• Get more value from your IT

    Get more value from your IT

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

    Does CIO really stand for 'career is over'?

    the changing face of IT leaders

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  • Making virtualisation

    Making virtualisation

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  • 10 predictions

    10 predictions

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  • The rise of the CMO as tech leader

    The rise of the CMO as tech leader

    why marketing is in the driver's seat

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  • Latest Articles

    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

    Does CIO stand for 'career is over'?

    Wednesday, May 07, 2014

    The role of the chief information officer (CIO) is in flux. Ambitious CIOs are aiming to integrate more closely with the C-Suite, while marketing is overtaking traditional IT roles. Does this leave the role defunct, or is there still a place for CIOs?

    It’s the sort of thing CIOs whisper to one another over drinks at the end of a conference. “CIO stands for career is over,” they say. “Marketing has taken all the meat out of the IT office,” others mutter. Are they right? Should the CIO still exist, or can the role’s responsibilities now be absorbed elsewhere? 

    According to The Society for Information Management’s 2013 poll of 650 US-based IT leaders, 44.7 per cent are now directly reporting to the chief executive, a figure up on previous years. The same survey also found 27.1 per cent reported to the CFO, a figure that had declined from the previous year. Similar figures have been reported in Australia, with a CIO Survey from Harvey Nash finding 41 per cent of Australian CIOs report to the CEO

    These statistics indicate that IT is becoming increasingly important to businesses and CEOs. However, the figures also imply that the very nature of IT leadership is changing. It is becoming as much a strategic role as it is a role for a tech specialist, moving closer to that traditionally held by the COO.

    The rise of the Third Platform

    This change is in part due to the evolution of cloud computing, a development that research group IDC has branded ‘the rise of the Third Platform’. In the past, companies viewed cloud as a consumer issue – exemplified by popular early products such as Microsoft’s Hotmail and Google’s Gmail cloud-based email services. 

    However, those services – along with productivity applications like Microsoft’s Office 365 and customer relationship management (CRM) packages such as Salesforce.com – have since migrated into the enterprise. Software that was previously installed on site and came under the purview of the CIO’s office is now offered as a service, often for a monthly fee. Frighteningly for traditional CIOs, the marketing department often has responsibility for controlling the purse strings when purchasing these cloud computing services.

    The Third Platform, which includes mobile, social, cloud and big data, is very much focused on the customer, and less so on the traditional enterprise desktop user. Its rise will require CIOs to develop a completely different set of skills if they are to survive. 

    A focus on planning and strategy

    According to IDC, by 2017 40 per cent of CIOs will have taken on a strategic planning role to meet the demands of Third Platform technologies.

    By 2018, IDC states that Third Platform technologies will have almost completely dominated IT roles, leaving the current gap between business planning and IT planning unsustainable. Business planning must now be about preparing to use these Third Platform technologies effectively. It cannot be separated from IT planning. 

    IDC advises front-footed CIOs to abandon the role of managing technology to a more junior manager, such as a chief technology officer. Delegating this role will enable the CIO to focus on strategy, information intelligence and technology innovation – tasks more traditionally handled by a COO. 

    It’s also key for the CIO to forge direct links with the chief marketing officer (CMO). CMOs understand that the Third Platform is about meeting the needs of customers, and less about the technology deployed on employee desks. They often have the last say in directing funds to meet the needs of Third Platform customers and consumers. 

    It’s the CIO, but not as we know it

    It seems there’s still room for the title of CIO, but while the moniker won’t change, the underlying role will.

    CIOs will move from focusing on desktop and enterprise technology rollouts towards meeting the needs of consumers and end customers – mirroring some COO responsibilities, working more closely with the CMO and reporting directly to the CEO in the process.

    The role of the chief information officer (CIO) is in flux. Ambitious CIOs are aiming to integrate more closely with the C-Suite, while marketing is overtaking traditional IT roles. Does this leave the role defunct, or is there still a place for CIOs?

    It’s the sort of thing CIOs whisper to one another over drinks at the end of a conference. “CIO stands for career is over,” they say. “Marketing has taken all the meat out of the IT office,” others mutter. Are they right? Should the CIO still exist, or can the role’s responsibilities now be absorbed elsewhere? 

    According to The Society for Information Management’s 2013 poll of 650 US-based IT leaders, 44.7 per cent are now directly reporting to the chief executive, a figure up on previous years. The same survey also found 27.1 per cent reported to the CFO, a figure that had declined from the previous year. Similar figures have been reported in Australia, with a CIO Survey from Harvey Nash finding 41 per cent of Australian CIOs report to the CEO

    These statistics indicate that IT is becoming increasingly important to businesses and CEOs. However, the figures also imply that the very nature of IT leadership is changing. It is becoming as much a strategic role as it is a role for a tech specialist, moving closer to that traditionally held by the COO.

    The rise of the Third Platform

    This change is in part due to the evolution of cloud computing, a development that research group IDC has branded ‘the rise of the Third Platform’. In the past, companies viewed cloud as a consumer issue – exemplified by popular early products such as Microsoft’s Hotmail and Google’s Gmail cloud-based email services. 

    However, those services – along with productivity applications like Microsoft’s Office 365 and customer relationship management (CRM) packages such as Salesforce.com – have since migrated into the enterprise. Software that was previously installed on site and came under the purview of the CIO’s office is now offered as a service, often for a monthly fee. Frighteningly for traditional CIOs, the marketing department often has responsibility for controlling the purse strings when purchasing these cloud computing services.

    The Third Platform, which includes mobile, social, cloud and big data, is very much focused on the customer, and less so on the traditional enterprise desktop user. Its rise will require CIOs to develop a completely different set of skills if they are to survive. 

    A focus on planning and strategy

    According to IDC, by 2017 40 per cent of CIOs will have taken on a strategic planning role to meet the demands of Third Platform technologies.

    By 2018, IDC states that Third Platform technologies will have almost completely dominated IT roles, leaving the current gap between business planning and IT planning unsustainable. Business planning must now be about preparing to use these Third Platform technologies effectively. It cannot be separated from IT planning. 

    IDC advises front-footed CIOs to abandon the role of managing technology to a more junior manager, such as a chief technology officer. Delegating this role will enable the CIO to focus on strategy, information intelligence and technology innovation – tasks more traditionally handled by a COO. 

    It’s also key for the CIO to forge direct links with the chief marketing officer (CMO). CMOs understand that the Third Platform is about meeting the needs of customers, and less about the technology deployed on employee desks. They often have the last say in directing funds to meet the needs of Third Platform customers and consumers. 

    It’s the CIO, but not as we know it

    It seems there’s still room for the title of CIO, but while the moniker won’t change, the underlying role will.

    CIOs will move from focusing on desktop and enterprise technology rollouts towards meeting the needs of consumers and end customers – mirroring some COO responsibilities, working more closely with the CMO and reporting directly to the CEO in the process.

    Wednesday, May 07, 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

    Five ways to manage the ‘always on’ expectation of IT

    Wednesday, May 28, 2014

    In an era of mobility and social media, when customers shop, bank and interact online around the clock, managing a company’s information technology is a 24/7 task. Here are five ways to ensure your company remains ‘always on’ while still retaining your staff.

    Mobility trends and changing customer expectations are driving an always-on IT environment that leaves IT staff with little free time. Missing chances to interact with customers or partners can damage your reputation or derail projects, while unexpected system downtime can be catastrophically costly to your bottom line. 

    So how do you manage this demanding IT environment in a way that respects staff and meets the needs of your business?

    Make the most of outsourcing services 

    Minimise the risk of expensive system outages by outsourcing IT backup, monitoring and redundancy requirements to relieve some of the pressure on your employees. 

    Third-party cloud services, in particular, take advantage of international support staff. Regardless of your current time and location, someone, somewhere is on duty, monitoring and backing up your files.

    Create offline backups 

    Creating offline backups means your essential business data will always be available when you need it, regardless of the day or the hour.

    If a major system is compromised – whether by a natural disaster or cybercrime – your offline files won’t be affected and critical systems can be quickly reinstated with minimal impact on your customer or damage to the business.

    Roster around the clock

    Develop a round-the-clock roster that covers all business requirements and contingencies. This might include additional IT staff who are immediately available in the event of emergencies, or who can participate in late-night calls with company offices or third parties in other parts of the world.

    You never know when you might need all hands on deck, so prepare for different scenarios and don’t just focus on the times when you think the business might need additional coverage. Ensure that there are always people available to cover the roster if someone is sick or on leave, and make sure on-call staff know they are expected to work out of hours if required. 

    Make the most of technology

    Mobile technology means that many maintenance, troubleshooting and diagnostic tasks can be performed by a shift engineer from outside the office – or that someone can brief them fully so they are ready to go from the moment they arrive. 

    Being able to make and receive calls or access project documents in the cloud also enables IT staff to recognise and solve problems before they escalate, as well as speak to colleagues in different time zones from the comfort of their homes.

    Establish some respect

    IT staff will be far more willing to make themselves available out of hours if they know there are also times when they can ask for radio silence – and receive it.

    Establish regular off-call times – when staff are on holiday or after 6 pm on a Sunday night, for example – and stick to them. Employees who have the opportunity to de-stress are more likely to be switched on and productive during the long hours they are at work.

    ‘Always on’ IT requirements can be demanding for any business. By using these five tactics, companies can ensure they have the right resources and technology to keep their IT infrastructure ticking away – and the right people on hand to fix it if things go awry.

    In an era of mobility and social media, when customers shop, bank and interact online around the clock, managing a company’s information technology is a 24/7 task. Here are five ways to ensure your company remains ‘always on’ while still retaining your staff.

    Mobility trends and changing customer expectations are driving an always-on IT environment that leaves IT staff with little free time. Missing chances to interact with customers or partners can damage your reputation or derail projects, while unexpected system downtime can be catastrophically costly to your bottom line. 

    So how do you manage this demanding IT environment in a way that respects staff and meets the needs of your business?

    Make the most of outsourcing services 

    Minimise the risk of expensive system outages by outsourcing IT backup, monitoring and redundancy requirements to relieve some of the pressure on your employees. 

    Third-party cloud services, in particular, take advantage of international support staff. Regardless of your current time and location, someone, somewhere is on duty, monitoring and backing up your files.

    Create offline backups 

    Creating offline backups means your essential business data will always be available when you need it, regardless of the day or the hour.

    If a major system is compromised – whether by a natural disaster or cybercrime – your offline files won’t be affected and critical systems can be quickly reinstated with minimal impact on your customer or damage to the business.

    Roster around the clock

    Develop a round-the-clock roster that covers all business requirements and contingencies. This might include additional IT staff who are immediately available in the event of emergencies, or who can participate in late-night calls with company offices or third parties in other parts of the world.

    You never know when you might need all hands on deck, so prepare for different scenarios and don’t just focus on the times when you think the business might need additional coverage. Ensure that there are always people available to cover the roster if someone is sick or on leave, and make sure on-call staff know they are expected to work out of hours if required. 

    Make the most of technology

    Mobile technology means that many maintenance, troubleshooting and diagnostic tasks can be performed by a shift engineer from outside the office – or that someone can brief them fully so they are ready to go from the moment they arrive. 

    Being able to make and receive calls or access project documents in the cloud also enables IT staff to recognise and solve problems before they escalate, as well as speak to colleagues in different time zones from the comfort of their homes.

    Establish some respect

    IT staff will be far more willing to make themselves available out of hours if they know there are also times when they can ask for radio silence – and receive it.

    Establish regular off-call times – when staff are on holiday or after 6 pm on a Sunday night, for example – and stick to them. Employees who have the opportunity to de-stress are more likely to be switched on and productive during the long hours they are at work.

    ‘Always on’ IT requirements can be demanding for any business. By using these five tactics, companies can ensure they have the right resources and technology to keep their IT infrastructure ticking away – and the right people on hand to fix it if things go awry.

    Wednesday, May 28, 2014
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