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Welcome to my blog.
I use this online forum to share experiences, lessons and learning about business systems and software technology, including Accounting Software, Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) Systems, Customer Relationship Management software (CRM) systems, Social CRM (SCRM), and Payroll & HR Applications.

 

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How To Respond To The Next Big Thing

A Methodical Approach to Separating Technology Help From The Hype

With all the the projects and priorities required just to keep the lights on, what do you do when the "next big thing" offers the opportunity to improve your IT services, and improve your business?

I suggest read, research and review, but move both cautiously and methodically.

The "next-big-thing" has been a marketing buzzword phrase bantered about for decades from software vendors, technology upstarts, PR flacks, industry analysts, technology media and IT executives. While the term is overused to garner headlines and attention, there certainly are IT releases which significantly improve services, reduce costs and empower adopters to leapfrog their competition. Classic examples of disruptive technologies which offer the potential to achieve competitive advantages include Linux, virtualization, software as a service (SaaS), cloud computing, open source software solutions, mobile computing, social media apps, social CRM tools, and even green IT. The challenge then, is to filter away the marketing propaganda and find the balance between leading edge solutions which deliver tangible, sustained benefits, and the bleeding edge solutions which end up as challenged and over-budget IT projects, and cause a loss of IT credibility.

Each of the dizzying array of prior technology headline releases were going to change IT landscape as we know it, and in fact some of them have been doing just that. Linux is pervasive from mobile computing to the largest of enterprise infrastructures. Software as a service has ballooned, literally changed the consumption of software to a service and seems to be morphing into its next iteration of cloud computing. Server virtualization has dove-tailed the green IT movement and delivered methods and IT practices used to dramatically improve hardware efficiency and reduce both costs and carbon emissions in data centers around world.

Other technology announcements appear less clear, and often as though they are a solution looking for a problem. Read more »


 

Evaluating Used Hardware for New Purchases

Used IT Equipment Can Deliver Value For The Right IT Infrastructures

If you're ready to continue growing your company's IT infrastructure now that the economy is starting to slowly rebound, however, your IT budget is still stuck back in the recessionary period, you may want consider procuring quality used IT equipment from reputable suppliers.

There are plenty of good providers for used IT equipment where you can stretch your IT dollars and improve your IT capabilities, all at the same time.

Dan Kusnetzky, an IT analyst with The 451 Group, says that such hardware procurement strategies can be good for CIOs and businesses, but also added that it definitely depends on your infrastructure, standards, tolerance for risk and IT budget.

"I think if one has the right architecture for your software applications, with few or no single points of failure, then purchasing used equipment that has a warranty, support and has been tested can be a very good move to reduce costs," said Kusnetzky. "Other organizations will look at that and say that the used equipment does in all probability include a higher chance of failure, and they would shy away from that, saying the additional costs savings would not be worth it because the cost of a failure would submerge any savings from purchasing used equipment."

Acquisition of used hardware may be best done for hardware in areas that are not mission-critical, such as desktops, laptops, printers or redundant networking gear. "A knowledgeable person who has examined their needs and their environment may find that the selection of certain devices from a refurbished stockpile to be an excellent choice," Kusnetzky said. "With storage systems, they may not feel as comfortable buying the whole storage system but they might feel fine buying one array that is part of the whole."

What's needed to ensure confidence, he said, is a careful evaluation process. But since hardware often makes up only about 20% of a businesses' IT costs, with staffing and software costs making up the bulk of the rest, savings on equipment won't be as material as in other IT spending categories. Read more »



Green Information Technology and Corporate Sustainability Programs

e-Stewards Program Delivers a Measurable Green IT Framework

Enterprise Information technology (IT) departments regularly buy, deploy and refresh hardware and software in the normal course of business. IT leaders and managers normally do it without even thinking much about it. The new equipment arrives, then the old stuff gets handed down or disposed.

But as volumes of electronic waste accumulates, causing long term environmental effects, it's much more important for all of us, and our companies, to pay more attention to what happens to old computers, monitors, network gear and other equipment that becomes outdated as the march of better technology continues.

There are toxins in computer hardware and that means that unless they are properly disposed, they will cause pollution and health problems when incorrectly disposed. However, the processes to properly dispose computing equipment are often not well understood.

The environmental group, The Basel Action Network (BAN), unveiled what it says is a global first, an electronic waste (e-waste) recycling certification program that is supported by environmental groups and major corporations such as Bank of America, Samsung, Wells Fargo and Capitol One Financial Corp.

This program delivers advice, instruction and even certification to help IT professionals do the right thing when disposing of IT equipment. There's a current problem in that many companies pay other companies to dispose their discarded electronics but they don't know if it's being done properly. That can mean that electronics are illegally dumped or shipped around the globe to countries where environmental laws are less stringent so they can be disposed of more easily and less expensively. The end result is often just creating major pollution problems in other parts of the world, while endangering people in those countries due to the toxic materials inherent to e-waste. Read more »


 

The Unforeseen Penalties of Software License Violations

Proactive Monitoring Can Prevent Embarrassment and Financial Penalties

Here's three events you don't want to happen:

  1. To suddenly find out that your teen-aged daughter has dropped out of college a few months before graduation, tattooed "I Love Bart" on her arm, joined the circus and is now performing the flying trapeze.
  2. Receive a late night phone call from your teen-aged son informing you not to worry because the tow truck driver doesn't think the damage to the car or to the convenience store window is as bad as it looks.
  3. Get a letter informing you that your company is the target of a software license audit from the Business Software Alliance because a former or current employee believes you are using more copies of software applications than your licenses support.

And unfortunately, that third event can be worse than the first two. Daughters eventually do come to their sences and automotive bodywork can fix cars, but if you're caught using more software than you've paid for, the consequences can include financial penalties and damage to corporate reputation.

If you don't think these events will happen to you, you might want to learn from others who thought the same thing. Consider the IT department at entertainment games maker BreakAway Ltd. of Hunt Valley, MD., or the footwear maker Aetrex Worldwide of Teaneck, N.J., both of whom recently paid sizable fines to the BSA for installing unlicensed copies of software applications from BSA member companies Adobe and Microsoft. Breakaway paid a $75,000 fine, while Aetrex paid a $100,000 fine, and both companies also had to uninstall all unauthorized applications from their IT systems. Further, they then had to pay for the proper number of licenses and "commit to implementing stronger software asset management practices," according to the Washington-based BSA, an advocacy group for the software industry. Read more »



Information Technology Investment and the Paradox of Thrift

Aligning IT Budget Strategy with Keynesian Economics

We're in a somewhat unusual paradox where getting increased IT budget authority during challenging economic times is difficult, however, IT can maximize its spend and value to the business due to the purchasing power created by these challenging economic times.

The global economy continues its delicate recovery while in parallel delivering information technology (IT) purchase opportunities for savvy IT managers. For many businesses, now is not the time to continue cutting back on information technology and its costs. There's no more fat to cut. Now is the time, while prices, terms, warranties and related professional services from your vendors may never be better, to invest again so you increase technology services and be ready for the recovery that is desperately clawing for some traction.

If the business leaders at your company need some convincing to increase the IT budget in order to capitalize on the purchasing opportunity, perhaps you will be well served to put it in business terms. In fact, this IT procurement opportunity is much aligned with the theory of the "paradox of thrift," refined by the late English economist, John Maynard Keynes. In the 1930s, Keynes explained that while saving money is wise in hard times, there can be a danger of businesses saving too much and not putting enough back into the economy through the buying of goods and services. And when an economy is having trouble, Keynes argued, that's precisely the time to spend money to help stimulate activity again, and benefit in the process.

Not all economic experts agree, of course. There are certainly competing arguments which suggest Keynes theory is outdated and oversimplified and that the current economic environment is far different than it was back in Keynes' time and during the Great Depression. Nonetheless, if you refine and investigate further, what we have right now is a buyer's market in IT, from software to hardware to services to technology solutions across the board. Read more »



Technology Trends Short List

3 Technology Trends That Empower IT and Grow Businesses

Information technology (IT) professionals are usually time starved and under resourced which makes it even more difficult to find the necessary time to stay apprised of promising new hardware and software technologies. Many IT projects are never done, they just lay low during slower periods of less activity. The IT infrastructure always needs maintenance, hardware needs technology refresh upgrades, databases and operating systems needs patches and business software systems such as Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) systems and Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software applications need upgrades and continuous process improvements.

So with so many IT activities required just to keep the lights on and keep the company in business, who has time to think about new IT trends and innovative technologies that could improve IT services or reduce costs?

It's a difficult balancing act, however, one that is critical to maximizing IT effectiveness. With that in mind, here's a mini-guide for the time-impaired IT manager: 3 IT trends that you should make time to review and consider integrating into your operations. Read more »



Selling Information Technology Solutions to the U.S. Government

Government is a Bright Spot in Information Technology Spending

Despite a recession that has resulted in frozen IT budgets and corporate belt tightening in nearly every market category, one major enterprise has been spending money big time - the U.S. Government. And interestingly enough, much of that government spending is for information technology services.

This IT spending trend was highlighted in a fascinating news story in Washington Technology magazine, titled "7 Hot IT Projects for 2011."

However, if you're a technology provider in search of your share, its not so easy to get your slice of the action. There's plenty of competition for those government dollars, and your company has to jump through the right hoops to meet qualifications, bid regulations and government-specific buying processes. A separate story in the same magazine detailed how there is actually increased competition for fewer opportunities in the government market place, but that the rewards are huge.

The simple point is, if you have not at least explored IT business opportunities your company can find with the government then you may be missing a big revenue opportunity for your company. Read more »

 

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