The use of web-based services for business applications have increased rapidly in recent years as processes that were once done manually on paper in the past are now simplified and automated with computers. Instead of confidential information being locked up in filing cabinets or even on a computer hard drive within the business premises, this data is now being trusted to cloud-based services.
Naturally, there has been a rise in associated criminal activity to go along with this increase in the use of the internet, ranging from individual scammers and hackers, through to criminal gangs and state operators looking to steal secrets. It is little wonder then, that many businesses are starting to become more concerned about the security of their confidential information.
As a result, many business managers want to know more about the background of the software platforms that they are working with, where and how the data is being stored and the background of the companies that provide these services. Following are some key aspects to look for in a software service provider.
What to Look Out For
Initially, when looking for an application to manage some aspect of their business such as attendance verification, business owners and operator are drawn to the cheapest product on the market. In difficult economic times this can be alluring. The problem with this approach is that cheapest doesn’t always equate to best value, and it doesn’t consider other factors that also need to be taken into account.
When a business has been tasked with collecting and storing confidential information, the most important characteristics to look for include:
- security and accessibility of client data
- level of customer service
- compliance to industry standards and regulations
- recognition within the industry, whether formal or informal word of mouth
- long term commitment to, and reliability within the industry
- company structure and risk
- affiliations with client’s competitors
- and if hardware is involved, location of servicing and turn-around time for repairs.
It’s All in the Clouds
Generally, cloud-based storage of data tends to be the industry standard for web-based services, as these services provide the most cost-efficient method to store information with the highest practical level of security. Better quality cloud storage, with a higher level of security are more expensive to access and therefore increase the cost of any web-based service. Many people are willing to pay extra for this peace of mind.
Another associated concern is where the cloud-based servers are located, because some countries have laws in place that allow their government agencies unimpeded access to any data stored within their jurisdiction. These laws are complicated and vary greatly from country to country adding to the confusion. Just for the record, UniGuard uses the highest quality Google servers in Sydney, Australia.
The Wizard Behind the Curtain
Knowing more about the companies to which services are being outsourced is a critical concern for many business operators. They don’t simply want to know the names and faces of the sales representatives, but also the actual background of the company. This includes information on how long the business has been operating, the size of the business, where it is located and who owns and runs the business. The reality is that businesses come in many forms which have their benefits and drawbacks, with some types of businesses naturally more suited to some tasks than others.
Due to businesses needing to retain data for a number of years for legal reasons, which can vary depending on the jurisdiction, the long-term stability of the company is especially important, and one that people need to be particularly attuned to spotting in the current economic climate.
Dealing with Constant Disruptions
The current fad of disrupter start-ups has flooded the software market with numerous similar looking duplicates of established systems. This has resulted in the crowding of the marketplace for some types of software applications and has caused confusion among potential customers. Although starting a business is perfectly legitimate when someone has a passion for the type of products and services they are offering, many people involved in disrupters have another goal in mind.
By their nature, the intention of disrupters is to take over a particular industry by offering services at prices well below the market rate which established operators can’t compete with. They achieve this by ignoring regulations, underpaying staff and procuring funds from investors eager to make money. Making large sums of easy money is also the intention of the founders of these companies. The goal is to build up the company rapidly and then sell to make a quick and easy profit.
Of course, all this can fall flat. Most of the time they don’t actually fulfill their goals, with the company dissolving leaving many creditors with unpaid debts. This may inspire them to start up another company in a different industry or jurisdiction.
Disrupters are not concerned with the long-term interests of either their customers or investors, and their efforts damage the marketplace for everybody, not just their competitors. Ultimately, the biggest disruption for many businesses is when a service they rely upon is suddenly no longer available, resulting in a loss of clients and reputation.
A good way to avoid the pitfalls of dealing with such a company is to look into the history of a company and then compare them to other companies offering similar services in the industry. Doing so, not only allows you to see if the company is likely to be around for a long time, but also whether they are selling their software at a reasonable price and if the claims they make are true, such as being industry leaders and innovators.
The Competition is Rigged
Sometimes the problem is not so much the stability of the company behind the software platform, but other interests that the company, or one of their principle investors may have. It is becoming increasingly common for companies within a particular industry, for example a security company to invest in a software platform such as a staff attendance app that is commonly used within that industry. This can be done in a number of ways, for example the company;
- can contract a software developer to create some software in-house
- can agree to be the authorised reseller of software platform developed by another, usually international or Chinese company
- invest money and buy shares in a start-up that is developing the software
- buy out the company developing the software and absorb it into their own.
Sometimes a business does this with the intention of keeping the software platform for internal use with the aim of getting an edge over the competition. Unfortunately, software development is costly, and this creates an incentive to onsell the software to other businesses within the industry. Sometimes it is sold to subcontractors for consistency of service, sometimes to other unsuspecting businesses.
When companies sell services like these to other business within their own industry and don’t disclose the real owners of the software or other affiliations, this can create a conflict of interest. The potential risk is that confidential company data is then legally in the possession of other another business in the same industry.
What About UniGuard?
Deltonic Pty Ltd started trading initially in the Australian market as ValuTronics Pty Ltd in 1997. More commonly known as UniGuard, we are one of the few companies that offers employee tracking and verification systems to the Australian market that is not in some way affiliated with any companies that offer security guard or cleaning services either in Australia or other markets like the USA. We are proudly fully privately and independently Australian owed. No other company owns shares in UniGuard, and we are upfront about only offering the products and services displayed on our website.
Would you like to know more about how UniGuard can help your business, click here to find out more?