All posts by alexfenton

How Can SMEs Implement and Communicate a Strong Data Policy to Customers?

The possibility of being targeted and attacked by cyber criminals is a problem that everybody has to face, but some are at more risk than others. According to a Cybercrime study, around 43% of cyber attacks are targeted solely on small businesses, with only 14% of accounted SMEs prepared to face such attacks. 

If you’re running a small business, this is undoubtedly a concerning statistic, not least because 60% of small businesses actually go out of business only six months after an attack takes place. But this is why it is so important to integrate strong data policies in 2023. 

A lot of the time, the reason these businesses have to close up shop is because the data that has been breached belongs to their own customers. With sites like Incogni now giving power to internet users to choose what happens to their data, consumers around the world are more aware of data usage and how it is being used. They have the ability to protect their data and take it back into their own hands, and if companies do not have the same ethic as them, then they will look elsewhere to do business. 

The lack of this ethic has historically been revealed by these cyber breaches, but, similarly, you need to take your business’s future into your own hands. The way to do that is ensuring a data breach cannot be reputationally damaging, and the way to do that is through a strong data policy, and a building of trust between you and your customers.

Developing and Implementing Data Policies 

There are a few key things your company needs to focus on when developing and implementing a strong data policy.  The first is building a data governance team – an internal team that will work to manage data governance and attain support across all departments and operations. This policy must be in line with GDPR or any local governance policy. 

You also need to establish performance metrics, ensuring that you have a way to monitor adherence to the policy, and review the performance regularly.  Establishing data quality controls and a data catalogue will help you to stay on top of how your business is operating, and it will also help you to stay up to date with the latest cybersecurity methods – with cyber attackers upgrading their tools and tactics year-on-year, cybersecurity is a constantly evolving field that you have to keep your finger on the pulse of. 

Communicating Data Policies with Customers

Next, you need to communicate this policy with your customers. This is mainly done through transparency. When a consumer interacts with your business, they need to quickly become aware of your cybersecurity goals – how you are going to use their data and what you are going to do to protect it. 

You also need to update your communication along with your security – if there are new procedures or changes to the policy, this needs to be communicated directly with your consumers, ensuring they know that both your interests are still aligned.

Awareness and Education For Businesses and Their Customers

The important thing is not only to be aware and educated on privacy policies – and how to implement them – but to communicate this awareness to build trust. 

When it comes to this landscape, business transparency is important for several reasons, but cybersecurity is perhaps the most pressing. If a consumer knows that you are doing everything you can to protect data, then they will know that you’re prioritising their safety and privacy, this will build a rapport between you that will be hard for any cyber attacker to break. 

Business Culture, Communication Access & Realtime Translation (CART)

An essential aspect of business culture is the ability to communicate and trade with people and organisations globally. Due to the COVID-19, digital tools to facilitate this are increasingly important.

CART, or Communication Access Realtime Translation, comprises a wide range of services intended to improve accessibility for those who are deaf or hard of hearing, as an alternative to the use of a sign-language interpreter. 

In instances where the resource is not broadcasted live, captions can be created to accurately depict and distinguish between speakers for the benefit of those who cannot hear. In live sessions, such as virtual meetings and online courses, ensuring accessibility for those who would require captioning can prove to be much more difficult.

Read more about the role CART services play within professional and academic settings below.

When are CART Services Required?

In an increasingly digital world where remote work and long-distance education are growing ever more common, CART services are proving themselves to be more vital to businesses and learning organisations than ever before.

Live communication offers a wide range of benefits over pre-recorded audio, but the process of turning speech into text must be as fast – and as accurate – as possible. For a human, recording every word spoken, and keeping up with a number of different speakers, is incredibly difficult, and accuracy will suffer as a result.

The average native speaker, for instance, will talk at a rate of 100 words per minute (wpm), while the average typist will achieve a rate of around 40 wpm. During a live event, lesson or meeting, any shortfall will hinder accessibility for those who are hard of hearing, or deaf.

Advanced CART transcription software is capable of attaining 95% accuracy for live audio within twelve seconds, enabling those who are unable to hear the speaker to follow a livestream with minimal delays.

Within eight hours, a full transcript with >99% accuracy can be provided, ensuring that your event is compliant with the ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act), and that resources from the event can be accessed by anyone in need of them. 

When Do You Need CART Services?

Any time that you host a live event, whether it is a remote meeting or virtual course, relying on speech alone will exclude a (potentially large) portion of your viewers. Of course, even if your event excludes only one person from participating, this is one too many – which is why every business or educational institution will find that CART services are integral to accessibility.

Hearing impairment affects people of all age groups, which means that hosting events without any CART services in place automatically dismisses a significant portion of the population. In a broader sense, both academic and professional settings must be prepared to cater to those with disabilities, and utilising a rapid, AI-based speech to text software will ensure that your event does not exclude those for whom captions remain essential.

CART services are as integral to the execution of large- and small-scale virtual events as your microphone, and should never be overlooked – particularly as our emphasis on digital meetings, lessons, courses and events continues to grow.

Startup Management: How to Setup a Successful Online Business

Startup Management: How to Setup a Successful Online Business

It’s best associated with the American Dream, but it’s much more of a global thing. Owning and running a successful business is the foundation and essence of a small green pasture in lots of people’s minds, whether it’s pursued or not. ‘A little shop on the beachfront’ or ‘an office on the highest floor of the tall building in Manhattan.’ Now though, shopfronts can be digital. This improved access to building a store means the first step towards success, of any sort, is more attainable. As such, here are a few tips to setting up a successful online business.

People talking

Business Plan

Let’s assume that there’s a product or service which has prompted you to set up the business, that it’s decided or heart-set-upon. As such, aspects, or even the cornerstones, of a business plan have naturally followed. Importantly, the market research should be well underway. Knowing why and how similar products or services have been successful, or not, provide invaluable lessons: for instance, in assessing how they’ve priced, delivered, and marketed their product or service.

It’s important to keep the plan lean. Keeping it simple allows you to see the essentials and remind yourself of the key targets. There’s an added benefit to a simpler, bullet-pointed plan: there should be plenty of white space surrounding them, which shouldn’t be intimidating, but, rather, allows for improvisation. (Improvisation is a fancy word for problem-solving. Ornette Coleman, a famous avant-garde jazz saxophonist, even while working a genre where ‘improvisation’ was its fundamental trait, didn’t believe in true improvisation was possible: it’s all about structure. ‘Improvisation’ and problem-solving should be considered the same thing.) There is less rigidity, allowing for measured risks and experimentation.


Insurance should be a priority. It’s an easy means for future-proofing your business. They guarantee that anything unfortunate that happens will have less lasting damage than it might otherwise have had. Finding online insurance for a business is quick too. Costs change depending on a variety of factors: location, type of business, how many employees, experience, etc. However, they can be personalised to fit your needs, ensuring you aren’t paying for any extras which are unnecessary.

Website or Landing Page

Having a website is great, but not an absolute necessity. It might be money better saved, rather than spent developing one. E-commerce websites and apps are workarounds, for instance. Shopify, eBay, and Etsy, for instance, offer convenient means of opening a store. The host site takes a percentage of the revenue on each sale, which is the only cost. (These costs vary across the market. For example, Etsy looks increasingly likely to continue upping and upping their percentage of the revenue.) Not only that but these sites can give you access to a wider audience as they’re global websites, and the search functions might result in you being discovered. Moving to your own website, in time, where you have more control and no go-between, makes sense so long as it is worth the investment. Growth could force your hand, as working from an ecommerce site can appear less professional.

How to Make My Web Site International – Going Global

International currency

I wrote my first HTML homepage back in 1994. Back then, we were just starting with Internet based chat (IRC), conversing to people in other countries using my old Amiga home computer in University Halls of Residence. Building a homepage seemed like the next logical next step so I ‘borrowed’ some HTML from a member of my class and the rest is history. ‘Shady’s Pages’ was a combination of restaurant reviews, photos, downloadable DOOM levels I’d made and all variety of other bits and pieces. I really wish I still had a copy of it on a floppy disk somewhere!

I found it completely fascinating that people as far away as Chicago and California were reading this stuff and even sometimes emailing me to tell me they liked it. Fast forward to the future and I still find it incredible that the media we create is consumed by an increasing global audience creating a worldwide conversation.

I’ve had the pleasure to work on several international web projects over the years including for the British Council, who have offices and learners in every corner of the globe. More recently, I’m involved with the Passport to Trade 2.0 project which spreads the word about doing business in other countries.

I’m devoting this post to a few ideas about getting your message out to all the relevant parts of the world.

  1. Country specific websites – If you are serious about your website working in other countries, you can consider purchasing the relevant domain names for the countries that you are targeting. The domain names may contain a country specific site, or point to pages on your website devoted to that country in the correct language. This method is often employed by international companies, but can get to be an expensive and complex business though.

A more cost effective option would be to set up sub domains within your main website domain, e.g. or sub-folders, With Passport to Trade 2.0 we set up Multi-User WordPress which enables us to create new sites for each relevant country in a sub folder style. Sub-folders can also help visibility in the search engines. Each country site has flags to the relevant countries, so for example, we have the following addresses:

Each country lead person has the ability to login to their own website and make alterations to it using WordPress. The decision about how you approach country specific sites will depend on the time and budget available and how important these are to your organisation strategically.

  1. Speed – Don’t be tempted to test your website on your desktop computer only and think it’s all loading quickly. If you are using a superfast broadband connection, you may be deceiving yourself. Remember that connection speeds can differ around the world and of course, many people may be accessing your website on their smart phones on a slower connection. Make sure your images and other media are optimised and are downloading quickly with not too many large items on one page. You can search Google for ‘website speed tester’, or take a look at – your website pages should load within a couple of seconds. The less graphics, photographs, embeds and scripts you have, the faster your site will load and the less likely someone will leave your site before it has even loaded. Make sure your target audience can access your information quickly and easily. If your website is too slow, people will switch off quickly and the search engines will also downgrade your website, reducing the global reach of your wesite.
  1. Standards –Make sure your website works in all of the latest browsers and a few older ones. That includes Chrome, Firefox, Internet Explorer, Safari on the Mac, Android and Iphones. There are several excellent mobile testers, standards and accessibility compliancy testers. Making sure your website is accessible to people with disabilities. This can also help your global reach and also help your website to be found in the search engines.
  1. Language – Again, this one will depend on your budget. Ideally, you would get professional translation of your content. In the age of ever changing content, this can of course be difficult and expensive. Perhaps you need to think about employing multi-lingual staff in your communications team, or translating the key pages.

Auto-translation is another option. The biggest one of these is of course Google Translate. This comes with a handy widget to add to your website to enable people to translate your whole site into whichever languages you specify. This is very handy as it means you don’t have to re-translate your website every time the content changes. Great, job completed! A word of warning though – whilst auto-translation is improving year on year, it is still no replacement for professional translation. You should also consider using clear language; this will help more people to understand it.  Consider using for example, Simplified English.

With Passport to Trade we also created a series of animations, using visuals that would be recognised and understood in our target countries. Using animation in this way can help to deliver key messages to your target audience whatever their language.

If your website calls for people to contact you around the world – make sure you have the appropriate staff and strategy so that your target audience can communicate with your organisation in their chosen language.

  1. Template – Try and avoid text embedded as a graphic. Web fonts services such as Google font replacement offer a simple way to use a range of fonts without embedding text as a graphic. Similarly, be aware that translating your site into other languages may make pages and boxes longer or shorter depending on the language. Your website template needs to be flexible enough so that it looks presentable no matter which language it is in.
  1. Access – You can use your website stats to see which countries are accessing your website and how people are interacting with it. How does your site look in other countries, is it accessible? Can it be found in local search engines? Does it load quickly? Clearly the best way to test these things would be to test it from that country or ask someone to test it for you. You can also use tools such as to gauge loading speed of your website around the world. If it is important that your website is accessible in countries like China, you will have to choose your hosting company carefully. This is due to certain providers and servers being blocked by The Great Firewall of China. There are websites available to allow you to check which websites are blocked such as: Check with your hosting company and use real and automated testers to verify that it works.
  1. Search and Social Media – In order to effectively communicate with your target audience, you will need to undertake some research to discover which social media networks are being used by your audience in different countries. The Passport to Trade project can help your research. The use of different networks varies significantly from country to country and group to group. For example, in some countries, Twitter and Facebook are not the biggest networks and in others, YouTube may be blocked.With the search engines, Google is often the most popular search engine, but this varies from country to country. Research into your target audience will help you to understand where you should be placing your time and budget in order to adequately spread your message from your website to the search engines and relevant social media networks.

So that’s it, just a few things that I have picked up about going global since my first homepage graced the world. Remember to keep things simple, test and tweak responding to new information and reaching new audiences.

The slides from the presentation to accompany this post are below.

By Alex Fenton