Google’s April 15th Google Glass Purchase For All is Cringe Worthy. Print E-mail

On April 15th Google is letting anyone in the US with $1500 (plus tax) and a heartbeat buy Google Glass with no prior invite. Personally, I feel this reeks of desperation and feel Google is already tying up its laces to walk away.

There is a dating hint floating around the internet that says you always ask someone out on April 1st. As if they say no, you simply respond “April fools!”

This is what Google is doing on April 15th.
“Hey world, want to adopt Google Glass: Yes, No or Maybe. Circle one”

What a great way to test the market on a product that might flop. Run a one day sale where no invites are needed. Start a PR buzz a head of time about this limited one day offer. Sit back and count the orders, or lack of orders, coming in.
Then if this experiment fails, it will confirm some of us Explorer’s rumors that it will not roll out and it will go to Google’s upstate farm in the sky with Google Latitude, Wave and Buzz.

Why would us happy Explorers say Google Glass wont get adopted?

  • Bad press (silicon Valley bar attack and a recent reporter attack)
  • Price vs features. Example, the current battery is lacking at this price point.
  • Mobile influencers like Robert Scoble calling out Larry Page for not wearing it on a recent TED talk.
  • Lobbyist groups
  • US citizens worried about NSA and other government spying. When Eric Snowden blew his whistle did he ever think he would be changing the wearable tech market?
  • Pro-Privacy movement. ex) Snapchat app

Is Glass is the new Segway?
Everyone (56% of US adults) has a smart phone, in all different industries and demographics.
But lets pick on Segway, this disruptive tech was planned to “change the world” but we know that didn’t go as planned. With that said, Segway does serve a purpose for a niche market. Many large events have this innovative transportation available for police officers and first responders.

The toughest question to ask yourself with any mobile hardware or software:  ”Does this enhance my life?”

My phablet has enhanced my life greatly and I cant go 30 seconds without checking it, or I start to twitch in withdraws.

Even as I type this my Glass lays in the computer bag next to me buried somewhere. It’s a great tool and enhances parts of my life, but not enough to adopt wearing Google Glass 7 days a week.

Similar to Segway, Glass is enhancing some industries. Life sciences industry has had the most amazing case studies from doctors supervising surgery overseas, medical students recording giving bad news to patients for critiques and even to the first documented life saved.

I’ve said it since day 1, Google Glass should have been released first phase without the camera.

Google should of attempted mass adoption on the other innovative feature sets, like passive visual alerts and augmented reality.
Then once it was asked for, launch the camera and its oh-so-creepy wink feature. People are starting to realize what gets to the internet lives there forever, from mug shots to embarrassing celebrity photos. I take it no one at Google has watched any of the painful YouTube User: SurveillantCameraMan‘s videos. These videos are fully legal.

On a high note, even if Google Glass sales slump tomorrow Glass will still be known as the wearable visual pioneer that started a market and helped ignite the awesome Google Now’s card UI.

-Daniel DiMassa [Twitter] [G+] [Enterprise Apps]

Managing The IT Costs In Business - Recommendations to the CIO Print E-mail

A survey conducted last year by web hosting solutions provider, RackSpace found that nearly 88% of businesses that moved their operations to the cloud noticed a commensurate savings in cost. 56% of these respondents also revealed that the move helped their business in boosting profits. A growing number of small and medium businesses are now deploying technology at their workplace in order to save costs and increase profits.

However, not all technology implementations bring about the same level of cost savings. For instance, consider ERP. Enterprise Resource Planning tools like SAP and Oracle typically cost anywhere between $250,000 to $750,000 to be implemented. Even after this, the failure rate of deployment can be awfully high. Considering that a lot of businesses are bootstrapped and cannot afford to lose money on failed implementations, here are some tips that will provide your business with a guaranteed savings in your business expenditure.

Go For SaaS Instead Of Hosted Solutions

SaaS stands for Software-as-a-Service. In this method, the software solutions required for your business operations are hosted on a remote server and is made available through an online application. For example, did you know that you could host your own email server? But most of us tend to use third party email services like Gmail or Hotmail. The reason is simple - hosting your own email server can be expensive and resource-intensive, whereas you only need an internet connection to access your Gmail account.

Unlike traditional software applications, SaaS applications do not require your business to invest in setting up infrastructure. You may opt into most of these applications by paying a nominal monthly subscription fee which works out extremely affordable for bootstrapped startups. Also, depending on your service provider, you may also ensure that your data is backed up and is protected from any natural calamity or accidents.

Pick IP Telephony Over Traditional Phone Lines

Telephones are an important part of every business operation. Depending on the size and scope of your business, you may require several dozen telephone connections making hundreds of calls around the globe everyday. The costs can easily add up. It is for this reason that most businesses have a private exchange (PBX) deployed at their workplace - this minimizes the need for multiple telephone lines. However, with technology, it is possible to reduce your costs much further.

IP telephony makes it possible to route all your telephone communications through an internet line. Also, with SIP trunking providers like AllStream, RingCentral and Nextiva, you can replace your expensive PBX system with a virtual PBX that is hosted at the providers’ end so that you can avail all the features of a traditional phone system with a much cheaper VoIP alternative. This is not all. Your business could also invest in technologies like UCaaS (Unified Communications as a Service) to integrate all communication channels like email, video conferencing and telephone under one umbrella solution offered by a third party provider.

Encourage BYOD

BYOD stands for Bring-Your-Own-Device. In this process, employees are encouraged to bring their own device to work. The benefits are two-pronged. Firstly, a number of studies have shown that employees prefer using their own device for work related tasks. Secondly, businesses need to spend money on devices that the employees do not prefer working with. Consequently, businesses that pick devices for employees not only pay for them, but also invite criticism about the choice of device. With BYOD, employers can not only ensure that the employees are happy but can also cut costs in doing so. According to a Gartner study, more than 50% of employers would have BYOD policies in place by 2017. Given that this policy can help reduce business costs, your small business can deploy this strategy right away.

What are some other recommendations to reduce business expenditure? Tell us in the comments.  

Best Practices for Data Security Print E-mail

Most businesses have routine occasion to discard confidential data about their business operations or personal client information acquired through commerce. Data sets and reports such as customer lists, price lists, sales statistics by state or product line, drafts of bids, responses to RFPs, and internal correspondence contain information about business activity which would interest any competitor.

Every business is also entrusted with information that must be kept private in order to be in compliance of certain industry privacy policies.  Employees and customers have the legal right to have their data protected, if it is not customers will certainly blow the whistle and flee to a competitor that can ensure proper data security.

 Without the proper safeguards, paper based information ends up in the dumpster where it is readily, and legally, available to anybody outside of your organization. The trash is considered by business espionage professionals as the single most available source of competitive and private information from the average business. Organizations that discard private and proprietary data without first properly destroying the paper, exposes itself to the risk of criminal and civil prosecution, as well as the potential costly loss of business.

The following discussion offers creative solutions for crafting guidelines and policies that will minimize the risks previously discussed. Whether you are in charge of IT, HR, or business operations, your business will benefit through the implementation of sound data security practices.

The period of time that business records are stored should be determined by a retention schedule that takes into consideration their useful value to the business and the governing legal requirements. Ideally, no record should be kept longer than this established retention period.

Failure to adhere to a program of routine destruction of stored records exposes a company to the potential accusation it exhibits suspicious disposal practices. This could be negatively construed in the event of litigation or audit. Additionally, Federal Rule 26 of the Federal Law Code (Duty to disclose and general provisions governing discovery) requires, in the event of a law suit, each party provide all relevant records to the opposing counsel within 85 days of the defendants initial response. If either of the litigants does not fulfill this obligation, it may result in a summary finding against them. By destroying records according to a set schedule, a company appropriately limits the amount of materials it must search through to comply with this law. Limiting the scope of search for documents will minimize the cost of maintaining the repository of documents.

From a risk management perspective the only acceptable method of discarding stored records is to destroy them by a method that ensures that the information is obliterated. Documenting the exact date that a record is destroyed is a prudent and recommended legal precaution.

Trash based security breaches are more common today than ever before.  In fact, one of the oldest security and privacy problems is the unsecure disposal of personal information.  The rate of data growth both in digital and print formats is astounding.  According to a recent IBM report, the exponential data growth increases the pressure on scarce IT resources. The typical enterprise experiences 42 percent annual increase in data volume. Very few organizations have reliable procedures or practices for disposing of data so that new information accumulates on top of generations of stale data.

As electronic data along with print information volumes continues to grow, there are more opportunities for disposal related data breaches to occur. To quantify and help assess the scope of the problem we simply need to look to the news for a few recent data breach events:

          In Maine the Maine Veterans Hospital was investigated after confidential medical records were found in a dumpster.

$       In Indiana personal documents that contained prescriptions for a powerful pain medication and patient information were discovered in a dumpster near the Indianapolis Medical Center.

$       In Chicago a bankruptcy law firm dumped sensitive client information into a public dumpster where it was readily available to anyone.

$       In Phoenix a passerby found hundreds of documents from gym memberships with credit card information and other personal data overflowing a dumpster.

Paper based security breaches are also global in nature.  In Australia, according to a recent study by the National Association for Information Destruction (NAID), 30% of organizations are unaware of their obligations when it comes to destroying personal information.

What are the most common information disposal security mistakes?

Organizations on occasion donate print documents containing personal information on them to outside groups, like pre-schools and community groups for use as scrap paper.

Organizations place print documents containing personal information into unsecured dumpsters without shredding them is an ongoing and perhaps the most problematic security breach.

The increasing frequency of security breaches due to poor disposal policies has led to a growing number of laws explicitly covering document disposal as well as specific legislative bills proposed at the state and federal level.

The Disposal Rule (part of the Fair and Accurate Credit Transactions Act of 2003 (FACTA) has been in effect since 2005. It has many very specific disposal requirements for all types of businesses conducting various types of credit checks.

Besides the fact that secure information disposal is now a legal requirement for all businesses of all sizes, it simply makes sense to dispose of information securely as an effective way to prevent privacy breaches.  By having effective disposal policies, procedures, and supporting technologies in place businesses demonstrate reasonable due diligence.  What should you do if the organization you work for currently has no disposal policies?  Here’s an action plan get you started:

Assign overall responsibility for information security and privacy compliance to a position or department within your organization. This should include responsibility for disposal of information in all forms. The IT department is a likely candidate for most companies as they typically have direct access to data in all forms.

Perform a disposal risk assessment to determine exactly how your organization currently disposes of all types of information. Then craft new information disposal policies and procedures, or update existing ones, based upon the results of the disposal risk assessment.

Shred paper based documents, do not just toss it should be an important part of your overall data security management policy. When either customer information or employee information is ready for the trash, it should be properly shredded if it contains information your organization does not want made public. Documents that contain names, Social Security numbers, date of birth, savings account balances, credit card numbers, stated individuals’ health conditions, or other personal information should always be shredded.

Also shred trash bound documents that could potentially help your organization’s competition. Items such as customer lists, sensitive pricing information, strategic planning documents and trade secrets should be shredded, not tossed into the recycle bin.

Be especially diligent if you deal with information from consumer reports. The Fair Credit Reporting Act protects credit reports and credit scores as well as reports relating to employment background, check writing history, insurance claims, residential or tenant history, and medical history. Anyone who handles this type of information must follow strict disposal guidelines that may include burning, pulverizing, or shredding the paper documents so that the information cannot be read or reconstructed.

There are many options for shredding documents. There are cross cut shredders in the $60-$2500 price range.  Alternatively there are outsourced shredding services that will pick up locked bins of sensitive documents, shred them onsite for a fee based on quantity. They will then cart away the shredded paper and provide a certificate of destruction.

If you choose to shred what features should you look for in an office shredder?

Next Generation In House Document Shredding

You want to look for a feature rich shredder that is simple for you and your organization to use. Ideally, the shredder should have superior auto feed technology built in so you do not have to sit there and hand feed the documents. The shredder should accommodate crumpled paper, double sided color printed paper, glossy paper, multiple sheets folder over, paper clips, staples, junk mail and DVDs. It should also be very quiet and secure with lock draw technology.

One shredder that works well is the AutoMax 500C Shredder from Fellowes.  It can quietly and securely continuously shred 500 sheets of paper into 5/32” x 1-1/2” cross-cut particles. This provides a security level of P-4, high enough to safeguard most companies in most industries.

Recent investments in the development of new document shredding technology now makes the shredding process faster and more secure than ever before. Previously, organizations had to dedicate valuable employee resources to hand feeding documents into a single sheet shredder.

For example, the Fellowes organization has introduced document "load, lock and walk away" shredding capabilities to their AutoMax product line of large volume, auto-feed commercial shredders. These enhancements make the internal disposal of large quantities of confidential information a much easier task to accomplish. CIOs currently sending documents off-site for shredding should take a look at the potential cost savings and security benefits of shredding documents in house with a shredder such as the AutoMax 500C.


Why Gartner Is Wrong In Its ERP Prediction Print E-mail

In a study published late January, popular IT research and advisory firm Garter has claimed that the days of businesses relying on highly customized on-premise ERP systems may be coming to an end. The report says that by 2016, any such highly customized ERP system may start being referred to as legacy systems; the underlying point being made is that businesses will realize the problems with the existing system and will hence move towards a future which is a combination of cloud and on-premise solutions. Gartner calls this the “postmodern ERP”.

The Gartner report makes a valid point about the evolution of the ERP system. The present day on-premise ERP solutions are not cost effective by any means. For one, the licensing fee paid to the ERP manufacturers like Oracle or SAP is just one part of the overall expenditure. Besides this, enterprises need to tweak their Oracle JD Edwards or SAP Business One to suit their businesses’ unique needs. Add to this, the continuous cost of customizations every time after a software upgrade, and you realize how much of a money sink the ERP implementation process is.

However, where I disagree with ERP is the timeline set for this migration. While Gartner does concede that these systems may not go away anytime soon, their prediction that such on-premise systems may be considered ‘legacy’ as early as 2016 is not realistic. For the record, the report defines legacy as “any system that is not sufficiently flexible to meet changing business needs”.

So what are the changing business needs that will render the existing ERP systems obsolete? One of the most vital developments in the ERP over the past decade is the evolution of the cloud based applications. Today, we have cloud ERP systems that are deemed to be as competitive as traditional systems and that cost way less compared to a traditional in-house system. As someone who personally advocates the benefits of cloud ERP, this is positive news. However, it is very unlikely for the traditional ERP system to be called ‘legacy’ in just a year or two from now.

This is because large enterprises who use on-premise ERP solutions are not doing this out of choice, but because of technical compulsions. Gartner’s point about the high level of customization required on traditional ERP systems is also the reason why enterprises will continue to stay with these systems. A migration to the cloud requires two investments - One, a massive level of investment in customizing the entire application system to competently replace the on-premise system. And two, an investment into training the employees of the organization into adopting the new cloud based system.

Businesses that have their sights on the long term goals are very likely to sink in these two expenditures to sustain their competitve edge. However, that is only possible if the cloud system is capable of sufficiently replacing the traditional systems. A study conducted by the Netherlands based Tilburg university last year concluded that cloud ERP systems still come significant customization and integration limitations that is seen as a drawback. In addition to this, the cloud systems continue to face challenges with respect to subscription expenses, performance risks, compliance risks and more importantly the perceived loss of IT competence.

Given these concerns, it is still too early to see a turnaround in the usage patterns of ERP systems among the large enterprises. However, what will serve as a catalyst in this evolution is the process of software upgrades. Companies like Oracle regularly pull the plug on customer support for older versions of their software. Very recently, the company officially ended their support for JD Edwards World versions A7.3 and A8.1. As the newer versions of the software move towards a hybrid platform of ERP, you will see a natural drift in the way enterprises adopt cloud technology too.

Having said that, support for premise-only ERP systems is not likely to end any time in the next 2-3 years. Given this, it is unlikely for businesses to actively migrate to a cloud system well knowing the concerns with these solutions. Bottomline of the argument is that traditional on-premise ERP systems are here to stay in the mainstream for at least the next 3-4 years. It is going to be a while before we can start calling them “legacy”. 

The Challenge of 21st Century Data Access Print E-mail
Product Management of a software product is not an easy job, and every year it gets more challenging. No application is an island anymore, and Product Managers (PM) must be cognizant of adjacencies, inbound relationships, and integration. In today’s data-driven world, the emergence of numerous and varied data sources only exacerbates the issue; as more data sources continue to emerge, companies are pressured to constantly upgrade and adapt their products to ensure support for an ever broadening ecosystem.
Data Sources Abound
If you’re not in the data business, names like Hadoop, Cassandra, and MongoDB probably mean nothing to you, but for PMs they are just a few of the many available data platforms for which customers now demand secure, reliable connectivity. Think back to the “database wars” of the 1990s. There were more than 15 different database types out there competing for business, creating so many options that determining how to house and access data became a battle of uncertainty. Eventually, the market consolidated into a smaller set of large database vendors, but today those wars are back again. We live in a new world of abundance, from data applications to data platforms, and figuring out how to effectively connect to these myriad sources is a pain point for vendors. Expansive data options help ensure users are armed with the information needed to make more informed decisions, but without effective connectivity technology, that data fails to deliver on the promise it holds.
Data Connectivity
Discussions around Big Data these days usually include a re-cap of pain points, such as how to store the data and glean meaningful value from huge data sets. A less talked about - yet equally important - aspect of Big Data success is connectivity. Choosing the right data connectivity solution can do wonders to expedite new product rollouts and alleviate the stress associated with expanding support for the myriad new platforms popping up in today’s market. When considering data connectivity solutions, PMs should look for tools that accelerate processing power and make it easier to transform data into actionable insights.
All new innovative, disruptive industry shifts (and Big Data is certainly one of those) promise new opportunities and competitive advantage. But the reality is that Big Data is a journey for an organization and there are fundamental challenges at many stops along the way. For PMs, there are four primary areas that require particular attention:
Technology Selection: there are many choices out there -- NewSQL, NoSQL, Hadoop, and other alternatives. It is unlikely that any single option will solve all your data problems, so you must carefully choose the right one for the job. This is especially important with respect to the qualities of service each solution provides in terms of security, auditing, failover, and so forth.
Market Consolidation: Like the Database wars of the 1990s, the Big Data space will inevitably consolidate over time to a smaller set of guerilla vendors. For an organization, that means risk and disruption as they proceed through this cycle, possibly having to abandon initial selections as they migrate to winners later.
Skills Gap: Big Data is a new technology, which means there is a shortage of experts who can administer, manage, and leverage this beast. These technologies are still maturing and have a long way to go to match the kind of expertise that is easily found in the relational database world.
Standards and Integration: Organizations have been conditioned to expect their relational databases to work with anything – their BI tools and dashboards, integration into their data warehouses, and embedded in their applications. The same isn’t true yet with Big Data. For example, connecting a BI tool to NoSQL database can be one of the hardest easy things they need to accomplish, but critical to achieving value from their Big Data initiative.
No doubt, today’s PM’s are faced with an exceedingly wide array of challenges relating to data connectivity and the myriad new databases that seem to be popping up almost daily. But, PM’s are also equipped with next-generation technology that enables them to improve connectivity to a wide array of sources and better serve their customers. Data connectivity will be an interesting space to watch in the months and years to come. As sources continue to multiply and technology continues to develop, the role of the PM will also change. So, buckle up and enjoy the ride.
Dion Picco is Manager, Product Management at Progress DataDirect.

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