Category Archives: Education

How To Overcome The Challenges of User Onboarding and Ensure Cloud ERP Adoption

How To Overcome The Challenges of User Onboarding and Ensure Cloud ERP Adoption

Onboarding and Ensure Cloud ERP Adoption

In one of my previous articles I discussed the top challenges any organization must overcome when adopting a cloud ERP. I explained that, although each organization has specific challenges, there are 5 key challenges that manifest in different degrees in any type of organizations.

These are:

  1. Identifying the optimum architectural and licensing models
  2. Requirements in Hybrid Environments
  3. Customization
  4. Change Management
  5. User Onboarding and Training

In this article I will focus on techniques you can use to overcome the challenges of user onboarding and adoption.

Studies show that in countries with dynamic labor markets there is a clear pattern of underinvestment in training. Companies do not invest because they believe that their employees will just move on and the investment will be lost. So they just hire ‘trained’ replacement staff and the cycle accelerates. The problem with this approach is that one company’s implementation of an ERP system will be very different to another company’s implementation of the same software. Processes will be different and the skills that carry-over will be few. ‘Learning on the job’ and the inefficiency that ensues is a significant cost. Clearly, under-investing in training on core enterprise systems would be a mistake, but it still happens all too frequently.

training

Set up a formal Change Management Program

This will provide the framework for the ‘soft’ aspects of the migration/ implementation. The usual rule of engaging a visible high-level champion should not be ignored. Use modern methods such as social media to reinforce messages and build project momentum and user engagement.

Match the Training Method to the Worker and the Application

The type of application, the sophistication of the end-user audience and the geographic distribution of the users will create different demands. Consider options such as self-paced learning, just-in-time training and online training (as well as classroom training.)

Keep Training Sessions Short

Best-practice organizations limit end-user training to half-day sessions. Longer sessions impair retention, particularly when the system is difficult to use. Seek opportunities to segment the learning process into basic and advanced topics, with some time between sessions to allow users to absorb and practice what they’ve learned.

Create an Enterprise Training Portal

Maintaining all training courses and knowledge bases in a single location makes them easier to catalogue, use and keep up-to-date.

Similarly, place all course schedules, frequently asked questions, user tips and fixes, cheat sheets, links to third-party websites, and so on in easy-to-find locations on the corporate website. The cloud revolution has made it easy to use one of many excellent solutions available in the market today.

Don’t Rule Out Outsourcing Training to a Third Party

Third-party trainers can be an effective option to avoid devoting internal head count to training. However, the cost can be high for on-site delivery and the quality of training can vary widely across topics, geographies and vendor products.

Use Flexible 3rd Party Onboarding Toolsets

The advent of cloud enterprise systems has enabled the creation of a new family of onboarding tools – the ‘workplace assistant’. These toolsets can provide economic, individual task-based handholding. The advantages are that time assigned (off the job) for individual training is reduced, training is highly context and data specific and the investment in individual training is minimized while the loss of knowledge capital is also minimized.

A common issue with many onboarding tools is that they detract from the flow onscreen. There are now second generation of onboarding tools that use contextual guidance algorithms and non-intrusive onscreen displays. This lowers the barrier for training by reducing the amount of interruptions to flow by having a cleaner interface.

ERP Training as an Ongoing Process

Earlier I stressed the advantages of keeping training sessions short. This works only with continuous learning long time after initial training is completed. Continuous learning allows constant organic growth among employees, which later on increases the productivity of the company.

Cloud ERP brings with it agility and timely updates and customizations.  As new software features are being updated, or new company processes implemented, continuous learning becomes even more critical. Especially if your “experts” with vast ERP knowledge leave your team, and are no longer there to help out when needed.

By Boaz Amidor

Cloud Security Risks: The Top 8 According To ENISA

Cloud Security Risks: The Top 8 According To ENISA

Cloud Security Risks

Does cloud security risks ever bother you? It would be weird if it didn’t. Cloud computing has a lot of benefits, but also a lot of risks if done in the wrong way.

So what are the most important risks? The European Network Information Security Agency did extensive research on that, and identified 35 risk categories. This analysis is used by a number of players in the industry, including certain banking regulators. From those 35, ENISA has selected 8 as the most relevant ones. This article explains them, not in any particular order. (And by the way: ENISA is pronounced as ‘eniesa’, not ‘enaiza’).

Cloud Security Risks

Loss of governance

As a cloud consumer you need to be sufficiently in control of your IT systems. If the cloud service agreement does not give you the proper tools, you have a problem. Example: you should be able to make a backup of your important data and get it out of the cloud provider system.

Lock-in

Can you move your data and processes from one provider to another? It will always take you effort, but how much? On the infrastructure level it may be fairly straightforward to move to a different provider, but it may be significantly more expensive to move to a different CRM (Customer Relationship Management) system. Don’t get too scared though; remember that most companies have gone through similar projects before there was cloud.

Isolation failure

Cloud computing, by definition, is about sharing resources: i.e. processing capacity. Now if one tenant (cloud word for customer) can influence another’s resources that is considered isolation failure. One example is starving a tenant of CPU power. Another is hacking into another tenant’s virtual machine (which is pretty hard, by the way). A third example is leaking information between tenants, which happened to DropBox a while ago.

Compliance risks

A lot of cloud consumers need to demonstrate that they take proper care of their data, for example because it contains credit card numbers. If your cloud provider does not help you with that, you are in trouble.

Management interface compromise

This is another of those ‘risk-speak’ jargon expressions. You probably control your cloud usage through some portal over the internet, which potentially allows cloud security risks and a bad guy from anywhere in the world access.

Data protection

This is similar to compliance risks. Can you check that all data is handled in a lawful way? Are you sure that their back end providers do the same? Certification can go a long way towards demonstrating that, by the way.

Insecure or incomplete data deletion

You are asking your cloud provider to store your data safely, which they probably do by making multiple copies. Then you ask them to delete that same data. That might be hard, as it probably is on multiple disks that are shared with other customers, so they cannot simply shred the hard disks. This problem is not very unique to cloud by the way. You may have it with your own servers, printers and copying machines, all of which contain a lot of storage.

Malicious insider

In a cloud provider you have a number of people who may have extreme powers because they can look at all data. One well know ridesharing website had implemented and used a ‘God View’, in which one person could look at all the data.

If you are evaluating cloud solutions, it makes great sense to take a look at each of these eight risk categories first, to see how you and your cloud provider would be handling them. In enough cases cloud providers are demonstrably good enough at this, which you can find out by analyzing their documentation and reports.

More cloud risks are elaborated in the CCSK (Certificate of Cloud Security Knowledge) body of knowledge. The ENISA research is part of that. For more information on that certification you can visit http://www.ccsk.eu.

Peter H.J. van Eijk

Selling Your Business To Your Employees

Selling Your Business To Your Employees

Mobility For Your Employees

It may seem a radical notion, the idea of selling your business to the people who work for you, but this is the era in which we now work. Employees of all levels are all incredibly aware of their options when it comes to mobility and employability. This doesn’t mean that jobs are falling out of the trees like fruit. Good jobs are still hard to find, but they are not “as” hard to find. A plethora of career websites and social media portals are available, giving motivated people great control over their personal career path. For CIOs this means adding an extra layer of internal sales to ensure employees remain engaged, productive, and present.

A significant development in this regard has to do with the devices employees use at work. The company issued laptop and phone just don’t cut it anymore. There is less prestige in lugging around a device that you don’t really like, and which doesn’t really fit; especially when the one you do like, the one you spent your own money to buy works better. Especially too, when the space between work and home is so conveniently bridged by the cloud.

BYOD

byod

The desire to use personal technology at work is called “Bring Your Own Device” (BYOD), and it presents a dilemma for employers. On the one hand, the ease of use of a personally chosen device tends to increase engagement and productivity. But it does do at a price, primarily in terms of its potential as a security threat. Personal devices are generally woefully under-protected. Many devices lack adequate anti-virus related technologies, and their users enjoy the convenience of cloud-based storage tools such as DropBox, iCloud and Onedrive. Such online repositories make it very convenient to deposit company files, and although they offer significant levels of encryption and protection, it might not be so easy to certify where in the world the data is being stored, which can lead to legal and compliance problems for an employer.

CYOD

CYOD

Some employers are testing out a solution to this personal device problem by offering up a range of devices for employees to choose from, a technique called Choose Your Own Device (CYOD). This procedure gives employees access to the iPads, tablets, Chromebooks and smartphones they prefer, but which have been topped up with the appropriate security apps and protocols to ensure a company’s safety.

That such a procedure has to be enacted is a sign of the times. Where, in earlier years, employees would simply take what they were given, this no longer applies. Today’s professionals expect a level of work-life balance that matches their personal goals, and having access to technology is included in this.

Tables Are Turning

employee

(Image Source: Shutterstock)

The tables have turned in business and the customer is the new boss. Companies must now focus on an audience of one, providing customized experiences for each – this is the new mantra. But few employers have taken the step of seeing their employees as customers also. But they are. An employee trades time and talent for a job and a salary. It may not have always seemed this way, but more and more professionals are recognizing this about themselves, and these numbers increase as the newer generations enter – and make an impact – on the workforce and on the economy.

A new entrepreneurial mindset is required in which subsets of a company, such as the IT department, are no longer seen – or see themselves – as cost centers, but instead see themselves as a business unto themselves, buying and selling to visibly generate profit. As such, just like any competitive business, a department must now turn to disruptive technologies and innovative practices to attract and retain key talent.

According to an IBM 2013 Global C-Suite study entitled, “Moving from the back office to the front lines: CIO insights from the Global C-suite Study,

  • 70% of CIOs expect to work with a wider group of partners in the future, and they’re doing so in order to generate greater strategic and business value, rather than increase efficiency or reduce costs. They’re also focusing on putting in tools to facilitate effective internal collaboration. CIOs in outperforming enterprises are in the vanguard of this movement:
  • 82 percent aim to install social business tools to help employees and partners pool their brains, compared with just 69 percent of CIOs in underperforming enterprises.
  • Mobile technologies play a big part in their plans. Most CIOs want to cater to the needs of the growing number of employees who work outside a traditional office setting. They also have an eye on the opportunities for improving productivity.

What many executives are noticing, is that transitioning to this new entrepreneurial approach to workplace technology is not an albatross. Rather than slowing down progress and increasing costs, the technologies that are available on employees’ preferred devices are making things work better: better collaboration tools, communication tools, time management tools and more. These companies are discovering that by allowing a square peg to choose a square hole, more can actually get done.

This post is brought to you by The CIO Agenda.

KPMG LLP is a Delaware limited liability partnership and is the U.S. member firm of the KPMG network of independent member firms affiliated with KPMG International Cooperative (“KPMG International”), a Swiss entity. The KPMG name, logo and “cutting through complexity” are registered trademarks or trademarks of KPMG International. The views and opinions expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views and opinions of KPMG LLP.

By Steve Prentice

Cloud Infographic – 21st Century Schools

Cloud Infographic – 21st Century Schools

Cloud Infographic – 21st Century Schools

Teachers have existed since the beginning of time and the practices used by modern instructors have been tried and tested over hundreds of years. Yet now we have cloud linked computers that are changing the way we do business and the way we learn. Students are becoming more versed in technology than even the instructors, so how can we keep up with this increase in technological knowledge?

Knowledge is the rising commodity in our age and being able to instruct and share that knowledge is becoming even more valuable. Here is a snapshot from Nova Southeastern University of a few ways technology is revolutionizing the way we, our children and our children’s children will be taught.
21st-Century-Schools

By Sam Hudgins

 

How To Keep A Cloud (And Your Data) Inside Your Borders

How To Keep A Cloud (And Your Data) Inside Your Borders

The Cloud And Your Data

One of the greatest challenges for companies considering a move to the cloud is in its very global and seemingly borderless nature. As an Internet-based technology, it is easy to assume that any data sent from A to B can take any one of a thousand paths, routed through cities and countries according to the whim of the network itself. But for many organizations this is not good enough. Compliance and intellectual property laws affect a number of industries, and require, among other things, that data will be stored inside the country in which the company or department does business. Any violation of these laws can have severe consequences.

Yet at the same time, cloud deployment represents an economic and highly versatile method of storing data, communicating with clients and operating mission-critical applications. Economic and reliable, yes, but where is it all, exactly?

Power By Numbers – Four thousand Hybrid Cloud and IaaS Powered Providers

The people at VMware are addressing this challenge with the VMware vCloud Air Network, a global collection of almost four thousand Hybrid Cloud and IaaS Powered service providers located in more than one hundred countries, who can deliver hybrid cloud expertise to a local client base, and with it, the assurance of locally-stored cloud data; a concept called Data Sovereignty.

Built on the VMware vSphere virtualization platform, the VMware vCloud Air Network seeks to introduce a level of validated quality and reliability through this global network of partners.

This approach addresses a concern that has been held by IT managers and CxO’s for all the years of the cloud’s existence: allowing both data and the activity of IT to leave the four walls of a company’s place of business. This speaks to a traditional mindset that keeping things in-house makes them safer. This sometimes has to do with the fact that when computers and network systems are physically resident in-house, it is easy and somewhat reassuring to walk into the server room and see all the blinking lights. However, this is no longer as possible as it once was, given the cost of acquisition and maintenance of computer systems, plus the people required to run and upgrade them.

Security Benefits Through Globally-Dispersed Service Providers

data-cloud

Ongoing security is also an issue. Keeping a network safe from malware, hacking, DDoS attacks and similar threats is a full-time job which requires constant vigilance. Numerous organizations that have outsourced their data and storage needs to cloud providers have done so in order to delegate the responsibility to reliable, certified people who not only make it their business to understand the technology, but who also understand the industry, the laws, as well as the country, culture and language in which the client operates. This becomes one of the benefits of using globally-dispersed service providers. The client can meet them and talk to them. They are nearby.

It is important to recognize that the comfort in knowing a company’s data is safe within the borders of its home country doesn’t limit itself to the static storage phase. Transit between points is equally crucial, which is why the VMware vSphere virtualization platform allows for easy movement back and forth between a company’s own virtualized environment and its hybrid cloud environment, all the while being able to account for its paths of travel.

It is these types of innovations that allow IT managers the chance to sleep a little better at night, knowing the cloud holding their data is hovering nearby.

This post is brought to you by the VMware vCloud Air Network.

By Steve Prentice

Big Data College Education

Big Data College Education

Big Data’s Use In Colleges

Much has been written about how Big Data and cloud computing can be used for diversifying educational learning platforms. For example, Big Data is being used to track students’ academic performance and alert them and their supervisors to falling grades, attendance or both. Even before the future students pack their bags, universities offer them possible learning paths, before and on campus–the University of Georgia, for example, predicts on which majors a student is likely to succeed based on performance on past courses.

Other universities are also quick to leverage this data analysis phenomenon–after all, they were never really short on data about their students in the first place. What’s really putting colleges on the edge now, though, is the shifting education landscape. With President Obama’s new ‘value ratings’ system to set to work next year, higher education establishments are forced to become more efficient, and soon, to qualify for government aid. Eventually, the goal is to “Hold students and colleges receiving student aid responsible for making progress toward a degree.” The stakes are thus rather high.

arizona state

Universities pioneering in Big Data, like the Arizona State University, are long employing analytics tools that help both students and their supervisors. A.S.U’s eAdvisor system, in place for seven years already, has helped achieve substantial increase in lower-income students’ graduation rates–from 41 to 26 percent–over the past three years. They achieved this partly by using eAdvisor to notify the students and their advisors if the former are straying away from the path to a degree.

Similarly, Marist College in Poughkeepsie New York has implemented an early warning system that can indicate, three weeks into a course, if a student will have problems finishing. The system works by collecting online learning breadcrumbs, much like Facebook and Google do, to see how much attention a student is paying to the course. Within two to three weeks, they know with a 75% certainty whether someone will have trouble keeping up. In order to help the students, they send an email to the professor teaching a course so that the student can be helped privately. Before, the students themselves received an email, but many of them panicked and dropped the course, making the ‘social smarts’ aspect in such software rather evident.

That’s the usual caveat with data, big or otherwise. It’s as good as the people using it. A university with poor personnel can get better using Big Data, but, with the new regulations, this alone may well not warrant the survival of the institution. Notifications about failing grades can remind a student about her duties, but a heart to heart with a real human being can do much more–if both parties are equally interested, of course.

(Image Source: Shutterstock)

By Lauris Veips

5 Surprising Ways Cloud Computing Is Changing Education

5 Surprising Ways Cloud Computing Is Changing Education

Cloud Computing Education

The benefits of cloud computing are being recognized in businesses and institutions across the board, with almost 90 percent of organizations currently using some kind of cloud-based application. The immediate benefits of cloud computing are obvious: cloud-based applications reduce infrastructure and IT costs, increase accessibility, enable collaboration, and allow organizations more flexibility in customizing their products both for their brand and for their audience. But cloud computing is having other effects as well, which have the potential to greatly change how education works, both in online courses and in traditional classrooms.

Here are five surprising ways cloud computing is changing education:

1. No more expensive textbooks. It’s no secret that university-level textbooks are expensive. The cost of textbooks has outpaced the cost of virtually everything else in education, including tuition. As a result, many students are simply refusing to buy them. Cloud-based textbooks can solve this problem as digital content is significantly less expensive than printed content. This levels the playing field so that lower-income students can have the same access to quality learning materials as their higher-income counterparts. Currently, higher education institutions across the United States are piloting an e-textbook program involving 50 publishers and close to 30,000 textbooks.

2. No more outdated learning materials. In the K-12 arena, the problem of expensive textbooks means that many of the materials students are using are outdated. The average social studies book in elementary and junior high schools is seven to eleven years old, which means that the world maps in these books are no longer correct. With cutbacks in school budgets, many districts, especially in less affluent areas, simply can’t afford to replace these outdated resources. Cloud-based materials are easy to update in real time so that students always have access to the most current learning resources.

3. No expensive hardware required. Cloud-based applications can be run on Internet browsers, but most are compatible with mobile devices as well. This means that schools and students do not necessarily need to own expensive computers—a $50 smartphone can access these applications just as well as a $500 laptop. Students also don’t need to purchase external storage devices as there are plenty of companies, like Google, that offer free cloud-based storage.

4. No expensive software required. One of the biggest advantages of cloud-based computing is the software-as-a-service (SaaS) model. Many software programs are now available either free or on a low-cost subscription basis, which substantially lowers the cost of essential applications for students. For example, instead of purchasing a single Microsoft Office student license for $140, students and their families can purchase a cloud-based subscription for five computers and five mobile devices for only $10 per month. Even better, they can use Google Docs for free. Institutions can also save big by using SaaS applications—traditional learning management systems can cost upwards of $50,000 or more, but cloud-based learning management systems like ProProfs’ Training Maker are available starting at $60 a month with no per-user fee.

5. Reaching more, and more diverse, students. Cloud computing opens up a world of new possibilities for students, especially those who are not served well by traditional education systems. For example, until education moved online, the options for adult students who didn’t finish high school were very limited—now these students can earn their diploma or GED online. There are many other types of students for whom a traditional school environment simply doesn’t work, and these students now have many options for pursuing alternative forms of education.

In these and other ways, cloud computing is not only reducing costs, but also creating an environment where all students can have access to high-quality education and resources. Whether you are an administrator, a teacher, a student, or the parent of a student, now is a great time to explore how cloud-based applications can benefit you, your children, and your school.

By Sameer Bhatia

Cloud Infographic – Digital Classrooms Are Far More Than A Reality

Cloud Infographic – Digital Classrooms Are Far More Than A Reality

Digital Classrooms Are Far More Than A Reality

The principle goal of education is to create men and women who are capable of doing new things, not simply repeating what other generations have done.” – Jean Piaget

With the predominance of modern technological applications in all spheres of life, it is hardly possible to imagine a classroom deprived of high-tech trends. Day by day, modern education feels how important it is to be able to keep up with the challenges existing in the modern world of technology and science. Naturally enough, the outdated looks over education and classroom life are rapidly being replaced by the innovations of our digital age.

Modern students use more and more digital devices and applications for classroom use. Students turn to their tablets, laptops and smartphones to find practical solutions to accomplish their in-class research and assignments, or to communicate with their professors and take the necessary notes. Increasingly, government organizations and educational institutions, companies and research centers keep on focusing on the rise of digital educational materials and products all over the world.

Today’s digital world tends to cultivate more originality and creativity among students. Modern students need more independence and self-reliance. Thus, they are looking forward to digital classrooms that will serve their classroom needs through fingerprint solutions and electronic textbooks, and will help them conduct their student and campus life more easily.

Find an interesting infographic below provided by Mightyskins.com

The-Digital-Classroom

 

By Lilit Melkonyan

CloudTweaks Comics
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The Industries That The Cloud Will Change The Most

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The Future Of Cloud Storage And Sharing…

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Cloud Infographic – Interesting Big Data Facts

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Cloud Security Risks: The Top 8 According To ENISA

Cloud Security Risks: The Top 8 According To ENISA

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Infographic Introduction – Benefits of Cloud Computing

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Cost of the Cloud: Is It Really Worth It?

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5 Ways The Internet of Things Will Drive Cloud Growth

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Disaster Recovery And The Cloud

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Cloud-Based or On-Premise ERP Deployment? Find Out

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Cloud Security Risks: The Top 8 According To ENISA

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How Formal Verification Can Thwart Change-Induced Network Outages and Breaches

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