Case Study- Unilever
Q1. How are Unilever executives’ wireless handhelds related to the company’s business performance?
The handhelds are convenient to carry around and enables the executives to carry out their transactions even when they are not in their offices. It makes it easier for the management to communicate effectively without any interruptions. This makes the business deals to be done in time thus saving on time. The long, bureaucratic procedures that characterize the business industry soon became outdated. This will in turn increase the productivity of the business thus increasing their returns. Much of the time that could have been used in meetings to decide on some issues is further reduced. The meetings are only left for the manifestly outstanding issues as the rest can be comfortably agreed on over the phone (Mittal & Gupta, 2010).
The handhelds are easy to operate and do not require any specialized training. This makes the company not to incur any extra costs in the process of acquiring the handhelds. It is a dream of every company to maximize profit. This is always done through the company incurring the least on expenditure. In this case, therefore, since the handhelds bring no extra costs the project is worth undertaking. The management will therefore, be able to part with the acquisition fee only and thus not use much of the company’s money. The business is therefore, able to move a notch higher in profit maximization as no extra costs for training are incurred.
Because of the fast rate at which information is passed from one executive to another, decision-making becomes faster and less time consuming. The usually long and cumbersome decision making processes are finally reduced to a mere click of a button affair. This makes the events in the company to move faster thus meaning lesser time wastage. As a result, the business performance significantly improves and the entire tidings are easily noted due to the increased volumes of work done, and the profit margins realized.
Q2. Discuss the potential impact of a security breach at Unilever.
As much as the handhelds are extremely effective in improving the business performance, a security breach could have dire consequences. One of the most essential things that are likely to happen is a case where vital data is passed to unauthorized persons. This would undoubtedly jeopardize the privacy of the company. It would thus mean that every procedure that is undertaken is monitored systematically. The company’s dealings could thus be made known to all and sundry, a situation that would spell doom to the company. This would also open doors to the malicious competitor to monitor all of their moves and thus plan for counter actions in time. As a result, the business would be a perfect failure. Other than the handhelds bringing an improvement in the earnings of the company, substantial losses are incurred instead.
The high portability of the handhelds could also be a problem in case of a security breach. The company could lose a lot of money due to thefts (Dingle, 2009). The handhelds are easily portable and exceptionally light and thus can be stolen without much of a struggle. In order to maintain the status quo therefore, the company might be forced to keep on replacing the lost handhelds. After some time, this could result to enormous amounts of money that are used on replacements. This could make the company to operate under high losses.
The use of the handhelds could also be a security threat to the company’s executives (McFadden 2006). The people are aware that the company is using the handhelds for exchanges of vital data and information. This would make it extremely risky for the executives of the company who have to carry them around as they might be forced to reveal the highly private information. This would, instead of improving the business performance, make the executives de-motivated and thus lower the outcome.
Q3. What management, organization and technology factors had to be addressed in developing security policies and procedures for Unilever’s handhelds?
For the company could start issuing the handhelds to the executives, several management factors were looked at. The company’s top executives had to adequately plan and ensure that their actions will not lead the company into losses. They had to ensure that the right accounting were done in order to bring to their attention clearly the financial implications of the project that they were about to implement. The top executives had to work on a control mechanism that was to ensure no misuse of the gadgets. This was done in order to ensure a smooth running of the project with minimum hitches.
The top executives also had to keenly scrutinize the organizational factors. Data movement in any organization is either vertical or horizontal. Vertical movement is characterized by the movement of data from juniors to the top executives and vice versa. The top executives in the planning stages had to come up with a way of ensuring that this movement of data will be effectively done and not abused. Restrictions had to be put across in order to counter any delays or leakages in information because it is particularly vital. The horizontal movement of information involves the exchange of information between employees of the same level in the company. This avenue can be highly abused if restrictive measures are not put into place.
The top management also had to look at the technological factors that would have had effects of the project. The handhelds are an issue regarding to technology and this area had to be keenly looked into. The rate of change in technology at that particular time was an ardent aspect to consider. There could have been no need of having a technology that would be declared obsolete in the next few years. Another factor they looked into was the incentives that come along with using some kind of technology as opposed to others. They had to find out whether the blackberry handhelds came with other packages or not. The other technological factors they looked into include automation, research, and development. These factors have an unusually monumental impact as they determine the efficiency of production as well as the costs and quality of the products.
- What security does Blackberry Enterprise Solution provide for wireless data and stored data?
Blackberry Enterprise solution provides some stringent security features that ensure complete protection of the wireless data and the stored data. Various ways are used to ensure that there is protection of wireless data that are transferred between the blackberry smartphone and the blackberry enterprise server. One of these is the End-to-end Encryption. This service uses either Advanced Encryption Standard or Triple Data Encryption Standard. In this case, the blackberry enterprise server encrypts all the data sent to the BlackBerry smartphone using a private key. This key is stored in the user’s mailbox and does not form part of the message. Intercepting the message would therefore, not help anyone to decrypt the message. The data are never decrypted outside of the corporate firewall.
The HTTPS Secure Data Access allows the transfer of encrypted data between the wireless networks and the corporate Internet and intranets. This allows the data transferred between the BlackBerry smartphone and the company servers to be secure and encrypted. This is made possible either through encrypting all the data from the server to the connecting device, or through using a proxy server, which provides encryption. The third method of ensuring data security is the use of RSA SecurID Two-Factor Authentication, which allows corporations to provide for additional authorizations when necessary. Other services include Code Signing and Digital Certificates.
For the stored data, the BlackBerry Enterprise server provides for various tools that can be used to enforce data security. This helps to encrypt every piece of data that is in the smartphone, including the emails, contacts and messages. It also provides a security feature, which ensures that the device is locked after ten attempts to log in unsuccessfully. The BlackBerry Enterprise server also does not store any data. This helps prevent security breaches. Additionally, it does not allow any traffic other than from a blackberry device and the email server. Unauthorised connections can therefore, not be made.
- How does Blackberry Enterprise solution tools help protect Blackberry devices against malware?
The BlackBerry Enterprise solution provides an automated restricting system, which can be used to ensure that the devices do not open attachments that are sent from desktop computers, but only the ones that are sent from email servers. This reduces the possibility of opening attachments that containing malicious softwares from being attached. In addition, the servers scan all incoming and outgoing mails so that all the malicious software that may be attached is detected before they are executed. In additional, Blackberry devices cannot open any internal or external connections to the Internet other than through the Blackberry servers. This reduces the chances of any data that bypass the company’s firewall being sent to the outside networks (BlackBerry 2011).
Q6. Research and discuss any mobile services that Unilever uses in their current business operations
The Unilever Company has continued to use the handhelds for communication. They are extremely efficient as each employee has up to date information. This usually enables quick decision-making. In addition to the telecommunications, Unilever has introduced other mobile services that are efficient. The mCommerce services that include services like mbanking, which deals with the mobile banking services. MRemittances involve remitting monies via mobile while mTopup deals with purchases of talk time through the mobile. Finally, mPayments deal with making of payments on bills and items via mobile.
The company also has developed enterprise services that deal with marketing through the mobile and short message services. It also has reporting and analysis solutions that concern their customers. The company has operator services that are aimed at ensuring that customers are well catered for their needs. The Unilever Company has shown that technology can be an extremely vital tool in business. This is confirmed by the fact that the management has been able to utilize the mobile services for their profit maximization. In any business therefore, technology is of considerable importance.
AT&T’s BlackBerry solutions enhance productivity. (2008). Caribbean Business. 36 (25), 4.
BlackBerry. (2011). Features. Retrieved 7th April, 2011, from http://uk.blackberry.com/ataglance/security/features.jsp#tab_tab_stored_data
Dingle, S. (2009) BlackBerry in the cloud. Finweek. 8/13/2009, p17
McFadden, B. (2006). Security from scratch. Baseline, Issue 59 (2), 60-62
Mittal K & Gupta, S. (2010). BlackBerry for Work: Productivity for Professionals. New York: Apress