Are Companies Doing Enough to Protect Your Information?

Ever since the Digital Revolution began during the mid 1900s, technology has rapidly expanded at a near unforeseeable rate. Computers 50 years ago were big enough to fill entire rooms, yet today would have similar computing power to an old iPhone. To put this in perspective, the four computers used to bring the NASA astronauts to the moon for the first time in 1969 are not as powerful as your everyday pocket calculator or even a basic USB flash drive. This was predicted in 1965 by Gordon Moore, who said that the number of transistors that can fit on integrated circuits will double about every two years. This means every two years, microprocessors are shrinking nearly in half, allowing for a large amount of computing power into a small device like an iPhone. Because of this principle, technology has been able to expand and develop at an exponential rate, allowing for everyday people to have access to the internet and computing abilities through personal laptops and smartphones.

As of June 2018, 55.1% of the world population were internet users. This amounts to over 4.2 billion people, and that number is expected to increase quickly. With this many people accessing the internet, a massive amount of data is created and stored online. This occurs when someone signs up for an account with an online retailer, social media platform, entertainment website, and most other web addresses. Furthermore, data can be created and stored internally on a specific computer often demonstrated when someone creates and saves documents on his or her computer. Additionally, businesses often have software programs that generate and store data internally along with data on each transaction and customer in the system. Data is being created at a rapid rate, with approximately 90% of the world’s data being made in the past two years. .Although data collection has made large advancements over the years, security measures have not evolved in correspondence with this trend.

Since 2013, over 13 billion data records have been lost or stolen. This is enough for nearly every person on Earth to have their data taken twice! The information taken can be used for identity theft, with social security numbers, emails, phone numbers, addresses and credit card numbers commonly being targeted. Because of this, data security should be of the utmost importance to people when utilizing the internet. Nevertheless, this is often one of the last things on someone’s mind as he or she browses online. Data storage and security is the responsibility of the business that keeps the information. For example, Facebook has the responsibility of safely storing all information about each of its users. This includes all email addresses, phone numbers, addresses, relationships with other users, and other information. If Facebook or other tech firms fails to do this, users may be subject to identity theft among other issues.

Although data breaches have been increasing each year, security measures have not developed to match this growth. A few reasons come to mind for this. First, data security is often considered a discretionary cost to businesses. This means that a business will spend money on security measures only if the funds are available after all operating and required costs have been paid. A change needs to be made in the minds of business owners that data security is of utmost importance. The average cost of a data breach is $3.9 million dollars according to a study from IBM, yet this number can greatly increase depending on the severity. Facebook’s recent breach could cost them over $1.6 billion in fines just from European regulators alone. Marriott is a prime example of a company that failed to keep its customers’ information safe as approximately 500 million people may have had their data taken illegally in one of the largests breaches in history. As more information was discovered on the severity of the breach, Marriott’s stock price plummeted to $100.99 on December 24, a 17% decline in share price since the news of the breach broke at the end of November. With countless other costly examples seen in the news (Uber, Equifax, Yahoo, Quora, etc.) it should be evident to businesses that it is more economical to invest in data security than suffer the consequences of a data breach.

If businesses fail to invest in customer data security, then government regulations may be created to increase this involvement. In September of 2018, Congress held a hearing on data privacy and security at top tech organizations. Executives from Facebook and Twitter attended while Google declined the invitation. This congressional hearing displays that the American government is not afraid to regulate the tech industry, and these new rules may be coming sooner than some businesses anticipate. By investing in data security soon, companies can protect their customers, prevent negative effects that come with data breaches, and jumpstart the process of changing how tech companies approach online security. Hopefully in 2019 companies will begin to realize the importance of data security and take steps towards implementing new measures to protect it. And if companies fail to do this, then the government should begin to take action through new laws and regulations.

Canna-business: The Great Marijuana Debate

The stigmatization of marijuana is something almost every American is familiar with and something that has a profound impact, one felt by dozens of American industries. When it was announced in late 2012 that two states, Colorado and Washington, had intentions to legalize the substance for recreational use, many reacted negatively to the legislation. Public protest of the drug’s legalization was widespread, with only 50% of Americans supporting legalization of marijuana in any capacity.

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Despite these obstacles, it seems that the marijuana industry cannot grow fast enough. It was estimated that the nation’s recreational and medical marijuana industries, combined, earned a total of over $9 billion in 2017, with a projected growth up to $11 billion by the end of 2018. These projections become even more impressive as time goes on, with an anticipated valuation of $21 billion dollars in 2021 and expected total spending of over $57 billion worldwide in 2027. By this point, recreational usage will also dominate 67% of the market. All of these growth factors may be why approval ratings for marijuana legalization have launched up to a record high, with 64% of Americans supporting legalization of the substance. Despite opposition by the federal government and a number of reluctant states, the trend of market growth seen within the industry does not appear to be slowing down. In addition to this massive monetary growth, the legalization of marijuana by state legislatures is having a worldwide impact. Europe, for instance, is expected to dominate the medical marijuana industry within the next decade, becoming the world leader by 2030. Several european nations, such as Germany and Italy, are aiming for billion dollar markets by 2027. Israel, Australia, Canada, Brazil, and Argentina are also expected to break into the industry within this timeframe and join the U.S. as major investors in both medical and recreational marijuana.

So why haven’t all U.S. states legalized the drug? After all, it seems as though the drug has only helped the states that have legalized its recreational use; Colorado and Washington both boast lower drug possession arrest rates, higher crime clearance rates (even, surprisingly, for non-drug related crimes), and booming economies. The fact is that many Americans are still not “on board” with total legalization of the substance. A glaring lack of evidence as to the long term health effects of the drug is front and center in the debate, leaving many reluctant to detach marijuana from its negative stigma through legalization: if the drug is legal, won’t kids be more inclined to try it? This concern may be warranted: the unprecedented growth of JUUL (an electronic cigarette device that has amassed a user base mostly consisting of young adults and teenagers) has many parents claiming marijuana may see the same popularity spike amongst children following its legalization. This argument opens up all sorts of chaos and introduces further questions as to marijuana’s identity as a gateway drug, its potentially addictive nature (if used for extended periods), and the impact it has on users’ lungs, brains, and overall mental health. But perhaps the biggest questions that demand to be answered have to do with crime rates. While the aforementioned crime clearance figures do seem impressive at first glance, what’s to say they will last? How will geography influence these statistics? Will full legalization increase the rate of intoxicated driving incidents nationwide? These questions are part of the reason many states have been hesitant to enact the legislation to the extent of Washington or Colorado, for example.

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Proponents of total legalization argue that these questions can only be answered with further research, and that this research will be more readily available if marijuana use is decriminalized on a larger scale. The enactment of pro-marijuana legislation will not only provide more subjects for wide scale research activities, but will also grant more funding for government sponsored research through collection of tax money applied to sales of the substance. The lack of credible information as to the effects of the drug on a user’s body can only be remedied through detailed research, something the government could provide best, many argue.

The legalization of marijuana, both for recreational and medicinal usage, has been a major discussion point in the media recently. While reluctance to pro-marijuana legislation amongst the American public has been present over the past couple years, support for its legalization has been steadily increasing over the past couple years and it appears as though this trend will continue. The potential negative side effects of the drug, many argue, should be ignored when focusing on the bigger picture: an immediate and powerful economic boost given by its introduction into the market. As time goes on, it seems more and more like the legalization question is not a matter of “if”, but of “when”. Whether we like it or not — marijuana is here to stay.





Dunkin’: Rebanding Into a Beverage-Led Retailer

Coffee, for most people, is the soothing cup of brew that brightens up his or her day. Just from the aroma of the coffee beans can instantly put a smile on someone’s face. Coffee consumption has been a very common trend in recent years, especially America. Annual surveys provided by the National Coffee Association and the Specialty Coffee Association of America show that 50% of the U.S. population (about 150 million Americans) drink coffee related beverages ranging from espresso beverages, such as cappuccinos and lattes to iced cold coffees like cold brew. In 2017, it was recorded that specialty coffee sales were increasing by 20% per year.

Dunkin’ Donuts classifies itself as a quick service restaurant company. In 2016, Dunkin’ Brands Inc. ranked second in market share of 21.9% in the U.S. coffee shop market. In light of the growing coffee consumption in America, Dunkin’ Donuts announced on September 25th, that the company would officially be renaming itself as solely “Dunkin’.”

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The company’s decision reflects its goal in increasing emphasis on its coffee and other drinks. Although the restaurant still plans to make and sell doughnuts, this name change further highlights its move towards a “beverage-led” retailer. The rebranding will officially take place beginning January 2019 with the “Dunkin” logo appearing on signs, napkins, and boxes in U.S. stores. International stores will eventually adopt the name change following January.

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This well-known coffee chain has been around for 68 years and Dunkin’ Donuts intends to keep the familiar round font and its distinctive orange-and-pink color scheme. Another reason behind the name change is in part to stay relevant to younger customers. They also recognize the growing trend in eating healthier, as well as coffee having a high profit margin because of the popularity of caffeinated beverages.

Ultimately, the change to ‘Dunkin’” represents a long-term goal of repositioning. Headquartered in Canton, Massachusetts, Dunkin’ Donuts tested the name “Dunkin” by altering their signs in about “30 Boston-area locations and 20 other shops nationwide” last year. The first store to have the “Dunkin” logo on the building was in Quincy, Massachusetts. Along with the new “Dunkin’” sign, the Quincy restaurant unveiled a new concept store that “includes digital kiosks, an expanded Grab & Go section…[and] ice tea, coffee, cold brew [such as nitro cold brew] on tap.” The employees would also be wearing new uniforms with slogans that read, “Fueled by Positive Energy,” and “Drink Coffee. Be Awesome.” David Hoffmann, CEO of Dunkin’ Brands, made a statement in regard to their repositioning: “The launch of our next generation concept store marks one of the most important moments in Dunkin’ Donuts growth as an on-the-go, beverage-led brand.”

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New Dunkin’ sign in Quincy, Massachusetts
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New tea, coffee, and cold brew on tap in Dunkin’ Donuts’ Quincy concept store

Dunkin’ Donuts believes that its new concept store will modernize the customer experience by making the process of ordering quicker. They also intend to implement a mobile order drive-through lane and instead of placing baked goods in bins behind the register, to have them within arm’s reach of guests inside a glass case. The new concept store also has the benefit of being tailored based on difference in locations. A store in an urban environment will most likely utilize a pickup section for mobile orders and do without a drive-thru. The shorter name also reflects this more streamlined concept of being modern, simple, and fast.

Being that Dunkin’ Donuts is the eighth-largest fast food restaurant chain by number of locations in the world (11,300), it does not come as a shock that many consumers have heard of the news and reacted accordingly. There has been a slew of mixed reactions towards Dunkin’ Donuts plan to change their name. Many consumers voiced their attitudes and concerns toward the rebranding on Twitter. People believe that “Donuts” is an important part of the company and just prefer there to be no change at all. One twitter user, Bob Loblaw tweeted, “Dunkin Donuts without the “Donuts” is like renaming Taco Bell just “Bell” or Burger King just “King.” On the other hand, other Dunkin’ Donuts lovers are not bothered with the name change since they have referred to the company as “Dunkin’” anyway in their daily lives. Other common nicknames for the beloved chain include, “Dunks,” “Dunkies,” and “DD.”

With over 8,500 restaurants in the U.S., it is very likely to find a Dunkin’ Donuts in most college campuses. The University of Pittsburgh has its very own Dunkin’ Donuts in the center of campus. This location is very popular with there usually being a line everyday of customers that extends past the door to outside. It will be interesting to see if our beloved coffee place will redesign their floor layout to resemble the concept store in Quincy. In less than 2.5 months, Pitt will observe the the store sign without the “Donuts” part in the name.

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Dunkin’ Donuts on Forbes Ave on the University of Pittsburgh campus taken by Megan Sitlinger

There have been many other instances in which companies altered their name to being less product-specific and expand their brand identify. In 2011, Starbucks Coffee was shortened to Starbucks to reposition themselves as more than just a coffee restaurant. Burlington Coat Factory rebranded itself to Burlington to emphasize the sale of other merchandise other than coats. Around the same time Dunkin’ Donuts announced their name change, Weight Watchers also revealed on September 24th that they will be changing their name to “WW.” After 50 years, Weight Watchers believes this brand identity will better reflect its new mission to focus less on dieting and more on overall health and wellness.

It is fascinating to witness a well-known company reposition itself from was once a heavily focused doughnut store towards a more beverage-led restaurant. There will most likely be a greater assortment of drink options in the future. With Dunkin’ positioning themselves more towards drinks and Starbucks declaring the elimination of single-use plastic straws in its stores by 2020, it would not be surprising to see Dunkin’ create different types of cups made from more biodegradable material in the future. The original Dunkin’ Donuts store opened up in 1950 and is about a mile away from the Quincy, Massachusetts concept store. This revolutionary chain continues to modernize its brand and I do not see any halt in their efforts any time soon.

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The Original Dunkin’ Donuts Store