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Third Step to Enterprise Mobility: The Division of Devices

This is the third post in a blog series featuring Vine-format videos focusing on the “Six Essential Steps for Unleashing the Power of Enterprise Mobility”. Be sure to read the first two blogs and watch the videos – First Step to Enterprise Mobility: Build the Mobile Structure and  Second Step to Enterprise Mobility: Go Virtual.

In this blog series, we’ve discussed two important steps enterprises can take unleash the power of enterprise mobility. We’ve covered how building a mobile structure can arm enterprises with the appropriate architecture to increase efficiency and revenue. In addition, we highlighted how enterprises can go virtual by implementing desktop virtualization.

Our third step – preparing for the division of devices – relies on both structure and a mobile workforce. How can enterprises enable and support the proliferation of employee-owned devices without burying their IT department and putting corporate data at risk? Here’s a quick checklist to help make it happen:

mobstep11. Use a unified network infrastructure that facilitates secure, virtual workspace delivery across wired, wireless, VPN, and cellular networks.

As wireless access becomes more pervasive, performance and reliability expectations are the same as what is expected from a wired network. Features such as reliable connectivity, application response times and voice, video and real-time collaboration solutions all depend on a seamless delivery for both wired and wireless devices. This fundamental shift demands that IT monitor and have a unified solution in place  (i.e. a single physical infrastructure) for both corporate wireless LAN (WLAN) and wired LAN. This converged infrastructure will enable the right quality of experience for users, independent of their devices.

A unified network infrastructure can also make sure that IT is able to identify each device connecting to the network and authenticate the person using it.

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Video, More Than Just Faces on Screens

Looking into the crystal ball, I see that video collaboration will not be just about faces on screens, especially for GenY and the young executive. It’s about customizing and manipulating video so that it becomes additive to the business and decision-making process – making the user smarter because of it and the experience “better than being there.”

A recent survey of up-and-coming young executives found effectiveness to be a key driver for visual collaboration. Namely, respondents said they want to be able to see the visual cues that aid in effective communications, to appear present in a meeting, to quickly edit and share video content, and to be able to collaborate on content as if they and their globally-disparate teams are all in the same room. And they want it deployed pervasively.

These requirements are moving visual collaboration from the nice-to-have bucket to the critical-business-tool bucket. Young executives will  expect video to be embedded in mission-critical business applications, much in the same way that email, IM and mobility are today, accessible from wherever they are – Starbucks to the boardroom – and on the device of their choosing. Read More »

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The Internet of Everything Connected Classroom Starts with Startups

Connected-ClassroomsWhen I think of a traditional elementary or secondary classroom, I think of colorful bulletin boards, desks, pencils and neat piles of books and paper. As students all over the country return back to school, it’s interesting to think about how the classrooms we enjoyed as students (back in the day!) have evolved to include electronic white boards, tablets and other high-tech collaboration tools.

While this technology has fundamentally changed the landscape of the modern classroom, the Internet of Everything is driving education-focused start-ups to enable more connections in and outside the classroom than ever before. Here’s a look at a few start-ups that are revolutionizing how students, teachers and parents connect and learn.

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How Secure is Your Mobile Worker?

How well do you know your mobile worker? Understanding the mobile worker’s perceptions and behaviors will offer a better view on the potential security implications your organization must manage. Cisco recently released a new global infographic and white paper, the Cisco Connected World International Mobile Security study. They explore the mobile worker’s view points concerning working remotely, connecting to corporate, and their sense of security. Some of the findings are worth reflecting on to help you set the course for your mobile security efforts.

There is no question that the movement to mobile personal devices in the workforce has been well recognized. A recent response to this trend includes almost half of employers offering to fund workers to buy their own devices. Allowing the “chose your own” device alternative will attract and retain talent and reduce costs (see recent IBSG BYOD research), but what are the security implications?

There are a few striking data points to call out:

  • 63% of users download sensitive data on their devices. The frequency significantly increases in some countries which should alarm people doing business internationally if there are no precautions taken to secure the downloaded data. Imagine your financial data or product road maps being downloaded on an unprotected personal device.
  • Most believe remote access is a privilege. Yet in some countries they believe it’s a right as a worker. This establishes high expectations for IT to support and secure the devices including, but not limited to, extensive help desk calls.
  • Most users are diligent when a pop-up appears and will read through the details and determine what it really means. Yet, many workers from select countries generally tend to be less careful and accept warning pop-ups without reading the details which increases the risk that hidden malware will be downloaded. Hackers depend on this social mining effort.
  • 60% of users admit to engaging in risky behavior on a device (for example, personal or company-owned) while connected to corporate resources. This suggests that more security enforcement technology would benefit the prevention of data breaches and/or loss.

Data_Protection_Chart_1-300x115So, who really owns the mobile security issue? Mobile workers do not take full responsibility for a safe device with 84% believing that their IT will protect them from threats no matter what device is used. Sometimes IT’s perspective on this dependency is expressed with disbelief. An example of this issue was observed at BlackHat from a security professional during a demonstration we presented a couple weeks ago.

During the demonstration, we were showing how a user who inadvertently clicked on a phony URL sent in an email. That click triggered to phone an alert to a hacker that an “innocent” user is accessing the phony Internet site. The user unknowingly offered login credentials to their bank account. The hacker begins to record the users’ keystrokes to use later for malicious purposes. A security professional from BlackHat chimes in during the demonstration with the comment, “Dumb User.” The demonstration later showed how the combined effort of Cisco ISE and SIEM (Lancope) with unique TrustSec enforcement can identify and control the malicious activity with a single policy (for example, by segmenting and restricting users traffic close to the edge—on a network switch). The surprise to the security experts watching the demonstration was the concept that the network switch provided this enforcement.

Bottom Line: Most mobile workers have good intentions but do rely on IT to step in.

It would be great hear from you on your impressions of these recent findings and whether you are a mobile worker or an IT professional.

Please refer to Cisco’s security response for the mobile workforce: Secure Access

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New Bills in U.S. Government Show Commitment to Video

Being effective in your job doesn’t always mean that you need to be there.  In fact, many would argue that their productivity increases drastically when they are given the flexibility to work wherever they want as long as they can stay connected.  If that means staying off of a plane for a business trip, even better because it also saves the company money.

Enter video conferencing, the tool that enables users to be part of the discussion without being there.  But what does “there” really mean in today’s world? With mobile technologies, including video, transforming how and where we work, the concept of “there” is really anywhere you want it to be. “There” can be a traditional office that is now equipped with video technologies that enable collaboration with others across the world without having to travel in order to conduct business. It can also be working remotely and still being part of your business community with mobile video and other applications that allow users to work at home, at a coffee shop or anywhere they like.

The move to stay connected at anytime from anywhere has been engaged by many organizations including the U.S. Federal Government. To help agency’s ensure productivity while cutting travel costs the House of Representatives introduced a bill that would allow absent Congress members to vote via video conferencing. The bill allows members to cast votes remotely over video and be treated as if they were present in person at meetings.

Government members are also extending this sentiment beyond the walls of Congress as Representative Michael Fitzpatrick also introduced a new bill — H.R. 2643, the Stay In Place, Cut the Waste Act of 2013 — to review agencies’ efforts to reduce travel spending and develop a plan to cut travel expenses by 50 percent through the use of video conferencing technologies.

Is it really going to make a difference? Read More »

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