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Archive for May, 2014

 

Not headed to the cloud? Your employees are!

Friday, May 30th, 2014 by

Even if an enterprise isn’t yet ready to make the transition to cloud computing, there’s a good chance its employees have already made the investment. Because the technology allows easy access to files and other common forms of data, it lets professionals have more flexible work lives that often involve remote access. If an IT department doesn’t respond to that trend, however, it can pose a potential risk to an organization’s network infrastructure.

Two business professionals solidify a working relationship.

The old-fashioned way of solidifying a relationship.

Unfortunately, many tech professionals working behind the scenes are unaware of the situation and therefore can’t take the necessary measures to ensure security. It doesn’t help to blame employees for using cloud storage or even company leaders who haven’t yet recognized the needs of their subordinates.

Solidifying a relationship 
Before the current wave of cloud adoption, it was relatively easy for enterprises to keep their IT departments on the back burner. As long as the in-house system operated the way it was supposed to, that’s all that mattered. However, the 21st century added a number of ways for employees to obtain information, from smartphones and tablets to Web-based file sharing. As a result, a schism occurred between IT professionals and the rest of the company, according to Computerworld.

“There’s a tug-of-war tension in the enterprise right now,” said Gartner Analyst Lydia Leong, as quoted by the source. “IT administrators very rarely voluntarily want to go with the public cloud … The people who are pushing for these services are not IT operations people but business people.”

This tension has created an environment that isn’t constructive for adapting to current IT trends. Computerworld acknowledged that when Human Resources, Marketing, and other departments pursue cloud investments without sharing those plans across the company, IT personnel can’t figure out what information is moving through the environment. This operating model also disables the CIO’s ability to knowledgeably form a beneficial service level agreement with a cloud hosting company.

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How does Big Data fit into marketing?

Tuesday, May 27th, 2014 by

Even midsize businesses looking to cast a wider net are integrating Big Data into their marketing strategies. Make no mistake: Human insight will never become obsolete in the face of analytical marketing. An organization can have the most advanced analysis program on the planet, but if those reviewing the information can’t make heads or tails of it, then there’s no point in using the system.

Diagram of a brand promotion strategy.

Diagram of a brand promotion strategy.

Possessing a robust Marking operation goes far beyond searching for the latest and greatest analysis platform. Although it may lead to success, Marketing isn’t the be-all, end-all solution to every problem. Making the most out of any system is a two-way street: a company’s human assets must regard it as a technological assistant and support it with the appropriate environment.

Move into the cloud
To receive thorough, well-detailed reports, organizations want to be able to aggregate as much digital information as possible. Instead of cramming all  this data onto predefined, legacy platforms, professionals should strongly consider investing in cloud computing. When enterprises decide to move toward remote access, concerns like overworking a system, general server maintenance, and load-balancing are eliminated. The scalable environments can be accessed from almost anywhere, enabling marketers to easily obtain files stored on cloud servers and make decisions wherever they are.

Provide insights
Once an adequate support system has been established, CMOs can begin launching analytics programs to figure out how customers consistently interact with their brand through multiple channels. The question is, how do companies manage such a relentless flow of data? Jason Bowden, a contributor to Business 2 Community, claimed that it all depends on the company’s angle. Gaining insight from a large amount of intelligence doesn’t need to involve feeding it to an unwieldy, self-automated machine in the hope that actionable insights will come out the other end.

Instead, marketers should set clearly defined goals. Do they want to know why a certain product on an e-commerce site isn’t receiving hits? Are they trying to determine how in-store item placement affects customer decisions? These are just two of the many scenarios they may face. Bowman acknowledged a few ways to handle data appropriately:

  • Percolate the information and identify which aspects of a digital marketing campaign can generate greater leads.
  • Filter applicable metrics that will display practical ways to reinforce products and services to entice consumers to invest.
  • Leverage data to create a pattern of how to chart weaknesses, enabling employees to pinpoint the source of issues.

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Cloud Use Varies with Different Industries

Friday, May 23rd, 2014 by

Even though cloud computing has enabled many organizations to improve their operations, that doesn’t mean they’re using the technology in the same way. The needs and desires of different businesses and industries require different deployment approaches, whether through public, hybrid, or private models. In addition, how users interact with the applications that run on these architectures varies considerably. 

Digital information flows through different avenues.

Digital information flows through different avenues.

Helping aircraft take flight 
Brandon Butler, a contributor to CIO, noted that commercial aircraft manufacturer Boeing is merging the capabilities of on-premise virtualized workloads with a public cloud solution to create a hybrid environment. David Nelson, the company’s chief cloud strategist, stated that the applications the organization uses run more efficiently and serve the needs of Boeing much better than an in-house data center. 

Hosted on a cloud server, one of the tools used by Boeing monitors all the flight patterns of planes around the world. It incorporates both real-time and historical data, which translates to a huge amount of traffic running through the system on a consistent basis. Previously, the application operated through five laptops that were synced together, which required diligent cooling. Nelson stated that there was so much detail and analysis within the digital information that the machines couldn’t efficiently host the program. 

One of the most interesting applications Nelson uses takes on-premise Boeing resources and merges them with a public cloud storage environment. To deliver better assistance to remote mechanics working with their machines, Boeing launched a tool that allows technicians to research materials as well as conduct and verify maintenance and repairs. In addition, Boeing aircraft specialists can contribute to the system. 

“It’s seamless to the end user,” said Nelson, as quoted by the news source. “But it provides all the functionality they need.”

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Will cloud popularity lead to the demise of traditional software?

Wednesday, May 21st, 2014 by

Although the prospect may sound far-fetched, some professionals have speculated that increased investment in cloud computing may put major software developers out of business. If you look at the situation from the perspective of an open-source developer, it makes a fair amount of sense.

Cloud servers encompass computing network.

Cloud servers encompass computing network.

Enhanced sharing capabilities and cloud implementations go hand in hand, delivering an easier way for IT professionals to collaborate to create customer relationship management (CRM) solutions, desktop operating systems, and other deployments.

Creating a wide wake 
As adoption rates increase, technological accouterments designed to complement cloud technology are growing. For example, potential customers initially expressed concerns regarding security, primarily because they didn’t know what they were dealing with. In response, hosting companies made it a priority to enhance defense measures, and some organizations are even building entire business models around providing cloud security.

This level of response is characteristic of the cloud industry and explains why adoption rates have increased significantly. Skyhigh Networks conducted a Q1 2014 report based on data collected from more than 8.3 million cloud users and found that 3,571 cloud services were in use — 1,320 more than the previous quarter.

As far as what services were being used, everything from data storage to application usage were considered. On an interesting note, the study discovered that, on average, an organization leverages 24 different file sharing solutions and 91 disparate collaboration programs. This statistic supports the cloud’s status as a popular service, but it also signals a call to action.

At first glance, it seems as if business leaders would perceive investing in a single, comprehensive model to be preferable to using multiple cloud hosting providers. Perhaps not enough vendors offer holistic solutions, however, or these decision-makers believe that leveraging numerous services gives them some kind of advantage.

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Cloud Technology Optimizing Supply Chain Practices

Friday, May 16th, 2014 by

As cloud computing continues to penetrate business practices on a global scale, it’s no surprise that third-party logistics providers and other supply chain participants are now making use of the technology. With the goals of improving product oversight, providing greater insight into distribution practices, and creating a new method of securing corporate and consumer data, professionals are beginning to look to cloud platforms for the answer.

A supply chain management organizational chart.

A supply chain management organizational chart.

The protection of assets
Consumers consider their personal finances to be information every bit as critical as corporate intelligence. Therefore, it’s imperative that businesses recognize that customer data is equally important. How does distribution factor into this equation? A number of merchandisers have improved inventory fulfillment by supplying their logistics providers with order information. This practice lets warehouse management understand how to adjust the housing of small shipments to expedite delivery.

However, this procedure necessitates stringent data protection. According to The Guardian, Information Systems Audit and Control Association International Vice President Ramses Galego noted that a single fault in an e-commerce partner’s security protocol can potentially compromise an entire distribution operation. The danger is that access to thousands of company and customer records could be accidentally divulged to cybercriminals if security best practices aren’t followed.

“That’s one of the reasons why BMW and Mercedes are said to be taking on more IT engineers than automotive engineers,” said Galego, as quoted by the news source. “They’re building huge data centers, but they then have to ensure the way data is collected and stored is well governed throughout the whole supply chain.”

Galego claimed that adequate access management can help protect data held in cloud servers. For example, authorized personnel wishing to gain access to customer order information will log into the system. When their cell phone number is registered in the platform as legitimate, a one-time-use approval code will be sent to them via text message, granting them entry into the environment.

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