Tuesday, July 29, 2008

Security and Privacy Risks of Telecommuting Not Effectively Being Addressed

Telecommuting and the virtual office put sensitive corporate data, including the personal information of customers, at risk of compromise, according to a report released by the Center for Democracy & Technology and Ernst & Young.

The report, "The State of Telecommuting: Privacy and Security," based on a survey of 73 organizations recommends that companies with a telecommuting workforce need to pay more attention to the unique privacy and security risks posed by remote access. The report offers practical advice to companies on securing data accessed by employees working from home or other remote locations.

According to a recent report more than 46 million people are expected to work at home at least one day a week by the end of 2011. That increase of telecommuting workers heightens the need for robust security and privacy policies. Respondents acknowledged the inherent risks of telecommuting, but admitted these risks aren't made a high priority.

Serious gaps remain between the establishment of security requirements and consistent monitoring and enforcement. Consider these findings:

--Computers used by telecommuting employees often do not contain security features that specifically address the unique threats that come from remote computing, such as inappropriate access by non-employees, use of technology for unauthorized purposes, etc.

--Portable devices, such as laptops and personal digital assistants (PDAs), commonly involved in data breaches, are widely used by telecommuters. However, few organizations have adopted thin client terminals-lightweight devices with Internet connectivity-which have little data storage capability.

--Telecommuting employees using their own personal computers or PDAs for work purposes thwart the advantages of employer supplied encryption tools.

--Allowing telecommuters to use wireless Internet connections is a common practice, but the use of wireless security measures is not widely required. The implications of this finding are compounded by the fact that telecommuters are increasingly accessing their neighbors' unsecured wireless connections when working from home.

--Policies on downloading software and using peer-to-peer file-sharing applications are common but the enforcement approach varies. While half of the organizations use technical controls to block peer-to-peer file sharing applications, and a third of organizations block telecommuters from using instant messaging applications, others lack technical controls, relying instead on software use policies.

More information on the service and support industry can be found at www.SupportIndustry.com

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Worldwide IT Services Market On Track to Grow 9.5 Percent in 2008

Despite the uncertain economic situation, the IT services market is expected to remain strong as worldwide IT services end-user spending is forecast to exceed $819 billion in 2008, up 9.5 percent from 2007, according to Gartner, Inc. Analysts said results in the first half of 2008 have shown mixed results.

Core outsourcing (IT management and process management) remains the highest growth area in the market. In 2008, core outsourcing services are on track to represent 42 percent of total worldwide IT services end-user spending. Buyers look to process management -- core business process outsourcing (BPO) -- as a remedy for cost control for short-term impact, and the increase in availability of global delivery capabilities makes BPO an attractive cost option, bringing more companies to BPO that would have considered it in the past.

The consulting and development and integration (D&I) segments continue to exhibit steady growth. These segments are fueled by demands such as overall cost reduction, combined with demand for projects that can improve profitability or revenue growth. The worldwide consulting and D&I segments combined are forecast to reach $327 billion in 2008, up 10.1 percent from $297 billion in 2007.

Mlore information on the IT services industry can be found at www.supportindustry.com

Wednesday, July 23, 2008

Demand for Tech Workers Holds Strong Despite Slight Dip in Overall IT Worker Confidence

The IT Employee Confidence Index, a measure of overall confidence among U.S. information technology workers, dropped 1.5 points to 45.9 in the second quarter of 2008, reaching its lowest level since measurement began in 2005, according to a recent survey commissioned by Technisource, the technology placement division of Spherion Corporation.

The survey, conducted by Harris Interactive, indicates that overall confidence levels among IT workers surveyed declined slightly in the second quarter as a result of workers’ increased uncertainty in the job market and in their personal employment situation. Despite workers’ doubts, 42 percent of technology workers say they are likely to look for a new job in the next year.

Results from the IT Employment Report include:

--More than two-thirds (70 percent) of technology workers believe the economy is getting weaker, up one percentage point from the first quarter of 2008.

--Forty-two percent of technology workers are likely to look for a new job in the next year, compared to 39 percent from the previous quarter.

--More than half of technology workers (59 percent) believe that fewer jobs are available, an increase of four percentage points from the first quarter of 2008.

More information on the IT industry can be found at www.supportindustry.com

Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Technology Will Play a Key Role in Helping CFOs Deliver Business Growth

Technology will play a key role in helping chief financial officers (CFOs) deliver on an increasingly complex agenda and understand what drives corporate performance and value, according to Gartner Inc. However, increasing economic uncertainty means that the urgency to deliver this understanding is even greater, coupled with the need to reduce costs and optimize operating efficiency wherever possible.

Significantly restructuring finance operations can be challenging and many organizations are considering outsourcing some or all of their finance processes. Finance and accounting (F&A) business process outsourcing (BPO) is becoming increasingly commonplace. Although the market for outsourced finance and accounting services is beginning to mature, Gartner maintains that buyers are often not sufficiently organized prior to outsourcing to fully realize potential savings.

There are five common mistakes that organizations make when planning to adopt F&A BPO:

Mistake 1 — Providing insufficient funding for the internal sourcing management team.
Many organizations fail to dedicate experienced staff to this initiative, leading to multiple problems in the early years of the deal. Gartner recommends creating a mixed discipline team comprising sourcing experts, IT and HR personnel and legal and operational members of the finance and procurement teams.

Mistake 2 — Not including the IT team in the early planning stages of the F&A outsourcing project or in the transition planning stages.
The IT layer is often overlooked by the business process manager in terms of the overall impact on the organization’s IT and business intelligence strategies. Gartner advises the early inclusion of the IT team, including the software contracts manager as well as IT ERP and security specialists who can ensure that unnecessary delays in accessing internal systems are avoided.

Mistake 3 — Racing to issue an request for proposal (RFP) to learn about the market, instead of conducting research to learn about the market.
Gartner advises buyers to ask the BPO providers for clear guidance on how they will use the latest tools for automating F&A processes to enable the IT team to evaluate the different approaches. The best-practice use of sourcing and research consultants is also recommended together with gaining insight into the latest inshore and "nearshore" issues that have arisen.

Mistake 4 — Asking the BPO provider to monitor too many service-level agreements (SLAs).
The more mature adopters of F&A BPO have established fewer service-level agreements (SLAs) and not more than 15 key performance indicators (KPIs), even for complex work, making for more meaningful evaluation of providers. The CIO's team can help the CFO’s team to prioritize which SLAs to focus on how to blend these with KPIs.

Mistake 5 — Failing to get sufficient acceptance and collaboration for a project from business divisions and country locations — at the financial and technical support levels — and by the inability to obtain documentation about existing process activities.
Integration with existing processes must be costed-out and agreed with the provider in advance. The CIO and team should be in a position to help the business make the optimal decision to pursue an internally managed shared-service center or outsource to a business process provider.

More information on the service and support industry can be found at www.supportindustry.com

Monday, July 21, 2008

Workforce Collaboration and Web 2.0 - A Powerful Combination

New research from the Aberdeen Group found overwhelmingly that Best-in-Class organizations prioritize workforce collaboration and a majority of these organizations infuse the use of Web 2.0 technologies in those efforts to achieve impressive performance gains in areas such as problem resolution, project completion, and workforce productivity, including a 34% average reduction in project completion time and a 26.7% increase in revenue per employee.

For organizations that achieved Aberdeen’s Best-in-Class status (the top 20% of aggregate performance scorers) in workforce collaboration, the study shows that it starts with buy-in and support from the organization’s senior executive leadership. With this buy-in, two more critical elements are institutionalized:

  • Availability of workforce collaboration and/or Web 2.0 software tools are communicated to the appropriate parties
  • Training on the use of these software tools is available to all applicable workers

More information on the service and support industry can be found at www.SupportIndustry.com

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

IT Hiring Expected to Continue at Healthy Pace for Second Half of 2008

The hiring outlook for IT employees remains positive for the second half of 2008, as 35 percent of IT employers are planning to increase the number of full-time, permanent employees from July through December; the highest among all industries surveyed. The CareerBuilder.com Midyear Employment Forecast was conducted from May 22 through June 13, 2008.

Looking forward, IT employees are keeping their options open. Twenty percent of employees reported they were actively looking for a new job. But, of those not actively looking for a job, 85 percent stated they would be open to a new one if they came across the right opportunity.

The shortage of qualified IT talent may be impacting company’s bottom lines as well, as nearly one-third of employers (31 percent) are hanging on to employees that may not be performing at optimal levels in order to keep desks occupied.

One of the ways IT employers are appealing to in-demand workers is by increasing employee salaries. Nearly a quarter (24 percent) of IT hiring managers say the average change in salary will be 5 percent or more in the second half of 2008 compared to the first half of the year.

While increases in salaries by IT employers is a step in the right direction (53 percent of IT workers say they are satisfied or very satisfied with their pay), there are other areas that are of concern to IT workers. They include:

--38 percent of IT workers describe their workload as heavy or too heavy
--23 percent of IT workers are dissatisfied with their career progress
--23 percent of IT workers are dissatisfied with their work/life balance

More information on the service and support industry can be found at www.SupportIndustry.com

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

More Than 50 Percent of Users Will Be Dissatisfied With the Slow Rate of IT Change in Their Enterprises by 2013

More than 50 percent of users will be dissatisfied with the slow rate of IT change in their enterprises by 2013, up from 30 percent in 2008, according to Gartner Inc. Gartner predicts that users' dissatisfaction with the speed of enterprise IT change will worsen in the next five years as users' willingness to use Web-based alternatives over and above what their IT organization directly provides (already a significant factor) continues to rise and user skill levels and comfort with using technology rises for employees of all ages.

User satisfaction is likely to further deteriorate as the "digital generation" constitutes a larger portion of the workforce and enterprises wait longer to invest in "softer" technologies, such as social software, because results are less tangible than more traditional process- or data-centered tools.

In March of 2008, Gartner conducted a detailed survey of IT professionals in 360 U.S.-based enterprises to understand more clearly what workplace technologies (including social software and new communication and collaboration tools) they were investing in and why.

Gartner found that the rate of adoption of "optional" technologies inside the enterprise follows the same pattern seen with the rate of adoption of technologies outside the enterprise. These findings suggest that there are ways to speed adoption but only if IT planners recognize the fact that different users have different wants and needs for technology.

Gartner recommends that enterprises conduct annual satisfaction surveys, not to illustrate to management how good a job they are doing, but to identify employees who are dissatisfied with IT's rate of change — whether it is those who feel IT is moving too slowly in their enterprise or those who believe it is changing too fast.

More information on the information technology industry can be found at www.SupportIndustry.com

Monday, July 14, 2008

IP Telephony Holds Strong in the Face of Unified Communications (UC) Hype

Despite escalating buzz and hype around the unified communications (UC) solutions from Microsoft and IBM, these solutions have had minimal impact on the growth of IP telephony lines, which recorded shipments of 30.9 million in 2007, a new study from IDC reveals. Cisco, Avaya, Nortel, and Siemens were the leading four vendors in the worldwide IP PBX market based on their market results for end-user revenue in 2007, IDC's report shows. In the IP PBX market, Cisco gained the most market share while Alcatel-Lucent lost the most market share relative to 2006. The other IP PBX vendors had nominal changes in market share year over year.

For IP phones, Cisco maintained its dominance in the market as the leading vendor in terms of both hardware desktop IP phone shipments and end-user revenue. As seen in the IP PBX market, Alcatel-Lucent suffered the greatest decline in year-over-year market share, based on end-user revenue for IP phones.

IDC's research reveals that some potential threats to the IP PBX market include desktop collaborative environments, open source IP PBX, and hosted VoIP services. UC Mobility solutions are the primary threat to desktop IP phones.

IDC recommends the following actions in these markets:

--For IP PBX vendors, IDC believes it will be crucial to solidify their relationship with Microsoft and IBM, putting further emphasis on communications expertise and solutions as well as building an ISV ecosystem to help software developers build applications on their telephony platform.

--For IP Phone vendors, it will be important to assess how the adoption of UC software clients may diminish the importance of the desktop phone. In addition, IDC recommends examining how IP Phone vendors can incorporate video conferencing capabilities and/or integrate with full-room telepresence solutions.

More information on the IT industry can be found at www.supportindustry.com.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

IT spending slips, virtualization rises

Goldman Sachs has bad news for most of the IT economy: IT spending will slip from 7 percent growth to 5 percent growth in 2008. While not yet recessionary, the outlook is dipping dangerously close to that.

Expectations of budget growth remain down significantly on a year-over-year basis, with many CIOs limiting their purchases to projects with a high and fast ROI. We continue to believe that 2008 IT spending will decelerate to 5 percent from 7 percent in 2007. Demand for discretionary IT projects dropped to its lowest point in the history of the survey, with caution beginning to spread to the offshore providers.

CIOs have emphasized to us that they are buying on a need versus want basis, are often downsizing deals to fit with current budget constraints. In fact, contrary to general tightening in spending, purchases with an especially compelling ROI are being accelerated in the current environment.

But not everyone is going to get pummeled. In terms of spending priorities for 2008-09, server virtualization and server consolidation were ranked No. 1 and No. 2, respectively, with cost cutting hitting No. 3 and grid computing and on-demand computing rounding out the very bottom of the list.

On the cost-cutting front, drilling into the data yields an important metric: 10 percent of respondents are going beyond trying to slim down licensing costs to cut software maintenance. Given that more and more revenue for Oracle and others is from maintenance, this is cause for alarm.

Several categories of IT spending - ERP software and database software, most particularly - have slipped in priority since Goldman Sachs' report in 2007. Microsoft's Vista spending? It remains in the gutter.

Source: CNET

More information on the service and support industry can be found at http://www.supportindustry.com/

Monday, July 7, 2008

Study Reveals Organizations Lack Control of Their Unstructured Data Assets

According to new research from Varonis Systems Inc. and the Ponemon Institute highlights the need for organizations to control access to unstructured corporate data. Unstructured data refers to electronic information like spreadsheets, documents, presentations, multi-media file, blueprints or any data stored and accessed on file servers and Network Attached Storage (NAS) devices.

According to the survey, 89 percent of survey respondents admit that controlling access to unstructured data is very challenging. In addition, nearly 70 percent feel that access to their unstructured data by employees is very often unwarranted, a situation that that they are unable to rectify because they don't have the means to monitor and control access. In fact, 84 percent of organizations say their unstructured data is accessible by people with no business need for access.

Unstructured data comprises the vast majority of digital business assets, so ensuring that access is controlled and governed by business need-to-know is imperative. The rate at which unstructured data is being created means the challenge of managing and protecting it will not only grow, but become exponentially more difficult. This is reflected by survey respondents who collectively show an exploding market need for technology and automation.

Additional key findings of the survey include:

-- 91 percent of organizations lack a process for determining data ownership and 76 percent can't determine who can access unstructured data

-- 61 percent of organizations do not have a process for monitoring which users are accessing unstructured data

-- 84 percent of respondents believe controlling unstructured data access will remain important or get more important within their organization in the next two years

-- 77 percent of respondents note that automating the process of managing unstructured data is currently lacking, with the same percentage indicating that they would likely evaluate such a solution

It is clear that organizations invest many resources, but lack effective IT automation to protect unstructured data. The manual or outsourced processes that are being used are clearly ineffective and time-consuming. Using survey responses and related Ponemon Institute data, the Ponemon Institute estimates that in 2008, there was approximately $3.15 billion of latent demand by businesses in the United States for technology and software to protect unstructured data.

More information on the IT industry can be found at www.SupportIndustry.com

Sunday, July 6, 2008

U.S. State and Local Government IT Market To Grow From $48.4 Billion In 2008 To $64 Billion

According to a recent report from INPUT, the authority on government business, budget deficits will suppress state and local IT spending in 2009, and budgets will remain tight throughout the forecast period. However, demographic pressures will force states and localities to seek new administrative efficiencies in order to redirect money toward priorities areas. Professional services and outsourcing will account for 48.4% of the market's $16.5 billion in growth as state and local governments seek to automate manual processes, augment staffing, and take advantage of private-sector competencies.

INPUT expects tight budgets to put further pressure on hardware investments as state and local governments consolidate IT infrastructure in an effort to eliminate duplicative spending. This will call for tighter relationships between hardware manufacturers, value-added resellers (VARs), and the major integrators helping governments identify savings points and scope out solutions. Where major implementations are not required governments will increasingly look toward hosted software (software-as-a-service) options.

More information on the IT industry can be found at www.supportindustry.com