Property catastrophe reinsurance is causing a feeding frenzy for investors as they seem extremely willing to plunk their money into an alternative investment that does not correlate with their other portfolio bets.
The tens of billions of dollars flowing into the reinsurance industry are being funneled into securities including catastrophe bonds and other insurance-linked reinsurance investments. This bountiful capacity augments traditional sources in the venerable reinsurance industry, although even reinsurers are creating the collateralized securities and selling them to investors. For buyers—primary insurance companies the world over—the lines are blurred insofar as who is taking the reinsurance risk.
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Big data is big news these days, promising extraordinary insight into a company’s business performance against forecasted performance in as close to “real time” as possible. All that structured and unstructured data flowing in from internal and external sources can hasten decisions to quickly seize opportunities and avoid risks.
Within big data is a subset of data analytics called hot data — the vital information business leaders need before all other bits and bytes beckon. “We use the term to describe a decision that has to be made within a very tight window, such as today, tomorrow morning or at the very latest, the end of the week,” says Michael Lock, vice president and principal analyst for business analytics, at the research firm Aberdeen Group.
This window can even be smaller, such as a decision that has to be delivered within an hour or even right now. “As the speed of business becomes breakneck, the time to make decisions is moving closer and closer to ‘real time’ all the time,” Lock says. He cited the example of monitoring a new product for quality defects as it comes off the manufacturing line. “If there is a problem, you want to know it now,” he explains.
“Hot data is a hot topic,” agrees David Jonker, senior director, product marketing, big data, at technology vendor SAP. “People tend to fixate on big data and these giant data warehouses that strain from the storage overload, but from my perspective the key for a business is to be able to access the most important data as quickly as possible — the stuff so hot it will singe your fingers.”
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When the financial crisis reared in 2007, the resulting recession compelled many U.S. companies to reach beyond domestic borders to sell their products and services. With business flat at home, the high market growth rates of China, India and elsewhere presented a tantalizing opportunity to buffer the top line.
Now, it appears this opportunity came with a hidden cost. According to a recent study by The Hackett Group, many newly-global companies are “flying blind,” unable to quickly assess and analyze their performance in overseas markets to make needed changes in budgets, resource allocations or forecasts. Less than half of the more than 100 companies surveyed have acquired real-time visibility into such vital performance data as customer information, business volumes, supplier spend and working capital, among other financial metrics.
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Few sectors of the economy face a bigger information security challenge than healthcare. Not only do hospitals have all the typical compliance issues of any business with sensitive customer data, but they must grapple with a growing thicket of regulations governing personally identifiable information, state laws that protect patients’ privacy, strict confidentiality provisions of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) and infrastructure reforms in the Affordable Care Act and its required, albeit delayed, switch to electronic medical records.
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As the founder and chairman of the eponymous Ponemon Institute, Larry Ponemon is to cyber crime what the Greek god Hermes was to Zeus—the messenger of often-bad news. He’s the go-to guy for statistics on the incidence and cost of cyber crime, courtesy of the institute’s annual benchmark study. The newest one was released on October 10 and the news, alas for U.S. businesses in particular, is not good.
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Here’s how one restaurant chain approaches data security.
Fast-growing restaurant chain Boloco Inc. pays as much attention to today’s latest technologies as it does to the nutritional quality and taste of its burritos.
The Boston-based private company (annual revenues of $23 million) celebrated the opening of its 22nd restaurant in the Northeastern United States in September, and has plans to open another five eateries in the next three years. Along the way, it has wielded an impressive range of cutting-edge technology tools to capture and build market share, including a social media site and Twitter feed, a customer-oriented mobile app to check up on (and cash in) loyalty points, and the recent addition of an iPad kiosk, whereby diners can remotely order their Tikka Masala specialty burritos.
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CFOs of defense contractors are preparing their companies for a new era of austerity at the Pentagon. Read the full article written by Russ Banham here.
Municipal finance chiefs are fighting to keep their troubled cities solvent. Sometimes it’s a losing battle.
Prior to its incorporation in 1850, Stockton, Calif., was known as Fat City, and later Mudville. Prophetically, its financial fortunes followed this progression in names from boom to bust. Stockton filed for bankruptcy in 2012, and until Detroit went bankrupt earlier this year, it had the dubious distinction of being the largest city in the country to seek Chapter 9 protection. The cities are two of 12 other municipalities that have petitioned for bankruptcy protection since 2008, among them Jefferson County, Alabama; Harrisburg, Pennsylvania; and Vallejo, California. Eight of these filings occurred in the last three years.
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Cloud-based applications are pushing out planning and forecasting to workers in the farthest reaches of the company.
Simplifying the decision-making process is a fundamental goal for CFOs, given the competitive necessities of agility and speed. Unfortunately, many traditional planning, budgeting and forecasting systems see the business world as local and linear, not global and cooperative, frustrating this imperative.
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