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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.

  • 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.   

  • 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.

  • 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."

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

  • 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.

  • Some issues that plague CIOs include balancing limited budgets with increasing demands, keeping up with the latest tech trends and finding the right staff.

  • They're constantly seeking opportunities for global expansion, while still paying careful attention to company matters closer to home. They are extremely wealthy—frequently hobnobbing with world leaders and A-list celebrities—but many of them have lunch with employees in the corporate cafeteria. Some have traditional technology backgrounds, but others came up through business departments. (One of them, John Donahoe II of eBay, started as a union worker at the Schlitz beer distribution company.) They are the top tech company CEOs in America, as compiled by Glassdoor. In this case, the people on the list were ranked by employees, who posted reviews of these executives on Glassdoor. Many of the reviews speak to a CEO's technology vision and business savvy, while others provide insights about their people skills. For example, one employee wrote this about Riverbed Technology's Jerry Kennelly: "Couldn't possibly be any nicer of a human being." Glassdoor is an online career community that posts user-generated content, including company-specific salary reports, ratings and reviews. This list is based on more than half a million company reviews shared on Glassdoor over the past 12 months.

  • With much of the East Coast battered by a series of epic storms this past winter, it's likely many IT executives have had business continuity and disaster preparedness on their minds. That's a good decision, as it's likely that their data backup efforts need a boost. Recent survey findings from cloud storage provider TwinStrata indicate that companies are plagued by backup issues— even when no emergencies threaten their data. The majority of respondents say they're experiencing multiple backup failures each year. Despite the fact that most organizations say the volume of data they need to back up is increasing, more than half of them aren't backing up applications daily. And when a disaster does hit, nearly two-thirds say it takes days to recover. The findings are disturbing considering the raft of new backup options available today. For instance, some reports indicate that companies that rely on cloud storage recover from disasters quicker, and that is driving some companies that don't use the cloud to reconsider their backup strategies.

  • It's a good time to be a senior project manager, as organizations acknowledge that they face significant challenges in filling these vacancies, according to a recent survey from ESI International. As a result, experienced project managers are making nearly twice the annual salary of their novice counterparts. Given the circumstances, companies may consider hiring less-seasoned project managers and supplementing any gaps with training. Even a relatively modest amount of project management training greatly reduces how long it takes for newer project managers to take on more advanced roles. "Budget constraints, an aging base of professionals and a looming talent war all contribute to a talent crisis that should be addressed by the highest levels of the organization," says Mark Bashrum, ESI's vice president of corporate marketing and open enrollment. "The growing needs of businesses demand a more strategic view of the staffing, development and promotion of their project managers, since project execution impacts an organization's bottom line and its ability to satisfy its customers." A total of 1,800 project management professionals took part in the research.

  • CFOs have become technology evangelists, taking the helm at finance organizations that recognize the value of digital technologies and cloud-delivery mechanisms.

  • DBS Bank, a global financial services firm, turns to cognitive computing and advanced analytics to boost the breadth and depth of its products and services.