Disruptive Thinking

Traditional ways of doing business have changed. Or, to be rather brutally accurate, they have been disrupted.

Our world has been transformed with mobile, cloud, social, data, security, connected devices, to a technological paradigm that could not have been imagined prior to the introduction of the PC, which is not that many years ago.

The way we do things and the devices we use to get things done basically just got faster and smarter at Moore’s law speed. Powered by cloud computing and mobile broadband and fuelled by the individual’s desire to be online all the time, the impact on the world of work and commerce has been profound. What this means for enterprises is that it’s time to think differently; doing business in the digital age means dealing with digital customers, and this can mean a need to dramatically reshape the organisation’s operating model.

Changing technologies, changing philosophies

One of the most significant changes to enterprise IT procurement today has been the shift of the cost model. Organisations have gone from the traditional method of paying up front for technological tools, the CAPEX route, to the more agile, cost-effective OPEX model. This change in philosophy has been powered by pay-as-you-use technology services and is at the heart of how enterprises have to adapt and reinvent themselves.

The benefits that this brings to businesses are many. There is the immediate cost saving inherent to not having to pay set-up fees and to not actually having to buy the full technology kit in the first place. The on-demand usage model also lets companies operate in more flexible and agile ways, creating work/life balance advantages for their employees and enabling better interaction with customers.

When your customers are digitally savvy end-users themselves, they naturally expect the companies they buy from to be similarly engaged. That’s why progressive companies are now using social media tools to deliver customer service, or enhancing their overall value proposition with dedicated smartphone apps.

Fundamentally, enterprises now need to work smarter. Those companies that want to thrive and enjoy competitive advantage over rivals are those that embrace technology, harness its power and use it to improve their product and service offering.

The shift from digital enablement to digital dependency

Technology and in particular mobile devices and mobile Internet connectivity have become life essentials – to the point where some countries have even gone as far as making broadband an actual human right. So much of what we now do as individuals requires technology to make it happen and that we’ve become dependent on it.

Broadband is now faster than ever and pretty much ubiquitous, while cloud computing and the proliferation of smartphones and tablets has been extraordinary and pervasive. Wearable technology is set to go mainstream and the Internet of Things will see more connected devices in place around the planet than we can currently envisage.

Enterprises have no choice but to reinvent and change the ways in which they work and interact with customers. At operational level they need to change their structure and their value proposition needs to evolve.

The more demanding customer

There is a cyclical element to the changes the digital era has brought us; because technology has enabled organisations to work in whole new ways, customer expectation levels have risen. The smartphone connected customer is used to great service, direct to their mobile device wherever they are, so the enterprise is under increasing pressure to keep meeting and exceeding these expectations. It’s a whole new paradigm of customer expectation.

To take this a little further, the next batch of customers currently working their way through university are all Echo Boomers, or Generation Y. They are the most technologically advanced and expectant generation of individuals we’ve ever produced, and they literally do not know or remember a world without broadband, mobile devices, laptops and always-on connectivity. So enterprises need to plan ahead – customer expectation of your digital capabilities is only going to keep on rising.

But remember to keep the back door locked

All this increased mobility and device usage does of course carry a threat with it. While organisations can benefit hugely from reinventing themselves and carrying a digital offering, they must be mindful of the security challenges. Hackers and cyber criminals have also continued to evolve, so risks do remain and have multiplied.

Enterprise mobility management, a strong firewall on your network, in-depth mobile policy within the organisation and even secure corporate app stores are all ways that enterprises can enjoy the benefits of digital while minimising security risks.

Disruptive thinking

With so many technological advances, disruptive thinking is key to an enterprise reaping the benefits quickly. Organisations need to disrupt themselves before they are disrupted, they need to embrace new technologies and adapt them to their organisation’s operations as this is the only way ahead.

Companies that move first will enjoy greater success over the coming decade. Enterprises that delay and continue to operate in time-honoured, traditional ways, will find themselves losing customers, market share and ultimately profitability.

By embracing the digital era and reinventing themselves as a digital enterprise, organisations can truly thrive. Technology used to be a support function within a company, today it is an absolutely essential element of a business strategy. By utilising digital tools to integrate customer service channels, companies can deliver far better customer service and keep customers coming back. Giving your customers more added value with smartphone apps tailored to their needs, will see your customer satisfaction levels increase.

These are some of the ways to forge ahead in the age of the digital economy. Disruptive thinking needs to also be applied to cyber security and protection from unwanted cyber penetrations of your systems, data and sensitive intellectual property.

A simple and effective start, on the security front, is to have professional penetration testing conducted on your organisations systems before someone else does.

The workspace of the future is exciting – but?

The digital tsunami and the move to mobile have changed the way we work forever. It is not all that long ago that we accepted our jobs as being part mobile – or at least where you could get a signal – and part tied to a desk. But no more; mobile is the new normal, it is here to stay, and the ‘workplace’ has become something altogether new and different.

At the heart of this workplace transformation has been an ongoing cycle of technological evolution. As networks have become faster and faster and support more apps and more data, the cloud has come into play. Cloud computing is now second nature to most people, and processing data through or storing it in the cloud has grown exponentially.

This faster computing power married to mobility’s always-on-anywhere nature has in turn led to richer content and applications at end-user level, for which end-users want ever smarter mobile devices, hence the astonishing rise in smartphone and tablet proliferation. Then, having faster, smarter mobile devices and ever-faster mobile broadband, end-users consume more and more data and digital content, which in its own turn has the knock-on effect of needing faster networks. This is the mobility and virtualization lifecycle, and its impact on the workplace has been revolutionary.

The point is that the traditional way of working has changed, and with it the workplace itself. And this has been powered not just by technology, but by people themselves. Mobile technology has empowered people to shape their workplaces to their own demands. It is a brave new world all right, and a truly exciting one.

How workers and ways of working are changing

Mobile has changed so much of what we’re used to. The typical ‘office job’ has transformed into something which through mobile empowers the employee and benefits the employer, in the form of greater freedom and increased productivity respectively. The consumerization of IT led us to bring your own device (BYOD) policies, with research showing that 87 per cent of employees have used a personal device in the workplace. Sales of smartphones and tablets now outstrip all PCs put together, including notebooks. 79 per cent of IT decision-makers say virtual desktops are in their current or future plans, while enterprise social networking is also high on agendas. The world of work went and got mobile, and employers have had no choice but to embrace it.

Buildings, ways of working and ICT strategy

The new workplace has become a seamless environment, where personal and professional crossover and interchange. Even workplace buildings themselves have become part of the mix; intelligent building projects are in place now which differ hugely from offices and factories of days gone by. The need for intelligent buildings now informs a company’s ICT strategy, as the new, mobile first way of working requires this new workplace to make it a reality.

When previously kitting out an office building IT departments generally focused on wireless connection models and protocols, wired and wireless access points and so on. There were no interfaces in place for seamless integration of multiple mobile devices, networks and platforms were largely proprietary (and not very interoperable with multiple different devices and protocols) and legacy services were limited. In short, the workplace was a relatively dumb environment.

The shift to new ways of working has created the need for new, intelligent buildings to support progressive companies. New working environments are looking to the Internet of Things as a driver, with its need for embedded systems with local computing. Next generation communications systems like MiFi and Zigbee must be worked into the mix, as must multimodal interactive interfaces like NFC, digital signage and all the various smart devices that now enter the workplace.

Intelligent buildings can also have a positive environmental impact thanks to increased numbers of sensors, monitoring systems and controllability of systems making them greener places to work. All of these elements are now making their way into organisations’ real estate acquisition strategies, making them part of an overall business strategy. Including smart intelligence to the building itself’s design makes for a smarter workplace and happier employees. This means thinking about your ICT strategy can separate digital, Business Intelligence and legacy systems while still looking to generate interaction between unified communications and collaboration (UCC) tools, human resources, security and suppliers.

In short, companies must now think not just from their own perspective but also from what their employees want and expect from a workplace. Take a technology-agnostic approach, and think ahead – use your building systems to deliver open, integrated services to workers – not just to manage your building. That’s the way to moving to the cloud-enabled, flexible and any place, anywhere, anytime method of working.

The security imperative

The new way of working is exciting, progressive and more productive – but it of course remains vital not to ignore the potential security risks. BYOD and smart building initiatives have helped empower workers in unprecedented ways, but they do bring with them traditional worries. Company data now resides on more devices in more places than ever, and IT departments have no choice but to accept this and mitigate it.

Lost or stolen mobile devices naturally remain a key concern for IT professionals, while employees placing data in cloud-based file-hosting apps such as Dropbox is also a potential problem. Traditional security threats like hacking and DoS (denial of service) attacks are still present too of course. So the IT department must manage both the old threats and the new.

They can begin by implementing a mobility policy which lays out the rules and precautionary measures needed to keep sensitive corporate data and systems as safe as possible. Employees bringing own devices into the workplace have to play their part and commit to safeguarding data and not abusing their newfound flexibility. Device management systems married to good quality encryption tools can help guard against data loss via stolen or lost mobile devices, but with both mobility and new, intelligent building systems to manage, companies should think about both hardware and software encryption policies.

The new workplace is a thrilling prospect, taking our now second nature mobility, partnering it to intelligent building environments and using it to help us enjoy greater freedom and flexibility in our jobs than ever. It’s an exciting time – but nonetheless one that requires good planning and the factoring in of expansive security measures at each step on the journey.

The journey into the cloud – making the right choices

The cloud is now, quite literally, everywhere. IT end-users interact with the cloud on a daily basis, organizations are engaged in cloud services at all times, and the cloud powers much of the way business operates today. The business benefits of cloud computing are now well-established and acknowledged, yet 37% of IT decision makers think staff have bought cloud services outside of the IT department without permission – meaning not everyone has thought the process through as well as they probably should have.

The cloud journey has now become a strategic imperative and no longer just a tactical IT choice – greater flexibility, improved productivity, increased collaboration, remote working and greatly reduced CAPEX can all be found through a smart cloud policy. But as with any strategic business initiative, making the right choices of suppliers, partners and relationships is the route to these dividends. And put simply, the cloud has gone mainstream.

So how do you ensure that you get these choices right and maximize the benefits of cloud computing to your organization while minimizing risk? Well, in all honesty, it genuinely depends on where you are starting from.

The greenfield approach

Companies and organizations which are taking a “greenfield approach” to cloud computing face a different set of challenges. Coming from this angle, the most beneficial way forward can be the lease and configure model. Instead of having to go on out and buy expensive hardware, and then also manage it, organizations are finding value in the managed services route. The main advantage here to “greenfield companies” is that they can simply pay a leasing fee and have their cloud solution specified and configured precisely to meet their needs.

What this means is that start-up companies or start-up divisions can operate independently and go straight into the cloud. They don’t need to set anything up, whether that is databases or ERP tools, and they are freeing themselves from risk and also responsibility. They enjoy all the benefits of the “greenfield approach”, under which they can test out new initiatives and processes, while just paying a fee for their expert partner to service their storage, virtual machines and applications in the cloud. It can very much be argued that companies in this category can make the move to the cloud more easily than their more established counterparts.

brownfield transformation

More mature companies and organizations can face a more complicated time of it however. If they have greater experience, have existing IT assets on their balance sheet and have a range of business processes in place, then they face a trickier journey into the cloud. By being in the “brownfield” category they can’t simply plug into managed cloud services without a transformation journey – they have totransform their existing operations and systems to the new environment.

These companies also have to address the financial equation which centers on those existing assets, while also managing greater levels of fear, uncertainty and risk than their “greenfield” peers. Meaning they are often in the market for a trusted third party who they can partner with and agree on the required Service Level Agreements (SLAs).

changing times for the CIO

Each of these approaches however means a range of challenges for the CIO. In days gone by the CIO needed to have in-depth technical skills and knowledge, and true IT project management expertise – today the CIO needs to be much more commercially and partnership savvy.

Today’s CIO must specialize in partnerships and relationships, SLAs and vendor management – in essence, the CIO has transformed too, from technologists to commercial decision-maker. In addition to far greater commercial know-how in general, today’s CIO needs to be much more marketing aware to leverage the opportunities that social media and mobile cloud apps offer in marketing leverage.

So whether the “greenfield” or “brownfield” approach, the burden when formulating that essential cloud strategy falls on the company CIO and IT department. They no longer have to build, install and operate systems, they need to specify, partner, transition, configure and manage commercial outcomes. The worldwide cloud market is forecast to grow from $40.7 billion in 2011 to $241 billion in 2020, and research regularly places cloud high among CIO priorities.

So a different way of thinking is required, since organizations are no longer just picking products and boxes, they are picking partners and service providers.  The old approach of buying the market leading product vendor to reduce the risk of technical obsolescence no longer applies. CIOs are now charged with helping make corporate IT agile, flexible and relevant to market discontinuities. Cloud computing, as a disruptive technology, was always going to disrupt the CIO’s traditional way of doing things. CIO’s now need to help reduce the risk of business model obsolescence.

The pace of technological change is accelerating and driving business model change. The CIO challenge has moved from technology obsolescence to business model obsolescence if IT cannot support the business model changes.

Gordon

Smart cities will deliver Innovation Centres

“Competition between Cities” has started

Smart city projects are among the most exciting technological initiatives around today and will play a major role in the world’s future growth. Modern technology lets us track and monitor pretty much anything in a major urban environment – noise, light, traffic, weather and so on – and use this data to improve people’s living and working conditions.

Traffic and parking availability is one area of smart city projects that is leveraging new technology to drive real change. New technology is emerging all the time that lets us manipulate networks more finely, taking advantage of more sensors, more cameras and more real-time data to improve road traffic.

Recent research showed that the average UK motorist spends over 2,500 hours in their lifetime driving around looking for car parking spacesThat’s an enormous 106 days – and in a hectic, built-up city like London, it takes an average of 20 minutes to find a parking space. Other statistics show that up to 30 per cent of city traffic is created by people driving around looking for an available parking space.

With population and vehicle figures always rising, it is hard to see these numbers falling without any kind of intervention. The UN estimates that by 2050 the world’s population will reach 9 billion people, the majority of this growth taking place in cities. This means urban populations will have grown to 6.3 billion by 2050, more than double the 2.8 billion living in cities today. So with all those extra people on the roads, tracking and controlling car and general traffic movements in a more intelligent, detailed way, will become vital.

Taming the beast

Technology provides the tools to make managing this ever-increasing traffic a reality. There are three key elements to dealing with this urban traffic as we move forward – identifying the problem, keeping road users informed and deploying smart mechanisms to keep traffic flowing. Addressing these lets us approach the issue progressively and practically.

Data monitoring and communicating with end-user mobile device apps is already part of modern urban living. We can receive the latest overground and subway train information direct to our smartphones when commuting, helping make the journey to work less of a hassle. Regarding traffic flow, one of the most interesting developments I have seen more of recently was in a “smart car park”, where sensors detect whether or not a car is parked in a particular spot and communicate that to drivers who have just arrived, telling them where available parking spaces with visual indicators of red and green lights – again saving time and keeping traffic flowing.

This model would work in a major city too. Smart cities already have technology in place to install a ‘mesh’ over the whole urban environment, with sensors installed to transmit real-time traffic data across the network. Sensors placed on buildings and on kerbsides could determine whether or not there is a car parked in a space and communicate this information to smartphone users – it could even bring Satellite Navigation and mapping technology into the mix to deliver true, real-time parking information to drivers. Drivers could save both time and frustration – forewarned is forearmed.

Powering the cities of the future

Faster mobile networks are at the heart of smart cities and are enabling people to do more on the move. As networks offer more cloud-based services and storage, this in turn leads to richer content and apps being available to end-users, which both informs and is informed by ever-smarter mobile devices.Smarter devices, faster networks and the cloud becoming ubiquitous all combine to power greater consumption of digital content – in short, users want more data all the time and want it now.

The Internet of Things (IoT) will also play a key role in smart city development. The sheer weight of Big Data generated by the IoT will impact everywhere, particularly on things like traffic flow – town planners will be able to gather the data, analyse it and use it to tailor future policy and projects.

The changing nature of the city as we know it

As smart cities get smarter we’ll be able to introduce new, joined-up services, based on gathering data through sensors and delivering it to smart devices to make life easier for both citizens and administrations. As well as projects like smart traffic management there are other knock-on benefits to be had – for example, parking space sensors could also be used to detect street temperatures in real-time, and tell municipalities whether they need to send out snow ploughs today.

Smart cities are very much about making yesterday’s dreams today’s reality. Back in the mid-twentieth century there was much talk of traffic jams and urban congestion being eliminated in the future. Technology has helped change the very nature of a city and encourage investment in smart cities as a result. Cities began life as religious centers which in time became defence centres and subsequently market centres and industrial centers. In the information era, cities will evolve to become innovation centres, and as economic competition becomes more about competition between cities rather  than just countries, having high levels of innovation and skilled people will be key. The smarter the city, the higher its innovation levels and the better equipped it will be to compete in the economic marketplace.

Gordon

Cyber threats makes it to number 4 on the Global WEF Agenda

A recent report released by the World Economic Forum (WEF) focused on the Global Agenda for 2014 and the top 10 trends facing the world. As one might expect, topping the list were globally pertinent and vital topics like; growing societal tensions in the Middle East and North Africa; income disparity around the world; and ongoing unemployment.

However in fourth place was “intensifying cyber threats”, which was considered a more significant issue than climate change and diminishing confidence in economic policies.

This is a truly insightful conclusion – such a global focused, facts-based organisation marking cyber threats at such a high threat level – shows how rapidly technological threats have evolved. It’s not that long ago that ‘being online’, whether as an organisation or as an individual, meant merely having your own server – relatively secure and simple to fireproof – against typical cyber-attacks and threats.

The evolution of IT into cloud computing, machine to machine (M2M) communications and the Internet of Things (IoT), presents a whole new generation of dangers – ones against which most industries, companies and end-users are not safe.

The cloud of course means more devices and machines than ever are connected through the same network, making it an even bigger target for cyber terrorists. Get one denial-of-service (DoS) attack through successfully and it can grow exponentially through the cloud to other domains, taking many other websites with it.

Similarly the IoT has presented cyber attackers with a particularly attractive playground – the network infrastructure and technological capabilities are really transforming at a rate that is too fast for cybersecurity to keep pace.

Many IoT machines and devices remain quite unsecured, with communications between them being unencrypted. This is clearly a major worry when so much private, personal and sensitive data is communicated via the internet.

Changing habits, changing threats

The nature of how we use IT has also helped form the evolution in cyber security threats. We love all the benefits that come with our increasingly mobile-powered lives; more flexible work practices, greater productivity, increased control and choice over our consumer habits, but we do need to be aware that these changes carry new threats too.

Through 2014 and beyond, it is highly likely that we will see cyber threats piggyback this trend to make attacks more personal. Where previously generic data was the target for cyber-attacks, they may now shift to specific, individual information. These attacks will target mobile operating systems, since thanks too trends like BYOD, mobile devices now very often carry both personal and corporate data on them. In 2013 there was 1000 per cent growth in malicious Android apps, demonstrating the shift in focus by cyber attackers. Factor in SMS floods, development of malicious apps and even fraudulent developer credentials appearing in app marketplaces and it becomes clear that mobile is a fertile hunting ground for the modern cyber criminal.

The growth in social media use presents another big target too. Social is a true modern-day technology success story, enabling people to keep in touch and share experiences in whole new ways, no matter where they are.

That ubiquity however does present new territory for cyber threats, with social attacks likely to increase massively in the near future. Social media utilises personal data, passwords, contacts, location-based activities and more – all of which is highly attractive bait to cyber criminals. So it is perhaps no surprise that earlier this year even President Obama was banned from using his smartphone due to security concerns.

Another modern day advancement that carries its own new threats is online currencies. Ransomware has been developed and targets currencies like Bitcoin, while online currencies also offer cyber criminals the opportunity for money laundering. Currency exchanges are also potential areas of attack. Traditional threats of course remain too – 2013 saw the biggest cyber fraud case in history, as 160 million credit cards were compromised in the US, to the tune of $300 million.

In short, new technologies and the growth of the cloud and increased mobility mean more targets for cybercriminals. Gartner suggests that by 2020 governments and enterprises will leave a massive 75 per cent of sensitive data unprotected – so organisations are going to need to think long and carefully about the security policies they implement to mitigate this threat and tighten up cybersecurity as much as possible.

Malware hasn’t gone away

Another threat which is not gone but merely evolving is malware. Previously the preserve of desktops and the enterprise environment, malware has transformed to take its dangers to the mobile landscape as well. Malware has adapted to target mobile authentication processes via fake SMS confirmations and other means. Android malware is also on the rapid rise.

This year will also likely see malware architects continue with covert command-and-control (CnC) attacks on networks. Encryption techniques go on getting smarter and stealthier and malware is now smarter than ever in evading traditional network defences.

Time to evolve thinking

The changing nature of technology in the mobile era – with disruptive solutions being developed all the time – means that the CSO has to always think one step ahead. As the WEF report indicates, cyber threats will continue to grow and evolve throughout 2014, with the only predictable thing about them being their unpredictability.

Traditional perimeter-based security solutions are today less effective than usual because of disruptors like cloud, mobile and social. M2M, the IoT, wearable technology in the workplace and more will continue to render the perimeter security model less powerful and the financial imperative of modern cyber threats is clear. Some estimates forecast that failure to implement sufficient cyber security solutions and capabilities quickly enough could mean a $3 trillion hit to the world economy by 2020.

Fourth on the Global WEF Agenda – cyber threats

Cyber threats is number 4 on the World Economic Forum of top 10 trends, so it is time to plan ahead and be proactive about new security threats. Allocate sufficient resources and people to head off cyber threats before they attack and organisations can still win the battle and the war.

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Devices, Devices, Devices everywhere – it’s time for next generation “Mobile Device Management as a Service”

As mobile devices continue to increase in both variety and number, it seems to me it is a good time to revisit mobile device management (MDM) strategy. MDM has been around since mobile devices came to the fore, but because of the rapidly changing nature of the mobile landscape, it has had a hard time keeping pace.

A quick definition; MDM policy and tools secure, monitor and manage mobile devices throughout organizations and across various platforms, networks and operators. However as mobile devices have become ubiquitous, both at enterprise and consumer level, there has come a need for MDM to evolve too, to offer greater control and confidence to organizations without compromising all the benefits of the modern mobile user experience.

So what is it that has changed the landscape the most? Well, quite simply, it is the sheer number of devices. The mobile experience is no longer simply about a phone – it’s now smartphones of numerous types and operating systems, tabletsphabletsultrabooks, wearable technology and much more besides. This is the new ‘mobile’, this is now how big mobile is. Over two-thirds of people say they use personal mobile devices in the workplace today. This is what MDM has to cope with.

more devices, more data, more risks

So as mobility takes hold in the enterprise, and more and more critical or sensitive corporate data is at risk of being transported into the public domain by accident or design, the need for a comprehensive MDM approach becomes essential. Global companies want to design and implement global security policies that keep their data as free from threat as possible, but how do you achieve this in the face of such massive mobile device proliferation?

The threats are clear. While it is not really all that long ago that malware, Trojan horses and viruses were considered the chief menace to corporate data, mobility has today brought with it a whole raft of new, more subtle, dangers. Lost or stolen mobile devices and insecure communications now rank high on the list of information security professionals’ worries, and without the right tools and policies in place can be more damaging. Organizations can only realistically secure and control the threats that they know about – mobile devices in the workplace are more difficult to track and maintain in the enterprise environment than inward-bound attacks.

So the main threat is as simple as staff members using their personal devices to access corporate data – with or without their knowledge or intent – and then taking it outside the network. The traditional walled garden is now so compromised as to be obsolete. Nine out of ten executives recently confessed to accessing corporate data on their own mobiles – so how do organizations deal with this fast-growing problem?

everything needs to be managed

Everything is mobile and everything needs to be managed. This is the premise from which to start. Smartphones, tablets and phablets in the workplace, ultrabooks as replacements for traditional laptops, and while not so common just yet, smartwatches and other wearable technology like Google Glass will soon enter the workplace and fall under the remit of the IT department. So an organization’s MDM strategy needs to be robustwide-reaching and most of all progressive – it needs to be able to grow with the rapidly changing landscape.

Furthermore, the rise of the Internet of Things (IoT) and its accompanying machine-to-machine (M2M) communications will also play a part. The IoT means yet more mobile devices, all communicating over the network and all in need of management. The connected car is now a reality and gives mobile employees a new workplace, while other M2M devices that can also store data will need to be managed. So organizations need to address all of these developments, both cost-effectively and efficiently.

on-premise or in the cloud?

Traditionally, MDM policy forming and implementation would be done at ground level, on-premises, so that the IT department could be involved in each step of the process. However, a comprehensive MDM strategy has many bases to cover, and with more mobile devices than ever entering the corporate environment, even the most efficient IT department could find itself stretched too thin. There is basic encryption of devices required, protection against data breach should a device be stolen or lost. Corporate app stores are gaining popularity as a means of controlling the applications that users can install on devices, but more devices with more operating systems again means more complexity here.

So in the event that in-house resources are insufficient to cover MDM on premises, we turn again to the cloud. The benefits to enterprise of cloud-based solutions are well-documented, but when it comes to MDM, the cloud model brings with it the big benefit of lower set-up fees – CAPEX – but also lower ongoing OPEX as well. Cloud-based MDM – or in fact as it is becoming known, MDM as a Service – can give organizations scalable mobile device management on-demand, so they can use it as much or as little as they need to. As mobile devices continue to evolve and end-users continue to lap them up, the flexible MDM in the cloud solution, provided by a specialist partner, looks like offering a highly desirable way ahead.

Original Publication  

 

Seven technology predictions for 2014

The year 2014 will be where current trends will accelerate the transformation already underway in how we consume information and do business and live. Organisations will need to evaluate their information strategy to take advantage of the emerging opportunities.

Here are seven trends to consider in the New Year:

Trend # 1 – the era of personal cloud

The cloud has exploded in popularity over the past few years, as companies exhaust backup, storage, network, security, and management systems. Consumer awareness of cloud storage is now increasing and usage is following suit.

Despite concerns that many industries have about cloud storage ability and their willingness to keep information secure, consumers will have little choice but to keep more information on these systems as opposed to their hard drives.

The push for more personal cloud technologies will shift toward services and away from devices. As mobile applications crowd the market, personal cloud services will become the new hub for content.

The risk for organisations is that being a consumer and being an employee is separate, but will the use of personal cloud be? Will someone taking a Friday off to work from home save documents to their personal cloud, which has different security measures to the organisations cloud, and put at risks the secrets of the new client pitch or new product development?

For 2014: Consider how personal and organisational cloud will interact for your business. Could they be at loggerheads before you have time to prepare your policies and inform your employees accordingly?

Trend # 2 – biometric authentication to replace passwords

Long gone are those days where a single password acted as a secure means of authentication. Today, a basic password takes minutes, if not seconds to break through. A string of characters can no longer keep your accounts and devices secure.

When was the last time you created a new password? As you were typing it in did a bar on the right hand side tell you whether it was weak, medium or strong? How many upper case letters or numerals did you include? Did I use the dog’s name or my favourite summer holiday spot for my internet banking password?

We are in the age where each and every person needs a little black book for their infinite passwords. But what happens if we lose the book?

The rapid proliferation of new devices has created additional security requirements for organisations attempting to increase its presence in the online market.

For enterprises that have not revisited their authentication strategies in several years, it may be time to take a fresh look. As identity becomes the driving force behind new security paradigms, biometric authentication will become the new practice as fingerprint and eye retinal scans become a part of our everyday activity.

For 2014: Be prepared! Adopt a security strategy built on advanced authentication techniques that will manage user access. Encourage regular password updates and educate your employees on what a strong password looks like. No dog names allowed.

Trend # 3 – out with the old and in with the new: embedded technology

Embedded systems are part of our daily lives. Can you imagine your life today, without a smart phone for communication?

2014 will see an uptake in embedded technology as the pressure will be on to add more intelligent functions into devices. The technology that initially drove mobile phones is now driving the adoption of smart devices. Touchscreens, smaller gadgets, and high performance sensors are just some of these innovations.

Wearable technology is a trend that will embrace the workforce. It is already starting. There will be more productivity apps in wearables as medical professionals begin using devices that overlay images on goggles. Google Glass is just the beginning, with other inventions to monitor, anticipate and feedback, well on their way.

For 2014: Anticipate the evolution of everyday products as technology becomes cheaper, smaller and more energy efficient. Technology will lead to automated homes, intelligent automobiles, smart buildings, and ubiquitous measure / control systems. How can your business embrace and jump on board?

Trend # 4 – go mobile or go home

The bring-your-own-device (BYOD) trend has completely changed the way businesses work. Executives using devices such as smartphones and tablets to access the corporate network is quickly becoming ubiquitous with an uptrend in remote working.

According to a report by Gartner, 70 per cent of mobile professionals will conduct their work on personal smart devices by 2018. The increase in mobile devices will challenge technology and finance departments as they try to manage mobile devices. But what type of personal smart device? Where are the tablet / smart phone headed? We are at the beginning of what the future world of personal smart devices might look like. If left unmanaged, BYOD can lead to data leaks and loss of control, which could potentially result in legal penalties.

With BYOD, the genie is out of the bottle as users expect to be online in more places at high speeds and with robust security levels. With the right solutions in place, BYOD can create new exciting opportunities.

For 2014: Create a clear policy around BYOD strategies that encompasses enabling secure, trusted, and convenient access. Be sure to implement a security model that has minimal impact on an employee’s experience, whilst maintaining the same security standards that your organisation upholds.

Trend # 5 – do more with less: the future is in M2M technology

Machine-to-machine’ (M2M) communication has given businesses the capability to monitor, control, or manage the operation of remote equipment. Today, M2M services have entered a renaissance period, playing a significant role as new products communicate with each other wirelessly without any human intervention.

This deregulation in the market will eventually garner new opportunities making it possible to map and monitor an entire system of remote hubs which could be anything from a building to a vehicle, to a fully armed security system.

The Internet of Things will enable devices to communicate with each other, while working out problems without interference. For instance, an M2M device will be able to automatically control the temperature of an air conditioner, while switching it on or off when required. These core capabilities will reduce error, save time, increase efficiency, and generally optimise the performance of any physical system.

For 2014: Maintain a strong and clear position in the market by developing plans and procedures that incorporate M2M technologies NOW rather than later. Prepare your organisation for change.

Trend # 6 – the new age of apps

With the continued growth and inescapable presence of BYOD, individuals have the capability of accessing all sorts of applications and information they need using their own devices anytime and anywhere.

Consumers are more technologically savvy and flock to app stores linked to their mobile platforms and devices while companies are investing in apps almost every day.

From 2014 onwards, there will be an app for almost everything, from everyday bills to mobile banking and much more. Something as simple as karaoke, which used to be entertained in restaurants is now a downloadable app. The same applies to music, where consumers can listen to unlimited songs using the appropriate app. This innovation will continue to increase, with the app market expected to reach $38 billion in just two years.

Propriety apps will become common, as more and more employees create and develop apps that support their business.

For 2014: Consider individual user’s needs for mobility, and get involved in the discussion. Organisations need to adapt their digital marketing campaigns to fit the small screens and the evolution of the app world.

Trend # 7 – the social dimension where everything is shared

We have reached a new communication age where social media is well established. Today, technology has enabled us to profile any individual or business by simply tapping into the material available online on social networks. Facebook itself has approximately 1.19 billion active users and roughly 507 million daily active mobile users, while twitter has roughly 554 million active registered users, with approximately 58 million tweets a day.

With the popularity of social networks it becomes easier to share information across the globe with a simple click of a button. This takes on a new level of urgency as organisations shift from an information age to a communication age. Facebook itself revealed what is known as “frictionless sharing”, which automatically posts updates on your page from everything you listen to, read or watch.

The concept of 3D printing is another trend that will explode the marketplace in 2014 and will assist in local and custom fabrication. New competition will enter the market using 3D Printers to challenge business models. Users will take advantage of new paradigms in replicating products, designs, and devices.

For 2014: Be careful with what information you disclose and to whom you disclose this too. Businesses need to pay close attention to ensure that all information or objects shared are subject to copyright or is trade market protected.

2014 will see an uptake in the adoption of smart technologies, innovative devices, and a plethora of cloud applications. With new technologies seemingly always on the horizon, keeping a hold over IT systems is becoming increasingly complicated. It is therefore important that businesses embrace the new trends and prepare for the opportunities ahead.

Original Publication

 

Technology predictions for 2014 & beyond

predicting technology futures – what’s in store for 2014?

Original publication

2013 has seen a number of technologies enjoy varying levels of success and growth, with mobile devices, cloud computing and enterprise app stores all continuing to gain momentum. As I have written about throughout the year on this blog, these technologies have all had that disruptive business model impact which makes them popular and shakes up the existing landscape.

As we approach the end of 2013, I see no reason to expect 2014’s emerging technologies and trends to be any different. So what do we have to look forward to?

wearable technology and absolute mobility

Mobile everywhere and mobile for everything. 2014 will be the year that mobile is ubiquitous, smarter, faster and our reliance on mobile connectivity becomes absolute.

2013 saw the emergence of bring your own device (BYOD) as a mainstream concept, with end-users pretty much eschewing the notion of work/life balance and taking their smartphones and tablets into the workplace as a matter of course and taking their work on the move with them, presenting companies with new security challenges. But the trend will continue and 2014 will see users expecting to be online in more places than ever, at high speeds and with more robust security levels.

This increased mobility will continue to be driven forward by the latest advances in mobile devices, with wearable technology to the fore. The announcement that Burberry’s chief executive has just jumped ship to join Apple is a good indicator of how technology and fashion will merge over the coming year.Google glasssmartwatches and other wearable devices will all connect to the internet and each other through the Cloud like never before. And speaking of the connected planet. . .

the Internet of things goes mainstream

The internet is dead, long live the internet of things. There are now more networked devices and machines on the planet than there are people and 2014 will see still more devices, appliances and vehicles come online and begin communicating with each other.

The internet as we know it has already changed the world and many aspects of our daily lives. It has benefited businesses, individuals and nations, often helping to transform the way governments deliver education, health and social services and making information more democratically available. The internet of everything addresses the next generation of networked devices, with machine-to-machine (M2M) communications powering new ways of doing everything. Right now our phones and tablets are our most common networked devices, but the internet of things will see the networking of cars, homes, appliances, televisions, meters, indeed most electrical and electronic appliances and devices. There is even a company in the Netherlands that has helped a farmer to connect his cows.

Forecasts vary, but recent research projects that by 2020 there will be 75 billion ‘things’ connected to the internet and communicating with one another. 2014 will be the year that everything being networked goes mainstream.

hybrid cloud and XaaS model

2014 will see IT architectures continue to evolve and bring greater flexibility to companies and end-users. In previous blogs I have written about the future impact of cloud computing on various IT disciplines, notably procurementstorage and business continuity and even the role of the traditional CIO.

The cloud will continue to transform throughout the coming year, and the direction it will take will be that of hybrid cloud. Companies with private cloud architectures in place should be ready to embrace personal cloud and make the shift to the hybrid model. The hybrid approach gives organizations greater operational flexibility and optimized costs without compromising security. Network performance is improved too.

The ‘as a service’ (XaaS) model will continue to grow in popularity as well, as organizations adopt its agility and flexibility benefits while also recognizing that the OPEX model carries major advantages over the traditional CAPEX, investment-up-front approach.

software-defined architecture

Software-defined architecture will also come to the fore in 2014 – a practice whereby the software or the application defines the purpose of the device itself. This can be a storage device or a server, or a personal device such as the music boxes or wristband and apps that tracks how you sleep, move and eat—then helps you use that information to feel your best. The function defines the form.

The software-defined approach can help revolutionize the way we program, use and interact with devices because it makes them completely customizable. Devices of any kind will become defined by their apps, making them directly programmable, more agile, centrally managed and configurable and giving us greater control.

share, share and share again

End-users are now, thanks to the rise and rise of social media, so used to sharing that it is second nature. There are now 1.15 billion active Facebook users and over 288 million active Twitter users, all sharing thoughts, information, news, opinions and more, all the time. There have been more than 16 billion photos shared on Instagram. And this is just the beginning.

3-D printing is one area where the sharing of ideas and designs is going to take off in a big way in 2014 and beyond. Sales of 3-D printers are forecast to grow by 75 per cent in 2014, as the technology takes hold in the mainstream. 3-D printing could have a massive impact on many industries, not least the manufacturing sector. It represents a new way of sharing, with companies no longer needing to produce things the same way. For example one company or individual can come up with a design or bright idea one day and that design can be shared and copied tomorrow. Manufacturing, product development, design and prototypes – all of these disciplines could be hugely affected. This does of course present a challenge similar to that faced by the music and movie industries; when you have moved from the physical world to the virtual, and people are so used to sharing, how do you protect intellectual property? Innovative smart machines may be the solution to that. But that’s for another blog post.

Happy 2014.

Original Publication

Digital Futures

Today cloud is about more than “just‟ cost reductions.

Research shows that 74% of companies that invest in were more competitively agile.

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