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Los Angeles Unified School District – Hack the iPads!

October 23, 2013 at 2:10 pm PST

It didn’t take long, but soon after the Los Angeles Unified School District began their rollout of some 650,000 iPads to their students, they ran into some technical issues. Students in at least one of LAUSD’s high schools quickly discovered a way to bypass the security on the devices. Still in Phase 1 of the program, only 15,000 of the devices have been given to students, but already the District has suspended home use of the iPads due to the security issues. According to reports, LAUSD had been using software that “lets school district officials know where the iPads are, and what the students are doing with them at all times. This software also lets the district block certain sites, such as social media favorites like Facebook.” There are now questions circulating around whether the LAUSD staff was well prepared for these devices and their implementation, and what is going to be done moving forward to continue the rollout and secure the iPads.

student using mobile device

In my previous article I wrote about how educational staff need to be prepared to properly utilize iPads in their classroom. IT staff responsible for managing these iPads should also receive the proper training and preparation. What’s interesting to note here is that, at least in my experience, Apple’s stance on iPads in education is generally fairly hands-off. They recommend managing or locking down the iPads as little as possible. The idea here is that these are best served as single user devices and the best experience for the student is full ownership and manageability of the iPad out of the box. iPads aren’t meant to be used like a rolling cart of laptops going from room to room. They don’t support user profiles and managing or locking down the iPads introduces more complexity than is needed.

You want to protect the investment in these devices from theft, and prevent students from accessing inappropriate content, but if you are planning on allowing the students to take these devices home, you can only go so far. As evidenced from the LAUSD issue, students quickly discovered the iPads were so locked down they couldn’t use them at home, so they found a way to delete the configuration profiles which essentially removed any of the locks or restrictions on the iPad. Some students even went so far as to offer ‘unlocking’ service for $2. Quite the entrepreneurial spirit!

Now, it’s a daunting task for any IT department of any size to introduce over half a million new devices under your umbrella of responsibility. Add to this, that depending on the MDM solution chosen, each of these iPads have to be unboxed and configured before being handed to a student. Now, when something goes wrong they have to be collected, and reconfigured. It stands to reason that Phase 1 will remain a trial phase until some of these issues are worked out. Read More »

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The Internet of Everything and the Digital Industrial Economy

As we continue to progress toward an Internet of Everything (IoE) digital world, organizations will need to think strategically about IT budgets and smart spending in order to keep pace with the changing landscape. CEO’s want a flexible, adaptable enterprise, and IT needs to deliver “fast IT” for them to achieve that.$3 8 Trillion

One part of this rapidly changing landscape is the rise of something Gartner calls the “Digital Industrial Economy.” Gartner SVP Peter Sondergaard said recently at Gartner Symposium/ITxpo that the digital industrial economy will be built on the foundations of cloud integration, social collaboration, mobile, and data. As part of this, worldwide IT spending will reach $3.8 trillion by 2014.

The main notion of the Digital Industrial Economy is that every company will become a technology company, every budget will become an IT budget and every business will become a digital leader. By this definition, it’s clear that the Internet of Everything—and the $14.4 trillion in value it will unleash—is at that the heart of this new economic model.

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#ExecInsights: IoE, Healthcare, and Parking Among Hot Topics at Gartner Symposium

So, it turns out the most tweeted topic from my recent presentation at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo was about how much of their lives Parisian motorists spend searching for parking (let’s just say it’s more than a year!).  

As I told the audience in Orlando, that stress-ridden search is one of countless challenges we can tackle and improve by connecting people, processes, data, and things to the Internet of Everything (IoE). (For more on connected parking, see Wim Elfrink’s blog.)

Interest in the Internet of Everything was high at #GartnerSym. In my meetings with several analysts, CIOs and IT leaders, it was clear today’s CxOs get the amazing possibilities the Internet of Everything can offer. In fact, more and more real-world examples are coming to light of networked connections not only driving business innovation but also changing lives.  

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An Internet of Everything Startup Spotlight: Alex Hawkinson, Founder & CEO, SmartThings

Last month I kicked off a new series focusing on companies and start-ups that are helping to move the Internet of Everything (IoE) forward. Today, I am excited to share some insights from Alex Hawkinson, founder of SmartThings, a platform for automating connected objects.

Alex shares an interesting perspective with us about the value of increased connections and how creating an open, low-cost way to automate our lives is key to achieving the full benefit of the Internet of Everything. Here’s a look at how Alex and SmartThings are pioneering the growth of IoE.

AHawkinsonSmartThings is garnering a lot of buzz in the industry for adding intelligence to everyday objects to achieve home and office automation. In which ways is SmartThings leading the way by connecting the previously unconnected?

The dream of the Jetsons-style house has long been just that – a dream. Different smart devices have come to market but, generally speaking, they’ve been hard to buy, set up and use. With SmartThings we set out to create a single platform and single app interface from which you can control all of the connected objects in your life. When you purchase a SmartThings kit, you can connect pieces of your home in minutes once you plug in the hub and download the app. You can mix and match third-party devices with those created by SmartThings to build the connected space that makes the most sense for you. SmartThings is simple enough that the average smartphone user can bring a connected world to life, but sophisticated enough that an inventor can create completely new devices and applications to custom fit his or her needs.

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Collaboration: Changing the Way We Work

It was not so long ago that people would often have to make difficult choices about their work. Your dream job might open up 3,000 miles away. Your new job means leading a team on the other side of the world. Your day is spent on the road meeting with customers, not in an office. In the past, working men and women have been forced to choose: Do I uproot my family to take advantage of a new job opportunity that could bring greater financial security? Will I need to travel a majority of the time to effectively lead my team? What will I lose during hours of travel time? Companies faced similar choices: Are we missing out on talent because they are not local? How do we connect different locations and geographies effectively?  Can our dispersed teams be more productive and more connected? If we require an employee to move, do we risk losing the employee? Can we afford the increasing relocation costs?

And then the Internet changed everything.

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