Archive for the ‘Hospitality’ category

AI why will it make any difference?

October 1st, 2018

For all the talk around the rise of AI, or Artificial Intelligence, the technology isn’t new. We use AI in our daily lives.

Predictive text is the most visible example.Google searches, Word spellcheck are examples. You frequently text a friend to meet at the mall. You type: “Meet me at the …” Your phone suggests “park” or another common place to meet. Over time, your phone learns, and the suggestions start to prioritize “mall” over other words.

A basic case is that AI:
• takes data,
• analyzes it,
• implements a solution (suggesting the next word),
• evaluates the results (recognizing that you almost always type “bar” with that friend),
• and then repeats the process with improved recommendations based on data.
• Over time, the system grows smarter.

Typically ‘triggers’ to execute a ‘script’ were ways to automate processes. A log fiel is mintored and akey word triggers a support ticket, or runs a script.Over time thje system learns and can predict and run checks before the error happens.
Other examples of AI in everyday life include pricing on ridesharing apps, facial recognition in social media and even non-player characters in video games.

Until recently, the technology was available to a few companies with deep pockets. To take advantage of AI, you had to have a big data center, specialized software and data scientists in house. We’ve reached a tipping point. With cloud-based technology, companies of all sizes can more easily plug into AI-infused applications at a much lower entry cost.
AI is the next big disrupter in many industries.

Let’s look at the wholesale trading industry. Here are two ways you can leverage AI to benefit a business:
Optimize where a team spends their time.
- Imagine the ability to direct your Accounts Receivable team to the late-paying customers that are most likely to respond.
– AI can help distributors differentiate between those who aren’t going to pay and need to be turned over to collections, and those who are more likely to pay with just one phone call.
- AI could also direct a call centre team to focus on certain times of day to increase the likelihood someone picks up the phone. Given the importance of cashflow to distributors, this is a powerful application of the technology.
- The same idea goes for a sales team. With which customers should they be spending more time? AI can identify the data points that influence purchasing, such as whether a prospect downloaded a whitepaper, they have an account exec assigned to them, or they have previously purchased related products.

It could even be something you can’t control, like the weather forecast. If it’s going to be 110 degrees, you can expect an uptick in sales of air conditioning units or parts to fix them in certain geographies. AI can identify these opportunities for salespeople. AI then adjusts those recommendations based on how customers respond, and the cycle continues.

Grow sales and margin with existing customers.
When a customer is checking out on a website, via your call center, at the counter or through another channel, how can you engage them more? Enter AI. For example, let’s say that data show that electrical contractor customers of a particular size regularly buy red, green, white and black 10-gauge copper wire at the same time. So when an electrical contractor of that size selects just red, green and white, a salesperson should be prompted to ask: “Are you forgetting black?” Chances are, the customer will add black wire to the basket.

To identify those relationships, however, and to code them into your system is a lot of work. We can do much of this already with BI analysis and on screen prompts.Add to that the evaluation of whether the offers were effective – how often they were accepted, how often they weren’t (and why) – and adjusting for that on the next sale, or updating sales scripts and offers. It becomes increasingly difficult if not impossible to do that manually across thousands of products.
AI can do this far more quickly and effectively than a human can, and can have a big impact on the top line. A foodservice distributor grew sales volume by 5% nearly overnight after turning on an AI-powered cross-sell and upsell recommendation engine on their website.

This is not just about selling online. Sure Distributors use cross-sell/upsell technology to grow share across their channels. However, they can also provide more meaningful, targeted content to make the customer’s selection process smoother and better informed, to draw his attention to designs or offers that are likely to be of interest, and so on. The ROI can be huge, and it requires very little upfront work by humans.

Pricing software is a more mature application of AI-based technology, determining the optimal price for a particular item based on lost sales, historical sales volume, competitor pricing, and potential for up sell or cross sell or repeat sell. and other data points. Hotels and airlines use revenue yield management. If it’s a business trip they may feel you will spend more in their restaurant on an expense account. I may only book when rates are cheap but I might always eat in house use, pay tv, and order wine with my meal and be a more profitable customer. If my rooms for tonight or my airline seats are less than 50% sold then I might discount heavily to ensure I sell enough to cover costs, but once past 80% I may charge a premium price because you may be desperate with little choice and a few high value sales will make up for the one or two I lose.

If a product has excess stock and is nearing the end of its shelf life, or a cinema is going to be half empty then AI can auto trigger instant sms sales promotions or happy hours but can it learn and predict and better tune the films shown in a given cinema, and whether average clothes sizes are trending bigger, or whether some colours and sizes will sell better in one branch than another and how that correlates with other data, How much is spent on marketing, what other sales are happening nearby, are temperatures going to rise, what si te epxcted change on the exchange rate or inflation rate or oil price and will that affect the number of tourist, and will revised parking fees affect who shows where and when?

is this a Big Brother nightmare, or does it mean that we are going to get better service because what we need to buy is going to be in stock even before we realise we need it.

As new younger generation z employees are hired into purchasing roles, they expect the kind of customer experience that AI-powered technology can deliver. This technology is here now. It’s not just a technical decision. There are real business benefits to using AI, including growing average order size, boosting margins and tightening customer relationships.

Gitex 2018- See Filehold DMS with Synergy Software Systems

September 30th, 2018

Meet us with Globalis to see how advanced cheque scanners and a modern DMS solution work together.

Talk to us about how repetitive automation can help you match hundreds of thousands of invoices, or to reconcile claims, or to reconcile multiple bank accounts.

Let us show you how easy it is to drillback from any key field in any application, back to the source doument and all related documents in Filehold.

End of life for SQL 2008 and 2008 r2 is only a year away

July 14th, 2018

On July 9, 2019, Microsoft will end Extended Support, for SQL Server 2008 and 2008 R2hich means no more updates or support of any kind, potentially leaving you vulnerable to security and compliance issues.
Some considerations:
That is only a year away. So time to start planning and to get it into your 2019 budget.
What applications are affected? With what new SQL version are they compatible?
Will you need to rebuy licenses? The SQL license cost is now core based and it might prove lot higher than last time so take the time to consider all options.
Should any of your applications move to the cloud?
Should you also look at upgrades to Hardware? Windows, Office, Exchange, or Business finance/erp systems in conjunction with SQL?
Is now the time to review your security solutions?
Are you going to expand, or implement heavy new processes like consolidation, budgeting, BI in then next 2-3 years?
Is your mobile network growing?

There are major enhancements at QL 2016 sp1 so we recommend you should not consider any version lower than that. By next year SQL 2017 will also have settled down.

To discuss options callus o 0097143365589

Infor Sunsystems 6.3 ask Synergy Software Systems why its time to upgrade.

July 7th, 2018

If you have not yet upgraded to SunSystems 6.3 from Infor it is time to consider what major benefits are available for existing SunSystems clients. Infor has for many years provided ongoing support for a range of SunSystems versions. This has been great for clients to maximise their investment in the solution over extended time frames, but it can cause difficulty when assessing when and why to upgrade to the latest version. This comprehensive, updated financial management system is particularly significant because it not only delivers mnay new features and enhancements but also runs on Infor Xi, the latest and most innovative enterprise technology platform from Infor.

Let’s have a look at the various top level versions in use today:
SunSystems v4 (The current production release is v4.4)
Pros: A proven, self-contained system that operates on minimal IT infrastructure and demands little support and maintenance effort. Continues to be patched and upgraded with new features and Microsoft technology framework compliance.

Cons: Its been around a long time with an aging user interface, some operating limitations on modern technology platforms and is not integrated to the Infor Platform Xi enterprise framework.
SunSystems v5 (The final version is v5.4)
Pros: Still covered under the support framework.
Cons: This version is effectively at end-of-life from an extension point of view. There are no new patches or updates being released, it will not be kept compliant with future versions of Microsoft Windows and SQL Server and it is not possible to purchase additional user licences.

SunSystems v6 (v6.3)
Pros: Significant increase in power and scalability from the original Sun 4.
A complete re-visioning of the system :more agility, flexibility, and control for companies with complex financial management requirements, multi-company operations, multi-currency trading.
Modern user interface stemming from Infor’s in-house user experience and design team, Hook and Loop.
Cons: SunSystems itself and the broader Infor Platform Xi framework demands more computing power and hardware than v4 or v5 did.

Why upgrade now to SunSystems v6.3?
User experience and usability – the screen designs and operation are revised to enhance user experience. Think “apps” on smartphones and tablets that require little or no user training, Infor has a vision of enterprise grade software usability going the same way. Every new release take steps towards that goal using content feeds, visual triggers and graphics to help people navigate rather than menus and options.
SunSystems users can now replace their Favorites menu page with a customizable homepage—available through Infor Ming.le® or directly within SunSystems. Users can also select the graphical content that best reflects their roles and daily tasks with drag-and-drop widgets. Widgets allow users to create links to relevant SunSystems functions, reports, and records, to help speed up routine tasks and navigation

Integrated Document Management Repository – best practice financial management is underpinned by substantiating documents from many sources. The integrated document management repository lets you attach a PDF or other document to the exact transaction or reference data it relates to and to easily find and view that document again at any time. Documents can be searched and retrieved directly from within the web-based IDM application.

External web portal – this new module allows secure access to SunSystems documents to for additional stakeholders to engage electronically with the financial arm of the business. Get your suppliers to upload their own invoices and maintain their own details; let your clients access their own statements and order history, or let your employees access their expenses history. Reduce the number of queries into the finance team and the rekeying of data when external stakeholders could choose to serve themselves.

Automated master data management – for larger companies running multiple sites or business units the administration of managing common reference data between systems and entities can be centralised. Define a primary business unit for your supplier register and any moves/adds/changes/deletes applied to this primary data can be automatically applied to any nominated secondary entities.

Configuration
Infor SunSystems 6.3 consolidates all configuration settings, over 400 of these, into a single web-based console and makes complete control of all aspects within the system much easier.

Performance
Allocate memory capacity in Ledger Import caching, to speed up the process – up to 2 – 3 times faster.
For many processes system’s memory is now dynamically allocated for maximum performance. The caching limits can be set in the Configuration Manager and a task is completed, all allocated memory will be freed immediately. Similar web-enabled enhancements are extended to functions like Transfer Desk, Business Unit Administration, and SunSystems Connect portal.

Currency Rate Type
Multicurrency functionality has always been a key strength of Infor SunSystems. In the 6.3 release, users wcan create different sets of exchange rates for different purposes and have control of when and how they can use a specific rate type. Use one exchange rate that is different from the default monthly rate for a specific collection run. Use a different rate for evaluation than the rate used for day-to-day transactions. These rate types are defined at business unit level.

Withholding tax
Now a core function. SunSystems can now automatically calculate withholding taxes for payment and invoice posting directly from within the core, SunSystems application

Form management
Currently, when users want to make some changes to a form, they need to check out that form, make necessary changes, and check it in again. Sometimes, users check out forms and forget to check them back in again. With SunSystems 6.3, the check-in and check-out process is performed entirely in the background. Users only need to open the form and make amendments using Forms Designer.

For more information contact Synergy Software Systems, your SunSystems U.A.E. partner, supporting clients across MEA for over 20 years, 0097143365589

EAM, field service, IOT and Holo lens -ask Synergy Software Systems, Dubai

February 17th, 2018

The digital world is already here and what seemed science fiction few years back we now accept as everyday. Voice activated commands on our smear phone now also query our databases and update our dashboards, remote medical checks are done at an atm, artificial intelligence and big data influence our live every time we log onto google, amazon, facebook or ring a callcentre.

We have been investigating IoT for over a year, particularly with regard to condition monitoring for asset management and several of our team were involved in recent training that included a hands on session for Microsoft Field Services. This is built on the Dynamics 365 platform as an extension of CRM and offer comprehensive features for field service: help desk, engineer scheduling and mobile operations. Field service is aimed at service companies with a large field force of service engineers and is typically integrated with erp systems and thus the overall project can be quite complex. To reduce the risk and implementation time we offer a proven accelerator.

We also offer a Enterprise Asset Management suite which is successfully deployed in several leading UAE companies for a number of years particularly for asset tracking.

In Dynamics 365/2012 for Ax EAM also needs to consider that both engineers and equipment may be sued is production or on projects. Thus engineering and maintenance scheduling also has to consider in house planned and breakdown maintenance and servicing and more complex overhauls and asset structures, the impact of equipment downtime on production schedules and much more. We offer a Microsoft certified isv integrated suite of EAM modules built on the Ax 2012/D365 platform that covers both field service and mobile as well as in in house maintenance.

Predictive maintenance and SCADA integration and extensive condition monitoring., embedded and Power BI analytics are no longer rocket science.

At a recent client 4 day workshop we demonstrated HOLO lens assisted reality to support engineers. This can for example be used to provide step by step guidance or for collaboration from the field with an OEM a remote manufacturer, or your chief engineer.

VAT key steps – Synergy Software Systems, Dubai.

January 8th, 2018

- Maintain regular accounting books and records

Account maintenance is now mandatory under UAE VAT Law and it facilitates the correct receipt and payment of cash and other transactions entered by a company. Audited accounts will be needed so don’t wait till year end to find an auditor that suits your business.

2- Make changes to the core processes and accounting departments

It is important to change your core processes and adapt your accounting departments to achieve tax compliance. For SMEs, with limited transactions, the task is easier as the transition is less likely to require significant systematic change or they might use an external bookkeeper or tax agent.

3- Train staff, especially financial management

Employees need proper insight around GCC-wide initiatives to implement VAT across the region and how companies should prepare. Help them de-mystify VAT by providing on the job training and a framework to raise and clarify queries. Avoid disputes with trading partners and ensure staff have the relevant information and training to resolve issues that arise.

4- Review your contracts and the contracts and conditions agreed with dealers

Many businesses negotiated contracts at a time VAT was not payable but running across the implementation dates. It is time to now bring contracts into step with the UAE’s economic context.

- Consider accounting software for bookkeeping

Electronic reporting systems are increasingly being used by tax authorities. The ability to produce the required audit file details on demand will be difficult without a system. Companies that use electronic invoicing are likely to improve the timing of VAT recovery on costs.

6- Adhere to VAT deadlines

Register your company to avoid a fine as severe as AED 20,000. The Federal Tax Authority (FTA) has already been extend the deadline to the 1st January and if you don’t complete VAT registrations you will also have to stop sales till you get your tax registration certificate (TRC).

Note initial returns are due 28 January 2018 so time is running out.

7- Study UAE tax legislation

The implementation of taxes in the UAE came with a whole new set of procedures. we recommend to study and get familiar with the different laws in place including the UAE VAT Law and to discuss with your auditor, tax agent and software provider.

8- Keep an eye out for new information

There have been a slew of clarifications in the last month and some details are still not finalised e.g. with regard to free zones, or which companies will report monthly and which quarterly.

U.A.E. VAT rates

December 9th, 2017

The Federal Tax Authority (FTA) has announced the supplies that will be subject to Value Added Tax (VAT) as of January 1, 2018.Selected supplies in sectors such as transportation, real estate and financial services will be completely exempt from VAT, whereas certain government activities will be outside the scope of the tax system (and, therefore, not subject to tax). These include activities that are solely carried out by the government with no competition with the private sector, activities carried out by non-profit organisations.

The UAE Cabinet is expected to issue a decision to identify the government bodies and non-profit organisations that are not subject to VAT.

VAT treatment on select industries:
Education
Private and public school education (excluding higher education) and related goods and services provided by education institution 0%
Higher education provided by institution owned by government or 50% funded by government, and related goods and services 0%
Education provided by private higher educational institutions, and related goods and services 5%
Nursery education and pre-school education 0%
School uniforms 5%
Stationery 5%
Electronic equipment (tablets, laptops, etc.) 5%
Renting of school grounds for events 5%
After school activities for extra fee 5%
After school activities supplied by teachers and not for extra charge 0%
School trips where purpose is educational and within curriculum 0%
School trips for recreation or not within curriculum 5%

Healthcare:

Preventive healthcare services including vaccinations 0%
Healthcare services aimed at treatment of humans including medical services and dental services 0%
Other healthcare services that are not for treatment and are not preventive (e.g. elective, cosmetic, etc) 5%
Medicines and medical equipment as listed in Cabinet Decision 0%
Medicines and medical equipment not listed in Cabinet Decision 5%
Other medical supplies 5%

Oil and Gas:

Crude oil and natural gas 0%
Other oil and gas products including petrol at the pump 5%

Transportation:

Domestic passenger transportation (including flights within UAE) Exempt
International transportation of passengers and goods (including intra-GCC) 0%
Supply of a means of transport (air, sea and land) for the commercial transportation of goods and passengers (over 10 people) 0%
Supply of goods and services relating to these means of transport and to the transportation of goods and passengers 0%

Real Estate:

Sale and rent of commercial buildings (not residential buildings) 5%
First sale/rent of residential building after completion of construction or conversion 0%
First sale of charitable building 0%
Sale/rent of residential buildings subsequent to first supply Exempt
Hotels, motels and serviced accommodation 5%
Bare land Exempt
Land (not bare land) 5%
UAE citizen building own home 5% (recoverable)

Financial Services:

Margin based products (products not having an explicit fee, commission, rebate, discount or similar) Exempt
Products with an explicit fee, commission, rebate, discount or similar 5%
Interest on forms of lending (including loans, credit cards, finance leasing) Exempt
Issue, allotment or transfer of an equity or debt security Exempt

Insurance and Re-insurance:

Insurance and reinsurance (including health, motor, property, etc) 5%
Life insurance and life reinsurance Exempt

Food and Beverages: 5% VAT rate

Telecommunications and electronic services:

Wired and wireless telecommunications and electronic services: 5% VAT rate
Telecommunications and electronic services:
– Sovereign activities which are not in competition with the private sector undertaken by designated government bodies Considered outside VAT system
– Activities that are not sovereign or are in competition with the private sector VAT rate dependent on good/service ignoring provider

Not for Profit Organizations:

Activities of foreign governments, international organisations, diplomatic bodies and missions acting as such (if not in business in the UAE) Considered outside VAT system
Charitable activities undertaken by societies and associations of public welfare which are listed by Cabinet Decision Considered outside VAT system
Activities of other not for profit organizations (not listed in Cabinet Decision) which are not business activities Considered outside VAT system
Business activities undertaken by the above organizations VAT rate dependent on good/service ignoring provider

Free zones:

Supplies of goods between businesses in designated zones Considered outside VAT system
Supplies of services between businesses in designated zones VAT rate dependent on service ignoring location
Supplies of goods and services in non-designated zones VAT rate dependent on good/service ignoring location
Supplies of goods and services from mainland to designated zones or designated zones to mainland VAT rate dependent on good/service ignoring location

Other:

Export of goods and services to outside the GCC implementing states 0%
Activities undertaken by employees in the course of their employment, including salaries Considered outside VAT system
Supplies between members of a single tax group Considered outside VAT system
Any supplies of services or goods not mentioned above (includes any items sold in the UAE or service provided) 5%
Second hand goods (e.g. used cars sold by retailers), antiques and collectors’ items 5% of the profit margin

The UAE and Saudi Arabia are the two GCC member countries which will implement Value Added Tax (VAT) Reform from 1st January 2018 whereas the remaining member countries will implement over the coming years.

According to the UAE tax officials, it is anticipated that the new tax reform will help to generate nearly Dh12 billion (around 0.8 percent of GDP) revenue in the initial year after the introduction of the VAT. It might increase to Dh20 billion (around 1.2 percent of GDP) in the succeeding year (2019).

VAT registration U.A.E. – act now deadlines are imminent

October 17th, 2017

The UAE Federal Tax Authority (FTA) online portal is open 24/7 to allow for taxpayers to register for VAT purposes. The FTA has also determined the deadlines for the application for VAT registration based on business turnover.
For larger companies VAT registration is required by 31 October 2017, and such businesses should
immediately consider the timeline requirement given their turnover profile and the other registration
requirements.
Businesses that are required to register for VAT will need to set up an online account on the FTA website and complete the VAT registration form.

The FTA has announced that a phased registration approach has been introduced. In particular, those businesses that meet these criteria must comply with the relevant application dates for registration:
● Businesses with an annual turnover exceeding AED 150 million must apply for registration by
31 October 2017
● Businesses with an annual turnover exceeding AED 10 million must apply for registration by 30 November 2017

● Remaining businesses with an annual turnover exceed the mandatory registration threshold
(expected to be AED 375,000) must apply for registration by 4 December 2017
Prior to the fulfilment of the VAT registration form, the FTA provides a “Getting Started Guide” that shares essential information that businesses should be aware of. This includes information on the registration criteria, registration of a VAT group, and necessity to register if only zero-rated supplies are made.

Additional details clarifying the VAT registration mechanism are found in the VAT registration guide, a document posted on FTA online portal under the “Advice” tab. This document captures the
calculation of turnover for VAT purposes, a walk-through of VAT registration through the FTA
registration portal, registration of a VAT group and types of books and records required to be held by a
taxpayer to ensure accurate tax compliance.

We strongly advise for businesses to visit the FTA website to initiate their VAT registration application by
their applicable deadline after having considered the guidance provided by the FTA and other advice
as required (for instance VAT Grouping).
Businesses should allow time to compile the required information for the VAT registration.

Security security security

September 26th, 2017

You never know when some item that queries or alters data in SQL Server will cause issues.

Bruce Schneier recently commented on FaceID and Bluetooth security, the latter of which has a vulnerability issue. I was amazed to see his piece on infrared camera hacking. A POC on using light to jump air gaps is truly frightening. It seems that truly anywhere that we are processing data, we need to be thinking (see https://arstechnica.com/information-technology/2017/09/attackers-can-use-surveillance-cameras-to-grab-data-from-air-gapped-networks/)

Airborne attacks, unfortunately, provide a number of opportunities for the attacker. First, spreading through the air renders the attack much more contagious, and allows it to spread with minimum effort. Second, it allows the attack to bypass current security measures and remain undetected, as traditional methods do not protect from airborne threats. Airborne attacks can also allow hackers to penetrate secure internal networks which are “air gapped,” meaning they are disconnected from any other network for protection. This can endanger industrial systems, government agencies, and critical infrastructure. With BlueBorne, attackers can gain full control right from the start. Moreover, Bluetooth offers a wider attacker surface than WiFi, almost entirely unexplored by the research community and hence contains far more vulnerabilities

Finally, unlike traditional malware or attacks, the user does not have to click on a link or download a questionable file. No action by the user is necessary to enable the attack.

Fully patched Windows and iOS systems are protected

– the Equifax breach for example must worry everyone who has ever had credit in the USA. (Hackers broke into Equifax’s computer systems in March, which is two months earlier than the company had previously disclosed, according to a Wall Street Journal report.)

The Securities and Exchange Commission said Wednesday that a cyber breach of a filing system it uses may have provided the basis for some illegal trading in 2016. In a statement posted on the SEC’s website, Chairman Jay Clayton said a review of the agency’s cybersecurity risk profile determined that the previously detected “incident” was caused by “a software vulnerability” in its EDGAR filing system (which processes over 1.7 million electronic filings in any given year.) The agency also discovered instances in which its personnel used private, unsecured email accounts to transmit confidential information.

So let me suggest take a good look at your systems and be honest – do you feel safe?

Microsoft has released Microsoft 365, a complete, intelligent solution, including Office 365, Windows 10, and Enterprise Mobility + Security, that empowers everyone to be creative and work together, securely. Watch Satya introduce it.

What about your websites?
Although acts of vandalism such as defacing corporate websites are still commonplace, hackers prefer to gain access to the sensitive data residing on the database server and then to sell the data.

The costs of not giving due attention to your web security are extensive and apart form direct financial burden and inconvenience also risks:
• Loss of customer confidence, trust and reputation with the consequent harm to brand equity
• Negative impact on revenues and profits arising e.g. from falsified transactions, or from
employee downtime
• Website downtime – is in effect the closure of one of the most important sales and marketing channels
especially for an e-business
• Legal battles and related implications from Web application attacks and poor security
measures including fines and damages to be paid to victims.

Web Security Weaknesses
Hackers will attempt to gain access to your database server through any way they can e.g. out of date protocols on a router. Two main targets are :
• Web and database servers.
• Web applications.

Information about such exploits are readily available on the Internet, and many have been reported on this blog previously.

Web Security Scanning
So no surprise that Web security should contain two important components: web and database server security, and web application security.

Addressing web application security is as critical as addressing server security.

Firewalls and similar intrusion detection mechanisms provide little defense against full-scale web
attacks.
Since your website needs to be public, security mechanisms allow public web traffic to
communicate with your web and databases servers (i.e. over port 80).

It is of paramount importance to scan the security of these web assets on the network for possible vulnerabilities. For example, modern database systems (e.g. Microsoft SQL Server, Oracle and MySQL) may be
accessed through specific ports and so anyone can attempt direct connections to the databases to try and bypass the security mechanisms used by the operating system. These ports remain open to allow communication with legitimate traffic and therefore constitute a major vulnerability.

Other weaknesses relate to the database application itself and the use of weak or default passwords by
administrators. Vendors patch their products regularly, and equally regularly find new ways of
attack.

75% of cyber attacks target weaknesses within web applications rather than directly at the
servers. Hackers launch web application attacks on port 80 . Web applications are more open to uncovered vulnerabilities since these are generally custom-built and therefore pass through a lesser degree of
testing than off-the-shelf software.

Some hackers, for example, maliciously inject code within vulnerable web applications to trick users
and redirect them towards phishing sites. This technique is called Cross-Site Scripting (XSS) and may
be used even though the web and database servers contain no vulnerability themselves.

Hence, any web security audit must answer the questions “which elements of our network
infrastructure are open to hack attacks?”,
“which parts of a website are open to hack attacks?”, and “what data can we throw at an application to cause it to perform something it shouldn’t do?”

Ask us about Acunetix and Web Security
Acunetix ensures web site security by automatically checking for SQL Injection, Cross Site Scripting,
and other vulnerabilities. It checks password strength on authentication pages and automatically
audits shopping carts, forms, dynamic content and other web applications. As the scan is being
completed, the software produces detailed reports that pinpoint where vulnerabilities exist

GDPR Affects All European Businesses – What about the G.C.C. and U.A.E.?

August 19th, 2017

See our previous article on this topic for why your company may be affected if you are a branch of a European company, or have branches in Europe, or trade with a European company.

From May 25, 2018, companies with business operations inside the European Union must follow the General Data Protection Regulations (GDPR) to safeguard how they process personal data “wholly or partly by automated means and to the processing other than by automated means of personal data which form part of a filing system or are intended to form part of a filing system.”

The penalties set for breaches of GDPR are up to 4% of a company’s annual global turnover.
For large companies like Microsoft that have operations within the EU, making sure that IT systems do not contravene GDPR is critical. As we saw on August 3, even the largest software operations like Office 365 can have a data breach.

Many applications can store data that might come under the scope of GDPR. the regulation has a considerable influence over how tenants deal with personal data. The definition of personal data is “any information relating to an identified or identifiable natural person (‘data subject’); an identifiable natural person is one who can be identified, directly or indirectly, in particular by reference to an identifier such as a name, an identification number, location data, an online identifier or to one or more factors specific to the physical, physiological, genetic, mental, economic, cultural or social identity of that natural person.”
GDPR goes on to define processing of personal data to be “any operation or set of operations which is performed on personal data or on sets of personal data, whether or not by automated means, such as collection, recording, organisation, structuring, storage, adaptation or alteration, retrieval, consultation, use, disclosure by transmission, dissemination or otherwise making available, alignment or combination, restriction, erasure or destruction.”

That means that individuals have the right to ask companies to tell them what of their personal data a company holds, and to correct errors in their personal data, or to erase that data completely.

Companies therefore need to:
- review and know what personal data they hold,
- make sure that they obtain consents from people to store that data,
– protect the data,
- and notify authorities when data breaches occur.

On first reading, this might sound like what companies do – or at least try to do – today. The difference lies in the strength of the regulation and the weight of the penalties should anything go wrong.

GDPR deserves your attention.

The definitions used by GDPR are broad. To move from the theoretical to the real world an organization first needs to understand what personal data it currently holds for its business operations, and where they use the data within software applications.

It is easy to hold personal information outside of business applications like finance and erp and crm e.g. inside Office 365 applications, including:
• Annual reviews written about employees stored in a SharePoint or OneDrive for Business site.
• A list of applicants for a position in an Excel worksheet attached to an email message.
• Tables holding data (names, employee numbers, hire dates, salaries) about employees in SharePoint sites.
• Outlook contacts, and emails. Skype business,
• Social media sites
• Loyalty programmes
• T@A systems
• E commerce sites
• Mobile apps e.g. What’s App

Other examples might include contract documentation, project files that includes someone’s personal information, and so on.

What backups do you have of the customer’s data?
What business data do your staff hold on BYOD devices e.g. in What’s App?

Data Governance Helps
Fortunately, the work done inside Office 365 in the areas of data governance and compliance help tenants to satisfy the requirements of GDPR. These features include:
• Classification labels and policies to mark content that holds personal data.
• Auto-label policies to find and classify personal data as defined by GDPR. Retention processing can then remove items stamped with the GDPR label from mailboxes and sites after a defined period, perhaps after going through a manual disposition process.
• Content searches to find personal data marked as coming under the scope of GDPR.
• Alert policies to detect actions that might be violations of the GDPR such as someone downloading multiple documents over a brief period from a SharePoint site that holds confidential documentation.
• Searches of the Office 365 audit log to discover and report potential GDPR issues.
• Azure Information Protection labels to encrypt documents and spreadsheets holding personal data by applying RMS templates so that unauthorized parties cannot read the documents even if they leak outside the organization.

Technology that exists today within Office 365 that can help with GDPR.

Classification Labels
Create a classification label to mark personal data coming under the scope of GDPR and then apply that label to relevant content. When you have Office 365 E5 licenses, create an auto-label policy to stamp the label on content in Exchange, SharePoint, and OneDrive for Business found because documents and messages hold sensitive data types known to Office 365.

GDPR sensitive data types

Select from the set of sensitive data types available in Office 365.
The set is growing steadily as Microsoft adds new definitions.
At the time of writing, 82 types are available, 31 of which are obvious candidates to use in a policy because those are for sensitive data types such as country-specific identity cards or passports.

Figure 1: Selecting personal data types for an auto-label policy (image credit: Tony Redmond)

GDPR Policy

The screenshot in Figure 2 shows a set of sensitive data types selected for the policy. The policy applies a label called “GDPR personal data” to any content found in the selected locations that matches any of the 31 data types.

Auto-apply policies can cover all Exchange mailboxes and SharePoint and OneDrive for Business sites in a tenant – or a selected sub-set of these locations.


Figure 2: The full set of personal data types for a GDPR policy (image credit: Tony Redmond)

Use classification labels to mark GDPR content so that you can search for this content using the ComplianceTag keyword (for instance, ComplianceTag:”GDPR personal data”).

Caveats:
It may take 1-2 week before auto-label policies apply to all locations.
An auto-label policy will not overwrite a label that already exists on an item.

A problem is that classification labels only cover some of Office 365. Some examples of popular applications where you cannot yet use labels are:
• Teams.
• Planner.
• Yammer.

Microsoft plans to expand the Office 365 data governance framework to other locations (applications) over time.
Master data management
What about all the applications running on SQL or other databases?
Master Data Management MDM is a feature of SQL since SQL 2012. However, when you have many data sources then you are relay into an ETL process and even with MDM tools the work is still significant.

If you have extensive requirements then ask us about Profisee our specialist, productized MDM solution built on top of SQL MDM that allows you to do much of the work by configuration.

Right of Erasure
Finding GDPR data is only part of the problem. Article 17 of GDPR (the “right of erasure”), says: “The data subject shall have the right to obtain from the controller the erasure of personal data concerning him or her without undue delay.” In other words, someone has the right to demand that an organization should erase any of their personal data that exists within the company’s records.

Content searches can find information about someone using their name, employee number, or other identifiers as search keywords, but erasing the information is something that probably also needs manual processing to ensure that the tenant removes the right data, and only that data.

You can find and remove documents and other items that hold someone’s name or other identifier belonging to them by using tools such as Exchange’s v Search-Mailbox cmdlet, or Office 365 content searches.
What if the the data ahs to be retained because the company needs to keep items for regulatory or legal purposes, can you then go ahead and remove the items?
The purpose of placing content on-hold is to ensure that no-one, including administrators, can remove that information from Exchange or SharePoint.

The GDPR requirement to erase data on request means that administrators might have to release holds placed on Exchange, SharePoint, and OneDrive for Business locations to remove the specified data. Once you release a hold, you weaken the argument that held data is immutable. The danger exists that background processes or users can then either remove or edit previously-held data and so undermine a company’s data governance strategy.

The strict reading of GDPR is that organizations must process requests to erase personal data upon request.
What if the company needs to keep some of the data to satisfy regulations governing financial transactions, taxation, employment claims, or other interactions? This is a dilemma for IT. Lawyers will undoubtedly have to interpret requests and understand the consequences before making decisions and it is likely that judges will have to decide some test cases in different jurisdictions before full clarity exists.

Hybrid is even More Difficult

Microsoft is working to help Office 365 tenants with GDPR. However, I don’t see the same effort going to help on-premises customers. Some documentation exists to deal with certain circumstances (like how to remove messages held in Recoverable Items), but it seems that on-premises customers have to figure out a lot things for themselves.

This is understandable. Each on-premises deployment differs slightly and exists inside specific IT environments. Compared to the certainty of Office 365, developing software for on-premises deployment must accommodate the vertical and company specific requirements with integrations and bespoke developments.

On-premises software is more flexible, but it is also more complicated.
Solutions to help on-premises customers deal with GDPR are more of a challenge than Microsoft or other software vendors wants to take on especially given the industry focus of moving everything to the cloud.

Solutions like auto-label policies are unavailable for on-premises servers. Those running on-premises SharePoint and Exchange systems must find their own ways to help the businesses that they serve deal with personal data in a manner that respects GDPR. Easier said than done and needs to start sooner than later.

SharePoint Online GitHub Hub

If you work with SharePoint Online, you might be interested in the SharePoint GDPR Activity Hub. At present, work is only starting, but it is a nway to share information and code with similarly-liked people.

ISV Initiatives

There many ISV-sponsored white papers on GDPR and how their technology can help companies cope with the new regulations. There is no doubt that these white papers are valuable, if only for the introduction and commentary by experts that the papers usually feature. But before you resort to an expensive investment, ask yourself whether the functionality available in Office 365 or SQL is enough.

Technology Only Part of the Solution

GDPR will effect Office 365 because it will make any organization operating in the European Union aware of new responsibilities to protect personal data. Deploy Office 365 features to support users in their work, but do not expect Office 365 to be a silver bullet for GDPR. Technology seldom solves problems on its own. The nature of regulations like GDPR is that training and preparation are as important if not more important than technology to ensure that users recognize and properly deal with personal data in their day-to-day activities.

CAFM for hotels – what’s new in SynergyMMS version 3.7.5

July 22nd, 2017

New to SynergyMMS Desktop:

Event type: Defect or Request (optional)
A defect is when something is wrong or missing, and a request is something a guest asks for or wants extra. (Example: When a guest asks for an extra pillow, that is a request. If the guest asks for a pillow because there was not one in the room, that is a defect.)

Pooling: New “Circular” mode
Assigns an equal number of work items to users in a given pool based on order of devices, and then circular.

Snagging/Punch List Inspection Reports
“Snags” now have status icons in the reports, Excel spreadsheet layout has been improved, and you can now view any attached images in the Excel report as well.

JAWS (for vision impaired users)
It is now easier to select custom views and the tabbing order has been improved. Shift+Ctrl+L= Custom View drop down

Guest Information

New to SynergyMMS Mobile:
Auto-Logout

Properties can set the time period of inactivity before a device is logged out automatically. This will also manage those who may have forgotten to log out of their device at the end of the day.

Guest Information
Guest information is now visible on the mobile app! This will help employees be able to serve guests better.

Snagging/Punch List Inspection
The snag work request view shows specific snag information, and when a snag item is corrected the corresponding work order previously created will close out.

Other Improvements
- Mobile will remember your filter settings and how the user wants to see the data.
- The “Sync” button will now turn green and red indicating whether the app has synchronised yet, or whether its waiting for a better signal.
- “Not Connected” and other in-app notifications will be suppressed and will retry before displaying.

New to SynergyMMS Enterprise Voice:
Event Type: Defect or Request (optional)
As mentioned above, the option to select defect or request is available in Voice as well, thus making reporting more organized and conclusive.
Equipment
Now able to create a work request for a specific piece of equipment from the voice menu.
Voice Prompts
Voice prompts have been re-ordered to flow smoother and make more sense.

New to PerfectRoom:
“Due in” is now available
With an HTNG compliant PMS, PerfectRoom can now receive “Due in’s”, or they can be done manually by right clicking.
Green Status
Green Status rooms can now be set in the desktop.
Supervisors can Update Room Condition
Supervisors, or those with proper user rights, can now update room conditions manually on the PerfectRoom desktop by right clicking.

VAT for the U.A.E. some updates – July 2017

July 15th, 2017

Any taxable person must retain VAT invoices issued and received for a minimum of 5 years.

Imports
The place of supply will determine whether a supply is made within the UAE (in which case the UAE VAT law will apply), or outside the UAE for VAT purposes. For a supply of goods, the place of supply should be the location of goods when the supply takes place – with special rules for certain categories of supplies (e.g. water and energy, cross border supplies).

For the supply of services, the place of supply should be where the supplier is established – (with special rules for certain categories of supplies e.g. cross border supplies between businesses).

VAT shall be payable in addition to the custom duties paid by the importer of the goods and cannot be deducted against. VAT shall be computed on the value that includes the customs duties.

Some goods that are imported may be exempt from customs duties but be subject to VAT.

VAT is due on the goods and services purchased from abroad. In case the recipient in the State is a registered person with the Federal Tax Authority for VAT purposes, the VAT would be due on that import using a reverse charge mechanism. In case the recipient in the State is a non-registered person for VAT purposes, VAT would be paid on import of goods from a place outside the GCC. Such VAT will typically be required to be paid before the goods are released to the person.

Exempt and zero rate
- The VAT treatment of real estate will depend on whether it is a commercial or residential property.
Supplies (including sales or leases) of commercial properties will be taxable at the standard VAT rate (i.e 5%).
- Supplies of residential properties will generally be exempt from VAT to ensure that VAT does not constitute an irrecoverable cost to persons who buy their own properties. To ensure that real estate developers can recover VAT on construction of residential properties, the first supply of residential properties within 3 years from their completion will be zero-rated.

There is a difference between exempt goods and zero rate. (for example zero rate might be raised in future).
VAT will be charged at 0% in respect of the following main categories of supplies:
• Exports of goods and services to outside the GCC;
• International transportation, and related supplies;
• Supplies of certain sea, air and land means of transportation (such as aircrafts and ships);
• Certain investment grade precious metals (e.g. gold, silver, of 99% purity);
• Newly constructed residential properties, that are supplied for the first time within 3 years of their construction ;
• Supply of certain education services, and supply of relevant goods and services;
• Supply of certain Healthcare services, and supply of relevant goods and services.

The following categories of supplies will be exempt from VAT:
• The supply of some financial services (clarified in VAT legislation);
• Residential properties;
• Bare land;
• Local passenger transport

Financial Services
It is expected that fee based financial services will be taxed but margin based products are likely to be exempt.
Generally, insurance (vehicle, medical, etc) will be taxable.
Life insurance, we understand will be treated as an exempt financial service

The VAT treatment of standard financial services and Islamic finance products, the treatment of Islamic finance products will be aligned with the treatment of similar standard financial services

Businesses that meet requirements the Legislation (such as being resident in the UAE and being related/associated parties) will be able to register as a VAT group. For some businesses, VAT grouping will be a useful tool to simplify accounting for VAT.

Offsetting VAT.
VAT registered businesses will be able to reduce their output tax liability by the amount of VAT that relates to bad debt which has been written off by the VAT registered business. The legislation will include the conditions and limitations concerning the use of this relief.

A scheme will be introduced to allow a UAE national who is not registered for VAT to reclaim VAT paid on goods and services relating to constructing a new residence which will be privately used by the person and his family. This will allow the recovery of VAT on such expenses as contractor’s services and building materials.

To avoid double taxation (where second hand goods are acquired by a registered person from an unregistered person for the purpose of resale), the VAT-registered person will be able to account for VAT on sales of second hand goods with reference to: the difference between the purchase price of the goods, and the selling price of the goods (that is, the profit margin).

The VAT which must be accounted for by the registered person, will be included in the profit margin. The legislation will include the details of the conditions to be met in order to apply this mechanism.

VAT on expenses
A VAT registered person incurs input tax on its business expenses, and this input tax can be recovered in full when it relates to a taxable supply that was made, or intended to be made, by the registered person. In contrast, where the expense relates to a non-taxable supply (e.g. exempt supplies), then the registered person may not recover the input tax paid.

VAT will not be deductible in respect of expenses incurred for making non-taxable supplies. Furthermore, input tax cannot be deducted when it is incurred in respect of specific expenses such as entertainment expenses e.g. for employee entertainment.

VAT on expenses that were incurred by a business can be deducted in the following circumstances:
• The business must be a taxable person (the end consumer cannot claim any input tax refund).
• VAT should have been charged correctly (i.e. unduly charged VAT is not recoverable).
• The business must hold documentation showing the VAT paid (e.g. valid tax invoice).
• The goods or services acquired are used or intended to be used for making taxable supplies.
• VAT input tax refund can be claimed only on the amount paid or intended to be paid before the expiration of 6 months after the agreed date for the payment of the supply.

In certain situations, an expense may relate to both taxable and non-taxable supplies made by the registered person (such as activities of the banking sector). In these circumstances, the registered person would need to apportion input tax between the taxable and non-taxable (exempt) supplies.

Businesses will be expected to use input tax (ratio of recoverable to total) as a basis for apportionment in the first instance – (there will be the facility to use other methods where those are fair and agreed with the Federal Tax Authority).

Compliance and returns
Penalties will be imposed for non-compliance. Examples of actions and omissions that may give raise to penalties include:
• A person failing to register when required to do so;
• A person failing to submit a tax return or make a payment within the required period;
• A person failing to keep the records required under the issued tax legislation;
• Tax evasion offences where a person performs a deliberate act or omission with the intention of violating the provisions of the issued tax legislation.

No special rules are planned for small or medium sized enterprises. The FTA will provide materials and resources available for these entities to assist them in their enquiries.

A supplier registered or required to be registered for VAT must issue a valid VAT invoice for the supply. To be considered as a valid VAT invoice, the document must follow a specific format as mentioned in the legislation. In certain situations the supplier may be able to issue a simplified VAT invoice.

Government entities
Supplies made by government entities will typically be subject to VAT. This will ensure that government entities are not unfairly advantaged as compared to private businesses. Certain supplies made by government entities will, however, be excluded from the scope of VAT if they are not in competition with the private sector or where the entity is the sole provider of such supplies. It is likely certain government entities will be entitled to VAT refunds – this is designed to avoid budgeting issues and provide a level playing field between outsourced and insourced activities. For the supplies provided for government entities, the treatment of such supplies shall depend on the same supply and not on the recipient of the supply. Therefore, if the supply is subject to the standard tax rate, the treatment would remain the same even if it is provided to a government entity.

Transitional rules
Special rules will be provided to deal with various situations that may arise in respect of supplies that span the introduction of VAT. For example:
• Where a payment is received in respect of a supply of goods before the introduction of VAT, but the goods are actually delivered after the introduction of VAT. This means that VAT will have to be charged on such supplies. Likewise, special rules will apply with regards to supplies of services spanning the introduction of VAT.
• Where a contract is concluded prior to the introduction of VAT in respect of a supply, which is wholly or partly made after the introduction of VAT, and the contract does not contain clauses relating to the VAT treatment of the supply, then consideration for the supply will be treated as inclusive of VAT.

There will, however, be special provisions to allow suppliers to charge VAT in situations where their recipient is able to recover their VAT but where there is no VAT clause.

Payments and claims
Note that VAT will be payable in full not after netting off input tax which will then have to be claimed. This is more of a challenge for cash flow and business risk, especially given the penalties for late payments.
Refunds will be made after the receipt of the application and will be subject to verification checks, with a particular focus to avoid fraud.

The FTA may provide its views on various matters in the law. Taxpayers may choose to challenge these views. However, penalties may be imposed on taxpayers who are found to violate any tax laws and regulations.

Other Emirates
It is expected that businesses will need to complete additional information on their VAT returns to report revenues earned in each Emirate. Guidance will be provided to businesses with regards to this. It is expected that the rules will be relatively straightforward for most businesses and will be based, for example, for B2C transactions, on the location of the transaction (e.g. in a retail environment, the location of the shop).

European Union General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) – 2018 what should GCC countries consider?

May 30th, 2017

The UAE Ministry of Economy is raising awareness among private sector companies of the need to be ready for new European data protection rules, which comes into force one year from now.

The European Union General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is set to become law by May 2018. The new rules govern all companies in Europe, as well as all companies trading with European companies and individuals.

The GDPR was drafted to “harmonise the protection of fundamental rights and freedoms of natural persons in respect of processing activities and to ensure the free flow of personal data between Member States

The law includes strong penalties for either misuse of data, or failure to protect the personal data of customers, with fines of up to 4% of annual turnover, or 20m euros ($22m).

HE Juma Mohammed Al Kait, Assistant Undersecretary for Foreign Trade at the Ministry of Economy, noted that the regulation issued by the EU aims to protect the data of every individual in the EU.

This not only impacts companies operating in European countries, but includes all institutions and companies that conduct business, trade and investment activities within EU countries, including the UAE business sector linked with European trade relations.

Due to this, the Ministry is working on deepening its knowledge about the new legislation, its provisions and requirements, and aims to reconcile its operational procedures with European authorities, in adherence with the framework of the GDPR, before May 2018.

Al Kait emphasized the EU is one of the UAE’s most important trade partners. Trade between the two sides generated $65.8 billion in 2016 alone. The UAE has become one of the top 10 destinations for EU exports, and is home to over 41,000 European companies, in addition to over 121,000 EU citizens.

Penalties will also apply to information controllers and processors, including cloud software companies.

The new legislation also outlines terms of approval for the use of data, to prevent companies from using legally illegitimate terms, and gives both parties the ability to easily withdraw if desired.

The compliance world will change dramatically for a number of GCC organizations on 25 May 2018. In just over one year’s time GCC organizations that:
1.have a branch, subsidiary or single representative in the European Union (“EU”);
2.do not have a physical presence in the EU, but offer goods or services to data subjects in the EU; or
3.neither have a physical presence in the EU nor offer goods or services to people in the EU, but monitor the online behavior of data subjects in the EU, will have to ensure that they are complying with the European Union General Data Protection Regulation (“GDPR”).

Who is likely to be affected?

Based on the test set out in the GDPR, the new regulations will likely apply to a significant number of entities in this region.
Obvious examples include:
– major airlines that fly to and from the EU,
- hotel and tourism operators who promote travel to the region to EU data subjects,
- regional banks and other financial service companies that have branches in the financial centres in the EU and online.

Less obvious examples include:
- e-commerce companies that are able to accept payments in euros and deliver to the EU
- mobile apps that can be downloaded by users in the EU and which have access to a user’s contacts, photos or location data.

All of these businesses may need to comply with the GDPR and to mitigate the risk and cost of failure to do so.
If your organization is affected it has three main options:
1. wait and see i.e. do nothing (not advisable);
2.consider what it needs to do to ensure that it does not fall within the scope of the GDPR;
3. take immediate steps to prepare to comply with the GDPR .

For option (2), if your organization does not have an establishment in the EU and does not need to target or monitor EU data subjects then you ight consider making it very clear that your website or app is not for use by EU users (e.g. including geo-blocking EU data subjects).

for option (3), if you have not started the process of ensuring compliance by now, then there is a lot to do.

1.monitor business to consumer business practices, including:
- conducting a data protection audit,
- examining the legal basis on which it processes personal data and updates its privacy policies;
2.monitor internal business practices, including:
- review and update of agreements with data processors,
- implement processes for adoption of pseudoanonymization and privacy by design
- considering the legal basis on which it transfers personal data between jurisdictions;
3.establish compliant accountability processes, including”
- processes for record keeping,
- appointment of a data protection officer or EU representative and dealing with data subjects;
4.invest in infrastructure, including:
- how to determine the severity, and impact on data subjects of a data breach
- to establish robust security processes and procedures for notifying regulatory authorities and data subjects -

The need for compliance, especially for longer-term projects such as records of processing and compliant contracting, must be addressed as soon as is practicable.

Businesses that either operate, target customers or monitor individuals in the EU should :
• Audit: to identify key remediation areas.
• Record of Processing: This mandatory record will require significant internal resources, but will also help to plan and implement GDPR processes. .
• Consider Contract Renegotiations: The GDPR requires that contracts with data controllers include additional obligations. As companies come to renegotiate contracts, ensure that adequate data protection clauses are added.
• Review and update, where necessary, employee notices to be GDPR compliant. If you currently conduct criminal records checks, then review national laws where you operate to ensure you can continue to do so . There is an emphasis on transparency in the GDPR. Notices must be clear, concise and informative. Employees must be adequately informed of all data processing activities and data transfers and the information set out in Articles 13 to 14 must be provided. Criminal records can no longer be processed unless authorized by member state law.

Consider whether your organization is processing any sensitive personal data and ensure the requirements for
processing such data are satisfied While the grounds for processing are broadly the same as those set out
in the current Data Privacy Directive, the GDPR imposes new requirements to gain valid consent. Consent can be withdrawn at any time and systems must be able to handle withdrawal request.

• Review and update, where necessary, customer notices to be GDPR compliant
• Consider whether your notices have to accommodate “child-friendly requirements”. he GDPR requires parental consent for the processing of data related to information society services offered to a “child” (ranging
from 13 to 16 years old depending on the member state.
• Data privacy rights. The current rights to request access to data or require it to be rectified or deleted have been expanded to include a much broader right to require deletion (“the right to be forgotten”), a right not just to access your data but have it provided to you in a machine readable format (“data portability”). Versions of the existing right to object to any processing undertaken on the basis of legitimate interests or for direct marketing and the right not to be subject to decision based on automated processing are also included and expressly refer a right to object to profiling.
These must be clearly communicated in the notices given to data subjects, e.g. privacy policy
• Privacy by design. Ensure processes are in place to embed privacy by design into projects (e.g. technical and organizational measures are in place to ensure data minimization, purpose limitation and security)

Consider what data you hold in emails, in CRM systems, Social media.
What should be your data access use and retention policies?

Personally I think it will be great if this is a way to prosecute the perpetrators of all the spam nd phishing emails I get or at least to remove data form their lists!

VAT registration nears for the GCC – what should you be doing now – contact Synergy Software Systems

May 29th, 2017

VAT (Value Added TAX), which is also called as ‘tax on consumption’ , is a tax that is payable while purchasing any product. VAT is applied as particular percentage of the cost of goods and services, hence it can not be considered as a charge on companies. It is a general tax amount, which is added by the producer to the inputs before they are sold as new offerings.

All UAE businesses subject to the Value-Added Tax have to submit their tax declaration statements on a quarterly basis after the VAT law goes into effect starting January 2018, according the Ministry of Finance.

The threshold for VAT registration put at Dh375,000 as per the ministry’s announcement this week.
It is optional to register between Dh187,500 and Dh375,000 .

UAE businesses will be able to start VAT registration in Q3 2017 and it is compulsory to be registered by Q4 2017.

Businesses will be able to register online using eServices.

The UAE businesses, subject to the tax, have to keep all files that allow competent authorities to audit their transactions and commercial activities, with the nature of the needed documents to be announced over the coming period. Businesses will be required to keep records which will enable the authorities to identify the details of the business activities and to review transactions. The specifics regarding the documents which will be required and the time period for keeping those will be communicated in due course.

Review your finance systems’ readiness for rapid implementation to meet these requirements. There will be a shortage of skilled consultants, and there are several holidays (EID, Diwali, Christmas, New Year, National Day etc. its also budget time, and preparation for year end audits,to fit in during the last quarter. Allow time for collection of your trading partners VAT registration ids, for report development and update, for testing and for staff training.

All six of the GCC member states: Saudi Arabia, Qatar, Oman, Kuwait, the UAE and Bahrain – have now signed and approved the VAT framework.

Registered businesses will be expected to submit VAT returns on a regular basis. It is expected that the default period for filing VAT returns will be three months for the majority of businesses. Registered businesses will be able to file their returns online using eServices.

Exemptions:
We understand that:
Health, education services, international transportation, import gold for investment purposes, commodities and exports are exempted from VAT in UAE.
Residential buildings for sale or lease during the first three years in which the building is completed, some financial services and empty plots of land are also exempted from VAT.

The GCC Member States will appreciate the VAT on financial provisions. The Banks and Financial House are ineligible for VAT in terms of the services provided, instead, they might be eligible for input tax based on tax recovery rates determined by each Member State.

The Federal Tax Authority has also announced a 100 per cent tax on tobacco, energy drinks and 50 per cent on carbonated beverages. This is separate from VAT.

The General Authority for Zakat and Income Tax (GAZT) in KSA reportedly warned businesses, during an awareness session that took place at the Riyadh Chamber of Commerce on Monday 16 May 2017, that penalties will be applicable in the cases of violation of VAT laws and regulations.

Penalties

The following types of Penalties will apply in each of the following cases:
• Case 1: Businesses required to register for VAT and that fail to register shall be liable to double the net tax due.
• Case 2: Committing an error in filling the tax return shall result in paying an additional 50% of net tax declared.

• Case 3: Exaggerated tax refund claims shall be subject to a penalty 50% of the original amount reported.
• Case 4: Late filing of tax return would result in a penalty of SAR 1,000 and an extra 5 to 20% of the unpaid tax. The percentage varies depending on the number of days of delay.
• Case 5: Non-registered person who issue an invoice with VAT shall pay SAR 1,000 or double the amount of the net tax (whichever is higher).
• Case 6: Not keeping records of the required documents shall result on a penalty of SAR 1,000 or 2% of the monthly average taxable supplies (whichever is higher).
• Case 7: Non-compliance with GAZT inquiries in providing relevant information shall result in a penalty of SRA 1,000 or 2% of the average monthly taxable supplies (SAR 20,000 maximum) or whichever is higher.

VAT planning- GCC framework is published

May 10th, 2017

The GCC’s unified agreement for value added tax (VAT) has recently been published (in Arabic only) by the
Saudi Ministry of Finance on their website.

This unified agreement sets out the framework under which VAT can be implemented in each of the
GCC member states. The framework includes agreement on certain matters but still allows member
states discretion on how to treat others.

Once the agreement is ratified, each member state can issue its own local law and implement VAT.

The UAE intends to implement VAT with effect from 1 January 2018 but other states may take another 6 months or so.

The framework paves the way for implementation, for a basic rate of VAT of five percent with certain supplies of goods and services zero rated or VAT exempt. We understand that the Ministry of Finance (MoF) will release the UAE’s law on VAT towards the end of June. This will detail how the UAE will interpret the GCC framework and how it will deal with those matters where it has discretion. These will include whether to treat certain supplies as zero rated or VAT exempt.

The local law will detail conditions for:
VAT deductions,
VAT grouping
Rules for recovering VAT in respect of financial services
Reporting formats

There is no indication of how VAT will apply to free zones.

The MoF has recently been holding a series of public awareness sessions, outlining how they
propose to apply VAT to those areas where the GCC framework allows discretion. The UAE has also
taken steps to set up its own Federal Tax Authority (FTA), which will be responsible for all VAT
matters in the UAE.

The framework provides information to start planning for VAT.

VAT will impact all businesses in the UAE, either directly or indirectly.

So carefully review your systems and review their processes to understand the impact of VAT and to determine what needs to be done to be fully compliant with the new laws.

Do you need to recruit? Train?

Budget for auditors, or consulting support, or system modifications or upgrades?

What contracts are in place beyond 1 January 2018 -how will those be impacted by VAT?

All businesses will be required to maintain extensive and proper books of account because complete, verifiable
documentation will be essential to support a VAT refund claim and avoid penalties for non-compliance.

Accounting systems should be able to identify and record VAT – payable and receivable, – across the entire supply chain. Ensure that your systems will enable you to:
- hold VAT registration ids by trading partner
- hold VAT codes by item fro the relevant tax rate or exemption.
- identify and record rebates,
- exemptions,
– or other special VAT treatments on particular transactions.
- generate commercial documents like invoices or till receipts with VAT shown
- deal with rebate and returns
- create timely, accurate statutory returns
- work with current interfaces.
- product auditable accounts.

We have already received several dozen inquires to assist with this transition, if you need assistance with your business systems to comply with VAT then please contact us in good time – year end is a holiday season and also a busy time for new system go live, and for financial audit preparation.