Lexicon Systems, LLC Blog

lex'•i•con: the vocabulary of a branch of knowledge. Thoughts on environment, health & safety (EHS), sustainability and information technology to support them.


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Windows XP support ending soon

Microsoft stops support for the Windows XP operating system (OS) early in April, and stops support for the associated malware software in July. Despite Microsoft’s warnings to update from Windows XP to Windows 8.1 before “end of support,” many large organizations continue to use the almost 13-year-old computer operating system. It is the most popular OS next to Windows 7. And some companies will switch to Windows 7 rather than Windows 8.x.

windows-xp-computer

Image: Microsoft

Companies can

  1. continue to use Windows XP and later change to another OS;
  2. upgrade to Windows 7 or Windows 8.1; or
  3. upgrade to an OS such as Chrome OS, Mac OSX Mavericks or Android.

Windows XP end of support allows an opportunity to evaluate how IT needs have changed in the last 13 years. Organizations can decide which new technologies—hardware, operating systems, mobile, Cloud and Big Data—will work best for them.

The next “IT Insight” column, Windows XP sails into the sunset… maybeappears in em Magazine on April 1. Check back here or on our web site early in April for a link to the column.

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Trends shaping EHS & sustainability software

Several trends are influencing the  environment, health and safety (EHS) and sustainability software market. This article touches on just a few.

Software as a Service (SaaS). Ten to 15 years ago, most software was installed “on premises” on a company’s own servers, with more software installed on each user’s desktop or laptop computer. Today, Software as a Service (SaaS) delivers software differently. The software vendor installs the software on its servers and each user accesses the it through secure Internet connections, with little or no other software on their desktop or laptop computer.

More and more organizations, including Fortune 50-sized companies, are embracing SaaS, where they would not consider it five to ten years ago. Some issues that changed acceptance:

  • information technology (IT) is not the core business of most organizations; adopting SaaS is a way to leverage limited IT resources.
  • SaaS allows transferring some of the risk of software development, deployment, maintenance, upgrades and support to the vendors.
  • they trust the SaaS providers to manage and deliver data securely, protecting sensitive information and trade secrets.
  • they seek alternative cost structures with “pay-as-you-go” subscriptions rather than large up front capital expense associated with “on premises” installation.
  • they can avoid hardware costs associated with traditional, “on premises” installation.

Global standardization

Standardization. Organizations place great value on streamlining and standardizing business processes across the organization. While most companies believe that they–or their data–are unique, the truth is, they are not that different from others. Companies can can benefit from the best practices of others within their company, as well as others within and outside of their industry.

Let me clarify… while regulatory standards and specific data points vary widely from company to company, the business processes are similar. For example, regulatory intelligence requires applicability analysis and regulatory change management processes regardless of the industry sector or regulatory topic.

Globalization. Organizations need to manage data and deliver information in context as close to real-time as possible to make sound business decisions. An enterprise-wide EHS and sustainability software solution that delivers rolled-up information from disparate operations can enhance compliance and sustainability.ghs-pictogram-harmful-human-healthThe leading EHS and sustainability software solutions provide multilingual capabilities without the need for translation services. This is important not only for companies with facilities spread across several continents, but also for companies that have customers spread across several continents. Think of the Globally Harmonized System (GHS) and the updated OSHA Hazard Communication Standard (HCS) that require multiple language versions of a (material) safety data sheet (M)SDS.

Improved user interfaces. Users will not readily adopt software that is difficult to use. The leading EHS and sustainability software applications push beyond the competition for a reason–they are much easier for end-users to adopt. Both the “data in” and “data out” interfaces are more intuitive and visually appealing. Improvements include:

  • Kinder, simpler data entry forms.
  • More intuitive tabular data displays that allow “live” data sorting, filtering and “drill-down.”
  • Configurable dashboards with assorted graphic, charts and tables.
  • The ability to apply multiple dashboards tailored to different user needs.
  • Ready access to online help.

Ease of configuration. Many EHS software providers stress ease of configuration. The software architecture allows a trained user to add new users, update reports and forms, create reports and dashboards without writing software code. Why is this important?

  • the customer does not need to call the vendor or a consultant each time they need a small change.
  • it allows a custom look without actually customizing the underlying software code, allowing for standard upgrades.
  • companies can tailor help files to use their own terminology and to meet end-user needs.

Cloud, mobile, social and big data. These technologies–more than buzzwords–greatly influence software development. This is a good thing:

  • ID-10083418public and private clouds allow data access 24/7 from different devices, many of them mobile.
  • mobility allows data management at the point of generation; it  it allows automated data gathering that in the past used clipboard- and operations log-based methods.
  • in areas with limited or no Internet access,mobility allows offline data gathering with later sync to the database.
  • social tools allow data sharing and collaboration through automated workflows, messaging, shared work spaces and document repositories.
  • big data technologies allow quick data mining of very large data sets (1 TB and more) to spot trends.

Business and technical trends continue to shape the EHS and sustainability software market. Be up-to-date on these trends to have more informed discussions among your organization, software vendors and consultants.


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Mobile, social, cloud and big data collide to make the “perfect storm”

You arrive at the airport for a business trip, having left your computer behind. You stash your smartphone and iPad in your luggage to pass through security. As you wait to board the plane, you read e-mails, check in with your team and review a presentation–all on your mobile devices.

Tablet Global Connections

Mobile, social, Cloud, and big data are four of the fastest-growing information technologies. They connect us globally in ways unheard of just five years ago. Their combination creates a “perfect storm” that can cause IT departments huge headaches or generate great business opportunities. Also, they may have unintended consequences, perhaps a smaller carbon footprint for the organizations that embrace them.

Click here to read The Perfect storm of mobile, social, cloud and big data.


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Confronting disruptive innovation article available

Confronting Disruptive InnovationIT departments today must deal with several emerging technologies at once–social networking, mobile/BYOD, cloud and big data/predictive analytics. All of these are disruptive innovations, aka disruptive technologies.

Many organizations encourage disruptive innovation. Take Google for instance. Can you imagine life without Google search, mail, maps, Chrome, earth and other tools? These innovations first appealed to “fringe” markets of “techies” and later moved to the mainstream. simply did not exist just a few years ago, and they have changed the way we live and work.

Other organizations encourage the opposite–sustainable technology that improves the performance of existing products meant for the mainstream. Take Microsoft Office for example. Yes, the interface has changed dramatically over the years and we see new features, but this is a mainstream product with a purpose that changes little.

Read Confronting disruptive innovation to learn more. 


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Converging IT trends cause IT organizations to refocus strategies

Four trends–cloud computing, mobility, big data and social networking are changing the face of how we manage, analyze and apply information–in a positive way. Like Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) or Bring Your Own Technology (BYOT), these trends are an example of IT Consumerization, which Wikipedia defines as

the growing tendency for new information technology to emerge first in the consumer market and then spread into business and government organizations.

These trends impact individuals, businesses and IT organizations. According to Aternity in Managing IT through the Lens of the End User,

The emergence of consumer markets as the primary driver of information technology innovation is seen as a major IT industry shift, as large business and government organizations dominated the early decades of computer usage and development.

four-color-puzzle-piecesThese four trends cause IT to shift from a business and operational focus to a user-centric focus. IT organizations need to consider IT availability, performance, value and ROI.