprecedented amounts of data over the Internet.” As this reaches acritical mass stage, new applications will emerge like monitoring ofmicro-weather and seismic activity from data extracted from sensorsdistributed across multiple industrial grids. As we move thenfrom relatively disconnected grids to a highly interconnectedinfrastructure, new IoT enabled applications will raise the stakes forCIOs. To get things under control, best to begin now with an informationmanagement strategy that considers all data in its purview forgovernance, risk management and compliance. THING 2: With the IoT business processes will change in revolutionary waysNetworkinggiant CISCO sees an “Internet of Everything” that is not only aboutdevices and infrastructure, but also about how to change businessprocesses related to those connected devices and linked to humans. The Cisco visionforesees this change will drive trillions in cost savings and revenueover the coming decade through better automation based on informationderived from those sensors. As Dr. Seuss tells us, “It’s not aboutwhat it is, it’s about what it can become.” In this new world ofinternet-enabled devices that can sense their environment andcommunicate with each other and with us, we will need both informationmanagement and process improvement professionals to realize the fullpotential. CIOs will need to ensure that the discipline and technology of business process management is a part of their strategic view of the enterprise. And where do humans figure in this narrative? It turns out that people are alive and well in the Internet of Things. The very notion of ‘embedded’ is really a continuum that tracks from wearable devicesto human machine interfaces. Further, we have learned that the purposeof process improvement is not only automation where humans are removedfrom the process. Itis also about human machine collaborationwhere CIOs can employ an adaptive case management construct andtechnology to drive the productivity of the knowledge workers andcustomers involved in those processes. The sky may be the limit in this aspect of the IoT, but will we need to beware? In his recent, excellent post “How the Internet of Things will Think,” Brian Proffitt considers what might happen when devices can talk to each other: “Thevision of a machine-learning knowledge fabric is a compelling one… solong as machines don’t learn too much and form their owntoo-clever-by-half ideas about what to do with these humans runningaround the planet. As economist Andrew McAfee noted sardonically in a recent Ted talk … I’m going to start worrying about those the day my computer becomes aware of my printer.” You’re off to great places, so get on your way Thoughthere certainly will be technical, business, and yes even ethicalchallenges ahead for the Internet of Things, I see mostly excitingpossibilities for the future. One question that CIOs must face is whowill be responsible for the IoT within the enterprise. In her recentpost, Stacey Higginbotham aptly comments: “Even as the internet of things is being driven by marketingdepartments who in turn are working with product engineers, it’s alsocreating another headache inside companies. When enterprises deploysensors in cars and workplaces, or when executives bring their ownconnected devices (BYOIoT anyone?), IT departments are called on tosupport them.” In my view, not only will IT need to support theIoT, strategic CIOs will want to be a part of leveraging the technologyfor enterprise innovation, efficiency, and growth. So just when CIOsthought they were perhaps getting a handle on putting the Internet towork as a collaborative human network and social phenomena, there arenew IoT challenges and exciting opportunities emerging. My advice to theCIO is to embrace this. Gain inspiration from Dr. Seuss who in hisfinal book issues the challenge: “You’re off to great places! Today is your day! Your mountain is waiting. So . . . get on your way!”

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Is Your Supply Chain Ready for the Dodd-Frank Conflict Minerals Reporting Law?

Today’s manufacturing industry has to contend with many different Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) and compliance related issues but how do supply chain directors enforce their suppliers to adhere to numerous compliance regulations?  One of the most significant compliance issues that will shortly impact supply chain directors across the manufacturing sectors is conflict minerals reporting and this will be the main focus area for this particular blog entry. Raw materials/minerals used in the manufacture of electronic components are typically sourced from many different locations around the world.  One country that considered mineral rich is the Democratic Republic of the Congo (DRC) however it is widely known that the trade of minerals in this particular country is helping to fund extreme levels of violence across the region. This conflict has claimed more than 5.4 million lives since it began in the late 1990’s. Raw materials mining is crucial to the DRC economy, however some mines are controlled by militant groups causing serious social and environmental issues in the region.  Such issues include serious human rights abuse, theft, extortion, forced child labour, deforestation and high taxation of mineral resources.  All of these factors combined have had a negative effect on both the manufacturing industry and the image of the DRC. So what exactly is “DRC Conflict Free”? This is defined as the products that do not contain minerals or their derivatives determined to be directly or indirectly financing or benefit armed groups from the countries highlighted in the map shown above. So which minerals are affected by this ban? Well there are basically four: Cassiterite (tin ore), Wolframite (tungsten ore), Coltan (tantalum ore) and Gold.  Collectively these are known as 3TG (Tin, Tantalum, Tungsten and Gold). The ban on conflict minerals relates directly to minerals sourced from the DRC or any of the adjoining countries listed above. The chart below highlights the percentage of Conflict Minerals sourced from the DRC: Tantalum: regarded as the first conflict mineral and became popular on the back of growth across the mobile phone industry.  Today it is used in electronic components inside mobile phones, computers, video game consoles, digital cameras and as alloy for making carbide tools and jet engine components. Tin: widely regarded as the primary funding source of rebel groups and used in alloys, tin plating, and solders for joining pipes and electronic circuits Tungsten: DRC is the 5th largest producer for this mineral and is used in metal wires, electrodes and contacts which are used in a multitude of electrical and electronic devices Gold: due to its superior electric conductivity and corrosion resistance it is used in electronic, communications and aerospace equipment Over the past couple of years a number of organisations have been formed to help define processes for clamping down on conflict minerals sourcing. In December 2010, the International ‘Organisation for Economic  Co-Operation and Development’ (OECD) produced a document entitled “Due diligence guidance for responsible supply chains of minerals from conflict affected and high risk areas and the supplement on Tin, Tantalum and Tungsten”.  The purpose of this report is to help companies avoid fuelling, facilitating or exacerbating conflict through their sourcing practices or contributing or being associated with serious human rights abuses. The OECD designed a 5 step framework for identifying and removing conflict minerals from a supply chain. From a high tech industry perspective there are two bodies that have been setup to help high tech companies implement the OECD framework, the Electronic Industry Citizenship Coalition (EICC) and the Global eSustainability Initiative (GeSi).  Both of these organisations are committed to improving conditions in the electronics supply chain and all mining activities that fuel conflict are unacceptable. The EICC and GeSI joint working group aims to enable companies to source conflict free minerals through actions including: Implementing conflict free smelter and due diligence programs to verify conflict free minerals down the supply chain to the OEMs Supporting in region sourcing schemes to enable future legitimate trade from DRC and surrounding countries Supporting OECD due diligence guidance and pilot Engaging with stakeholders for collaboration and efficiency Supporting individual company’s assurance processes through information sharing, standard tools and templates For the high tech industry, the OECD defines upstream and downstream as follows: In order to try and remove conflict minerals from global supply chains, the U.S congress passed the Dodd-Frank Wall Street Reform and Consumer Protection Act which was signed into law on 21st July 2010.  Section 1502 of the act is a provision related to sourcing, namely conflict minerals. The intention of this provision is to deter through increased transparency of companies sourcing practices, the extreme violence and human rights violations in the DRC and neighbouring countries funded by the exploitation and trade of certain materials. Section 1502 instructs the U.S Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC), in consultation with the US Department of State, to introduce regulations requiring certain companies to submit annually a description of measures taken to exercise due diligence on the source and chain of custody of conflict minerals. All companies submitting filings to the SEC must now complete forms to confirm that they are not using conflict minerals across their supply chain and the first submission is 31st May 2014 and then annually by 31st May each year. Any company, and there are estimated to be around 6000, that files Forms 10-K, 20-F or 40-F with the SEC each year will be affected by this new law. The manufacturing industry is the most impacted by Dodd-Frank with aerospace, automotive, high tech, defence and medical devices sectors being particularly badly impacted. According to Deloitte “the complexity of today’s supply chains combined with lack of visibility into sourcing practices will be one of the key challenges of ensuring that Dodd-Frank can be adhered to”. One such tool that has been developed by EICC is the conflict minerals reporting template shown below which complies with SEC’s due diligence requirements for downstream companies. The Microsoft Excel based reporting template embraces the OECD framework and asks specific questions to ensure that conflict minerals are not used across a supply chain. Having a spreadsheet based reporting tool is far better than a paper based questionnaire that would need to be mailed out to participants across an entire supply chain. The sheer number of supply chain participants is complicated enough but having to distribute the reporting tool to the correct contacts in every company across the downstream supply chain is a big challenge in itself. Given that conflict minerals reporting is now law for North American based SEC filings, it is in a company’s interests to find an efficient way to conduct the reporting process with minimal effort and without disrupting the day to day operation of the companies being asked to complete the survey. There are two key challenges to ensure successful reporting of conflict minerals, firstly ensuring that you have up to date contact information for every company across your supply chain and secondly ensuring that these companies complete the survey questions in a timely manner so as not to delay an SEC filing.  Efficient contact management is therefore critical to the success of this reporting process and hence ensure that a company remains within the law on conflict mineral reporting. Establishing a community management strategy is never easy, especially given the global nature and diversity of today’s suppliers. One of the simplest ways to engage with a global community of trading partners is through a common platform that is accessible through nothing more than a web browser. One such platform is GXS Active Community, a cloud based community management tool that has been designed from the ground up to support people to people interactions across a supply chain. The platform uses a combination of centralised contact management and mass communication tools to allow a company to reach out to their trading partners anywhere across a supply chain. When using this platform, the EICC reporting tool could either be distributed as an email attachment or it could be replicated within the platform’s built in survey module. Therefore any company that has to comply with the new conflict minerals reporting process will be able to ensure that all their supply chain contacts are up to date but more importantly have full traceability over which suppliers have actually completed their submission. Any trading partner that fails to complete the report for any reason will automatically be sent a reminder email thus allowing you to significantly improve response rates and ensure that a SEC filing is completed on time. CSR compliance and risk management are high on the agenda of every CEO and a community management platform such as GXS Active Community can help enforce compliance regulations across a trading partner community. In the very near future, GXS will be developing an on-demand webinar to showcase how a community management platform could be used for this particular SEC reporting requirement, but in the meantime if you need further information on GXS Active Community then please CLICK HERE.

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