Category Archives: Business

How To Use Benchmarking With Balanced Scorecard For Your Business

Business benchmarking is the process wherein you determine which company is the best, the one that sets the standard and identify the standard. Basically, you compare your own processes and the metrics that you use with your competitors. However, benchmarking is not only about concentrating on your rivals. You will actually take a look at the wide industry itself and compare it with the other industries. That is certainly a difficult thing to do and being tasked to do so means that you have to take a look at a wide variety of dimensions including quality, time and price. When you benchmark, you will be able to do things better, quicker and much more cost effective. In this case, business benchmarking is a crucial process for organizations. Even though it is tricky and complex, you can simplify the whole procedure by means of benchmarking with balanced scorecard.

The balanced scorecard is known for being one of the most versatile business tools ever invented. You can measure the efficiency and the performance of the most important factors that affect and may affect the success of your business. Using key performance indicators, you can create performance based management and use that system to monitor the efficacy of various processes. The BSC takes on the customer, the internal processes, staff efficiency and growth and not only the financial capabilities of your company.

Now, how do you use benchmarking with balanced scorecard? The answer here is simple: you will need your company data and use them to compare against your toughest rivals in the industry. Thus, you will have to measure your products, services and practices that are similar with the top firms in the world. This will allow you to determine the reasons as to why those companies are seen as progressive and productive. Knowing such elements and details will also enable you to incorporate your present knowledge about how to run the company better.

Those enterprises that are considered at the top of their game know what they are doing. This is why you also have to know yours. In this case, you have to be fully aware about the standards so that you can compare yourself against them.

Benchmarking with balanced scorecard lets you compare and evaluate your business against the other firms so that you can improve the situation of your business. You can use the information that you have obtained to enhance not only on your profitability but also in attracting new customers, retaining them and in meeting their expectations. In addition, you can also help your staff acquire more knowledge and develop their skills in selling products or performing their jobs. In this case, you are able to manage your company better through the benchmarking with balanced scorecard.

One of the useful things about benchmarking with balanced scorecard is that this permits you to effectively reduce time and expenditures without sacrificing the quality of the project or the product. Lastly, this whole process can aid in making the right decisions. Exploiting the data obtained from the tool, you can determine the right choices and avoid errors in judgment.

Business Analyst In Insurance Domain

The right balance of information and technical knowhow is needed for a Business Analyst to successfully complete his job in any sector. This dictum applies to the Insurance sector as well.

A Business Analyst should be well versed with the information that is needed for any Insurance professional to work in the Insurance domain. Since he has to analyze the processes and then help in the development of essential software for the projects in the Insurance sector, he needs to have both  the information required of an Insurance professional and the technical knowledge required for the establishment of software designed for this sector.

Insurance as is known is generally divided into three major divisions: Life Insurance (dealing with safeguarding life and the risk of mortality and critical illnesses), General Insurance (dealing with the risk of damage to immovable property, motor, cargo, marine, household, and fire insurance), health insurance (dealing with risk of illness and disease, and thus covers reimbursements, medical claims, operation of panel doctors, cashless hospitalization, co payment etc.) The level of knowledge and range required is different in each stream and hence a Business Analyst has to have a certain demonstrable understanding of the workings of the particular streams in the sector and also desirably, adequate level of experience in the sector.
Functional Knowledge of Insurance applications is also essential, like new business, channel management, policy servicing, claims management, underwriting, reinsurance and finance. Along with knowledge of the business processes of the particular client company, a brief and thorough understanding of the requirements given by the regulatory authority of the Insurance industry is also mandatory. The terminology is varied for the Insurance sector, with changes even within the sector, for the different streams of the sector. Knowledge of these unique terminologies will help the Business Analyst to understand the client who is the end users expectations and he will be able to draft them better into requirements efficiently.

Once functional requirements are known, the technical knowhow is also essential for any good Business Analyst to communicate to his software developers team about the client users expectations from the project. The Business Analyst should be aware of the basic MS- Office tools like Microsoft Word, Ms PowerPoint, MS Excel, MS Visio, MS Access, and MS Project). These help in collating data and presenting it in proper format. Then knowledge of relational databases is also important for understanding the technicalities of Querying and Support. Basic programming languages that are used by software developers should also be known to the Business Analyst so that he can understand the developers problems or point of view. These programming languages could be ASP, Dot Net, JAVA, J2EE, XNL, HTML etc.

In addition to these, knowledge and experience in insurance business applications, content management systems, portals, data warehousing tools can give any Business Analyst that extra edge over others standing next to him.
Thus, its quite clear that a Business Analyst in the Insurance domain needs to know both sides of the coin  the knowledge of insurance business processes and the relevant Insurance software packages.

An Introduction To Japanese Business Culture

When doing business in a foreign country it is always vital to understand differences in culture. This helps to avoid misunderstandings and allows development of positive and long-lasting business relationships. Knowing the differences in business etiquette between British and Japanese culture could be what lands you a lucrative contract or a lucrative new job. While Japanese businesspeople understand that you will not understand all of their culture and business etiquette they will notice and appreciate your genuine efforts.

Relationships
The Japanese generally do business based on personal relationships. Being introduced by a person who has a good relationship with the company is very helpful. You may be given a small trial to prove yourself. Even if this request is non-profitable, completing it quickly and well helps develop a long-term relationship.

Gift Giving
Gifts are very important in Japanese culture. Always give a small gift at the end of a meeting to the most senior member. Consult with a Japanese person on an appropriate gift. Many flowers such as camellias are associated with death and potted plants encourage sickness. If you receive a gift, do not open it in the presence of the giver.

Business Meetings
Meetings should be arranged by telephone well in advance. Punctuality is imperative. Seating is arranged with the most junior member nearest the door and the most senior furthest away. Do not be surprised if meetings contain several people, even if you thought it would be a one-on-one meeting. You will be expected to have a document containing information about your company, testimonials from customers and other companies and newspaper or magazine articles. It is best to come to a meeting with your best offer, as this is what will be expected.

Communication
Consensus and group decision-making is the norm in Japanese culture. Questions should be phrased in such a way that even negative answers can be given with a yes. For example Do you think this is a bad idea? rather than Do you agree?. Japanese businesspeople may be silent while considering issues and may close their eyes while listening carefully. Confrontational negotiation styles such as raised voices or anger will be frowned upon. Contracts are generally broad with room for re-negotiation and flexibility rather than rigid and point-by-point. However, written contracts are always expected.

Business Dress
Japanese business culture is quite conservative and avant-garde fashions will not be appreciated. Conservative business dress is always appropriate in Japan, especially for women. Suits should be dark-coloured without flashy accessories.

Business Cards
Business cards are very important in Japanese culture and you should always have a ready supply. The quality of your business cards and their condition is highly important also. When you receive a business card examine it carefully and treat it with respect. After meetings, place received business cards in a special case. Investing in business cards written in Japanese is a gesture of goodwill that will be appreciated. Give and receive business cards in both your hands and with a small bow.

Captcha Bypass Is In Business Again

We all know CAPTCHAs. We have all times succumbed to some of its more twisted and messy forms at least a dozen times. You know the drill, try to guess the text shown in the image box with the squiggly letters, type it in a text box, hit the submit button, realize you submitted the wrong text, redo everything until you get it right. Yeah, I bet you know what Im talking about.

Nevertheless, we all have learned to live with this short and recurring e-torture given its apparent use.

CAPTCHA is an acronym for Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart. As it name implies the main function of a CAPTCHA is to distinguish Humans and Computers Apart. All the squiggly letters, weird sizes, color meshes and overall lost of user time are made to prevent bots and/or automated scripts to post content were only real users are supposed to post.

So we deal with the pain of typing and retyping the CAPTCHA texts over and over again to avoid the even greater pain of having a web page overran by marketing accounts and unsolicited messages trying to sell products. So this way it would be hard for bots to bypass the initial account creation procedures and preventing the Black Hat Marketers from creating hundreds and even thousands of accounts. Now we can all use our blogs, social networks and other web 2.0 services in peace without being interrupted by unsolicited messages.

A short term victory that didnt last very long

It turns out that the Black Hat Marketers are sneaky and some of them have very advanced programming skills, so they started to create methods to bypass CAPTCHAs. So at first they began creating CAPTCHA OCR (Optical Character Recognition) systems and other CAPTCHA recognition methods to effectively become masters of CAPTCHA bypass. They took away the funny colors, put filters to take away unwanted lines and trained neural network applications to recognize the characters in spite of the funky fonts that were in use.

Again, a short term victory for the Black Hat Marketers

The internet community back lashed with CAPTCHAs that were much more difficult to bypass. The effectiveness of CAPTCHA OCR went down to around 30% for the best automated CAPTCHA recognition systems. The web 2.0 sites were cheering; there was final victory against massive automated marketers. Toasts were made, babies kissed, the new CAPTCHAs were here to save us!

Not so fast

Lets go back to the beginning and reference a piece of text 300 words back: CAPTCHA is an acronym for Completely Automated Public Turing test to tell Computers and Humans Apart. Wait, so in the end this test is only to tell Computers and Humans Apart, right? Some crazy Black Marketing fella might have suggested Hey, lets just use Humans then. Now we can Bypass CAPTCHAs since were using humans and not computers. I believed that anyone that heard this just laughed out really loud. Who in their right mind would spend long hours in front of a computer screen inserting the text they see in CAPTCHAs over and over again? Not only that. What would be the costs of having a person sitting down all day long inserting CAPTCHAs into a computer?
Answer to first question: People from very poor countries.
Answer to second question: Very Low.

Black Hat Marketers are the big winners for now. Human-based CAPTCHA bypass services have been established for as low as $1.75 for 1000 solved CAPTCHAs (yes, not a scam) and there is even a new market created for this activity. These Human-based CAPTCHA solving services hire a small army of decoders or operators that are happy to insert text for endless hours in exchange of a small pay. All the web 2.0 sites now have to create additional filters and employ extra tactics to keep automated unsolicited messages away and use CAPTCHAs only to keep away the rookie marketers.

Currently, some new companies have invented some other ways to increase difficulty for Human-based systems to decode a CAPTCHA. We now have audio CAPTCHAs, video CAPTCHAs, puzzle CAPTCHAs, math CAPTCHAs, etc. But none of these CAPTCHA systems has grown in a wide scale or have been deployed to any of the main web 2.0 sites. Either way, Im pretty sure that the Human-based CAPTCHA bypass services will find a way to get over these obstacles and keep the marketers in business.
In the end, site owners and marketers will always be playing the cat and mouse game. CAPTCHAs work partially, but as users we will always have to input them. And with the new increase of mobile traffic, were still to see a standardized multi-platform method from stopping unsolicited marketing messages in web 2.0 sites.

By: William Jardain