Category Archives: Contributors

The Global Cloud: Blockchain Could Decentralize SaaS

The Global Cloud: Blockchain Could Decentralize SaaS

Blockchain SaaS

As the prevalence of SaaS continues to grow, so too does the cloud. You know this because you experience it hands-on everyday. By 2020, 92% of our work will be cloud-based. According to Cisco, 74% of that will involve SaaS in all its variations.

For the most part, the cloud works perfectly with SaaS. It’s a great meeting-point for both the service provider and the customer. The cloud’s potential in this respect seems limitless. If you can develop a software solution for any aspect of business, the cloud can host it. The customer, who could be anyone from an enterprise-level business all the way down to a solopreneur, benefits from the competitive atmosphere.

DDoS Attacks

On the flipside, the recent DDoS attack illustrated something disconcerting about centralized servers, the servers upon which the cloud relies. If and when hackers take control of internet-connected devices (the IoT), they can wreak havoc on the processing power of centralized infrastructure. The DDoS attack was unique and huge, and a taste of what may be coming. Hackers used millions of webcams and digital recorders to jam up Domain Name System server provider Dyn. The traffic jam rendered plenty of popular websites, as well as SaaS apps, temporarily inoperable.

IoT Authentication

paul-brody-blockchainAs the IoT continues to grow exponentially, the computational power we need for the cloud will also grow exponentially. The cost of running cloud servers, which identify and authenticate each IoT device, will also continue to rise. Paul Brody, VP of IBM Global Business Services, points out that some IoT devices don’t generate returns that justify their expense. These devices include smart lights, aircraft, and cars. He says, “Applying a centralized cloud-based business model to these devices will mean decades of expense without decades of associated revenue.”

The convergence of SaaS vendors will create a massive need for highly skilled experts in the field of big data science and management. This is not simply a matter of if, but when.

The requirement for Big data analysis via IoT devices utilizing the cloud equals a glut that will weigh on centralized servers. Security risks and practicality issues that will drive the cloud to the decentralized blockchain.

IBM has already harnessed Watson and blockchain together to create a private cloud. This is a Platform-as-a-Service (PaaS), a type of cloud-product Cisco predicts will do 8% of data workloads by 2020.

The emergence of IBM’s private blockchain cloud could be a model for the public cloud and for SaaS hosting in the future. SaaS is becoming such a huge part of business that non-interference from the IoT and from hackers will be paramount to everyone who stands to gain from software. Which is pretty much everyone in the established business world. Blockchain looks to be a cure-all, in some respects, for the security ills associated with the centralization of data.

In the public eye, the primary access-point to blockchain is Bitcoin. The following graphic, courtesy of Northeastern University, illustrates some of the key talking points related to Bitcoin:

Blockchain SaaS

With Bitcoin, human “miners” on the blockchain verify transactions. With the IoT and blockchain, smart devices are responsible for their own identification and authentication. Devices are the miners. The mesh of devices becomes the cloud.

But plenty of SaaS vendors are happy with the cloud as is. Converting it over to the blockchain would require a whole new system of trust. That is, vendors will have to trust that each device in the cloud will not disrupt their service. All institutions involved will have to trust in blockchain’s viability. Devices can be physically compromised if they’re out there circulating in the world.

Monetary transactions will be the biggest issue. For global payroll company Cloudpay, SaaS on the cloud ensures payroll compliance: “SaaS helps to consolidate global data from multiple country payrolls into one single system, providing real-time information on both global and local compliance.” About 93% of businesses use the cloud ‘in some form or another’. Converting it to the blockchain, and making payments to global stakeholders, presents regulatory complications for the SEC:

  • Implementation: financial institutions are uncertain about adopting blockchain because people in general are uncertain about it
  • Standardization: a host of standards-making bodies, SaaS startups, and corporations will have to agree on set standards
  • Regulator integration: regulators are unlikely to want to disrupt the regulations they’ve established

Ultimately, once everyone is on board, blockchain looks to be the basis for the new cloud. If security breaches of the centralized system continue to be the norm, we could see this happen sooner than later.

By Daniel Matthews

Financial Management Finds a Welcome Home in the Cloud

Financial Management Finds a Welcome Home in the Cloud

Cloud Based Financial Management

The most cautious person in any organization is likely to be the CFO. After all, they’re the person who gets paid to ensure the company’s finances are protected from unwarranted risk. However, even the most risk-averse of CFOs are beginning to warm to the possibility of moving their firms’ financial management systems to the cloud.

One thing you can say about the adoption of cloud services by businesses: It’s unconventional. After all, the first people in the organization to use the cloud in their work were usually renegades who did so without the official sanction of their company’s IT department. Out of this “shadow IT” grew the topsy-turvy, bottom-up evolution of cloud migration in companies of all sizes.

You might say that the cart’s before the horse, or the tail’s wagging the dog, but however you slice it, cloud services are proving their worth to businesses in many diverse ways. Jeffrey Kaplan writes in an October 31, 2016, article on Datamation that the typical cloud-adoption pattern is for the sales and marketing departments to lead the way, initially in an ad-hoc manner but ultimately with the blessing of the IT department and the CFO.

Kaplan cites a recent CFO Signals survey by Deloitte that found nearly 80 percent of companies in North America use some cloud services, yet fewer than half have implemented any cloud-based finance and accounting analytics. The slow adoption rate of cloud-based financial solutions is due as much to lingering concerns about security and integration as it is to the generally conservative nature of the CFO role, according to Kaplan.

cloud-provider

The 30,000-foot view of data analytics in the from the enterprise perspective extends the model from mobile users and data sources to enterprise data and user directories. Source: IBM

New financial rules cause CFOs to reconsider the cloud

A potential source of motivation for companies evaluating cloud financial services is the need to respond to new guidelines issued by the Financial Accounting Standards Board, whose ASC 606 standard requires that firms identify performance obligations in all customer contracts and base revenue recognition on a contract basis rather than on a transaction basis. The new rules don’t take effect until late 2017, but it will take time for companies to make the necessary changes to their financial accounting procedures.

By slowly transitioning to cloud based financial management, CFOs hope to avoid the glitches that arose with the first round of cloud-migration projects. According to Mark Melin in a November 1, 2016, article on ValueWalk, a study by SunGuard found that 73 percent of companies spent more on their move to the cloud than they anticipated. In addition, 66 percent of the organizations surveyed eventually moved some of their early cloud applications back to their in-house infrastructure.

The switch from in-house financial management to its counterpart in the cloud is more difficult because the old and new have very different foundations. Traditional finance operations run on an internal grid designed from the ground up for risk calculations, portfolio pricing, liquidity analysis, and other high-performance workloads. The cloud, on the other hand, is optimized for scalability and agility, which introduces a high level of latency and scheduling that can spell trouble for financial calculations.

New approaches to intelligent analytics in the cloud

The problem of remote analytics may be solved by advances in telemetry: the collection, measurement, and monitoring of data from a remote source. In a November 7, 2016, article in Data Center Journal, Jonathan Donaldson describes an approach called Intelligent Resource Orchestration (IRO) that extends telemetry by enabling analytics in software-defined infrastructures. IRO relies on sophisticated pattern matching to automate much of the decision making, which reduces human interaction. For IRO to be successful, it must be able to discern which decisions can be automated, and which need to be made by humans.

The IRO model consists of four components that interact in continual loops:

  • Watch virtualizes and reviews data from compute, storage, and network resources using common APIs.
  • Decide determines the course of action in response to an event, such as a request or system failure, based on monitoring and analytics communicated via a dashboard interface.
  • Act responds in real time based on patterns learned from previous analyses that led to a positive outcome.
  • Learn is the application of machine learning and deep learning to identify areas requiring change and to recommend improvements.

Cloud Based Financial Management

In the IRO model, four modules continually interact to reduce the amount of human intervention required in cloud-based analytics. Source: Jonathan Donaldson, via Data Center Journal

According to Donaldson, IRO holds promise for addressing the performance needs of any “latency-sensitive” applications, including financial services and content delivery networks.

Automating financial drudge work via continuous accounting

Research firm Accenture estimates that by 2020, finance productivity will increase by a factor of 2 to 3 times, while financial-management costs will decline by 40 percent over the same period. The key to this productivity boost is automated decision making. A new approach to automated financial analytics based on a non-stop loop is continuous accounting, which Information Age’s Nick Ismael explains in an October 27, 2016, article.

As Ismael points out, only the agility and flexibility of cloud-based services make it possible to replace manual accounting methods, freeing financial analysts to focus on fraud detection, compliance, and other strategic matters rather than spreadsheet updates and weekly reports. These are the same reasons companies of all sizes are turning increasingly to services in order to automate uptime monitoring of IT systems of all types: databases, app servers, web servers, and message queues, all viewed in a single app.

By Brian Wheeler

The Paradigm Shift In Enterprise IT Operations Management

The Paradigm Shift In Enterprise IT Operations Management

IT Operations Management

Rapid change is the new constant with today’s Enterprises. There is a continuous shift in the technology landscape and the demands of the customers coupled with Enterprises wanting to stay competitive. This changing, fluid environment results in concurrent changes with IT infrastructure. Enterprises today are turning to IT Operations Management to bring order to this complex situation.

The Paradigm Shift in Enterprise IT

Technology is central to the ability of the Enterprise to respond to changes in the market and its customers and to execute its business plans. Today’s IT leaders are responsible for more than overseeing technology breakthroughs but are also integral to advising chief executives about the organization’s business strategy. Similarly, this has also meant that traditionally non-IT departments are also getting more involved in decisions that were earlier the purview of IT – for e.g. Choices regarding edge devices, cloud services and even security policies and plans. It’s clear that several factors are at work in making the IT infrastructure ever more complex and un-manageable. The Infrastructure has to ramp up and scale back as demand fluctuates. Enterprises are themselves becoming more complex and the IT infrastructure has to evolve to keep pace. Significant technology shifts also necessitate small as well as large-scale changes in the IT infrastructure of the enterprise on a regular basis.

IT Operations Management

The role of the IT department and the IT infrastructure of the Enterprise is to:

  • Help the Enterprise to execute to plan
  • Maximize the value delivered by the IT infrastructure
  • Proactively identify and ensure a smooth shift to the most appropriate, next technology paradigm
  • Eliminate or manage risks associated with the expanded importance of the IT infrastructure

In achieving these goals, the IT infrastructure has to face several complex challenges, some internal to the Enterprise and others within the ecosystem the Enterprise operates in.

Which Internal Challenges do Enterprises face?

Budgets: Budgets are under pressure. The challenge for the IT department is to deliver more with the same amount of investment – essentially utilize the available budgets more efficiently.

Multi-locational / Distributed workforce: Enterprises are located across multiple geographies and teams are more spread out. To add to this, trends like telecommuting and remote teams are adding complexity. A Forrester Report had predicted that by 2016, 43% of the US workforce, 63 Million people, would be telecommuting. Further complexity is introduced by the growing number of freelancers or temporary workers, estimated at 60 million people by 2020 in an Intuit study. The IT infrastructure has to cater to the connectivity needs of the distributed workforce and also support them remotely.

BYOD: A Gartner report, “Bring your own device: The facts and the future”, projected that by 2017, 50% of employers would require that employees get their own devices for work. Juniper Research estimates that by 2018 over 1 Billion devices would be used in BYOD mode. The emergence of tablets has further complicated the scenario by blurring the lines between traditional definitions of compute and mobile devices. A multiplicity of devices means added complexity in terms of integration needs, software compatibility, license issues and non-standard infrastructure elements.

Which External Challenges do Enterprises face?

Technology Shifts: There are several technology-driven trends that are impacting Enterprise IT – Cloud computing is no longer just a trend but has become a core part of the Enterprise IT strategy. The way Enterprises leverage the Cloud is evolving from the Public Cloud to the Private Cloud and to a more Hybrid version today. The need to leverage Big Data and Analytics is making greater demands on the data storage and network infrastructure of the Enterprise. A greater reliance on Apps and sensors on data gathering and reporting mean the IT infrastructure has to be more mobile friendly. These technologies develop rapidly and present a moving target for the IT department to assess and address with speed and efficiency.

Security: In June 2015 UK’s Department of Business, Innovation and Skills, reported in its “Information Security Breaches Survey” that 90% of large organizations and as many as 74% of small organizations had suffered a data breach in 2014. The IT Infrastructure has to evolve to ensure the security and integrity of the data, both at rest and while in motion over the network.

Compliance: Compliance has become more onerous for Enterprises. The regulatory landscape is complex and dynamic and the degree of difficulty is even higher for Enterprises located across geographies. Enterprises need to hold themselves to very high standards of governance and these further increases the compliance burden as internal reporting and policy mechanisms get tightened. The need to give the Board transparent, real-time visibility into the operations of the whole Enterprise imposes a greater burden on all the IT systems. Data collection, filtering, analysis, reporting and dashboard creation becomes a core need and hence a significant challenge for the IT infrastructure.

Where does the answer lie?

IT departments in the Enterprise are faced with a double challenge – a more central and strategic role with a greater hand in the success as well as the failure of the Enterprise combined with a greater complexity in the IT operations. In this situation, they are turning to IT Operations Management to bring some order to this chaos. ITOM’s focus is on managing the overall IT infrastructure that forms the backbone for service delivery. In the context of the typical Enterprise today, this may include the networking infrastructure, the wide area and edge device connectivity, the data storage infrastructure, the applications and even the IT services delivered to the Enterprise. Enterprises are turning to ITOM software solutions to leverage their IT investments more efficiently and to address ongoing changes more easily. ITOM software can help to automate the processes associated with infrastructure provisioning, capacity utilization, performance management and ongoing maintenance of all the elements of the IT infrastructure.

How does ITOM Help Enterprise IT?

Enterprises are looking to implement ITOM to gain greater visibility and control over the various elements of their IT infrastructure. The objective is simplification for easier and more responsive management that enhances the Enterprise’s ability to deliver according to the plan. ITOM helps Enterprises to utilize their IT infrastructure more efficiently, to be more agile in response to external and internal needs and to improve the overall service and support delivery.

Here is how Enterprises leverage ITOM solutions:

Automate More: Automation is a key benefit delivered by ITOM. The various elements of the overall IT infrastructure that can be automated include the IT Service Management by the optimization of the service desk, the management of the data center including virtualized elements and the management of the network backbone. Automating these processes makes response faster, more effective and more efficient.

Monitor Better: ITOM allows the Enterprise to gather data from several data sources representing all the key elements of the IT infrastructure. This data can be analyzed and can then provide insights to the IT Operations on factors like loads, performance and user activities. This makes it easier to identify issues earlier, diagnose them and to then address them faster. ITOM also provides transparent visibility into the actual behavior of users and the issues that they face.

Manage Effectively: ITOM enables more efficient and effective management of the IT infrastructure by allowing a common management platform for the various different applications across the Enterprise. ITOM communicates with these applications at the API level and facilitates a degree of communication that allows faster decision making. ITOM also supports easier provisioning of resources like application licenses and cloud services based on analysis of the workloads.

Proactively Anticipate: The business and technology landscape changes very rapidly and the Enterprise has to be extremely agile to respond to such changes. Enterprises are leveraging ITOM to proactively anticipate the changes that may be needed to the IT infrastructure to address a business situation that is liable to change and to then use that insight to be ready when the anticipated change does occur.

The benefits to the Enterprises from ITOM are more transparent visibility, efficient utilization of the IT investment, more responsive provisioning of IT resources, easier issue isolation and better maintenance.

In Synopsis

Rapid technology change and an extremely demanding customer landscape is putting the IT infrastructure of Enterprises under extreme pressure. As IT becomes more central to the achievement of the business plans for the enterprise it becomes critically important for them to keep track of every infrastructure element at all times. In such an environment, to avoid potentially catastrophic disruptions in services and to ensure that the IT infrastructure is managed efficiently and effectively enterprises are finding an answer in IT Operations Management.

By Sheetal Kale

Cisco Discusses the Resilience of Cloud Strategy

Cisco Discusses the Resilience of Cloud Strategy

Cloud Strategy

With businesses and consumers relying on the public cloud more than ever, it’s important that market transparency and resilience is improved. Enrico Fuiano, Senior Solutions Marketing Manager, Cisco Cloud Marketing, takes a look at the resilience of cloud strategy noting that IT organizations have adopted cloud primarily in two distinct ways: some standardize cloud infrastructure to improve data center efficiencies, thus reducing total number of suppliers across their entire IT value chain; others instead implement a ‘best of breed’ tactic, applying complex and heterogeneous IT environments which allow for the optimization of IT infrastructures related to specific applications required. The question Fuiano asks is, as cloud service adoption increases, will the range of cloud providers being utilized by IT decision makers increase or decrease? The study sponsored by Cisco and completed by IDC highlights some significant results.

Multiple Cloud Providers

Sebastian Stadil CEOSuggests Scalr CEO Sebastian Stadil, “In most enterprises, multi-cloud infrastructure emerges as a result of organic adoption. One business unit, department or team uses AWS and another uses Azure and there you go: a multi-cloud organization...” But the IDC findings further note that mature organizations demand a diverse choice from multiple cloud providers based on policies, location, and governance principles. Moreover, those organizations best able to obtain the most value from cloud providers are increasing their enthusiasm for a diverse range of cloud providers.

Speaking exclusively with CloudTweaks, Fuiano states, “We continue to witness how sophisticated enterprise class environments rely on the use of multiple cloud providers to achieve their business objectives. The study that IDC conducted confirms that organizations prefer to put in place inherently resilient cloud strategies. This allows them to better mitigate risks and optimize their choice of cloud providers based on their specific IT service requirements...”

Facing the Challenges

Unfortunately, multi-cloud environments often increase complexity and managing a convoluted portfolio of cloud-based applications can be a challenge. Suggests Fuiano, Cisco CloudCenter application-centric technology assists multi-cloud users by allowing them to:

  • Build cloud-independent application profiles quickly and easily that define requirements for deployment and management of an entire application stack.
  • Deploy the application profile as well as related components and data to any cloud environment or data center with just one click.
  • Apply an extensive range of application lifecycle actions to set policies for in-place scaling, assist with cross-environment bursting or high availability and disaster recovery, and stop deployment.

Because cloud administration and governance are so important, it’s necessary for administrators to be able to centrally manage cloud accounts, regulate costs, and provide data regarding use. Says Fuiano, “IT organizations understand that their role has changed. They have to act as ‘brokers of IT services’ to deliver IT at a faster pace. The combination of Cisco CloudCenter with our Cloud Professional Services portfolio can enable our customers to make that transition. The key is to deliver application-centric services while maintaining central governance, security, and control…

For businesses utilizing the cloud efficiently, benefiting from a choice of contractual terms and transparent pricing as well as the assortment of tools and applications available, multi-cloud infrastructures are likely to dominate. However, the recent IDC global cloud study indicates that while cloud adoption has indeed achieved mainstream levels this year, with 68% of surveyed organizations already using either private or public cloud for more than a couple of small applications, less than 3% of organizations have implemented optimized cloud strategies. We’ve perhaps still a way to go before proficient multi-cloud strategies are the main order of the day, but top service providers are already gearing up to ensures organizations have the support they need when it’s required.

By Jennifer Klostermann

3 Reasons SaaS Providers Must Have An App Store

3 Reasons SaaS Providers Must Have An App Store

SaaS Providers and APIs

In the software-as-a-service (SaaS) industry, building an app store has moved from “nice to have” to a requirement. Most SaaS providers who go this route use application programming interfaces (API) to integrate with third-party apps. It has become the dominant way to exert some enterprise control over the apps employees get from sources outside the enterprise.

A Forrester Research report found that enterprise-specific apps were among the top five app categories by usage, but a report by Appboy found less than 25 percent of people return to an app the day after they initially install it. SaaS providers need to avoid becoming this statistic – having their apps downloaded and then not used beyond the first day. That’s why they keep beating the API drum.

However, simply stitching one app to another or to an enterprise doesn’t instantly grant increased usage. Employees aren’t motivated to use an integration just because it exists. Moreover, apps aren’t as standardized as one might hope. A Netskope survey has revealed that of the roughly 500 apps used in enterprises, 88 percent of them don’t meet enterprise readiness. In addition, 81 percent of data downloaded occurred in apps with no encryption of data at rest.

While it’s a given that cloud apps are being used in nearly every enterprise today, safe cloud enablement is by no means a ‘one-size fits all’ solution,” said Sanjay Beri, founder and chief executive officer at Netskope.

So, What’s a SaaS to Do?

To better serve enterprise customers, SaaS providers need to go beyond API integration into an ecosystem for their application. Essentially, they need their own app store.

An enterprise app store is essentially an online place where end users can access, download and install corporate-approved apps. These apps can include a mix of internally-built apps from the SaaS provider, its customers, or third-party apps from popular external app stores.

A SaaS Provider Case

SaaS Providers

For example, an enterprise file synch and share (EFSS) SaaS provider wants to helps its IT customers enforce content security and compliance. But, such a SaaS provider also needs to ensure better collaboration and productivity are selling points. In this way, all users win. IT gets the content security and governance it demands across the enterprise. Meanwhile, users see improved collaboration and productivity without security mechanisms getting in the way.

But, today third-party apps have gone from trickling into the enterprise to flooding it. Content is running amok and the EFSS solution can’t plug the gaps. SaaS providers have had to figure out a way to more closely integrate popular apps with core EFSS solutions. Having corporate-sanctioned apps that deeply integrate into the EFSS SaaS vendor’s product, well beyond what APIs can do, resolves this. From here, there are a few benefits.

Increase Visibility and Usage of Integrated Products

IT management might be able to peer into which content moved from its enterprise storage through an app and to where. This kind of insight is not just crucial for overarching content security and governance, it’s now vital business insight too. Organizations can glean valuable information about if content is being consumed as desired.

Every organization wants to be the center of attention with their employees, customers, partners and vendors. Apps can become a valuable medium for this. People interact with apps on average several hours a day. Building your own app store is a great way to sustain visibility with core audiences. Your app store can solicit app feedback and ratings just like big third-party apps stores do. This helps foster participation in your app community. It can help you stand out from the competition and increase loyalty, and more.

Provide a Unified Experience for Users that IT Can Control 

While securing and controlling content is an IT department’s primary concern, an enterprise user’s primary concern is just getting the job done with a good app. Often, this means a third-party app.

So, the SaaS provider must unify a user’s content experience, regardless of the device or app they prefer to use for the task at hand. This means creating corporate-sanctioned apps users favor. Obviously, this requires partnerships with popular enterprise app vendors.

Attract Partners and Build on Your Platform  

In the end, an app store is as good as the apps it offers. So, ensuring participation from other app providers will be crucial. The ecosystem should provide for high quality partner apps whose functionality is woven into the fabric of the SaaS platform at a molecular level.

Our hypothetical EFSS SaaS provider might need to support apps for document creation, sharing and editing. It might also be good to have apps for capturing signatures or other approval mechanisms, and a host of other related apps. In this case, direct integration with third party apps ultimately allows seamless and secure content access and visibility via the EFSS platform.

It’s Just How Business is Done

While APIs have blossomed in providing some form of app control for the enterprise, for SaaS vendors it’s no longer enough. They need to anchor an ecosystem for their application with an app store that provides best-in-class support for desktop, online and mobile app platforms. With the right app ecosystem, a SaaS provider can more closely unify their solution with the apps their IT customers need to support.

A successfully executed SaaS app store hinges on a SaaS provider’s ability to attract app partners to build on its platform. But with these challenges met, the SaaS provider and app providers can deliver value-added integration to IT customers while helping their IT customers create a unified and smooth experience for the end users who just want to work.

By Ronen Vengosh, Vice President of Business Development at Egnyte

The Myths Vs Facts of Governance, Risk and Compliance

The Myths Vs Facts of Governance, Risk and Compliance

Governance, Risk, Compliance

As disruptive technology changes the way businesses operate and communicate internally and externally, companies are facing increasing complexity of governance, compliance and risks. The need for a high degree of agility and transparency in the GRC program is imperative today. But organizations usually respond in a piecemeal way to these new pressures as these compete with the management’s time and available resources. The consummation of IT is also creating a bigger challenge for organizations to establish a comprehensive GRC program with proper governance structure enterprise-wide. The result is a haphazard collage of process monitoring and reporting tools that potentially increases costs and risks.

Governance, Risk, Compliance

Here are 5 myths that add mystery to the effective implementation of a GRC program with 5 supporting facts that work:

Myth: Mine is a small company, I don’t need any Governance processes in place!

Fact: Small companies who think they don’t need “governance” have unofficial governance in place. Governance really means, defining how the organization should get its work done. Defining what is expected of these processes are usually Policy and Procedures.

Myth: GRC is all about technology.

Fact: GRC in fact, is optimizing performance against an organization’s goals and objectives, while managing risks and being compliant. It’s about Principled Performance with the elimination of silos and fragmentation among organizations and processes involved in GRC.

Myth: The reactive, checkbox compliance mentality works best for an efficient GRC program.

Fact: An haphazard collage of silo-ed , reactive compliance measures potentially increase costs and risks. Your organization needs to take advantage of realtime service performance, security, and operational information to enable realtime risk assessment and finegrained business impact analysis.

Myth: Today, there are multiple disciplines under your organization’s GRC umbrella, each of which has their own internal processes, policies, and controls. It’s easy to manually achieve end to end visibility across this entire information space such that you reduce your risk exposure.

Fact: Manual is passe’. With manual processes you struggle to gain any sort of scientific- led visibility on your operational and risk posture. The time taken for your team to assess the dependencies across risks, compliance, business and operations is long.  As a result, your organization remains exposed to recurring compliance and audit failures, data breaches, IP losses, and service performance failures.

Myth: An optimal GRC management tool works wonders to your risk, compliance and governance processes.

Fact: There is no such thing as GRC management, only the management of GRC processes. To top it all, an automated cloud based service management platform to manage your GRC processes is a boon for your operating managers. It’s beneficial to get a single window 360 degree view across simultaneous processes, policies and controls. With service management you can extend your investments to break down siloes, operationalize integrated GRC, and enhance the efficiency and efficacy of your GRC.

An organization’s GRC approach has a dramatic positive impact on organizational effectiveness by providing a clear, unambiguous process and a single point of reference for the organization. Your GRC approach and the tools that help you achieve that should eliminate redundancy, duplicative software, hardware, training and rollout costs. The GRC process and approach you employ should provide you with a single source of truth for your employees, management and stakeholders.

By Sheetal Kale

Insights From AWS Reinvent: Three Steps To Ensure Cloud Propels Your Digital Business

Insights From AWS Reinvent: Three Steps To Ensure Cloud Propels Your Digital Business

Cloud Digital Business Success

It was an exhilarating experience at AWS invent, from learning about all the innovations by Amazon Web Services (AWS) through various sessions and discussing cloud monitoring and management challenges with hundreds of attendees at our booth. There has been a lot of coverage about “what” the AWS team had announced and the respective benefits.

But what are the key broader action items that you can take from the show?

Cloud Digital Business Success

Here are three of them:

Innovate first with the cloud to win:

Cloud promises more agility and operational efficiency than traditional IT. No wonder all the upcoming and disruptive startups are mostly based on the cloud. We saw several companies such as Twilio and Workday highlight how AWS enables their business to be disruptive. If you are trying to adopt the cloud in your enterprise, first identify new product or services as the initial candidates for the cloud. The new “project” is more likely to be a success since there are no risks associated with migration and the agility of the cloud would make it more likely to succeed. Getting a big win under your belt will make it easier for you to convince rest of the organization to use the cloud.

Break barriers to cloud adoption through a holistic hybrid management approach:

Once you have demonstrated success of cloud with your new project(s), you need to develop a holistic hybrid cloud and IT management approach. Let’s admit it, traditional IT is going to be around for some time. The better your cloud services can integrate and work seamlessly with your on premise resources or technologies, the easier would be cloud adoption. AWS recent partnerships with VMWare highlights how traditional vendors are working to make this happen. A hybrid approach can also help with the migration of additional resource to the cloud as you have end to end visibility and control to make the transition smoother.

Leverage end to end analytics to drive superior customer experience:

Customers and internal users today demand a relentless experience. They really don’t care about the hybrid, complex infrastructures that IT teams have to deal with. Andy Jassy talked about IT having “X-Ray vision” (AKA Analytics) as a necessity for understanding your customer needs. These analytics not only should span your cloud but also traditional infrastructure, providing insights across your entire application and infrastructure stack so you can proactively optimize experience to delight your customers.

How are you going about ensuring the successful adoption of cloud in your organization? Thoughts on using the above three strategies? Anything else I am missing? 

By Umair Khan

How Big Data Is Helping In Customer Service Environment

How Big Data Is Helping In Customer Service Environment

Customer Service Environment

Do you remember the last time you spoke to an agent over the phone seeking some help? Did you get the solution immediately or did it take some time to reach a convincing answer or solution?

The answers to these questions decide how intelligently your customer support system has been designed to face such challenges of the customer service and how effectively the customer data is being used with total focus on the customers.

The specificity in the service that is sought by an individual customer is a vital factor to maintain a good rapport of the customer service. The ability to answer such specific needs comes with a sheer understanding of the customer behavior. The existence of data is unavoidable and its importance is immense. The idea for good customer service lies in data analysis. It always helps to keep an innovative approach towards making good use of the customer data and bring corresponding changes, accordingly.

Customer data is the factor which helps to improve your services substantially and when data analysis gets involved, the behavior of the customers become more predictable. And predictability helps to manage things better. The productive insights coming from data, help to get expected results, provided the unstructured data of your company is given due worth and is utilized well.

Let’s look at the scenario in more detail and understand that how data plays a crucial role in the customer service environment.

Giving Shape To The Bulk Of Data

Data comes involuntarily on every step taken in business as well as by customer activity. This bulk of unstructured data gives many cues for innovations in the contemporary business environment. But you have to acquire the right tools to analyze this bulk of data and get meaningful results out of it. Today we have tools that help us analyze the unstructured data towards meaningful deductions. Most of the businesses are dependent on such data for better results.

So application of analytics helps you to understand patterns and trends that customers are looking for in the customer support environment.

Furthermore, intelligent data analysis also leads to powerful customer insights. A seamless customer experience is a matter of understanding the customers well and prepare a plan to respond with them effectively. The accumulated data supports and structures this plan.

Data And The CRM Strategies

A 2014 Gartner report suggested that 50% of CRM programs failed to meet client expectations. The same is true in old time as well. A company uses CRM tools to make a point that every aspect of good customer service should be taken into consideration for the best possible strategies. It also helps in taking the most efficient steps ahead of the benefits of the company.

The proliferation of the software industry and start-ups led many companies towards instant results. So most of the companies integrated CRM tools in their system without knowing that it was not on par, as the insights from data didn’t show up aptly and didn’t help to bring any meaningful changes. The supreme reason behind it was, they didn’t use the customer data effectively.

With the arrival of cloud technology, call center software came into existence and virtual call centers took shape. With specific details related to the customers that can be easily integrated into the company’s CRM, one can find an immediate solution to help the customers with much better customer support. Because the data is already there, the best one can do is, use it.

Customers differ in their interests and preferences for the same reason, it is necessary to give individual attention to the customers. While the customers avail the services they give many cues regarding, how efficient the services are and more. A data driven customer relationship management becomes crucial to maintain a sound customer support.

Individual Customer Preferences

Most of the companies have a huge bulk of unstructured data , it’s their ability to reap the benefits out of it, which decides their efficiency for purposeful customer engagement. The data that is collected to help know the customers individually and provides a medium to the service provider to restructure and redesign the services to its best potential.

Customer Service Environment

The best possible way to keep the performance of customer service high, depends on how effectively the customer choices and preferences are taken care of, by giving attention to the minute details related to the customers. By keeping an eye on the individual customers with the help of complex analysis of data, the scenario becomes more and more customer centric.

Virtual call centers have gradually turned out to be very meaningful in this stake as they work on a Call center software that uses meaningful deduction out of the data.

If the agent-customer conversation has more specific details related to the individual customers then customer specific points are brought in during the conversation that eventually lead to favorable results like sales acceleration and a better customer retention.

Data Is The Base Of Today’s Customer Service

The customer related data is the base of today’s customer service environment and because of the same reason the best ideas of the customer benefits are the ones that totally depend on the results of data that give forward-looking insights about customer service.

Virtual call center tools use the customer related data and keep the deductions applicable for the best possible solution, that too without much wastage of time. Nowadays the virtual call centers using their data effectively have tremendous competitive advantage over others who are lagging behind in the usage of data.

On a Final Note

Data is crucial and so is the way to handle it. Cloud technology is one of the best ways that has shown relevance to use this data productively. Cloud is undoubtedly the best solution for usage and retrieval of data.

Innovation depends on the results that one can rely on and these results totally depend on effective usage of data. In this current scenario, it is not affordable to miss out on the importance of big data that has great potential to face contemporary challenges, successfully.

By Kirti Khanna

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