Archive for Czerwiec, 2013

Network platforms empowers candidates to valuable IT skills sets

By admin, 26 czerwca, 2013, No Comment

Network Platforms, a South African provider of IT solutions, has introduced a learnership program. This initiative will empower learners in preparation for the workplace and offer the necessary skills to add immediate value to companies.

Established in 2003, Network Platforms has served as the premier service provider to clients for over a decade. Over the years the company has fine-tuned its service portfolio and adapted to the ever-changing dynamics and emerging trends that characterise the domestic technology industry.

Its value proposition lies in solutions that address requirements related to ADSL connectivity, Diginet; Fibre, Microwave and 3G connectivity, IT management, VPN management, infrastructure monitoring, IP PBX/ VoIP and cloud services.

The learnership courses are designed to equip candidates with skills that can be utilised in the work place as well as sought-after technical skills including the ability to setup and configure PCs, assist with software implementations and networking.

“We are going to introduce the candidates to all aspects of the business and also gradually expose them to more IT. The next course the IT Technician will be attending is N+ which is an introduction to Networking, as the first candidate has completed and certified as an A+ engineer which is an introduction to PC hardware. Once N+ certified, we will then proceed to complete the Microsoft certification as we are a Microsoft partner and then finally process to Cisco certification,” Bradley Love, MD of Network Platforms, explains.

Management at Network Platforms says learnership programmes play a critical role and have to be sustained if South Africa is to seriously and effectively address skills shortages; particularly those which now impacts on the progress of ICT.

Westcon announces post merger structure of business

By admin, 26 czerwca, 2013, No Comment

Newly merged business brings a new market leader to the South African and African channel and distribution market

Westcon Group South Africa (Pty) and Comztek Holdings (Pty) Ltd are pleased to announce the new organisational structure of the business following the finalisation of the merger of the two businesses.

As per the merger Comztek will be integrated into Datatec’s Westcon South Africa subsidiary, operating under the under the banner of Westcon and co-branded Comztek. The existing Comztek business units will structurally become divisions of the Westcon Group, South Africa also referred to as Westcon.

“We are delighted that after receiving approval from no less than six Competition Commission boards across Africa the merger is officially finalised,” states Paul Conradie, CEO of Westcon Comztek. “As there has been little to no overlap between the two businesses, the structure of the new company will see several components of the Comztek business take on the face of separate business practices within the overall group.”

The new structure will be made up of six business practices which include: Comstor (Cisco business), Comztek Consumer Solutions, Westcon Communications Solutions, Westcon Mobility Solutions, Westcon Security Solutions that includes an electronic and network division and Comztek Software Solutions. The Comztek Africa business will enable the above mentioned business practices to deploy their relevant offering into the rest of the African market.

According to Conradie there will be a period of consolidation in the business as the backend and operational environments are merged, however there will be little to no disruption to customers over this period, as it remains business as usual from a partner viewpoint. From a staffing perspective Conradie adds that there is currently minimal overlap and the company is in an enviable position to currently be looking for additional staff for the businesses, as opposed to having to rationalise.

With regards to its black economic-empowerment partner, the Mineworkers Investment Corporation, the reorganisation and merger will see the corporation hold a 40% stake in the combined business; Comztek management owning 9.9% and Datatec, through subsidiary Westcon Emerging Markets Group, 50.1%.

“We have been in consultation with all of our vendor partners who are excited with the new prospects the merger holds for them. It is our intention to provide the reseller partners of our collective businesses the opportunity to expand their offerings to clients by tapping into the expanded product and services portfolio we now offer, which will in turn significantly grow their market share,” mentions Conradie.

The merger has created a new leader in the African channel landscape, augmenting and extending the current businesses of both organisations. Building on the excellent reputations of both, the company will continue to drive its unique formula of value-added distribution throughout the regions it has a presence as well as continue to emulate the support services model of the global Westcon Group for its resellers.

BlackBerry secures iOS and Android in the enterprise without sacrificing the user experience

By admin, 26 czerwca, 2013, No Comment

Secure Work Space separates work and personal apps and data on iOS and Android devices

BlackBerry® (NASDAQ: BBRY; TSX: BB) today announced the availability of a new security solution that separates work and personal apps and data on iOS® and Android™ devices. Secure Work Space for iOS and Android is a new option with BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10 (version 10.1.1) that offers customers with a BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) policy, a solution with the best combination of security, user experience and total cost of ownership. BlackBerry designed Secure Work Space to meet the management, security and cost needs of the CIO, and the user experience and functionality that employees demand.

Since launching in January 2013, 18,000 BlackBerry® Enterprise Service 10 servers have been installed by customers around the world and Secure Work Space for iOS and Android has been trialed globally with BlackBerry customers since the launch, including Netherlands-based e-office mobile b.v. For the past 22 years e-office has been creating virtual working environments for their clients, and to ensure they are always staying current on their clients’ mobility needs, e-office took part in BlackBerry’s early adopter program for Secure Work Space.

“Secure Work Space builds on BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10, and we found that BlackBerry’s secure infrastructure offered our company the best containerization solution to help mobilize our multi-platform environment, while maintaining a great user experience,” said Thierry Lammers, Director and co-founder, e-office mobile. “We’re looking forward to deploying this solution across our organization and to our customers in the coming months and bringing the separation of work and personal data to life on iOS and Android devices.”

According to Forrester Research, Inc., in 2016, 350 million employees will use smartphones and 200 million will bring their own devices to the workplace(1). Secure Work Space offers an ideal BYOD mobile security solution, providing organizations the flexibility to embrace BYOD without sacrificing security. On a personal iOS or Android device, users with Secure Work Space get integrated email (with attachment viewing), calendar and contacts for productivity, as well as secure browser access to intranets and document editing capabilities with BlackBerry’s Documents To Go™. With corporate data separated and controlled within the Secure Work Space container, these standard apps can be deployed with confidence to any user, together with other apps chosen by the company.

BlackBerry is working closely with app partners such as Box to power business collaboration in the cloud.

“Content sits at the center of every successful business and Box ensures that today’s mobile enterprise can securely access their information from any device, in any location and at any time,” said Whitney Bouck, Senior Vice President & GM, Enterprise at Box. “Box and BlackBerry are powering enterprise mobility for today’s knowledge workers.”

BlackBerry provides security at the device, server and network level. Secure Work Space leverages the same trusted behind-the-firewall connection available for BlackBerry smartphones and extends BlackBerry security capabilities for data-at-rest and data-in-transit to iOS and Android devices. The Secure Work Space container is managed through BlackBerry Enterprise Service 10, making it easy and convenient to manage all devices from its single console.

“Mobility is fundamentally transforming how we live and work. As our dependency on mobile solutions grows, and as a greater variety of mobile devices enter the workplace, the need for solutions to manage and secure these devices has never been greater,” said David J. Smith, EVP, Enterprise Mobile Computing at BlackBerry. “In today’s ‘bring your own device world’, Secure Work Space is a differentiated solution that brings key elements of the BlackBerry security platform and mobile device management to iOS and Android devices.”

The Secure Work Space solution also enables customers to save considerable effort, administration and expense as they no longer need to configure and manage expensive VPN infrastructures to provide mobile device access to data and apps that reside behind their corporate firewalls. With end-to-end enterprise mobility management, easy deployment, and BlackBerry’s global technical support, BlackBerry continues to offer innovative, secure and reliable solutions to enterprises and governments around the world.

Cooling today’s sizzling hot data centres

By admin, 26 czerwca, 2013, No Comment

By Kevin Dunlap, general manager of cooling solutions, and Neil Rasmussen, senior VP of innovation for Schneider Electric

Virtually all IT equipment is air-cooled, that is, each piece of IT equipment takes in ambient air and ejects waste heat into its exhaust air. Since a data centre may contain thousands of IT devices, the result is that there are thousands of hot airflow paths within the data centre that together represent the total waste heat output of the data centre; waste heat that must be removed.

With power densities of modern IT equipment pushing peak power density to 20 kW per rack or more, simulation data and experience show traditional cooling, dependent on air mixing, no longer functions effectively.
To address this problem, design approaches exist that focus on room, row, and rack-based cooling. In these approaches, the air conditioning systems are specifically integrated with the room, rows of racks, or individual rack in order to minimise air mixing.

Every data centre air conditioning system has two key functions. The first function of providing bulk cooling capacity is the same for room, row, and rack-based cooling. The major difference lies in how each cooling system performs the second critical function, distribution of air to the loads. Controlling the airflow is therefore the main objective of the different cooling system design approaches.

Room-based cooling

With room-based cooling, the computer room air handler (CRAH) units operate concurrently to address the total heat load of the room. Room-based cooling may consist of one or more air conditioners supplying cool air completely unrestricted by ducts, dampers, vents and more; or the supply and/or return may be partially constrained by a raised floor system or overhead return plenum.

The room-based design is heavily affected by the specific constraints of the room, including the ceiling height, the room shape, obstructions above and under the floor, rack layout, CRAH location, the distribution of power among the IT loads and more. When the supply and return paths are uncontained, the result is that performance prediction and performance uniformity are poor, particularly as power density is increased. Therefore, with traditional designs, complex computer simulations called computational fluid dynamics (CFD) may be required to help understand the design performance of specific installations. Furthermore, alterations such as IT equipment moves, add-ons, and changes may invalidate the performance model and require further analysis and/or testing. In particular, the assurance of CRAH redundancy becomes a very complicated analysis that is difficult to validate.

Another significant shortcoming of uncontained room-based cooling is that in many cases the full rated capacity of the CRAH cannot be utilised. This condition occurs when a significant fraction of the air distribution pathways from the CRAH units bypass the IT loads and return directly to the CRAH. The result is that cooling requirements of the IT layout can exceed the cooling capacity of the CRAH despite the required amount of nameplate capacity.

Row-based cooling

With a row-based configuration, the CRAH units are associated with a row and assumed to be dedicated to a row for design purposes. The CRAH units may be located in between the IT racks or they may be mounted overhead.

Compared with the traditional uncontained room-based cooling, the airflow paths are shorter and more clearly defined. In addition, airflows are much more predictable, all of the rated capacity of the CRAH can be utilised and higher power density can be achieved.

Row-based cooling has a number of side benefits other than cooling performance. The reduction in the airflow path length reduces the CRAH fan power required, increasing efficiency.

This is not a minor benefit, when we consider that, in many lightly loaded data centres, the CRAH fan power losses alone exceed the total IT load power consumption. A row-based design allows cooling capacity and redundancy to be targeted to the actual needs of specific rows. For example, one row of racks can run high-density applications such as blade server, while another row satisfies lower power density applications such as communication enclosures.

For new data centres less than 200 kW, row-based cooling should be specified and can be implemented without a raised floor. For existing data centres row-based cooling should be considered when deploying higher density loads (5kW per rack and above).

Rack-based cooling

With rack-based cooling, the CRAH units are associated with a rack and are assumed to be dedicated to a rack for design purposes. The CRAH units are directly mounted to or within the IT racks. Compared with room-based or row-based cooling, the rack-based airflow paths are even shorter and exactly defined, so that airflows are totally immune to any installation variation or room constraints. All of the rated capacity of the CRAH can be utilised, and the highest power density (up to 50 kW per rack) can be achieved. The reduction in the airflow path length reduces the CRAH fan power required, increasing efficiency. This is not a minor benefit considering that in many lightly loaded data centres the CRAH fan power losses alone exceed the total IT load power consumption.

A rack-based design allows cooling capacity and redundancy to be targeted to the actual needs of specific racks, for example, different power densities for blade servers vs. communication enclosures. Furthermore, N+1 or 2N redundancy can be targeted to specific racks. By contrast, row-based cooling only allows these characteristics to be specified at the row level, and room-based cooling only allows these characteristics to be specified at the room level.

As with row-based cooling, the deterministic geometry of rack-based cooling gives rise to predictable performance that can be completely characterised by the manufacturer. This allows simple specification of power density and design to implement the specified density. Rack-based cooling should be used in all data centre sizes where cooling is required for stand-alone high-density racks. The principal drawback of this approach is that it requires a large number of air conditioning devices and associated piping when compared to the other approaches, particularly at lower power density.

Hybrid cooling

Nothing prevents the room, row, and rack-based cooling from being used together in the same installation. Placing various cooling unit in different locations in the same data centre is considered a hybrid approach. This approach is beneficial to data centres operating with a broad spectrum of rack power densities.

Another effective use of row and rack-based cooling is for density upgrades within an existing low-density room-based design. In this case, small groups of racks within an existing data centre are outfitted with row or rack-based cooling systems. The row or rack cooling equipment effectively isolates the new high-density racks, making them “thermally neutral” to the existing room-based cooling system.

Another example of a hybrid approach is the use of a chimney rack cooling system to capture exhaust air at the rack level and duct it directly back to a room-based cooling system. This system has some of the benefits of a rack-based cooling system but can integrate into an existing or planned room-based cooling system.

To make effective decisions regarding the choice between room, row, or rack-based cooling for new data centres or upgrades, it is essential to relate the performance characteristics of the cooling methods to practical issues that affect the design and operation of real data centres.

Samsung SideSync effortlessly links your smartphone to your computer

By admin, 26 czerwca, 2013, No Comment

Takes mobile integration to a new level

Samsung Electronics South Africa has unveiled Samsung SideSync, a revolutionary technology allowing users to seamlessly switch from working on their PC to their Android-based Samsung smartphone and visa versa by simply connecting the two devices via a USB cable – Samsung SideSync technology.

“Samsung devices enable entirely new possibilities for how consumers can task, explore, share, and create using mobile devices. With Samsung SideSync technology, these possibilities are further enhanced by providing consumers with a completely integrated experience between their personal computers and mobile devices,” says Mike van Lier, Business Leader for IT Solutions at Samsung Electronics South Africa. “There is no doubt that the ability to easily operate across your mobile device and PC simultaneously can save time and increase efficiencies and Samsung’s SideSync ushers in a new era of mobile working.”

SideSync supports mobile phone screen sharing, and enables consumers to use their phone virtually through their PC. This new technology also provides the ability to drag and drop files from one device to another. Now consumers will be able to respond to a text message received on their phone by using their PC’s keyboard or view maps, photos and multimedia material from their device on their PC screen. Files stored on a smartphones can now be edited with additional ease by utilising the computer’s functionality.

“This results in a more seamless experience that creates fewer interruptions to work and everyday life. SideSync provides consumers with the ability to utilise the best features of both devices,” says van Lier.

SideSync is compatible with all Samsung ATIV notebooks, tablet devices and All-in-One PCs with Windows 8 and it will be pre-loaded as a desktop app on all Windows 8 ATIV models. The mobile app is available through the Samsung Apps store, and currently supports Samsung Android-based devices on the Jelly Bean operating system.

Drive Control Corporation’s Norton internet security range now available eBucks.com

By admin, 25 czerwca, 2013, No Comment

Norton security products, the award-winning online internet and mobile protection products for home and home office from distributor Drive Control Corporation (DCC), is now available at eBucks.com, South Africa’s leading multi-partner rewards programme.

Products that are available on the eBucks.com website include:

  • Norton Anti-Virus – Basic anti-virus protection that stops viruses and spyware, so that eBucks users can safely go online and share.
  • Norton Internet Security – Scans PCs to identify and eliminate online threats, so that users can bank, shop and socialise securely while keeping their kids safer online too.
  • Norton 360 Multi-Device – Norton’s ultimate internet and anti-virus protection for all things online, be it mobile, tablet, laptop or PC.
  • Norton Mobile Security – Norton Mobile Security protects mobile devices, privacy, and important stuff against loss, theft, viruses, and other mobile threats.

Fred Mitchell, Security Business Unit Manager at DCC says the Internet has not only revolutionised the world of business, but it has catapulted our social interaction with our friends and family and how we spend our leisure time online into an entirely new dimension.

“Surfing the Internet for that perfect gift on websites such as eBucks.com, doing online banking and chatting with friends have literally become second nature. There is so much out there to explore and interact with. Wiki’s, blogs, social networking sites, online gaming and a never ending stream of content keep most avid Web explorers up into the early hours of the morning,” he adds.

However, Mitchell says a new epoch of online threats has surfaced, one that is characterised by spyware, internet fraud and spam. These threats are the dirty work of profit-motivated criminals whose tactics are increasingly sophisticated to remain undetected.

“There are some malicious code programs, such as viruses, worms, and Trojans, which are designed specifically to expose confidential information that is stored on an infected computer. These threats may expose sensitive data, including system information, confidential files and documents, or log-on credentials that can be used for criminal activities. Fortunately, while these risks are very real, they aren’t insurmountable. It’s just a case of using your common sense, just like you would against threats in the real world.”

Mitchell advises that it is paramount to use an internet security solution that combines anti-virus, firewall, intrusion detection, and vulnerability management that is updated regularly for maximum protection against malicious code and other threats.

“All these products are now available to eBucks users to ensure that when they go online, be it on their laptops, mobile phones or tablets they remain protected. Therefore, our relationship with eBucks remains key to our online strategy as eBucks is one of the biggest online retailers in South Africa that sells sought after commodities such as iPads and mobile phones. For DCC, looking at the mobile security side, it is a key partnership for us and one that we take very seriously,” he concludes.

 

Biometrics is booming – but is your solution really secure?

By admin, 25 czerwca, 2013, No Comment

By Kobus Le Roux, National Sales & Marketing Executive, Jasco Security Solutions

Biometric access control technology has experienced phenomenal growth in adoption in South Africa over the past few years, with an estimated 80% of all access control solutions using fingerprint readers and other biometrics to enhance security. The popularity of these solutions can be attributed to many factors, including the nature and size of many blue-collar workforces, for example in the mining industry. Biometrics has also been adopted successfully in white-collar environments as well, preventing fraudulent access to buildings and areas where sensitive information is stored. However, simply installing a biometric access control solution and then failing to maintain the system can lead to security breaches and unnecessary risk. Maintaining both the hardware and software of these solutions is critical in mitigating risk across all areas, including security, operations, health and safety and reporting.

Access control has long been used to ensure only authorised personnel are permitted into buildings or in certain areas. However, card-based solutions are prone to fraud, as cards can easily be stolen or switched, giving the wrong people access. For this reason, biometrics has grown in popularity across all industries and sectors in South Africa. These solutions assist not only with preventing access, but also with time and attendance and health and safety, ensuring people are not permitted to access hazardous areas. They are also an aesthetically pleasing solution, and can be integrated with CCTV solutions for a visual trail of access control.

However, while these solutions are highly effective, failure of any component in the system will compromise the integrity of multiple areas of the business, which introduces risk particularly if errors are not picked, as the risk is cumulative over time and the system may continue to degrade. The reality is that not enough emphasis is placed on the need to properly set up and maintain these solutions. Not only do the systems need to be setup, installed, integrated and configured correctly, they also, like any piece of equipment, need to be looked after. They are touched by hundreds of people every day, and may be situated outside, exposed to the elements, so deterioration in the effectiveness of the reader is likely over time if proactive maintenance is not conducted. Aside from the physical aspect, the software and the database need to be kept up to date for optimal functionality.

When it comes to the setup of biometrics systems, accurate registration of identifiers such as fingerprints or irises, depending on the solution used, is critical. If this process is not completed correctly, or the process is faulty, the system will deliver false positives or erratically deny access. This can permit unauthorised personnel from accessing areas, and prove frustrating for users who cannot access the areas they need, and also should access be routinely denied to permitted people, this can cause security to become lax and allow people in even if they are unauthorised.

The database also needs to be proactively maintained on an on-going basis, to ensure that registered personnel are kept up to date. This is particularly important in high staff turnover environments like contact centres. If, when staff leave the organisation, their information is not removed from the database, they will still be able to access the organisation. Similarly if and when the status of an employee changes, altering the areas they are allowed to access, the database must be updated to ensure access control follows their profile. If this is not done, it poses a security threat to organisations. Biometric databases also have a limit to the number of registrations they can efficiently process, and if this number is exceeded the system will slow down, stall and begin to fail, again opening the organisation up to risk. Administration of biometric access control databases must be meticulous to ensure maximum security and optimum functionality.

Maintenance of the hardware itself is equally important, since wear and tear on the readers will have an impact on their efficiency. Fingerprint readers are touched by hundred, if not thousands of people every day, and can build up a film of oil on them that can prevent them from reading properly. Exposure to harsh environments, such as hot, dusty or humid conditions, can cause damage to the system and its circuits, which again can cause erratic denial of access, if not outright failure of the solution. For these reasons, all of the physical components that make up a biometric system should be regularly assessed for mechanical or other failure.

Regular maintenance as often as use demands is critical to eliminating these challenges, optimising performance and extending the life of systems. Appointing a service provider with the appropriate technical skills and understanding of biometric technology and related systems ensures that biometric systems remain as secure as possible throughout their lifespan, mitigating risk and closing security loopholes for improved efficiency.

Thuthukani Technology Solutions is proud to announce their partnership with EMC

By admin, 25 czerwca, 2013, No Comment

Thuthukani Technology Solutions has announced it has entered into a partnership with EMC and is now a certified solutions provider. This will help bring Thuthukani in a position to provide technology solutions across a larger area.

Thuthukani Technology Solutions is firmly positioned as a service company in the South African ICT market with a solid foundation to provide IT infrastructure solutions and services to all sectors throughout South Africa and Africa. “We are very excited to work with Thuthukani and believe the partnership will strengthen our ability to craft the best possible technology solutions required by our customers, their skill positions them as a true value added reseller and we look forward to a prosperous future” says Nick Christodoulou, Regional Partner Manager at EMC Southern Africa.

“Thuthukani Technology Solutions is an established partner and this partnership reflects our desire to collaborate with companies that share our vision and we look forward to a long and mutually beneficial relationship with them” said Winston Spagnoletti, EMC Product Specialist at AxizWorkgroup.

Preparing for the mobile workforce: Bring Your Own Device and beyond

By admin, 25 czerwca, 2013, No Comment

By Niven Perumal, Product Manager Vox Telecom

The days where employees were confined to desks in front of a company-owned-and-controlled personal computer are long gone. Workers are increasingly mobile, jetting off to different locations around the country (and the globe), and they no longer keep office hours, preferring to fire off emails and complete tasks on the road and from home.

This was when we first saw the concept of BYOD (or Bring Your Own Device), and with it, Mobile Device Management, enter the market. The premise behind Mobile Device Management was, initially, the need to control the data employees were accessing – mainly for security purposes and to curb the abuse of company Wi-Fi. The first phase of MDM was concerned with restricting information – and with good reason. If a CEO’s IPad, containing the latest pricing strategy, was stolen, the IT department had to be able to remotely shut down the device to prevent a competitor from accessing it. Likewise, if an employee left the company’s service, so would their smartphone – with all the potentially sensitive emails contained on it.

Since then, we’ve seen Mobile Device Management move away from restriction and refocus on enablement. In simple terms, it’s no longer about what employees shouldn’t be doing with their smart devices, but about all the things that they should be doing.

A recent study surrounding the “evolving workforce” (sponsored by Dell and Intel) has shown that the vast majority (69%) of IT leaders have one goal in mind when it comes to allowing smart devices in the workplace – increased productivity. When employees are able to choose the technology they can use, along with their degree of mobility, they become more efficient. Moreover, employees are insisting on specific devices when they enter a new job – it’s become the norm, not the exception.

Employees also feel the need to work from their personal devices, wherever they are – with less than two thirds of global employees surveyed stating that they feel they “can get their work done in a traditional 9 to 5 schedule”. The devices that the average employee is able to use, and has at his or her disposal, are becoming part of their skillset.

This has meant that companies are not only preparing for a mobile workforce, they are ensuring that they get as much mileage out of mobile as they can. We’re seeing companies build more efficient apps to speed up sales processes. A banking company could, for example, send a consultant to a client’s office. There he or she could, using their smart device, sit in front of the customer, quickly profile them, send the data off for a credit check and then complete the sale in minutes. And then top it off with a quick confidential survey to gather information for further campaigns.

Company-owned devices will have similar built-in functionality so that employees won’t have to configure their Wi-Fi settings or set up their intranet – they will receive their tablets with the applications in their browsers, along with Microsoft SharePoint applications so that product sheets can be viewed on- and offline for easy access during sales calls. Rather than email customers information – by which time the sale might have gone cold – representatives can instantly access and present information to clients face-to-face.

Cloudware, revolutionary application delivery software, is being packaged into smart devices, so that employees can load their CRM programmes (such as Salesforce.com) onto their devices and complete or update proposals and contracts on the road. Digital signatures will ensure that documents are signed off by clients right away.

The working world is on the move – and your company can’t afford to be left behind. Ensure that you are putting mobile device management tools in place that not only restricts workers’ activity, but also enables them to do a lot more.
Preparing for the mobile workforce: Bring Your Own Device and beyond
By Niven Perumal, Product Manager Vox Telecom

The days where employees were confined to desks in front of a company-owned-and-controlled personal computer are long gone. Workers are increasingly mobile, jetting off to different locations around the country (and the globe), and they no longer keep office hours, preferring to fire off emails and complete tasks on the road and from home.

This was when we first saw the concept of BYOD (or Bring Your Own Device), and with it, Mobile Device Management, enter the market. The premise behind Mobile Device Management was, initially, the need to control the data employees were accessing – mainly for security purposes and to curb the abuse of company Wi-Fi. The first phase of MDM was concerned with restricting information – and with good reason. If a CEO’s IPad, containing the latest pricing strategy, was stolen, the IT department had to be able to remotely shut down the device to prevent a competitor from accessing it. Likewise, if an employee left the company’s service, so would their smartphone – with all the potentially sensitive emails contained on it.

Since then, we’ve seen Mobile Device Management move away from restriction and refocus on enablement. In simple terms, it’s no longer about what employees shouldn’t be doing with their smart devices, but about all the things that they should be doing.

A recent study surrounding the “evolving workforce” (sponsored by Dell and Intel) has shown that the vast majority (69%) of IT leaders have one goal in mind when it comes to allowing smart devices in the workplace – increased productivity. When employees are able to choose the technology they can use, along with their degree of mobility, they become more efficient. Moreover, employees are insisting on specific devices when they enter a new job – it’s become the norm, not the exception.

Employees also feel the need to work from their personal devices, wherever they are – with less than two thirds of global employees surveyed stating that they feel they “can get their work done in a traditional 9 to 5 schedule”. The devices that the average employee is able to use, and has at his or her disposal, are becoming part of their skillset.

This has meant that companies are not only preparing for a mobile workforce, they are ensuring that they get as much mileage out of mobile as they can. We’re seeing companies build more efficient apps to speed up sales processes. A banking company could, for example, send a consultant to a client’s office. There he or she could, using their smart device, sit in front of the customer, quickly profile them, send the data off for a credit check and then complete the sale in minutes. And then top it off with a quick confidential survey to gather information for further campaigns.

Company-owned devices will have similar built-in functionality so that employees won’t have to configure their Wi-Fi settings or set up their intranet – they will receive their tablets with the applications in their browsers, along with Microsoft SharePoint applications so that product sheets can be viewed on- and offline for easy access during sales calls. Rather than email customers information – by which time the sale might have gone cold – representatives can instantly access and present information to clients face-to-face.

Cloudware, revolutionary application delivery software, is being packaged into smart devices, so that employees can load their CRM programmes (such as Salesforce.com) onto their devices and complete or update proposals and contracts on the road. Digital signatures will ensure that documents are signed off by clients right away.

The working world is on the move – and your company can’t afford to be left behind. Ensure that you are putting mobile device management tools in place that not only restricts workers’ activity, but also enables them to do a lot more.

 

JDA announces major enhancements to workforce mobility, all-channel commerce solutions

By admin, 25 czerwca, 2013, No Comment

Latest versions of JDA Commerce Suite and JDA Workforce Management help retailers translate brand vision into real-world execution, enhance customer experience

JDA Software Group, Inc., The Supply Chain Company, today announced significant enhancements to its workforce management (WFM) and all-channel commerce solutions. Capabilities now available in JDA Workforce Management and JDA Commerce Suite allow retailers to simplify and automate retail execution, as well as unify their associates, to create and deliver a seamless and superior customer experience across all shopping channels while maintaining a consistent brand vision.

JDA Workforce Management and JDA Commerce Suite, both former RedPrairie solutions, are part of the JDA product portfolio as a result of the December 2012 merger between JDA and RedPrairie. The advancements made to JDA Workforce Management and JDA Commerce Suite emphasise JDA’s role as a single, best-in-class provider for integrated planning and execution solutions for retailers, manufacturers and distributors worldwide.

A Closer Look: JDA Workforce Management

Breakthrough innovations now available in JDA Workforce Management include a mobility platform that allows retailers to mobilise their workforce across the enterprise to drive sales, increase employee engagement and reduce time spent on administrative tasks. JDA is leading the mobility innovation by offering an embedded mobile experience within the WFM solution that extends as a mobility development platform to the rest of the organisation. The mobility integration is the result of RedPrairie’s August 2012 acquisition of Vortex Connect, a leader in mobile workforce management solutions.

Available in this latest software release, JDA’s workforce management solution includes the following workforce mobility applications: JDA Mobile Employee Connect, JDA Mobile Operations Connect, JDA Mobile Shift Connect and JDA Mobile Manager Connect. Functionality offered through these mobile applications include: time and attendance, operations and reporting, dashboards and KPIs for managers, employee shift pick-ups, and swaps for unplanned schedule changes, and more.

“JDA’s workforce mobility solutions increase employees’ responsiveness to customer needs, improve administrative efficiencies while ‘unchaining’ employees from the back-office, bolster employee morale, and equip managers with time-sensitive information at their fingertips,” said Wayne Usie, senior vice president, retail at JDA Software. “A tool that allows retailers to create a better relationship with their customers and their employees while improving the top and bottom line is a powerful differentiator in a competitive marketplace. JDA is excited to put our customers at the forefront of the workforce mobility trend.”

One company that understands the benefits of workforce management technology with mobility is Bob Evans, LLC. Bob Evans recently announced it will deploy the latest version of JDA Workforce Management in approximately 565 restaurants. JDA will provide extensive WFM capabilities to Bob Evans including optimised scheduling, time and attendance, employee self-service, performance management and workforce mobility applications.

A Closer Look: JDA Commerce Suite

Significant enhancements made to the latest version of JDA Commerce Suite—JDA’s commerce platform that integrates the store and all other channels to create a 360-view of orders, merchandise and customer behaviour—include upgrades to its embedded relationship-marketing capabilities that allow retailers to leverage rich customer history and preferences captured through the platform’s customer relationship management to provide more personalised offers and services. JDA relationship marketing creates automated and highly-relevant customer follow-ups based on customer history and events from the retailer’s cross-channel transactions. The scenarios that can trigger customer communications include abandoned carts, customers’ first purchases, inactive customers, nearing loyalty tier thresholds, and more.

Also enhanced in JDA Commerce Suite is merchant desktop, the intuitive and robust all-channel commerce ‘control panel’ that helps retailers directly translate their brand vision into the online customer experience.

Technical developments made to merchant desktop include updates to the page builder, product media/family management, price management and dynamic assortments applications. These tools allow merchants to respond dynamically to shifting demand—adjusting assortments, modifying websites—through a visual administrative tool which minimises IT dependency.

“While many companies are scrambling to take advantage of big data, retailers must first focus on leveraging the customer data they already have in their systems,” said Usie. “Retailers need to put the processes and technologies in place to translate data into highly scalable, personalised and relevant customer outreaches that improve brand perception, customer experience, and overall profitability.”

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