Seventhman Blog

  1. BYOD Policy: Practical Tips for Small Business Owners

    "byod policy"I believe that some of you may have allowed remote working in your organization to help maximize productivity and minimize the cost of doing business.  Yet, some of you may be worried about the challenges that your BYOD crowd brings – from viruses, risk of data loss and other security nightmares that you can only imagine.  In an era where information resides on the cloud for everyone to easily access, having this flexibility may come at the high price of compromising the privacy of your company’s sensitive data.  If your employees work from mobile devices, the risk is two times higher.  How can you define that blurred line between work and personal computing in a way that’s mutually beneficial for both parties?

    BYOD Policy: Do You Really Need One?

    From social media, cloud computing, mobile, to virtualization of all types – we hear how small business owners face more issues with each new technology created.  Now, with the Bring-Your-Own-Device (or BYOD) movement, we’ve added more headaches to help desk as people ask for more support in accessing emails, databases and other valuable data from remote location… all in the name of productivity.  While empowering your employees to use their own devices to find solutions to your business needs may be great, having a policy can strengthen that trust factor through awareness and proper implementation.  As they say, with freedom and power comes responsibility.

    Creating a Robust BYOD Policy for Your Business

    To start, I’d say it’s not an easy job to write policies.. no matter what they are for.  Thanks to BYOD policy templates like those from White House BYOD Toolkit and IT Manager, you now have a guide to creating your own.  While it’s tempting to just copy it all, know that no two businesses are alike.  You still need to customize that policy to fit in with your current needs.  Make sure that you tailor your policy to your business code and ethics.  It helps to keep these pointers in mind too:

    1. Define what devices will be supported and what the network requirements are.
    2. Define user, corporate and IT responsibilities – including monitoring of usage and right to privacy
    3. Create a simple, clear and consistent policy that will cover all servers and technologies used
    4. Make sure to clearly define who owns the data or application on a device – from resetting a device to data deletion
    5. Check on what you’re all currently using to help you set up usage and sharing guidelines
    6. Use complex passwords, PINs and data encryption to add more security
    7. Restrict apps and choose them wisely before allowing your people to use it
    8. Manage wisely – from having a help desk to assist your employees to management software that keep tabs of data flow
    9. Define the consequences of policy violation (which can include job termination)
    10. Educate your employees at all times and implement effectively

     

    The whole point of having a BYOD policy is to protect your rights, as well as those of your employees.  The last thing you want is to restrict them to the point that working remotely feels more miserable than having to show up in the office.  Clarity and consistency are the keys to your policy’s success.  Good Luck!

    … and a Happy Thanksgiving from us all!  -Shaleen

     

     

  2. Are You Ready to Fight Patent Trolls?

    "patent troll"Patent infringement claims run aplenty and we hear lots of non-practicing entities caught up in lawsuits against thousands of small to large-scale businesses each day.  One can only wonder if these trolls are doing it for a living, especially when it’s easier and less costly to come up with a settlement than end up in a legal battle.  You may be wondering why I’m writing this post when it doesn’t seem to be related to my business at all.  The fact is that everyone in business should take the proactive step of protecting their rights, especially when it involves patents on your products and services.  You don’t want to wake up one day scratching your head as you stare at that cease-and-desist letter.

    Patent Trolls: From Ridiculousness to Reality

    It’s all about the money.  Come to think of it, these patent trolls’ real assets are those patents they have chased… and they’re winning by the millions.  Some businesses have fought back real hard and yet, there are those who lost the battle.  Think of it this way: You might have a great idea, product, service.. but unless you own it in black and white, there will always be those who will exploit the system and leave you pulling your hair out.  While there have been talks of bringing about change to reduce the instances of patent trolling, small businesses and startups are at the front line of this raging war; they need protection badly.

    The End of Innovation as We Know It

    Talks abound of innovation, disruptive or not, the danger is real when businesses are forced into situations they cannot win.  The burden of legal fees alone is enough to make one quit what was once a promising venture.  In an ideal world, the patent system must serve as a foundation for innovation to prosper; not a money-making machine for the unscrupulous few.  You think you are safe now, but if your business is dependent on intellectual property, you may find a troll puffing your house down like some bad wolf – claiming infringement and licensing fees.  Believe it or not, these trolls are purely bred for one purpose: threaten lawsuits.  You can always choose to fight back.  Just how much are you willing to spend on that?

    What Can You Do to Protect Yourself?

    It’s great to see law schools teaming up with developers to educate them where legal issues are concerned, and we’ve seen law clinics sprout like mushrooms in different states.  Still, these patent trolls know that it would cost you less to settle than to litigate, and they will take advantage of this.  I’m no lawyer to give you legal advice; I’m just here to warn you to be ready at all times before they come knocking.  It’s like a plague that when you opt to settle, more extortionists will come just to see how far you can stretch.  And when you find that ridiculous letter demanding you to make things right, don’t panic.  Do your research and buddy up with those who have taken arms to fight for the same cause.  Don’t be scared.  Don’t sign that Non-Disclosure Agreement either.  Know your rights and stand strong… for reforms are on its way to making things right for real innovators and inventors out there.

    ** If you’re an application developer in the U.S. and you want to help stop patent trolls for good, you may join the fight with the Application Developers Alliance HERE

     

     

     

  3. What’s the Next Big Thing in Technology?

    "next big thing"We’re just a few days away before 2013 finally closes its chapter and we hear of talks about the ‘next big thing’ in technology.  I bet that tech giants out there are feeling tremendous pressure as people are expecting them to come up with a product that makes you say ‘Wow!’ – from internet, software, smartphones, tablets and so much more.  Who will be the next biggest disruptor?  This is the question I’ve been asking lately when I wrote a post about disruptive innovation.  Many of these big things morphed into big hype not because they didn’t stand up to people’s expectations, but these trends became part of an overused phrase that makes the next big.. meme.

    Getting High in the High Tech Lane

    Like many out there, I’m starting to have doubts.  Will there be a next big thing in technology?  We’ve read countless posts about wearable computing and Google glass will soon launch a new line of prescription lenses.  Perhaps, a new social network that can put Facebook out of it’s No.1 spot?  A new way of adopting cloud models?  The possibilities are endless and expectations run high each year that puts big brands on the hot seat of product research and development, like some game show on primetime TV.  Haven’t we seen Apple suffering from this?  While some may argue that tech companies can’t innovate from the ground level, it might surprise you how small businesses are coming up with new and interesting stuff.

    Technologies We Love to Hate…and Love

    In the fast lane where tech products crash and burn, there will always be those that over-promised and under-delivered.  Who do we blame: The media or ourselves?  It doesn’t matter much what the answer is.  I believe you’re all too familiar with these overhyped words: Big Data, Augmented Reality, 3D Printing, Cloud, NFC, Mobile Wallet, Wearable Tech (only to name a few).  In fact, Gartner can summarize these catch phrases into one: Hype Cycle.  What started as a useful technology has reached the height of its peak that it’s getting out of sync with reality.  The disillusionment keeps businesses floating in the cloud of great ideas that they lose their capacities to execute smart decisions well.  Instead of efficiency, lower costs, greater profits and better processes – we see the opposite.

    Continuing the Search for the Next Big Thing

    I’m not sure if it’s just me, but I think that it’s only human to hope for bigger and better things.  There will always be this danger with anything new and the trouble is that you can’t simply know which bubble is about to burst.  Sometimes, you only have to look back to the basics and address the struggles your clients are facing, to come up with something new and useful.  Who wouldn’t want an easier integration where their accounting, inventory and customer relationships are concerned?  Who would like to have something that’s both fast and secured?  Who would like to have the best of speed, simplicity, flexibility, security and quality at a fraction of a cost?  In my opinion, addressing those who would say s/he wants all these is the starting point of coming up with the next big thing.. for real.

     

     

     

  4. Are You Ready to Disrupt… Disruption?

    "disruptive innovation"If you recall, I’ve blogged about ‘Disruptive Innovation‘ last July.  This catchphrase is getting more popular as time passes by that I have to stop and wonder if this is just another hype in the making.  Everyone seems to be wanting a fresh perspective and feels confident enough to say that they want to disrupt.  Still, I believe that true innovation requires more than having great ideas, which are a dime a dozen.  Innovation requires knowledge.  It doesn’t matter where you get those crucial insights, from within your organization or from outside consultants.  That person may have the freshest idea in the room but if this is not realistic and workable, it’s just another smart suggestion.  To succeed as an innovator, you must mix expertise with experience.

    Disruptive Innovation: Another Meaningless Buzzword?

    Dan Rowinski wrote about How Researchers Map the Future of Innovation, and his insights got me intrigued that I’ve asked him a question. Is it by coincidence that the word ‘Disruptive’ is also tagged as “MoonShots”?  It’s just a shame that Disruptive Innovation is fast-becoming another industry buzzword void of any real meaning.  It suddenly compels entrepreneurs to think of something so different (sometimes bizarre) and unrealistic or else, they may feel like a big failure.. of not being disruptive enough.  Here comes the innovator’s dilemma then, that in search of the next big thing, you fail to address the most basic issue of all which has the highest chance of making a difference in the lives of your customers.  Consequently, it’s not surprising why customer experience is still a hit-or-miss deal with many businesses, big or small.

    Exploring the Myth of Disruptive Innovation

    If I were to thoroughly discuss this in bits and tiny details, I would have written a book about it instead.  I don’t have that luxury of time.  Back to the topic, we haven’t even defined what real innovation means and we’re already wanting to disrupt it.  We even see many who are calling themselves as disruptor and I don’t have the right to question this.  How many times have we read people writing about the end of technology A-Z and predicting that this will happen with the help of something disruptive?  A lot.  Are major brands like Apple, Google and Microsoft simply lucky by coming up with new products that are deemed disruptive? I bet it took them lots of research and testing before coming up with ways of changing things for the better; it simply didn’t happen out of thin air.

    There’s More to Innovation than Disruption

    No offense to Clayton Christensen, this Harvard business expert who coined in this popular term.  I just believe that there’s more to innovation than having a wonderful set of theories to begin with.  Surely, the seduction of becoming a disruptive innovator is great as it comes with fortune and fame.  The challenge now is how you can keep both your feet on the ground while your mind floats in the cloud of countless possibilities.  Sometimes, it’s good to ask your customers for their insights as they may hold that big secret you may be missing.  No matter, it will all come down to solving real problems and making things better for everyone.  That’s when you disrupt what’s broken and help everyone adapt to change.. for the greater good.  Would you agree?

     

     

     

  5. A Nightmare on IT Security Street

    "IT Security Flaws"Just in time for the Halloween, I’m writing this post to share with you security horror stories that give you the creeps, 365 days in a year.  IT executives are constantly battling these monsters that threaten the very safety of where their businesses are built.  As mobility reshapes the way we live, work and play – one can only wonder how protected your data really is on the cloud.  IT security will always feel like some slippery slope and with newer applications created each day come tremendous battles against privacy issues and data breach.  Can IT experts truly catch up in keeping both devices and data secured?

    IT Security Nightmares that Keep Tech Executives Up All Night

    In a digital age where information is power and data is commodity, people and businesses’ valuable data are like apples ready for the picking.  There are those who earn millions from buying and selling personal information in the black market.  In fact, we hear stories of data breach from time to time that it sounds like the new normal these days.  Just take for example this latest story affecting Experian and its users.  Like many of us in the tech world, we’re constantly fighting against:

    1. Human Error – It might surprise you that the biggest contributor to security risks is the human factor, of educating and training employees to keep their data and devices safe.  Even with company data policies, complacency and misuse runs like a plague.

    2. Theft – From mobile device theft where confidential data are stored to online identity theft, it poses greater risks to both individuals and businesses alike.

    3. Application Monster – Thanks to the BYOD movement, people simply love downloading free apps to their smart phones without carefully reading the set of permissions they’re granting.  That seemingly-harmless flashlight app may open a huge door to privacy violations if you’re not careful enough.

    4. The Ghost Database – Those running multiple retail locations may feel overconfident about their database security that they might miss vulnerabilities on their servers.  The last thing you want is a database of your customers’ unencrypted credit card numbers waiting to be exposed to unscrupulous hackers.

    5.  Backup Fail – Just because you can store and run almost anything on the cloud doesn’t mean you have to put your guard down.  Keeping a backup of your data will always come in handy, just in case you accidentally lose them.

    As they say, prevention is better than a cure.  Make sure that your business is well-equipped with the right technology and quality IT security team to help you overcome these challenges.  Better safe than sorry..

     

     

     

  6. The Rise of the Digital Marketer

    "digital marketing trend"Digital marketers are on the rise and many companies are hiring one to be called innovative these days.  You may probably be wondering if this is another buzz word where social media and mobility comes into play.  Thanks to data analytics and new platforms, it is now easier for marketers to reach more audience as they measure the effectiveness of their campaigns to the last number.  But in doing so, one can only wonder if all those big data crunched into quantifiable results can cost marketing professionals the creativity to think spontaneously outside the box.

    Stepping Out of the Siloes

    Is it about time for the C-Suite to step away from the traditional way their marketing is run and shift to the digital space?  When the boundary between marketing and IT diminishes, decision makers must think of ways on how the two can work seamlessly together to help achieve business goals.  If you’re clueless about digital marketing, think of it as a marriage between technology and marketing. For the same reason that we see the rise of the Chief Marketing Technologist in organizations, businesses must be ready to adapt a hybrid role.  One can’t simply focus on IT alone without touching the marketing side of things.  Problem is that not everyone can fill in hybrid roles as it’s tough to find someone who is part-data scientist who can interpret data analytics and part-artist who can come up with creative campaigns.

    Getting Lost in the Digital Wild West

    Do you trust anyone who can offer you the answer to your business needs?  One of the greatest sins every business owner is guilty of is treating marketing as some kind of magic pill that will resolve everything.  You may think that ‘digital marketing’ went up a notch, but it actually isn’t.  The term may sound new, like music to your ears.  Know that there’s no international standards yet in this field.  With too much data for analysis, there are multiple ways to come up with strategies on how to connect with leads.  At the heart of every business is communications and no matter how relatively new digital marketers are to the field, delivering a great customer experience is something that you can’t automate with all the tools and dashboards on the Web.

    Are You Ready to Embrace Digital Marketing?

    You must clearly identify your purpose as to why you want a change in the way you market your brand – online, offline or both.  You don’t simply collect content creators, curators, social media marketers, etc. and hope that everything will fall into place.  That system is bound to fail.  Then, there are terms you need to comply with – from search engines to social networking sites.  If you’re not prepared, you may put your brand value at risk instead.  How do you even know that a digital marketer will help you spread the word about your brand online?  It might surprise you that according to the study: Digital Distress: What Keeps Marketers Up at Night?, 66% of marketers feel digital is critical to their company’s success and yet, less than half feel highly proficient in digital marketing.  Shocking?  Only 9% of marketers are confident enough to say that what they’re doing works.

    The Moral of this Story:  We are living in a data-driven age and companies now have the luxury of getting their hands on customer information.  Digital marketing may just help you make informed decisions in which platforms to use so you can reach the right audience with your marketing message… at the right time.  That needs work and there are just no shortcuts.

     

     

     

  7. IT, Project Management and The Impossible Dream

    "project management"Is there such a thing as a perfect project management method?  As businesses are struggling to implement Agile with all the rapid iteration in the hope of coming up with something innovative, the pressure is on.  We’re currently in the last quarter of the year and one can only look back to January to see if you’ve got more items ticked on your wish list.  From status reporting, budgeting, managing teams to numerous technology that allows you to do all these in a breeze, surely, there’s one (or more) things you would like to wish for this coming 2014?

    An IT Project Manager’s Wish List

    You might wonder why I’m writing about this too early when we are a few months’ away from the coming of the new year.  The thing is, there’s never such a thing as ‘too early’ or ‘too late’ if you want to implement real change, right now.  I believe that most of you can relate to one or more of the items here:

    Wish #1 Managing the Right Team

    While every project manager wishes for the best team, it is only the best project managers who can bring out the best in each person (no matter how hopeless).  Would you agree?

    Wish #2 Getting More Involved

    For those of you who are working with big organizations, being included in key management decisions is an ultimate dream.  It would feel so much better when the right expectations are set because IT is not some magic pill that will solve every issue in the business.

    Wish #3 Clarity

    In line with the item above, if there’s strong leadership support, it’s easier to manage stakeholders.  Having a clear objective and clearly communicating it can help avoid delays, slipups and all the ugly situations in between.

    Wish #4 User-Friendly Project Management and Collaboration Tools

    While the internet is rich with tools to get things done, finding something simple for everyone on the team to use is just a minor challenge; getting everyone to accept the idea of using it is another.

    Wish #5  Earning Trust and Respect

    Project management is about respecting, empowering and entrusting your team.  It’s seldom that project managers get to earn their team’s respect especially in running a diverse team of skills, personalities and dreams.  Only a few has conquered the unimaginable..

    And wouldn’t any IT project manager want issues to be resolved by themselves, that resources can be put on auto-mode to keep everyone productive, and that clients won’t make any request for changes?  Now, these are wishful thinking.

    In reality, project management is not for project managers alone and there will always be unique challenges to face.  One thing’s for sure though: Technology speeds up the way we work and communicate, helping us make better and informed decisions.

    Is there a wish you have right now where managing your IT project is concerned?  I am no genie, but my experience allows me to guide you in the right direction.  How Can I Help?