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  • A growing number of consumers are very receptive to the idea of pursuing customer service issues via mobile apps, according to a recent survey from Contact Solutions. However, the vast majority of customers continue to follow up on problems they have with products and services the old-fashioned way: with a phone call. This represents an unfulfilled opportunity for companies when you consider how many users are embracing mobile technologies. Texting, for example, accounts for roughly one in every seven minutes that smartphone users spend on their devices. (That's second only to talking.) The survey findings also reveal that organizations have a long way to go to transition their customer service experiences to the mobile age. "Consumers are fundamentally unhappy with the state of customer service, especially when it comes to their mobile service interactions," says Michael Boustridge, CEO of Contact Solutions. "The first line of defense against customer complaints is your contact center. To start meeting the needs of customers, companies must develop a strategy that effectively meets [customer] needs, while also providing them with a positive, interactive engagement." More than 1,200 consumers took part in the research.

  • Mobile device management enables the staff at the Australian National Audit Office to run BlackBerry apps and tools on any mobile device they bring to work.

  • A new wave of ransomware presents serious security risks to business and demonstrates growing sophistication among organized crime syndicates on the Internet.

  • When it comes to balancing their professional and personal duties, Millennial parents are more satisfied than those in other generations, according to a new survey from the Working Mother Research Institute. The research, which includes responses from both male and female professionals, examines a range of topics covering work and non-work issues, including job stability, stay-at-home parenting, earning power and employee engagement. It covers Baby Boomers (born 1946–1964), Generation X (1965–1980) and Millennials (1981–2000). Overall, Millennials express greater contentment on many of these factors. However, these young parents are having a more difficult time juggling today's flexible work culture—with non-traditional office hours and constant connectivity—in terms of meeting job expectations while also setting aside enough time for their children. There are "fascinating differences among the generations, with parents in each group having their own ideas about the best ways to manage career and family obligations," says Carol Evans, president of Working Mother Media. "These are important differences that employers should note as they tailor work-life policies to benefit the widest range of working parents." More than 2,160 employed parents took part in the research.

  • The adoption of hosted private clouds is expanding worldwide, according to a recent survey conducted by 451 Research and sponsored by Microsoft. The accompanying report, "Hosting and Cloud Study 2014: Hosting and Cloud Go Mainstream," reveals that cloud migration is well under way, and a large percentage of overall IT applications and other resources will be maintained in the cloud within two years. Whether for Website operations, storage needs or business continuity, the "hosted private cloud is a gateway to hybrid cloud environments for many customers," says Marco Limena, Microsoft's vice president, worldwide hosting and cloud service providers business. "With this momentum continuing to build, it's clear that we've reached a tipping point in which most companies have moved beyond the discovery phase and are now moving forward with cloud deployments to deliver improved business results and capabilities." The majority of organizations are also willing to pay a premium for both security and superior customer support services, according to the report. More than 2,000 global IT professionals—primarily tech decision-makers—took part in the research.   

  • Considering the attention the NSA surveillance scandal has received, it's not surprising that many companies are reluctant to store sensitive data in the cloud.

  • What does it take for the IT organization to get its due from the business side of the company? As reported in a variety of survey-based content on Baseline, the tech department must emerge as an impact-making contributor to business objectives designed to help the company compete successfully. But a majority of business-side managers apparently "haven't gotten the memo," judging by results of a recent survey from Softchoice and VMware. Though IT leaders would like to spend more time on strategy and security, a majority of them think their line-of-business colleagues view them merely as gatekeepers and help desk support. As a result, IT managers can't spend as much time as they'd like working on strategic projects. The research also sheds light on the lack of progress enterprises have made when it comes to automation, virtualization and hybrid-cloud adoption. To address these and other issues that the survey addresses, IT departments could use more budgetary support, as well as a centralized approach to IT management. A total of 250 IT managers and 750 line-of-business managers took part in the research.

  • Just as we've eliminated many physical activities and watched our health deteriorate, we're now curtailing our mental exercise and seeing a cognitive decline.

  • In 1991, industry experts called for the “inevitable” death of mainframe computers. Well, to paraphrase the famous Mark Twain quote, reports of the mainframe’s death have been greatly exaggerated. In fact, on April 8th, IBM celebrated the 50th birthday of the System/360 with a celebration in New York. As part of the festivities, IBM introduced its first “Master the Mainframe World Championship” competition, an expansion of its nation-by-nation "Master the Mainframe" contests. It involved 44 students from 22 nations who created and presented their app inventions on mainframes, based on a challenge that focused on mobile banking. The current IBM System z mainframe continues to add new functions and products. Among them are the IBM Enterprise Cloud Server, which enables companies to build secure, reliable public and private clouds as part of a preconfigured, factory-built system using open standards. Given the historic significance of the System/360's 50-year milestone, we’re presenting the following 10 facts about the IBM mainframe and how it has changed the world.

  • IT is focusing on three areas in 2014: redefining IT's value to the enterprise, developing architecture and data analytics capabilities, and realigning talent.

  • These days, it's nearly impossible to open a newspaper or peruse a business or technology Website without reading about a serious security breach at a company, university or government agency. According to a new survey report from Turnkey Consulting, "A Risk Perspective on 2014" (see slides below), fraud and data loss are growing more prevalent. Unfortunately, a significant number of IT executives aren't responding to these threats with a focused and cohesive strategy. What's more, in many cases, there's a lack of automation and integration across infrastructure and databases. According to Turnkey, organizations must re-examine the way they view and approach digital security. They must revamp business processes and technology in order to minimize the risk of a serious breach, along with the fines, financial loss and reputational damage that comes with it. "Despite the increase in risk, the role of IT security in reducing it does not appear to be well-understood," says Richard Hunt, managing director of Turnkey Consulting. "Making IT security a priority on a day-to-day basis should be regarded as good business practice. … This enables organizations to move away from the traditional method of operating several disparate systems to manage risk … and instead adopt an end-to-end approach."

  • I'm about as techy as you can get, but I'm about ready to unplug everything and disconnect from the grid, thanks to the recent news about the Heartbleed bug.

  • Deloitte's report includes five disruptive and five enabling technologies that offer the opportunity to expand IT capabilities, operations and business models.

  • The numbers are troubling: A mere 13 percent of employees worldwide are engaged at work, according to Gallup. Of the other 87 percent, 63 percent are not engaged (they lack motivation and are fairly apathetic), and 24 percent are actively disengaged (they're unhappy, unproductive and likely to spread their negative feelings to colleagues). One of the best ways for managers to reverse those findings is to demonstrate that they care about their employees' welfare. But that requires going far beyond simply asking, "How are you today?" and organizing office birthday parties. Instead, an organization must cultivate a culture of empathy at all levels. Managers should look for ways to enhance their staff members' professional development, job satisfaction and work-life balance. They have to know how to successfully pursue business challenges without overloading their teams with work and stress, while also discouraging shortcuts that could lead to questionable ethical practices. The following list of "signs that managers care" was adapted primarily from the Center for Companies That Care, along with a variety of other online sources.

  • Nearly nine out of 10 professionals surveyed conduct at least one-quarter of their work-related activity virtually. That means workers must understand how to thrive in an environment where they often don't interact face to face with colleagues with whom they share work. Other issues they must deal with in a virtual environment include an inability to read nonverbal cues, a lack of rapport and collegiality, and feelings of isolation. Given this, Unify (formerly known as Siemens Enterprise Communications) has come up with the following survey-driven characteristics and best practices of productive virtual teams. The accompanying report, "Unify New Way to Work Index: The Habits of Successful Virtual Teams," concludes that non-tech-related factors contribute greatly here, as members must proactively encourage a pleasant and personable work atmosphere, while enhancing opportunities to collaborate and share ideas. "What differentiates more successful teams … is not where their members are," according to the report, "but how they engage with each one another—specifically, the frequency and candor with which team members talk." More than 325 global professionals took part in the research.