Software Africa Newsletter - March 2021

Autodesk Tip ~ Online Business Tip ~ Job Hunting Tip ~ Excel Tip

Rick's Editorial

In December 2017, a burglar broke in and stole a friend's laptop. The crime was never solved and the laptop was never recovered. The insurance paid for a new laptop. Life went on.  Sound familiar?

In the 2018/19 SAPS financial year there were 495,161 cases of property-related crime in residential premises and 71,195 cases on business property.  In the vast majority, electronic equipment like laptops and cell phones would have been taken. Life went on.

That is about to change...

Now Imagine This:

It's August 2021, a few months' time.

Your laptop is stolen, like many others are daily.

It contained your customer list.

You happen to mention this on Facebook.

You get a visit from The Information Regulator. (The “Information Regulator”?  What's that?  Who knew?)

They are threatening you with fines of up to 10 million Rand and 10 years in jail. Because you lost personal information of your customers and did not report it to them.

It seems that a malicious competitor reported you to them.

The Information Regulator is set up under the Protection of Personal Information Act. AKA the POPI Act, or POPIA.

You had heard of POPI, but decided to ignore it. “Another piece of government red tape for big businesses.”

Unfortunately, the Act does apply to your small business.

As the business owner, you are responsible.

The Act is aggressive. You must prove your innocence rather than the government needing to prove your guilt. Unconstitutional? Maybe. But have you the money to test it in the Constitutional Court?

Since you have already said that you lost your customer list, you are found guilty.

Now you cannot defend against people suing you for the injury you have caused them.

Then you can't pay the fines. You face a judgement: It stays on the books for 30 years.

The Information Regulator prosecutes.  You may get a jail sentence. Now you have a criminal record. That never goes away. You cannot be a director or owner of a company. How will you get a job in future? How will you get any credit? A credit card? And to which other country can you emigrate, with a criminal record?

The POPI Act is live from 1 July 2021.

The above scenario is not fanciful. It’s all in the Act.

You need to plan now to be ready on 1 July.

Does the Act apply to you? Yes, if you store any personal information of any other person or company.

If you run any sort of a business; you telephone people; you WhatsApp people; you email people, then you are storing personal information. The Act applies to everybody.

Learn what you are in for, and what you can do about it. You need to start doing this NOW.

There is some good news for small business. It’s not as difficult to comply with the Act as it is for big business. You have less data. You have fewer employees, fewer ways to lose data.

There is some bad news for small business. Google for “POPI South Africa” (without quotes) and you’ll see it. Over 600,000 results, mostly aimed at big business. That is where the money is.

What about small business? Search “POPI South Africa small business”: Over 240,000 results. Some examples:
• Data protection for small business (< 50 employees) Monthly fee: R1 850
• From (note the “from”) R195pm per user.

The final good news: You don’t need to wade through that.

Our friend, mentor, and small business guru, Peter Carruthers, is offering a free course on what POPI entails. Here’s the curriculum:

This course highlights what the law says –in easy-to-read English.
It's as long as a typical evening seminar, but online.
Did I mention that there's no charge for it?

Go here for more information and to sign up: Free Online POPI Act Training for Small Business Owners.

PS: About POPI...

They say that "Laws are made to make lawyers rich." Lawyers are making a fortune selling POPIA to big companies. But there aren't enough lawyers in the country to support every individual small business owner. The basics –this introductory course– are useful because they apply to all of us. The difficult part is fitting what we already do to what the law demands.

But, we small business owners share the same DNA. That makes it easy to gather a group together, with the same systems, and offer a "community" solution. When you've completed this introductory course, you might like the compliance course.

Click here: Free Online POPI Act Training for Small Business Owners.

If you're not the owner of the small business you're in, send this to the Owner.  They will thank you later.


The Good News: The Best Jobs to be in Now

Last time we looked at some bad news from the World Economic Forum’s Future of Jobs Survey.  Job automation and the possibility of a jobless recovery could be problematic.  But there is good news for some job types

They estimate that by 2025, 85 million jobs may be displaced. Factors are the shift in the division of labour between humans and machines. Meanwhile, 97 million new roles may emerge that are more adapted to the new division of labour. The report covers 15 industries and 26 economies. There are similarities across industries when looking at increasingly strategic and increasingly redundant job roles. Some roles are now emerging among a cohort of roles in growing demand. These roles reflect the acceleration of automation and cybersecurity risks.
The table shows the top 10 job roles in increasing and decreasing demand across industries:.

  Increasing demand     Decreasing demand
1 Data Analysts and Scientists   1 Data Entry Clerks
2 AI and Machine Learning Specialists   2 Administrative and Executive Secretaries
3 Big Data Specialists   3 Accounting, Bookkeeping and Payroll Clerks
4 Digital Marketing and Strategy Specialists   4 Accountants and Auditors
5 Process Automation Specialists   5 Assembly and Factory Workers
6 Business Development Professionals   6 Business Services and Administration Managers
7 Digital Transformation Specialists   7 Client Information and Customer Service Workers
8 Information Security Analysts   8 General and Operations Managers
9 Software and Applications Developers   9 Mechanics and Machinery Repairers
10 Internet of Things Specialists   10 Material-Recording and Stock-Keeping Clerks

Do you need to consider a career change? Check the list.

Excel Tip #196 – Basic Coding 9: Handy Built-In Functions

We are busy with our macro to process a list of telephone numbers into a uniform format.  In the previous issue, we learned  how to compile code and two ways to view the values of variables.  In the last issue, we saw a third way. Now we will find out about some built-in functions we need in order for our macro to work

Our next steps (as originally numbered) are:
3. Remove all parentheses, dashes and spaces to get a uniform number.
4. If it starts with “27” (or your country code), replace that with a “0”.
5. Insert spaces after the third and sixth digits

For this, we need to know about: Built-In Functions.

Excel itself has functions =LEFT(), =RIGHT(), =MID() and =REPLACE().

Similarly, Visual Basic has functions Left$(), Right$(), Mid$() and Replace$(). The dollar signs are optional, but remind us that these functions return a string. If you know how these functions work in Excel, then you are three-quarters of the way towards knowing how they work in Visual Basic too.

However, there are pitfalls. Visual Basic comes from a different history to Excel itself, and the functions sometimes do not match. For example, the parameters are:
= REPLACE(old_text, start_num, num_chars, new_text) – in an Excel workbook, we tell it how many characters, starting where, to replace with what.

In the Visual Basic function
Replace$(expression, find, replace[, start[, count[, compare]]])
…the optional start and count can be used, but more often we tell it what to find, and what to replace with, and it replaces all occurrences in the expression.

On the other hand, Left$() and Right$() are identical to =LEFT() and =RIGHT() (pulling the specified number of characters from the left or right end of a string, and Mid$() is almost identical to =MID(): The only difference is that the Excel version always wants three parameters =MID(text, start, length) whereas in VB the last one is optional: Mid(string, start[, length]) – brackets [] enclose optional items.

We will also need:

Trim$(string): Returns a string without spaces at the start and end.

Len(string): Returns a number equal to the number of character in the string (identical to =LEN() in Excel).

IsNumeric(string): returns True if the entire expression is recognized as a number; otherwise, it returns False. The closest equivalent in Excel would be =NOT(ISERROR(VALUE(cell)) – The more obvious function =ISNUMBER() tells us whether the contents of the cell are stored as text or a number, not whether the text (if it is text) could be interpreted as a number!

Lastly, we will need to know that, in Visual Basic, just as in Excel formulas, we concatenate strings (add them together) using the ampersand (“&” symbol). Literal strings, as in Excel, appear inside double quotes (“thus”).

Before we use these, we need one more facet: Conditional Statements.  Hold tight for our next exciting instalment!

Finish Covid-19 Lockdown with a New Skill!

You can use this time to learn simple Excel macros.  Do repetitive work in a flash, instead of repeating the same boring stuff manually.  Save hours not working late, and spend more time with your family...  The Software Africa Quick 'n Easy Turbo-Start Excel Macros course is now online.  To help you during lockdown, for a limited time you can get it at a 75%+discount!

Computius Say:

If train station is where train stops, what is work station?

Remember:  We can make your business run better by:

All the Best from the team!
Judith, Catherine, and Rick

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