6 Questions with Gabe Weiss of Mitsubishi Electric and Heating Print E-mail

Mobile Enterprise Strategy

Gabe Weiss, Interactive Marketing Technologies, Mitsubishi Electric Heating & Cooling

InnoviMobile’s Dan DiMassa interviews Gabe Weiss from Mitsubishi Heating & Cooling about enterprise mobile strategy and emerging technology.

Dan: I consider you a mobility influencer. Can you talk about your favorite tech innovation/mobile enterprise strategy you implemented?

Gabe: Thank you, I appreciate that. The creation of the meSync Program with the approach to infuse it with the contractors is working well but if I chose a favorite innovation, it would be augmented reality (AR). Using AR tech to answer customer concerns, educating them, and providing a means for our contractors to stand apart from the competition is very rewarding. Then, taking feedback from the field personnel, I have worked with the AR development team at metaio (follow on twitter: @metaioUS) to continuously push the capabilities of how I can use AR while developing new systems to utilize their advancements for the benefit of the company. These are very exciting times as we are moving into yet another phase of the tech deployment.

Dan: Bringing your organization mobile, what was hardest part?

Gabe: The hardest part of going mobile has been continued evolution. By that I mean getting interest for the program by management was easy. Testing, modifications and rollout went smoothly enough (a few changes and redevelopments along the way). But keeping interest in the program and having the users continue to push themselves on refining the way they work to be more productive within the mobile space is a challenge. The use of new technologies, new apps to keep the sales process refinements happening are key elements to the meSync Program’s continued success.

Dan: What is your best hint when it comes to mobile enterprise strategy?

Gabe: As with any strategy development mobile considerations need to include the end user. Use cases can vary from the overall program needs to the individual apps and their requirements. But one thing to keep in mind is that the program lead is the expert at how the program needs to be developed (how to create an app, distribution platforms, device types, etc.) but the end-users are typically the experts in the business needs for the apps. Talk to them and make them a part of the development and approval process.

Dan: If you could give one piece of advice for someone starting an enterprise app project, what would you say?

Gabe: Remember that it is all about the strategy. If the app answers a question, meets a business need or makes a business process more efficient for users within the enterprise it will be successful. The saying ‘form follows function’ is true in the enterprise. Design it so users can interact with the app as they would anything they download from a consumer-centric app store while making it a functional tool that enhances business process.

Dan:  In 2014 do you think internal or external (in market) apps will be hotter?

Gabe: I see 2014 being the year for internal enterprise program and app development. There is a lot of interest from corporations that I talk to on how to make their teams not only mobile but more efficient in doing business. Refining business processed while looking at emerging trends and technologies is a key element to companies being successful and competitive in the next few years. Companies are taking different approaches, via IT system upgrades first or connecting off-the-shelf apps to existing data to get to the field quicker, and each has its own merits. It all comes back to strategy. What are the goals and what is the most efficient and effective means to reach them.

Dan: What mobility innovation is Mitsubishi using? Or Mitsubishi‘s newest mobile enterprise strategy?

Gabe: Emerging technology, both software and hardware, should always be a point of consideration when working on the execution portion of a mobile strategy. After doing the exploratory components and determining goals, look at anything and everything that can work for the business to attain the goals. Technology is a means to execute and knowing what is out there and the capabilities can not only get you to your goals but potentially surpass them while making the company stand apart from the competition. Augmented reality is one such technology. Looking at data visualization in new ways and connecting to cloud systems will be the norm in the future. Leverage the efficiencies and long-term benefits now.

Follow Gabe Weiss on twitter for the latest in mobile enterprise strategy: @gabe_weiss

Strong IT Job Growth Forecast for 2014 Print E-mail

Many companies plan to hire more IT staff in 2014 which is great news for IT workers at all levels. For the first time in several years companies also anticipate paying larger salaries to recruit the needed talent.

According to a report, approximately 55% of employers say they're ready to hire large numbers of IT workers. This is an increase, up from 42% in the second half of 2013.

In fact, many hiring situations are changing since companies increasingly need to offer higher salaries than in the past, both to hold onto current tech employees and to attract new ones.

In the last year or two, the tech job market did not look like this as we previously reported here

For many employers the projections show that it will become more difficult to fill open and widely in demand technology positions as the competition for specific skills increases.

The IT skill most in demand today continues to be in Software development. Listings for IT jobs as software developers are up 120% over last year. Application development in web, mobile, or back-end systems support working on LAMP stacks and popular frameworks are seeing the most action.

Mobile apps are another hot area. There is also a huge demand for people who can help companies move to the cloud as well as SAP and other large-scale ERP systems pros.

For job seekers, the four technologies most often mentioned in recent help-wanted ads on are Javascript-based frameworks like KnockoutJS and AngularJS; Jenkins, an open-source integration tool; Elastic Path, an e-commerce platform gaining in popularity with employers; and HL7, a framework for the exchange, sharing, and retrieval of health information.

If you do not have any of these skills you may wish to refer to a recent post we scripted on maintaining and learning new IT skills.



Securing DNS Infrastructure & Preventing DNS Attacks Print E-mail

The Domain Name System, also known as DNS, is the backbone of all Web services. The DNS infrastructure provides links between all of the data on the Web functioning as a directory system for services and applications on the Internet. When a DNS infrastructure is disrupted, it can bring a company or website down entirely. For this reason, malicious attackers often target the DNS infrastructure of a website or Web service when trying to disrupt a business.

The most common forms of DNS disruption

By far, the most commonly used type of DNS disruption attack is known as a DDoS or distributed denial-of-service attack. A DDoS attack uses a distributed network of computers to suddenly flood a DNS server with requests until the server simply cannot respond to requests anymore and becomes non-responsive. A DDoS attack is sometimes used alone or as the first stage in a more complex attack plan. Many large companies and even governments have been brought to their knees by a carefully planned DDoS attack.

A secondary form of DNS attack is called cache-poisoning. Cache-poisoning involves changing the data on a DNS server through security vulnerabilities and redirecting users to a different site entirely. Cache-poisoning is usually detected fairly quickly and can be defended against through the use of proper security methods, and thus isn't one of the primary methods used against a DNS infrastructure.

Preventing DNS attacks on the cloud

The average DDoS attack lasts 54 minutes and costs $22,000 per minute, Companies need to protect themselves from DDoS attacks preemptively, as they can occur suddenly and take a website down within minutes. Many cloud platforms today have built-in DDoS protection, sometimes as a paid for monthly service. Unfortunately, these DDoS protection services may be easy to bypass. The cloud infrastructure as a whole is less vulnerable to DDoS attacks than traditional servers but it is not immune. Load-balancing and cloud infrastructure features can greatly reduce the overall effectiveness of a DDoS attack.

Companies that want to reduce their overall vulnerability to a DDoS attack may be inclined to take control over their own IT security and install their own cloud-based automated threat detection suites, giving them greater DNS management abilities. These software suites work in the background to identify attacks and limit their overall effectiveness. Even companies that have a DDoS protection system in place should still have contingency plans for if they are brought down, such as alternate servers and systems that can be deployed quickly. For those that are more concerned about the security of their DNS system, DNSSEC will provide a fairly complete solution but will not protect against a DDoS attack.

Companies that rely on their Web infrastructure need to protect their infrastructure from DDoS attacks even if they are on a cloud platform. Preemptive system protection is the only way to avoid the effects of a DNS attack due to how quickly and unexpectedly these attacks can occur. A single DDoS attack can bring down a company's entire cloud-based infrastructure, leaving them unable to perform the simplest of tasks. A DDoS cannot always be entirely avoided, but there are ways to reduce the damage.

US Retailers Fail to Capitalize on Cyber Monday Profits Print E-mail

With Thanksgiving, Black Friday and Cyber Monday behind us, the holiday shopping numbers are coming in droves. The good news is that 2013 is shaping up to be the busiest, most successful retail season in history. Cyber Monday, the busiest annual online shopping day of the year, made history with customers spending a record breaking $2 billion, but many retailers failed to capitalize on potential profits as they struggled to cope with the pressure of increased website traffic driven by seasonal promotions. That's according to live website performance data from our recent survey.

 Our website performance tool, Silk WebMeter, picked up a direct correlation between an increase in sales-generated traffic and a delay in website response times – a troubling situation for any retailer looking to optimize seasonal profits and capitalize on discount-savvy shoppers.

According to the research, more than ten well-known global retailers were affected by the seasonal spike in website traffic. In the US, jewelry retailer, Jared, saw its website performance drop by more than 500% on the Tuesday after Cyber Monday. The site slowed from a usual 2.6 second load time to a 16 second load time when site traffic peaked between 4:00 and 5:00pm ET on December 3.

Other US retailers struggled with web performance in the lead up to Cyber Monday., which has one of the quickest response times at 1.2 seconds, experienced several "mini slow-downs" over the Thanksgiving weekend, including a 45 minute period on Tuesday, November 26 where average response times rose from 1.2 seconds to 26 seconds -- a 2,000% increase.

Both Jared and Apple could well have lost customers as research suggests that 40% of online shoppers will abandon a website if it takes more than three seconds to load. Even minor delays to website response times can have a sizeable impact on customer satisfaction and future shopping habits. Additional findings from the research reveal:

  • 38% of online shoppers abandon websites or apps that take more than 10 seconds to load
  • 24% of customers abandon their online carts due to a website crash
  • 88% of online consumers are less likely to return to a site after a bad experience
  • 4% of online shoppers will tell their friends about a bad experience online

While it's inevitable that there will be some slowdown of website performance during seasonal peak times, retailers should have a strategy in place ahead of time to ensure their website runs smoothly during a promotional event. This includes shutting down non-essential services and increasing capacity so that their networks can handle heavy loads. This strategy can also be used as a backup plan for any retailers who find their websites under performing in the midst of a sales promotion.

The Borland website performance data makes a clear case for marketing and IT departments to work together to ensure systems are able to deal with the traffic increases generated by online promotions. While 79% of the 590 global CIOs polled confirmed they are aware of seasonal events that drive web traffic, 44% do not test their websites to see if they could handle the increase in traffic despite its importance to revenue generation.

Many marketing departments have the right to question why their website wasn't prepared for the Cyber Monday rush. IT departments need to ensure their websites can adapt to changing traffic patterns, and that their testing replicates real-world online activity. That way, retailers can adequately prepare for peak site traffic, improving end-user experience, increasing conversions, and ensuring marketing campaigns deliver the maximum return on investment.

Listen, Your Customers are Getting Louder Print E-mail
One of the first rules of business continually pounded into our heads is to listen to our customers. It’s simple advice that is sometimes lost in the tech community as we try to be disrupters and innovators. But the fact remains, we still have to operate and sell in the current marketplace. I recently had a great reminder of this as I worked on a project with one of our EMEA customers, Wayfare, a nearshore software solutions provider
Wayfare does an excellent job of listening to their customers, who have an increasing desire to exercise control over the final product. One of the most sought after needs is modernizing legacy applications, while simultaneously creating new ones to leverage the latest mobile, cloud and data integration technologies. Throughout these processes, customers want to have greater control for two main reasons: to ensure the final product matches their vision and to keep costs down.
In today’s market, the ability to tailor business applications in-house is quickly leaving the realm of a perk and becoming an expectation. We are reaching a critical point where the threshold of ease-of-use is intersecting with an increasingly knowledgeable user base. Consumers are used to sites like Blogger and Wordpress that make website creation effortless. So, when it comes to the enterprise, users want platforms they can understand and work with themselves without in-house programming experience or expertise. This gives them greater control over the final product and allows them to make alterations to meet their business needs. 
Another issue providers like Wayfare often encounter is that today’s enterprise customer not only want solutions that are better and more agile, but cheaper as well. Organizations are starting to expect the trickle down effect of end-user technology at a fraction of the price. We see this on the consumer side with products such as the iPhone 5c and the popularity of the sub $400 laptop market.
As Wayfare CIO Wim Martens, puts it, “They are aware of the need to modernize their application so they can keep or gain a competitive advantage, but they are also interested in achieving this in a cost-effective manner.” The bottom line is that organizations want to modernize, but are increasingly price conscious throughout the decision making process.
Price then leads to value. In Wayfare’s case, their customers want tools that allow for the needed flexibility to efficiently keep pace with change. They want the ability to seamlessly deploy their applications across multiple platforms to fluctuate with the changing tides of device popularity. More specifically, they want to spend time and money perfecting the final product, rather than worrying about whether it will work on the latest devices or platforms.
Organizations using legacy tools to develop applications are increasingly aware of this shortfall. We are finding that they are more willing to invest in new technologies when we can show them a reasonable bottom dollar, and then explain how to stretch it. In other words, it’s no longer acceptable to wait for the next technological breakthrough to upgrade your legacy system. Customers want to invest in a solution that is agile enough to carry them through several device innovations and mold to fit the altered landscape.
In the end, customers are no longer willing to blindly bend to the capabilities of technology. Solution providers are the ones that need to be ready and able to shift their technology to the needs of the customer. Whether those customers are interested in modernizing applications or developing new ones, providers must listen and respond to their needs. As IT decision makers become more discerning, providers that don’t do the same risk losing valuable customers.
Karen Tegan Padir is the Chief Technology Officer and a Senior Vice President at Progress Software.
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