Are PCs going the way of the dodo?

By Nathan Pearce, F5’s Senior Technical Marketing Manager

 

Over the last few months, there has been a huge amount of discussion in the media about the death of the PC. Despite Yahoo’s recent ban, mobile working has become the norm and many of us are choosing to invest in tablets and laptops rather than sedentary PCs so that we can work whenever and from wherever we want.

A recent Gartner report revealed that worldwide PC shipments declined by 4.9 per cent in the fourth quarter of 2012, while PC shipments in Europe, the Middle East and Africa fell by 9.6 per cent. This is more than the effect of a weak global economy – this is the sign of a genuine shift in working practice and buying behaviour. Continue reading

BYOD: Implementing and defining an effective Mobile Device Management programme

By Rob Newburn, Head of Information Security & Managed Services, Trustmarque

As an increasing number of employees are bringing mobile devices into the workplace, many organisations are keen to take advantage of this trend and encourage their use for business purposes.

The benefits of Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) are well-known and have been widely written about, but less well discussed are the thought processes and diligence that need to be undertaken to make this secure as well as successful. By formally adopting BYOD, organisations can lose some control over IT hardware and how it is used. However, with an effective plan of action it is possible to balance user productivity with security.

The key to the success of a BYOD programme is the preservation of user experience. If the user experience is compromised, employees will very quickly switch off. Here are some of the main things you need to consider in order to preserve user experience and maintain corporate security. Continue reading

The balance between security and allowing employees to bring their own devices

By Roee Adler, Chief Product Officer, Soluto

If you’re an IT professional in a small business, or even a corporation, you’re definitely seeing more and more employees using their own smartphones, tablets or laptops for work. According to recent studies, more than 80% of employees use at least one personal device for business use.

Although the issue of workers bringing their own devices isn’t new, it’s actually part of two bigger changes that started taking place in the technology within the past few years. One of these changes is the arrival and adoption of cloud computing and the transition of more and more company infrastructures and services to the cloud. The second change is mobility and the complete evolution of mobile devices. Tablets and smartphones have caused huge changes in the way people work with computers. Continue reading

Tablets outperform smartphones for mobile advertising

By Wes Biggs, CTO and co-founder, Adfonic

 

We may only be in March, but there are already clear signs that 2013 will be the year of the tablet. This is highly significant for digital marketers as they look to plan around where value lies in mobile advertising.

By the end of 2012, tablets’ share of ad impressions across Adfonic’s buying platform stood at 14%, over 50% more than at the beginning of the year. We discovered this when compiling our Global AdMetrics Report for Q3 2012, as well as noting that tablets were the most popular mobile gift over the festive period.

Off the back of the AdMetrics findings, we drilled deeper with our Tablets AdSnap report. For this, our data scientists analysed billions of ad impressions bought and sold via our platform throughout December 2012 and identified a remarkable trend: that, despite being a relatively new addition to the mobile family, tablets outperform smartphones for every type of mobile advertising campaign. Continue reading

Is BlackBerry still THE business smartphone?

By Abigail Phillips

 

Yesterday, Research In Motion (RIM) released the new BlackBerry 10. The launch marked the unification of RIM and BlackBerry as they unveiled BlackBerry Q10 and Z10. After surviving much criticism regarding its position as the number one business smartphone, BlackBerry succeeded to impress its users by delivering a re-designed, re-engineered and re-innovated device for businesses. Continue reading

Tablets in the fast lane: Sales are racing, but how is web performance?

By Tim Murphy, senior marketing manager at Keynote Systems

 

In just three years since the iPad launched, tablets are proving to be the device of choice for almost any task; from browsing the web, watching videos, and reading books, to basic communication.

The question however, as to how well the web experience on tablets meets consumer expectations, still remains. It’s one thing to happily tap and swipe your way along when you’re in the Apple ecosystem, using native apps, on a Wi-Fi connection. However, it’s quite another when you’re out and about trying to load a website over unreliable mobile networks. There’s nothing magical about staring at a beautiful, empty screen in your hands while you’re waiting for a website to load. This challenge lands squarely in the laps of website owners. Continue reading

Why Unified Communications? Overcoming The Challenges To Reap The Benefits

Unified Communications (UC) is by no means a new concept. In fact, it’s become a much-touted phrase, with analysts and IT vendors reporting on the benefits offered by an integrated, real-time communications service.

Put simply, UC is a communications platform that connects users across a wide range of channels (e.g. email mobile, instant messenger), devices (e.g. desk phone, smartphone, PC), and locations. But what does UC actually mean in the real world of business? Can it really offer a unified approach to organisation-wide communication that delivers value back to the organisation?

UC: why the time is right now for SMEs 

The reality is that for most organisations, teams are far from optimally connected. However, it’s highly likely that your business is already using some or all of the technologies brought together by Unified Communications platforms, just in disparate forms. And that offers a lot of potential.

A number of market dynamics are now working together, providing the ideal ecosystem for UC to thrive. These dynamics are highlighting to businesses the need to find a way for employees to collaborate and communicate with ease, from any location, and any device:

  • Changing working practices – the way we work is evolving rapidly, with flexible working, home offices and dispersed offices and locations changing the way we communicate and collaborate
  • Consumerisation of IT – consumer demand for the latest mobile devices, applications and technologies is bleeding into the workplace and the adoption of new devices for personal use is making the ‘Bring Your Own Device’ (BYOD) culture ever more prevalent
  • The global marketplace – economic austerity, against a backdrop of growing competition, is motivating businesses to find sustainable ways to expand and operate on an international basis
  • Mobility - The number of mobile workers globally is approaching the one billion mark and investment in mobile enterprise applications is increasing by around 23 per cent, year-on-year
  • Data explosion – today’s enterprise places voracious demand on bandwidth with data-rich services such as video growing in popularity as a means of communication

UC: the business case

For businesses, the market dynamics and workplace ecosystem offer a compelling case for the adoption of unified communications, providing a way to improve employee productivity and ensure a platform for business growth:

1. Access anywhere. Because UC operates across all communications devices, users enjoy unprecedented access to the system from any device and any location.

2. Streamlined communication. By integrating all communication channels, such as email, voice and instant messaging, businesses can provide employees with a cohesive communications experience that is simple to use.

3. Enhanced productivity. UC is the big collaboration facilitator, enabling users to know when co-workers are available (through presence) and integrate co-workers into calls or messaging sessions with ease. The need for travel between sites is greatly reduced and employees can work from any location as if they were in the office. 

4. Cost savings. Investment in unified communications solutions can result in long-term reductions in IT and business costs. These economies do not just apply to hardware, software and components. With data and communications running through a central platform, maintenance costs can be reduced and higher levels of efficiency achieved without additional investments in peripheral services.

5. A next generation communications infrastructure. Unified communications provides a long-term solution that protects the interests of an ever-expanding business. With a unified communications network, it is possible to drive efficiency alongside expansion, allowing businesses to invest in new projects and operations without sacrificing quality of service.

Conclusion

SMEs face a number of challenges as they move towards a new age of communications, networking and mobile capabilities. Changes in working practices, the consumerisation of IT devices and the global workplace dynamic are all driving businesses to consider their strategies and the next generation communications networks they need to underpin these.

These changing market dynamics are not without their challenges, particularly for the IT department, which must deliver the network infrastructure and new technologies that the business is demanding, securely and effectively. But for businesses, developments such as flexible working and technologies that facilitate real-time communication offer a compelling case for adoption, promising cost-saving benefits, improvements in employee productivity and a platform for business growth.

By Max Meiklejohn, head of product innovation, Freedom Communications

Strong Policies A Must for ‘Bring Your Own Device’

The trend for Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) is accelerating. Increasingly, workers are using their own devices for work. In the case of smartphones, they are even paying for their own monthly plans. As a result, more organisations are opening up their networks to non-corporate devices and are seeing everything from employees’ iPads to the latest Android gadget walk through their doors.

The proliferation of personal devices in the work environment paves the way for untold efficiencies and increased productivity, not to mention lowered carrier costs. Studies have found that employees are happier and more efficient when they use devices and applications of their choice for work.

However, surprisingly few firms have policies in place to adequately secure the influx of mobile devices entering the workplace. Without these policies, many have no choice but to say no to the devices, and consequently to greater productivity and higher cost savings.

An independent survey of 300 mid to large enterprise IT decision makers in Europe, commissioned by global security specialists Fortinet, found that 60% of respondents are concerned about their ability to secure corporate data in this new user-led IT environment. Most companies are not confident of, or do not have the means to secure personal mobile devices and 66% of respondents say they only allow the use of corporate devices onto which security policies can be enforced. While 21% of enterprises place responsibility for securing personal mobile endpoints directly with the owners of those devices − a dangerous practice.

It is easy to understand an enterprise’s reluctance to embrace employee-owned devices. Generally, these devices are devoid of the most basic security features incorporated in practically all workplace PCs. Meanwhile, the agility enabled by personal devices means that business critical apps will be accessed from any network in any location, leaving a staggering amount of sensitive data on the devices, whose exposure could be highly detrimental to the business.

However, it’s getting tougher for firms to say no to BYOD. So what’s the answer to managing the security challenges? Here are three IT measures that would provide some peace of mind for organisations:

Implement A Relevant Mobile Policy:

Organisations should take time to assess their goals and determine relevant threats to the network (e.g. malicious websites, productivity loss, excessive bandwidth usage). Key questions to ponder are:

  • What applications are required, and which are not permitted?
  • Which employees will be allowed to use these devices?
  • Who has network access based on who, what, where and when?

Companies should also control access based on the need-to-know, and conduct continuous vulnerability assessments. And they need to enforce the policies they have laid down.

Remote Management Software:

It’s important to be able to apply the range of basic security functions such as antivirus or remote data wiping software to any device housing corporate data. Remote management software gives IT the ability to automatically update users’ devices with the latest patches to prevent any existing vulnerabilities from being exploited. Firms should implement centralised remote locate, track, lock, wipe, backup and restore facilities so they can protect, retrieve and restore corporate data on lost or stolen mobile devices.

Blocking Non-Compliant Devices:

Workers are often eager to use their personal devices for work but reluctant to install additional software − some of which might have the potential to wipe their personal data from their phone, tablet or laptop. As a compromise, firms could allow their workers to use their own devices IF they agree to install certain apps in accordance with the organisation’s security policy. An alternative solution could be the use of dual persona phones that have two logical partitions – one for professional and the other for personal usage, with IT having complete control over the professional partition.

Ultimately, in order to effectively protect their corporate networks and data from potential threats from mobile devices, organisations must handle the security issue at the network level rather than at endpoint level. However, it is very difficult to protect individual phones and tablets by using security agents. Mobile devices often do not have enough computing power and there are too many types of OS and devices to maintain up–to-date agents. User-wise, it is very difficult to enforce the installation of security software on personal devices that employees bring at work.

The only effective solution is to make sure that the core network is protected and that the enterprise can control both inbound and outbound access to the corporate network from external devices. This network security strategy requires strong control over users and applications on top of device management. It requires IT organisations to have the power to detect and control the use of applications on their networks and endpoints based on application classification, behavioural analysis and end-user association, and to detect and control web-based applications at a granular level, including inspecting encrypted application traffic, regardless of ports and protocols used.

Organisations need to put in a fair amount of effort to adapt and switch to a new way of supporting their employees, but there is no alternative − BYOD is here to stay and IT managers just have to get ahead of the curve.

 By Mark Hyland, UK Country Manager, Fortinet