Enterprise IT


clip_image002Corporate data breaches and security incidents pose a growing threat to businesses around the world. Such events are increasingly common, with companies and organizations from Google to Sony to the Stanford University Hospital falling prey to data breaches, news of which was subsequently splashed across national headlines.

Incidents like these, combined with the increasing number of ways to track what people are doing online, are affecting consumer attitudes. Edelman’s new global study, Privacy & Security: The New Drivers of Brand, Reputation and Action Global Insights 2012, reveals that seven in ten people globally are more concerned about data security and privacy than they were five years ago, and a full 68% believe that consumers have lost control over how online personal information is shared and used by companies.

Businesses, however, are not doing enough to meet these concerns. A majority of people (57%) report either no change or a decline in the security of their personal information in the last five years. This is problematic, because consumers think that businesses should be grappling with these issues and that it is their responsibility to do so. The vast majority (85%) say businesses must take data security and privacy more seriously, and a plurality say businesses – as opposed to governments or individuals – are responsible for protecting the security of their personal information.

Edelman’s study also indicates that data security and privacy issues have the potential to affect a businesses’ bottom line. Customers are taking data security and privacy into account at the checkout counter; surprisingly, when it comes to smartphones, personal computers and tablet computers, data security and privacy are as important to them as a product’s design, style and size.

Businesses are also suffering from a trust deficit due to peoples’ concerns about data security and privacy, particularly in the financial and retail sectors. While 92% of people say security is important to them in when doing business with the financial sectors, just 69% trust the industry to protect their personal information – trust lags by 23 points. In online retail, the gap is even more dramatic. While security is important to 84% of those doing business with online retailers, just 33% trust them to protect personal information – a 51 point gap.

To earn people’s trust in their ability to protect data security and privacy, businesses must manage these issues like a core competency, engaging with them in a meaningful way on a daily basis. Businesses that ignore data security and privacy do so at their own peril, because consumers will abandon companies they do not trust to protect their personal information. Those that prove willing and able to manage data security and privacy effectively, however, will bring unexpected value to consumers around the world by demonstrating that they understand the importance of protecting the information people hold most valuable.

Read the full study here. We’re keen to hear your thoughts…

@pete_pedersen

The ancient Mayans are often accredited for their ability to investigate celestial objects in the night sky with primitive tools. Archaeologists have found tablets, which provide evidence of their ability to accurately predict positions of objects, lunar and solar eclipses, often many years ahead.

However much of what the ancient Mayans were practicing bear remarkable similarities to what we now refer to as ‘big data analysis’.

In 2008, the McKinsey Group described the trend towards big data – the technology and practice of handling unconventionally large datasets which, after years of experimentation, has recently seen rising prominence. 

One of the earliest adopters of big data analysis is that of the European Organisation for Nuclear Research, CERN. As a matter of fact, the internet was invented as a method to collaborate and handle the vast amounts of data generated at the facility. Yet what started off as technology for scientific investigations, big data analysis soon quickly found itself in areas such as finance and banking.

Today’s organisations are beginning to recognise that by analysing petabyte upon petabyte of data, meaningful insights and predictions can be accurately made. Yet over 1,700 years ago, Mayans were already analysing data from the observable universe – an unstructured database with 93 billion years’ worth of data.

The Mayan’s obsession of analysing astronomical ‘data’ was not centred around scientific investigation, but more on predictions and justifying rituals. The decision to engage in military conflict was based almost entirely on the movements of Venus and Jupiter.

Interestingly, the modern day practice of analysing big data suggest that we could be following similar movement.

Today big data analysis is being used to help justify macro-social and economic decisions – from investments, economic policy to crime directives and healthcare provision.

Earlier this year, analyst firm IDC even reported that the US Army has implemented a big data cloud program to collect data from unmanned aerial vehicles, to gather intelligence information in near-real time and relay it back to its troops stationed in Afghanistan.

The life of the ancient Mayans revolved around their religion, which they supported through their obsession with astronomical data. This influenced their culture, their every decision and provided what they believed were predictions for the future.

Are we creating a technology-led religion of our own through our obsession with big data and what legacy will we be remembered for when future archaeologists discover our civilisation?

@thelondonblog

Some of you may well have seen this research from the Guardian earlier this week, which aimed to highlight the top journalist tweeters in the UK – headed by Neil Mann, aka @fieldproducer, digital news editor at Sky News.

There just seemed to be one problem – the list was, perhaps unsurprisingly, absolutely dominated by Grauniad hacks, with half the top ten being employed by the paper running the research. The highest placed non-Guardian ‘paper scribe on the list was the FT’s Tim Bradshaw who came in a lowly eighteenth, while the Times could only muster one journalist in the top 50 – Michael Savage, in at #35.

Shurely shome mishtake?

We’ve run the findings through the tweetlevel  algorithm instead to give it some more context, and the same list appear in a very different order, with Charles Arthur the highest placed hack on the list, and afore-mentioned Tim Bradshaw rocketing up to eighth.

Check out the revised list here.

top tweeters grab

Picking a couple of other tech journos at random, there were notable exceptions in the original list: from The Times, Murad Ahmed would have been in the top fifty; the Telegraph’s digital media editor Emma Barnett would have triumphed in at #20; while arguably one of the UK’s most influential tech industry bods, Mike Butcher, would have come in joint with Tim Bradshaw.

To be clear, we’re not saying ‘our list is better than yours’, nor are we saying our methodology is better – we’re just saying that if you’re producing a list of the influential people in your industry, it might be a good idea to widen the scope to people who don’t work for you.

Let us know what you make of our version of the list originally produced by the Guardian. For more info on the algorithm used, make your brain hurt reading this.

Frankly none if a morning at the Social World Forum is anything to go by…

Mild frustration possibly best describes my mood leaving the conference, because I’m not sure how much more talking there needs to be about the value and role of social media in enterprise environments. The benefits, as shown by panellists (morning session track two, day one), are clear, but it is time for adopters to be more adventurous in their goal setting. Tools exist today to measure more than simply engagement and show real return-on-investment that affects the bottom line in the B2B world. My concern is if we don’t stop talking and start demonstrating a more comprehensive strategic approach it will never go mainstream in the enterprise. The good news is that Salesforce’s acquisition of Radian6 should help to focus minds and avoid any further discussion that social media isn’t mainstream in the enterprise.

First let me come back to the analogy. Listening to the conversation yesterday it did start me thinking about the parallels between social media and that much mythologised first sexual encounter, which adolescents, particularly boys, spend so much of their time debating…allegedly.  (Disclosure, yes I did attend a Catholic boys school and there were priests, but no they didn’t) Anyway, i do realise I’m making sweeping generalisations, but I think the point is valid…according to the cliché of every relevant Hollywood movie there is much anticipation – and anxiety – about that ‘first time’, much reading of relevant ‘literature’ and consultation with peers. Only in the end to be a fumble in the dark, with no one really knowing what they’re doing, over too quickly or not quickly enough and everyone at the very least feeling uncertain about how they feel about the experience, if not decidedly underwhelmed and in the worst case vowing never to do it again.

Email Comparison

Something that triggered my concern was the comparison with email. Discussion suggested social media will be the next most important disruptive communications technology. Undoubtedly email has changed the way business works, but it took years to establish etiquette and process and today I don’t know many people who talk about how productive they are thanks to email. The issue is that email was allowed to sprawl, its role in the workplace and business poorly defined and I can see danger signs for social media.

Technology tolerance disorder (or excuse)

Admittedly social media is such a young industry ably demonstrated by the proliferation of companies at the show claiming to offer distinct solutions yet sounding remarkably similar. The pace of technology change is rapid, which makes it difficult to plan a long-term strategy, but that should not be used to tolerate or excuse ill-defined or superficial social media strategies (it is a disorder that technologists seem to struggle with whatever the innovation). There are companies like Lithium Technologies and Telligent providing grown up solutions, which make social media much more measureable in terms of its contribution to a business.

What does social media allow us to do differently that we couldn’t do before?

This shouldn’t difficult to answer, but we do seem to be making it excessively even though it’s the only question that matters. Particularly if you’re trying to encourage B2B audiences to buy social media it should be the job of social media professionals and enthusiasts to make it easy for clients to understand the answer. Yesterday didn’t inspire me that we get that point.

The panellists in the first session did begin to highlight what can be done. Jonathan Brayshaw, from Psion (@Jon_at_Psion) talked about using social media to engage differently with customers, partners and employees through a community environment, which has seen a 5% reduction in workload for customer support, as well as contributing to future product development.

Kelly Thomas, from Prudential PruProtect talked about engaging financial advisors and encouraging them to use social media to speak to customers. In a specific campaign around the World Cup (http://bit.ly/eKvOkp) PruProtect saw a 30% increase from sales.

In a later session Zoe Sands, Juniper Networks (@ZoeSands), talked about a four year programme that has been building a community called J-Net which saw a 300% increase in overall traffic following the launch of its mobile version last year. This community is self-governing, with customers and partners helping each other to solve technology issues and providing feedback to the product development team.

Demonstrate ROI, but consider the ‘unexpected’ magic sauce for B2B audiences

Zoe cited the Forrester research from 2010 which suggests that 88% of decision makers now use social media in their decision making processes. If that isn’t motivation enough for companies to embrace social media more effectively then the examples above should begin to show how ROI can be achieved in quite tangible and simple ways.

That said what I failed to ask the panellists is how many decision makers participate in their online communities rather than simply talking to the usual suspects. For example, J-Net has 23,000 users, but the age old challenge in the enterprise IT sector is accessing the ‘C’ level audiences. J-Net may do this, but Jonathan’s throw-away remark towards the end of the session, really began to get to the magic sauce that social media can add.

He talked about it enabling Psion to be ‘unexpectedly competitive.’ For me the key word is ‘unexpectedly.’ Social media has blown apart traditional hierarchies making it more difficult for vendors to engage with clients, but at the same time it means previously inaccessible customers – or members of their network – are now reachable.

If customers are stepping forward to help solve the problems of other customers, if customers are helping companies to hone their product development roadmaps and if social media gives you access to a CIO you have never talked to before in a more informal way, so that you can establish a rapport that is unexpected. Good unexpected.

Unexpectedly rewarding conversations

One member of the audience talked a bit today about social media being the wrong terminology that really it is about people and how we interact that’s important. That gets close to the important point, but not quite. If a business is having conversations with individuals within its client base they have never spoken to before about subjects that they never thought possible to discuss, that is both rewarding and unexpected.

That is what social media in the enterprise sector should really be about.

Fundamentally social media should enable businesses to break down barriers, redefine perceptions about their brand and products, reach new people and engender community spirit that turns individuals into advocates. Ultimately leading to increased sales, greater customer loyalty and more efficient business processes.

It is not an excuse to say the tools do not exist, because there are providers moving in the right direction.

As PR professionals it is our role to identify the ‘who’ that are having those conversations, so that our clients can engage with and influence those conversations in a way that benefits their business. And without sounding too arrogant we are the right people to do this, because our job has always been to identify the influencers and strike up the right conversations with them.

Yes as with every technology cycle there is a maturing process, but this can’t be the same maturing process reserved for whisky. It needs to happen sooner rather than later, because the theory is pretty solid as demonstrated by Ray Wang.

So stop talking at the back of the class how to do it and get on with it! Otherwise I worry that social media in the B2B will end up being known as that fumble in the dark we’re all slightly embarrassed about.

….or Why “Reading, Travelling And Keep Fit” Will Become The Most Important Part Of The CV Of The Future

I have just spent the last week imaging what our working environment will look like in 2020. Special thanks to Jonathan Hargreaves, Rick Murray and Stefan Stern for their thoughts and inspiration.

One of the discussions centred on the fact that while in the 1980s the world of work was defined by FMCG companies such as Procter & Gamble and Unilever in terms of management style and organisation, while in the 1990s management thinking took inspiration from engineering companies epitomised by the GE Way. By 2000 investment banks (Goldman Sachs, Merrill Lynch, Chase Manhattan) and, to some extent, management consultancies (Boston Consulting Group, McKinsey) were the dominant force.

The broad consensus is that the workplace of 2020 will be driven by technology – the way teams collaborate, the frequency and style of communications, the nature of management and hierarchy, and the overall organisation of work.

However, the workplace of the future will not be dominated by technologists; on the contrary, the technology paradox of 2020 is that non technical, “soft” skills in greater demand than ever before.

There are three key reasons:

· The nature of work in 2020 will exert a premium on employees who thrive in collaborative environments, those who can communicate across a range of media and time-zones to a variety of cultures, in a multiplicity of languages. 2020 collaborative teams will have to find and agree a set of shared values (there will be no default office culture), shape and adhere to a hierarchy which is both virtual and global, and create a working culture that crosses international boundaries, datelines and language. Collaboration on this level is not about technology or automation, it is more about social skills, creating team cultures and building loyalty.

· The consumerisation of technology; by 2020 the number of platforms and media through which organisations can communicate will multiply and they will not distinguish between “workplace” and “leisure-time”. An acute awareness and understanding of these communications media will be fundamental for any organisation; and the skills required to match message with appropriate media – on a global scale – will, by definition, be soft.

· Information overload; if we think we are bombarded by information and stimuli now, 2020 will see even greater pressure on our time and attention spans. The volume and diversity (work and leisure-related) stimuli bombarding the 2020 employee will require a level of judgement, experience, discretion, prioritisation – in short, soft skills – never previously demanded of any generation. 2020 employees will be systematically required to make value judgements on whether, how and when they respond to incoming data on a continual basis. It will not be possible to automate these decisions (the entire process will already be fully and exhaustively automated); what remains will require a level of judgement, opinion, assessment, discretion and experience that is 100% “soft” and 100% “human”.

So the age of technology management may not only be good news for social sciences, it will also add a new level of importance to soft skills often hidden at the bottom of our CVs . . . if, of course, we have CVs in 2020, but that requires another post altogether!

@RogerDara

Ericsson launches a cloud-based machine-to-machine communications platform to help telecoms operators connect more than just laptops and smartphones.

The company believes that more than 50 billion devices will be connected by 2020 and that its Ericsson Device Connection Platform can help operators to quickly deliver M2M solutions to their enterprise customers. Ericsson’s platform will be offered using a Software as a Service (SaaS) model that it believes will minimize barriers to entry in the M2M market.

“We envision a world with 50 billion connected devices in 2020, where everything that benefits from a connection will be connected,” said Magnus Furustam, Vice President, head of Core & IMS at Ericsson. “To get there, Ericsson is working with telecom operators, selected industry verticals and other players across the M2M value chain to create world-leading, innovative technology and sustainable business solutions.”

Ericsson’s Device Connection Platform primarily makes it possible to create tailored connectivity and price plans for M2M services. Ericsson will help telecoms operators to offer enterprise customers a self-service interface, flexible billing, charging and connectivity plans for all devices connected to the network.

“The platform will help operators deliver solutions for devices and applications that have diverse connectivity needs, ranging from sending a single business critical SMS to high-quality video surveillance via the mobile network. Ericsson’s Device Connection Platform addresses these needs and is there to support operators in developing their business in new areas,” said Furustam.

The service will allow telco customers to manage their subscriptions and devices in real time.

Matthew_Whalley

Edel_Telecom

Towards the end of 2010, chatter about ‘Millennials’ significantly increased – not so much to do with their purchasing decisions or sources of influence – but instead about the impact they will have on the future of the workplace.

More tech savvy, collaborative and demanding than Generation X, Millennials going into organisations today, who have grown up in a constantly-connect world, are likely to find existing IT infrastructures and business processes suffocating. With reams of red-tape upholding corporate and IT-usage policies, particularly around the utilisation of applications and devices dictated by the IT department, such working practices may indeed seem alien or unintuitive to Millennials who have grown up to function in a very different way.

I agree with Mark Samuels in his recent piece for silicon.com that, ‘[Millennials] are also far from the clichéd media depiction of tech-savvy anarchists set to destroy established corporate hierarchies,’ but I think that as technology evolves, the use of social media continues to become second nature to younger generations, as well as a more considered platform for business growth, then inevitably it is only a matter of time before significant change occurs. And it won’t just be employees influencing change; it will be customers demanding it too.

Therefore the pressure is on the CIO to make serious decisions about the future delivery of IT to the workforce, whether that’s through cloud models, VDI, supporting ‘bring your own devices’ and so on. A greater challenge can also be ensuring that Millennials and other generations within the organisation are supported to work collaboratively now, catering for the technological capabilities of younger generations while also recognising the needs of employees who haven’t grown up in the connected world we know today.

@LucyDesaDavies

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