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Looking Ahead: SMB IT Trends for 2014

By Bryan Ramona

 

 

For hundreds of years, mankind has dreamed about the future; we've written books, we've made movies, and we've even engaged with those among us who have the ability to predict the future. There have been several notorious seers over the years but none more famous than the legendary Jeanne Dixon who was counsel to the stars and even a certain First Lady over 40 years ago. Reportedly, she was on the mark with predicting the assassinations of both John F. Kennedy and his brother Robert, Martin Luther King and Gandhi. She also foresaw the launch of the first satellite Sputnik and the historic defeat of Dewey by Harry Truman. Another well-known seer was science fiction author Isaac Asimov who wrote about solar power, the rise of automated work tasks, and visual phone calls; all things we find commonplace now. Clairvoyance, as illustrated in the two examples above, is extremely rare, and while I am not a gifted seer, I certainly do have insight into SMB technology trends for 2014.

Before delving into my predictions for 2014, it's wise to review the highlights from this past year. 2013 proved to be a year of social media, mobile technology adoption, cloud computing, virtualization, and collaboration solutions. These technologies trends were pretty much on par for what I was predicating back at the end of 2012, though the sheer volume of cloud adoption amongst the SMB community may have been a bit of a surprise.

While we will see a lot of the same technology trends in 2014 as we did in 2013, this coming year foresees increased technology expansion and adoption rates. The continued growth of cloud solutions will continue unabated, with more workloads moving off-site. At the Microsoft Worldwide Partner Conference this past July, CEO Steve Ballmer reiterated the company's message as they are transitioning into a devices and services company. Nowhere will this be more evident than in the expansion of Windows Azure for the SMB marketplace. Azure was first introduced in 2009 as a suite of products in the cloud that allowed users to create enterprise-class applications without having to build out their own infrastructure.

 

AVG Internet Security 2014


To this point, the majority of workloads and solutions leveraging the Azure fabric were products of the enterprise community. However, Microsoft envisioned the power of Azure in the SMB space and is crafting offerings to make that happen. Some of those applications will be around something called big data, which I will explore further later.

Other cloud applications that will continue to rise include off-site backups, business continuity, disaster recovery, and managed security. While backups have been on the rise for a few years now, there are still fewer than one in ten small to mid-sized businesses that utilize a remote backup or backup-as-a-service solution. VSR Magazine states that according to the "2013 State of Cloud Backup" study commissioned by Intronis, "A large percentage of SMBs do not purchase backup and disaster recovery (BDR) solutions from their IT service providers until after they have experienced a data disaster." (VSR Magazine, 2013) The chances of a small to mid-sized business recovering from a catastrophic data loss is not good, and in fact, within two years after the loss more than 50% will have gone out of business if they didn't close their doors immediately after. So the continued push to grow cloud-based backup and disaster recovery solutions will be steady along with related solutions like cold standby domain controllers and off-site virtualized cold servers.

When it comes to actual data generated by SMBs, the need for storage required to archive it has exploded. According to the SMB Group, "(of the) 2.5 quintillion bytes of data (already created), 90% of it has been generated in the last two years alone." (SMB Group, 2013) All of this data is not only held onsite, but in large repositories in the cloud. This point dovetails nicely into my next point of big data and predictive analytics, which has historically been limited to large enterprises. However, in 2014 there is expectation that the need to drill into this mountain of information will filter down into the SMB space. The SMB Group goes on to explain that finding usable data among the mounds of information that encompass big data is like finding a needle in a haystack. Consider all of the disparate types of data being moved into cyberspace: photos on Instagram, videos on YouTube, tweets on Twitter, e-receipts from POS applications, and much more.

SMBs have shied away from the thought of big data analysis because of the sheer volume of information, but there will be tools and specialized partners who will be more visible and available to help navigate that massive sea of information. According to a blog post by Brock Clauser, "By analyzing an enormous amount of data in real time, organization will become quicker to make decisions on competition, internal efficiencies and customer insight." (Clauser, 2013) You may have noticed on some social media sites that the advertisements along the sides are often something you may have looked for in the past. These ads are no accident rather the work of predictive analytics of big data you have unknowingly provided via the public Internet. The SMB community, likely retail outfits initially, will be leverage big data and predicative analytics to better understand what their customers want and expect from them. Using that same thinking it's easy to see how business of all types will benefit from usable information delivered via big data predicative analytics.

 


Mobility should continue to be a hot topic as well especially around BYOD (bring your own device). There are still some major potential pitfalls to the growing trend of letting workers use their personal devices for work. The rate of intrusion into the company network through these devices has been rising, and the data loss from lost or stolen devices continues to be an issue. There will be an ongoing push to secure any device with access to the network via data protection and if necessary data destruction. According to IT Business Edge, "Through 2014, employee-owned devices will be compromised by malware at more than double the rate of corporate-owned devices." (IT Business Edge, 2013) The addition of a management tool, whether onsite or in the cloud, is necessary and will make the difference between a crippling breach and smooth sailing.

Another technology trend I will be following closely through 2014 is the demise of the PC. Personally, I don't believe that desktops and laptops will disappear from the business or personal landscape like the dinosaurs that once roamed the earth. That being said, the way we use, share and access information is ever evolving. 2013 was the year of the cloud, and public clouds, private clouds and hybrid clouds were everywhere. Well, for 2014 we're now talking about personal clouds which is basically the ability to have information and applications in one central repository and accessible from a variety of devices including desktops, laptops, tablets and smartphones. While the idea of the personal cloud is not yet widespread, there is a segment of the SMB community that wants to remain lean and agile and the personal cloud concept will likely help them do that.
One final topic I'd like to touch on is the increased focus on security and forensics. I attended a Cyber-Security forum in mid-November sponsored by the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce. The keynote speaker, IBM Chief Privacy Officer Christina Peters told the audience, "Security and privacy go hand in hand. You can't be secure without considering privacy." More and more incursions are happening to small entities as well as large ones. In fact, there are many attackers with bad intent that are specifically targeting the SMB in order to gain access to their much-larger vendors and suppliers. So the focus on being safe and secure is going to continue to increase. With the news of insider misdeeds, having the ability to detect and contain threats from the human side will continue to rise. Specific firms are more suited to this work, such as Evestigations of Malvern, PA, stocked with certified security specialists and forensic analysts. They may not be someone the typical SMB would have on speed dial, but would be invaluable once something goes awry!

Mine is only one opinion as to what will be on the SMB radar in 2014. Heaven knows there will be other things that appear, with the constant acceleration of technology innovation. Will it be so "sci-fi" as to give us teleportation devices or flying cars? Maybe not in the short term, but I will never rule anything out. Maybe some of those Hollywood blockbusters might not look so far-fetched after all!

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Bryan_Ramona

Exciting New Gadgets for 2014

By Robert Wayne Thomas

 

 

One of the expected new gadgets of 2013 was Google Glasses. But general consumer releases were delayed until 2014. However, if you think the Google Glasses is the only exciting thing that may be coming to the public in 2014, you would be wrong. Already, a number of exciting new gadgets have been slated for production, and will be released at some point in the upcoming year. Here are some of the things you want to keep an eye out for.

Meta Space Glasses

Already Google Glasses has a competitor. The Meta Space Glasses is a Meta production. It implements a number of technologies already in existence including Kinect-like sensors and processors that are placed on the top of the glasses. These processors are expected to track objects, as well as your hands, as you use them. At the same time, users would wear armbands with tiny projectors. These projectors handle the images, connecting in with the glasses to create a virtual reality experience that goes where you go. Science Focus describes this as allowing you to interact with virtual objects the same way that you would interact with a real one. An official date has not yet been given for when the public can get these glasses, but they are a very exciting new addition to the tech world.

 


Scanadu Scout

Not all the exciting new gadgets for 2014 are for gaming and virtual interaction. The Scanadu Scout is actually intended to help you monitor and improve your fitness in a way that no other fitness device currently can. Its focus is on providing general health and fitness information on an as-needed basis. The current specs indicate that simply pressing this device to your temple allows it to give you detailed information about your pulse, heart rate, temperature, electrical heart activity, oxygenation levels, and more. While this might sound intriguing but useless, the Scanadu Scout takes it a step further and provides an explanation of what the data means. It also provides information on what you should do based on your readout. Already, Scanadu is planning for an upgrade. The upgraded addition will include add-ons that allow you to check for particular viruses and even pregnancy complications through a saliva analysis. So far, official responses from the medical community outside of the team that has developed the plan have not released much of an opinion, except for concerns that hypochondriacs may use the device too much. However, it looks to be a great option for analyzing your overall health.

Focus Headset

Another exciting new device that is coming out in 2014 is actually intended to boost brainpower and cognitive abilities. Over the past few years, a number of experiments have been developed based around trans cranial direct current stimulations. Basically, low current electrical waves are passed through your brain, massaging the neurons and supposedly improving your mental function. This particular gadget is the first of its kind in that it would make brain augmentation available to the general public. However, the experts aren't entirely convinced that this is a legitimate brain augmentation device. While studies have shown improved performance on simple activities, it's uncertain whether the same improvement would apply to more complex ones.

2014 looks to be an exciting year with lots of new devices coming out. From the Meta Space Glasses, which will allow you to interact with virtual items to the Foc.us Headset, which will help to improve your brain function supposedly, 2014 holds a lot of promise. These devices will probably cost a fair amount, but the improvements in the device development indicate incredible increases in technological development.

Article Source: http://EzineArticles.com/?expert=Robert_Wayne_Thomas

 

 

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