5 Reasons to BYOD to Work

BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) is the new frontier for companies, who after outsourcing low-level and non-core business activities elsewhere, moved to outsourcing their office hardware to their employees. The productivity gains of mobile working using BYOD from any place, provides a practical solution to the more tech-savvy employees who put in more hours of work as a result.

Reason 1: Save costs

The costs borne by the employee are not limited to the device cost, but also extend to the cost of the data plan and voice services. These costs are substantial when the company takes care of it. However, given the growing number of unlimited data and voice calling plans, a more cost-friendly BYOD culture can be implemented. Using new innovations like virtualization, companies can extend their services to their employee’s smartphones as well. For example, DaaS (Desktop as a Service) provides an employee access to their desktop virtually on their personal hand-held device.

Reasons 2: No one minds

The best part of it for companies is that employees are not complaining. In fact, think about the times you reply to mails from your personal BlackBerry using your data plan. You don’t mind because of the convenience it brings you. Perhaps our digital addiction has an added advantage for the corporate here. In addition, wouldn’t you prefer using your ultra-amazing Mac over the IT-department issued laptop? A report by Good Technology State states that half of those surveyed for a BYOD paper match a recent Forrester report finding.

“More than half of US information workers pay for their smartphones and monthly plans, and three‐quarters pick the smartphone they want rather than accept IT’s choice.”

Reason 3: Better devices

The advantages are not limited to just costs. The employee’s device would also be more cutting edge as they would have invested considerable thought and research into their decision to buy that device. With the economic down turn looking to take more time to move into recovery mode,  the motivation for companies to start using BYOD has just begun.

Reason 4: Easy on-boarding

The employee will not have to spend time getting used to a new device and environment. The IT department is also spared time and expense carting equipment all over the work place. After the network connection and  credentials are provided, the employee should be ready to hit the ground running. In addition, companies have started using MDM (Mobile Device Management) to manage governance and privacy of data.

Reason 5: Era of Tablets and Smartphones

The era of tablets and smartphones has just begun. As they permeate into our personal lives stronger than ever, we can be certain that it is just a matter of time before they become fixtures at work as well. They might actually be the precipice of the BYOD culture going main stream.

What Happened with Knight Trading?

Knight Capital’s (NYSE: KCG) is a 17-year old Jersey-city firm that executes high-frequency trades on behalf of retail brokers (like ETrade). It suffered massive trading losses because of a technology glitch on August 1, 2012. A $5 billion trade that was supposed to take place over 5 weeks was done in 20 minutes. Meaning, it was making trades of about $10 million in a minute. This expensive mistake affected shares from many other companies too, like Ford Motors and American Airlines to name a few.

The problem was with a new trading program, which was supposed to give Knight an advantage over its competitors. This incident highlights the effect that computerized trading has on organizations. Thomas Joyce, the CEO, has used his long-standing reputation in Wall Street to offer his word that this failure to detect such severe software problems will not occur again. For long, he has been among the strongest supporters of electronic trading and all it stood for.

As Knight trading looks to resume trading on the NYSE and NESE-designated markets tomorrow (August 13, 2012), it would help to take a look at their turn of fortune.

1995 – Knight Capital Group was founded

1998 – Knight Capital Group went public

2012 – 8/1/2012 – Technical error at Knight Capital Group rolls prices of 140 stocks on the New York Stock Exchange

  • 9.30 AM – Trading bell, Knight queues up a huge volume of orders
  • 9.40 AM – NYSE identifies Knight as the source of an unnatural spike in trade
  • 10.00 AM – Knight identifies the root of the problem
  • 10.15 AM – Orders that Knight sent are completed

End loss: $440 million

However, this glitch may also present an opportunity for canny investors. Though Knight’s shares have fallen to $2.90 from $13, analysts estimate that it will earn 40 cents a share in 2013 (source: investmentnews.com). There is the possibility that Knight will come riding through, but the issue is will they have enough confidence from the market to make a recovery from it. Let us hope that this Knight does not die by the sword.

Tablets are Disrupting IT (Gaming, Enterprise, and More)

The humble tablet has evolved from a simple reading console. It now promises to become a powerhouse as its processing capabilities increase.  For example, consider the iPad. The 55 million iPads on the market will very quickly catch up with the 60 million Xboxes. As tablets attack the gaming, organization (enterprise) and other technology-related sectors, let’s have a look at the possibilities.

Tablets and Gaming

Link the tablet market to the growing gaming industry. The limitations that many gamers will see with this arrangement (for example, with the iPad) are primarily hardware based. There are rumors that seek to dispel the myth that limitations because of hardware can hinder the use of tablets. Consider Apple’s iPad streaming to the TV, this may be one interesting update that we can look for in its future product that opens a whole range of further applications of the tablet. Knowing the Apple-release style, they will clearly not be rushed. However, they require to capitalize on the momentum of the iPad sales.

Tablets and Enterprises

Consider this, I am currently planning for my MBA placement interviews. The topic that I will be focusing on is “tablets” and all its glory. It is the “happening” thing right now. Imagine having most enterprise applications being run from mobile apps rather than on your regular desktop applications. Imagine the flexibility that this will provide enterprises and their various businesses. This is a powerful combination for the future.Image from digitaltrends.com

The use of tablets extends beyond regular miscellaneous activities. For example, we use it to surf, read books, listen to music. The ecosystem of its prospective use is much wider and more distributed than we currently see. Today tablets are primarily made for personal consumption. If we bring in tablets for organisations, then this market will see a boom.

Hardware product manufacture is a very risky business of course. You have to only look at various firms like Facebook, who would definitely want to get into the business of tablets and mobility, but unfortunately, they realize the high level of competition and ground that they have to break through, in terms of market entry barriers.

Tablets and What-not

The reality of the gaming/enterprise market and tablets intertwining is an inescapable fact. The coming year promises to be an interesting play of how IT firms will try to  monetize their social ability.

I think that there is plenty of opportunity today for collaboration between tablets with other industries, who may not be considered as traditional partners. One way tablet companies can try to monetize further, is to for example, combine their core technology competency with well-established technology-leaning companies ( example, gaming companies). Combined with the unstoppable growth that tablets are seeing; the combination of tablets, enterprises, and games looks like an a revolution in the making.

Facebook’s IPO and its challenges in Mobile Advertising

As the Internet continues to evolve, it has started becoming available to us on everything from our TVs, mobiles, to tablets. Of late, there are many stories on how mobile surfing is becoming the next big thing. Consider this, how many of us catch up on the latest Facebook news from our cell phones? A lot it seems. Comscore has recently discovered that users access Facebook on the mobile for nearly 7 hours versus 6 hours on the computer.

In fact, Facebook CEO, Mark Zuckerberg, has openly laid out the importance of being able to generate revenue using mobile advertising and promotions in 2012. On his road show to pitch the highly sought after IPO (initial public offering) that is slated for next week, Zuckerberg  has said that Facebook’s key priorities in 2012 are to work on its mobile application, to build stronger ties incorporating its social network with other online apps, and to create a “transformative” advertising experience.

There are claims that the Facebook IPO has been oversubscribed. It will be interesting to see what value Facebook can bring to its investors to make it worth close to $10 billion. Facebook has claimed that its advertising business was generating more revenues as marketers have began spending more. However, this only works when its users access it from their computer browsers.

It has been claimed that social ads would be able to address the problem of revenue generation on its mobile app. These ads are small and better suited for mobile screens. They show you which of your friends “like” certain products. Given the amount of user information that Facebook has already collected, it will allow marketeers to target consumers more effectively.

The true value of any investment is based on its long-term prospects. While Facebook moving on as an IPO is truly ground breaking for this new genre of organizations, it still has to be able to provide more concrete plans on its revenue generation. Having said that, Zuckerberg has made good decisions in the past about Facebook, this may just be another one of those.

Android Trojan Malware (NotCompatible)

Android users need to watch out for a trojan called NotCompatible that comes on Android phones as an update file (Update.apk). A user on Reddit called georgiabiker had initially posted about it. On being installed, it is claimed that the malware may use your device as a proxy and gain access to private networks.

If you have the following setting selected on your Android phone, you are susceptible to the risk.

Settings>Applications>Unknown Sources

This setting allows you to download Android apps from unofficial sources. If you visit any infected unofficial sites, it automatically begins downloading an update named com.Security.Update onto your machine. There is no clear record on which sites this file may be found. But Lookout has indicated that it has found the malware on “numerous” websites embedded in an iframe (the part that usually displays advertisments from third parties).

As per Lookout,

“The first time hacked websites are being used to specifically target mobile devices. In this specific attack, if a user visits a compromised website from an Android device, their Web browser will automatically begin downloading an application—this process is commonly referred to as a drive-by download”

You can avoid this malware by staying alert and keeping your antivirus updated. Watch out for automatic downloads of update.apk on your android device.

Facebook and Earn

Spending many long hours on Facebook? Here is a way to earn as you continue social networking.

Have You Seen allows you to post links about products from Boots, Zara, and many more retailers on your wall. Once your friends click on the link that you posted and proceed to purchase the item, you will receive a commission that varies from 5% to 20% depending on the terms set by the retailer.

The site has joined ranks with similar websites such as Topcashback and Quidco, which are eCommerce sites, that provide retailer information to consumers for cashback schemes. With a network of supposedly a couple of million members these sites have the numbers to make social collaboration with retailers successful.

Moving a member from being a consumer interested in thrift into an active participant in the eCommerce chain is the way to go. The laws of scale apply here too. The more expensive an item you get a sale on, the higher is the commission that you will receive. You can sign up for free on the website. The first link that you post will earn you £5 (offer available for a limited time only apparently). Also, this commission can be shared between you and your friend too in certain instances.

This is advantageous for members, as unlike other cashback sites you do not have to spend anything before you start “earning” the commission.

The catch is that you cannot collect the cash that you “earn” until you cross  £20. This is a good move on part of the  site as it forces members to invest more time and effort in this endevour instead of simply looking at it as an outlet to earn fast money. Patience is a virtue after all.

This is not a get-rich-quick scheme. Its just another way to earn a bit on the side. Oh…and no spamming all your friends on Facebook please.


Prismatic: Organize Feeds

I connected to Prismatic using Twitter. There was a claim that it would help organize my extremely diverse set of tweets coming from a relatively hodge podge network.

It is an attempt to go beyond being a social news aggregator into a more personalized service. This service learns about you based on your inputs (click “+” or “x”) to keep or remove an article.

The steps to move onboard are as follows:

Step 1: Sign in with Twitter/Facebook

Step 2: Prismatic will study you based on the types of posts you vote for and publish

Step 3: Prismatic provides your personalized newsfeed

Step 4: Enjoy the specially selected list of articles that you will likely want to  repost

This aggregator works to fill the demand in the sector that comes between personal social networking (like Twitter and Facebook) and news sharing (like NYT, Awl, to name a few). The result is that this semantic-filter site, learns about your interests to provide you with your own ready to use feed to save you the trouble of identifying and organizing various sources. It is a good replacement for your RSS reader. After all, from the hundreds of people that we follow on Twitter, we may just go over a dozen of them at a time.

The co-founder Bradford Cross spoke of it thus,

 I think the media industry in a few years is going to be completely transformed — all of these things will look very different. So we’re just focusing on how we can help people discover the things they are interested in.

It is worth giving this a try and compare it with its competitors (Flipboard and Zite). If you are a heavy Twitter or Google Reader user, this form of organized content coverage will provide a very nice table of contents to pick your stories.

Personally, I am not entirely convinced by this concept. These aggregators provide me with stories based on choices that I select, but what about the many choices that I randomly come about and like too. They have forgotten to consider that I may have evolving tastes and may not have come across posts on every topic that I like. The sum of my interests comes from the known and the unknown that I  may stumble upon (pun intended).

Beware of the New Supercookies

An individual’s right to privacy on their computer should be made a law.

Supercookies or flash cookies are not really cookies. They are a method by which your computer is given a unique number that can be read every time you revisit the creator website. They are used by sites like msn.com and hulu.com (as reported by WSJ) to track user activities. Once this invasion of privacy was brought to the notice of these companies, they said that the tracking was unintentional and would be discontinued.

One major issue is that a regular cookie clearing software may be unable to detect and clear these supercookies. Though these supercookies are intrusive, they do not seem to do more than act like unique identifiers for a machine (like cookies). The issue about why companies are storing data, which I cannot delete, on my computer without my permission still requires to be addressed.

These companies may use supercookies for reasons such as determining various patterns of user behavior and so on, but this method of data mining is a balant disregard for an individual’s right of choice about what they can allow to be stored and/or run on their machine by external parties.

Closer to home, Adobe’s Flash Player is another player in this tracking game. Every time you use it, the Flash player writes on your HDD. One clue on the riskiness of this is when we are left performing multiple updates on our Flash players to counter a new bug that the folks at Adobe find in their software every time a new threat is exposed. The issue at this point goes beyond simple privacy and moves into the ‘interference’ domain. These bits of data may cause issues with my computer and may even cause it to be at risk. The problem continues as these super cookies are hard to remove, and when the only way to counter this is by using a new computer every time, it makes it more of an uphill battle.

You can read Fight Identity Theft‘s ‘New Breed of Super Cookie Defies Removal – Almost‘ for details on how to remove flash cookies. Also, you can check how easy it is to identify your browser’s fingerprint using http://panopticlick.eff.org/. It collects data about your computer using your browser and Javascript to let you know how easily your browser can be identified on the web.

Google Pad Coming Up In July

Google had initially planned to launch an iPad competitor in May, but the release of that device has been delayed till at least July to give it a competitive price. Said to be priced at around $200 (down from the original $250), this device is almost a steal when compared to the reduced-price iPad versions.

There were always strong rumors about Google releasing its tablet in the first half of this year. Currently,  the company plans to seek approval from Chinese authorities to go ahead and use Motorola facilities to manufacture hardware products that it will release in future.d to the reduced-price iPad versions. As Google already offers phones co-
stared by Samsung, moving into the tablet market will not be a random move as it partners with Asus in this venture.

Techie-buzz has already broken the news that the tablet will be available through the Google online tablet stores. Google has recently rebranded their market place as Google Play, which collates its app stores, ebook stores, and so on. As its ecosystem is setting up, hopefully, this product will not be a fiasco like the Google phone (though there are claims that it was a pilot test for Google anyway). It remains to be seen if that product was just a dry run for mass deployment of future Google hardware products.

Some features that are rumored to be part of the Google tablet are:

  • 7-inch display
  • Wifi
  • Android 4.0 Ice Cream Sandwich
  • Nvidia Tegra 3 quad-core processor (or dual-core processor)

The question on my mind is on which features will Google compromise on save costs; the hardware quality or the processor?

This device would also be a strong competitor for the Kindle Fire. It seems to target the market segment where volume sales are a higher priority than quality features (as is the iPad’s focus). It is already hard enough for other devices like the Kindle Fire to even come close to matching the iPad’s popularity primarily because of its lack of hardware features like the camera, in addition to the relatively smaller repository of apps. It remains to be seen what the “Google Pad” will bring to the market.

Frog Google-Doodle honors Gioachino Rossini/Leap Year

Google has honored Italian composer Gioachino Rossini, born on 29 February 1792. As today is also a leap day, Google has associated the doodle with frogs, which are used to represent leap days and leap years.

One of Gioachino Rossini’s most famous works is the The Barber of Seville. He has been called the Italian Mozart. He is noted as one of the most popular opera composers in history. He learnt to play the violin and harpsichord at an early age. He wrote his first composition at the age of 12. He died on 13 November 1868 at the age of 77. He could only celebrate 19 birthdays on the actual day that he was born. His other famous works include La Cenerentola and the French-language epics Moïse et Pharaon and Guillaume Tell (William Tell).

The scene of the Google doodle shows frogs that seem to play out a scene from the Barber of Seville set in a forest. Another interesting detail is that there are four frogs too. The blonde frog, who represents Rosina, is shown to ‘leap’ into the air while singing a love song that is played on a piano by Count Almaviva. The  frog getting his hair cut is Doctor Bartolo from the Barber of Seville, and the hero who is the barber frog is Figaro.

Google has stuck to its tradition and used the frogs to represent the leap year again, as it had done earlier on leap years in 2004,

and 2008.

The possibility of someone’s birthday falling on February 29 is 1 in 1461. There was no leap year in 2000.

The Google Doodle team consists of Marissa Mayer, Jenifer Hom, Dennis Hwang, Mike Dutton, and Susie Sahim. They have created over 300 doodles for Google.com in the United States. But over 700 doodles have been designed by the the general public, and submitted  by guest doodlers and contest winners. You can also contribute and submit your own ideas to [email protected]

Happy Birthday Gioachino Rossini and Happy Leap Year everyone.