Google unveils ‘Project Glass’ virtual-reality glasses

Siri is about to get one-upped by Google.

The company on Wednesday unveiled a long-rumored concept called “Project Glass,” which takes all the functionality of a smartphone and places it into a wearable device that resembles eyeglasses.

The see-through lens could display everything from text messages to maps to reminders. They may be capable of showing video chats, providing turn-by-turn directions, taking photos and recording notes — all through simple voice commands, according to a concept video produced by the company and released on YouTube.

Project Glass is nowhere near complete, and Google (GOOGFortune 500) says it only went public with its effort to gather outside feedback. The stealth project has been in development for two years by a small team of engineers.

The “heads-up display” glasses were born in Google’s Google X lab, which is the same future-thinking research facility that developed a driverless car and is working on a space elevator.

Google has no timeline for when the device will go on sale, but Google X engineers are beginning to use prototypes outside of the lab’s walls.

One thing they’re working on in field tests: The researchers haven’t yet decided whether the glasses should be stand-alone or be wirelessly powered by a smartphone.

The precise look and feel of the hardware and software is still in the early design phase, but Google produced a concept design that looks like something out of a sci-fi movie. They’re not quite what you’d see on RoboCop or Geordi LaForge, but they’ll never be mistaken for normal eyeglasses either.

The Google concept shows a video camera and a small piece of glass over the right eye, with no lens on the left. That half-and-half design was an intentional choice.

“We think technology should work for you — to be there when you need it and get out of your way when you don’t,” the company said on its Google+ page.

The software design appears a lot cleaner than the hardware, with friendly icons and unobtrusive notifications. But Google’s concept video portrays perhaps the loneliest vision of the future ever.

A man starts his morning by putting his glasses on, then goes through most of his day talking to himself, without actually interacting with anyone face-to-face, save one friendly pat of a bulldog and a super-quick visit to a coffee truck with a buddy.

A notification delivered in the morning to “See Jess tonight at 6:30 p.m.” turns out not to be an actual date, but a video chat. As the sun sets, Google’s protagonist remotely serenades his friend’s avatar with a ukulele.

What Google’s final version will look like — and whether it will actually end up on store shelves — is anyone’s guess.

But Google X’s futuristic sketch proves that those little plastic rectangles we’ve been accustomed to communicating through could soon be outdated technology.

 

By David Goldman, CNN Money

iPad 3 to debut March 7, feature LTE support, reports claim

Hardware expert agrees that Apple will — must — make move on LTE this year

Apple will unveil the next iPad on March 7, according to reports.

And other claims surfaced today that the new iPad — which most have dubbed the “iPad 3″ — will be the first Apple product to support the faster LTE data networks now available in the U.S. from carriers Verizon and AT&T.

FUTURE LOOK: Hottest iPad 3 design concepts

One hardware expert agreed with the LTE assumption, first reported by the Wall Street Journal , saying that this is the year Apple will shift its mobile products to the advanced network.

“I’d be extremely surprised if the iPad 3 didn’t support LTE,” said Aaron Vronko, CEO of Rapid Repair, a repair shop and do-it-yourself parts supplier for the iPhone, iPod and iPad.

While Vronko expects Apple to add LTE support to 2012′s iPhone as well, the faster speeds are critical for tablets, whose users consume large amounts of data, such as video, more frequently than smartphone owners. “LTE will be even more important to the iPad than the iPhone,” Vronko argued.

Verizon has the clear lead in the U.S. when it comes to LTE coverage. Last month the carrier added five additional markets to its LTE ranks, bringing its total to 195 . According to Verizon, 200 million Americans can now access a Verizon LTE connection.

AT&T, on the other hand, has deployed LTE in only 26 cities with a total consumer population of about 74 million. AT&T won’t wrap up its LTE deployment until the end of 2013.

Although Tim Cook, now Apple’s CEO, said last April that the then-available LTE chipsets would “force a lot of design compromises … and some of those we are just not willing to make,” the situation is different now, said Vronko.

He cited the availability of power-conscious chipsets and the overall improvement in baseband processors — the silicon that connects devices to cellular networks — as two reasons why 2012 is the year Apple will follow other handset manufacturers into LTE.

Another: LTE’s expanded coverage this year compared to last.

“I think Apple passed on LTE [in 2011] because they thought that would be questioned since it would have appealed to such a small number of possible customers,” Vronko said.

According to iMore.com , Apple will launch the iPad 3 on March 7.

The date, a Wednesday, fits earlier buzz that Apple will launch its next tablet the first week of March , and matches previous debuts.

March 7 is a Wednesday, the same day of the week that Apple used in 2011 to reveal the iPad 2 . Apple also unveiled the original iPad on a Wednesday, Jan. 27, 2010.

The two previous launches were hosted by then-CEO Steve Jobs, who died last year at the age of 56 after a long battle with pancreatic cancer. If Apple follows past practice, Cook will take the stage this year.

The date, however, will not be confirmed until Apple sends invitations to media outlets, bloggers and research firms.

Apple typically keeps invitations to such events on a tight lease, releasing them just a week before the event. Assuming March 7 is accurate, Apple would probably issue invitations on Feb. 29, or two weeks from tomorrow.

Most experts believe the iPad 3 will feature a higher-resolution screen, a faster processor — perhaps Apple’s first quad-core — and more internal memory. The tablet will probably continue to carry price tags starting at $499.

If Apple does introduce an LTE-capable iPad, the lowest-price would likely be $629, the current cost of an 3G iPad 2.

The introduction of the iPad 3 should help push Apple’s tablet sales to 11.3 million for the first quarter, up 140% from the 4.7 million the company sold in the same period last year, according to forecasts by Wall Street analyst Brian Marshall of International Strategy & Investment Group (ISI).

By Gregg Keizer, Computerworld
February 14, 2012 04:05 PM ET

Gregg Keizer covers Microsoft, security issues, Apple, Web browsers and general technology breaking news for Computerworld. Follow Gregg on Twitter at @gkeizer , on Google+ or subscribe to Gregg’s RSS feed . His e-mail address is gkeizer@computerworld.com .

FBI’s holiday online shopping tips

Internet Crime Complaint Center wishes you a safe shopping season

By Network World Staff, Network World
November 21, 2011 02:14 PM ET
From the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center:

In advance of the holiday season, the FBI reminds shoppers to beware of cyber criminals and their aggressive and creative ways to steal money and personal information. Scammers use many techniques to fool potential victims including fraudulent auction sales, reshipping merchandise purchased with a stolen credit card, sale of fraudulent or stolen gift cards through auction sites at discounted prices, and phishing e-mails advertising brand name merchandise for bargain prices or e-mails promoting the sale of merchandise that ends up being a counterfeit product.

Fraudulent Classified Ads or Auction Sales

Internet criminals post classified ads or auctions for products they do not have. If you receive an auction product from a merchant or retail store, rather than directly from the auction seller, the item may have been purchased with someone else’s stolen credit card number. Contact the merchant to verify the account used to pay for the item actually belongs to you.

SHOPPER SPECIAL: Will Thanksgiving upstage Black Friday for online tech sales?

Shoppers should be cautious and not provide credit card numbers, bank account numbers, or other financial information directly to the seller. Fraudulent sellers will use this information to purchase items for their scheme from the provided financial account. Always use a legitimate payment service to protect purchases.

Diligently check each seller’s rating and feedback along with their number of sales and the dates on which feedback was posted. Be wary of a seller with 100% positive feedback, if they have a low total number of feedback postings and all feedback was posted around the same date and time.

Gift Card Scam

The safest way to purchase gift cards is directly from the merchant or authorized retail merchant. If the merchant discovers the card you received from another source or auction was initially obtained fraudulently, the merchant will deactivate the gift card number, and it will not be honored to make purchases.

Phishing and Social Networking

Be leery of e-mails or text messages you receive indicating a problem or question regarding your financial accounts. In this scam, you are directed to follow a link or call the number provided in the message to update your account or correct the problem. The link actually directs the individual to a fraudulent Web site or message that appears legitimate; however, any personal information you provide, such as account number and personal identification number (PIN), will be stolen.

Another scam involves victims receiving an e-mail message directing the recipient to a spoofed Web site. A spoofed Web site is a fake site or copy of a real Web site that is designed to mislead the recipient into providing personal information.

Consumers are encouraged to beware of bargain e-mails advertising one day only promotions for recognized brands or Web sites. Fraudsters often use the hot items of the season to lure bargain hunters into providing credit card information. The old adage “if it seems too good to be true” is a good barometer to use to legitimize e-mails.

Black Friday has traditionally been the “biggest shopping day of the year.” The Monday following Thanksgiving has more recently (2005) been labeled Cyber Monday, meaning the e-commerce industry endorses this special day to offer sales and promotions without interfering with the traditional way to shop. Scammers try to prey on Black Friday or Cyber Monday bargain hunters by advertising “one day only” promotions from recognized brands. Consumers should be on the watch for too good to be true e-mails from unrecognized Web sites.

Along with on-line shopping comes the growth of consumers utilizing social networking sites and mobile phones to satisfy their shopping needs more easily. Again, consumers are encouraged to beware of e-mails, text messages, or postings that may lead to fraudulent sites offering bargains on brand name products.

Tips

Here are some tips you can use to avoid becoming a victim of cyber fraud:

• Do not respond to unsolicited (spam) e-mail.

• Do not click on links contained within an unsolicited e-mail.

• Be cautious of e-mail claiming to contain pictures in attached files, as the files may contain viruses. Only open attachments from known senders. Always run a virus scan on attachment before opening.

• Avoid filling out forms contained in e-mail messages that ask for personal information.

• Always compare the link in the e-mail to the web address link you are directed to and determine if they match.

• Log on directly to the official Web site for the business identified in the e-mail, instead of “linking” to it from an unsolicited e-mail. If the e-mail appears to be from your bank, credit card issuer, or other company you deal with frequently, your statements or official correspondence from the business will provide the proper contact information.

• Contact the actual business that supposedly sent the e-mail to verify that the e-mail is genuine.

• If you are requested to act quickly or there is an emergency, it may be a scam. Fraudsters create a sense of urgency to get you to act impulsively.

• If you receive a request for personal information from a business or financial institution, always look up the main contact information for the requesting company on an independent source (phone book, trusted internet directory, legitimate billing statement, etc.) and use that contact information to verify the legitimacy of the request.

• Remember if it looks too good to be true, it probably is.

To receive the latest information about cyber scams, please go to the FBI Web site and sign up for e-mail alerts by clicking on one of the red envelopes. If you have received a scam e-mail, please notify the IC3 by filing a complaint at www.ic3.gov. For more information on e-scams, please visit the FBI’s New E-Scams and Warnings webpage athttp://www.fbi.gov/cyberinvest/escams.htm.

Read more about security in Network World’s Security section.

All contents copyright 1995-2011 Network World, Inc. http://www.networkworld.com

IT Support for Small Businesses with Big Aspirations

To ensure profitability as well as perpetual existence, small business enterprises must invest in a sound business IT support system. In the times of globalisation, small businesses can take help from

Information Technology (IT) made inroads into the corporate sector a long time back and since then it has become an integral part of most modern business operations. Commonly used IT solution equipment includes computers, servers, Internet connectivity equipment, peripheral devices and phone systems. Small businesses can benefit largely using IT services.
To ensure profitability as well as perpetual existence, small business enterprises must invest in a sound business IT support system. In the times of globalisation, small businesses can take help from IT services to connect with their target audience and affiliates and expand their reach.

Here is a list of the advantages of IT support for small business enterprises-

1.Increases productivity- An effective information technology infrastructure ensures that your business is well managed and your workers work more efficiently to enhance the productivity.
2.Improves communication- Better communication allows better business decision-making and facilitate the small business enterprises’ expansion into new territories and countries. IT services also ease communication with customers.
3.Efficiency- IT services enable streamlining of work flow through data storage and management. It is a cost-efficient way of getting work done in a short period of time.
4.Gives a competitive edge- A business enterprise, no matter how small it is, can take advantage of IT solutions to stay head and shoulders ahead of the competitors. Through IT, these businesses can improve their services and products to attract their target audience.
5.Bridges the cultural gap- Information technology helps small businesses to dare reaching out to people from different cultures and establish business connections.
6.Helps in developing specific business technologies- Businesses can also make use of IT services to develop business technologies that no other company can duplicate, resulting in operational advantage.
7.Eliminates redundant tasks- A sound IT infrastructure eliminates unnecessary tasks by centralizing different business functions.
Various elements involved in IT services-

Typically, IT support for business includes support and maintenance of network, computer hardware, backup solutions, data storage, disaster recovery planning, networking etc.

1.Support & maintenance- This is very essential in maintaining constant work flow. It ensures that your employees work to the best of their capabilities without any glitches or interruption. It includes computer support, network support, computer hardware maintenance, remote network support and network maintenance services.
2.Backup solutions and data storage- Protection of data is of utmost importance for every business. Companies must invest in backup and data storage solutions to make good use of the data in the decision-making process.
3.Disaster recovery plan- Disaster may strike anytime, anywhere without a warning. It may be because of human negligence or nature-induced. A sound disaster recovery plan would ensure that no matter what the disaster is, the business data is well protected for future use. It reduces hardware costs and lowers the complexity of maintaining a backup site.
4.Networking- The networking services help businesses to manage their networks more efficiently. It includes network support, quick response time and firewall protection.
So if you own a small business but want to make it big, install a sound IT infrastructure that incorporates all the above mentioned elements and allows to be reach beyond limits.

Do you own a small business but want to make it big, install a sound IT infrastructure that incorporates all the above mentioned elements and allows to be reach beyond limits.

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IT security’s scariest acronym: BYOD, bring your own device

The torrent of smartphones and tablets entering companies has created some interesting challenges for security managers. The new devices introduce new operating systems, new development environments and new security risks, but no new control. The scariest acronym in security might well be “BYOD,” or “bring your own device.” As companies develop security and mobility strategies to deal with these devices, it is worth bearing in mind the lessons learned from managing laptops. But it is also worth applying some of the new lessons from smartphones on the laptops, too!

To get a better understanding of the state of security in the mobile world, we (at Nemertes Research) asked IT executives to tell us about how they secure mobile devices and laptops. To make things interesting, we first asked about “mobile device” security and then followed up by asking about laptops. Now, you may be thinking that laptops are mobile devices and therefore we simply wasted a couple of questions asking the same thing again. Turns out that companies treat laptops very differently than the way they treat mobile devices (i.e. smartphones and tablets).

MORE ON SMARTPHONE SECURITY: Smartphone security follies: A brief history

Both types of devices have some common security controls, namely device encryption (HDD and media) and VPN capability. But from there, they diverge. Smartphones and tablets are mostly protected against theft. Companies apply security controls such as “wipe and lock,” GPS tracking and GPS fencing to control the data and location of the device. On laptops, meanwhile, the top security controls were anti-malware and firewalls, protecting the devices from network and application attacks.

Why the discrepancy? Companies own the laptops but users own the phones and tablets, in general. But if you look carefully at the data, even those differences do not explain the disparity in security controls. Why are there so few network and application controls on mobile devices? Why are there so few anti-theft controls on laptops? Why no “wipe and lock,” GPS tracking and fencing? More and more laptops ship with GPS and 3G/4G, and more and more attacks target networked smartphones and their applications.

It is very hard to argue that the new Droid 3 or Atrix, or the iPad 2, are not “laptops” in a sense. The new MacBook Air and Chromebook are less like laptops than tablets with keyboards. As these types of devices converge, these differences are going to fade and the security controls will be equalized. In the meantime, it would be a good idea to re-evaluate the difference between security controls on different types of end-user devices and ask, “Is this difference based on valid reasons or a result of legacy thinking?” At the very least, you can add some anti-theft controls on laptops and some network and application controls on smartphones and laptops. If you keep treating these devices as “different” you may find that you are still basing your decisions on differences that are disappearing or have already disappeared.

Security: Risk and Reward By Andreas M. Antonopoulos, Network World
July 27, 2011 01:48 PM ET

Andreas Antonopoulos

Read more about security in Network World’s Security section.

All contents copyright 1995-2011 Network World, Inc. http://www.networkworld.com

IT Value Is Dead. Long Live Business Value.

The end of IT-business alignment is nigh. And no one is happier about it than the business-focused CIO.

“If you stand in front of an audience of CIOs and start talking about IT-business alignment, at best you get eye rolls, and at worst you get people walking out of the room,” says Shawn Banerji, a New York-based CIO recruiter with Russell Reynolds Associates. “Alignment has been a big trend for quite some time and—as with most trends—it has gotten a lot of lip service. But the ability to move beyond that into the practical manifestation of IT and the business being one is a progressive reality for a lot of organizations today.”

The strategies IT leaders have employed to more closely connect the technology organization to the larger enterprise—embedding IT staff within business units, understanding business processes, communicating with end users—have been all well and good. But alignment, it turns out, is not the ultimate end for corporate IT. In fact, says Dave Aron, vice president and fellow in Gartner’s CIO Research group, the language of IT-business alignment—encouraged and endorsed for more than a decade by industry analysts, consultants and, for a time, this magazine—is now dangerously counterproductive, setting IT apart from the enterprise even as technology itself becomes more inextricably entrenched in it.

CIOs must change the conversation. IT value is dead. Business outcomes are the real and only measure of IT worth.

“Today it’s less about, ‘I don’t understand your cost structure. I don’t understand what you’re delivering,’ and more about, ‘How can I leverage technology to deliver new products and services?’” says Dave Codack, vice president of employee technology and network services for TD Bank. “That’s forced us to look at the ways in which we measure technology. We’ve been inadequate in our ability to define technology value in concert with the values of the business. It’s difficult.”

But IT leaders who want to remain relevant—and employed—have no choice. “The next step on the journey is to move from alignment to engagement,” says Aron, “treating the rest of the business as partners, creating business value together.” According to Gartner, by 2015, the primary factor determining incentive compensation for the CIO will be the amount of new revenue generated from IT initiatives.

“IT began in the back office of business, it moved to the front office, and now it has deeply penetrated all aspects of the business,” says Louie Ehrlich, CIO of $204 billion oil company Chevron (CVX) and president of its information technology unit. “Everything is connected to everything. You have to be integrated.”

Yet shifting the focus from technology outcomes to business performance isn’t easy. IT has decades of traditional operational metrics, methods and best practices to rely on. Calculating technology value using business terms is an evolving art. CIOs who attempt it readily admit that it involves some guesswork.

So where to begin? Anywhere. Just get started.

“Our profession has such an engineering mind-set: define, test, try, retest, try again. But you will never find a perfect way of doing this,” says Ehrlich. “There’s value in just trying to articulate IT value in business terms. There’s value in just getting in the game.”

 

There Are No IT Projects (Really!)

For years, the goal for CIOs has been a seat at the executive table. “Then half of them got there and said, ‘Oh my God, what am I doing here? I’m a functional operating person. I’m not equipped to take this on,’” says Russell Reynolds’ Banerji. The other half, however, were better at business strategy than most of their C-suite peers, thanks to their broad view of business information.In the past eighteen months, says Banerji, organizations have been moving to a more data- and analytics-driven approach to internal decision making and interacting with customers. His clients are asking him to find CIOs who share this vision for IT. “The ability to aggregate data and information assets and convert [them] into actionable knowledge—whether it’s for financial forecasting, sales forecasting, more precise understanding of markets, how they manage risk—is central to the business.”

That’s highlighted “the importance of IT leaders really being leaders in the company, not just leaders in IT,” says Richard Boocock, vice president and CIO of $9 billion Air Products and Chemicals (APD). Boocock has spent 28 years at Air Products doing everything from selling hydrocarbon-processing facilities to rolling out SAP. “We live or die on creating customer value and shareholder value. There is only business value.”

Of course, if you had a dime for every time a CIO talked about how there are no IT projects, there are only business projects, you’d be retired by now. The difference is “people really mean it now,” says Edward Hansen, a partner in the law firm Baker and McKenzie, who helps CIOs structure and negotiate transformational IT and outsourcing deals. Look at something as traditionally tactical as telecom services, says Hansen. The focus during negotiations for telecom services used to be cost per minute; now it’s networking and sales and “all the socioeconomic implications associated with it.” Discussions cover needs as diverse as networking, social media and voice and data convergence, according to Hansen. What used to be a purely technical function has evolved into a strategic service.

That business leaders appreciate the crucial role IT plays makes it easier to gather the momentum necessary to shift from IT to business value, says Ehrlich. It also means everyone wants something from IT, and business value is the easiest way to pick the winners. “How do you decide what to put your energy and dollars into when the opportunity set is just endless?” Ehrlich says. “What better way to do that than to put it in business terms and make decisions that make the most money for your company?” That’s difficult to do in an IT department that is merely aligned with business. “In the world of alignment, the customer is the business, and the business is always right,” says Gartner’s Aron. “[It] doesn’t allow the CIO and IT to influence business strategy by shaping demand for more valuable projects.”

CIOs used to measure their personal value by budget or headcount and their team’s value by delivering on time and on budget. “That’s an arcane approach to measure your relevance,” Banerji says. “Historically, they’ve talked about alignment because that’s all they could possibly hope for.” Today, CIOs are more likely to be rewarded for overall business performance than for some technology project or initiative, Banerji says.

“This goes beyond alignment exercises. You need to understand if there has been an impact on the business,” says Ehrlich, “And the question becomes, How do you measure that?”

 

It’s Everyone’s Money

Just over a year ago, when Brian Hardee took over as CIO of Oxford Industries (OXM), an $800 million holding company that owns such retail brands as Tommy Bahama, Ben Sherman and Lilly Pulitzer, it was clear where IT stood. “IT was just a utility—storage, email, phone,” says Hardee. “And if you don’t talk to the business in the terms of the business, they’re still going to continue to perceive you as a utility.”Previous IT leaders had reported metrics like applications supported or total headcount, which meant nothing to the business or functional units. “The biggest measure for the previous CIO was the average tenure of his employees,” Hardee says. “That doesn’t drive business value.”

A veteran IT consultant, Hardee gave his CEO the bottom line: Oxford Industries was spending 100 percent of its IT budget on sustaining the business and zero on innovation. “That was a compelling number to the CEO,” he says. “You’re spending all that money, and you’re getting nothing of value.”

Since then, Hardee has been making progress, first re-evaluating telecom expenses (saving hundreds of thousands of dollars) and then developing a list of new projects based on business strategy and value. One that made the cut is a financial supply-chain management system to facilitate centralized credit management. “In these tight times, where vendors and other customers are not as creditworthy as in the past, I don’t have to tell them why [the system] is better than standard general ledger software,” says Hardee. “But I do have to help them understand why if they want this and they want something else, we can’t do both. It’s been an incremental education.”

For every new investment, Hardee creates a business case and manages it using a one-page project overview document. He explains the purpose of the project, the objectives, how it’s aligned to business strategy, and the expected business results—for example, how a new piece of software will not only cut costs but increase sales and reduce risk. Next, he hopes to develop a set of initiatives to extend the customer reach of Oxford Industries’ retail brands by using more analytics and new e-commerce systems.

CIOs further along in their efforts to measure business impact are putting IT-centric measures like uptime and systems availability on the back burner to focus on business goals like customer retention and operating efficiency.

Dee Waddell is group information officer of marketing, sales and customer service with $2.3 billion Amtrak. Waddell meets with his business partners once a year to discuss expectations and develop business-focused service-level agreements (SLAs) for IT to meet. His IT group also publishes an annual report of its business results. Traditional technical metrics like network use and applications supported are still tracked, but Waddell doesn’t use them to elucidate IT’s business contribution.

At TD Bank, call centers are no longer a cost to be contained; they’re now revenue generators. “When you focus on metrics that define value, it’s a very different conversation than the one you would normally have about [doing things] faster and cheaper,” Codack says. “It’s about IT’s contribution to those sales metrics. What has technology done to drive that revenue?”

Business executives have increased expectations for IT, says Codack, driven largely by the value they’ve reaped from technology at home. “There’s been a rapid onslaught of technology that provides real value for them in their personal lives,” Codack says. If IT doesn’t provide similar value at work, they won’t hesitate to look elsewhere for it. “We can’t be naïve and say we’re all one team and don’t have to define and drive our contribution [to the business],” Codack says. “Everyone spends a fair amount of time [working] to improve gross and margin. You have to defend [IT costs], but it’s more about your contribution versus your spend.”

The goal is to move toward an “increasingly common vocabulary,” says Boocock. Take a seemingly technology-centric decision: when to upgrade an operating system. “In the past, that was purely an IT decision,” Boocock says. “But upgrades cost a lot of money and they take resources away from other initiatives. It’s still my decision to make, but it needs to be framed in business terms.” Instead of saying the upgrade needs to happen because the existing version is no longer supported, he explains the increased operating risk that the company will be exposed to and its inability to build new capabilities without the investment.

Or consider the typical infrastructure reliability metric—99.9 percent uptime. “We used to celebrate meeting that,” says Chevron’s Ehrlich. “And while we were celebrating, there was a business leader saying, ‘Oh yeah, where were you that Saturday when we couldn’t collect credit card payments?’” The old operational measures are necessary, but not sufficient. Chevron IT created a business incident index to track the number of IT service issues that affected business and the impact of each in terms of revenue and reputation. Ask Ehrlich if it was hard to figure out a way to quantify that impact and he lets out a “Heck, yeah!” In a decentralized company with a presence in more than 100 countries, thousands of transactions are taking place every minute. “To get that insight isn’t easy, and we’ve tried a bunch of different things,” he says. They ultimately settled on ranges—low, medium and high—defined by financial impact.

The farther away an IT investment is from the front lines, the harder it is to frame in business terms. Network assets, for example, could be used in 101 different ways, says Ehrlich. “How do you quantify the business impact of that?” He doesn’t. “That’s where we’ve landed,” he says. “Some things are just a utility that we run as cost effectively and efficiently as we can.” Those investment decisions are still made strategically. They’re just tied to IT rather than business strategy.

That’s not a bad place to be, says Gartner’s Aron. “Treat run-the-business, regulatory or risk investments as a tax—checking [that] the business is taxed the right amount,” he advises. “Treat value-generating, IT-intensive projects like all investments, and optimize based on outcomes.”

Sometimes, all you need is a little finesse. Consider data center virtualization. Boocock knew that in the absence of virtualization, just 15 percent of a typical server farm is used. Air Products has hundreds of production plants around the world, and the company’s leaders would be irate if only 15 percent of any of them was being used. That industrial production corollary made for the shortest IT sales pitch Boocock has ever made. “The philosophy of business value has to be applied across the whole continuum [of IT services],” he says.

 

Start Somewhere

Despite IT’s efforts to measure business impact, its universe—including vendors, service providers, and even some business partners and customers—may be slow to adapt. “The world may not be changing at the same pace the CIO is changing—even within organizations,” says Hansen of Baker and McKenzie. “There is an education process that needs to take place.”For instance, if you’re serious about making decisions based on business value, you also need an IT team that is up to the task. But it takes time to build a staff that knows how to think about revenue and customer engagement in addition to development costs and system performance. Oxford Industries’ Hardee winnowed his already small IT group from 35 people down to 14 who could take IT decision making and communications in a new direction. “We didn’t have the right resources,” he says. Now he’s looking for cross-functional capabilities. “Even if I’m hiring a business analyst, I’m not just hiring a financial business analyst,” Hardee says. “I want a financial supply chain business analyst.”

“It’s critical to build a strong, business-focused set of leaders that have future potential both within and outside of IT,” Waddell says. “The leadership and management of IT must become more attractive for strong leaders that come from the business side, have the aptitude to understand the strategic value of technology, and can relate with technical personnel.”

Business rotations are a requirement for even the newest additions to IT at Air Products. “Future leaders will need to have a broad portfolio of skills and capabilities, not to the level that they’re [business function] experts, but to what I would call having a strong appreciation for it—how we do business, who our customers are, what markets we serve and if and how I bring that into play as a leader.” New hires fresh out of school do a stint outside the technology group in materials or finance, for example.

“In the past, taking a new IT professional and, within a year, moving them outside of IT to gain experience elsewhere would have been considered career suicide” for the new hires, he says. Now it’s the cost of doing business in IT, not to mention critical for technologists’ career survival. Some veteran technology professionals can’t adjust. “There are some people who actually just like to do certain things in the IT space,” Boocock explains. “But if we’re not going to be doing those things [internally] anymore, that’s not going to be an option.”

Hardee says that as a result of prior IT leadership, business leaders within his company haven’t understood the value of IT as a competitive weapon, which ironically confounds his efforts to promote a business-oriented view. “If you’re relying on your brand to carry you to the next level as opposed to innovating and connecting in terms of analytics, you’re fooling yourself. I’m trying to communicate that to them,” he says, by explaining to them how technology can reduce inefficiences and generate revenue.

And so his recent new hire, he says, is a marketing and communications professional. In the meantime, he’s partnering with everyone he can. He recently set up a meeting with the marketing teams at Lilly Pulitzer and Ben Sherman, which Oxford Industries acquired in December, to introduce them to a new social media listening tool. Lilly Pulitzer had its own CIO, but Ben Sherman’s CIO didn’t engage with business or marketing employees. Hardee now serves as the brand’s acting CIO. “They were so happy with the fact that a CIO reached out and was trying to help impact [business] results,” Hardee says.

Fundamentally changing the way IT decisions are made and IT value is measured takes time. Ehrlich, Waddell, and Boocock are over three years in. Codack has been at it for just under two. Hardee is just getting started. And they all agree it’s probably a decade-long process.

“If we’re talking about the CIO as a pure business person, we’re not completely there,” says Banerji of Russell Reynolds, who estimates that about a third of IT organizations are aggressively moving in this direction. “There are a few organizations that do it very well and certain IT leaders do better than others. But it’s not pervasive yet. The first movers are setting the tone and others will scramble to catch up.”

At TD Bank, “the awareness is there. The acceptance is there. We have a lot of testing and trials going on,” says Codack. “It will be a number of years before we settle on what works.” The goal is to create a new value framework, figure out what metrics work best, and use them as benchmarks to figure out how to increase the business impact of IT over time.

Measuring the business value of technology at Amtrak is also a work in progress, based on the understanding that business leaders care more about customers than servers. SLAs for the website include the percentage of time that bookings can be made successfully or that train statuses can be retrieved. “These are availability metrics,” says Waddell, “but much more relevant to our business customers.” They will serve as stepping stones to more advanced measures of business value, such as the number of bookings. “It is absolutely imperative that IT become versant in the business and is an enabler for the business to deliver to external customers,” Waddell says.

At Chevron, the IT group is “nowhere near where we ought to be,” says Ehrlich. There are pockets of excellence, but also pockets of absence when it comes to measuring IT in business terms. Some parts of the organization are great at it; others are struggling. “I’d like to get us all up that maturity curve more so that if you ask them what is the value of IT, they explain it to the business in the terms of the business.”

It’s not perfect, but it’s progress. “How do you measure value? It’s a constant discussion among CIOs, and I think some of us get paralyzed,” says Ehrlich. “But you have to just go for it. Do it wrong. Just do it. What’s the worst thing that could happen?”

© 2010 CXO Media Inc. – Stephanie Overby, CIO

Is Your Business Ready for Mobile?

mobileMorgan Stanley has just released the Mobile Internet Report, which estimates that within five years, more users will access the Internet via mobile devices than desktop PCs. The growth in mobile Internet usage, according to Morgan Stanley’s analysts, is being driven by five technologies:

  1. 3G adoption – especially as more devices come out that support the wireless broadband standard at a lower price point than in previous years. Subscription costs for data access across the world have also been decreasing as service providers build out their infrastructure and achieve cost-efficiencies with scale.
  2. Social networking – which is driving a “constantly online” behavior among users engaged in communication, information sharing, and relationship building.
  3. Video – which has encouraged users to exchange rich, multimedia content online
  4. VoIP – which is lowering the cost of communication while improving the user experience by not tying them to their desks.
  5. Interesting new devices/initiatives – such as the launch of the iPhone, Palm Pre, and lately Google’s Android.

What does this mean for SMEs? Well, for one thing this will require more vigilant monitoring, control, and oversight. Mobile devices can pose a significant security risk, since it’s getting difficult to track the data going in and out of these devices. Also, audit and control tools and procedures are simply not as mature as those available for desktop computers. The risks associated with theft and loss also increase since mobile devices’ small sizes make them easy to conceal or misplace.

Is your organization ready for what’s coming? As mobile devices become the primary Internet access for consumers and workers, it’s time to for your organization to become aware of the issues surrounding their use.

This entry was posted in General Articles and tagged . Bookmark the permalink. Tech Advisory

The iPad is Good for Business – and for using Microsoft Windows and Office Applications

The Apple iPad phenomenon is truly remarkable. While some suspect this is just a fad, we here at Citrix believe that tablet computing is becoming part of the workplace DNA. And we’re not the only one. That’s because people aren’t just talking about iPads; they’re using them. They’re voting with their dollars and buying these devices in droves. According to this Infographic by Fast Company’s Co.Design, “a whopping 14% of online shoppers say they plan to purchase an iPad in the next five months.” That’s 28 million people, according to their calculations. And they say total iPad sales are expected to rise 1,000% by 2014. That’s some hockey stick! And Gartner just predicted that by 2013, 80% of businesses (yep, 80% of businesses!) will support a workforce using tablets*. So those 28 million people aren’t just using their iPads for fun.

Inevitably, these devices will make their way into the enterprise. In fact, this is already happening today.  The top two work activities that people want to do on their iPads are (1) read and respond to business email and (2) view, edit and create documents and presentations. Perhaps most telling is that an incredible 91% of respondents said they want to access business productivity applications like Microsoft Office on their iPads.

The good news is that Citrix Receiver enables all of these new tablets and smartphones to run Microsoft Windows, transforming them from entertaining consumer gadgets into serious workplace tools. This is another example of why the partnership between Microsoft and Citrix is so significant. Together, we make it possible for users to have everything they love about Windows and all of their go-to business applications on any device of their choosing.

The only problem is that many IT departments are unaware that they can securely support Microsoft Windows on these devices using Citrix Receiver. Which is why we encourage everyone to visit www.ipadsatwork.com and join the movement to help IT professionals learn how Citrix Receiver empowers them to deliver Windows and Office applications to iPads, Droids or the latest Chrome OS-based Notebooks, making these devices secure, viable and productive options in the enterprise.

This is a profound change for our industry and promises to open many new doors for Citrix and Microsoft – as well as the thousands (even millions!) of users who want to access Windows and Office applications from any device they may choose, anytime, anywhere. Behold the future of virtual computing.

* Gartner’s Top Predictions for IT Organizations and Users, 2011 and Beyond: IT’s Growing Transparency, November 2010

Article above posted from Citrix Community; author Kim Woodward

Mobile Security

By Brett Bogler

Have you ever thought about mobile security for your business? Well you should? Mobile security is going to be a huge concern for companies in the next few years because of the masses of new smartphones and tablets coming to the market.

According to a Q4 2010 report done by McAfee, cybercriminals have a “window of opportunity” to attack multiple mobile platforms. The biggest of the threats is Nokia’s Symbian OS. The report also included the fact that there is a direct correlation between device popularity and criminal activity.

The new mobile devices are hitting the market months before security software even exists for them. The sheer amount of mobile devices without security could lead hackers to target these devices for botnet infections. According to McAfee there has been a 46 percent increase in the amount of threats than in 2009.

What can you do? Well at bva, we believe that your network is first priority whether it be your server, workstations, or mobile devices. We suggest that you thoroughly evaluate the devices that you are allowing on your network. Don’t be afraid to do a little research and look into possible security holes that may be found, or if anyone has found issues with the devices. It is not a bad thing to standardize the devices that are allowed on your network, especially when there are so many that it is hard to keep up with them all. It is always a good idea to ask your IT vendor if devices are safe.

Also, establishing a company wide mobile security policy is another great feature. When using ActiveSync, you have the option of setting certain security features on your mobile devices, such as allowing or denying the use of removable storage, cameras, Wi-Fi, internet sharing and more. You can also allow or deny the use of unprovisional devices and enforce password policies. In today’s small to medium sized businesses, these policies are often overlooked and can potentially put your network and data at risk.