Access, Access, Access

The concept of a digital workspace has evolved over time. Most clients we speak to can imagine new ways of offering services to their users. Questions remain though;  How much gear do I need to provide them? How can I make it simpler for my users to access and keep pace as the industry continues to introduce new applications and methods to consume and create content? How can we maintain security and ensure data is protected? Most IT professionals are working with their organizations to shore up screen-of-life-blog-imagethe gaps in their security when lines of third-party SaaS providers are introduced and then have difficulty retaining control and accountability for access. Time-to-value for new methods, mobile apps and change of any kind that promises improvement to their organization is many times not accurately accounted for. Screens have continued to explode in popularity throughout organizations globally. These portals into the world of digitized information empower users to impose requests for the latest consumer technology and BYOD upon IT that bring both opportunities and threats. Let’s take a closer look at these screens and the power they hold.

Screens were created to read or rather watch words. They are always on and have the capability to transform any space into a digital consumption platform. Being digital allows users to: annotate, mark up, underline, bookmark, summarize, cross reference, hyperlink, share and talk to content. Adding these capabilities allows reading or watching content to become social. In order for this to become a reality we must make content portable.

Possession is not as important as it once was. Now instant access is critical, and gives many of of the same benefits and few of the disadvantages.

There is a mythical dream to backup the entire Internet. Some are attempting to do this and “The Cloud”, built upon today’s technology can enable that dream. An achievement such as this will be remembered for all time and will contain the entire works of all human kind. This is a very large library, representing approximately 310M books, 1.4 B articles, 180 T songs, 3.5 T images, 330K movies, 1B videos, 60T public webpages. Today it would take the space the size of a bedroom. Eventually will fit on the future size of a phone.

IT professionals have two views on this type of power. 1) Half are surely hoping they die before such things happen and 2) the other half want to know what’s taking so long; summon content as desired from anywhere and securely access it from the screen of their choice. Delivering a new digital workspace built as a cloud-first service, where continuous development is employed to bring new innovations on a weekly and monthly basis; will allow IT professionals to meet business and user expectations at the accelerated pace we are now moving and our users have come to expect.

Failure to provide end user’s the ability to access the required applications and data securely efficiently and effectively can have a very negative impact on business. SMP works with clients to deliver IT solutions that provide highly efficient digital workspaces and mobility, leveraging cutting edge technology, enabling businesses to move forward.

Are You Engaging Your Workforce?

Keeping employees informed and engaged in the workplace by providing information that aligns with their priorities, enables collaboration between team members and across divisions, fosters creative thinking, and ultimately contributes to your organization’s productivity. Effective communication is important for any organization. How you manage information, present information, and engage your employees and customers can be the differentiator in the success of your company.

SMP collaboration team can help you communicate with your workforce
Digital Signage can help you communicate more effectively with your workforce

Static messaging and mass distribution are great if the goal is checking the box marked “Information Delivered,” but information is retained far more effectively using dynamic visual content in the delivery of your message. By pairing timely messaging with relevant content, employees feel more involved, which results in a more-connected workforce and a more-connected workforce is a more effective workforce, leading to an increase in productivity, higher morale, improved employee satisfaction and less turn-over. All of which contribute to a stable and predictive work environment.

So, how can a company improve their communication and generally improve their culture? With Digital Signage.

digital signage to ensure teams can collaborate
Use targeted digital signage to ensure teams can collaborate and stay connected.

A Digital Signage application engages business professionals with targeted messaging in the right place at the right time, which essentially allows you to stretch your messaging much further than emails or memo boards. The software technology even provides the ability to communicate with associates through their mobile devices and also integrates with existing reporting systems to display information like sales performance metrics, employee schedules and more in a viewer-friendly fashion.

• Unified Messaging
• Process Improvement
• Alerts and Announcements
• Employee Morale
• Health and Wellness

We have a state-of-the-art Solutions Center where we can demonstrate the latest and greatest collaboration technologies in person or remotely. We pride ourselves on enabling our customers so they can keep up with both the speed of business and IT. If you would like to learn more on how a Digital Signage solution can help improve your workplace experience, please reach out to the SMP Collaboration Team. Contact SMP »

They call me the seeker…

the-seeker-smp-managed-services-blog
Our customers put a lot of hard work into maintaining best practice operations in their complex technology environments. Often these same customers have users who desire noticeable improvement in the way IT delivers services for their organization. The pace of change is continually putting strain on IT staff to achieve higher levels of service and increase agility. This becomes very difficult when there is a lack of visibility into how IT is delivering services.

Enter “The Seeker” into the picture. This person embraces the customer requests, listens to concerns, and drives an organization toward developing the willingness to make the decisions that enable change. Often times Seekers gravitate toward a tool or set of tools to assist them in mission. These tools—acquired over the years—now lay on the virtual shelf; having been abandoned through attrition or growth, or no longer providing the insight needed as the problems to be solved become more complex.

Throughout the journey to help solve an organization’s challenges, usually Seekers encounter some bumps along they way. IT silos created over the years can result in “finger pointing” with no one to taking ownership to resolve the real issues causing pain. Complex technology environments result in difficulty ensuring you have the right people looking at the right areas. In an effort to solve this problem, the idea to build a communal work space gets tossed around and a plan is laid out from the request to “Build me a WAR Room”.

IT_War_Room-2
The Situation Room of the White House, Dec. 30, 2011. (Official White House Photo by Chuck Kennedy)

Instead, this room often looks like the picture below with “inspirational” corporate art to encourage people to stay for 24-hour sessions to solve, what in their minds, is someone else’s problem. Sitting squarely in the middle is the “King of IT” to rule them all and provide a root-cause analysis.

IT_War_Room
Real World IT Problem Solving

Our customers may have the ability to proactively monitor their data center infrastructure components; however the true value in this ability is ensuring immediate visibility into down/troubled platforms and subsystems, then taking the appropriate actions to prevent or resolve problems. This is the hard part because it requires time not only during business hours, but around the clock. Today’s consumer is wired for instant gratification and 24/7 response, however, humans are not wired for 24/7 availability and this becomes a challenge, especially if you lack visibility across the IT service delivery.

“I’m happy when life’s good and when it’s bad I cry

I got values but I don’t know how or why” – The Who

I have been involved in building our SMARTcentre, SMP’s managed services offerings, over the past three years to help ensure application availability and ensure access for our customer’s workforce. Our certified experts can track your environment’s performance from the end-user to the data center, the cloud and across networks for organizations of every size. We project changes so administrators can re-engineer apps, balance workloads, or add capacity if needed. SMP also tracks real-time activity in order to be proactive, cut through the noise, and simplify your workflows to improve IT service operations. Our expertise is assisting our customers as they drive real impactful change and focus on building next-generation IT service delivery for their organizations. If you seek the IT Truth, SMP can help.

Social Media Content Mining for Social Improvement

SMP blog post on monitoring Social Media
On my drive in to work, I heard a story by Cheryl Corley, an NPR correspondent who works for the National Desk. “When Social Media Fuels Gang Violence” tells of the use of social media by gang members in a practice called “cyber banging.” Social media is being used by gang members to promote themselves and their gang, and to issue taunts to other gangs. These posts go beyond the digital realm and have resulted in retaliation deaths. Cheryl reported, “This year, [Chicago] police say cyber banging fueled the death of another Chicago rapper.”

It has also been widely reported that social media is a vehicle for cyber bullying. Chicago police have been working to monitor the social media sites and partner with schools and counselors to address some of the violence. Meanwhile, at the university level, research is being done to decode the language that could send triggers to officials working in those neighborhoods.

As I listened to all of this, I thought, how do you monitor all those social media sites and all of the posts out there? What came to mind is that there are tools out there used by business to monitor those same social media sites for managing comments about their products and services, such as Cisco’s SocialMiner.

“Cisco SocialMiner is a social media customer care solution that can help you proactively respond to customers and prospects communicating through public social media networks like Twitter, Facebook, or other public forums or blogging sites. By providing social media monitoring, queuing, and workflow to organize customer posts on social media networks and deliver them to your social media customer care team, your company can respond to customers in real time using the same social network they are using.” [From the Cisco website]

Now, this is written from the standpoint of business but if your “customers” are gang members posting to social media and by monitoring the sites, SocialMiner can relay the information to the “social media customer care team,” aka police and civil violence protection authorities, a product intended to improve business can also aid in the curbing of gang violence through intervention.

Becoming Good at the NEW IT

The illiterate of the 21st century will not be those who cannot read and write, but those who cannot learn, unlearn, and relearn. -Alvin Toffler

Over the past 3 years I have begun to see a shift in the way customers are planning, selecting and deploying technology capabilities to their users. The range of choice has expanded at every level; in devices, applications, methods of computing, potential partners and ownership. A ‘one-size fits all’ technology strategy is moving to one in which it’s now ‘any size that you like’. IT can now deliver many more capabilities; dependence on ‘cost-only’ business cases will encourage IT leaders to keep the legacy alive.

Our EUC team is focused on helping our customers identify their desired outcome, assess the legacy IT, document and present it to leadership in meaningful terms. This provides the best starting point to decide whether the investment is worth pursuing for the value planned to obtain.Read More »

How is cloud impacting modern networking and security? Maybe it’s time to start from scratch… No, really.

John McAdam, Outgoing CEO of F5 Networks
John McAdam, Outgoing CEO of F5 Networks

Some time in the past year, at an F5 event, I was listening to John McAdam’s view on the disappearing data center. He said that it’s all going to the cloud, which will drastically shape the way we design IT infrastructures from now on. It’s a little funny because we’ve come to think of the cloud message as almost a parody of itself.  This cloud is some vaporous thing out there that we’re supposed to be moving to, but nobody knows how.  The fact, though, is that he’s 100% right. It’s happening.  Every mature IT department I work with has a cloud initiative, of sorts.  Some are taking an application or two.  Some are taking a whole data center.  Some are building DR in the cloud.  Some have moved all collaboration to a managed or cloud service – whether that be documents and email or phone systems. Some believe we can simply load our data centers up into vCloud Air and, “voila!” it’s done. That may be the case for some smaller enterprises, but, as a seasoned architect, I still have a difficult time swallowing an SAP infrastructure’s existence in the cloud.. and I work cloud stuff every day. Imagine the questions a CEO might have about that.  In fact, if we step into those shoes for a moment…Read More »