Category Archives: Cloud Computing

How The Cloud Is Changing Online Education

How The Cloud Is Changing Online Education

Online Education Growth

There’s no doubt that the internet has changed the face of education over the last two decades. In fact, by some estimates more than 80 percent of college students expect to take at least some — if not all of their courses — online. Thousands of people have earned degrees without ever setting foot on a campus, and the number continues to grow.

Online education’s explosive popularity is due to a number of factors, not the least of which is the convenience of taking courses on your own time and from the comfort of home. Much of online education’s growth is also attributable to the cloud, which has created opportunities and efficiencies that make online learning an appealing and affordable option for both students and universities — and it continues to change the learning landscape for the better, particularly those studying in the technology disciplines.

2016_Learning_Landscape

(Infographic source: Degreed)

1. Significant Cost Savings

No one can deny that college is expensive. A four-year degree at a private college can cost well over six figures, leaving students with extreme debt after graduation. Most universities are looking to trim budgets and operating costs wherever they can to ease that burden, and the cloud is part of that effort. In fact, more than half of universities believe that the cloud can help improve efficiencies. More specifically, the cloud can reduce costs by:

  • Providing more computing power via virtual servers for less cost than investing in more infrastructure.
  • Providing lower cost collaboration tools for both students and administration.
  • Reducing textbook costs. Rather than purchase expensive textbooks that are quickly outdated, students can access cloud-based texts for much less, and access them on multiple devices.
  • Reduced computing costs for students. Most cloud-based education applications can be accessed on any device, meaning that students aren’t required to purchase expensive computers or other equipment for their studies.
  • Low cost applications and storage. SaaS models allow students to purchase subscriptions for cloud-based versions of software, which is often more affordable than a traditional license. In fact, many universities offer students access to cloud-based software for free or a nominal fee, giving them access to the tools they need without spending hundreds of dollars on licensing fees.

While the cloud may not be a cure for skyrocketing educational expenses, the tools and capabilities that it offers can help keep them in check.

2. Improved Communication and Collaboration

teachers

(Image Source: Shutterstock)

The communication and collaboration benefits of the cloud extend well beyond cost savings. The cloud offers opportunities for students to work together in ways that weren’t possible in the past. Teachers and students can have discussions, work on group projects, and share resources more efficiently through cloud services. Within the realm of computer education, the cloud allows students to create and share projects, which teaches both technical skills, but also supports problem-solving, communication, collaborative learning, and project design, all “soft skills” that are in demand for IT professionals. And of course, the cloud allows students to learn from others in geographically diverse areas, but it also improves access for students who might otherwise have barriers to higher education.

3. Better Security

Under federal laws, much of what happens in higher education qualifies as personal and confidential, and is therefore protected by privacy laws. Storing important documents on a personal computer or maintaining hard copies increases the risk of a FERPA violation. Using a secure cloud service to manage class work, grades, and other student information help reduce the likelihood of a violation. That doesn’t mean that university cloud services are impervious to attacks, but the security protocols used for online education applications and storage are generally much more advanced than typical consumer security.

This is important for student’s seeking an online master’s in computer science, who may be working on projects that could form the basis of a future business or development opportunity and do not want to lose their intellectual property. At the very least, for students studying computer science, IT security, or other related fields, cloud-based environments give them more hands-on, real-world experience that can be valuable in a future job search.

4. Real-Time Updates

One of the challenges of education is keeping materials and learning up-to-date with current trends, technology, and developments. Computer science students expect to have the most current resources and tools to ensure their degree is marketable. With the cloud, instructors and program developers can make real-time updates to the curriculum, add new resources, change textbook options, and do everything possible to allow students access to the most recent and relevant information.

5. Going Green

Environmental sustainability is a significant concern on college campuses these days, with some students choosing schools specifically because of their green initiatives and commitment to sustainability. Employing cloud services is a major part of green efforts; not only does using the cloud reduce the need for resources paper and ink, but cloud servers can be run more efficiently than typical on-site computing tools. By locating servers in a data center, institutions can lower energy consumption and costs, thereby reducing their overall carbon footprint.

Cloud computing has become a part of everyday life for most people, whether they even realize it or not. It’s already changed higher education in several ways — and will undoubtedly continue to do so as we move into the future.

By Glenn Blake

Investing In The Future With The Introduction of Sage Cloud

Investing In The Future With The Introduction of Sage Cloud

CHICAGO, IL–(Marketwired – Jul 26, 2016) – Sage, a market leader in cloud accounting software, announced today at Sage Summit 2016 its strong commitment to future technologies, with a focus on new and existing partnerships that power business growth. Revealed during CEO Stephen Kelly’s keynote address, which opened the world’s largest gathering of entrepreneurs and business builders, Kelly spoke about how, through the use of the latest technologies and tools, Sage is levelling the playing field for entrepreneurs — and it’s just the start of the technology revolution all entrepreneurs and business builders of all sizes need to be a part of to compete and grow.

Investing in the future with the introduction of Sage Cloud

The dedication to helping businesses grow is a personal crusade of Kelly’s. Following the investment of £139m on research and development during FY15, the Sage CEO used the keynote as a platform to set out how all Sage products will now be connected to the cloud, with new mobile, social, chatbot and IoT offerings in the pipeline for the entire portfolio.

Sage Cloud will allow businesses to integrate all activity across Sage products quickly and easily. It will also make it possible for Sage customers to activate integrations with partner products within a few clicks and will eliminate the need for maintenance or change due to product upgrades. Sage further pledged its dedication to the developer community with the launch of Sage Marketplace, a new open, API-driven platform for Independent Software Vendors to showcase their Sage developer add-ons and apps.

Industry firsts — leapfrogging the competition

Another highlight was the official launch of Sage’s new admin bot, Pegg, a smart assistant that allows users to track expenses via their chosen messaging app. Pegg removes the complexities and enables entrepreneurs to manage finances through conversation. By digitising information at the point of capture, it takes away the pain from receipts and expenses, eradicating the need for paper and data entry.

Powerful new partnerships

This coincides with the news that Sage has partnered with Slack, which will act as one of the core messaging channels connected to Pegg. Having recently joined as ‎Global Director for Mobile Product Management, Sage’s Kriti Sharma said: “With the rise of freelancing and the sharing economy, the number of small businesses is growing exponentially. Most of these business owners use messaging apps, and with Pegg we aim to bridge the gap between these apps and work, rendering accounting invisible to the end user and making running a business as simple as sending a text. We’re incredibly excited to partner with Slack, the fastest growing enterprise messaging app; together we share the vision that the future of the workplace is conversational, easy and fun.” Announced with a demonstration live on stage, the accounting industry’s first bot, Pegg is available now in Beta. New users can register at hellopegg.io.

In an interactive live demo, Sage’s new EVP of Product Marketing, Jennifer Warawa, showed how the combined solution of Sage Live and TomTom Telematics works. The new software integration allows businesses with fleets of vehicles — small or big — to seamlessly record mileage and automate expense reports. Because Sage Live is running on the Salesforce platform it can easily use existing integrations with third parties such as TomTom WEBFLEET. Via the fleet management, service journey data is automatically available in Sage Live.

There were several new partnership announcements, as well as details on how existing ones have strengthened. In front of an audience of 15,000 and over 35,000 on livestream, Stephen Kelly announced that Sage’s award-winning real-time accounting solution, Sage Live, will harness the power of Salesforce Lightning. Via the integration, Sage customers will benefit from Salesforce’s new Lightning Experience — a reimagined consumer-like experience that’s modern, efficient and smart — which will be accessible via Sage Live across every device.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella joined via video to announce the coming together of Microsoft Office 365 and Sage 50 — making Sage the first ever software company to partner with the platform. The Sage CEO also welcomed Sir Richard Branson to the stage, where they participated in a conversation on their shared vision of the future of business and giving back.

Champion of Business Builders

Sage’s commitment to supporting entrepreneurs at every stage of their growth was underlined with Kelly revealing new stats on entrepreneurs’ dissatisfaction with the support they get from the U.S. Government. He also reiterated his criticism of ‘out of touch’ events like the World Economic Forum in Davos and announced a series of policy events around the world.

The Giving Economy

Broadening out to touch on Sage as a participant in its communities, the keynote highlighted how Sage will expand its corporate philanthropy initiative, Sage Foundation, through work with three distinct communities: military veterans, young people and women. Sage’s Chief People Officer Sandra Campopiano launched a new open grant process with a donation to an inspiring Chicago charity that seeks to inspire more women to work in the technology sector.

She awarded a $50,000 donation from Sage to Brave Initiatives, a program encouraging high school girls to see themselves as capable coders and tune them into community issues.

Sage CEO Stephen Kelly said: “It was almost impossible to tell the story of the technology revolution at Sage in one keynote. With a more connected world comes new demands on our hero business builders, and we are fired up by doing everything we can to support entrepreneurs in following their passion. We are working on making concepts like the Internet of Things, machine learning, blockchain and data sciences into a reality for businesses, accountants and partners. This is way more than cloud and mobile-first. It’s designing and building technologies that truly power businesses, freeing entrepreneurs to grow and win.”

For those not attending Sage Summit 2016, all of the keynotes and more can be viewed at the virtual event http://bit.ly/29N0zbE

About Sage

Sage is the market leader for integrated accounting, payroll, and payment systems, supporting the ambition of the world’s entrepreneurs. Sage began as a small business in the U.K. 30 years ago, and over 13,000 colleagues now support millions of entrepreneurs, across 23 countries, as they power the global economy. We reinvent and simplify business accounting through brilliant technology, working with a thriving community of entrepreneurs, business owners, tradespeople, accountants, partners, and developers. And as a FTSE 100 business, we are active in supporting our local communities and invest in making a real difference through the philanthropy of the Sage Foundation.

Sage — a market leader for integrated accounting, payroll and payment systems, supporting the ambition of the world’s entrepreneurs.www.sage.com

Cloud Proofing Future Business Challenges

Cloud Proofing Future Business Challenges

Coping with Cloud Challenges

Hardly a week goes by without coming across news around the increase in the number of organizations moving their workloads to public clouds. In the digital world, embracing cloud is a fundamental requirement for engaging customers and conducting business at scale. Due to a multitude of factors, including compliance mandates, risk tolerance and IT capabilities, an organization’s infrastructure is more likely to be an eclectic mix of public and private cloud, and traditional on-premises – in short, hybrid IT.

Most organizations understand the cost and agility benefits of cloud and the need to embrace a hybrid model that enables them to meet a variety of specific business requirements. What’s less clear, however, is how organizations must constantly shape and refine these models to drive a sustainable business advantage. In other words, embracing approaches and technology that helps them to constantly exploit the cloud as a means to deliver what it should really provide – a way of future-proofing business.

digital-growth

Cloud Challenges

So against this backdrop, it’s important to consider some of the many challenges that stifle an organization’s ability to fully leverage cloud:

  • Outside-in performance monitoring. It took IT decades to learn how to manage the end-to-end application performance when it owned and could touch all of the underlying infrastructure. IT now has to manage that performance from the outside in. And this new challenge is arising just as applications are increasingly being used by customers—making their performance more critical than ever, both to the brand and the bottom line.
  • Control of variable workload costs. When digital workloads ran exclusively on-premises, costs were generally stable. HR costs were fixed, hardware was capitalized, and software licenses were renewed annually. With cloud, unexpected spikes in demand can lead to unexpected spikes in cost. Enterprises must figure out how to manage these costs to know when they’re business-appropriate—and how to avoid them when they’re not.
  • Value-based portfolio management. With on-premises IT, vendor relationships tended to be stable—in part because vendors could sustain functional advantages over longer periods of time. If and when it made sense to unseat an incumbent, hands-on access to the associated hardware, software, and data made it relatively easy to do so. However, cloud vendors leapfrog each other every day. This puts pressure on an organization to more frequently realign its cloud portfolio. And that realignment is tough to do, because IT no longer has direct access to either the origin or destination environments.
  • API complexity. As enterprises stitch together a growing number of ever-changing cloud components in increasingly numerous ways, the interfaces between those components demand additional attention. But managing APIs isn’t like managing applications or servers—especially since you can’t dictate how they’re coded or provisioned.

In other words, cloud doesn’t simply shift workloads to rentable, low-cost infrastructure. It ratchets up business value—while also ratcheting up difficulty in the bargain.

How Will IT Cope?

shutterstock_176125625

(Image Source: Shutterstock)

These challenges continue to perplex IT departments. Now, IT isn’t just faced with managing more, but how to effectively co-ordinate a myriad of resources into cohesive digital processes without adding unnecessary cost and risk. Consider for example a decision to use public cloud services for testing. It’s a common use case for public cloud, but for businesses operating in highly regulated industries, how do they effectively transfer on premise customer records without exposing personally identifiable information?

Hybrid cloud challenges like these are forcing IT to adapt in many ways. Three adaptations are proving to be particularly important:

  • New tools. IT can’t govern the cloud the same way as it governed on-premises resources. It must acquire new technology to enable more optimal operation given the increasingly complex and hybrid environments that encompass both cloud and on-premises resources in a common manner. One cloud-application for example could consist of a multitude of components, including many microservices supporting specific business functionality (each developed using different coding languages and using their own discreet data stores). In such environments, traditional tools designed for one specific technology will significantly increase the operation cost burden and never scale to support cloud models.
  • New processes. Multi-stage escalation, annual budget cycles and other traditional IT mainstays don’t translate well in the dynamic, externally-owned world of cloud. IT must reinvent these processes so it can more reliably deliver services to internal and external constituencies—even as it has less direct control over the mechanics of service delivery. For example, rigid change management reviews and enterprise architecture dictates may need to be relaxed for newer style cloud applications that need to be delivered faster, change frequently and are shorter-lived.
  • New culture. When you own your infrastructure, hands-on technical heroism is a useful cultural attribute. But it doesn’t do you much good when your infrastructure is elsewhere. That’s why IT culture must evolve to promote from ‘fighting technology fires’ to constantly crafting cloud models for maximum business value. For example, rather than waiting for failures across technology silos, IT must collaborate to ‘design for failure’ – that is, using monitoring methods to better predict and anticipate inevitable cloud technology failures so as to enact improvements in cloud design to better contain and recover from failures.

Cloud offers the enterprise tremendous opportunity – and its adoption, in some capacity, is essentially inevitable. But no one should think cloud will make IT any easier. We instead need to prepare for the management challenges it will continue to present, so that businesses can fully reap the benefits from cloud’s potential.

By Aruna Ravichandran

2016 Tour de France: Racing With Big Data

2016 Tour de France: Racing With Big Data

2016 Tour de France

The 2016 Tour de France has just concluded, with Chris Froome (SKY) taking his third overall win. Not the kind of event we often focus on here at CloudTweaks, but Dimension Data has put its analytics technology to use tracking the journeys of each rider across all 21 stages, and their infographic provides some very real insights into just how enmeshed data technology is with our everyday lives.

The Trials and Tribulations

Traveling through Switzerland, France, Spain, and Andorra, 2016 Tour de France riders completing all 21 stages cover a total of 3,529 kilometers – that’s a little over 2,000 miles. This year, 22 teams competed, representing 13 nationalities and five continents. Experiencing a range of environments, these teams were also exposed to a variety of weather conditions ranging from hail storms to high-velocity winds to rain and to temperatures as high as 35°C (95°F).

Tour-de-France-2016-Stages-1-21-infographic_001-compressor

The overall winner, Christopher Froome, averaged speeds of 39.6 km/h for the entire race, though the highest average speed of all riders on a stage (stage 11) was 46.65 km/h. Including 59 categorized climbs with four summit finishes, and photo finishes for stages 3, 4, and 16, this year’s Tour de France produced a record number of finishers.

Analyzing the Value of Teamwork

According to the data recorded and analyzed by Dimension Data, teamwork is a major factor in success. Team Sky supported overall winner Froome throughout the race, and it’s noted that if the peloton had only 30 riders, on average 7 of these would be from Team Sky. And although South Africa’s Team Dimension Data ranked at the very bottom of the list of fastest teams, it should be recognized that they won five stages, and their average speed of 38.55 km/h was only a little over 1 k/h slower than the fastest team, Movistar Team of Spain.

Individual Triumphs & Team Conquests

Froome hit a top speed of 91 km/h in the race to the finish, but the individual time trials of stage 13 and stage 18 offered a sparring of Tom Dumoulin (TGA) and Froome with Dumoulin outperforming Froome by 3.92% in stage 13, and Froome then outperforming Dumoulin by 1.13% in stage 18. Together, all teams faced hardship and very real danger; an average speed of riders on all descents of 51.54 km/h was clocked, and the highest recorded average speed on a descent was 69.31 km/h, achieved by Kittel (EQS) in stage 8 (Col du Tourmalet). Notably, stragglers are generally recorded descending faster than the peloton, having more to lose suggests Dimension Data.

The injuries and wounds resulting from dangerous descents and their subsequent crashes included a broken collarbone (Gerrans (OBE) in stage 12), a broken shoulder (Navarro (COF) in stage 19), abrasions and cuts (Froome in stage 19), and multiple wounds and abrasions (Bozic (COF) in stage 17 – almost unsurprising as clocked at 74 km/h).

The Naked Data

All these insights gleaned from analyzed data offer not only the tools for teams and individuals to improve performances but further enhance the wow factor experienced by spectators. @letourdata, powered by Dimension Data, received 12,1 million impressions, 9,450 retweets, and 15,900 likes. The Dimension Data mobile office spent 80 hours on the road, traveling a total of 4,892.5 kilometers, and their team of 22 used 12 collaboration tools and 10 TV screens to process 127,8 million data records in the cloud. The work at the back might seem a little overwhelming, but the knowledge gained highlights once again the value of data, the analysis of it, and the teams and tools that make it possible.

By Jennifer Klostermann

Ransomware: A Digital Pandemic – Is There A Cure?

Ransomware: A Digital Pandemic – Is There A Cure?

The Rise Of Ransomware

You can imagine the scene: you’ve just completed that business plan and a set of accounts. Finally, it’s done and saved, ready for a final read through and to be sent out to your contact list. And right when you’re ready to click “Send”, the next thing you see on the screen is a pop-up window saying something like “Your personal files have been encrypted”. It also states that if you want them decrypted, you’ll need to pay. You quickly go to the folder containing your business plan data files, double click on the spreadsheet, but it won’t open, it’s encrypted; click on the text document, it won’t open either, it’s also encrypted. That cold fear spreads across your body as you stare at the screen, realizing that you’ve been hacked.

The above situation is becoming extremely common. The malware responsible for encrypting the files is known as ransomware, and it is arguably the most sinister type of malware to enter the cyber crime scene. If you become infected by ransomware, it is not just local files that are encrypted – files right across your network, even into remote folders, like Dropbox, can be affected. Once infected, you are then told that if you want to get those files back, you’ll have to pay the cybercriminal an amount, sometimes with many $000’s in bitcoin currency. A recent example was at the Hollywood Presbyterian Medical Center in LA, who ended up paying hackers $17,000 to have their files decrypted. Payment to the cybercriminals behind the attack is a risk, you may not get the decryption code after payment, but even the FBI, who are monitoring ransomware attacks, are currently advising to pay the ransom.

Encryption

(Image Source: Shutterstock)

Ransomware is very successful. A McAfee report into the threat shows there has been an almost 10 fold increase in ransomware between 2014 and 2015. The reason for this increase is a reflection of its success – this is a very lucrative method of extorting money from companies of all sizes and types. One of the versions of ransomware, known as CryptoWall, which is routinely monitored by the CyberThreat Alliance, was found to have attempted attacks at almost 500,000 companies. The resultant costs to those companies being around $325 million. With monies like that coming in, cybercriminals will milk this method for a while yet.

How Can I End Up Being Infected With Ransomware?

Ransomware infections usually come in via one of two routes. Either you get phished, or an ‘exploit kit’ is used:

Phishing threats: These are the most likely methods used to get ransomware onto your PC and network. The threat comes in the form of an email, with an attachment named something like ‘fax’, ‘invoice’, ‘statement’, that sort of thing. It can be a zip, but they are cloaked as pdf or docx files too. If you open that attachment, it initiates the malware program install and before you know it, your files are encrypted.

It is extremely important that the users don’t open attachments from unsolicited emails, and to double-check any suspicious emails with their IT security team,” explains Ronnie Wolf, a security expert from GFI Software, and adds: “Once just one PC is infected, the malware spreads quickly through your network, so you need to act fast in order to prevent further damage.”

Exploit kit based threats: Currently, this is the less used method of propagating ransomware infections, but my guess is that it’ll increase in usage because of its effectiveness and stealth. Exploit kits, apps taking advantage of vulnerabilities in browsers, are often used in a type of threat known as ‘malvertising’, where an online ad or video initiates a malware infection. They work by sending a user who opens a page with an infected ad to a malicious site, which contains the exploit kit.

This redirect to the bad site is difficult to detect, it’s very fast and known as a ‘drive-by-download’. Once you’re on that site, the exploit kit looks for holes in your browser software or endpoint protection and infects your machine. it literally takes seconds,” adds Ronnie Wolf.

Ransomware as a Service

security-measures

Ransomware comes out in waves or ‘families’. There have been quite a few, some more successful than others. CryptoWall is one of the most famous, but there are many others like TorrentLocker, and Locky. One worrying new movement in the world of ransomware is the creation of DIY ransomware kits or ransomware as a service. Setups like this allow even inexperienced hackers to make use of the malware to make money. The business model is as well thought out as any legitimate business, the service host taking a cut of the extorted monies. This model may well become the infection process of choice throughout the cybercriminal world and poses a major threat to all companies, of all sizes.

Is There Anything I can Do To Prevent a Ransomware Infection?

In the case of ransomware infections, the first thing you need to do is to cut off the source into your system from both ways in – via emails and Internet sites.

Email based infection: As I mentioned earlier, phishing is the number 1 way that ransomware infects computers. So the first step is to prevent email-borne infections. You need to have an email watch system in place that can spot email-borne threats, like malware, before it hits your inboxes. There are a number of products that can do this, such as GFI MailEssentials, which utilizes multiple anti-virus engines to control and eliminate incoming malware threats.

Internet based infection: Secondly, you need to watch Internet sites being accessed by your users to prevent the exploit kit based ransomware. This up and coming security threat vector is starting to infiltrate the most legitimate of websites, affecting even news sites and popular blogs. Anything that is online ad and video heavy is at risk of carrying ransomware. Making sure that your workforce doesn’t end up downloading malware by being redirected to an exploit kit site is an increasingly important aspect of security monitoring. Doing so manually would be a mission impossible, so products like GFI WebMonitor can help prevent exploit kits from threatening your network security.

Keeping your systems safe from the threat of ransomware will be an ongoing battle. As cybercriminals up their game and bring into play new methods of exploiting your vulnerabilities, the only way you can keep safe is to beat them at their own game and make sure you cut off their source of infection. Ransomware is a modern pandemic, causing untold losses and stress. With any cyber security threat, vigilance is the best way to deal with it. We are in an era where we have to take these threats seriously, if we don’t want to risk losing much more than just a business plan.

By Susan Morrow

Martech In A Content Crazed World

Martech In A Content Crazed World

Content Crazed World

Everywhere you look there are pop-up ads and offers, at times it can feel like overload. What used to be a few online ads on websites has now grown into a wild world of offers that consume your every device. These advancements in marketing technology can not only be overwhelming to the consumer, they can also be an unexpected burden on content creators.

These advances in marketing are creating a big data content monster that needs to be fed regularly. With so many ways to reach consumers, the constant need for new and creative content is creating a tsunami for developers. The stronger smartphone technology becomes, and with apps being created daily keeping up with the demands for fresh new content is taking its toll on marketing companies.

Provided is an infographic discovered via WebDAM which poses the question. Is marketing technology hurting more than helping?

WebDAM-infographic_martech-technology

The market is now flooded with marketing technology solutions, with a growth 3,800% from 2011 to current. The influx of all of these new Martech (marketing technology) solutions has in themselves created a problem. The pace at which content needs to be created and shared has taken an unintended victim, the very marketing companies that they seek to help.

Creating original and creative content is being pushed into tighter and tighter time frames. And it’s not just the Martech companies who are creating this demand; it’s us. Glued to smartphones that now have more power than a PC, we demand something new and innovative to be fed to in real time.

To feed the content monster, marketing companies need to find a way to balance an ever increasing need, with the ability to turn content around quickly. Until they can accomplish that, they will never be able to slay the monster.

By Jenny Kelley

Hubgets – Advanced Collaboration, Enriched Communication

Hubgets – Advanced Collaboration, Enriched Communication

Advanced Collaboration Tool

Sponsored series provided in collaboration with Hubgets

Collaboration tools have advanced leaps and bounds with the advent of cloud technology, and the services available are only getting better. Promising features such as sophisticated group communication, productive management of tasks and meetings, and the ultimate dream, working remotely from some gorgeous island destination, innovative collaboration platforms are becoming a necessity for every business valuing high productivity and superior performance.

Boosting Productivity

Poor productivity is a huge concern for organizations around the world, but with the distractions of social media, a variety of communication tools such as email, text, chat, and phone calls, along with the very elementary noise of one’s colleagues in an office environment, concentration becomes a challenging feat.

elena-COOIt takes planning and effort to help you cope in such a noisy environment. However, it is possible to cut through the noise with the right approach and the right collaboration platform to back it up,” says Elena Carstoiu, COO at Hubgets.

But it is possible to cut through the noise with the right approach and a collaboration platform to back it up.

First things first, if you don’t want to be interrupted, log off. Sign out of your social media accounts, switch email to offline mode for an hour, silence your mobile phone. And then, if you’ve implemented an advanced collaboration platform, you’ll almost certainly have access to a ‘do not disturb’ tool to keep colleagues at bay until you’re ready to chat. The next step is to ensure you’ve got the right focus. It’s very easy to waste hours puttering around a problem with no real end in sight because you don’t really have a handle on the problem or the right information to combat it. Making use of the right collaboration tools allows effective communication to gather the relevant data in a focused and distraction-free environment. Changing the way we work goes a long way to improving our work habits and boosting productivity.

Stamping Out Inefficient Meetings

According to a Harvard Business Review report, in excess of 65% of leadership team meetings are unproductive. If you’ve attended many meetings, this probably won’t surprise you. In her article, Irina Nica suggests a relatively bold solution – decline some of your meeting invitations. The idea, certainly, is not to boycott all meetings, but instead to carefully manage which you do or don’t attend. Firstly, be clear about your own priorities and participate in the meetings which run parallel to them. Be sure the meetings you’re attending have properly defined aims, and if a clear agenda isn’t available, count yourself out. Check who’s been invited, who’s attending, and decide whether the people relevant to your own work focus will be present and participating. And finally, if you decide a meeting will be relevant to you and you do plan to attend, give yourself enough time before and after to ‘decompress’. Back to back meetings can be the ultimate time-waster.

Innovative Collaboration Tools

Management

Notably, outdated communication means are seeing a decline and being replaced with dynamic, productivity-boosting collaboration solutions. Though I hesitate to class all conventional meetings as ‘outdated’, when compared with some of the tools offered by collaboration platforms such as Hubgets, it’s difficult to see the value in these meetings. A recent addition to the Hubgets toolbox, Hubgets Page provides an interactive business card for every team member where they can be reached via chat, phone and shared files, and it’s easily accessed by any of their contacts through their web browser. With no software installation necessary, Hubgets notifies the page owner when someone would like to chat and quickly connects the parties. Chat history is saved for the Hubgets user, along with any files transferred. To enhance accessibility, Hubgets users can easily insert their Hubgets Page URL into their email signature, their Twitter bio, or publish it to their website.

While the Hubgets Page tool is useful for all teams, it’s particularly relevant for sales, marketing, and support. Anyone interested in communicating with your business, be it partners, customers, leads, providers, journalists, etcetera, can reach out to your team members free of charge. No Hubgets account required, no software installed, and no device restrictions.

And Hubgets Page doesn’t only receive communication; Page owners need only the email address of whomever they’d like to communicate with, and an invitation can be sent through in seconds. Available with a free plan to begin, Hubgets Page lets teams keep all their communication in one place, including both internal exchanges with teammates and external discussions with partners and customers. Along with improved performance and enriched collaboration, businesses increase visibility and better satisfy their customers.

By Jennifer Klostermann

Verizon To Acquire Yahoo For $4.83 Billion

Verizon To Acquire Yahoo For $4.83 Billion

Verizon Communications Inc (VZ.N) said it had agreed to buy Yahoo Inc’s (YHOO.O) core internet business for $4.83 billion in cash, ending a lengthy sale process for the fading Web pioneer.

Buying Yahoo’s operations will boost Verizon’s AOL internet business, which it bought last year for $4.4 billion, by giving it access to Yahoo’s advertising technology tools as well as other assets such as search, mail and messenger.

The deal marks the end of Yahoo as an operating company, leaving it with a 15 percent stake in Chinese e-commerce company Alibaba Group Holding Ltd (BABA.N) and a 35.5 percent interest in Yahoo Japan Corp (4689.T).

“The sale of our operating business, which effectively separates our Asian asset equity stakes, is an important step in our plan to unlock shareholder value for Yahoo,” Yahoo Chief Executive Marissa Mayer said in a statement on Monday.

The sale does not include Yahoo’s cash, its shares in Alibaba, its shares in Yahoo Japan, Yahoo’s convertible notes, certain minority investments and Yahoo’s non-core patents.

The Alibaba and Yahoo Japan investments are worth about $40 billion, while Yahoo had a market value of about $37.4 billion as of Friday’s close…

Full Article Source: Reuters

CloudTweaks Comics
Cloud Infographic – Disaster Recovery

Cloud Infographic – Disaster Recovery

Disaster Recovery Business downtime can be detrimental without a proper disaster recovery plan in place. Only 6% of businesses that experience downtime without a plan will survive long term. Less than half of all businesses that experience a disaster are likely to reopen their doors. There are many causes of data loss and downtime —…

Why Hybrid Cloud Delivers Better Business Agility

Why Hybrid Cloud Delivers Better Business Agility

Why Hybrid Cloud Delivers Better Business Agility A CIO friend of mine once told me that a hybrid cloud model enables him to “own the base, rent the spike” when it comes to unplanned events. Let’s face it – maintaining unused infrastructure for rare or random IT events is expensive and unnecessary in a cloud…

Cloud Computing – A Requirement For Greater Innovation

Cloud Computing – A Requirement For Greater Innovation

Cloud Computing Innovation Sao Paulo, Brazil has had trouble with both energy and water supplies as of late. Despite it is the rainy period. Unfortunately Sao Paulo is very dependent on its rain as a majority of its power is generated from large dams. No water, no energy. Difficult situation for a city of some…

Using Big Data To Analyze Venture Capitalists’ Ability To Recognize Potential

Using Big Data To Analyze Venture Capitalists’ Ability To Recognize Potential

Big Data To Analyze Using Big Data to Analyze Venture Capitalists’ Ability To Recognize Potential For those who are regularly involved with SMEs, venture capital, and company valuations, it is common knowledge that start-ups that exit for more than $1 billion dollars are extremely rare – often termed ‘unicorn’ companies. Despite their rarity, it should…

4 Different Types of Attacks – Understanding the “Insider Threat”

4 Different Types of Attacks – Understanding the “Insider Threat”

Understanding the “Insider Threat”  The revelations that last month’s Sony hack was likely caused by a disgruntled former employee have put a renewed spotlight on the insider threat. The insider threat first received attention after Edward Snowden began to release all sorts of confidential information regarding national security. While many called him a hero, what…

Cloud Infographic: The Explosive Growth Of The Cloud

Cloud Infographic: The Explosive Growth Of The Cloud

The Explosive Growth Of The Cloud We’ve been covering cloud computing extensively over the past number of years on CloudTweaks and have truly enjoyed watching the adoption and growth of it. Many novices are still trying to wrap their mind around what the cloud it is and what it does, while others such as thought…

The Industries That The Cloud Will Change The Most

The Industries That The Cloud Will Change The Most

The Industries That The Cloud Will Change The Most Cloud computing is rapidly revolutionizing the way we do business. Instead of being a blurry buzzword, it has become a facet of everyday life. Most people may not quite understand how the cloud works, but electricity is quite difficult to fathom as well. Anyway, regardless of…

Disaster Recovery And The Cloud

Disaster Recovery And The Cloud

Disaster Recovery And The Cloud One of the least considered benefits of cloud computing in the average small or mid-sized business manager’s mind is the aspect of disaster recovery. Part of the reason for this is that so few small and mid-size businesses have ever contemplated the impact of a major disaster on their IT…

The Cloud Is Not Enough! Why Businesses Need Hybrid Solutions

The Cloud Is Not Enough! Why Businesses Need Hybrid Solutions

Why Businesses Need Hybrid Solutions Running a cloud server is no longer the novel trend it once was. Now, the cloud is a necessary data tier that allows employees to access vital company data and maintain productivity from anywhere in the world. But it isn’t a perfect system — security and performance issues can quickly…

Cloud Computing – The Good and the Bad

Cloud Computing – The Good and the Bad

The Cloud Movement Like it or not, cloud computing permeates many aspects of our lives, and it’s going to be a big part of our future in both business and personal spheres. The current and future possibilities of global access to files and data, remote working opportunities, improved storage structures, and greater solution distribution have…

Three Reasons Cloud Adoption Can Close The Federal Government’s Tech Gap

Three Reasons Cloud Adoption Can Close The Federal Government’s Tech Gap

Federal Government Cloud Adoption No one has ever accused the U.S. government of being technologically savvy. Aging software, systems and processes, internal politics, restricted budgets and a cultural resistance to change have set the federal sector years behind its private sector counterparts. Data and information security concerns have also been a major contributing factor inhibiting the…

Cloud Services Providers – Learning To Keep The Lights On

Cloud Services Providers – Learning To Keep The Lights On

The True Meaning of Availability What is real availability? In our line of work, cloud service providers approach availability from the inside out. And in many cases, some never make it past their own front door given how challenging it is to keep the lights on at home let alone factors that are out of…

Cost of the Cloud: Is It Really Worth It?

Cost of the Cloud: Is It Really Worth It?

Cost of the Cloud Cloud computing is more than just another storage tier. Imagine if you’re able to scale up 10x just to handle seasonal volumes or rely on a true disaster-recovery solution without upfront capital. Although the pay-as-you-go pricing model of cloud computing makes it a noticeable expense, it’s the only solution for many…

The Cancer Moonshot: Collaboration Is Key

The Cancer Moonshot: Collaboration Is Key

Cancer Moonshot In his final State of the Union address in January 2016, President Obama announced a new American “moonshot” effort: finding a cure for cancer. The term “moonshot” comes from one of America’s greatest achievements, the moon landing. If the scientific community can achieve that kind of feat, then surely it can rally around…

Four Recurring Revenue Imperatives

Four Recurring Revenue Imperatives

Revenue Imperatives “Follow the money” is always a good piece of advice, but in today’s recurring revenue-driven market, “follow the customer” may be more powerful. Two recurring revenue imperatives highlight the importance of responding to, and cherishing customer interactions. Technology and competitive advantage influence the final two. If you’re part of the movement towards recurring…

Having Your Cybersecurity And Eating It Too

Having Your Cybersecurity And Eating It Too

The Catch 22 The very same year Marc Andreessen famously said that software was eating the world, the Chief Information Officer of the United States was announcing a major Cloud First goal. That was 2011. Five years later, as both the private and public sectors continue to adopt cloud-based software services, we’re interested in this…

Choosing IaaS or a Cloud-Enabled Managed Hosting Provider?

Choosing IaaS or a Cloud-Enabled Managed Hosting Provider?

There is a Difference – So Stop Comparing We are all familiar with the old saying “That’s like comparing apples to oranges” and though we learned this lesson during our early years we somehow seem to discount this idiom when discussing the Cloud. Specifically, IT buyers often feel justified when comparing the cost of a…