June 19, 2014
Apple and Samsung have both announced a growing range of apps and devices that track any number of health issues from how many calories you’ve burned to how your heart rate and blood pressure are doing. These kind of apps are about to take the healthcare market by storm and many will be integrated applications which can feed back information on your health directly to your doctor – thereby bringing peace of mind to some chronically ill patients.These health apps are likely to be launched with your Apple IOS 8 software upgrade.
But hey there’s more! Monitoring is one thing but some of the really clever innovation on the horizon uses electrical stimulation of nerves with portable hand held devices to treat headaches, epilepsy and other conditions.It now looks like a new range of electrical appliances may well assist as well as replace traditional pharmaceutical preparations and the race is on. The big pharma companies have already jumped on this technology with Merck & Co in the USA and GSK in the UK spending millions of pounds in research to develop medicines that speak the electrical language of the body. Small nerve stimulator implants have been used for several years now to help epilepsy suffers moderate or eliminate seizures. Such devices placed on the vagus nerve in the throat have also been show to help in a range of other problems such as depression, asthma and chronic heart failure.I remember the vagus nerve from studying biology at University. However, it first came to my attention as a child when my brother in one of his “I want to do marshal arts” moments reliably informed me that a specific type of karate chop to the neck would render me unconscious. Luckily it was never put to the test. But it was apparent to me then that this nerve which arises in the brain stem and extends all the way down the abdomen was a phenomenally powerful influence on the body.Stimulating the vagus nerve with small electrical impulses helps control the production of glutamate (a neurotransmitter). It appears that by stimulating the nerve with particular types of electronic pulses the production of glutamate is varied thereby providing pain relief for migraine sufferers or altering other nervous reflexes. Studies so far from US company ElectroCore are small in number but promising.Meanwhile in the UK GSK have made £50 million available to fund research into this therapeutic area.
The vision is to create technology that helps everything from coaxing insulin out of cells to help diabetics, regulate appetite or even treat rheumatoid arthritis.
So it could really be that when you say something is getting on your nerves, it actually IS having a positive effect!
June 9, 2014
As businesses we all believe that our database is safe don’t we?
After all, only a few people have a log in, and well…you can trust your staff can’t you?Maybe you are very cutting edge, and your software systems use a biometric trigger such as a finger print or iris scan to allow staff to log on. Perhaps your system monitors what happens on your IT systems and identifies unusual patterns of behaviour and access. This is precisely the type of security that banks adopted long ago, but is now becoming standard in other businesses too.
Third party access?
But what about if you have to share parts of your system with third parties, such as clients, agents, distributors and others? What sort of access do you give them – or do you use a standard piece of software and then rely on the security built into that software to ring fence your crown jewels. Well that is precisely what one of our clients did; and it all worked well until they fell out with an overseas agent. The agent had used a permitted log in and password to access certain information that they were entitled to see. However, due to the agent being provided with unlimited access, the agent could access our client’s confidential information and customer database, as well as information intended for them. The inevitable happened, and the customer found it’s information handed over to a competitor.
Did we stop it? Could we help them?
YES, we immediately obtained an ex-parte injunction and other relief from the Court which included the offending party publishing a “corrective statement” about what they had done. However, the real problem was that the horse had bolted, and a social media storm ensued. Whilst the perpetrators were effectively barred from wrong doing and spreading malicious stories about our client, “friends and family” of the perpetrators were not so similarly gagged by a Court Order.
Social media is just that – it is social conversations broadcast to the public. If everyone is happy then that is fine. However, if there is a concerted negative campaign, it is almost impossible to control the reach of a negative message. This negativity can spread far and wide and it can badly damage your business. The Internet doesn’t bestow a cloak of invisibility but at best it is difficult to control messages posted and at worst unless restrained, downright lies can be shared and repeated ad infinitum.
So what’s to be learned from all this?
- Your database is highly likely to be one of your most important business assets – treat it as such.
- Make sure your business is not easily accessed by anyone and everyone, and that all access is monitored in any event.
- If you are using industry standard software, then ensure security is built into the architecture of what you are using. The system should ring fence certain elements so that they can only be viewed by a few.
- Respond quickly to complaints from customers – especially the vocal ones on social media. No one likes customers to complain – and the latest TV series “The Complainers” only demonstrates that many people who complain are either simply looking for compensation or just want a good whinge. However, if things have gone wrong, then social media is a great way of spreading what may be trivia and magnifying the damage.
The moral of the story? Treat your database like gold dust!
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