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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Five global predictions for 2015

Today was all about tomorrow. Let me explain… this morning, I attended a Webinar on 2015 trends in the Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) market; this afternoon I completed a survey on the top global trends for 2015. Here’s my take on five global trends for 2015. The common thread is information technology (IT) and the environment.


It’s all about the Cloud

Businesses continue to move to the Cloud in droves, with a large percentage already there. A big benefit of the Cloud is the shift away from internal management of IT infrastructure, placing part of the risk onto Cloud providers. Another benefit is the ability to shift from older, “on premises” enterprise software license models that require constant upgrades to newer, Software as a Service (SaaS) apps where all user organizations are on the same version of the software. And a third benefit is anytime, anywhere access to information that allow more informed decision-making.

It’s not just mobile technology, but mobile technology enabled by the Cloud, that will allow businesses to break from old paradigms and utilize Internet-enabled solutions. My article on the Cloud will publish on 01 February 2015.

Information security remains a top concern

Information security will remain a top concern among organizations into 2015 and beyond. ApplePay went live this quarter, and it was supposed to be an alternate cashless payment method, but not a Point of Service (POS) app. With the release of the iPhone 6 and the latest iOS, Apple has teamed with Bank of America (and others?) and ApplePay is a POS app! Many remain concerned about Near Field Communications, where a cyber hacker can steal sensitive financial information.

Magnetic stripes on credit and debit cards are so 20th Century. A few years ago, many merchants tried laser bar code readers for payment cards (e.g., payments at gas pumps), but removed the readers… were the readers that hard to use, or were they too costly to maintain? After recent security breaches some U.S. banks are revamping credit card security measures–adding security “chips” that other countries have used for decades. It’s about time… but users still must “swipe” their cards through a reader.

Global energy and natural resource challenges

The U.S. is enjoying the “energy boom,” at the highest domestic production rates in decades, and needs to ensure that there is not a rapid “bust.” Despite the drop in oil prices (barrels of West Texas Intermediate Crude), North American Shale Oil plays will continue into 2015.

Cheap natural gas prices will allow the chemicals industry to continue with large projects, the scale of which we have not seen in the U.S. since the late 1970s and early 1980s. While the demand for new natural gas and liquids pipelines remains high, these projects will slow a bit. Why not deposit some of the cheap oil and gas to increase the National Petroleum Reserve?

Changing demographics and consumer spending

Many emerging countries will continue to see the largest increase in spending power in the under-35 population. The consumer population in the U.S. will continue to increase dramatically in two segments—over-60 and under 35 years old—thus creating the challenge of serving both markets.

Considering how much consumer technologies spill over into business, the challenge is applying these technologies to address the needs of divergent populations. In 2015, software applications will be all about the user experience, and the real challenge will be the balance between the user experience and addressing enterprise needs such as information security and scalability.

Cashless payments

Consumers will continue to increase their comfort level with online, cashless payments. Mobile cashless payments will take a while to gain market share amid concerns of cybersecurity and as consumers upgrade their mobile technology. Regardless of the method, companies in the payment business must move to multi-factor authentication and anonymous, one-time authorization codes that are more difficult to steal, or, if stolen, are useless.

While consumers–especially the 35-and-under demographic–have handily adopted paperless check deposits, this will not quickly spill over into the business world. Businesses will continue to remain entrenched in hard-copy checks, P-cards (Purchase Cards) and ACH (automated clearinghouse) payments in 2015. So, keep the car gassed up (or charged) for those trips to the post office and bank.

With the new year coming upon us quickly, there is plenty to think about with respect to information technology and the environment. Your thoughts?


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What’s the best use for an iPad if you’re savvy with a laptop and smartphone?

When you get an iPad, you think, “Hey, I can replace my laptop with this small tablet!” 

Technology stack with overlapping functions

I look at my “technology stack,” and see a Windows 7 PC, a MacBook Pro, an iPad and an iPhone. These devices all help me get through my daily routine, with overlapping capabilities:

  • Read content
  • Read and compose email
  • Read and create documents, spreadsheets and presentations
  • Participate in social networks
  • Attend Web meetings
  • Visit Web sites
  • View photos and graphics.

Depending upon what I want to achieve, these four devices are not totally interchangeable.

I can use my smartphone to create a presentation, but anything but a simple presentation is best created on a laptop or tablet. I can sort through hundreds of emails on my tablet or smartphone, but must use a laptop for powerful sorting and cleanup. Likewise, I can create complex spreadsheets on the tablet, but likely would use my MacBook or PC with a keyboard and full functionality.

Rethinking the tablet

If you’re already quite comfortable with a laptop and a smartphone, and a tablet falls into your hands, what’s the best way to use it? Here’s an interesting perspective on the use of tablets, worth reading: Rethinking the iPad

My take—Tip #1: I DO use the iPad for mail and social apps; Tip #2: I use the iPad to catch up on reading; Tip #3: I turn off MOST notifications; Tip #4: I change SOME of the settings to improve battery life.

Let me hear how you use your tablet!


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With Windows XP End of Support, Chromebooks are a popular option to Windows PCs

Now that Windows XP is no longer supported by Microsoft, organizations that still use the 13-year-old operating system (OS) must face reality–at some point, they must upgrade their OS, and likely their computer. When Microsoft released Windows XP to market, more organizations provided desktop than laptop computers. Using a laptop meant sacrificing features and forking over more dollars to gain mobility.

Those who have yet to “sunset” Windows XP no longer need to be tethered to their desks (See: Windows XP Sails into the Sunset… Maybe). A world of technologies became available (and affordable) since 2001, notably:

  • Wireless networks (WiFi) and Mobile hotspots (MiFi)
  • Lightweight notebook computers
  • Smartphones, tablets and apps
  • Social networks, Cloud applications and data storage
  • More power-efficient chips and hours of operation between charges
  • Solid state “flash” drives
Image: hp

Image: hp

Windows XP End of Support lets organizations rethink their IT strategies. Businesses and educational institutions alike can consider alternative Windows , Mac and Google OS and hardware. Chromebooks are a popular option, with their simplicity and low entry cost of $275 to $300 USD.

Read 10 Reasons Today’s Chromebooks Look Like a Smart Mobile PC Buy.

 


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Microsoft Pulls Plug on Windows XP Support

Just last week—08 April 2014—Microsoft stopped supporting the tremendously popular Windows XP operating system. They will provide security updates/patches for another fifteen months, through July 2015.

Loyal XP users need to decide if “I’d rather fight than switch” or “I’d rather switch than fight…” and they need to decide soon, since upgrades in large organizations can take 12-18 months.

pull-the-plug-square

Windows XP Sails into the Sunset… Maybe speaks to the impacts and unintended consequences of the long-announced end of support.

End of support impacts millions of users. Where does that leave the millions of business and consumer users still on that operating system? Will they fight upgrading to Windows 8.1, or switch to an alternative operating system. What challenges will people face when upgrading to a new OS?

End of support has unintended consequences. First, it resulted in a resurgence in Windows 7 laptop sales and Windows 7 OS upgrades. Second, it resulted in the purchase of Windows-alternative hardware and software. End of support gives organizations a reason to evaluate whether they need laptops into the future, or if other technologies (cloud, mobile, and social) are better alternatives.


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Metrics matter in Google vs. Apple market leader competition

Perhaps the greatest tech rivalry of the 20th century was Oracle (Larry Ellison) vs. Microsoft (Bill Gates). Fast forward to 2014, with Google and Apple in hot competition for market leadership. 

200px-Apple_logo_black

Image: Apple

Image: Google

Image: Google

Like Oracle (enterprise database software) and Microsoft (operating system, desktop and server software and PCs), Google and Apple started in different market niches. Today, their two markets overlap.

  • Google’s Android OS and hardware overlap Apple’s OSX and iOS operating systems.
  • Both companies are smartphone and tablet market leaders, with Google Android sales surpassing Apple iOS sales for the first time in late 2013.
  • Together, the two companies offer one million-plus applications through Google Play, iTunes and the Mac Apps Store.
  • Both companies offer “wearable tech.”
  • Google and Apple both grow organically and through acquisition. Notable Google acquisitions include Android, YouTube, Picasa and Motorola Mobility; notable Apple acquisitions include iOS, iWorks, TouchID and Maps software.

So, who wins the competition? It depends upon which metrics you use. I prefer a combination of several. Read Apple vs. Google: The goliath deathmatch by the numbers 2014.


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Business texting on the rise

Text messaging is a quick and easy way to communicate–as teenagers and twenty-somethings have known for years. Business texting is on the rise, part of the BYOD (bring your own device) trend.

Benefits and risks

Sometimes texting is more convenient than email or a phone call. It is “short and sweet” and promotes an almost immediate response. I send business texts to certain clients, as I know that they prefer it. When I can, I use iMessage service available to iPhone, iPad and Mac users.

No technology is risk-free. Some of the risks of business texting are:

  • Commingling of personal and business text messages on the same device–some users prefer to separate the two.
  • Security of data transmitted over cellular and WiFi networks.
  • e-Discovery–as with email and other electronic communications, the texts stay in the system.
  • Recipient of text does not respond quickly–if you need an immediate response, or something more than a few words, a phone call or email is better.
  • Potential injuries. Texting while walking causes more–though usually less serious–injuries than texting while driving (more…).

Texting

Next time you have the urge to send a text message, decide if this is the best way to communicate. Weigh the risks and benefits. And don’t text while on the move (unless someone else is driving)!

For further reading, see The Rise of Business Texting.


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Pcell technology boasts 1000x faster cellular connections

Pcell is a new communications technology that could make connections 1000 times as fast as 4G (fourth generation) or LTE (Long Term Evolution) cell communications. When implemented, pcell will work without the need for new handsets. Your 4G or LTE-capable smartphone will do just fine. And a pcell-capable smartphone could do even better.

The term “pcell” refers to “personal cell”–each user effectively has his/her personal communications cell. Advantages over current technologies abound… “Besides speed and signal strength, it uses a lot less power” and “pCell also brings significant reductions in the amount of infrastructure needed to power a cell network.” mobile phone

Artemis, the Steve Perlman company that developed the technology, plans an initial rollout in San Francisco in late 2014, with possible rollouts in other cellular markets by late 2015, though many large markets continue to build out their 4G LTE networks.

Read more here.


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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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The environmental impact of tablets

Industry analysts predict that tablet purchases will outnumber laptop purchases by 2013. The increasing use of tablets, both business and personal, has quite an impact on the environment. Their use results in lower ink and paper consumption, lower CO2 emissions, as well as lower water consumption during production.

Twenty-five percent of adults in the U.S. own tablets, compared to only 4%  in 2010. And 45% of tablet users say they have decreased printing. 

–morganstanley.com and appleinsider.com 

ID-10081890Uberflip, a Canadian company that helps organizations to deploy content on electronic platforms, identified four environmental sustainability trends related to tablet use:

A decline in printing. Although many people feel that they still require hard copies of just about everything, this is no longer the norm.  Printer manufacturers like HP are feeling the crunch as the demand for ink shrinks.

I work with more electronic documents than paper documents these days. I buy less paper and ink than I have bought in the past. When I need a paper copy, I print wirelessly from my iPad or notebook computer.

Eco-friendly devices. Over their lifetime, tablets result in lower CO2 emissions, notably when people use their tablets as e-readers rather than buying paper books. The CO2 equivalent emissions from a tablet are about 1/3rd that of a small notebook and 1/25th that of a 60-watt incandescent light bulb.

E-waste. The volume of electronic waste will double by 2025. To combat this, electronics manufacturers and big box retailers have implemented recycling programs. I took advantage of this free recycling service at least four times this year, giving up an old notebook computer, a desktop computer, a laser printer and an inkjet printer. I reused the computer hard drives, converting them into external hard drives with a simple enclosure kit.

Green business. More and more businesses use tablets to demonstrate products and services, and for sales transactions. My local grocery chain uses iPads to sign up customers for their loyalty coupon program, which has computer and mobile apps. This replaces printing and mailing costs.

A national electronics chain uses iPads to demonstrate how tablets connect to big-screen TVs to display streaming videos. The Apple store uses iPads that allow customers to compare products and view features. A sales technician is on hand to answer questions and complete the sale–by entering transaction information on an iPhone and then swiping a credit card. You get a small paper receipt and an electronic receipt by email. There is no cash register evident in the store (there may be one in the back for cash sales) and no waiting in lines.

See the full Uberflip InfoGraphic on Sustainability of Tablets.


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Tech toys in the executive suite

Among the tech gadgets in executive suites, tablets rank third (78%) behind smartphones (84.8%) and laptop computers (82.6%). About 33% use mobile apps and 33% use the Cloud. Execs prefer iOS and Blackberry smartphones for personal use, though they have employees use Android and Blackberry devices more often (69%) than iPhones (54%). Source: CEO.com.

iPad ownership by CEOs and small business owners quadrupled in the last year (CEO.com)

Count me in! I use all of the top three technologies. As the proud owner of a 4th Generation iPad, I find it easy to use. Of course, having an iPhone and being familiar with iOs helps, though I find a new world of opportunities with the larger, iPad retina screen. The tablet format allows me to visualize much more data than I can using the same apps on my iPhone. Reading email and browsing the Internet are a pleasure. I can read documents, presentations, books and .PDFs with ease. The 10-hour battery life is a real plus.

Ultimately, my tablet will replace a somewhat heavy notebook computer for certain purposes. I am testing different  office and productivity apps and will see where this leads… the consumerization of  business continues.

You can view an infographic on CEO gadgets topic here.