Monday, August 31, 2009

Social Networking Poll Shows Users More Vulnerable Than Ever

The results of Bringing Social Security to the Online Community poll were released today, highlighting the vulnerabilities and concerns of social community members around cyber security and the precautions that they are taking or need to take to protect themselves. The online survey conducted by AVG and the CMO Council reveals that while the social networking community has serious concerns about the overall security of public spaces, few are taking the most basic of steps to protect themselves against online crimes.

The survey shows that while the majority of social networking users are afflicted by web-borne security problems, less than one third are taking actions to protect themselves online.

Participants indicated concern over growing phishing, spam and malware attacks, and nearly half of those surveyed are very concerned about their personal identity being stolen in an online community.

The survey was conducted online during the second quarter of 2009 and gathered responses from a random sampling of more than 250 consumers. According to the poll results, despite widespread use (86 percent) of social networks at home and/or at work, most fail to perform the following basic security measures on a regular basis:

--Changing passwords (64 percent infrequently or never)
--Adjusting privacy settings (57 percent infrequently or never)
--Informing their social network administrator (90 percent infrequently or never)

Despite the apparent security risks and dangers of engaging in social networking sites, respondents identified several common practices that could cause harm to unprotected users:

--21 percent accept contact offerings from members they don’t recognize
--More than half let acquaintances or roommates access social networks on their machines
--64 percent click on links offered by community members or contacts
--26 percent share files within social networks

As a result of this widespread proliferation of links, files, and unsolicited contacts, users have experienced high levels of breaches and threats:

--Nearly 20 percent have experienced identity theft
--47 percent have been victims of malware infections
--55 percent have seen phishing attacks

AVG encourages users to follow six simple steps to stay secure:

--Do not accept pop-ups or prompts for software, unless you're armed with web scanner software

--Do not ever provide, post, or submit any confidential personal data (e.g., SSN, banking details, medical records). Social networking sites do not require this sort of information to join, unless you're online dating or paying monthly.

--Change your password at least once a month. Do not change it if you're prompted to. This can be a third party malicious link.

--Do not let friends, peers, coworkers, etc. access their social networks on your computer, nor yours on their machine. Others could introduce infections to your computer through unsafe practices, or your login security could be compromised via cookies saved on your computer.

--Never auto save your password information, and clear your history at least once a week.
Do not accept friend requests or request friends that you personally do not know.

Friday, August 28, 2009

Three Pitfalls of Multisourcing

Gartner, Inc. has identified three major pitfalls that organizations can experience when they strive to achieve an efficient and effective multisourcing environment. To overcome these challenges, CIOs and sourcing managers need to develop specific competencies to master multisourcing. In addition, Gartner predicts that through 2012, inflexibility caused by an excessive cost reduction focus will result in business disruption in 30 per cent of outsourcing deals, including the inability of the buyer to compete effectively.

The three key challenges that organisations face in multisourcing include:

--Outsourcing Deals Are Difficult to Build and Manage
Outsourcing deals are difficult to manage for four main reasons. First, many organizations lack the experience to properly oversee and estimate the end-to-end effort that outsourcing requires. Second, a project team often centrally plans and executes sourcing projects amid emotionally charged political agendas. Third, new options, such as alternative delivery and acquisition models, change the way the sourcing life cycle drives activities, and increases the complexity of the sourcing environment and the decision-making process. Finally, the service provider landscape is dynamic, which makes it frequently challenging to find the right one with which to build a long-lasting relationship.

--Outsourcing Deals Often Fail to Deliver Expected Outcomes
Once an organisation has established an outsourcing relationship, it often faces further difficulties because an outsourcing relationship frequently promises more than it delivers. Some challenges can arise such as, low end-user satisfaction, poorly defined business benefits and immeasurable deal benefits, complex governance and strained relationships.

--Outsourcing Deals Often Fail to Evolve
Organisations are frequently disappointed because their outsourcing contracts failed to deliver the innovation they had anticipated. In addition, outsourcing deals often aren't structured to provide the flexibility needed to enable the deal to adapt quickly to changes in the market and organisation. They don’t always evolve due to factors on the client side - organisations often fail to describe what evolution and innovation mean to them, and the service provider side – changes may disrupt their businesses and jeopardise their margins.

Organizations can manage these challenges by building a successful, outcome-oriented sourcing environment. Gartner has identified ten key competencies to help organisations move toward efficient and effective multisourcing.

--Strategy management: It aligns sourcing actions with the business goals, strategy, frameworks and governance to ensure optimal ongoing business support.

--Risk management: It prevents, detects and mitigates sourcing risks to substantially reduce the levels of risk across all deals.

--Financial management: It formulates financial targets with the business (for example, reduce total cost of sourcing (TCS) by 15 per cent in two years) to establish a clear guideline for all sourcing activities.

--Demand management: It oversees and prioritises IT services based on demand to optimise resources and skills across all sourcing activities.

--Service management: It aligns the services across internal and external service providers (ESPs) to achieve seamless, end-to-end service delivery.

--Program management: It aligns portfolio and sourcing strategies so that projects achieve desired outcomes.

--Relationship management: It maintains the relationships with all internal and external service providers (SPs). It sets performance expectations with SPs, collects performance metrics for each and provides feedback.

--HR management: It helps to forecast and fulfill staffing needs relative to sourcing needs to ensure an optimal level of skills and resources.

--Performance management: It helps to optimize ESP’s costs and ensure that new or revised business goals are always attained.

--Contract management: It manages the contracting process to meet the organization’s needs. It includes keeping internal contracts and industry best-practice contract templates for future use.

More information on managing your customers can be found at

Wednesday, August 26, 2009

Study Shows Cloud Computing Gaining Critical Mass Among Large Enterprises

F5 Networks, Inc., a provider of Application Delivery Networking (ADN) solutions, announced the results of a survey that shows how large enterprises are implementing cloud computing. The study reveals that among large enterprises, cloud computing is gaining critical mass, with more than 80 percent of respondents at least in trial stages for public and private cloud computing deployments. Additionally, despite the maturing rate of adoption of cloud computing among enterprises, the study shows that there is considerable confusion and concern around the definition of cloud computing.

The survey found that IT managers are aggressively adopting cloud computing. Half of respondents reported that they have already deployed a public cloud computing implementation. In addition, private cloud computing models are also enjoying broad acceptance in enterprises, with 45 percent of respondents currently using private clouds. Consequently, cloud computing is also meriting budgetary consideration, with 66 percent of respondents indicating that they have a dedicated budget for cloud computing initiatives.

Other findings from the survey include:

--Cloud computing is more than SaaS - Although Software as a Service (SaaS) is an important component of cloud computing, respondents ranked SaaS behind Platform as a Service (PaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) as the most important components of cloud computing.

--Core cloud computing technologies - Enterprises employ a wide range of technologies in their cloud computing platforms. Access Control was the top concern for people, whereby 90 percent of respondents named Access Control as somewhat/very important for building the cloud. Network Security and Virtualization were also named as key technologies.

--Cloud computing influencers - The people within the enterprise that influence cloud computing decisions go well beyond IT. Respondents named IT, application development, and line of business (LOB) stakeholders as the top influencers for cloud computing decisions.

More information on Cloud Computing can be found at

Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Majority of Marketing Execs Say Their Teams Exert Greater Business Influence

According to a new survey by the Creative Group, although the recession has hit many marketing departments hard, there is some good news for those in the creative industry: Sixty-one percent of marketing and advertising executives interviewed said marketing teams have greater influence on business decisions than they did three years ago. This compares to 23 percent who believe marketing professionals hold less sway.

Advertising and marketing executives were asked, "Do you believe the influence a company's marketing professionals have on business decisions has increased or decreased in the last three years?" Their responses:

Increased significantly...........................18%
Increased somewhat................................43%
No change.........................................15%
Decreased somewhat................................20%
Decreased significantly............................3%
Don't know.........................................1%

Monday, August 17, 2009

U.S. Retail Spending on IT Is Down but Opportunities Remain for Technology Service Providers

Technology service providers (TSPs) must look beyond their focus on Tier 1 retailers and gear their offerings more to Tier 2 and Tier 3 retailers if they are to survive the current fall in retail spending on IT, according to Gartner, Inc. Gartner defined Tier 1 retailers as companies with revenue of more than $1 billion. Tier 2 retailers are companies with revenue of $250 million to $999 million. Tier 3 retailers are companies with revenue of less than $250 million.

Between January and March of 2009, Gartner conducted a survey with 83 senior retail executives with significant responsibility for IT decision making. The survey revealed that North American retailers have severely pulled back their spending on IT this year.

To weather the storm, Gartner advised TSPs to build growth strategies to capture resilient market segments, such as grocery, and allow for market maturation among Tier 1 retailers. As most Tier 1 retailers will have already made most of their vendor selections for the 2009 holiday season, TSPs should also target IT — the late adopters of IT and the non-adopters. Software as a service (SaaS) offerings with built-in best practices will appeal to Tier 2 and Tier 3 retailers that are currently priced out of the supply chain application market.

Based on the survey findings, Gartner predicts that the remainder of 2009 will see retailers significantly pulling back on all new project launches in the supply chain areas, except for vendor managed inventory (VMI), the uptake of which is being driven by cost containment strategies. Survey data indicates that no new warehouse management systems projects were planned by respondents in 2009, although quick and late adopters said that they would be looking to launch some projects within two years. Similarly, very few new transportation management systems are planned for this year, but double-digit growth could return within two years.

Inventory planning projects launched by respondents before September 2008 are likely to continue with some Tier 2 retailers looking to launch new projects. Gartner expects double-digit growth to return to inventory planning projects within two years, led by new engagements among quick and late adopters. Demand planning projects in 2009 are likely to be limited almost exclusively to Tier 1 and Tier 2 retailers, although double-digit growth is expected to return to all three tiers within two years.

Survey respondents indicated that although ongoing sourcing projects will continue throughout 2009, no new sourcing projects are expected to start this year, with Tier 1 and Tier 2 retailers expected to launch new projects within two years.

More information on CRM can be found at

Sunday, August 9, 2009

Worldwide Online Ad Spending Contracts 5% in the Second Quarter, U.S. Loses 7%

Worldwide spending on Internet advertising contracted for the second consecutive quarter, by 5%, to $13.9 billion from $14.7 billion in the same quarter a year ago. IDC's Worldwide and U.S. Internet Ad Spend Report 2Q09 (forthcoming) found that all global regions posted losses, with the exception of the Asia/Pacific region and Japan, which saw slight gains in the second quarter (2Q09). U.S. spending also declined for the second quarter in a row, by 7% year over year, to $6.2 billion from $6.6 billion.

In the United States, all major advertising formats saw year-over-year revenue losses, with search ads being least affected, display ads losing 12%, and classifieds shrinking 17%. All major publishers' ad sales declined, for the most part at double-digit loss rates, with Google being the only exception, posting low single-digit growth. Worst affected were with a 31% decline, suffering from the terrible condition of the classifieds business in the current downturn, and AOL, hit by both the weakness in display ads as well as internal sales problems.

For the coming quarters, there is good news and bad news. The bad news first: Given the 2Q09 numbers and the outlook provided by media companies such as Yahoo!, IDC expects U.S. advertisers to decrease their online spending quarter over quarter in 3Q09 by about the same amount as they did in the first and second quarters of 2009. The good news: It seems like things are not going to get any worse in the Internet ad industry.

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Facebook: Measuring the cost to business of social networking

Much attention has been given to social networking tools such as Twitter and Facebook, and a number of CRM and ERP vendors have rushed to integrate their applications with social networks, but what is their impact on productivity and where do they fit in a business environment? To explore the business productivity impact of Facebook, Nucleus interviewed 237 randomly selected office workers about their use of Facebook and found:

-- Seventy-seven percent of workers have a Facebook account.

-- Of those workers with Facebook accounts, nearly two-thirds access Facebook during working hours.Those who access Facebook at work do so for an average of 15 minute each day.

--Eighty-seven percent of those who access Facebook at work couldn’t define a clear business reason for using it.

--Of those who do access Facebook at work, 6 percent never access Facebook anywhere else — meaning one in every 33 workers built their entire Facebook profile during work hours.

As social networking sites grow in popularity, companies need to understand the cost in productivity from accessing these sites. Although industry pundits may tout Web 2.0 and social networking as the next big thing, when asked to actually identify business uses for Facebook, Nucleus found that few employees could point to a true business reason. In some cases a specific business benefit may outweigh the general productivity loss, but the business case hasn’t yet been made for broad business user adoption. Companies should evaluate their Facebook policy and the cost to the organization in allowing access to Facebook, as today blocking Facebook may actually result in a 1.5 percent gain in productivity.

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Monday, August 3, 2009

Smartphone Growth Encouraging, Yet the Worldwide Mobile Phone Market Still Expected To Shrink in 2009

The worldwide mobile phone market recorded another quarter of year-over-year decline in the second quarter of 2009 (2Q09). According to IDC's Worldwide Quarterly Mobile Phone Tracker, handset vendors shipped a total of 269.6 million units worldwide, down 10.8% from 302.2 million units in 2Q08. The second quarter results are an improvement from the 17.2% decrease seen during 1Q09, but ongoing challenges stemming from the economic crisis remain a factor to watch.

For the full year, IDC believes that the market will decline 13%, with the market outlook for 2009 remaining relatively consistent among the top vendors. The small signs of improvement were centered around consumer demand for high-end handsets and the manufacturers' ability to shift portfolio to meet these needs.

Regional Analysis

Amidst the ongoing economic challenges in North America, the market for converged mobile devices thrived with the arrival of the Palm Pre and the iPhone 3G S towards the end of the quarter. Shipment volumes for other converged mobile device vendors also benefited from increased attention and price adjustments on the segment, pushing the market even higher. At the same time, interest in prepaid devices remained strong for budget-conscious customers. Finally, the market for mid-tier and high-end devices began to show signs of improvement with the arrival of new devices from leading vendors.

Despite the expected decrease in volume from last year in Latin America, the second quarter of 2009 was stronger than expected, showing solid sequential growth from the doldrums that were seen in 1Q09. Local currencies in the key markets of Brazil and Mexico experienced revaluation from the precipitous drops that occurred in the prior six months, helping to alleviate some of the economic pain being felt by many businesses and consumers. Interest in 3G services and offerings have been expanding in the region, helping carriers to increase, or at a minimum sustain, ARPUs that have been falling over time.

Results in Western Europe continue to reflect weaker demand from the previous year despite some improvement from the first quarter. The growth of the very low-end segment was not sufficient to reverse the decline in traditional mobile phones. However, the robust growth of converged mobile devices was a sign that the recession may have reached the bottom and some improvements can be expected for second half of the year. In CEMA, the market showed more vitality after two quarters of abrupt decline, with regional shipments approximately 15% higher than in the previous three months. With handset distribution and sale largely out of mobile operator hands, the financial crisis had squeezed inventory out of the channel as bank and trade credit dried up. The recovery of shipments in the second quarter suggests that this process has now been largely completed and that underlying demand remains robust.

High levels of private savings and aggressive national fiscal policies have helped sustain the demand for consumer products in Asia/Pacific, even as the global economy sputters along. Now, with several Asian economies showing the green shoots of recovery, mobile phone demand has also responded in a healthy fashion, with shipments for the region once again surpassing 100 million units in 2Q09.

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