Secure the Engine to Your Business Future

People use mobile devices, as James Hailey Jr. blogged, “for almost everything they do in their day to day activities like listening to music, work, social applications, and calendar functions.  They allow people to immediately get information and access different resources.  In today’s world, there are more mobile devices than there have ever been in recent years and companies are just realizing the potential opportunities that exist.”

As Daniel Newman blogged, “cloud, mobile devices, Big Data, and social media have become a permanent fixture of today’s business.  From solopreneurs to global enterprises, companies are more connected than ever before to their customers, employees, shareholders, and stakeholders.  Enabled by connectivity and powered by the cloud, this is more than just Marketechture, this is the engine of our business future.”

“By embracing social tools in the cloud,” Rebecca Buisan blogged, “organizations can now attract new customers while at the same time better serve their existing clients, employees, and business partners.”

While cloud and mobile are enabling social business, it is not all blue skies and rainbows.  The age of the mobile device is still young, so as you embrace, with youthful exuberance, the convenience of the mobile-app-portal-to-the-cloud computing model, convenience should not trump security.

As Marissa Tejada blogged, despite your employees’ hands being full of business-enabling mobile devices, too few organizations are making sure mobility and security go hand in hand.  Especially when BYOD puts personal devices into business hands.

One example Allan Pratt blogged about is iOS7’s AirDrop feature, which uses a combination of Bluetooth and Wi-Fi ad-hoc networks.  “The bottom line,” Pratt explained, “is that while AirDrop may sound like a good idea in theory, it needs more security embedded into it for data transfers to be considered.  For SMBs, this means you should be wary of new technology until it has been proven safe and effective for the enterprise.  You don’t want your data walking out the door without your knowledge.”

With big data providing the 1.21 gigawatts (often with a lot more than 1.21 gigabytes) of power, social, cloud, and mobile technology is the flux capacitor driving companies of all sizes forward to the future of business.  Just as lightning never strikes twice, you don’t want to end up looking back in time, second-guessing why you didn’t secure the engine to your business future.

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Data is a Game Changer

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Nowadays we hear a lot of chatter, rather reminiscent of the boisterous bluster of sports talk radio debates, about the potential of big data and its related technologies to enable predictive and real-time analytics and, by leveraging an infrastructure provided by the symbiotic relationship of cloud and mobile, serve up better business performance and an enhanced customer experience.

Sports have always provided great fodder for the data-obsessed with its treasure troves of statistical data dissecting yesterday’s games down to the most minute detail, which is called upon by experts and amateurs alike to try to predict tomorrow’s games as well as analyze in real-time the play-by-play of today’s games.  Arguably, it was the bestselling book Moneyball by Michael Lewis, which was also adapted into a popular movie starring Brad Pitt, that brought data obsession to the masses, further fueling the hype and overuse of sports metaphors such as how data can be a game changer for businesses in any industry and of any size.

The Future is Now Playing on Center Court

Which is why it is so refreshing to see a tangible real-world case study for big data analytics being delivered with the force of an Andy Murray two-handed backhand as over the next two weeks the United States Tennis Association (USTA) welcomes hundreds of thousands of spectators to New York City’s Flushing Meadows for the 2013 U.S. Open tennis tournament.  Both the fans in the stands and the millions more around the world will visit, via the web or mobile apps, in order to follow the action, watch live-streamed tennis matches, and get scores, stats, and the latest highlights and news thanks to IBM technologies.

Before, during, and after each match, predictive and real-time analytics drive IBM’s SlamTracker tool.  Before matches, IBM analyzes 41 million data points collected from eight years of Grand Slam play, including head-to-head matches, similar player types, and playing surfaces.  SlamTracker uses this data to create engaging and compelling tools for digital audiences, which identify key actions players must take to enhance their chances of winning, and give fans player information, match statistics, social sentiment, and more.

The infrastructure that supports the U.S. Open’s digital presence is hosted on an IBM SmartCloud.  This flexible, scalable environment, managed by IBM Analytics, lets the USTA ensure continuous availability of their digital platforms throughout the tournament and year-round.  The USTA and IBM give fans the ability to experience the matches from anywhere, with any device via a mobile-friendly site and engaging apps for multiple mobile platforms.  Together these innovations make the U.S. Open experience immediate and intimate for fans sitting in the stands or on another continent.

Better Service, More Winners, and Fewer Unforced Errors

In tennis, a service (also known as a serve) is a shot to start a point.  In business, a service is a shot to start a point of positive customer interaction, whether that’s a point of sale or an opportunity to serve a customer’s need (e.g., resolving a complaint).

In tennis, a winner is a shot not reached by your opponent, which wins you a point.  In business, a winner is a differentiator not reached by your competitor, which wins your business a sale when it makes a customer choose your product or service.

In tennis, an unforced error is a failure to complete a service or return a shot, which cannot be attributed to any factor other than poor judgement or execution by the player.  In business, an unforced error is a failure to service a customer or get a return on an investment, which cannot be attributed to any factor other than poor decision making or execution by the organization.

Properly supported by enabling technologies, businesses of all sizes, and across all industries, can capture and analyze data to uncover hidden patterns and trends that can help them achieve better service, more winners, and fewer unforced errors.

How can Data change Your Game?

Whether it’s on the court, in the stands, on the customer-facing front lines, in the dashboards used by executive management, or behind the scenes of a growing midsize business, data is a game changer.  How can data change your game?

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The Symbiotic Relationship of Cloud and Mobile

“Although many people are calling for a cloud revolution in which everyone simultaneously migrates their systems to the cloud,” David Linthicum recently blogged, “that’s not going to happen.  While there will be no mass migration, there will be many one-off cloud migration projects that improve the functionality of systems, as well as cloud-based deployments of new systems.”

“This means that,” Linthicum predicted, “cloud computing’s growth will follow the same patterns of adoption we saw for the PC and the Web.  We won’t notice many of the changes as they occur, but the changes will indeed come.”  Perhaps the biggest driver of the cloud-based changes to come is the way many of us are using the cloud today — as a way to synchronize data across our multiple devices, the vast majority of which nowadays are mobile devices.

John Mason recently blogged about the symbiotic relationship between the cloud and mobile devices, which “not only expands the reach of small and midsize businesses, it levels the playing field too, helping them compete in a quickly changing business environment.  Cloud-based applications help businesses stay mobile, agile, and responsive without sacrificing security or reliability, and even the smallest of companies can provide their customers with fast, around-the-clock access to important data.”

The age of the mobile device is upon us and it is thanks mainly to the cloud-based applications floating above us, enabling a mobile-app-portal-to-the-cloud computing model that is well-supported by the widespread availability of high-speed network connectivity options since, no matter where we are, it seems like a Wi-Fi or broadband mobile network is always available.

As more and more small and midsize businesses continue to leverage the symbiotic relationship between the cloud and mobile to build relationships with customers and rethink how work works, they are enabling the future of the collaborative economy.

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Caffeinated Thoughts on Technology for Midsize Businesses

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