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Apple extends live-at-work to at least January 2022 • The Register

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Apple has again pushed back the date for its staff to return to their offices, this time from October until at least January 2022, as the COVID-19 coronavirus continues to spread in America and beyond.

The news was broken to iEmployees in an internal email circulated by HR and retail supremo Deirdre O’Brien, Bloomberg first reported.

O’Brien urged workers to get vaccinated – there is no mandatory requirement – and said Apple would confirm the exact date they could go back to working at their desks one month before offices reopened. Staff are expected to work in the office at least three days a week when they return. Apple’s retail stores will remain open.

Apple was once hopeful the pandemic would have calmed down by the end of summer, and planned to recall employees to its campuses by September. As the Delta variant kicked into high gear, Apple cautiously extended the ability to work from home for another month to October.

Now, employees can continue working remotely until at least January next year. Offices will be open if needed by staff.

Amazon also previously said it’s not planning to bring workers back into its offices until January. Other Big Tech firms, however, seem to be more keen on getting people back into pre-pandemic work life.

Facebook and Google said employees will have to get vaccinated before returning to their desks later this year. Google CEO Sundar Pichai is targeting October 18 for staff to return.

Apple has no comment at time of publication. ®

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How to scale your B2B marketing across Europe

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Katie Mannion of unicorn start-up Pleo explains some dos and don’ts for businesses looking to boost their brand.

Alongside a strong vision, and an even stronger team to implement it, successful B2B marketing is integral to company growth.

But how do businesses achieve it, especially across numerous regions?

Prime positioning

Future Human

Building a strong B2B marketing operation is like building a house. If the foundations aren’t strong enough, the walls will crack and the message you work so hard to convey will be ignored or misinterpreted.

With strong positioning, you can avoid cracks in your marketing. Focusing on your brand positioning and the pillars built around this can make a huge difference and give your strategy the direction it needs.

So what makes a strong positioning? The best I’ve seen are clear, ownable and memorable.

Try to avoid overcomplicating your message. If potential customers can’t understand what you’re trying to say, they’ll look elsewhere.

Understanding how your messaging will be received in different countries or regions is really important, too. For various reasons and cultural differences, your message will land differently in the UK versus Ireland, or Germany versus France.

The positioning you take needs to be aligned to the market that your brand is going to own. It’s what makes you unique and why you should be chosen above the competition.

Test your messaging and campaigns with different audiences and prospects to know if you’re going in the right direction, and never be afraid to tear up what you perceive to be a great idea if the feedback and data says so.

Bold moves

For many start-ups or SMEs, it’s hard to compete with businesses with large budgets and access to dedicated marketing agencies. In order to cut through the noise, you need to focus on marketing activities that will get you noticed.

Building a meaningful brand takes time and money and many young companies don’t have either of these resources in abundance. The solution? Build a brand that stands out in its messaging and creates a platform for unique and eye-catching ideas.

Sometimes going big and bold is your only opportunity to ‘earn’ attention (as opposed to paying substantial amounts for it). My favourite example of this includes the ‘We’re OK Hun’ campaign from Hun Wines during the 2020 lockdown in London. They had an opportunity to buy cheap ad space in prime areas such as Oxford Circus to create a stir with this clever viral campaign.

Do more than build it

Lots of brands seem to think: ‘build and they will come’. In B2B marketing nothing could be further from this.

What happens when you’ve launched your product, the doors are open for business and the customers don’t come?

What are you going to do to build around the launch? Have you briefed your sales team? Devised a PR plan? Forged partnerships? Worked on creative content and events to support?

To move the needle, marketers need to be making moves across multiple channels and pull a number of levers synchronously and strategically. Focus on the activities you can build around business announcements or product launches to really elevate the comms around your brand.

Invest in your tools

The less manual work you have to do the better. A huge consideration as a marketer is your martech stack.

It is important that you build a marketing tech stack that can be with you for the long haul. Be sure to pick tools that don’t just help you scale, but still serve their purpose when you have scaled.

Replacing a critical tool you’ve outgrown can slow your company’s growth momentum. New systems can take months or even years to integrate fully, and the bigger you are, the more expensive they are to introduce.

Align your teams

Marketing and sales departments often set their strategies and goals separately from each other. But when they aren’t aligned, both teams suffer.

Ultimately, it’s crucial that your head of marketing and head of sales are on the same page and reaching for the same goals together. Sales and marketing alignment starts with sharing the same objectives and KPIs. This means setting common goals for both departments to work towards together.

Carefully planned campaigns will bring salespeople’s intimate knowledge of your customers into the company’s core. These insights will also help build better products for the future.

The bottom line is that nurturing your relationship with sales across the business is key for marketing efficiency and revenue growth of the business.

Broaden your perspective

Diversity of people inspires a diversity of thought. Diversity of thought fosters a creative environment that allows ideas to flourish.

I don’t always hire on B2B experience but, rather, a passion for storytelling, creativity and bringing a brand to life through various activities.

When you work in marketing there is a real opportunity to lead meaningful change in how your brand is perceived by the world. To do this effectively, you need a team of different perspectives which is unified in its ambition to do things differently.

Take it step by step

Marketing can be overwhelming. Focus on small incremental changes that make a huge difference over time.

Automate the tasks you find yourself short on time to complete.

Clearly define your niche and category and stick to it.

Involve your customers, always.

Keep a positive and open relationship between sales and marketing to scale your B2B marketing the best way possible.

By Katie Mannion

Katie Mannion is the senior marketing manager at Pleo, a workplace spend management platform. An experienced B2B marketer, she helps drive strategy, teams and creativity for the fintech unicorn.

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Gibbon: Beyond the Trees review – short, simple and lovely to play | Games

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Lovely to play but sad to think about, this game follows three pastel-coloured gibbons from their natural treetop habitat through the lumber camps and human habitations that have been rapidly replacing it. It’s neither long nor complicated, getting its point across with striking art that contrasts zoomed-out natural landscapes – gorges, jungles, waterfalls, against sunsets and morning skies, all crowded with trees and hanging vines and vegetation – with the movement and bustle of the towns, crowded with people and vehicles.

Simple controls have your endangered apes swinging from branch to branch – all you have to do is time it correctly and you’ll build momentum and sail across the canopy, occasionally catching a boost from your buddy. Swinging free from trees and vines is much easier than climbing the buildings and power lines of the human environments, a neat illustration that underlines the game’s message about habitat destruction and poaching.

As a player, you feel a surge of giddy delight when you somersault across a gap in the canopy before grabbing on to the next branch, the gibbons’ hooting echoing across the space; in a crowded town, that delight gives way to frustration and annoyance, all sound drowned out by motors and construction noise. Once they are forced to leave the jungle, row after row of uniform palm trees give the gibbons little shelter, and the burnt-out deforested wasteland gives them none at all.

Performance, however, on the Nintendo Switch version was not great in crowded areas, something that the developer is working to fix. A stuttering frame rate makes it actively more difficult and unpleasant to play as you get further through, and this time not in an intentional way. This put me off from playing much beyond the brief but affecting 90-minute story; after that you can continue to swing around and rescue other endangered animals in an endless mode that resets whenever your gibbon takes a tumble.

Habitat destruction is something we’re surely all aware of – we’ve all seen the heartbreaking footage of animals left stranded in tiny patches of forest, surrounded by roads and industry. Beyond the Trees reinforces its ecological message through its visuals and through play, and though this might not be many players’ introduction to this pressing real-world issue, it is a new way to look at it, and a new way to engender sympathy. Developer Broken Rules has done its research here, both on the creatures themselves and the places they call home. No matter how many people feel moved to donate to conservation charities after playing, this game will have made a difference through its advocacy.

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Protecting data now as the quantum era approaches • The Register

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Analysis Startup QuSecure will this week introduce a service aimed at addressing how to safeguard cybersecurity once quantum computing renders current public key encryption technologies vulnerable.

It’s unclear when quantum computers will easily crack classical crypto – estimates range from three to five years to never – but conventional wisdom is that now’s the time to start preparing to ensure data remains encrypted.

A growing list of established vendors like IBM and Google and smaller startups – Quantum Xchange and Quantinuum, among others – have worked on this for several years. QuSecure, which is launching this week after three years in stealth mode, will offer a fully managed service approach with QuProtect, which is designed to not only secure data now against conventional threats but also against future attacks from nation-states and bad actors leveraging quantum systems.

“The current and near-term capability in quantum computing, which would allow for the decryption, is the big threat,” Mike Brown, a retired Navy rear admiral and former senior cybersecurity specialist with the Department of Defense (DoD) and Homeland Security (DHS), told The Register. “That’s what we’ve been talking about for years.”

Brown, founder and president of security consultancy Spinnaker Security, who now onsults with QuSecure and other companies, said there has been steady progress in building up the capabilities of quantum computers in the US and abroad. He points out that nation-states with a checkered history in cyberspace, such as China, are spending huge sums and mounting massive efforts to develop such systems.

Steal now, decrypt later

A key worry is what is known as “steal now, decrypt later,” QuSecure co-founder and COO Skip Sanzeri told The Register.

“This is the biggest problem, where data gets exfiltrated and it sits on servers waiting to be decrypted. If that data has 50 or 75 years of life left in its value [and] you crack it in 10 years, that’s 40 to 65 years of value. This is the problem,” Sanzeri said.

“This is why things need to happen. We’re getting a lot of inbound inquiries from both federal and commercial [entities]. We’ve got pilots going across both sides of it. People are now starting to take it seriously.”

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Warning: China planning to swipe a bunch of data soon so quantum computers can decrypt it later

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The Biden Administration earlier this month issued a national security memorandum to address quantum computing and security, including ordering federal agencies to begin a multi-year process of migrating computer systems to quantum-resistant cryptography.

In addition, a bipartisan bill – dubbed the Endless Frontiers Act – calls for spending $100 billion on emerging technologies, including quantum computing and artificial intelligence, to close the innovation gap with China. The bill is moving through Congress.

Another bill, the Quantum Computing Cybersecurity Preparedness Act, is also finding bipartisan support to ensure that government systems adopt post-quantum cryptography by securing systems with algorithms and encryption that will be difficult for even quantum computers to break.

The USA’s National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) is undergoing a multi-year process of setting such standards, with the hopes of publishing those by 2024.

The promise of quantum

Quantum computers promise to solve problems that are out of reach of today’s supercomputers.

Classical computing elements are bits, which can be either 0 or 1. Quantum computing uses qubits, can be 0, 1 or any combination – what’s referred to as a superposition. The concern is quantum systems will easily be able to break encryption methods that would take the most powerful machines today years to crack.

Like other vendors, QuSecure is working to address these challenges. It’s QuProtect as-a-service architecture includes a software suite that combines zero-trust, post-quantum cryptography, quantum-strength keys and active defense. It leverages Quantum Random Number Generation (QRNG) to create truer randomness in the encryption keys, which is central to secure encryption because patterns in keys can often be detected by cryptanalysts.

The architecture also relies on a proprietary technique that enables QuSecure to get this protection out to the various endpoints, from on-premises servers and web browsers to the Internet of Things and the edge, while also ensuring the security of the networks that data traverses.

“We now have a way to create a quantum channel without putting software out on all these devices,” Sanzeri said. “This method that we’ve discovered and are using … allows us to create quantum channels rapidly between any end devices. If you think of IoT and edge, a lot of time those little sensors don’t have any storage capacity, almost no compute capacity aside from doing the one job they do. But we can still secure those.”

That said, if an enterprise or government agency needed to keep its data behind a firewall, QuSecure will manage it on-premises or in a private cloud.

QuSecure also built software interfaces, a UI and protocol switch and developed the ability to send encryption keys. It also partners with companies like Quintessence Labs and ID Quantique for QRNG.

In addition, it has what Sanzeri called “crypto agility.” The architecture is optimized for all the algorithm finalists in the NIST program, so it doesn’t matter which ones the organization eventually chooses, it will be supported by the QuSecure service.

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