What Are Ultra Mobiles?

Nicolas Zeitler

Market research specialists Gartner predict that sales of “ultra mobiles” will quadruple in the next two years. Here, a closer look at this category of mobile device.

 Gartner singles out the Apple MacBook Air as a prime example of an ultra mobile. (Photo: Apple)

Though still classified as a niche product, Gartner predicts that ultra mobiles will hit the mainstream market in the very near future. Fewer than 10 million ultra mobile devices were sold off the shelf last year, but unit sales are expected to rise to 20 million in 2013 and then to over 39 million in 2014 – that’s a 100% increase year on year. By contrast, sales of desktop PCs and notebooks will, according to Gartner, fall sharply from 341 million in 2012 to 289 million in 2014. So, what exactly is different about ultra mobiles and where will they be used?

Until now, tablets – chiefly the iPad – have been seen as the successors to the traditional combination of desktop PC and keyboard. And the tablet has certainly established itself in the market, with 120 million units sold in 2012 and Gartner forecasting sales of 276 million devices in 2014. Ultra mobiles have been around for a while too though: Microsoft and Intel first presented this class of device to the market as long ago as CeBIT 2006. It had the dimensions of a tablet PC, a touchscreen, and a few more buttons around the edge than today’s tablets do. The operating system at the time was the tablet version of Windows XP. Samsung also presented an ultra mobile device, which, according to the German online news, featured a 7-inch screen and 800 x 480-pixel screen resolution, weighed 1.7 pounds, and was just over an inch thick.

A cross between a PC and a tablet

Gartner singles out the Apple MacBook Air – positioned between the MacBook Pro and the iPad in the Apple product range – as a prime example of an ultra mobile. In principle, say the market researchers, ultra mobiles are devices that can perform the same tasks as a PC but that can be used on the move like a tablet. This means that they are both compact and light.

However, a quick look at today’s market shows that Gartner’s definition does not always allow a clear distinction to be made between ultra mobiles and other classes of device. In terms of their dimensions and function, ultra mobiles fit somewhere between a tablet and a PC or netbook, which is designed for mobile – chiefly Internet – use and does not usually have a CD/DVD drive. The devices that Toshiba markets as “ultra mobiles” weigh in at 3.26 pounds and upwards – and therefore come across more as ultra-light notebooks. The manufacturer advertises them explicitly as a working device for “mobile workers”. The same applies to Sony’s VAIO series of ultra mobile notebooks.

The picture is very different with the Panasonic Toughbook CF-U1, which is used, among other things, to log measurement data and process building plans on construction sites. Panasonic describes its products as “ruggedized”, meaning that they are built to be particularly robust and resistant to both dust and water. With its keyboard built in directly under the screen, the Toughbook CF-U1 does not fold up like a clamshell-style notebook. In that respect, it is more like a tablet – though, at 2.24 inches, it is much thicker than other members of that particular species.

Difficult to define by screen size

This overview illustrates that, in practice, it is still difficult to categorize individual devices. Particularly if you try to define dimensions that classify a device as “very light and small”. German electronics retailer Saturn describes ultra mobiles as devices with a screen size of 7 inches or less. That definition would fit the Panasonic Toughbook CF-U1, which has a 5.6-inch screen, but not the Toshiba ultra mobile family, which has screen sizes ranging from 13.3 to 14 inches.

This post is by Nicolas A. Zeitler.


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What Lies Within – A Cautionary Tale Of Fraud Prevention

Richard Barrett

Fraud Prevention From The Inside Out

What Lies Within - A Cautionary Tale Of Fraud PreventionIt’s a worrying thought, but the biggest threat to your business may not come from external forces such as low-wage competitors in emerging markets, political and economic instability, man-made disasters, industry scandals or even disruptive cyber-threats such as hacktivists.  The danger often lurks within.

While you’re focused the obvious risk and compliance priorities – financial reporting, credit risks or import-export regulations – myriad small-scale but cumulatively significant fraudulent acts could be happening right under your nose.  Actually, the economic climate has plenty to do with it: as employees are forced to work harder or longer hours to keep their jobs, facing pay freezes, lay-offs or zero-hours contracts, some may feel increasingly disgruntled or entitled.  The temptation to skim a little from the company can prove irresistible – bordering on rational, even.

It’s easily done.  Over-reaching access privileges to enterprise systems can lay a business wide open to, at best, inadvertent errors, and at worst, deliberate fraud. Let’s say an individual with budgetary responsibility (plus a grudge and/or oppressive levels of personal debt) is authorised not only to set up new vendors in your purchasing system of record, but also to approve payments.  It doesn’t take a criminal mastermind to exploit the company’s failure to provide adequate segregation of duty (SoD), in order to drip-feed modest sums into a real account for a fictitious supplier over time.

Many companies have themselves partly to blame in taking a somewhat patchy approach to risk management and compliance. Often, departments or business units may be independently tasked with identifying and measuring their respective risks, and implementing and enforcing policies to address them.

Various tools and technologies can automate and help you win the war on internal fraud on an enterprise-wide basis.  For example, a robust access control solution could swiftly detect our hypothetical SoD violation and retract the individual’s permission to perform one of the conflicting functions.  In-memory analytics can enable something akin to “predictive policing” by continuously monitoring mitigating controls and providing visibility into trends and patterns buried in massive amounts of data. This approach can identify when suspect activity is being attempted, or even intercept wild, risky financial behaviours only one step removed from gambling, which might bring the company into disrepute or attract stern treatment from the regulators.

Given that it looks like we’re in for a sustained period of austerity, such analytical tools are likely to become ever more crucial in mitigating the risk of impropriety within your business and safeguarding your good corporate name.

To find out more on risk management, check out these Top Tips.


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Why HR And The CEO Should Be Joined At The Hip

John Bell

Why HR And The CEO Should Be Joined At The Hip

HR And The CEO Joined At The Hip

The day the Jacobs Suchard (now part of Kraft Foods) Board of Directors promoted me to the corner office, they strongly suggested I align myself with the CFO. The advice proved excellent, and for the rest of my days in the corner office I was joined at the hip by an outstanding finance executive who is now the CFO of Lindt & Sprüngli, the world’s leading chocolatier.

My regret is that I did not free up my other hip for Human Resources, a small team of eager young managers at the rear of the functional pecking order.

Now I must admit that my Jacobs Suchard alumni would be the first to point out that marketing occupied that prime piece of pelvic real estate. After all, I had come up the corporate ladder through the marketing ranks. Yes, we were a marketing-driven company and yes, my mind was consumed with marketing and strategy; but, it wasn’t marketing wizardry alone that made the organization sing.

The exquisite and enthusiastic melodic rhapsody was performed by the entire orchestra. In the background, my Glee Club (HR) made culture their top strategic priority. You see, the “talk” of cultural strategy (at the time, we called it the credo) that hung on the walls of the offices and the factories was “walked” by the leadership team.

Ultimately, it is the CEO who determines the corporate culture, whether it is good or bad. During my tenure, I was extremely competitive, action-oriented and results-driven. So is it any wonder that my employees held the same values?

I’ll explain the cohesion this way: Firstly, our cultural characteristics were monitored and measured. Secondly, we recruited for the right fit, the right cultural mindset, followed by skills. Thirdly, we understood and appreciated the fact that our superior financial results were the result of this modus operandi.

Could I have done more if HR had been attached to that other hip? There’s no doubt.

Today, with declining loyalty and greater job hopping, it is critical that CEOs partner with HR. Here are four good reasons why:

HR’s Most Important Role Is to Influence the CEO on the Corporate Culture

This is especially important in ‘revolving door’ environments where global companies make a habit of inserting up-and-comers into general management roles in foreign lands and/or smaller business units.

An Adept HR Executive Is the CEO’s Window

HR can be an excellent radar screen for ‘reading the tea leaves’ amongst the work force with regard to organizational health. The individual should be on top of changes to business plans and how they are being accepted. Key to success is the HR executive’s ability to instill trust at all levels.

The ‘window’ begins to close when the Human Resources department becomes cops. CEOs must watch for that.

HR Ensures an Effective System to Pinpoint High-potential Talent and Probable Successors

This brings me back to culture and this is why Procter & Gamble and Wal-Mart are very good succession planners. By the time an executive rises to the top, he or she will have spent several years within the organization. The CEO designate will be a ‘believer’ in the culture that makes their company great.

A strategic HR Team Can Be Instrumental in Helping a CEO Realize a Leader’s Greatest Sense of Gratification

A CEO should be encouraging, nurturing and allowing human beings to reach their full potential, both personally and professionally.

Take a look at the perennial success companies. Often, they have a ‘way’ . . . a distinctive culture that works for them. The custodian of the ‘way’ is the Chief Executive Officer and the Chief Human Resources Officer. It is time to use the HR group strategically and bring their leader into the board room.

The only person who can do that is the CEO.

Art by: phoeniX252


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A Phone Network for Business Commerce? Proceed at Your Own Risk (Part 2)

Chris Rauen

A Phone Network for Business Commerce? Proceed at Your Own Risk (Part 2)Last week, we distinguished cell phone, EDI, and e-invoice only networks with networks designed for true business commerce collaboration. The main advantage of an “intelligent” business network is the ability to validate data, not just deliver documents electronically, and apply generic and configurable business rules across many business processes and document types.

Taming the procure-to-pay process is an area of focus for many organizations, and high rates of touchless processing require robust data validation, especially for the invoice. Here, there are many areas where validation comes into play. There are general invoice rules; invoice address rules; PO, blanket PO, and non-PO invoice rules; and VAT rules to name a few. The inability to configure validation business rules for any of these areas can compromise the reliability of the transaction. That means your staff must spend extra time and effort resolving errors and exceptions, which defeats the purpose of automation.

Let’s look at some examples of data validation that apply to an invoice:

General invoice rules

  • Number of days a supplier is allowed to back-date an invoice
  • Checks against duplicate invoice
  • Allow suppliers to send invoice attachments
  • Allow suppliers to send invoices with service information
  • Require line-item credit memo to reference another invoice

Invoice address rules

  • Require Bill-to and Sold-to address
  • Require Ship-from and Ship-to address
  • Enforce strict address validation for required address fields

PO and blanket PO invoice rules

  • Check that the correct PO number has been used and that there are open lines on the PO
  • Check that items such as quantity and price are within ERP tolerances
  • Require a final approval step for high-value PO over certain thresholds
  • Allow suppliers to create a tax rate and type for invoices and credit memos

Non-PO invoice rules

  • Allow suppliers to send them, and require a valid email address
  • Require a requester on the invoice
  • Automatically assign account codes by supplier or commodity
  • Require a final approval step for high-value invoices over certain thresholds (similar to PO invoices)

VAT tax rules

  • Enable country-based invoice rules that leverage the independent analysis performed by an auditor to check that invoices meet all the legal requirements for electronic invoicing.
  • Check that suppliers have used the correct tax rates and identifying fields.

Contract invoicing is another area where business networks add substantial value. Following a similar process that matches POs to invoices through a PO-Flip® process, buyers can send contract elements to the business network and have invoices checked against contracts. This capability is extremely valuable for service-based invoices, so you can check that the right price has been used or that a supplier is invoicing against an agreed upon time period.

As these examples of an intelligent business network suggest, restricting data validation to header-level information will limit the impact and results of your e-commerce initiative. Without robust data validation, you will continue to manage errors and exceptions manually, driving up costs and dragging out the processing cycle.

What’s more, the examples above focus only on the purchase order, contract and invoice. New opportunities for business process transformation exist when you can extend validation to related supply chain documents such as change orders, order confirmations, advance ship notices, and vendor profile documents and certificates, along with business documents that serve other parts of your business such as Human Resources.

As you begin to chart your course into the networked economy, make sure you compare the value of an intelligent business network that provides validation for many business processes and documents against a network that focuses on data transmission, or validation only for a single document type or process. In the Accounts Payable world, without the ability to broadly apply business rules and validate line-level invoice detail, you will only pass invoices to AP faster, not through AP faster. That may improve your current process, but it won’t deliver the high match and touchless processing rates that drive the return on investment from P2P automation.

The Networked Economy blogger and Ariba Director of EMEA Solutions Marketing Richard Downs also contributed to this article. 


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Top Ten Business Innovation Posts of the Week [July 15, 2013]

Lindsey Nelson

Top Ten Business Innovation Posts of the WeekOn the Business Innovation site, we deliver the top blogs, news and featured content on business innovation for professionals looking to grow and gain a competitive business advantage.

We cover hot topics and thought  leadership on mobile applications, cloud computing, big data, real-time analytics and the top challenges facing  executives and leaders in sales & marketing, finance, human resources and much, much more.

Each week, we curate and publish the top ten posts of the week from across our content categories. We hope you find these articles valuable, informative, and interesting.

Top Ten Business Innovation Posts of the Week

Ultra Mobile Devices Are Coming

Mobile – By SAP.Info, @SAPinfo

We know more people have mobile phones than toothbrushes, however Gartner predicts that soon our world will be dominated by ultra mobile devices. What’s in an ultra mobile device you ask? Check out this post to learn more.

These Apps Will Change The Way You Shop In The Future

Industries – By Michael Thrasher and Ashley Lutz@AshleyLutz and @Mike_Thrasher

Imagine if you could find the best deals on your smartphone without searching through endless mobile websites? Want to buy your groceries with perks like coupons and lists organized for efficient shopping? Here are 11 apps that will actually help you shop.

Gamification For Business  Interview With Mario Herger

Business Innovation – By Robert Rabe

Gamification is much more than adding points and badges. It can actually be an effective way to make business software easier to use and more engaging.

Unlocking The Potential Of Millennials To Change Our World

Human Resources – By Angela Maiers@AngelaMaiers

Sometimes all you have to do is ask. That’s what Angela did with a group of 300 sophomores and guess what she found out? Once asked, these students were empowered to change the world.

How Online Retailers Use Predictive Analytics To Improve Your Shopping Experience

Analytics – By Ritika Puri

We create a lot of data online –no surprise, right? What is surprising is how retailers are using the data we create to make strategic decisions regarding the experience we have with their sites.

Common Wealth Contributions By Business  What Should Better Really Mean? (Part 1)

Sustainability – By Greg Chase@GregChase

Did you know the number of patents have gone up, while the quality has gone down? Many businesses are just staying busy and hope we don’t notice. A common wealth balance sheet can help these companies get unstuck.

Nate Silver’s The Signal and the Noise: Why Most Predictions Fail But A Few Don’t

Analytics – By Charles Curtis

Charles Curtis reviews “Signal and the Noise,” the best-selling book book on statistics and how predictive analytics can be applied to everything from baseball to politics.

Smartphone Screen Sizes: What To Expect

Mobile – By Daniel Cawrey

Bigger may go back to being better, at least that’s the case with today’s mobile devices. What’s optimal? What’s better? Daniel Cawrey weighs in.

The Android Car: Why Youll Be Driving One Soon

Mobile – By Joe Hewitson@ProseJoe

As our mobile devices and automobiles continue to grow and develop we see a convergence of the two. It’s not as far off as you may think, and it all may depend on an open OS.

5 Motivators For Employees Today [Infographic]

Human Resources – By Shawn Murphy@shawmu

Motivators for employees today need to reflect the changing nature of work and the relationship between manager-employee. Here are 5 things that keep employees motivated as well as a few key pieces of information that can make all the difference.


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