Shopping Habits Are Changing, but ICT Can Keep the In-Store Experience Relevant

Gary Barton

Gary Barton

Summary Bullets:

  • If the customer is ‘always right,’ then retailers need to accept that e-commerce is not wrong.
  • The boundary between online and in-store shopping is more blurry than it first appears.

‘Showrooming’ is one of the latest neologisms buzzing around media outlets in the UK and elsewhere.  The word describes a phenomenon that most of us have been aware of for some time and probably many of us are guilty of more often than we would care to admit.  The ‘crime’ is that of walking into a high street store, looking at a product, even trying it on/out and then buying the product online for a lower price – increasingly often via a smartphone whilst still in the store.  The problems of brick-and-mortar costs (rent, rates/tax, energy, staff, etc.) versus online stores are also well known; so how do modern retailers seek to turn around this trend? Read more of this post

Cyber-espionage: The Chinese Are Coming! The Chinese Are Coming!

Paula Musich

Paula Musich

Summary Bullets:

  • Is the Chinese cyber-espionage highlighted in the Verizon breach report escalating, or are we just getting a clearer picture of business as usual?
  • The larger threat still comes from within our own borders and from Eastern Europe.

The new Verizon Data Breach Investigations Report made for good headlines concerning an increase in what it says is cyber-espionage coming from China.  The one-two punch of the earlier Mandiant APT1 report, which offered evidence of the massive cyber-espionage effort conducted by Unit 61398 of China’s People’s Liberation Army, and the new Verizon report puts more pressure on the U.S. government to respond to this apparent increased threat; it also puts the onus on board members of publicly held companies that are targets of espionage to put more resources into the protection of intellectual property.  Just the phrase ‘Chinese cyber-espionage’ has very sinister connotations to it, conjuring up thoughts of attacks on infrastructure, or increasing competition with Chinese companies using stolen IP and cheap manufacturing as a competitive cudgel. Read more of this post

Step Three in Mobilizing Your Contact Center – Let Management Roam

Ken Landoline

Ken Landoline

Summary Bullets:

  • The ubiquitous nature of tablets and smartphones, coupled with the breadth of network access now made available via private and public clouds are making these endpoints valuable tools in managing systems and business processes remotely.
  • Changes in the contact center are occurring rapidly based on new and advanced technologies and the supervisory role of the management team will be affected positively as the use of tablets and smartphones allow supervisors to manage agents and processes more effectively, while roaming inside or outside the enterprise.

In my two previous contact center mobility blogs, I discussed making agents mobile by sending them home and providing a seamless customer experience via a smartphone. Recently while walking the aisles of the Enterprise Connect 2013 exposition this year something got my attention very quickly. Smartphones and tablets were everywhere and their use is transitioning from being a personal communication endpoint to a tool that can be used to simplify and enhance the user interface for demonstration and management purposes. A specific example of a contact center company making this transition is Voice4Net, a provider interactive voice response (IVR) and contact center applications for the enterprise, The company was introducing its new contact center management interface based on the iPad, to be used by contact center supervisors working remotely. The time to mobilize the contact center management team is now upon us. Read more of this post

Are M2M Communications Secure?

Kathryn Weldon

Kathryn Weldon

Summary Bullets:

  • If M2M grows the way the ecosystem hopes it will, there will be millions and even billions of end points sending continuous (as well as more sporadic) data across wired and wireless networks, including proprietary and mission-critical pieces of information about customers and businesses
  • What are operators, systems integrators, and security software and services specialists doing about this? Why doesn’t security seem to be discussed as openly as other M2M requirements?

When holding briefings with operators involved in M2M, security and privacy issues come up occasionally. Generally mobile operators offer APNs, which means that an M2M device is connected to the customer’s private IP network or cloud rather than directly to the carrier’s wireless network or the public internet. This provides a level of built-in network security but doesn’t deal with breaches that come through a corrupted end-point.  Nor does it always prevent unwarranted or malicious access to data behind the firewall. Adding encryption to sensors or other low-end M2M endpoints let alone putting it in a chipset or module may be overly expensive, as is adding end to end encryption to the entire data flow in between the “machine” and wherever the collected data is being sent. SIM cards within embedded modules generally have some level of built-in authentication, but how about application security, device OS security, or the kind of proactive security practiced routinely for remote laptops and mobile devices such as frequently updated anti-virus/spam/denial of service software, intelligent threat detection, and all-purpose managed security services?  Read more of this post

OpenStack and ONS in Same Week; Can’t NetOps and Dev Just Get Along?

Mike Spanbauer

Mike Spanbauer

Summary Bullets:

  • Enterprises struggle with whether a programmatic networks is a developer concept, a networking concept or both
  • The long term success of SDN will eventually depend on solutions being simple to integrate across multi-vendor environments

At the Open Networking Summit this week in Santa Clara, the largest SDN conference and marquee event for the Open Networking Foundation, the leading SDN standards body, it is not lost on this attendee that the event is concurrent with the OpenStack event, a parallel standards body that also fosters open initiatives and technology (though on compute and the software stack vs. networking and the L1-3 services stack).  It is ironic that while this particular conflict was not intentional, it does represent the challenge faced by enterprises who are seeking to incorporate more “open” technologies into their ecosystem.  The question is whether to pursue the early adoption path as is the case with SDN and several solutions which are more coding than CLI configured today, or to wait for the fully “baked” solutions expected to arrive in the future.  The skill sets, staffing challenges, and operational paradigm for each radically differ.  Where one is often sought for a solution that cannot be accomplished by other means, the other is more focused on resource optimization, solution maintenance, and minimized disruption. (While not necessarily technical interruption, introducing a new technology such as SDN is highly disruptive to people and processes at minimum.)

Read more of this post

BYOA and the Enterprise Application Portal: Create Your Own Internal Company Storefront

Joel Stradling

Joel Stradling

Summary Bullets:

  • The concept of ‘consumerization of IT’ is sure to evolve naturally in your organization, as employees want to use applications of their own choosing.
  • Some policy control is essential, and a sanctioned company app store is a good idea.
  • Companies such as Intel give employees an official app store, but users can also freely consume ‘unofficial’ apps from outside this domain.

First, the Chief Information Officer had to deal with the complexities that BYOD brought up; now, there is an increasing momentum to BYOA – in other words ’bring your own application.’  Extending beyond this is the concept of an open storefront for appliances, computing power, storage, OS, databases and so on – in other words, all IT.  Service providers are on board, as evidenced by the launches of several online store initiatives: Interoute launched CloudStore, offering applications, appliances, professional services and more; Belgacom offers Becloud; KPN offers a cloud store; and Orange’s VPN Galerie offers access to many apps developed both by Orange and by independent ISVs.  It is fair to say that the concept is already mature for the SME market place, with Belgacom’s Becloud offerings tailored for the mass SME segment but with more sophistication for larger companies.  Similarly, KPN’s Open Cloud Store gives its reseller partners (ISPs, SIs and other telcos) the opportunity to sell, provision and support cloud services to the diverse Dutch SME market. Read more of this post

Practice Makes Perfect, or at Least Safer

Amy Larsen DeCarlo

Amy Larsen DeCarlo

Summary Bullets

  • Cybercriminals have become increasingly sophisticated in the methods they use to breach the enterprise, but the biggest risk may still be plain old human error.
  • Recent research shows that lost physical documents, missing memory devices, and misplaced laptops are the source of more breaches than online hacking attacks.

As an industry, we spend a considerable amount of time dissecting the latest cyber attacks and forecasting where the next source of trouble will be.  We advocate for enterprises to mount multi-layer defenses against a diverse set of threats leveled by an increasingly well organized contingent of hackers motivated by profit or ideology.  However, recent research serves as a clear reminder that the biggest threat posed to an organization’s data security may not be driven by malice or money.  In fact, the biggest threat may come from plain old fashioned human error. Read more of this post

When Worlds Collide: Augmented Reality Meets the Enterprise

Brad Shimmin

Brad Shimmin

Summary Bullets:

  • Microsoft, Google, Apple, Sony and other manufacturers are actively building wearable computers that will supposedly usher in the next step in human-computer interaction.
  • Ready or not, when these reality augmenting devices will find their way into the enterprise, IT will have to deal not just with new hardware but more importantly with potentially litigious challenges in “human-human interaction.”

Yesterday the rumor mill began citing some rather convincing evidence that Microsoft was readying a new smart watch. That’s right, your shiny new tablet and smartphone are about to become history. The future of the human-computer interface isn’t fingers tapping on glass. As Google’s Sergey Brin showed us at the last Google IO conference, the sky is quite literally the limit when it comes to redefining how we interact with one another through the medium of technology. And they’re not alone. Sony has been working on a wearable computer (the Nextep) for some time now. Samsung and LG have as yet undisclosed projects in the works, and Apple has patented (no surprise there) a wearable computer with a curved screen. Read more of this post

Cloud-based MEAP is a Viable Alternative to Homegrown/Pure Play Software

Charlotte Dunlap

Charlotte Dunlap

Summary Bullets

  • Cloud-based services wiggle into the MEAP market segment
  • Salesforce.com will leverage and extend its successful cloud platform for mobile app development

The mobile app platform market just got a little more crowded and a little more interesting with a couple heavy hitters entering the space from a cloud services perspective. Salesforce.com and HP have just announced separate mobile cloud services, aimed at eliminating the cumbersome software development process involved with traditional software products. Read more of this post

How Open Is OpenStack?

Amy Larsen DeCarlo

Amy Larsen DeCarlo

Summary Bullets:

  • As the OpenStack Summit kicks off this week, the latest release, dubbed ‘Grizzly,’ is attracting notice for its impressive new feature list, which includes new support for VMware and Microsoft hypervisors as well as support for software-defined networking (SDN) implementations from Big Switch, Brocade and others.
  • However, if history teaches us anything, it is that individual vendor and provider implementations of the open source cloud platform may be sufficiently different from one another to eliminate the non-proprietary advantage that OpenStack claims.

In its relatively brief history, OpenStack has made remarkable gains.  Now in its seventh release, the open source cloud solution launched by Rackspace and NASA in 2010 boasts a veritable industry who’s who list of hundreds of developer contributors, including IT heavyweights such as Cisco, Dell, and Red Hat which have helped extend the cloud operating system’s feature set and capabilities to include support for VMware ESX and Microsoft Hyper-V hypervisors, compatibility with SDN implementations from a number of vendors, and more integrated security functionality.  The new features, along with a series of recent announcements of support for the open source infrastructure solution from providers such as IBM (and more organizations including Bloomberg and PayPal running OpenStack in production), highlight just how hot the cloud operating system is right now.  Read more of this post