• Get more value from your IT

    Get more value from your IT

    with active lifecycle management

    read now
  • Does CIO really stand for 'career is over'?

    Does CIO really stand for 'career is over'?

    the changing face of IT leaders

    read now
  • Making virtualisation

    Making virtualisation

    work for your business

    read now
  • 10 predictions

    10 predictions

    for the future of work

    read now
  • The rise of the CMO as tech leader

    The rise of the CMO as tech leader

    why marketing is in the driver's seat

    read now
  • Latest Articles

    Six top tech tools to keep you on the road

    Friday, August 15, 2014

    Whether you’re travelling for business or leisure, technology has a solution to make your trip that much easier. Here are six gadgets you won’t want to leave home without.

    1. Global language translator

    If you travel internationally, a little help making yourself understood goes a long way. Franklin has created a 12-language translator with 12,000 pre-programmed phrases and 450,000 other words to help you create your own sentences. The device shows you the translation in the foreign script, in phonetic spelling and will even read the message out loud for you.

    2. Portable mini-power pack

    We’ve all encountered that dreaded moment when our phone dips below 20 per cent, we’ve got a day of meetings ahead and no chance to recharge. In times like these, a portable mini power pack is a life saver. They are inexpensive and worth every penny – keeping your smartphone or laptop functioning through days of meetings (or travel) abroad.

    3. E-reader

    If your aim is to travel light, then a tablet will be of great value. Taking a lightweight device that can store hundreds or thousands of titles really makes a difference – whether you’re travelling with hand luggage or complying with baggage allowances.

    4. Portable travel iron

    When you travel for business you need to look your best. Unfortunately, not all hotel rooms come with an iron, and they can often be neglected, broken or poor quality. Worse still, they can leave a stain on your shirt. If you travel a lot, consider investing in a portable iron that you can power through a USB socket. A little-known secret – a hair straightener can also iron out your clothing creases in a pinch.

    5. Luggage tracker

    Losing your suitcase is a nightmare at any time, but it’s even worse when you’re due at a client meeting in Frankfurt an hour after you land. If you travel with checked-in baggage, make sure to attach a TrakDot sensor. This will help you find out exactly where your luggage is and have you reunited in no time.

    6. Wi-Fi detector

    Being able to identify your nearest internet source is important for many business travellers and there is a whole range of devices on the market that will light up when they’re within a network. From simple gadgets like key rings that have different colours for locked and unlocked connections, to T-shirts that show you the strength of nearby networks, there are plenty of options available.

    Travel has changed greatly over the past couple of decades, with personal technology helping to make life easier than ever. What’s your ‘must have’ travel gadget?

    Whether you’re travelling for business or leisure, technology has a solution to make your trip that much easier. Here are six gadgets you won’t want to leave home without.

    1. Global language translator

    If you travel internationally, a little help making yourself understood goes a long way. Franklin has created a 12-language translator with 12,000 pre-programmed phrases and 450,000 other words to help you create your own sentences. The device shows you the translation in the foreign script, in phonetic spelling and will even read the message out loud for you.

    2. Portable mini-power pack

    We’ve all encountered that dreaded moment when our phone dips below 20 per cent, we’ve got a day of meetings ahead and no chance to recharge. In times like these, a portable mini power pack is a life saver. They are inexpensive and worth every penny – keeping your smartphone or laptop functioning through days of meetings (or travel) abroad.

    3. E-reader

    If your aim is to travel light, then a tablet will be of great value. Taking a lightweight device that can store hundreds or thousands of titles really makes a difference – whether you’re travelling with hand luggage or complying with baggage allowances.

    4. Portable travel iron

    When you travel for business you need to look your best. Unfortunately, not all hotel rooms come with an iron, and they can often be neglected, broken or poor quality. Worse still, they can leave a stain on your shirt. If you travel a lot, consider investing in a portable iron that you can power through a USB socket. A little-known secret – a hair straightener can also iron out your clothing creases in a pinch.

    5. Luggage tracker

    Losing your suitcase is a nightmare at any time, but it’s even worse when you’re due at a client meeting in Frankfurt an hour after you land. If you travel with checked-in baggage, make sure to attach a TrakDot sensor. This will help you find out exactly where your luggage is and have you reunited in no time.

    6. Wi-Fi detector

    Being able to identify your nearest internet source is important for many business travellers and there is a whole range of devices on the market that will light up when they’re within a network. From simple gadgets like key rings that have different colours for locked and unlocked connections, to T-shirts that show you the strength of nearby networks, there are plenty of options available.

    Travel has changed greatly over the past couple of decades, with personal technology helping to make life easier than ever. What’s your ‘must have’ travel gadget?

    Friday, August 15, 2014

    Four tech rules every business should follow

    Monday, June 23, 2014

    As your business grows, so do your IT needs. Here are four copper-bottomed tech rules to follow to help your business expand.

    Embrace the cloud 

    In The Lord of the Rings, there is one ring to rule them all. For successful business expansion, there is one technology that rules them all: the cloud. 

    Moving into the cloud is key for SMBs because it enables them to grow organically by adding technology as required, with little need for the IT department to intervene. This encompasses everything from email and office-productivity programs (such as Microsoft Office 365 or Google Apps) through to higher-end tech such as customer relationship management (CRM) software such as Salesforce.

    An added benefit of moving to the cloud is that you’re effectively renting the technology, meaning software is always kept up to date without the need for time-consuming, expensive and often bug-prone “service packs”. This also means that cloud technology is an operational expense rather than a capital expense. Tech costs become monthly line items rather than massive expenditures in the annual report. 

    Move to mobility 

    The rise of the smartphone and tablet, as well as fast mobile broadband over 4G, means it’s possible for staff to work from wherever they are, whenever they need to.

    Enabling staff to embrace the world of working when and where they need to means they are more productive and available more often. You can either adopt a ‘bring your own device’ (BYOD) or ‘choose your own device’ (CYOD) policy to ensure your staff have the tools they need while your data remains secure. Cloud computing will ensure they can also access the information they need in order to do their job from anywhere.

    Introduce some flexibility

    Following on from rule one and two, telecommuting is shaking up the traditional office structure. In a tight labour market, staff are demanding the flexibility that telecommuting enables to meet family, travel or other personal needs. 

    Enabling staff to work from a home office using their own technology reduces the real-estate footprint and technology outlay for the business, minimising operational costs. Staff are also empowered when they’re allowed to telecommute, increasing their loyalty to the organisation and improving their productivity. 

    Remember your customer is king

    A happy customer is a loyal customer, which is why investing in cutting-edge CRM solutions is a key expenditure for today’s SMB.

    A solid CRM package provides a business with a deeper understanding of its customers’ needs and behaviours, and allows it to meet the customer where they are – online, via social media or in-store. Good CRM also means customer problems are solved faster, to the benefit of both parties. 

    Productivity, efficiency and staff and customer loyalty are vital for any growing business. By following these simple technology rules you’ll be on your way to meeting their needs, minimising costs and taking your company to the next level.

    As your business grows, so do your IT needs. Here are four copper-bottomed tech rules to follow to help your business expand.

    Embrace the cloud 

    In The Lord of the Rings, there is one ring to rule them all. For successful business expansion, there is one technology that rules them all: the cloud. 

    Moving into the cloud is key for SMBs because it enables them to grow organically by adding technology as required, with little need for the IT department to intervene. This encompasses everything from email and office-productivity programs (such as Microsoft Office 365 or Google Apps) through to higher-end tech such as customer relationship management (CRM) software such as Salesforce.

    An added benefit of moving to the cloud is that you’re effectively renting the technology, meaning software is always kept up to date without the need for time-consuming, expensive and often bug-prone “service packs”. This also means that cloud technology is an operational expense rather than a capital expense. Tech costs become monthly line items rather than massive expenditures in the annual report. 

    Move to mobility 

    The rise of the smartphone and tablet, as well as fast mobile broadband over 4G, means it’s possible for staff to work from wherever they are, whenever they need to.

    Enabling staff to embrace the world of working when and where they need to means they are more productive and available more often. You can either adopt a ‘bring your own device’ (BYOD) or ‘choose your own device’ (CYOD) policy to ensure your staff have the tools they need while your data remains secure. Cloud computing will ensure they can also access the information they need in order to do their job from anywhere.

    Introduce some flexibility

    Following on from rule one and two, telecommuting is shaking up the traditional office structure. In a tight labour market, staff are demanding the flexibility that telecommuting enables to meet family, travel or other personal needs. 

    Enabling staff to work from a home office using their own technology reduces the real-estate footprint and technology outlay for the business, minimising operational costs. Staff are also empowered when they’re allowed to telecommute, increasing their loyalty to the organisation and improving their productivity. 

    Remember your customer is king

    A happy customer is a loyal customer, which is why investing in cutting-edge CRM solutions is a key expenditure for today’s SMB.

    A solid CRM package provides a business with a deeper understanding of its customers’ needs and behaviours, and allows it to meet the customer where they are – online, via social media or in-store. Good CRM also means customer problems are solved faster, to the benefit of both parties. 

    Productivity, efficiency and staff and customer loyalty are vital for any growing business. By following these simple technology rules you’ll be on your way to meeting their needs, minimising costs and taking your company to the next level.

    Monday, June 23, 2014

    Is tax time the right time to invest in IT equipment?

    Tuesday, June 17, 2014

    It’s tax time. Does that mean it’s the right time to upgrade IT equipment, or should you hold off until you really need it?

    With the end of the financial year fast approaching, television advertising is relentlessly advising small and medium-sized business owners and managers to purchase new IT equipment for tax-deduction purposes. However, single-mindedly fixating on the tax benefits of buying new IT gear can miss the point of the purchase. 

    Bernadette Gore, director at Care Accounting in Sydney, says there’s no sense in spending money if you don’t need the equipment in the first place. 

    “You really need to ask yourself if you will need the new gear, or if you’re just being distracted by the potential for a tax saving,” she says. “That said, if you need an equipment upgrade, there are real benefits in terms of a boost to cash flow following tax time.”

    Where should you splash the cash?

    IT expenditure generally falls into two broad categories: hardware, such as laptops, tablets, mobile phones and desktop machines, and the software needed to run the hardware (and the business) effectively. A piece of hardware without associated software is just a box sitting with nothing to do. 

    It’s worth bearing in mind that the really good tax incentives for a major purchase – where a small or medium-sized business could write off the entire purchase price of an expensive IT upgrade in one go – ended in December 2013. Now a business looking for an immediate write-off is restricted to purchases of $1000 or less

    If you’re looking to claim the full tax write-off for products under $1000, the rise of the app economy and software as a service (SaaS) – including software such as accounting package Xero and Microsoft’s subscription-based Office 365 – will help, as subscription software and apps are generally cheaper than associated hardware. 

    Moving to a SaaS model, or subscription software, also shifts the type of purchase you’re undertaking from a capital expense to an operational expense. Operational expense is generally fully deductible in the year it’s used. As an added benefit, subscription software vendors generally maintain and improve the software on an ongoing basis, so upgrades are free for the life of the subscription.

    “Software definitely has an attractive write-off. You can also pool IT purchases, and anything over $1000 pooled gets a 15 per cent write-off in the first year, and then a 30 per cent write-off in subsequent years.”

    Look before you leap

    While it’s definitely nice to have something new and shiny – and any tax offset that goes with it – you really need to think about whether the IT equipment will improve your business’s efficiency and bottom line. 

    If a new PC or laptop is likely to sit waiting for six months while you decide whether to increase your workforce, you should probably hold off until then. Instead, use your cash to buy something likely to provide a stronger return. You should also consider whether you actually have the cash to spare – use long-term funds, not working capital, to avoid a cash crunch in a few months’ time.

    “Your expenditure should be an asset to your business, the tax benefit should not be an overriding consideration.”

    With tax-time sales, and retailers and software vendors looking for a boost, it’s possible to get a bargain or wrangle a really good deal. Add in the write-off and it sounds a win-win purchase.

    “But when it comes down to it, do you need the technology? If you’re sure you do, make sure have a good talk to your accountant before you start spending.”

    It’s tax time. Does that mean it’s the right time to upgrade IT equipment, or should you hold off until you really need it?

    With the end of the financial year fast approaching, television advertising is relentlessly advising small and medium-sized business owners and managers to purchase new IT equipment for tax-deduction purposes. However, single-mindedly fixating on the tax benefits of buying new IT gear can miss the point of the purchase. 

    Bernadette Gore, director at Care Accounting in Sydney, says there’s no sense in spending money if you don’t need the equipment in the first place. 

    “You really need to ask yourself if you will need the new gear, or if you’re just being distracted by the potential for a tax saving,” she says. “That said, if you need an equipment upgrade, there are real benefits in terms of a boost to cash flow following tax time.”

    Where should you splash the cash?

    IT expenditure generally falls into two broad categories: hardware, such as laptops, tablets, mobile phones and desktop machines, and the software needed to run the hardware (and the business) effectively. A piece of hardware without associated software is just a box sitting with nothing to do. 

    It’s worth bearing in mind that the really good tax incentives for a major purchase – where a small or medium-sized business could write off the entire purchase price of an expensive IT upgrade in one go – ended in December 2013. Now a business looking for an immediate write-off is restricted to purchases of $1000 or less

    If you’re looking to claim the full tax write-off for products under $1000, the rise of the app economy and software as a service (SaaS) – including software such as accounting package Xero and Microsoft’s subscription-based Office 365 – will help, as subscription software and apps are generally cheaper than associated hardware. 

    Moving to a SaaS model, or subscription software, also shifts the type of purchase you’re undertaking from a capital expense to an operational expense. Operational expense is generally fully deductible in the year it’s used. As an added benefit, subscription software vendors generally maintain and improve the software on an ongoing basis, so upgrades are free for the life of the subscription.

    “Software definitely has an attractive write-off. You can also pool IT purchases, and anything over $1000 pooled gets a 15 per cent write-off in the first year, and then a 30 per cent write-off in subsequent years.”

    Look before you leap

    While it’s definitely nice to have something new and shiny – and any tax offset that goes with it – you really need to think about whether the IT equipment will improve your business’s efficiency and bottom line. 

    If a new PC or laptop is likely to sit waiting for six months while you decide whether to increase your workforce, you should probably hold off until then. Instead, use your cash to buy something likely to provide a stronger return. You should also consider whether you actually have the cash to spare – use long-term funds, not working capital, to avoid a cash crunch in a few months’ time.

    “Your expenditure should be an asset to your business, the tax benefit should not be an overriding consideration.”

    With tax-time sales, and retailers and software vendors looking for a boost, it’s possible to get a bargain or wrangle a really good deal. Add in the write-off and it sounds a win-win purchase.

    “But when it comes down to it, do you need the technology? If you’re sure you do, make sure have a good talk to your accountant before you start spending.”

    Tuesday, June 17, 2014

    The net’s ransom: criminal groups take servers and phones hostage

    Wednesday, May 21, 2014

    In a frightening new trend, companies and individuals around the world are increasingly vulnerable to criminal groups encrypting and holding their data hostage. What measures can you put in place to protect your business’s core assets?

    Unlucky companies across the world have been discovering that even the most simple-looking email can cause a world of pain. 

    As our dependence on online communication and data storage grows, organised criminal gangs – predominantly from Eastern Europe – have started taking advantage of this reliance in order to hold companies’ data hostage. The gangs send organisations a phishing email that hides a malicious program – opening the email triggers the program, which then encrypts the data held in connected hard drives, and even in cloud storage such as Google Drive or Dropbox.

    Once the data is encrypted, it is completely unusable to its owner, effectively putting the brakes on business as usual. The next day, the gang sends another email. For a sum of cash, they will send a ‘key’ to unlock the encrypted information. Don’t pay and your business is as good as dead.

    CryptoLocker goes mobile

    The gangs are using software called CryptoLocker, and analysts estimate that it infects around 1000 PCs every day across the globe. 

    “It's kind of like losing your computer or smashing your hard disk or dropping your computer in the harbour,” said Paul Ducklin, head of technology for the Asia-Pacific region at security company Sophos, in a recent interview with Scientific American. “You are never going to get your data back after your files are encrypted.”

    Even more worryingly, the software has just jumped the divide between PCs and mobile, with an Android version recently reported in the wild. Android is the Google-developed mobile operating system that powers the vast majority of the world’s tablets and smartphones. 

    The Android version works slightly differently to the desktop ransomware. When a phone is infected, the user finds everything on their home screen locked. Usually they haven’t even opened a phishing email, simply visited a website that has injected a malicious program into their device. 

    The user is then confronted with a message accusing them of viewing porn, and implying they could face jail terms if they don’t pay the ransom to retrieve their phone functionality. This kind of attack is called a “drive-by attack” and is becoming increasingly prevalent in the free-for-all world of the Android operating system.

    Protecting yourself against ransomware

    One of the most alarming aspects of CryptoLocker and its ilk is that the software can attack any drive attached to an infected computer, including USB drives, conventional hard drives and the increasingly popular cloud storage used by many businesses. 

    Security firms have formed working relationships aimed at providing antivirus-like security fixes to CryptoLocker, but the malicious software is a moving target. When the good guys create a fix, the criminals simply amend their software and keep extorting people. Depressingly for Android users, there is currently nothing available to protect the operating system.

    What can you do now?

    Until a permanent solution is found, the security community agrees there are only two real methods to avoid catastrophe. The first is to remain vigilant and train staff to delete suspicious emails without opening them or their attachments. This is an imperfect fix, however, as it doesn’t take into account the fact that employees get unsolicited emails every day, many of which are legitimate. 

    The second is to back up files to secure offline storage on a regular basis. That way, even if your storage is encrypted, the backup won’t be attacked, and can be used to restore critical business data without paying the ransom. 

    Security companies will continue to work around the clock on a solution, but while unsuspecting companies still fall prey to the software, it’s likely the emails will keep coming. As well as a timely reminder to back up your data, CryptoLocker also demonstrates that 25 years after the invention of the internet, it’s still a wild world out there.

    In a frightening new trend, companies and individuals around the world are increasingly vulnerable to criminal groups encrypting and holding their data hostage. What measures can you put in place to protect your business’s core assets?

    Unlucky companies across the world have been discovering that even the most simple-looking email can cause a world of pain. 

    As our dependence on online communication and data storage grows, organised criminal gangs – predominantly from Eastern Europe – have started taking advantage of this reliance in order to hold companies’ data hostage. The gangs send organisations a phishing email that hides a malicious program – opening the email triggers the program, which then encrypts the data held in connected hard drives, and even in cloud storage such as Google Drive or Dropbox.

    Once the data is encrypted, it is completely unusable to its owner, effectively putting the brakes on business as usual. The next day, the gang sends another email. For a sum of cash, they will send a ‘key’ to unlock the encrypted information. Don’t pay and your business is as good as dead.

    CryptoLocker goes mobile

    The gangs are using software called CryptoLocker, and analysts estimate that it infects around 1000 PCs every day across the globe. 

    “It's kind of like losing your computer or smashing your hard disk or dropping your computer in the harbour,” said Paul Ducklin, head of technology for the Asia-Pacific region at security company Sophos, in a recent interview with Scientific American. “You are never going to get your data back after your files are encrypted.”

    Even more worryingly, the software has just jumped the divide between PCs and mobile, with an Android version recently reported in the wild. Android is the Google-developed mobile operating system that powers the vast majority of the world’s tablets and smartphones. 

    The Android version works slightly differently to the desktop ransomware. When a phone is infected, the user finds everything on their home screen locked. Usually they haven’t even opened a phishing email, simply visited a website that has injected a malicious program into their device. 

    The user is then confronted with a message accusing them of viewing porn, and implying they could face jail terms if they don’t pay the ransom to retrieve their phone functionality. This kind of attack is called a “drive-by attack” and is becoming increasingly prevalent in the free-for-all world of the Android operating system.

    Protecting yourself against ransomware

    One of the most alarming aspects of CryptoLocker and its ilk is that the software can attack any drive attached to an infected computer, including USB drives, conventional hard drives and the increasingly popular cloud storage used by many businesses. 

    Security firms have formed working relationships aimed at providing antivirus-like security fixes to CryptoLocker, but the malicious software is a moving target. When the good guys create a fix, the criminals simply amend their software and keep extorting people. Depressingly for Android users, there is currently nothing available to protect the operating system.

    What can you do now?

    Until a permanent solution is found, the security community agrees there are only two real methods to avoid catastrophe. The first is to remain vigilant and train staff to delete suspicious emails without opening them or their attachments. This is an imperfect fix, however, as it doesn’t take into account the fact that employees get unsolicited emails every day, many of which are legitimate. 

    The second is to back up files to secure offline storage on a regular basis. That way, even if your storage is encrypted, the backup won’t be attacked, and can be used to restore critical business data without paying the ransom. 

    Security companies will continue to work around the clock on a solution, but while unsuspecting companies still fall prey to the software, it’s likely the emails will keep coming. As well as a timely reminder to back up your data, CryptoLocker also demonstrates that 25 years after the invention of the internet, it’s still a wild world out there.

    Wednesday, May 21, 2014

    Five tech trends you don't want to ignore

    Tuesday, August 12, 2014

    What are the critical issues that business and IT leaders should be focusing on in the near future? 

    The fast pace of change makes separating the fads from the game changers increasingly difficult. Here are five current trends you should follow.

    1. The Internet of Things

    Technology that could unlock more than US$14.4 trillion in value to the business community over the next decade can’t be underestimated. That’s Cisco’s evaluation of the Internet of Things (IoT), and much research supports that prediction.

    The IoT is the expansion of data networks, or advanced connectivity of almost every kind of device – from gaming consoles to motor vehicles and household appliances.

    While the concept is not new, businesses need to understand its value and applications. Microsoft is trialling loT to provide faster access to patient data for doctors, while Tesla is testing loT support vehicle maintenance.

    According to ABI Research, more than 30 billion devices will be wirelessly connected to the IoT by 2020.

    2. Biometrics 

    Imagine passwords are obsolete and the shape of your eye or voice is needed to use an ATM. It sounds sci-fi, but the value of biometrics and its potential for business is obvious.

    Smartphone developers are adding fingerprint scanners to devices, financial institutions are testing voice and facial recognition security to identify customers, and the British government already uses the technology for residency applications.

    BCC Research predicts that the global biometrics market will grow to nearly US$27.5 billion by 2019, with annual growth of 19.8 per cent.

    However, not surprisingly, privacy remains a discussion point.

    3. 3D printing

    Although still beyond the reach of most consumers, 3D printers have the potential to change markets in a way we’re only starting to grasp. Broke your coffee cup? Just print another one.

    A PwC report suggests manufacturers that print parts otherwise warehoused, could make big savings and get products to customers faster.

    The technology will allow companies to rethink inventory, especially low-volume obsolete parts which still need to be available.

    4. Wearables

    Smart watches, glasses, bracelets and other devices have brought technology into situations beyond the reach of PCs, laptops, and even smartphones. What Deloitte has termed ‘just in time digital logistics’ has the potential to give companies a much deeper understanding of their customers, while allowing them to interact in a more personalised way.

    We are still in the early days, but Gartner values the wearable fitness and personal health devices market at US$5 billion by 2016.

    5. Big data

    If you’re not across the explosion in digital data and its value for businesses, you are living under a rock.

    The key is understanding how to leverage big data in your business – for example by crunching sales patterns to plan inventory levels, cutting staff expenses by analysing employee overtime and rearranging work schedules or using social media data to gauge what customers think about your business and competitors.

    For the tech-savvy business leader, these hot tech trends offer opportunities and solutions that shouldn’t be ignored.



    What are the critical issues that business and IT leaders should be focusing on in the near future? 

    The fast pace of change makes separating the fads from the game changers increasingly difficult. Here are five current trends you should follow.

    1. The Internet of Things

    Technology that could unlock more than US$14.4 trillion in value to the business community over the next decade can’t be underestimated. That’s Cisco’s evaluation of the Internet of Things (IoT), and much research supports that prediction.

    The IoT is the expansion of data networks, or advanced connectivity of almost every kind of device – from gaming consoles to motor vehicles and household appliances.

    While the concept is not new, businesses need to understand its value and applications. Microsoft is trialling loT to provide faster access to patient data for doctors, while Tesla is testing loT support vehicle maintenance.

    According to ABI Research, more than 30 billion devices will be wirelessly connected to the IoT by 2020.

    2. Biometrics 

    Imagine passwords are obsolete and the shape of your eye or voice is needed to use an ATM. It sounds sci-fi, but the value of biometrics and its potential for business is obvious.

    Smartphone developers are adding fingerprint scanners to devices, financial institutions are testing voice and facial recognition security to identify customers, and the British government already uses the technology for residency applications.

    BCC Research predicts that the global biometrics market will grow to nearly US$27.5 billion by 2019, with annual growth of 19.8 per cent.

    However, not surprisingly, privacy remains a discussion point.

    3. 3D printing

    Although still beyond the reach of most consumers, 3D printers have the potential to change markets in a way we’re only starting to grasp. Broke your coffee cup? Just print another one.

    A PwC report suggests manufacturers that print parts otherwise warehoused, could make big savings and get products to customers faster.

    The technology will allow companies to rethink inventory, especially low-volume obsolete parts which still need to be available.

    4. Wearables

    Smart watches, glasses, bracelets and other devices have brought technology into situations beyond the reach of PCs, laptops, and even smartphones. What Deloitte has termed ‘just in time digital logistics’ has the potential to give companies a much deeper understanding of their customers, while allowing them to interact in a more personalised way.

    We are still in the early days, but Gartner values the wearable fitness and personal health devices market at US$5 billion by 2016.

    5. Big data

    If you’re not across the explosion in digital data and its value for businesses, you are living under a rock.

    The key is understanding how to leverage big data in your business – for example by crunching sales patterns to plan inventory levels, cutting staff expenses by analysing employee overtime and rearranging work schedules or using social media data to gauge what customers think about your business and competitors.

    For the tech-savvy business leader, these hot tech trends offer opportunities and solutions that shouldn’t be ignored.



    Tuesday, August 12, 2014

    Weighing up the case for CYOD

    Thursday, June 26, 2014

    As businesses everywhere embrace the benefits and challenges of bring your own device (BYOD), a new trend is starting to gain traction: CYOD (choose your own device). By allowing employees to choose their own device from a limited range of approved options, you can reduce the strain on your IT department and improve your bottom line.

    If you’re still not sure which is better for your business, here are four signs that it’s time to switch to CYOD.

    1. You're concerned about security

    With mobile security remaining a top concern for businesses, limiting the number of supported devices makes sense.

    With a CYOD policy, your IT department remains in control, ensuring that only the most up-to-date operating systems, patches and security protection are running on staff devices and lowering the risk of data breaches due to malfunctioning software, viruses and user oversight. 

    2. Support is turning into a major headache

    While BYOD offers more freedom to employees, supporting an unlimited number of makes and models is both time-consuming and cumbersome for your IT team. 

    With CYOD, you can save time and money, and avoid scenarios such as Android fragmentation, which can cause applications to run incorrectly across different manufacturers’ models due to heterogeneous operating systems.

    3. Users are confused about policies

    With BYOD, there is a fine line between personal and business use of devices. A CYOD policy enables you to more easily define appropriate uses for devices, load applications based on a user’s security profile and restrict when and where employees can access data. Also, because the devices are owned by the organisation, there is no confusion about who owns the data if and when an employee leaves.

    4. You want to build your own apps

    For many companies, building custom apps is a logical step to increasing productivity and improving customer service. By limiting the number of supported devices and operating systems on CYOD devices, you can shorten development times, lower costs and ensure that your apps meet baseline security requirements.

    With the unprecedented number of mobile devices infiltrating the workplace, a CYOD policy offering three or four mainstream devices can bridge the gap between employee preference and the legitimate needs of the enterprise for security and safety of data. 

    Indeed, with the many benefits of CYOD, some experts are predicting that it will soon eclipse BYOD. If you haven't considered CYOD yet, now may be the time.

    As businesses everywhere embrace the benefits and challenges of bring your own device (BYOD), a new trend is starting to gain traction: CYOD (choose your own device). By allowing employees to choose their own device from a limited range of approved options, you can reduce the strain on your IT department and improve your bottom line.

    If you’re still not sure which is better for your business, here are four signs that it’s time to switch to CYOD.

    1. You're concerned about security

    With mobile security remaining a top concern for businesses, limiting the number of supported devices makes sense.

    With a CYOD policy, your IT department remains in control, ensuring that only the most up-to-date operating systems, patches and security protection are running on staff devices and lowering the risk of data breaches due to malfunctioning software, viruses and user oversight. 

    2. Support is turning into a major headache

    While BYOD offers more freedom to employees, supporting an unlimited number of makes and models is both time-consuming and cumbersome for your IT team. 

    With CYOD, you can save time and money, and avoid scenarios such as Android fragmentation, which can cause applications to run incorrectly across different manufacturers’ models due to heterogeneous operating systems.

    3. Users are confused about policies

    With BYOD, there is a fine line between personal and business use of devices. A CYOD policy enables you to more easily define appropriate uses for devices, load applications based on a user’s security profile and restrict when and where employees can access data. Also, because the devices are owned by the organisation, there is no confusion about who owns the data if and when an employee leaves.

    4. You want to build your own apps

    For many companies, building custom apps is a logical step to increasing productivity and improving customer service. By limiting the number of supported devices and operating systems on CYOD devices, you can shorten development times, lower costs and ensure that your apps meet baseline security requirements.

    With the unprecedented number of mobile devices infiltrating the workplace, a CYOD policy offering three or four mainstream devices can bridge the gap between employee preference and the legitimate needs of the enterprise for security and safety of data. 

    Indeed, with the many benefits of CYOD, some experts are predicting that it will soon eclipse BYOD. If you haven't considered CYOD yet, now may be the time.

    Thursday, June 26, 2014

    The wearable tech revolution is here

    Wednesday, June 11, 2014

    Have you embraced wearable technology – proudly strutting your stuff in your new Google Glass – or are you still struggling with the digital watch you’ve had since 1989? As our desire to consume more information when and where we want grows, intuitive wearable technology designs are striding forth in leaps and bounds. So what’s next?

    We have entered a wearable technology revolution that will see technology design, and our relationship with devices, change dramatically in the next decade. 

    This is according to Gadi Amit (pictured, right), founder and principal designer of San Francisco-based technology design company NewDealDesign. On 4 June, Amit spoke at Vivid Ideas, part of the Vivid Sydney event that lights up the city every year.

    The world is becoming increasingly familiar with wearable devices, or ‘wearables’, with technologies such as Google Glass and smartwatches garnering huge amounts of publicity and interest. But Amit argues that many devices on the market today centre around the technology rather than the human – there’s too much data and interactions are overcomplicated.

    “The mentality that everything plus the kitchen sink needs to be on your device is so strong today,” he says. “Eventually, we’ll find that’s not the solution.”

    This philosophy of creating simpler, human-centric, ambient devices underpins the work of Amit and his team of industrial, graphic and interaction designers and engineers. 

    Founded in 2000, NewDealDesign’s tagline is: “We mix brains, bravery and magic to make people smile.” In recent years, the company has made people smile with groundbreaking designs such as Netgear Platinum II, Fitbit devices and the Lytro camera (the world’s first light-field camera) – and picked up a clutch of awards along the way.

    But what, according to Amit, does the future hold for wearable tech?

    Smart is no longer smart enough

    Smart devices are “done”, says Amit. The future in wearables will be all about ‘wise’ devices that “give humans the command”. Instead of bombarding us with data, these devices will be intuitive, subtly communicating information to augment our lives, rather than dictate our behaviour. 

    “Everyone who has ever tried talking to Siri will understand how ridiculous it is, so [developing intuitive devices] is going to take a long time. But next we will see devices that are a bit more humble rather than [asking] for attention. At the next level they will have priorities and the ability to learn what you like. Later on they will get more intuitive and sophisticated.”

    Wise devices will use technologies such as sensors, ambient user interfaces and haptics (technology that provides feedback to users through vibrations or motions).  

    It’s all about the people 

    Amit believes Silicon Valley needs to start talking and creating in a more human way, and eschew the typical technology and business lingo. He says that emotional qualities and human values are crucial but often missing in the design process.

    “Technology needs a better relationship with people – and not the other way around.”

    As this approach changes, the design of wearable devices will increasingly take into account varying human factors such as size, gender, fashion and self-perception.

    Things are getting personal

    Over the coming decade, personalisation and customisation will drive the development of personal and wearable devices. 

    Enter Project Ara – a game-changing modular mobile phone system designed by NewDealDesign for Google, due for release in January 2015. The Ara phone features an endoskeleton as a ‘barely-there’ base for technological modules to attach to and easily swap in and out from – including the CPU, screen, camera and battery. It’s personalisation like we’ve never seen before. 

    Wearable technology is evolving rapidly and has the potential to change everything – from how we exercise and take photos to the ways we communicate and do business. It also poses a new range of issues, such as privacy and a decrease in human-to-human interaction. But the key takeaway is that wearable devices are here – and they’re here to stay.

    Have you embraced wearable technology – proudly strutting your stuff in your new Google Glass – or are you still struggling with the digital watch you’ve had since 1989? As our desire to consume more information when and where we want grows, intuitive wearable technology designs are striding forth in leaps and bounds. So what’s next?

    We have entered a wearable technology revolution that will see technology design, and our relationship with devices, change dramatically in the next decade. 

    This is according to Gadi Amit (pictured, right), founder and principal designer of San Francisco-based technology design company NewDealDesign. On 4 June, Amit spoke at Vivid Ideas, part of the Vivid Sydney event that lights up the city every year.

    The world is becoming increasingly familiar with wearable devices, or ‘wearables’, with technologies such as Google Glass and smartwatches garnering huge amounts of publicity and interest. But Amit argues that many devices on the market today centre around the technology rather than the human – there’s too much data and interactions are overcomplicated.

    “The mentality that everything plus the kitchen sink needs to be on your device is so strong today,” he says. “Eventually, we’ll find that’s not the solution.”

    This philosophy of creating simpler, human-centric, ambient devices underpins the work of Amit and his team of industrial, graphic and interaction designers and engineers. 

    Founded in 2000, NewDealDesign’s tagline is: “We mix brains, bravery and magic to make people smile.” In recent years, the company has made people smile with groundbreaking designs such as Netgear Platinum II, Fitbit devices and the Lytro camera (the world’s first light-field camera) – and picked up a clutch of awards along the way.

    But what, according to Amit, does the future hold for wearable tech?

    Smart is no longer smart enough

    Smart devices are “done”, says Amit. The future in wearables will be all about ‘wise’ devices that “give humans the command”. Instead of bombarding us with data, these devices will be intuitive, subtly communicating information to augment our lives, rather than dictate our behaviour. 

    “Everyone who has ever tried talking to Siri will understand how ridiculous it is, so [developing intuitive devices] is going to take a long time. But next we will see devices that are a bit more humble rather than [asking] for attention. At the next level they will have priorities and the ability to learn what you like. Later on they will get more intuitive and sophisticated.”

    Wise devices will use technologies such as sensors, ambient user interfaces and haptics (technology that provides feedback to users through vibrations or motions).  

    It’s all about the people 

    Amit believes Silicon Valley needs to start talking and creating in a more human way, and eschew the typical technology and business lingo. He says that emotional qualities and human values are crucial but often missing in the design process.

    “Technology needs a better relationship with people – and not the other way around.”

    As this approach changes, the design of wearable devices will increasingly take into account varying human factors such as size, gender, fashion and self-perception.

    Things are getting personal

    Over the coming decade, personalisation and customisation will drive the development of personal and wearable devices. 

    Enter Project Ara – a game-changing modular mobile phone system designed by NewDealDesign for Google, due for release in January 2015. The Ara phone features an endoskeleton as a ‘barely-there’ base for technological modules to attach to and easily swap in and out from – including the CPU, screen, camera and battery. It’s personalisation like we’ve never seen before. 

    Wearable technology is evolving rapidly and has the potential to change everything – from how we exercise and take photos to the ways we communicate and do business. It also poses a new range of issues, such as privacy and a decrease in human-to-human interaction. But the key takeaway is that wearable devices are here – and they’re here to stay.

    Wednesday, June 11, 2014

    Mobilising your workforce: Three ways to create a mobility strategy that works

    Wednesday, June 04, 2014

    With the power to increase productivity, customer satisfaction and your bottom line, mobilising your workforce can give your business a competitive edge. Indeed, with predictions that 70 per cent of professionals will be using personal smart devices for work by 2018, mobilisation is no longer just a trendy catchphrase – it’s a new way of working that organisations need to embrace as part of their core IT strategy.

    Before implementing a mobility strategy, it’s important to review your current systems and consider how you can effectively integrate mobile processes into your workforce. Here’s a look at three ways to keep your mobility strategy on track.

    Think it through

    To implement a successful mobility strategy, IT executives need to consider specific services that will deliver value to different areas of the organisation and understand how users will interact with mobile technology on a daily basis. For example, which apps could enhance collaboration within departments? What tools would a salesperson need if they were away all day meeting clients? How will bring your own device (BYOD) policies increase productivity?

    Mobilisation also has the potential to drive innovation into new and uncharted territory beyond email and other communication tools. According to Gartner, “Applications such as time sheets, punch lists, site check-in/check-out and employee self-service HR applications are just a few examples. Expanding access and driving innovation will ultimately be the legacy of the BYOD phenomenon.”

    Introducing mobility to your organisation introduces endless opportunities, so think carefully about how to take advantage of different applications to save costs, increase efficiency and make your employees and customers happier.

    Make it accessible

    At the heart of mobilisation is the ability to work anytime, anywhere. From cloud-based customer relationship management systems to mobile apps that allow point-of-sale transactions, giving employees the data and tools they need to do their job can make all the difference to customer satisfaction and your bottom line.

    Make sure mobile workers have full access to digital versions of every document they need in the cloud or on a virtual private network (VPN). This real-time access will enable employees to respond to client requests faster and work more efficiently across the entire customer service and sales pipeline. Review any processes that require manual sign-offs and introduce digital signatures and approval processes to avoid holding up processes until the work can return to the office.

    Find a balance

    While restricting the types of mobile devices your network will support can affect employees’ productivity, supporting too many devices can lead to major IT headaches. Some experts recommend only supporting three to five mainstream mobile platforms, which gives employees freedom of choice but still allows your IT personnel to effectively manage security, support and application development.

    That said, don’t be tempted to limit the mobile device models you support, as this will frustrate employees wishing to upgrade their devices. To get around this problem, consider creating cloud-based apps using Windows Azure or
    Office 365 development tools, which are compatible with most models and upgrades.

    In addition to mobile functionality and convenience, companies also need to take into account software licensing costs, security issues and regulatory compliance for their particular industries. 

    A good mobile strategy will meet the needs of end users, be flexible and pave the way for further innovation. Like any strategy, this will take time and thought to develop, but the resulting increases in productivity, efficiency and customer service will be worth the effort. 

    With the power to increase productivity, customer satisfaction and your bottom line, mobilising your workforce can give your business a competitive edge. Indeed, with predictions that 70 per cent of professionals will be using personal smart devices for work by 2018, mobilisation is no longer just a trendy catchphrase – it’s a new way of working that organisations need to embrace as part of their core IT strategy.

    Before implementing a mobility strategy, it’s important to review your current systems and consider how you can effectively integrate mobile processes into your workforce. Here’s a look at three ways to keep your mobility strategy on track.

    Think it through

    To implement a successful mobility strategy, IT executives need to consider specific services that will deliver value to different areas of the organisation and understand how users will interact with mobile technology on a daily basis. For example, which apps could enhance collaboration within departments? What tools would a salesperson need if they were away all day meeting clients? How will bring your own device (BYOD) policies increase productivity?

    Mobilisation also has the potential to drive innovation into new and uncharted territory beyond email and other communication tools. According to Gartner, “Applications such as time sheets, punch lists, site check-in/check-out and employee self-service HR applications are just a few examples. Expanding access and driving innovation will ultimately be the legacy of the BYOD phenomenon.”

    Introducing mobility to your organisation introduces endless opportunities, so think carefully about how to take advantage of different applications to save costs, increase efficiency and make your employees and customers happier.

    Make it accessible

    At the heart of mobilisation is the ability to work anytime, anywhere. From cloud-based customer relationship management systems to mobile apps that allow point-of-sale transactions, giving employees the data and tools they need to do their job can make all the difference to customer satisfaction and your bottom line.

    Make sure mobile workers have full access to digital versions of every document they need in the cloud or on a virtual private network (VPN). This real-time access will enable employees to respond to client requests faster and work more efficiently across the entire customer service and sales pipeline. Review any processes that require manual sign-offs and introduce digital signatures and approval processes to avoid holding up processes until the work can return to the office.

    Find a balance

    While restricting the types of mobile devices your network will support can affect employees’ productivity, supporting too many devices can lead to major IT headaches. Some experts recommend only supporting three to five mainstream mobile platforms, which gives employees freedom of choice but still allows your IT personnel to effectively manage security, support and application development.

    That said, don’t be tempted to limit the mobile device models you support, as this will frustrate employees wishing to upgrade their devices. To get around this problem, consider creating cloud-based apps using Windows Azure or
    Office 365 development tools, which are compatible with most models and upgrades.

    In addition to mobile functionality and convenience, companies also need to take into account software licensing costs, security issues and regulatory compliance for their particular industries. 

    A good mobile strategy will meet the needs of end users, be flexible and pave the way for further innovation. Like any strategy, this will take time and thought to develop, but the resulting increases in productivity, efficiency and customer service will be worth the effort. 

    Wednesday, June 04, 2014
    X Access ThinkFWD to discover, comment and share premium content
    THINKPAD 10
    A TABLET WITHOUT COMPROMISE
    CHECK OUT THE TABLET 10
    FEATURES HERE
    tags