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  • Digital technologies are changing the enterprise, but turning your company into a digital powerhouse presents new challenges and requires new ways of thinking.

  • Sometimes, when you're stuck in a work rut and need some inspiration, you might want to head to a movie theater. But if you don't have the time now, you can spend a few minutes reviewing this slideshow, which features author Patrick Stroh's five great film moments, along with his accompanying work, business and leadership takeaways. The movies illustrate best practices in project planning, crisis management, customer service and other key success drivers. While the cited movies are very entertaining, they also include serious lessons that provide guidelines on how to lead your organization to new levels of excellence. "The process of creating a strategy has gotten a bad reputation over the past years," Stroh says. "Successful business strategy is inextricably linked and should operate simultaneously with leadership for the best results." So pass the popcorn and enjoy these kernels (sorry!) of wisdom. They were adapted from Stroh's recent book, Business Strategy: Plan, Execute, Win! (Wiley/available in April). Stroh is a principal at Mercury Business Advisors, which provides business management advisory services to support strategies, operational execution, innovation and product development.

  • Organizations are eager to increase their use of unified communications tools, even though most corporate executives confess that they're unclear about what "unified communications" actually means. While this may sound paradoxical, it represents one of the interesting findings in a recent survey from Evolve IP, which gives this definition of UC: "The concept of consolidating phone, email, fax, chat, video and collaboration into a single unified channel, either on a device or on a computer." Despite the lack of familiarity with the techno-lingo, survey participants reported that their companies are embracing UC tools, such as streaming video conferencing. The majority, in fact, said there's no real difference between talking to someone via video tools and having an in-person conversation. Findings also show that UC is having a notable impact on workplace culture, as organizations using UC solutions are far more accepting of telecommuting and bring-your-own-device (BYOD) initiatives than enterprises that aren't using these tools. As for what's stopping businesses from expanding their UC resources? The top barrier appears to be the inability to find the right systems for their employees. Nearly 975 IT professionals and executives took part in the research.

  • The Secure Domain Foundation, which has buy-in from prominent Internet firms, takes a multipronged approach to fighting criminal abuse in the domain industry.

  • It's encouraging that corporate leadership finally recognizes how much the IT organization can contribute to strategic objectives, but this increased visibility is putting pressure on the tech team, according to a recent McKinsey Global Survey report. Titled "IT Under Pressure," the report notes that corporate and business executives think IT needs to "up its game" by improving organizational business processes, cost efficiencies and decision making. Unfortunately, technology's ability to support these and other business goals is declining, according to survey participants. So, what's the solution? Among other initiatives, the IT budget must be reprioritized to better benefit business strategies. "More and more executives are acknowledging the strategic value of IT to their businesses beyond merely cutting costs," according to the report. However, they "are also homing in on the shortcomings many IT organizations suffer. Among the most substantial challenges are demonstrating effective leadership, and finding, developing and retaining IT talent." More than 800 global executives took part in the research, including professionals from both inside and outside the IT organization.

  • Cloud storage is always on since there’s no delay waiting for a robot or disks to spin back up. And data is automatically encrypted, replicated and protected.

  • With fraud incidents posing significant threats to organizations, a growing number of executives are realizing that big data can greatly help to improve their detection and prevention efforts. However, relatively few companies are effectively deploying what are called forensic data analytics (FDA) technology tools, according to a recent survey from EY (formerly known as Ernst and Young). In conducting assessments of potential fiscal misappropriation, FDA is delivering notable ROI with respect to reducing and/or eliminating losses, according to the accompanying report, titled "Big Risks Require Big Data Thinking." Still, a number of barriers stand in the way of adoption, including leadership's lack of awareness about the tangible benefits. "By combining multiple data sources and leveraging advanced FDA tools, companies are now able to gain new and important insights from their business data," says David Remnitz, leader of global forensic technology and discovery services operations under EY's Fraud Investigation and Dispute Services practice. "Given that companies are likely generating substantial data volumes, it would be prudent for board members and other stakeholders to encourage management to accelerate their efforts to glean as much insight as possible from their big data. Better risk assessments and more effective compliance, among other benefits, are likely to follow." More than 450 global executives took part in the research.

  • Seventy-five percent of Americans do not take all of their allotted days off, and 15 percent of them didn't take any vacation time in the last 12 months.

  • 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.