Why Risk In The Cloud Is Good For The Economy

Jacqueline Vanacek

So much has been written about “the risks” of cloud computing, but that risk leads to bigger rewards, especially for small business. And as the engine of job creation, small business will accelerate the economic recovery.

SMBs can launch new operations in the cloud with little up-front capital. This levels the playing field against market leaders and allows for rapid growth.

Seventy-four percent of small-medium businesses expect to use cloud services next year. They are also mobilizing their workforce (see Infographic). This can increase remote worker productivity by seventy-two percent.

But SMBs need to know how to mitigate the risk as they scale their business.

SMBs often lack IT staff or expertise to address security and data issues, especially in the event of a cloud data center outage. And we have seen a few.

According to risk management consultant and CPA Christopher W. Kradjan of Moss-Adams LLP, two main factors impact success in a small business migration to the cloud:

  • Best-fit analysis of service and deployment model to IT needs,
  • Clear ownership of in-house operational tasks versus those assumed by the service provider.

As a specialist in SOC audits for IT operations, Kradjan offers these tips to help small-medium businesses successfully migrate:

  • Understand your technology portfolio and develop a longer term transition path to the cloud to avoid making mistakes from short-term decisions.
  • Quantify risk using a cost benefit analysis that compares current model to cloud model in
    • Upfront capital versus operating expense
    • Staffing resources and administration
    • Lifecycle maintenance costs multiple years out
    • Customization costs
    • Enhanced service quality with the cloud solution
    • Flexibility and adaptability of the cloud solution
    • Resilience: risk-rank potential cloud service providers according to performance in return of service after a disruption
  • Be aware that in today’s early stage of adoption, some cloud providers might only be meeting regulatory compliance on a best effort basis. This could create significant risk for cloud consumers, which can be mitigated by strong governance. It could also lead to higher compliance costs, as cloud monitoring practices become more rigorous on testing and prevention of outages.

Finally, the emergence of cloud exchanges for spot trading could lead to a speculative futures market, bringing a whole new approach to risk management.

And this will require yet another look at your cloud strategy.

But with risk comes reward, especially for small business!


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Spending Wisely On A Big Data Strategy

Derek Klobucher

Capital markets firms are falling behind in Big Data as industries from utilities to manufacturing successfully employ enterprise-class solutions to improve operations. But capital markets firms aren’t keeping up either because they’re too new on the block or because compliance drains their coffers, according to TABB Group’s Paul Rowady.

Big Data Strategy 11-28-2012Investing in new technologies and solutions is counter-intuitive during a downturn (and capital investment statistics of late support this claim),” Rowady said Monday. “Capital markets firms need to selectively strive against this urge.”

Getting High on ROI

But strategizing must precede striving, according to John Weathington of San Francisco-based consultancy Excellent Management Systems. Each firm’s top decision makers should spend the time and money to evaluate the return of a Big Data solution.

“Some organizations are obsessed with spending money on Big Data without any concern for the value it represents,” Weathington said in TechRepublic’s Big Data Analytics blog. “Return on investment lies at the intersection of Big Data’s rational contribution to strategic purpose (return) and capability (investment).”

ROI for capital markets firms include new trading strategies and transformed risk management. Pete Harris recently completed a survey about this, polling major financial markets firms in the U.S. for Andover, U.K.-based financial IT researcher A-Team Group.

Harris, A-Team Group’s president of Americas, will present his latest Big Data research at The Yale Club of New York City on Thursday. Click here to register for “Big Data in Trading and Risk Management” if you’ll be in midtown Manhattan tomorrow. Harris and SAP will discuss the benefits of:

  • Faster, in-memory analytics of large, complex portfolios
  • High volume, highly diverse Big Data sets for trade analytics
  • Aggregated analytics of exposures and positions

The good old days of analytics models that are as simple as a six-sided cube have melted away. Firms could end up trying to model something with an unwieldy 571 sides, according to SAP’s Keith Wood.

“So forget your Exadata, your Teradata, and all the materialized views out there — they are only ever going to be good for the Donald Rumsfeld-style ‘known:known’ problems,” Wood told me after his “Real-Time Risk Aggregation Supported by a Panopticon-Powered SAP HANA/IQ/ESP Platform” webinar on Tuesday. “The only solution if you wanted to do this in real time is to have an engine that can do the simple correlation on any dimension (and only that dimension) on the fly.”

Show Me the Money

How organizations bankroll these changes vary between firms, according to an informal poll taken during an SAP webcast on Wednesday. About 40 percent of respondents attending “Infrastructure Management” indicated that FSI infrastructure spending is enterprise driven, while the usual suspect — line of business — only received 20 percent of the vote.

Respondents may have been talking about the regular IT budget. Regardless, the groups that Rowady and Weathington worry about will have to act fast — and wisely.

Once both groups rise to their respective Big Data challenges — springing from their duffs or focusing thier exuberance, as appropriate — capital markets firms can start running as efficiently as other industries.


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How To Embed A Tweet Button In Your Blog

Chris Heffer

Have you ever wanted to embed a tweet button into your blog post?

Rather than tweet a link to the whole article, have you ever wanted to tweet just a quote or snippet?

In a previous post I explained how to get people to share your content through social networks. This article will help you to make it easier to get people to share parts of your content rather than just the traditional way and sharing the whole article.

Below is an example of a tweet button that I embedded into a previous post. This tweet button was designed to give readers a chance to tweet the quote that I had listed in the post.

tweet button example

When you click on the Tweet button it takes you straight into twitter with a pre-formatted tweet

tweet preview

The pre-formatted tweet includes the quote, the author’s twitter handle and a link to the article.

screen shot of tweet

As you can see the result is a tweet which links back to the author and the article.

How do you do it?

Find a button.

Find a tweet button that you like using google image search. Alternatively you can make your own or use any other picture.

tweet button

Insert into post

You need to insert the picture into your blog post as you would as if it was any other picture.

Find the link to your blog post

On WordPress, before I hit publish I go to the top of the page and hit “Get Shortlink”.

get short link

If you are not with WordPress there may be other ways to find the URL before posting. If you can not figure out how to do it, you can alway create the post and then go back in to edit the post and add the tweet button.

Once you click the button, it will show you this box.

short link generated

Once you have the link, you can copy and paste it to the clipboard and move onto the next step.

If you want to track the number of people who click on the link, you could use a URL shortening service which has built-in analytics.

Create the custom tweet link

Visit and create the custom message you want the tweet to contain.

When you have done this you can click generate and it will create a link

click to tweet step 2

Once you have the link – in this case, you just add the link to the tweet button that you inserted earlier and hey presto you have made your first tweet button!

This is the result of your hard work!

tweet button

Click on it and see what it does!


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The Power of Mobile Retail, Part 2

Lindsey Nelson

In my last post, The Power of Mobile Retail, Part 1, I discussed the impact mobile devices are having on the consumer’s shopping experience. So with such a mobility centered world we’re now living in, how come some companies still aren’t entering the space?

According to a research paper from SAP and Google entitled “Keeping Up With the Mobile Consumer”, the top three organizational inhibitors standing in the way of taking advantage of mobile opportunities are:

  • ROI is hard to quantify
  • Budgeting. Very little capital investment available
  • Not enough eCommerce/Mobile resources to manage the opportunities

How to Fix it

So what’s the way forward? How can retail organizations begin to capitalize on this mobile revolution?

The top two ways cited were placing an executive tasked with managing and improving the overall customer experience, as well as more coordination between the selling channels and marketing.

One way companies, like my own, are trying to appease their customers is by creating a new CxO role, the Chief Customer Experience Officer. These are the customer’s campaigner, responsible for creating a single vision across customer service, sales, marketing, billing, and user interface, ensuring the customer experience, is enjoyable and easy.

If your company isn’t looking to add one more cook to the kitchen, consider creating a strong friendship between the CIO and the CMO. In the Forbes article, Lisa Arthur highlights that “technology and marketing are now inextricably tied. Success depends on collaboration.”

RSR also suggests that a “cross-functional team, comprised of IT, Marketing, eCommerce, store operations, and financial…executives” is at the least, imperative.

Another way the winners of the marketplace are overcoming internal barriers is by utilizing third parties to help navigate them through the mobile landscape.

However, one major way even the winners are missing out, is by actually reaching out to the customer, perceiving that the customer is just as confused by how they can effectively use their mobile device in the retail space.

I find this a bit ridiculous. As someone who grew up with a mobile phone, and now owner of 3 mobile devices, I know what I want and what I’m looking for. But, it does differ from what some others want.

So, To App or Not To App?

Respondents were split almost down the middle on the value of a downloadable app, unsure if it would yield more engagement over a mobile site. A probing questions to ask if on the fence is, what value would opening an application bring to your already busy buyer?

Whatever You Decide To Do…

Mobility in retail isn’t going anywhere. Whether it be in-store interactions with customer’s personal devices, or on their mobile sites. Don’t let the speed of technology scare you away, according to the report, “it is safe to predict that uses of new mobile innovations will become deciding factors for some retailers’ ability to thrive, and an accelerant for others’ demise.”

So if you create an app or a mobile site, don’t forget to include your customer’;s in the process. They can help you choose the right user interface, validate what works and what doesn’t, as well as be the ones to spread the positive message about your new mobility.

Make your customer experience seamless and comprehensive. Listen to them, to focus groups, to surveys, and to what your customers are saying about you on social media.

No mobile platform should be left untouched, that could be a missed sale. The consumer already owns the device and uses it, depends on it. By making your product easy to access on something that’s always near their hands and wallets, I’d say that makes for a pretty good business model.

To read the full report  click here and select: Keeping up with the Mobile Consumer to read the full report. (Registration Required)


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Securing Mobile Devices: Protecting Data While Enabling Productivity

Joseph Dennis Kelly

Mobile SecurityHow did previous generations ever get anything accomplished?

Over the past twenty-five years, the span of a single human generation, we have transformed our communication and workplace behaviors. Complex activities that once may have taken weeks to finish can now be completed within minutes.

Unfortunately, our most advanced smartphones and tablets – and the data we create and share on these tools – are highly vulnerable to cyber attacks. According to recent reports, black-hat hackers are increasing their attacks on mobile devices. This threat is garnering international attention.

“Political leaders around the world, including President Obama,” writes Juniper Networks CEO Kevin Johnson, “have begun calling for a greater focus on [mobile security]… A typical security breach costs a business more than a half a million dollars to address in terms of cash outlays, business disruption, and revenue losses….” Fortunately, most IT security teams are developing strategies to eradicate this threat.

Building a Mobile IT Security Strategy

For most organizations, “the challenge,” writes IT security specialist Mark Bouchard, “is [understanding] how to enable productivity and mitigate the threats, vulnerabilities, and risks in a way that strikes the best balance and the lowest total costs.”

In a whitepaper authored for Websense, Bouchard – founder of the IT research and analysis company AimPoint Group – details a three-tier plan that secures the two critical points: corporate data and mobile devices.

  • Tier Two: Using encrypted data tunnels, DLP technology, and user-authentication systems. Shielding data from hackers has proven an effective technique. What’s the risk of not running these shields? Ever hear of sidejacking? It’s a popular tactic that hackers use; it enables them to quickly tap into a mobile device and access data transmitted via a Wi-Fi hotspot.
  • Tier Three: Relying on server-hosted virtualizations, enterprise sandboxes, and always-on-VPN. Sandboxing, touted by Savid Technologies CEO Michael A. Davis, supports data encryption and provides enough security to protect high-level communications, such as those President Obama sends on his mobile phone. Virtualizations work well with native mobile apps.

Implementing the Plan

But a sound IT security strategy is only the beginning. Organizations need to police their IT environment and educate mobile users. The first step is standard practice; the second is frequently overlooked or many times, poorly implemented – and often is the cause of much cybercrime.

When mobile users don’t understand usage policies, or worse, when these policies are inflexible to the point of interfering with productivity, users will most likely ignore the rules. And when they do, they are not simply making themselves vulnerable to attack: They are potentially putting an entire network at risk. How?

Most IT attacks result from user actions. To prevent cyber attacks, users need to change their patterns of mobile behavior. To help them, organizations can offer programs in self-directed education and group training; they can also develop clearly defined mobile-security policies and run top-level mobile IT security apps. These measures can help prevent cyber attacks. In the struggle to stop unauthorized users from gaining access to critical networks – and extracting and exploiting crucial business information – IT executives must use every option available to them to persuade their organization’s mobile users to both follow standardized policies and act vigilantly in protecting their data and guarding their devices.

Is your company implementing any of the strategic tiers that Bouchard suggests? Does it have clearly defined mobile usage policies? Does it offer user education? Does the organization’s culture continuously promote adherence to these policies?

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