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4 Cloud Computing Predictions for 2017 – What You Can Look Forward to

January 9, 2017

As the curtains close on 2016, there is a lot of anticipation for the upcoming year. What does it have to offer? The age-old tradition of predicting changes in the world of business is not about to die and so, here you are trying to figure out what you can look forward to in 2017 in terms of IT. Cloud computing is one of the areas that are going to see significant change in 2017. The year 2016 has dealt quite bountifully with cloud hosting. There have been a lot of improvements in security and functionality. It is only to be hoped that 2017 is going to bring with it some even better features.

It cannot be claimed that the future of IT is still hidden behind a misty curtain. Now, it is quite clear that technological developments are not about to slow down. It can only get better from where it is right now. There are a number of things that you can expect from cloud hosting in 2017. Here are some 4 predictions of what you can anticipate:

1) Growth of hybrid clouds

If you thought that you have seen enough of the hybrid clouds, they are about to become even more popular. They are costly, but are very beneficial to businesses. There is a growing demand for these clouds, but 2017 is going to see an even bigger demand. This is happening in the wake of the slow demise of enterprise public clouds. Soon, the enterprise public clouds will be no more and hybrid clouds will be the hottest thing.

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2) Battle of the applications

The war of infrastructure is just about to conclude, but the battle of the applications is about to kick off in full swing. Businesses all over the world want to develop strong applications that can get even better with time. With platforms like Salesforce Github, it is possible to keep your applications up-to-date in terms of performance. Github has grown to become the finest version control systems that are available in the market. You can develop even better versions of all your application each time. You will need it if you are to improve the performance and operations of your business.

3) Data security upgrades

It is sad that the world is still talking about data insecurity. Well, as clouds become seemingly more secure, cyber terrorists continue to grow their skills as well. They are always open for business. Public clouds are their playgrounds and that is part of the reason why these clouds are leaving the scene. Either way, there are going to be some impressive upgrades in terms of data security as time passes. You can now sleep peacefully.

4) Effortless data migration

Have you ever tried to move data from a hard drive to another one? It is not easy work, right? You can now imagine migration of big data from a cloud server. It is not even funny. It is like moving houses. The delicateness of data makes it really hard to migrate but with development of data migrators that are compatible with a variety of cloud types, moving data will be so much easier.

About the author

This a guest contribution submitted by David Wicks. The views expressed here are of the author’s, and Dragon Law may not necessarily subscribe to them. You, too, are invited to share your point of view! Learn more about guest blogging for Dragon Law here.
David is a data analyst and blogger on data IT solutions. He has also been studying data migration tools available in the market, such as flosum.com with the aim of expanding his skills in data analysis and processing.

Planning your holidays in 2017 – Hong Kong

January 4, 2017

Startups could be heaven or hell: You enjoyed every moment working here, you allowed it to immerse completely into your life, and eventually find yourself at work endlessly. On the first official working day in 2017, if ‘making breakthroughs in my business’ is on your New Year’s resolution, you may want to add ‘having holidays’ on top of that, because this is how you reboot yourself to lead your company to higher productivity.

Here are some tips to assist you in planning for long holidays ahead!

BAD NEWS BEFORE THE GOOD NEWS

There is no public holiday in February, March, June, August, September and November. Yep, six tough months… and six to work out your holiday plans. Half empty, or half full?

WEEKEND GETAWAYS

There are opportunities to get 4 days off with only a day’s annual leave in the months of April and May. Public holiday for Ching Ming Festival is scheduled on April 4 (Tuesday), which means you can enjoy a short trip simply by applying for leave on April 3 (Monday). Going to Japan to experience the season of Sakura may be a good choice to get your mind refreshed! Another public holiday on Tuesday is the Dragon Boat Festival on May 30, the same mechanism applies as you only have to take leave on May 29 (Monday). Thailand, Taiwan, and Singapore are places you can reach within 2-3 hours.

LONGER VACATIONS

If you are looking for longer vacations to recharge fully, have a look at the public holidays in January, April, May, September, October and December. Connecting the 4 consecutive Chinese New Year holidays (January 28-31) with 3 days of leave (February 1-3), you can plan a 9-day-8-night trip. April and May are definitely the perfect periods to escape from work for a mid-year personal review. You can choose to apply for leave on April 10-13, to link the previous weekend and Easter holidays for 10 day-offs. Another option is to join the weekends, Labor Day and the Buddha’s birthday together for 9 day-offs, by taking leave on May 2, 4-5. Heading to the end of 2017, you have two last chances to reward yourself in September, October and December. Applying for 3 days of leave (October 3-4, 6), you can enjoy a vacation from September 30 to October 8 with the National Day and Mid-Autumn Festival. For those who are working abroad in Hong Kong, you only have to spend 3 days from your annual leave (December 27-29) to go home to celebrate Christmas with your family for 10 days!

Holiday tips for employers 

If the peak season for your business happens during the holiday season, and your employees apply the planner above, this could cause operational troubles to your company. An immediate question you may want to ask:

Is imposing a holiday blackout legal?

Technically, the Labour Department of the HKSAR provides that employers have the ultimate say with the approval of annual leave. However, for better staff management, it is recommended that you communicate leave entitlements and the rationale behind with an Employment Policy Handbook. This can help setting the right expectations for your employees and avoiding conflicts.

Download our free eBook on Employment in Hong Kong

“TO REST IS TO PREPARE FOR A LONGER JOURNEY AHEAD”

Leave entitlement is an important management issue. The way you handle it will have a direct effect on the employer-employee relationship, thus the company performance. Seeds of resentment may be sowed into your team if you can enjoy long holidays while imposing vacation blackouts on them. A possible way out is to actively generate a long weekend to your employees with a special company holiday (you have some choices above that do not clash with your business peak). This would demonstrate your respect to the team by treating you and your employees equally.

Don’t worry about a day or two your company loses for work, re-plan your company calendar and employees’ leave entitlements now for high business growth in 2017!

Read more about other important workplace policies

Is technology the new way of law?

January 3, 2017

Innovation, transformation and disruption are the buzzwords of today.

Whenever we think about how technological revolution, the emergence of newer industries such as fintech (financial technology) wave and medtech (medical technology) come to mind. Technological innovation, other than transforming the way we live and work, have also introduced new ways of solving world issues such as an ageing population.

One intersection that is increasingly garnering attention is that of law and technology. Legal technology, or legaltech for short, harnesses innovations in technology to better meet the legal needs of both legal professionals and clients. The benefits of technological adoption in legal include increased efficiency, reduced risk, as well as time and cost-savings for both the provider and recipient of legal services.

According to a BCG report titled ‘How Legal Technology Will Change the Business of Law’ (Jan 2016), the legal tech landscape is organised into three broad categories of solutions: 1) Enablers, 2) Support-process solutions, and 3) substantive law solutions.

Enabler technologies such as cloud storage tools and cybersecurity solutions focus on facilitating the digitisation of processes.

Support-process solutions allow processes ranging from customer relationship management to accounting to be managed more efficiently.

The third category of substantive law solutions involves the automation of simple or repetitive legal tasks, such as contract drafting and contract analysis, as well as document screening.

The legal tech solutions that are in development are wide-ranging, but here are the three key things you need to know about the landscape:

1) Legal tech is changing the way lawyers work

The majority of legal technology solutions are targeted at improving the way lawyers perform their work in firms. Technologies that facilitate or automate aspects of the legal process, from electronic discovery to legal process outsourcing, are not at all new. An example of such is Ravel Law in America, arguably leading the pack their analytics platform that aids legal research.

Serving the same market at a much higher level is legal technology that employs artificial intelligence (AI). AI refers to machines that are able to comprehend natural language and put forth well-backed hypotheses to problems. In a fraction of the time, AI has the ability to sieve through pages of precedents and develop conclusions, encroaching more and more into territory that legal professionals considered to be their sole domain and area of value-add.

Source: ROSS

A prime example was when law firm Baker & Hostetler employed IBM’s AI Ross for its bankruptcy practice. While some fear that legal technology will replace the role of junior associates and put fresh law graduates out of the job market, experts have argued that lawyers are still considered to still have a role to play in adopting and integrating these tech solutions into their practice of the law.  

2) Legal technology can also serve the end-user – clients

Apart from being a productivity and efficient tool for lawyers, technology can also be a solution for the end users – the clients themselves. The transition from conventional to online legal services has been going on for a while now. Lexoo in the UK allows small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to post their jobs and receive quotes for the job from pre-screened lawyers. In Asia, online platforms such as Asia Law Network enable the average individual to access a comprehensive network of lawyers and assess the options based on factors such as price and expertise.

With increased recognition of e-signatures and the availability of the cloud as a common platform accessible to a multiplicity of stakeholders, clients are also increasingly beginning to self-service their basic legal needs. LegalZoom and Rocket Lawyer are examples of legal tech companies in the USA that helps clients better manage their legal requirements online. In Asia, Dragon Law provides a web app that allows clients to draft legal documents using its simple, Q&A interface.

Source: Dragon Law

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While the legal needs of a business have conventionally been regarded as a cost-centre that business owners place low on their priority list, the growing availability of online legal services has rendered legal services more cost-efficient and accessible.

On the consumer front, developments include chat bots that aim to provide basic level advice and automate appeals processes – all made available online and for free.

3) Legal technology as an industry is only set to grow

A Forbes article from more than two years ago declared that the legaltech boom had yet to begin. New developments in legal technology have arguably been slow given how most lawyers have been set in their ways. This is particularly true in less tech-savvy small firms that may find technology adoption financially challenging. Nevertheless, the industry is picking up speed. Beyond the legaltech startups cited above, there are a whole host of other startups that target the whole gamut of pain points faced by legal professionals and clients in their quest to tackle their legal needs.

Source: How Legal Technology Will Change the Business of Law, BCG

 

According to same BCG report, legaltech is moving past automation of standard legal tasks and towards ‘more bespoke, specialised activities done by lawyers’. This will compel law firms, both big and small, to re-examine their value proposition to clients. This, ultimately, can only be beneficial for the industry and for clients, for whom legal services will now be more within reach.

For companies: 

Learn more about streamlining your legal processes with Dragon Law.

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For law firms:

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This article originally appeared on The Huffington Post. See more of Dragon Law in the news.

How to select the right freelancer for the job

Small businesses don’t always have the luxury of hiring a full-time staff for each business function that needs fulfilled.

One way fill the requirements gap on a shoestring is to consider using freelancers – an option that is not only more cost-effective, but also provides additional flexibility. If you are careful in your selection process, chances are the freelancer could be capable of fulfilling your role requirements just as well, if not even better!

Top 5 Reasons Why Organisations Are Increasing Their Use of Contingent Talent

  1. Leverage the increased availability of expertise
  2. Reduce cost
  3. Avoid adding permanent headcount
  4. Increase the speed of getting things done
  5. Challenge our thinking and assumptions with outside ideas

Source: Harvard Business Review

Here are a few quick tips for choosing a freelancer right for your job:

 

Do you freelance? Learn what your rights are.

1) Make your organisation attractive to freelancers

While you may think you have your pick with freelancers, successful freelancers also have their pick with clients! So what are freelancers looking for? A portfolio, of course. What’s in it for them? Are you working on an exciting project that delivers impact on the community? Post-completion, will you provide them with a written testimonial? Will they be able to associate themselves with your logo or brand, and claim credit for specific projects?

Aside from credit, flexibility is also the Number 1 thing on a freelancers’ mind – for most of them, this is exactly why they set out to freelance in the first place! What tools and processes do your organisation have in place that will help them work flexibly, or even virtually?

Related reading: The technology tools to help you do more with less in your small business

Lastly, how will you reward them? Freelancers deserve to be paid fairly, so the least you could do is pay them at market rate. When freelancers go above and beyond to deliver your expected output, consider giving them a bonus to show that you appreciate their outstanding service. Words spread quickly in the industry; so cultivate a good reputation for your company and you will be able to attract top freelancers.

Related reading: How to incentivise your employees without burning a hole in your pocket

2) Use reliable online freelancer platforms

Freelancer and Upwork are great portals for sourcing for freelancers online. Take your pick of web and mobile developers, designers, customer service agents, consultants, and more – based on ratings that have been given to them based on their past projects.

Source: Upwork

If you’re a local business requiring field support, consider Singapore-based GrabJobs who provides ready-access to part-time talent, solving big manpower issues for the F&B, Hospitality, Events, Retail, BPO, Warehousing, and Logistics industries.

3) Shortlist based on bid and profiles

Depending on the type of expertise that you require, you might get tons of bids very quickly once you post a job. However, be wary of accepting the cheapest bid even if budget is an important consideration. Shortlist the bids that fall within the acceptable range and check out the online profiles of the bidders. Freelancers who have done previous jobs would have gotten ratings from their clients, which can help you assess their work ethic and reliability. Samples of their past projects can also help you assess whether their style will fit in with what you have in mind.

4) Shortlisting Round II: Test!

Once you have shortlisted to about three candidates, test your top candidates to ensure that your freelancer is who they claim to be. The ideal test would be as close as possible to the demands of your job at hand, and take somewhere between 20 minutes to one hour. Consider paying the freelancer for the test project, in order to simulate a real working environment and ensure the freelancer puts in his best effort into the test.

Assess whether or not the freelancer has been able to produce a sample piece that meets your criteria. This test portion should allow to more realistically and accurately evaluate the suitability of the applicant, not just in terms of the deliverable, but also in terms of communication, ability to meet deadlines, and overall work ethic.

If you are still unsure about which candidate is the best fit, you can offer each a one-month trial period, which will give you more time to determine which person is the most suitable candidate.

5) Align expectations and on-board

Once you have selected your freelancer, ensure that you align expectations with your freelancers with proper documentation. You need to have a properly-drafted Consultancy Agreement that regulates the relationship between your company and the freelancer (or independent consultant) who is not an employee of the company.

Key details that should be included in a Consultancy Agreement include:

  • Scope of the freelancer’s work, the duration of work,
  • Method of payment,
  • Conditions for termination of the relationship, and
  • How intellectual property (IP) created by the freelancer is assigned to your company.

In particular, it is important for you to define clearly who owns the IP rights of the deliverable or work product that your freelancer produces. Not setting this out clearly could lead to disputes about the duration for which the IP rights are assigned from the freelancer to your company, or the conditions that must be fulfilled for the IP rights to be assigned.  

Learn more about the different legal obligations your company has towards Freelancers as compared to Employees. Download our free eBook on Employment:

Singapore version      Hong Kong version

Even though freelancers are temporary resources for your company, it is still recommended that you provide a well-structured on-boarding process for him/her. This will help connect freelancers with your company’s culture and enable them to approach their work from an employee’s perspective.

  1. Connect them (virtually) into the office. Introduce freelancers to team members via video chat. Ideally, you can illustrate team member names, titles, and contact information in an organisation chart.
  2. Gather project documents. Help freelancers get up-to-speed faster and understand expectations by providing project documentation that shows the scope, research, and other relevant information.
  3. Prep the technology. Make a checklist of any systems, applications, and programs they may need to access, such as VPN or a company file sharing system. You may want to give the freelancer a list of programs and applications in advance so they can make time to familiarise in advance.
  4. Explain the brand. Provide a brand document/brand guidelines and explain the company’s core values, mission, and expectations towards freelancers.
  5. Give information in chunks. Freelancers often digest a deluge of project, company, and industry information in a very short time. To prevent overwhelming them and opening the door to possible errors, give information to them in chunks. 
  6. Encourage questions. Freelancers should feel able to reach out when needed, or projects may veer off-course. Creating a culture where asking questions and sound boarding are encouraged can save potential confusion and time spent correcting errors.

Source: Upwork

 

With an increasingly mobile workforce and connectivity that eliminates geographical boundaries, your business’ access to great talent is boundless. Businesses today should set themselves up to be flexible and accommodating towards contingent labour so they may receive the most benefit of a flexible workforce, while limiting the administrative and logistical impact of managing them. Well-thought out processes, as well as communication through documentation, help to balance this.

Lastly, don’t forget that the freelancer you hire is only as capable as you empower him/her to be: More often than not, freelancer engagements flop not because of the lack of ability of the freelancer; but rather the fault of the organisation for not setting out the right expectations, documenting a clear brief, or executing per the freelancers’ recommendations.

Have you had any good experiences with freelancers? What have you done to ensure you select the right freelancer for the job? Share your thoughts with us below!

5 Common Startup Mistakes

December 27, 2016

Intellectual Property is usually low on the list of priorities for startups. But founders shouldn’t be so fast to write off the importance of IP, as it can prove to be an essential building block for growth, investment, and even acquisition. If you take a look at many innovative and successful start ups you will most likely find that they started patenting early, and have a strong hold on their IP portfolio.

Here are 5 of the most common misconceptions we hear from startup founders when discussing intellectual property:

 1) “My startup has nothing worth protecting”

When a founder makes this statement, it is extremely hard to convince them otherwise. But what most startup founders don’t realise is that intellectual property is not just limited to patents.

Your company name, product names and logos can be protected by trademarks. There are also lots of forms of unregistered IP, including copyright (which may apply to company brochures, website content and other literature), licensing and partnership agreements, and database rights associated with your company data, as well as any trade secrets or know-how you have developed. Intellectual property in should be recorded and founders need to have a plan in place to ensure all forms of IP are appropriately protected. 

2) “All I care about right now is getting funding”

In order to secure funding, investors will conduct extensive due diligence, including looking at your startup’s intellectual property. Investors are much more likely to consider your startup is suitable for investment if you have an intellectual property strategy in place. 

The thing to bear in mind is that it is not only about protecting at this stage, it is about differentiating your company from every other startup seeking funding. Owning the right IP proves that a company is innovative and is able to differentiate itself from competitors.

On the other hand, a company that has a number of disjointed, unrelated patents may cause alarm bells to ring and provoke further investigation. It’s good, therefore, to have the IP house in order, especially if the goal is to attract investment.

A robust patent strategy also reduces the risk of underpricing, especially as patents will provide investors with some level of comfort regarding a start-up’s defensive capabilities, while also providing insight into a company’s future product pipeline.

3) “We can think about intellectual property when we’re ready to exit”

This is another common stalling tactic for startup founders to use. While your exit strategy may seem a long way off, now is the time to put the foundations in place to make sure that nothing will halt your plans when the time to discuss acquisition or IPO comes along.

It’s absolutely crucial to be ready for M&A approaches with an extensive list of documented IP assets to hand. This is a far easier exercise to compile this list while the company is smaller and before IP proliferates rapidly.

It’s another advantage to starting the process sooner rather than later. There is also the added advantage that carrying out an IP audit exposes any weaknesses in your IP portfolio at a much earlier stage, when problems will be easier (and less expensive) to address.

4) “Patents are so expensive, it’s just not worth it!”

Yes, patenting your ideas and products can be costly in the short term, especially when you consider registering your IP in multiple territories and factoring in renewal fees – but you need to think about the bigger picture. 

In Europe, the acquisition deal value is generally four times higher for companies with European patents than those without, according to research by Antti Saari of the Aalto University School of Economics.

Taking a financial hit can be painful at the very beginning, but by failing to think about IP early on, you may be cheating yourself out of a bigger company valuation further down the line. Think of your investment in IP like an insurance policy that will help to look after you later on.

5) “I don’t need to focus on IP right now. I need to be focusing on getting customers”

Acquiring customers is always a priority for startups, but it’s difficult to emphasise how important it is to secure and assert your right to develop, manufacture and distribute your products and services, now and in the future.

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This a guest contribution submitted by patent analytics platform, PatSnap, and adapted from Joe Bamsey’s original article here. The views expressed here are of the author’s, and Dragon Law may not necessarily subscribe to them. You, too, are invited to share your point of view. Learn more about guest blogging for Dragon Law here.

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