Category Archives: Technology

Who’s Ready For The Cloud, And Can Deliver!

Who’s Ready For The Cloud, And Can Deliver!

Cloud Ready

In my article last month, I discussed how the managed service provider (MSP) industry has been continuously urged to embrace the cloud, but in the end, could they? I answered the questions by describing several impediments and challenges that I believe are preventing MSPs from generating significant revenue and successfully fulfilling their client’s and prospect’s demands for cloud services. And although I painted a bleak picture of the current MSP business model’s ability to adopt cloud services as a viable business choice, I also indicated that other IT business models are more than capable of effectively utilizing cloud services as a revenue source and are threatening to disrupt and supplant managed service providers (MSPs) that built their businesses implementing or hosting IT infrastructure.

managed-services

But before the big reveal, let’s look at some statistical background that is the foundation of this trend. According to a recent Techaisle analysis and published infographic (2015 Top 10 SMB Business Issues, IT Priorities and IT Challenges), cloud computing, social media, mobility solutions and collaboration are the four highest SMB priorities for 2015 – areas not typically or easily serviced by MSPs.

Further, increasing profitability, business growth, reducing operational costs and attracting and retaining new customers are the top four SMB business issues – areas that require the assistance of a “trusted business advisor.” And while managed services were only a mid-level IT Priority, the MSP “darlings” – server virtualization and converged infrastructures – fell to the low end of the list.

Let’s look at the data from another SMB infographic clip supplied by the NJ Institute of Technology:

cloud-smb

Notice the cross-section of business and IT functions that SMBs are focusing cloud technologies on. IT infrastructure / Server technologies are not in the top 10 functions. As the infographic shows, the focused and wholesale adoption of cloud services looks to significantly reduce the IT infrastructure footprints of SMBs, Midcaps, as well as Enterprise companies by directly solving business needs.

Point of evolution for managed service providers

As a result, I believe that managed services are at the beginning of a transition from generalist to specialist firms that will play out over the next few years. The variety and depth of managed services will make it difficult for non-specialists (general IT management firms) to keep pace with IT provider specialists. Look at the SMB and Mid-Market channels, what do you see? Firms are focusing hard on their core competencies, and need IT to be just as agile and focused to build the business. The growth of the cloud is threatening to disrupt many managed service providers (MSPs) who built their businesses implementing or hosting IT infrastructure. So for me, the data is clearly revealing that cloud services has created a point of evolution for managed service providers: they can be infrastructure focused to all their clients and prospects today, but not in 2018. There’s no room for being an expense!

So who can meet the latter trends “head-on” and surpass the current MSP business model while – at the same time – become integral business partners with their clients? 

See Part 2

By Tony Pagano

Dealing With White-collar Cyberloafers

Dealing With White-collar Cyberloafers

White-collar Cyberloafers

One particular compliance problem with cyber security is how to deal with employees idling in the office and misusing company Internet resources. This can lead to security issues such as worms, viruses, spyware and loss of the reputation for the company network. On some level this kind of problem can be seen to belong to the past early years of networking when white-collar workers were newly equipped with browsers and all the fun they bring along. But the issue of employees taking advantage of company resources, time or other privileges for personal gain has always existed. Now, the introduction of the personal communication equipment into the workplace has once again made the discussion relevant. And a wide array of studies has been published about how to deter cyberloafers.

white-collar

The fact that such studies neglect to pay attention to the prevalence of the issue in the pre-Internet era highlights contemporary concerns about identifying the governance of the networked equipment, whether on a personal, organizational or state level. In a way, the research and the topic itself contributes to the building of modern cyber identities and attachments by the organization, or other self-proclaimed sovereigns, in the cyber-age. This also forms part of the thinking that would transform societies and organizations from industrial entities into mere service networks, as it aims to establish organizational governance for a phenomena which was not developed for the organization but imposed from outside.

The Machinery of Business

machinery-business

Some studies have highlighted the positive aspects of personal use of communication technologies in the workplace, mostly for recreational purposes and as an important means for personal recovery (Ivarsson, Larsson 2012). However, this notion presumes the stressful nature of the work, thus building upon the old industrial idea that sees people as mere resources in the machinery of business. While other studies on the subject concentrate more on the issue of ensuring compliance (thus recognizing and imposing the authority of the organization), Ivarsson aims to highlight the idea that the use of personal communication equipment in the office is part of the overall process of change in our understanding of the nature of work. Aiming to limit and forbid its usage is therefore like forbidding people to have a cup of coffee or taking a holiday every now and then.

Holiday

Ivarsson represents the school of thought that considers changing workplace culture, but also changes in organizations and the business environment as a whole. In fact, he concludes by suggesting that the need to govern the personal use of networked resources should be put into context. For example, the nature of the work needs to be balanced against the need to protect against harmful effects of having access to hostile network resources, or even the possibility of illegal activity.

When considering the nature of cyberloafing, or other employee misbehaviours, one must reflect on the structure of the organization, its relation to society as a whole, and its represented ethical and moral values. As other studies have pointed out, idling might be a result of unjust behaviour on the part of the organization itself. If employees have no agency, or the means to just leave, they must find a way to protest silently (Lim 2002, 10.1002/job.161). In these kinds of situations simply punishing employees might not be the way to go.

Sources: IVARSSON, Larsson, J. WORKPLACE RIGHTS, Vol. 16(1) 63-81, 2011-2012

(Image Source: Shutterstock)

By Kristo Helasvuo

Digital Healthcare And Cutting-Edge Technologies

Digital Healthcare And Cutting-Edge Technologies

Digital Healthcare – The Healthcare Revolution

Opportunities in digital healthcare abound, and 2015 sees more developments reaching the mainstream. The break-fix model of medicine is now being replaced with the predict-and-prevent model of medicine that combines cutting-edge technology with detective work, and addresses the root of afflictions while staving off future issues by encouraging lifestyle and behavioural changes, and preventative practices.

Wearable HealthcareWearable Tech was one of the first areas in which digitization was used in healthcare. Pedometers and heart monitors have been around for a while, allowing people to track the functions of their bodies and encourage themselves to behave in healthier ways. Smart watches enable users to monitor even more stats and generate a tremendous amount of data which can be used in conjunction with medical records, doctors, and hospitals to provide better care and more personalized service.

Akana has recently introduced an API-Driven digital healthcare solution to enhance interoperability of patient data through FHIR-ready APIs, and connectivity to propriety data sources. This solution helps healthcare organizations become secure and digitally interoperable and leverages the Health Level Seven International Fast Healthcare Interoperability Resources standard allowing broader business use of medical data. Developed in response to the healthcare organisations’ need to increase electronic, multi-device access to heath records while reducing operation costs as well as complying with government regulations, Arkana CTO, Alistair Farquharson, states “APIs are key to interoperable healthcare, and in general, to a healthcare organization’s success in this consumer-led, connected world.”

In other news, CVS Health Corp. recently formed new partnerships to bolster its footprint in digital healthcare services. The aim is to enhance patient access to high-quality healthcare services and improve medication adherence – particularly for those with chronic illnesses. Important patient information will be exchanged allowing comprehensive monitoring of patient conditions, facilitating better treatment. Patients will have greater access to clinical support, chronic disease monitoring, wellness programs, and medication counseling, and this collaboration will enable joint strategies for high-quality healthcare services. This is not CVS Health’s first exploration into such clinical affiliations and considering the global digital health market is predicted to grow from $60.8 billion in 2013 to $233.3 billion in 2020, such initiatives are likely to provide benefits to patients as well as affiliated investors.

The Healthcare Revolution

A healthcare revolution is upon us, with digitization offering access to a greater volume and higher quality of data. New devices are also emerging, such as smart clothing, smart tattoos, and smart contact lenses, accessories becoming more affordable and attractive, and devices providing better access to data. Today, physicians can track their patients post-discharge, healthcare providers can respond more quickly to the status of a patient’s health, insurance companies are using data to create better risk management models, and pharmaceutical companies are using data to better monitor clinical trials and perform studies on side effects. Enabling Data as a Service for Healthcare Providers covers some of the significant developments in this area and further delves into the opportunities of the data explosion.

By Jennifer Klostermann

Explosive Growth Of Data-Driven Marketing

Explosive Growth Of Data-Driven Marketing

Data-Driven Marketing

There is an absolute endless amount of data that is being accumulated, dissected, analyzed with the important bits extracted and used for a number of purposes.

With the amount of data in the world has already reached into multiple zettabytes annually. A Zettabyte is one million petabytes or one thousand exabytes. With data creation doubling every three years (according to Cisco, among others), we will reach an unthinkable yottabyte by the year 2040.  Read More

Areas such as Fintech and Marketing are just a couple of industries that will be making a concerted effort at landing that next big data scientist helping to catapult their company. As you can see below (Image source:ey.com), there are many moving parts in Fintech which will be accumulating, sharing, processing all sorts of data 24/7. Look for many new Fintech SaaS startups utilizing cloud APIs to plug into this growing and lucrative financial market.

fintech-landscape

With Digital Marketing, there is clearly a growing need for big data experts in this area. As you can see in the infographic below discovered at Yieldr, 1/3 Marketers in Europe and North America say their ability to analyze data as being poor. This will change with the number of new cloud based educational programs provided online.

Data-marketing-Infographic

Making The Most Of Your Digital Marketing In The Cloud

Making The Most Of Your Digital Marketing In The Cloud

Digital Marketing In The Cloud 

Last week, Vladimir Putin made the news once again, this time gazing out of the transparent sitting deck of a partly submerged submarine. Previously captured shirtless on a horse, Putin is apparently making the most of digital marketing and has been mentioned on Twitter 5.87 million times in the last 12 months – and that’s only in the English language. What’s more, 72% of these comments were neutral, and only 17% negative. So while he might not be using digital marketing as effectively as he could be, we do all know who he is. In more positive applications of digital marketing, Foursquare has stated that it has 50 million users logging onto their mobile discovery app at least once a month, and a comScore report found that consumers are spending 90% more time with digital media on smartphones in 2015 than they were in 2013.

Have You Got a Plan?

Marketing Plan

Unless you’re the trusted witch doctor in your rural village in the Transkei, you would undoubtedly benefit from digital marketing – and even if you are currently providing sea water solutions to the sick, a little Facebook advertising probably won’t hurt.

First things first, you need a solid strategy, and here’s why:

  • Provide Direction: Creating a plan enables you to set clear goals that you can then allocate resources to and evaluate for effectiveness.
  • Know your Online Market Share: By researching customer demand for online services, you gain an awareness of your online marketplace and its dynamics. Understanding customer and competitor profiles can ensure your marketing is successful.
  • Know your Online Customers: Knowing your customers personally requires a lot more than basic Google Analytics, and you need access to customer comment and feedback to create a clearly stated online customer value proposition.
  • Integrate It: Be sure to integrate your digital marketing with your traditional media – it’s more effective this way.
  • Show Me the Money: Without a detailed strategy, you will allocate insufficient resources to both the planning and execution of your digital marketing, in which case it might all be for nothing.
  • Duplication: Cut out the waste with proper organization and make sure you’re using the available tools and resources instead of acquiring that which you don’t need.
  • Agility: Plan to stay ahead; playing catch-up is a lot less effective and a lot more time-consuming.

Awesome Online Marketing Tools

crazzy-egg-screen

Digital marketers have to master many different software tools to take full advantage of the multitude of offerings available. For a comprehensive list of the top online marketing tools, take a look at 99 Killer Online Marketing Tools to Streamline Your Efforts. Below is a round-up of a few favorites.

  • AdWords Editor – the new suite of tools is easier to use and simplifies bulk editing.
  • Keyword Wrapper – enter one or more keywords, then ‘wrap’ them into categories.
  • Google Trends – a free source of trend data.
  • Soovle – provides autocomplete suggestions from Google, Wikipedia, Amazon, and YouTube.
  • MozLocal – SEO tool helping local businesses rank competitively in search engines.
  • IFTTT – If This, Then That connects regularly used apps to create logic-driven workflows to automate routine tasks.
  • Trello – simplifies the editorial workflow process with shared boards.
  • Feedly – an excellent replacement for Google Reader, helping you stay on top of the dailies.
  • CrazyEgg – provides heat maps to show how visitors are interacting with your site.

As a bonus, grab Tealium’s free guide to How to Tame the Digital Marketing Beast, detailing how digital marketing impacts your organization; what it means to increase marketing agility and efficiency; and how to maximize marketing investments.

By Jennifer Klostermann

Do Small Businesses Need Cloud Storage Service?

Do Small Businesses Need Cloud Storage Service?

Cloud Storage Services

Not using cloud storage for your business yet? Cloud storage provides small businesses like yours with several advantages. Start using one now and look forward to the following benefits:

Easy back-up of files

According to Practicalecommerce, it provides small businesses with a way to back up their documents and files. No need to pay for an expensive server or worry about spending even more on the upgrades or memory expansion. All you have to do, in some cases, is scout around comparison sites like Tomshardware and Cloud Kompare and look for cloud storage services that offer several free plans. Read the comparison analysis reports, decide on the best one and sign up! That’s simple and easy.

Improved collaboration. People have access to the same drive, the same files and resources so it’s easy to update everyone on what’s happening. It also provides you with a convenient way to share content and keep everyone on the same page. That improved access improves collaboration between and among teams which, in turn, raise productivity levels at the office.

Wireless mobility

wireless-cloud

The way most cloud storage services work is that it allows everyone on the team to access the same files. No matter where your team is, whether they’re running late and on the road, or sick at home or working from the café two blocks away, cloud storage offers teams a way to connect and touch base easily and more frequently. That means location won’t have to be a problem for you and your team in getting the information you need, when you need it.

Remote teams

According to Lifehacker, about 68 percent of HR teams believe that creating workplace policies that provide employees with a more flexible work arrangement—from telecommuting to work from home solutions or remote work set ups—attracts more employees and makes the company more competitive. So in place of monetary perks, some small companies are trying their hand at offering remote work solutions instead. That’s where the mobility of cloud storage services comes in pretty handy. If one of your best employees needs to move and relocate, you won’t have to say no to that employee. With cloud solutions, you can say yes and still keep your people so you won’t have to spend money on rehiring and retraining someone else for the position. This is also ideal for when one of your employees sends in a request to work remote from anywhere in the world. So long as the internet connection is reliable, you can grant their requests, retain long-term employees and save on rehiring/retraining costs.

Global hiring and teams

Some small businesses—which describe most startups—take advantage of that reach to hire global talents. Cloud storage services make working across continents convenient and cost-effective. You and your team get to work on the same interface and access the same files. You can run your team from anywhere in the world with a lot of technologies available these days and cloud solutions is one of them. So if you plan on expanding your business or growing your core business in this way, you’ll find cloud storage extremely useful for your organization.

Multi-platform access

According to Businessnewsdaily, one of the best things about cloud storage is that it works with most devices. Can’t access the file through your laptop because you left it at the office? No worries. You can use your phone to read the file. Cloud solutions work on mobile, tablets and laptops. That kind of omni-channel compatibility makes it easy for your teams to access and share files from anywhere, at any time.

No more hardware

storage

Gone are the days when you had to hire a team of IT specialist just to take care of a lot of clunky, expensive hardware and even more expensive upgrades. With cloud, you don’t have to hire a team of specialists to manage your storage so you either save up on personnel costs or channel your IT resources better by giving them other tasks and responsibilities.

With so many benefits, it would be smart to start adopting cloud solutions into your infrastructure, if you haven’t already started. That or start finding ways to take advantage of more cloud solutions in your day-to-day operations. With cloud, your business can grow and move forward in the best possible way.

Not sure how to get the right one though? No worries. With the growing number of comparison sites, picking the right one from a multitude of cloud storage services is efficient and easy. Just take a look at the benefits that address the greatest needs of your business, compare which ones match your requirements and pick that.

You can always explore more options later too. Some services might be ideal for small businesses but as your organization grows, so will your needs so keep an eye out for future adjustments.

By Brent Anderson

The Lighter Side Of The Cloud – New Services

The Lighter Side Of The Cloud – New Services

01-cloud-cartoon-homework

By Rick Menard

Please feel free to share our comics via social media networks such as Twitter. We fully support the sharing of our comics as long as there is clear attribution (Twitter example: via @cloudtweaks) to the original comic source.  If you are a company brand looking to utilize our comics to generate leads to a specific landing page, newsletter, presentation or social media campaign, you can contact us regarding commercial licensing rates. 

Facebook M And The Social Cloud

Facebook M And The Social Cloud

Facebook M

Virtual Assistant Technology provides us with cost savings and performance enhancement, and so it should come as no surprise that Facebook has just launched its own digital assistant, M, to a few hundred people – a new competitor to Microsoft’s Cortana, Apple’s Siri, and Google Now. According to David Marcus, head of Facebook Messenger, “M is a personal digital assistant inside of Messenger that completes tasks and finds information on your behalf.” Powered by artificial intelligence that’s trained and supervised by human intelligence, M is purported to be unlike any other AI-based services currently available in that it actually completes tasks on behalf of its users, purchasing items, having gifts delivered when necessary, making restaurant reservations, travel arrangements, appointments, and “way more.” M’s ambition, however, is greater than being only a personal assistant but is hoped to be a one-stop shop for mobile discovery.

Payment Platform

Payment processing

Marcus, formerly of PayPal, is using his expertise to increase Facebook’s payment platform. As he told Wired magazine, “We start capturing all of your intent for the things you want to do. Intent often leads to buying something, or to a transaction, and that’s an opportunity for us to [make money] over time.” If Facebook is about to make online purchasing transactions as quick and easy as they’ve made general web login (complete this three-page form, or sign in with Facebook), I’d say we’ve got a serious new e-commerce player in a prime position.

Best Friends Forever!

BFF

Another key quality that Facebook has is the amount of data we’ve all offered up. Undoubtedly, Facebook knows more about us all than any other social network platform, and all of this information is precisely what makes a digital assistant so useful. Google, Microsoft, and Apple certainly have access to some of our going-ons, and we’re always able to input that which they don’t, but Facebook is a veritable wealth of personal habits, likes and dislikes, spending behaviors, location minutiae, and more – there are many actual PAs who don’t have as much information about their bosses as Facebook has, and probably don’t want it, either.

The Human Element

Uniquely, the artificial intelligence aspect of Facebook M will be supervised by human beings, allowing it to do more than a standard digital assistant could. According to Dave Lee for the BBC, M’s work will be automated more over time as the system learns, helping expand the service, speed it up, and make it available to more people. It’s speculated that, for now, a team of people handles the more difficult and complex queries, explaining why increased automation will allow greater access to M.

How It Works

virtual-assistantTo access M, users will tap a button in Facebook’s Messenger app and send a note to M – as you might to any other Facebook friend. Thereafter, either M’s artificial intelligence or human colleague decodes the message, asks follow-up questions, and sends updates until the task is complete. Currently, M doesn’t use social data from Facebook, so tasks are completed based on answers users provide. After internal tests with Facebook employees it’s been found that one of M’s most popular functions was calling the cable company’s automated setup line, or HBO’s cancellation center, abandoning the long holds and automated messages to M’s patience.

There hasn’t yet been a date set for public rollout, but Facebook has said that their more than 700 million users will have free access to M via Messenger at some point. If you’re considering the benefits of this technology for your own organization, take a look at this free guide to Virtual Assistant Technology and the Contact Center.

By Jennifer Klossterman

CloudTweaks Comics
5 Predictions For Education Technology

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Why Hybrid Cloud Delivers Better Business Agility

Why Hybrid Cloud Delivers Better Business Agility

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Disaster Recovery And The Cloud

Disaster Recovery And The Cloud

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

Protecting Devices From Data Breach: Identity of Things (IDoT)

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4 Industries Being Transformed By The Internet of Things

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Cloud Computing – The Good and the Bad

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

Cloud Computing Offers Key Benefits For Small, Medium Businesses

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Choosing IaaS or a Cloud-Enabled Managed Hosting Provider?

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

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The Storytelling Machine: Big Content and Big Data

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Bridging The Gap Between Big Content and Big Data Advances in cloud computing, along with the big data movement, have transformed the business IT landscape. Leveraging the cloud, companies are now afforded on demand capacity and mobile accessibility to their business-critical systems and information. At the same time, the amount of structured and unstructured data…

7 Common Cloud Security Missteps

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Cloud Security Missteps Cloud computing remains shrouded in mystery for the average American. The most common sentiment is, “It’s not secure.” Few realize how many cloud applications they access every day: Facebook, Gmail, Uber, Evernote, Venmo, and the list goes on and on… People flock to cloud services for convenient solutions to everyday tasks. They…

Cloud Security Risks: The Top 8 According To ENISA

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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…

Three Tips To Simplify Governance, Risk and Compliance

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Governance, Risk and Compliance Businesses are under pressure to deliver against a backdrop of evolving regulations and security threats. In the face of such challenges they strive to perform better, be leaner, cut costs and be more efficient. Effective governance, risk and compliance (GRC) can help preserve the business’ corporate integrity and protect the brand,…

Your Biggest Data Security Threat Could Be….

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Despite Record Breaches, Secure Third Party Access Still Not An IT Priority

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Staying on Top of Your Infrastructure-as-a-Service Security Responsibilities

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