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. Bridging Outsourcing and Innovation in the 21st Century

    "outsourcing_and_innovation"Innovation is like a nebula for many businesses and yet, everyone is hungry to have a bite of this fuzzy word to become globally competitive these days.  We all know that cost savings is the top driver of an outsourced project and next to it is direct access to quality expertise.  Then, we have strategic benefit that one can get when outsourcing a project – from freeing up one’s resources, flexibility to changing the rules of the competitive market.  Seldom do we hear innovation as the major reason for outsourcing and yet, it has become one of the biggest disappointments executives have today.  It’s not a surprising news, really.

    The Ugly Truth:  There’s No Reward for Innovation

    Outsourced providers are given a set of standards for operating within the cost and there’s just no reward for bold moves in these deals. That’s the reality.  Innovation in outsourcing involves change and the need to do things differently, which can disrupt the work flow.  So, how can businesses succeed in innovation at outsourcing?  Or, is it even possible?

    Making Room for Open Innovation

    If you want to get more than just the regular supply of goods or services from your outsourced provider, you can open up the communication channels to welcome new ideas that can help solve problems, or create new opportunities for the business.  The key here is involving everyone, giving them a voice that will make them feel part of the project.  This feeling can be powerful enough to make them more productive at work because there’s a sense of ownership that’s non-existent before.  Innovation must start from within..

    Change Management with a Vengeance

    It’s human nature to resist change and yet, innovation can only happen when people are willing to accept a change.  This is where multi-tiered governance comes in to help manage communication and operations between the business and vendor’s executives.  Good governance matters a lot here and it’s like conducting a philharmonic orchestra; you’ve got to make sure the rhythm’s right.  How do you get key stakeholders play along with everyone else?

    Fixing the Innovation Cycle

    A report from Gartner shows that innovation is lacking in outsourcing deals in 2010, where focus is centered on cost instead.  This year, more businesses are allocating funds for innovation and they are aware of the risk of failure.  If innovation is hard to come by in certain departments, getting an external consultant may be the answer – to bring down costs.  The only question is:  Will people within the organization build resistance to the outsider, keeping him/her from adding innovative value?

    Innovation, like outsourcing, is a strategy.  Can the two work seamlessly together?  Many are trying to bridge this gap, especially in new territories that run with cultural and geographical barriers.  In a good business sense, the right outsourcing vendor have a big room for innovation – where people are equipped with the expertise to develop innovative applications to whatever niche it is required for.  Sometimes, all it takes to innovate is taking… baby steps.