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Making purchases online has long been perceived as a risky endeavor for many, as they lack the knowledge needed to fully understand if their information is protected on a certain site or not. This lack of knowledge does present the greatest risk as these individuals may fail to take the proper precautions, not only in purchases, but in online use in general.

According to a recent survey of 1,000 U.S. adults conducted by TNS Sofres (www.tnsglobal.com) for Gemalto (www.gemalto.com), 57 percent of Americans are afraid that someone will steal account passwords when banking only, and 38 percent do not trust online payments, banks and other e-commerce providers. The survey indicates that such providers have a long way to go in building consumer trust in the online channels.

The research, Digital Trust Barometer, focused on the individual’s attitude and behavior concerning digital security and technology. It revealed people’s concerns about digital security actually go beyond the Internet. Only 22 percent of those surveyed felt “very good” about the security in any of the digital technology they use.

The list of fears of those surveyed is topped by I.D. theft. Seventy-four percent listed this as a primary fear, while 44 percent were afraid of online bank account hijacking. These fears are not without good reason, as fully 21 percent of respondents had already suffered from bank data theft.

The research also found that large numbers of Americans like the idea of a personal portable security device that will protect them online — 37 percent were interested in a USB key, like those containing smart card technology, to secure Internet payments and online accounts.

The survey also found that there is an upside to restoring online trust, as 40 percent of Americans declared they would purchase more online if security was reinforced, and 49 percent would visit new merchant Web sites.
It was also clear from results that there was a good return on branding when people shop online, as 87 percent of Americans said being at a well-known Web site is reassuring when paying online. Still, another 44 percent of Americans were worried when they purchase with their credit card online.

Questioned as to the most reliable source for information on digital security, 42 percent believed that friends and family were the most reliable source. After relatives, 27 percent considered companies specializing in digital security as an accurate and reliable source of information. At a rate of 7.6 percent, banks were considered a distant third.
While providers may have a long way to go to secure consumer confidence, consumers have to take some responsibility in the process to educate themselves about the threats and the potential in online practice. Always relying on others to do the ground work won’t always protect them from risk.

Labor Shortages In Global Market Impact Offshoring Decisions
The viability of the offshore market continues to be under scrutiny as organizations are feeling the economic crunch and turning to alternative solutions in order to drive down costs without sacrificing service.

XMG (www.xmg-global.com), a global ICT research and advisory think tank, recently conducted a study of popular offshoring countries in Asia, including China, India, Malaysia and the Philippines. The study found that the average growth of the IT labor pool in the Philippines for the last five years rests at 10 percent and is forecasted to grow by another three percent in the next two to three years.

This study also revealed that despite the steady increase of the IT labor pool, it is insufficient to sustain the total ICT demand in the Philippines, which is projected to grow by 30 to 35 percent full-time-equivalent year-on-year through 2010.

Metro Manila will be providing much of the fresh talent, taking up 22 percent of the estimated 50,000 to 60,000 graduates each year.
According to XMG statistician Benedict Dormitorio, “There is a clear need to establish additional training institutions and ladderized degree programs by existing universities to boost the dwindling talent supply due to the growth of the Philippine offshoring industry and the migration of IT skilled workforce to countries such as the United States, Singapore, Canada, the Middle East and Europe.”
Dormitorio also stressed the importance of ensuring curriculum alignment of educational institutions with the current market needs of the industry through close consultation with ICT companies and organizations.

The study provided an overview of the availability of IT manpower primarily based on skill sets. XMG has segmented the labor supply by educations attainment with at least a four-year bachelor’s degree and other IT vocational courses and skill set.
According to the study, “For programming and business solutions, IT skills on SAS, SAP, Lotus Notes and MySQL will be increasingly difficult to source and companies must be prepared to pay a premium price to recruit these individuals.”

The study further emphasized networking skills will be at risk, such as those in network administration. “Across all segments, there is a significant decreasing trend on the available labor force meeting the required IT skills set needed by the market,” Dormitorio continued.

“With the increasing demand for IT professionals today, companies should be aware of the situation and align their strategies to mitigate risk coming from the labor market,” added Chief Analyst Lauro Vives.

“It is imperative to first understand the saturation level of the labor market by forecasting both demand and talent supply before making any firm commitment on expansion plans or further investments.”

The XMG study mentioned that, “In order to minimize paralysis on critical operations and sustain growth, companies must extend their recruitment reach, improve their skill development pathways, enrich retention and provide hot skills training on the existing talents in the organization to avoid high additional cost components associated with these skill areas.”
For those organizations seeking to outsource and offshore their help desk operations, the conditions of the global contact center industry in terms of IT capabilities and labor availability are a significant consideration. If shortages continue, it may create better cost controls to keep IT professionals onshore in the long run.

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