Category Archives: Cloud Computing

How the Internet of Things will change your life

How the Internet of Things will change your life

Internet of Things Day

This Saturday 9th April, it’s global Internet of Things day. A day where people around the world come together at events to talk about and debate the future and what the Internet of Things means for us all

What does the future hold for us? Well here are just a couple of areas that we can see changing in the coming years.

Medical / healthcare

There have already been some huge leaps forward in recent years in the field of medtech, this invention from Google making some of the bigger headlines last year. But there is much more possible, even just looking at today’s technology, we can see a number of things developing, such as:

  • Smart pill bottles – these bottles monitor your pill usage, not only making sure that you’re taking the right doses but also letting your Doctor know when you may need more.
  • Smart pills – not just the bottle, but the pills themselves can become smart, providing your Doctor with better insights into your health and the effect their treatments are having.

Transport

Like in the medical industry, we’re already seeing glimpses of what’s possible when it comes to the Internet of Things and transport. A few developments we could see include:

  • Self-driving and parking cars – Tesla are pushing this a lot at the moment but lots of companies see the potential here.
  • Parking apps – there are plenty of apps out there that are gathering data on local car park facilities and using this to tell drivers where a free spot is available. It’s not that unthinkable to connect this data directly to a car with self-parking ability and potentially for that car to find a space and park itself without any input from the driver.

It goes beyond cars too, cycles are getting the Internet of Things treatment too!

There is a huge amount of information out there and the team at RS Components have put together a simple visualisation showing what the Internet of Things is and importantly, what it could mean for our future. You can take a closer look at the visual below.

IOT_6.3-Infographic

By Heidi Walker

IBM & Pfizer Join Forces To Work On IoT Innovation

IBM & Pfizer Join Forces To Work On IoT Innovation

IBM & Pfizer Join Forces

For many years, the diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease induced a feeling of hopelessness and defeat amongst both sufferers of the disease and the medical professionals who care for them. Parkinson’s is a progressive degeneration of the nervous system which chiefly affects middle-aged and elderly people. Yet, in recent years, there has been renewed hope and confidence that quality of life, prevention and even the cure of Parkinson’s will one day be possible.

New strategies and ideas are being put forward right now which will dramatically improve our understanding of what it is like to live with the disease. Pharmaceutical company Pfizer is teaming up with technology powerhouse IBM in an effort to use the Internet of Things as a means of producing real-time, continuous data of a patient’s symptoms, and understanding how those symptoms impact on that person’s daily life.

healthcare

The idea behind the research project is to use a sophisticated system of mobile devices, sensors and connected machines in a controlled environment to track a patient’s particular set of symptoms and to monitor and evaluate whether their symptoms are worsening or improving. “The goal is that through these experiments the team can create a program that would allow that flow of data from the patient to their medical team and provide more pinpoint dosing,” explains technology website TechCrunch.

At this stage, the approach is very experimental. The clinical trials will begin in 2018 at IBM’s Research Centre where a functional apartment is being built with a network of hidden sensors that will monitor the daily experiences of the participants in minute detail.

Fortune magazine explains that “Pfizer and IBM will rotate in as many as 200 participants, both those with Parkinson’s disease and control subjects who don’t have the neurological condition, who will live in the space for a period of time and produce reams information from these sensors.”

The potential for both IBM and Pfizer is tremendous. IBM is investing heavily in the Internet of Things and in its ability to effectively analyze big data, while Pfizer is hoping to test and monitor its newest Parkinson’s drug which is in the pipeline. For both companies, a new approach to treating Parkinson’s would reap great rewards.

Mikael-DolstenAccording to Mikael Dolsten, president of Pfizer Worldwide R&D, “we have an opportunity to potentially redefine how we think about patient outcomes and 24/7 monitoring, by combining Pfizer’s scientific, medical and regulatory expertise with IBM’s ability to integrate and interpret complex data in innovative ways.

Industries all around the world are rapidly gaining an understanding of the impact that the Internet of Things could potentially have on the way that they conduct their business and the pharmaceutical industry is no exception.

A partnership such as this between two giants in their respective fields points the way towards an integrated, targeted approach which will be enormously beneficial to ordinary people who can tap into the power of the technology which surrounds us for the greater good.

By Jeremy Daniel

How Successful Businesses Ensure Quality Team Communication

How Successful Businesses Ensure Quality Team Communication

Quality Team Communication 

(Sponsored post courtesy of Hubgets)

Successful team communication and collaboration are as vital to project and overall business success as the quality of products and services an organization develops. We rely on a host of business tools to ensure appropriate customer interactions, sound product manufacturing, and smooth back-end operations. However, the interpersonal relationships and communication between teammates are sometimes overlooked or taken for granted to be self-sustaining and sufficiently fortified.

The Roots of Miscommunication

Humans are the most complex systems in any organization. Each individual with their own set of tools and goals, combined into a team which, theoretically, works towards reaching the same objectives. The difficulties of nonverbal communication, misaligned perceptions, and lack of ownership are often intensified because of multi-channel communication tools forcing a pick-and-choose approach to information gathering. This disconnected form of interaction expects individuals to piece together bytes of specific information into one comprehensive message, wasting valuable time, and often resulting in misperception.

How Miscommunication Obstructs Business Goals

employees-digital

(Image Source: Shutterstock)

The results of this miscommunication are time delays, inefficient service delivery, and inadequate project outcomes. Employees who don’t understand their roles are bound to perform poorly, leading to delayed project deliveries and finally company losses in the form of customers and profits. Complications or drawn-out communications also result in slow performance, delaying sales and service processes, and so hindering company performance and growth. Finally, poor or ineffectual communication triggers employee frustration, and as studies show time and again, an unhappy workforce leads to a failing business.

Building Good Team Communication

But it’s not all doom and gloom. Miscommunication is easily avoided, and implementing the right tools and processes means not merely the avoidance of misperception but enhancement of quality communication. Implementing one inclusive communication tool, tailored to team operations, ensures teammates are connected and engaged, well-informed, and intimately involved both in business processes and with customers. It’s imperative that the solution implemented for internal and external communication runs as an aggregator of company information, ensuring access to such data by the entire team. Business process information can be automatically stored and easily tracked to avoid dissemination or complete loss.

Employing one of today’s better communication tools means more than placing voice, video and chat solutions at the hands of teams. Hubgets, the app designed to foster a collaborative culture within organizations, extracts, centralizes and makes accessible the information exchanged by employees both individually and at company level through voice, video, one-on-one or group chat, and file transfer. By keeping team communication transparent, the app automatically creates a nucleus of company knowledge which empowers team members to make informed decisions and act fast. For example, employees no longer need to rely on ‘informative’ meetings, which are often both repetitive and time-consuming because they have access to group chats that collect and preserve project and tasks contributions for swift communication and future reference. Pertinent meetings can be more focused, less time consuming, and results driven, thanks to collaboration shortcuts that adequately inform and prepare employees.

Hubgets, a provider of one such solution, ensures instant team and customer connection through voice, video and chat, simplifying collaboration and eradicating miscommunication for enhanced business operation and improved customer satisfaction.

By Jennifer Klostermann

Tips To Use Encryption The Right Way

Tips To Use Encryption The Right Way

Encryption Tips

Encryption is the most important part when it comes to securing your data online. For those of you who are still alien to this concept, encryption converts data into an unreadable format called cipher text with the help of a secret key called the encryption key. And you cannot get access to the primary data unless you can get access to the encryption key or guess it.

Encryption

If you use cloud services to store or backup your data, you should understand what encryption is and how to use it the right way. All the cloud companies based in the US are liable to share their cloud data with the government, and if you don’t want NSA snooping through your data, you should encrypt your data before moving to the cloud.

Here are some tips to use encryption the right way:

  1. Check the strength of encryption provided

Each cloud-based service has a different kind of encryption, and you should know what each one of them means before storing your data on the cloud. Also, while some cloud services are transparent about how they encrypt data, some aren’t so clear.

cloud-cloudtweaks-comic

For instance, Apple clearly states that iCloud uses a 128-bit AES encryption, but Google does not specify how the data is encrypted on Google Drive. In fact, most of the cloud backup services that you will come across will determine the kind of encryption they use. One of the strongest cloud backup encryption services offered right now is by Crashplan, which offers 448-bit Blowfish encryption.

  1. Use long passphrases as encryption key

When Edward Snowden, a former NSA employee and a whistleblower was asked about what kind of passwords to use, he came up with a rather interesting response. According to Snowden, instead of using words as your passwords, you should use a minimum of 8-letter passphrases. And of course, a number a special character, which should not be in the end but somewhere in the middle.

The idea is that it’s easy to guess 6-letter words by algorithms but guessing 8-letter words get much, much tougher for the algorithms.

  1. Data should be encrypted before its uploaded

Just because a cloud service says that it encrypts your data, doesn’t mean your data is completely secure. First of all, data can be encrypted at three locations – on the local machines, in transit, and on the cloud server.

Now, some services encrypt your data on all the three locations, while most of the cloud services only encrypt your data when it’s in transit, using an SSL encryption. This leaves your data open for all the hackers. It’s always safe to encrypt the data yourself with a strong encryption key before you upload it to the cloud. This way, you are in charge of your data’s safety.

  1. Check for regulations and compliances

Encrypting data is actually the easy part; the difficult part is making sure your data follows all the right regulations and compliances, and it is secure and safe. In fact, the biggest threat your organization might face is cyber security. Your organization’s infrastructure can be vulnerable. Check with the compliances that your company needs to follow and also, make sure it follows all the security guidelines.

  1. Email encryptions

Emails are private, and it can be threatening when hackers get access to an organization’s emails. Employees don’t just discuss regular day-to-day stuff; they also discuss about critical company details. And of course, there are also emails between employees and clients. Email hacks have been very common and more than 100 GB of email data has been hacked till now.

email-security

(Image Source: Shutterstock)

There are many encryption add-ins that can be used and integrated with Microsoft Outlook. It makes sure that your emails are encrypted when they are being transferred.

  1. Use digital signatures

A digital signature uses asymmetric cryptography to encrypt the message. When the user is signing the message, he uses a private key to encrypt it, and the receivers use a public key to decrypt the message.

Using a digital signature does not just assure that it is you who sent the message, but it also states that the message has not been tampered with, and it is in the original form.

As we move more and more of our data on the cloud, encryption will become even more important. With the NSA already snooping through user data, you need to be extra careful before you upload your data to the cloud.

By Ritika Tiwari

Automation of Access Management Means a Happier IT Staff

Automation of Access Management Means a Happier IT Staff

Automation of Access Management

One of tasks that your IT department probably really dislikes is managing the in-house and cloud user accounts and passwords for all of the employees in the company. Though this is usually an easy task, it is extremely mundane and time consuming, especially for a company that has frequent movement of employees. For a highly technical employee, who has a great deal of knowledge, having them handle account management is a waste of a resource for the company. These employees should spend their time focusing on more technical issues and complex projects for your organization.

password

(Image Source: Shutterstock)

So how can you get your IT department to mind when they are asked to perform tasks related to a user’s account or password? Many solutions are out on the market that can assist with this process and allow the IT department to focus more of their time on technical issues and projects. The following are a few ways to if not love user management then at least like it a bit more.

Allow for account creation and overall management from one single place

Probably one of the most frustrating parts of account management is setting up a new account for an employee in each and every in-house and cloud application. The admin needs to access each application enter the employee information and set their access rights. Chances are that the new employee will need numerous accounts to start their job, and will be left waiting for a few days for the correct access.

An identity and access management (IAM) solution allows for this process to be completely automated. By automating, an individual only needs to enter the employee information in the HR system, check off which applications they should have created for them and voila, new accounts. These solutions work seamlessly for both in house and cloud applications, so any type of application or system your company uses can be easily integrated.

No more headaches from time sensitive requests

The other frequent request is for additional access, accounts or resources created for an employee. An employee often needs to contact a manager or admin if they need access to an application or to make a change to their account. If this request is time sensitive, the employee may continually contact the manager to check up on the progress and see if the change is being implemented. Now imagine these emails coming in from more than one employee saying they need a change as soon as possible.

This process can also be automated and streamlined. Workflow management in an IAM solution allows a workflow to be set up for all of these requests. As an example, an employee needs access to certain application for a project they are working on. They simply make the request in the employee portal and it is routed to the correct person. That person can either accept or deny the request. If accepted, the change is automatically made and the employee will have immediate access. This eliminates the need for anyone to contact the IT department or an account admin to request the change. Workflow works seamlessly with in house and cloud applications so changes can be easily made to both.

Then, if an employee wants to check on their request, they can view the progress in their portal instead of contacting the admin directly. So, admins no longer need to be repeatedly contacted to ask if the change has been made.

Frequent calls for the same issue

What about all of the password issues that the IT department is usually asked to help with? Many IAM solutions also work seamlessly with password management so that these issues can also be drastically reduced. Employees often call in to have their password reset for one or more of their applications when they forget them or are locked out of their accounts. This, like the account change request, is very simple to fix, but becomes time consuming when many employees are requesting fixes for the same issue.

employees

The most popular fix to these issues is to implement password management solutions. Solutions such as a self-service password reset software have been adapted to be helpful to those using cloud or in house applications. This type of solution allows end users to reset their own passwords without having to contact the help desk. Employees can reset their passwords at any time, from any location — even from their mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets.

With all of the accounts that employees need to access every day, they may find it difficult to remember several sets of complex passwords. Single sign-on solutions have also been adapted to work in conjunction with cloud applications. SSO allows users to login in once with a single set of credentials and thereafter gain access to all other applications they are authorized for, easily resolving the issue of needing to remember multiple passwords.

These solutions allow the IT department to focus on actual technical issues within the organization so that they don’t keep getting asked to perform mundane easy tasks that might be taking up a large percentage of their time. With IAM solutions these tasks can be easily automated making the process better for everyone involved, and resulting in a happy IT department.

By Dean Wiech

The Growing Hybrid Cloud And Its Possibilities

The Growing Hybrid Cloud And Its Possibilities

Hybrid Cloud Possibilities 

A recent Tech Pro Research survey found that 68% of respondents were either using or considering using the hybrid cloud, and cutting down hardware costs while still expanding their data centers was their main reason. On the other side of the spectrum, only 1% of respondents believed they wouldn’t make use of the cloud in the coming five years.

Hybrid Cloud Solutions

As organizations recognize the value of cloud services, the demand for hybrid cloud services has increased, though how often this is by choice and how often due to vendor persistence is uncertain. Broadly, most people understand the concept as a commingling of public and private clouds. Says Mary Shacklett, Tech Pro Research author, “Whether or not these respondents understand the technical mechanics of a full-bodied hybrid cloud, most understand the business value proposition that the hybrid cloud concept offers. With a hybrid cloud philosophy, business and IT decision makers know that they can tap into different IT resources, whether internal or external, for services. For example, if you want a certain vendor’s HR/benefits system and the vendor only offers a version of the system in the cloud, it might make sense to join the vendor’s cloud to obtain the capabilities that you want. If you are running out of storage for your data but you don’t want to invest in more storage for data that is seldom used, considering a public cloud vendor with secure storage and strong governance can be a practical, convenient and economical way to address the problem.

hybrid-cloud-infographic

(Infographic Source: ZDNet)

Since the hybrid cloud combines public and private cloud networks, organizations with a reasonable private cloud infrastructure already in place are often more comfortable simply extending into the public cloud through hybrid cloud services than switching wholly over to public cloud solutions. Some industry specialists feel that private cloud solutions haven’t kept up with public cloud solutions, but notes Gartner analyst Lydia Leong, “Not everything can or should be cloud.” One suggested solution is hybrid IT, a strategy that enables existing non-cloud infrastructure to run alongside public cloud infrastructure, and migrate as necessary. Says Leong, “There are these inflection points that might push you towards moving into the cloud. But otherwise you’re fairly likely to move in a hybrid IT fashion for quite some time.”

Data Integration & the Hybrid Cloud

Data integration with the hybrid cloud is one of the bigger struggles organizations have to manage, as it becomes necessary to move data on demand but still maintain independence, security, uniformity, and ease of use. Latency is often a serious problem that affects data mobility though the caching of data and implementation of high-speed networks can assist. Moreover, as the replication of data results in multiple copies, the tracking of the latest versions is another hurdle organizations need to consider. It’s important that the most current data can always be tracked and protected as well as restored, if necessary, from backups. In order to make best use of the hybrid cloud, data mobility and protection are two essential components architects need to address before any integration is attempted.

By Jennifer Klostermann

Mondo Report: The Top 5 Cloud Positions/Skills In Highest Demand

Mondo Report: The Top 5 Cloud Positions/Skills In Highest Demand

Mondo Reports That CIOs and CTOs Have Top Tech Salaries for 2016: Ranging From $182-$268,000

NEW YORK, NY–(Marketwired – Apr 5, 2016) – Mondo (www.mondo.com) today reported that CIOs/CTOs garnered the top salaries for 2016, ranging from $182-268,000, according to the findings of its annual Tech Salary Guide. Mondo is a leading technology and digital resourcing provider.

In addition to the CIO/CTO positions, the technology jobs with the highest salaries in 2016, include:

  • Chief Security Officer ($154-226,000)
  • Chief Data Officer ($150-210,000)
  • Director PMO ($129-186,000
  • UX/UI Designer ($119-184,000)
  • VP, Information Engineering ($141-184,000)
  • VP, Information Technology ($141-183,000)
  • Android Developer ($138-182,000)
  • IOS Developer ($139-182,000)

(Note: The salary ranges reflect regional differences in salaries, based on the average of Mondo’s 3,000 placements during the year, with New York City and San Francisco on the high end.)

With Cloud computing now becoming the technological cornerstone for businesses across the globe, employer demand for Cloud professionals has exploded and lack of Cloud resources/expertise is the number one challenge for businesses,” said Laura McGarrity, VP of Digital Marketing Strategy for Mondo. “Those tech professionals with Cloud skills are in huge demand and are commanding top salaries.”

The top five Cloud positions/skills in highest demand, include:

  • Microsoft 365 Engineer ($110-123,000)
  • Amazon Web Services Developer ($123-161,000)
  • Cloud Engineer ($113-149,000)
  • Network Security Engineers ($115-151,000)
  • Data Scientist ($88-130,000)

She added, “The explosion of connected devices has also caused a surge of demand for technology professionals with mobile development skills. In addition, we have seen growing demand for diversity among new tech hires, and are placing more women with the right education and the right skills to fill these in-demand tech jobs.

The four mobile positions/skills in top demand, include:

  • iOS Developer ($139-182,000)
  • Android Developer ($138-182,000)
  • Application Architect ($136-181,000)
  • QA Mobile Engineer ($91-126,000)

In addition, those technology professionals with security skills will be in high demand. By 2020, 60% of all enterprises’ information security budgets will be allocated for rapid detection and response approaches (Gartner). According to the Mondo Tech Salary Report, these are the top four security positions:

  • Network Security Engineer ($115-151,000)
  • IS Security Manager ($134-173,000)
  • Network Security Administrator ($96-143,000)
  • IS Audit Analyst ($59-84,000)

The Mondo IT salary data is based Mondo placements over the past year, in New York City, San Francisco, Washington DC, Philadelphia, Denver, Boston, Chicago and Dallas.

About Mondo

MONDO is a leading professional services organization that delivers technology and digital marketing support through two key solutions — providing professional resources on a contract, contract-to-hire and permanent basis, along with project or ongoing digital marketing solutions through its in-house digital marketing agency, MondoLabs. For 15 years, Mondo has been delivering solutions that bridge the talent gap and accelerate technology and digital marketing innovation for global brands including, Deutsche Bank, Facebook, NBC Universal, ZipCar, eBay, Random House and many more. Headquartered in New York City, Mondo has offices in San Francisco, Los Angeles, Washington DC, Philadelphia, Denver, Boston, Chicago, Ft. Lauderdale, Dallas and Atlanta. To learn more visit, www.mondo.com or call 212-257-5111, and connect with us: @mondo_agents (twitter), Facebook and LinkedIn.

SaaS Freemium Models and the Hidden Cost of Free

SaaS Freemium Models and the Hidden Cost of Free

SaaS Freemium Models

We’ve all been lured into sexy “try before you buy” freemium models that provide just the right amount of functionality to get you started. Yet, it’s not quite enough to complete the job. “Getting the job done” often requires stepping up to a paid or premium version that provides more functionality, capabilities and rewards.

As much as we’d like to believe to the contrary, the old adage is time tested. “There is no free lunch.”

lunch-time

(Image Source: Shutterstock)

Free” more often than not implies trade-off. The trick is to balance these tradeoffs to ensure that your purchase delivers a net positive for your business. Anything less than “free” becomes a misnomer.

For the consumer, this model makes sense for apps that aren’t mission critical. You can preview and buy. If the full version doesn’t meet your needs then you shut it down and move to another application that works better. Switching costs are low. No harm. No foul. No one (but you) is the wiser.

Lately, and somewhat surprisingly, “free” or close to it, has also been applied to larger ticket items – like enterprise software solutions – that have far-reaching and deeper functional capabilities than the latest gee-whiz game or social application. To entice you, some vendors are offering a “free” one-year license or subscription. In these cases, buyer beware of a wolf dressed up in sheep’s clothing.

Do Your Diligence

Before committing to a “free” solution, it’s worth conducting some due diligence.

Here are some questions that every buyer should ask:

  • When free isn’t free: What are the additional costs involved? What are the implementation hours, integration costs, migration costs, operational costs, and opportunity costs? In a typical enterprise project, licenses or SaaS subscription cost is only a portion of the overall expense. There is implementation and integration, training and roll out. More importantly, there is opportunity cost. Will your business run better with this solution or with another that is not “free”? Finally, which solution maximizes your time to market the competitive edge you are attempting to gain?
  • There’s more than meets the eye: Ask about hidden costs like professional services charges, forced requirements that requires your business to conform to basic capabilities, lock-up, and switching costs. And, will the product still meet your needs after the initial “free” term has expired? Will you have more options and greater flexibility with another solution?
  • A look behind the strategy: When companies are selling a “free” or “free-for-a-year” solution they are planning to do one of four things:
  1. Use the “free” portion as a loss leader, banking on your long-term success for increased contract values and back-end revenue.
  2. Working to gain market momentum with a flurry of new logos and win announcements.
  3. Lock you into their solution because the implicit and/or explicit change cost makes switching a hassle or worse.
  4. Compete on things other than the solution’s benefits, quality, and value. What do these strategies say about their business and their long-term business goals? And, where does each strategy leave you?
  • Free” isn’t a guarantee of happy-ever after: Purchasing an enterprise solution is like getting married. You want a partner who will be with you for the long term, who will support you, enable you, and grow with you as your needs change. Careful that your “free” solution isn’t a 1 night stand that leaves a six Tylenol hangover. Enterprise solutions need to work over the long term. You are investing not only in software, but in a company that needs to perform over the long haul. Make sure the company is someone you want to partner with and that the “free” product is worth the long-term investment. As Neil Sedaka reminds us, “Breaking up is hard to do.”

Free is rarely free. A “free-for-now” solution might look appealing but initial attractions can run thin after repeated attempts to fix problem areas.
The rule in painting (gardening, remodeling, and countless other DIY projects) can also be applied here: It’s 90% preparation and 10% application. Do your homework upfront. In the end, it might just save you from a costly change order.

By Tom Dibble

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Cloud Native Trends Picking Up – Legacy Security Losing Ground

Cloud Native Trends Picking Up – Legacy Security Losing Ground

Cloud Native Trends Once upon a time, only a select few companies like Google and Salesforce possessed the knowledge and expertise to operate efficient cloud infrastructure and applications. Organizations patronizing those companies benefitted with apps that offered new benefits in flexibility, scalability and cost effectiveness. These days, the sharp division between cloud and on-premises infrastructure…

Using Cloud Technology In The Education Industry

Using Cloud Technology In The Education Industry

Education Tech and the Cloud Arguably one of society’s most important functions, teaching can still seem antiquated at times. Many schools still function similarly to how they did five or 10 years ago, which is surprising considering the amount of technical innovation we’ve seen in the past decade. Education is an industry ripe for innovation…

Why Security Practitioners Need To Apply The 80-20 Rules To Data Security

Why Security Practitioners Need To Apply The 80-20 Rules To Data Security

The 80-20 Rule For Security Practitioners  Everyday we learn about yet another egregious data security breach, exposure of customer data or misuse of data. It begs the question why in this 21st century, as a security industry we cannot seem to secure our most valuable data assets when technology has surpassed our expectations in other regards.…

Ending The Great Enterprise Disconnect

Ending The Great Enterprise Disconnect

Five Requirements for Supporting a Connected Workforce It used to be that enterprises dictated how workers spent their day: stuck in a cubicle, tied to an enterprise-mandated computer, an enterprise-mandated desk phone with mysterious buttons, and perhaps an enterprise-mandated mobile phone if they traveled. All that is history. Today, a modern workforce is dictating how…