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Risk to Reward

Be nimble, be agile, take informed risks, and apply innovation to how you’re using data in your business. That’s the strategy of Garry Whatley, VP of IT and business services for Staples Australia, and it’s been paying off.

Whatley believes that in the online retail industry, with high volume and large amounts of data, access to that data and analytics is essential. And to get this, the retailer would have to make a considerable investment in technology.

With a strong partnership in the past, Staples consulted with Cisco for expertise and implementation of a sturdy IT foundation. Together, they chose to implement the Intel® Xeon® processor-based Cisco® Unified Computing System™ and the Cisco Business Warehouse Accelerator to deliver the most effective technologies to achieve its vision.

Upon implementation, Staples began its mission to gain a strategic advantage. Regular automated reporting now allows for visibility around performance levels, and inventory management is much simpler and more efficient with data transparency.

The investment has allowed Staples Australia to become more agile and respond to the insight they receive. In addition, customer service is progressing and inventory holding has been decreasing. And there’s more to come. Staples will be integrating more functionality into its business operations, allowing for automation and breakdown reporting of sales, trends, and customer actions.

Read the full article from Unleashing IT.

 

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Is Your Company Prepared for Gen Y? Cisco, Twitter and Google Share Their Thoughts

We’ve all heard about Gen Y, or “millennials,” and how this new generation is poised to take over the workforce and change the face of Silicon Valley. Next Tuesday, July 16th at 6:30 pm, I’ll be joining thought leaders from Twitter and Google on a panel at the Commonwealth Club in San Francisco, to discuss an issue of critical importance – how to attract tomorrow’s talent and prepare for the incoming Gen Y workforce.

Gen Y is expected to make up nearly 75% of the workforce by 2025. How will this change the way we work, and what kinds of opportunities and challenges does this pose for local Silicon Valley companies? During this panel, I’ll share my thoughts on the biggest shifts in culture, management style, and recruiting strategy needed to attract the best talent of this new generation.

As many of you know, using today’s enterprise tools can feel like taking a trip back in technological time.  For businesses to succeed in the future they are going to have to adapt to the needs of Generation Y and that will often mean offering them more flexibility. According to the Cisco Connected World Technology Report, 66% of employees place higher value on workplace flexibility than on salary.

But it will take more than offering a flexible Read More »

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Why Cloud Financial Management is a Requirement for Cloud Computing Success

July 11, 2013 at 11:23 am PST

photo-David-Linthicum-cropped-481x198Guest Blog: David Linthicum, Cloud Computing Visionary, Author, Speaker

Cloud Cruiser and Cisco have partnered to provide an out-of-the-box cloud financial management system for Cisco Intelligent Automation for Cloud. Through this partnership, Cloud Cruiser provides visibility into the costs of physical, virtualized, and cloud resources, as well as storage, network, application, and non-compute IT resources. We can track both the costs and the revenue realized from services being deployed, which enables service providers and enterprise IT departments to manage the profitability of their cloud services and align their business goals with IT spending.

I’m proud to be participating in a Webinar co-sponsored by Cloud Cruiser and Cisco, which will discuss the topic of cloud financial management.  Why?  Well, cloud financial management is one of the more important concepts in the world of cloud computing.  Yet, it’s also the most misunderstood.

While many cloud providers think of cloud financial management systems as mere billing systems, they are much more.  The core notion is to approach cloud financial management as a set of business processes and automated services that need to coexist with the existing cloud computing services.  These services leverage an on-demand, pay-as-you-go cloud model.  They offer a complete cloud financial management solution designed to lower IT costs, and profitably scale the cloud services business.

The objective of a cloud financial management system is to provide cost transparency, which will allow the service providers to see all costs.  Moreover, it will show how they map to resources consumed, as well as provide this information to the consumer of those resources.  Moreover, the concepts and technology should give the cloud provider cost accountability features, which allow charges to be assigned to the appropriate consumer of the cloud services, and in the appropriate amounts.  This includes either internal or external cloud service consumers.

The use of cloud financial management, as an approach and underlying technology, should offer the cloud provider cost empowerment, which allows the cloud financial management system to place fine-grained data in the hands of the customer (service consumer) so they can manage costs directly.  Finally, there is a need for cost management.  This will allow those charged with monitoring cost to understand the use of the resources, and make sure that costs are in line with the budgetary constraints of the service consumer.

So, just billing systems?  Hardly.  As more service providers come on-line, offering up everything from pre-built business processes that are on-demand, or centralized security and management services, to more traditional IaaS, PaaS, and SaaS, the need for cloud financial management technology grows.

The use of a cloud financial management system is a requirement for cloud service providers to manage and control costs, as well as provide the proper cost and usage accounting for their customers or cloud service consumers. Cloud financial management systems, such as the Cloud Cruiser Platform, provide most of the features and functions that service providers will require, including:

•  Heterogeneous data collection

•  Data analysis and structuring

•  Data aggregation and filtering

•  Hierarchical data mapping

•  Cost and price modeling

•  Budget alert processing

As cloud providers grow in numbers, the use of these systems will no longer be something that’s desirable.  It will be an absolute necessity, given the growth of cloud computing services, and the number of consumers who leverage these services.  Costs have to be monitored, analyzed, and controlled in order for cloud computing to be a business success.

This webinar is not to be missed!

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Internet of Everything: A Pivot Point in Technology — and Thinking

“You can’t manage what you can’t measure.” So said Dave Evans, Cisco’s chief futurist, in his keynote address at Cisco Live 2013.  I couldn’t agree more! As we usher in a new era of hyperconnectivity, we will see our environment in unprecedented ways, and then manage it like never before.

The trick is getting the relevant data to the right people at the correct time.

Cisco calls this transformation the Internet of Everything (IoE). With its explosion in connectivity from 10 billion things today to 50 billion in 2020, IoE promises a profound transformation that will enhance nearly all aspects of our lives.

But only if we do it right. And that requires changing the ways in which we think.

For IoE to be a true game changer, it will take much more than infusing every road, refrigerator, tire, and supermarket shelf with data-generating sensors. IoE could, for example, have a deep impact on water management. Today, 30 percent of fresh water is lost to leaking pipes. But a sensor in a pipe can only tell you that it’s losing water (and you may already have known that). The key is managing the information, tying it into control systems, and creating far-reaching, highly efficient processes for rerouting water or mobilizing maintenance resources. Read More »

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Be smart about your smartphone during summer travel

Info in the ‘cloud’ can help when stranded …or planning ahead  

Many of us dream about getting away from it all while on vacation. But those days may be long gone as more of us pack our smartphone when we hit the road. Add a tablet or two to your carry on and you’d rather lose your underwear than this bag.

So despite any desire to unplug, stay connected for all the cool travel apps that may make the difference between seeing George Clooney’s villa on Lake Como from a travel brochure or in person by finding it say on Trip Advisor’s mobile app.

george clooney - close
Actor George Clooney’s Villa on Lake Como

Smartphone apps are great for having information (literally) at your fingertips. Apps like Kayak and Hotel Tonight often have hotel rates cheaper than you’d find on web sites – certainly on a hotel’s web site — and this you have to love:  They display the rates for international hotels in U.S dollars.


Best Western Venice
Best Western Venice on KayakBest Western Venice on Kayak

Of course you need to be on the Internet to access many apps, but some like Trip Advisor’s offline city guides you can download while on Wi-Fi and use later when you’re not online.

One of the best things to come along for the international traveler is an app called Viber that uses VoIP technology so you escape high roaming charges. You get FREE text messaging and phone calls …but anyone you communicate with must also have Viber.

When you are connected to the Internet, travel apps work so well because they reside in the cloud where content is updated dynamically in real time, giving you access to the latest information. My Facebook friend and Cisco colleague Guido Jouret used this to his advantage when his long flight to SFO was diverted recently after a European vacation.

Once on the ground, try some of these:

Peek isn’t an app yet but a very new web-based travel guide with great ideas for activities in various cities, and even includes live chat with a travel expert.

AroundMe tells you all the points of interest located near you. It detects your current location, and lets you select from categories like bars, cafés, hospitals, and hotels to find what you like.

Mtrip guide/trip planner generates auto itineraries of places to go according to types of places you enjoy.

Orient gives you a compass view of certain locations nearby. If you’re doing a walking tour of a city, Orient shows you the directions and distance to of your destinations.

World Lens is for both iphones and android phones and lets you point your smartphone’s video camera at a word on a sign and watch as it’s translated from one language to another.

Expensify keeps track of your purchases and transactions by syncing with your credit cards and bank accounts. It also acts as a receipt scanner by using your phone’s camera. After your trip, you’re sent a PDF report of all your spending.

For news on my friend Guido’s trip home from Europe, I turned to my smartphone’s Facebook app …and there he was, almost home.

Please send me your comments and how you use the Internet during your summer travels so I can use them on my next vacation.

Mary

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