If your business had to close its doors tomorrow, what would be the cause?

I am not asking this question as a profit of doom and gloom; I am asking it as a business practitioner who knows that a business is only as strong as the protection of its biggest weakness.

Let’s go about answering the original question. In the past, risks such as fire and storms were real threats. Fraud has always been a consistent threat and has taken many forms over the past few years.

As the world becomes digitized, perils have changed. Companies need to be aware of this and prepare themselves for risks that are dynamic and can be all-consuming. Data protection in this world is key.

Changing view.

GTconsult initially started this blog with the objective of pointing out how, through technology, a company is able to do business in a more proficient and streamlined manner.

This hasn’t changed, and never will. However, we feel that it is also our duty to fully discuss the risks that companies face in the industry and the importance of certain aspects that change rapidly with the growth of technology.

Privacy is one such aspect. Particularly when it relates to a company’s presence on social media. I recently read an interview that was conducted by enterpriseinnovation.net with Viber CEO, Djemal Agaoua.

The article points out that electronic and digital means of communications have taken the world by storm with the Internet becoming almost ubiquitous.

Social media and messaging platforms are now part and parcel of everyday life, and digital natives would wonder how we could live without them in the recent past!

The article adds that since the introduction of the smartphone, mobile and social messaging apps have proliferated as a cheaper and more versatile alternative to the traditional SMS (Short Message Service) provided by telecommunications operators.

Messaging apps continue to gain clout as they offer users a myriad of ways to express themselves not just through messages, but via GIFs, stickers and emoticons as well. According to a Business Insider Intelligence report in 2018, the combined total monthly active user (MAU) count of the top 4 messaging apps has grown to 4.1 billion in 2018, with the top three messaging apps touting user bases of 1 billion or more.

Viber enters the fray.

The article points out that, every day, calling and messaging app Viber enables over 1 billion global users to communicate with their loved ones and business contacts through high-quality audio and video calls, messaging, and more.

But, beyond user experience, secure connections have become of top priority to consumers, especially with recent incidents such as Facebook’s most severe outage in its history. Consumer privacy and trust have become hot issues, and Enterprise Innovation had the opportunity to check out Viber. The interview below was conducted by Enterprise Innovation and not GTconsult.

In today’s data-driven world, what is Viber’s strategy in the crowded messaging market, especially where content and user experience are concerned?

“At Rakuten Viber, our mission is to connect people, no matter who they are, or where they are from.

Together with our undeniable commitment to our users’ privacy, we believe we offer the best and most secure messaging experience—something users globally and in Southeast Asia appreciate.

Our strategy has always been to take the feedback and input from our users and apply it to continuously evolve our strategy. We are always keen to collaborate more closely with our partners to ensure that our app is as user-friendly as possible and caters to a suite of user preferences,” said Agaoua

How do you view the importance of user security, and what is Viber doing to address security concerns around messaging apps?

“After a year of data misuse and breaches in the Facebook ecosystem and the recent moves to consolidate WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Instagram, we see a trend of users concerned with security and privacy.

We recently published our commitment to privacy and security and called on the entire industry to do the right thing by protecting our users’ right to privacy. The feedback has been overwhelming, and we believe it will drive more people to pay more attention to apps that deliver on this promise and turn away from other apps that fall short in this space.

Furthermore, unlike other messaging apps, Viber is unable to read any user’s personal chats, audio or video calls or scan your photos. With end-to-end encryption enabled by default, all private and group communications on the app is entirely encrypted so only a user and the people they are talking to can read or hear their exchanges.

That means that you won’t see an ad based on a chat you had with a friend in Viber.

These are just some of the measures that we have put in place to put users’ minds at ease, and we are confident in emphasizing that we do not sell any private conversation data as our team is unable to access these, to begin with,” said Agaoua.

What technologies is Viber leveraging to back its 100% privacy promise?

“Aside from end-to-end encryption that we have put in place in our app, we have also taken it upon ourselves to constantly add security measures to upkeep our privacy promise as messaging apps continue to evolve.

For instance, we have enhanced our app with more security features such as giving users the option of editing or deleting any type of message at any time. In fact, we were the first global messaging app to introduce the ‘delete messages’ feature and this feature has been used over 5 billion times.

This is just one add-on to Viber’s end-to-end encryption by default. Essentially, when it comes to the privacy of personal data, we endeavor to be the messaging app that gives users an assured, secure experience with complete security and privacy measures.

As the only global messaging app to offer features such as deleting messages and Secret Chats, we are positive that Viber is the most secure messaging app in the market,” said Agaoua

How does this help differentiate Viber from its competitors – present and future?

“The success of Viber has set the stage and opened up conversations about user data and whether users are products. Facebook Messenger remains as one of our major competitors in the market.

However, what’s different between the way we operate versus Facebook is that Facebook Messenger relies heavily on a large volume of personal data to serve advertisements. At the same time, there is a lot of reading into communications exchanged on the platform solely for the goal of targeting and monetizing ads as much as possible.

Our messaging app model forms a core concept of our business and this helps differentiate Viber from our competitors.

To stay ahead of the curve, we believe that transparency and accountability to users are crucial as this will keep users in the loop about what ‘bargain’ they are making when using Viber.

In the near future, industry players need to be more open in explicitly getting consent from users, and be even more transparent about what data their messaging apps receive and how users’ data is being used.

It is essential for a messaging app to be able to adapt to changing user preferences and build confidence with users. Only by doing so, can they capture opportunities that they can leverage to grow their business,” said Agaoua.

Please share some use cases of Viber’s platform in Asia – and what users can look forward to in the next few months.

“Globally, we see people using multiple messaging platforms for different needs. We see our market share increase in some Southeast Asia markets because we localize content and work with local business partners to offer country-specific solutions.

In 2018, we’ve partnered with Ford in Myanmar to give away a car to users who downloaded their sticker pack. We worked with the Nepalese Ambulance Service to roll out Viber hotlines for users to more effectively reach emergency services, and created a Manila Traffic Viber Community for real-time traffic updates in the Philippines.

In 2019, our users can look forward to more of such always-on, value-added services in their markets,” said Agaoua

How do you foresee the market landscape evolving in the next few years in the Asia Pacific region?

“Messaging apps without a doubt will continue to gain clout in the Asia Pacific region. Moving away from the usual communication exchanges via messages, voice and video calls, messaging apps offer users a myriad of ways to express themselves via GIFs, stickers, and emoticons as well.

According to a Business Insider Intelligence report in 2018, it comes as no surprise that the combined total monthly active user (MAU) count of the top 4 messaging apps has grown to 4.1 billion in 2018, with the top three messaging apps touting user bases of 1 billion or more. This is testament to the attractiveness and pulls factor of apps which are drawing in users.

The market landscape will continue to become increasingly crowded amid stiff competition from Chinese apps that have seen tremendous success as not just being a standalone mobile messaging app, but one that can be utilized for social media and mobile payments as well.

We foresee that messaging apps will continue to gain traction as a medium for users to communicate securely. For Viber, we have seen a penetration rate of 59% in Southeast Asia, which shows us that we have a strong user base that is deeply engaged with our app.

From our observations, we believe that the number will only continue to rise as messaging apps are continuously finding innovative ways to offer users features that make their lives more convenient,” said Agaoua.

**Why is this important? **

Why is it so important for companies to increase their focus on data and data privacy? Another article that I read on Enterprise Innovation explained this.

Organizations in Asia Pacific & Japan (APJ) are managing close to five times the amount of data they did in 2016, and yet only 13% of businesses are data protection leaders, according to the third Dell EMC Global Data Protection Index in collaboration with Vanson Bourne.

The article pointed out that the research, which surveyed 2,200 IT decision makers from both public and private organizations with 250+ employees across 18 countries and 11 industries, reveals the state of data protection amongst organizations in Australia, Japan, South Korea, India, and Singapore, amidst the current explosive growth of data in APJ.

Specifically, the Index reported a large increase in the average amount of data managed – from 1.68 petabytes (PB) in 2016 to 8.13PB in 2018 – and a corresponding increase in business awareness of the value of data. In fact, 90% of respondents see the potential value of data and 35% are already monetizing their data.

However, the Index also found that despite an impressive jump in data protection “leaders” (from 1% to 13%) and “adopters” (from 8% to 53%) since 2016, most respondents continue to face challenges in implementing the right data protection measures to address the rapid growth of data and the rising adoption of emerging technologies.

State of data protection in APJ.

The article adds that disruptions and data loss incidents are occurring more frequently than the global average amongst APJ organizations, underscoring the urgent need for data management and protection in the region. 80% of APJ respondents have experienced some type of disruption over the last 12 months compared to the global average of 76%, among which 32% were unable to recover data using their existing data protection solution.

The number of incidents is notably higher among Singapore-based organizations, where 86% were affected by disruptions and 37% suffered from permanent data loss.

Although unplanned system downtime is more prevalent, data loss has proven to be far more expensive for APJ organizations. On average, 20 hours of downtime in the last 12 months cost businesses US$494,869, while companies that lost data, lost 2.04 terabytes on average with a price tag of US$939,703.

Additionally, the likelihood of disruption has almost doubled over time for the affected companies in several areas. The Index revealed a sharp increase in the number of reported delays in time-to-market, loss of customers, and loss of repeat business, as key consequences of data loss and system downtime in 2018, compared to 2016.

The article pointed out that the good news is 9 in 10 businesses recognize the value of data, and 88% in APJ said they take data protection more seriously for categories of data that have the greatest monetary value. However, the state of data protection in APJ is still in its infancy. 64% have yet to monetize data assets, and the majority of APJ organizations are still categorized as “laggards”, “evaluators” or “adopters” in terms of their data protection maturity, as opposed to being “leaders”.

“Today, much of an organization’s business value is inextricably linked to data. In many respects, APJ companies are in a unique position to become truly data-driven, given the sheer volume of data this region produces,” Alex Lei, Vice President Data Protection Solutions, Dell EMC, APJ told Enterprise Innovation.

He added that the critical building block for success is a robust data protection framework which is essential to gaining customers’ trust.

Cloud is changing data protection.

Cloud technology is becoming an integral component of the data protection landscape in APJ. According to the Index, public cloud use has increased from 27% of the total IT environment in respondents’ organizations in 2016 to 41% in 2018. Nearly all (99%) organizations using public cloud are leveraging it as part of their data protection strategy. The top use cases for data protection within the public cloud include backup/snapshot services to protect workloads and cloud-enabled data protection software.

The findings also suggest that protecting the growing amount of data in the cloud is a concern area for business leaders. More than 6 in 10 – in both APJ and Singapore – considered scalability options of data protection solutions important in anticipation of the inevitable boom of cloud workloads.

“Don’t forget, GTconsult has a solution for all of your data protection needs,” says GTconsult CEO and Co-founder, Bradley Geldenhuys.