Two Key IT Concepts to Highlight for 2014

Welcome to 2014!  May it be a year filled with health, prosperity, and the ability to keep up with the demands of our clients’ need for instant information.  Hard to believe but there was a time that a client expected to wait 1-2 business days for a response.  Today, thanks to innovations in technology, that same question requires an answer in a matter of minutes.

Understanding technology is now the foundation of your business is the first step to meeting your clients’ expectations.  Companies who lack this focus risk alienating their customers, or worse losing them to more nimble competitors.  To stay in the game, focus on these two key concepts this year:  Hybrid Cloud & Mobile.  Each of these words are very unique in their definitions, yet actually go hand-in-hand as I reveal my top four tech trends for 2014.

Have you stepped into the cloud yet?  The time is now!  

What are you waiting for?  There are so many reasons for shifting many of your business applications into the cloud.  I mentioned our clients’ demand for instant information.  Storing our data and retrieving it from a cloud-based solution can be done in a fraction of the time needed to search through manual files or documents saved on an external hard drive, server, or workstation.  Cloud file sharing services provide a quick way to access critical documents with any device from anywhere around the globe!

Many ask – “I just invested in new technology for my office.  Do I have to replace everything?”  No.  You can incorporate a “hybrid” solution where you keep some of your legacy technology on premise while moving other applications into the cloud.

Your mobile device – don’t leave the house without it!

We’ve all done it – walked into a coffee shop and perused each and every table checking to see if there is an outlet nearby that we can plug our “mobile” device into.  The BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) trend is now common in the workplace (many with BYOD policies written into Employee Handbooks) thanks to the accessibility of the Internet and a multitude of cloud applications. Many managers and business owners tout that employees are more productive outside the workplace.

As BYOD grows, so does the ability for a user’s home laptop, office desktop, and personal tablet or smartphone to “share” the same information.  Email can be retrieved from any device, documents shared via the cloud, photos edited, calendars synced, and so on!  This information integration allows for “on-the-go” productivity.

R.I.P. Windows XP and Office 2003  – Hello heightened Hybrid Cloud & Mobile Usage

Are you still running Microsoft Windows XP or Office 2003?  As of April 8, 2014, Microsoft is completely pulling the plug on all security updates and support for these beloved products.  Some will gawk and say “Eh – I’m not changing.  Nothing will happen to me!”  This is a very risky and bold statement.  It’s like leaving your backdoor wide open to all kinds of security threats that hackers are just dying to get into.  Many will heed this warning and upgrade their networks.  Newer operating systems such as Windows 8 and applications such as Office 2013 or Office 365 provide easy access to your data via the cloud. This demise of Win XP & Office 2003 will inevitably push businesses toward adopting cloud-enabled applications.

The Jetson’s Smart Home of Today!

Whenever I think of the term “Smart Home,” I think of The Jetsons.  Buttons and codes opened doors, cooked food, powered a walking conveyor in the house and motorized their space vehicles.  While our cars are not yet space mobiles, many of the futuristic themes in George and Jane Jetson’s home have become reality!

My husband, Eric, has made it his mission to turn our house into a Smart Home. (Look for more details of my smart home in an upcoming article!)  I use a code to enter my back door, eliminating my need for a key.  From my iPhone or office desktop I can set my thermostat, alarm system, view my surveillance cameras and open my garage door.  Our mobile Sonos speaker system allows us to stream music from the cloud to any room in our house.

Having this mobile capability provides peace of mind that I can monitor and control various aspects of my house while on a business trip, at the office, or at my daughter’s ballet lesson.

Make sure you are secure.

2013 seemed to be the year of data breaches!  We were horrified by the NSA leaks, held ransom by Cryptolocker, and left personally vulnerable by Target’s data breach.  My article title should add Security in parentheses after Hybrid Cloud and Mobile.  Be sure to add layers of security across all devices. Consult with your IT provider as to the best approach.

Resolve in 2014 to step into the cloud and step out of the office!  The next time a client asks for mission critical information – you’ll be able to say, “Sure, I’ll send it right away!”

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