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How the “Internet of Things” Will Change the Way We Do Business Print E-mail

While the Internet and the proliferation of social media has largely focused on the connections between people and businesses, the "Internet of Things" intends to further cement these ties. With each technological advancement, businesses see the value of investing into the Internet of Things. The profit potential is too great to ignore for businesses that intend to be in tune with future trends.


Supply Chain Management


The Internet of Things provides businesses with advanced global supply management solutions. A business's in-house system automatically takes inventory and updates suppliers on scheduled deliveries. This advancement has eliminated the need to manually track and order inventory. When suppliers fail to make a delivery, the system will order from another supplier.


Location Tracking


An advantage of the Internet of Things is how easy it will become to track the location of objects from proposals to packages to company owned technology. Devices enabled with Bluetooth, WiFi and other communication methods are employed to manage connectivity. In limited cases, a smartphone may be employed as a device used to track other devices over a short range.


Real-time Financial and Customer Analysis


Since the Internet of Things will involve an increased use of in-house networks and cloud networks that communicate with numerous objects, a business will allow the network to report on the financial state of a store with a real-time analysis. Studying the rates of product purchases makes it possible to make far more accurate financial projections about how a company will perform than before. The benefits of these systems are also that you can access them from anywhere on any device, so if you’ve got a late night idea but left your laptop at work you can just pull up all the info you need on your home computer or even cell phone.


Remote Monitoring and Maintenance


For businesses that use high-precision networks and systems, large arrays of sensors and actuators make it possible to monitor and control a system. If a network reports signs of system failures, alerts can automatically request maintenance and repair. This will help business owners to efficiently maintain their systems in peak working order. Imagine having an IT staff that knows about a computer failure the moment it happens and can respond just as quickly. The end result is not only a more efficient business but one that has a reduction in lost profits due to equipment failure.


Energy Efficiency


Since networks providing services for the Internet of Things require large reserves of energy to remain operational, practices in natural energy resource harvesting for oil and the burgeoning natural gas industry are used to offset the energy demands. However, in keeping with the times wind, solar and harvesting energy from electromagnetic fields are useful to keep energy costs low. In fact some big players in multiple industries like L’Oreal, Crayola, Walgreens, Apple, Dow Jones and Apple have all started using on-site solar panels to generate power for their companies. The upfront costs are obviously prohibitive in some scenarios but in terms of long-term savings and good PR you’ll make the investment back in no time.


Business Process Automation


Networks supporting the Internet of Things provides sensory and reactive elements. A variety of future business interactions will become automated. This is useful in a factory setting, where items need to be processed and carried out repeatedly. It will enable you to observe and monitor these machines and productivity in real time figures and allow you to see where there are spaces for improvement. The end result is seamless communications between the manufacturing and business sides of a company, which is beneficial for all parties involved.


Health and Wellness of Employees


Sensor networks in businesses will monitor many environmental factors, testing to determine how safe a work environment is. This will help employers ensure the health and well-being of their employees. In offices, networks may remind employees to get up and move around to encourage increased physical activity to reduce the rate of employees taking sick days. A perfect example of this being a smashing success is Appirio, who managed to save $300 thousand on insurance costs after negotiating a deal with their insurance provider that involves employees wearing FitBit devices to track and encourage physical activity.


CIO Concerns


The Internet of Things potentially opens doors to hackers seeking to exploit companies. Hackers having access to in-house networks and hijacking control of objects is a concern, especially given the increasing number of companies who have fallen victim to hackers just in the last year. Increased intricacy of sensory networks and object communication may provide security measures that exposes what a hacker is doing. This may help to identify from which they operate. This situation gives rise to a new field of security concerns and solutions.


The Bottom Line


The business of the future is here, and the Internet of Things provides increased flexibility. As the level of communication and connectivity between people, businesses and objects increases, businesses will run more efficiently. This is great news for business who depend on these advancements to shape the future of how business is done. However, maintaining and protecting the system is absolutely essential to it’s success as well as the success of the company as a whole.


 
Why CIOs Are Crucial In Designing Business Strategy Print E-mail

Is the confidence in the use of information technology to support business growth and goals on the decline? A recent survey report published by McKinsey shows that few CIOs today are actively involved in shaping the business strategy of the company. While the surveyed executives realize the growing importance for data and analytics in shaping the strategic agenda, they seem to disagree with what the overall goals of the IT function should be. Here are some interesting snippets from the survey report.

 

IT Performance In Functional Processes : Most IT executives believe that their function has been effective to a large extent in managing the IT infrastructure of the company, along with monitoring the performance and driving innovation in business operations. However, close to one fifth of the surveyed executives feel that their function has not been effective at introducing new technologies faster and more effectively that competition.

 

Differences In IT Top Priorities : Executives from across the board are pretty divided in their opinion on what the top priorities for the IT function should be. While close to 54% of non-IT executives believe it is the job of the IT department to provide them with the information needed for planning and decision making, just over a third of IT executives agree to this. Instead, over 40% of IT heads consider the reduction in IT costs as their top priority.

 

The Need For IT Involvement In Strategy : There is a significant difference of perception among IT and non-IT executives about the processes where information technology organization are effective. While IT executives consider themselves to be adept at managing IT infrastructure, managing the culture, health and performance of the IT organization along with enabling technology in business processes, the non-IT executives believe IT organizations are more effective at working with business leaders to improve existing systems, developing new technology-supported business initiatives and proactively engaging with the business functions for new ideas and enhancements.

 

Overall, there is a glaring difference of opinion among IT and non-IT executives about the exact priorities of the IT function. While IT leaders appear to be more inward looking on what their priorities are, the non-IT functions expect the technology organization be outward looking in solving problems and enhancing performance.

 

According to Jonathan Saragossi, the CEO of IM Creator, it is important to view the roles and responsibilities of the information technology team from both these perspectives. IT is a critical piece of infrastructure for organizations today and it is important to look at it from a business manager's perspective of how it can foster innovation and improve efficiency. At the same time, IT is also a major cost center and the product and processes need to be constantly optimized to ensure an agile and efficient framework. Ignoring one perspective for the other could be disastrous for businesses

 

Similar recommendations have also been made by McKinsey with respect to charting the future course for the CIOs. The report suggests awarding technology leaders at companies with a greater stake in shaping business strategy. This, they suggest, will help in shifting the mindset of the IT department from that of a supplier to that of a business owner. Another major recommendation is to help CIOs improve their understanding of the business – this will help them look outward and identify opportunities and challenges in businesses processes where IT could help.

 

Technology has become an indispensable part of business operations today. It is extremely critical for business leaders to recognize this and roping in IT as a key stakeholder for all business strategy decisions.

 
ERP Tools, Automation and AI: The Keys to Achieving Better Enterprise Efficiency? Print E-mail

Information is a big driver for success in enterprises. Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) solutions, for example, have become an integral part of the business. The ERP not only enables the business to make operational decisions based on resource utilization and availability. It also enables strategic visibility and planning. 

Running an effective ERP can be a CIO’s dream come true. As Dave Lechleitner, chair of the Software Technology Council, said, “The most important improvement [in ERP] is the increase in efficiency through more up-to-date and robust planning and scheduling capabilities. This real-time insight then further improves efficiency in other parts of the company as well, such as sales and customer service.”

Committing to an ERP system, however, is not without its caveats. It can also be a nightmare if utilization is mired with difficulty in managing upgrade cycles, buggy code and inarticulate IT staff. This is especially true with legacy deployments, which can already be bogged down by years of customizations, a huge database and the complexity of third party add-ons. 

Even the best IT staff can become overwhelmed with standard or bespoke code that is full of bugs, has complicated upgrade procedures, or requires a prohibitive amount of time dedicated to its maintenance. Surprisingly enough, it’s some of the more established ERP platforms that present these problems, since legacy systems often suffer from a backend that has had years of patchwork done to it, growing ever-more-complex with every iteration. 

Many CIOs will outright refuse to work with newer software, or even upgrade their existing installation, because they fear that the change may bring chaos along with it. This often requires many man-hours of planning and testing before actual execution. 

Automation is one solution that is known to result in cost- and time-saving. Enterprise automation tools like Panaya, for instance, apply big data analytics to determine potential roadblocks to successful ERP upgrade and deployment. The platform enables smooth upgrades and transitions to enterprises using SAP, SalesForce and Oracle e-business suite, identifying functionalities that might break with upgrades, and offering possible fixes and solutions. 

However, going beyond enterprise automation for ERP upgrades, there is a bigger potential, which has warranted software and services giant Infosys to acquire the automation startup at a valuation of $200M. Infosys CEO Vishal Sikka cites how automation can "help amplify the potential of our people, freeing us from the drudgery of many repetitive tasks, so we may focus more on the important, strategic challenges faced by our clients.” 

This means that the core technology running big data analytics and automation can potentially be applied to other aspects of the enterprise. For Infosys, for example, automation can be applied to other sectors and industries that it services, such as banking, finance, manufacturing, and application development. 

Enterprise automation, when applied in a correctly-focused manner, can help us free up resources that can be dedicated to other areas that we need to service, making CFOs happy! Businesses are already performing business process management (BPM) in one way or another. An ERP is meant to crawl deep into your data and turn it into information that can make an enterprise much more efficient and productive. Applying automation to improve — or possibly overhaul — a business’ strategy and tactics, might just be the key in achieving better efficiency and productivity in the enterprise.

 
Top 3 CIO Concerns in 2015 Print E-mail

What are the top 3 concerns CIOs have in common? Their never ending security concerns, systems availability and services downtime, and acquiring the right human resource capital. according to a recent survey.

These insights are derived from a December 2014 study of 276 U.S. CIOs and executive IT professionals commissioned by Sungard Availability Services (Sungard AS).

The increasing frequency and complexity of cyber attacks places security high in the ranks among IT concerns for CIOs. Approximately 51 percent of survey participants believe security planning and security remediation budgets should grow annually.

External security threats and cyber attacks grab the biggest headlines in the news and represent the lastest share of IT security budgets but internal threats are often the root cause of security disasters. Approximately 62 percent of the surveyed CIOs stated leaving mobile phones or laptops in vulnerable places as their chief security concern, followed by password sharing at about 59 percent. These internal security challenges drove 60 percent of CIOs to mention in 2015 they plan to enforce tighter security policies for employees, consultants, and business partners.

CIOs typically direct their CISOs and other IT security staff to prepare against outside threats by deploying virus protection software, spam filtering sotware, and Operating Systems security patches and updates. Delivering the message to employees is often difficult. Employees are the end users of most corporate systems and they must be held responsible for their own actions and the impact it may potentially have on overall organizational security.


Downtime is Expensive

Downtime is also a major concern for CIOs as it directly effects organizational efficiency and profitability. Approximately 42 percent of CIOs reported that their disaster recovery plans are vital to their organizations and will be among the last line items cut from 2015 IT budgets. CIOs believe that the damage to an enterprise's reputation far outweighs the monetary costs associated with these recovery and continuity services.


Human Resouce Capital Management is Painful

Approximately 38 percent of respondents noted that CIOs are concerned about talent acquisition. Recruiting and reaining IT talent is a constant concern for CIOs and 50 percent of survey participants do not believe talent acquisition and retention get the appropriate attention it deserves.

 
 
Why CIOs Need To Worry About Page Loading Speeds Print E-mail

http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:A_person_navigating_through_a_Chilean_bank_website.jpg 

Based on studies conducted by Dynatrace, 47% of online consumers expect a web page to load within 2 seconds. On the other hand, 40% say that they will likely abandon a page if it takes more than 3 seconds to load, while 52% state that quick page loading is important for their site loyalty. More importantly, in the same study nearly 80% of the online shoppers surveyed say that they are less likely to buy from the same site again if they are not satisfied with the performance of the website.

Affecting the Bottom Line

Companies that do business online should understand the importance of optimizing their websites or web pages. Loading time affects the bottom line. It has effects that go beyond plain consumer dissatisfaction or frustration over a site. As the research has showed, there are many things affected by web page loading time.

Page abandonment is one of the major adverse results of a slow loading website. The longer a page takes to load, the higher the page abandonment rate becomes. This is just what many would expect. Nobody would want to spend more time on one online store when there are hundreds or thousands of others that could offer a better experience.

Consumer engagement also suffers when a website takes time to load or when it is not as responsive as how consumers desire it to be. Consumer engagement, by the way, can be defined as the way a consumer interacts with the store and demonstrates interest in the products being offered. If the product galleries of an online store, for instance, require several seconds to show photos and product specs, consumers will likely leave. 

Conversion and customer retention, moreover, are direly affected by slow page loading. As the Aberdeen Group, Google, and Microsoft reported, a mere 1-second delay already translates to 11% fewer page views, 16% customer satisfaction reduction, and a 7% loss in conversions. Also, a website performance issue will make 37% to 49% of site visitors switch to a competing website. It’s also important to remember that most consumers are likely to rant about or share their bad experience with others. This is the opposite of word of mouth, which results in lost customers even before they become potential customers.

  http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Internet_Connectivity_Access_layer.svg

Catering to Shorter Attention Spans

Online consumers’ attention spans are way shorter than those of their offline counterparts. This is the case with Internet users in general. According to the National Center for Biotechnology Information (of the US National Library of Medicine), the average human attention span has been reduced from 12 seconds in 2000 to just 8 seconds in 2013. The main culprit for this is technological advancement that has been creating a wide variety of external stimuli, especially on the Internet where various types of media are displayed. This shortening human attention span is nothing new. Even in the early 2000’s, there were already reports about attention span issues brought about by the increasing presence of digital technology. 

Businesses don’t have the luxury of time and “concern” to try to address this shortening human attention span problem. Instead, it’s more practical to turn to interfaces that are more suitable to the shorter attention spans of online shoppers. Aside from making web pages or online store displays appealing but concise, it’s essential to shorten page loading time to optimal levels. It’s already difficult trying to catch an online shopper’s attention with content, so just imagine how worse things could get when you have nothing to show yet because it’s taking a lot of time to load.

  

 http://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:WebNow_Internet_Marketing_Service_Santa_Barbara.jpg 

Addressing Slow Loading Times

Slow page loading times are certainly avoidable. There are ways to avoid making pages that take longer than two seconds to load.

One of the most important things to do to shorten loading time is to optimize web pages. Optimization can be through a number of ways, which may include some or all of the following: optimizing image file sizes (through the “save for web” option in image editors), the efficient use of image formats, GZIP compression, loading scripts and CSS externally, good site coding, web page caching (example: through plugins like WP Super Cache), and using 301 redirects prudently. Google has a great online page speed test and optimization that can gauge a site’s speed and offer suggestions to help improve page speed. Consider using it.

For websites that enjoy high amounts of traffic, there are considerable benefits in using content delivery networks (CDNs) and load balancing. CDNs help optimize load speeds by reducing server lag. This is done by delivering cached static content from a distributed array of servers around the globe, thereby reducing latency and processing load on servers. CDN services work well in conjunction with load balancing, and some services will actually bundle in these two services together.

Load balancing refers to the distribution of traffic and processing load across multiple servers to reduce response time, maximize throughput, optimize resource use, and prevent instances of overloading. This can be done through various means, such as DNS-based balancing, through a physical appliance or with a cloud-based platform-as-a-service load balancing solution. The basic premise is to ensure servers are running at optimal levels, and are not overloaded even with traffic spikes and heavy load.

Geographical targeting or geotargeting may also be used to serve content deemed most suitable for the site visitor. Geotargeting identifies a site visitor’s location (usually the country, region, state, or IP address) to limit the amount of content presented according to perceived relevance.

 Freedigitalphotos.net | Photo by renjith krishnan

Conclusion

The advantages of faster page loading are compellingly demonstrated by many of the Internet’s leading companies. Amazon, for one, reports having a 1% gain in revenue for every 0.1 second of page loading improvement. Shopzilla gained 12% revenue and 25% page view increases after cutting page loading time by 4.8 seconds. Yahoo, likewise, reported increased traffic (at 9%) for every 0.4 seconds of page loading time improvement. There’s just no reason why you shouldn't try to improve your page loading time.

The effects of page loading speed to businesses engaged in online activities are undeniable. Even one second or a split-second difference can translate to considerable increases or reductions in sales, customer engagement, conversions, and customer satisfaction. Thanks (or no thanks?) to the shrinking attention spans of most Internet users, businesses need to understand and work around the importance of speed in presenting content online. 

 
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