How to use technology trends to foster business growth

Jerry Justice, MCSA, MCSE, director of internal technology, SS&G

“We all know technology changes very rapidly. We also know that keeping your organization in step with these changes is directly tied to your business’ success,” says Jerry Justice, MCSA, MCSE, director of internal technology at SS&G.

For example, U.S. online shoppers are projected to spend $327 billion in 2016, up 45 percent from 2012, according to Forrester Research Inc. At the same time, enterprise tablet adoption is expected to grow almost 50 percent per year, according to Digital Ad Agency Vertic.

Smart Business spoke with Justice about the top technology trends — and how to maintain your sanity while working at technology’s pace — as your company heads into 2013.

What are some top trends for businesses?

Consumerization takes success of technology in the consumer world — i.e., iPad, Google Apps, Facebook — and applies that model, or perhaps product, in business. There is real value in understanding how consumerization affects your business and clients, as people want to be provided information seamlessly. Two examples are leveraging YouTube to deliver business and training content, which has roots in the consumer world, and providing seamless mobile access to your website from a client’s smartphone. Keep in mind, consumer success doesn’t always guarantee success in the business environment due to additional variables such as scope, scale, compliance, security, costs, benefits, etc.

Cloud computing has become a transitioning force, driving new value points like scalability, elasticity and on-demand resourcing. This paradigm shift takes time and vendor/consumer adaptations. Not all cloud services are created equal or deliver the same value/features. You still must analyze costs, benefits and how it fits your targets. Technology delivery continues to transition to a more cloud-centric model, allowing technology to shift from ‘keeping the lights on’ to innovation targets, for instance, from simply accessing your checking account and storing personal files on Dropbox to fully hosted email and file-sharing services.

With mobile/social convergence, there is a demand for real-time access to information across a variety of devices and platforms. This continues to blur the lines between social, personal, business and technology, as technology evolves to allow you to do more with your time. For example, the Windows Surface device is a blend of a tablet and PC that converges all contacts in one place — LinkedIn, Twitter, Facebook, email, etc. In business, this provides timely, relevant information about the business ecosystem.

So, how can your business model address technology’s rapid change?

There are number of steps to follow when implementing new technology:

• Create an atmosphere of change; set an expectation that things should evolve over time, so change becomes the norm.

• Keep open, ongoing communication, the key to success, or failure awareness. Leaders should work together, meet often, be honest,and discuss challenges or roadblocks.

• Make projects change-oriented by focusing on successful steps and being prepared to change course several times.

• Leverage area IT experts who can enhance your technology delivery.

• Train adaptively, contextually in smaller groups, based on job function. This allows focus on specific product features.

• Consider trends/hype as barometers and inquiry points, not as targets.

• Context is everything. Learn why something didn’t work, who actually did the work, what happens ‘behind the scenes’ or when the process was last reviewed.

• Process change, communication gaps or cultural shifts could be challenging the technology implementation. Often, the technology delivery is the easy part.

• Technology delivery is about evolution. Look at paths for six months, 12 months, 18 months and 24 months for products/services and then review how they intersect with each other and emerging trends. Many technologies cannot stand on their own, i.e., SAN storage, but provide huge cost/benefits when combined. You cannot just look at this product costs X dollars.

• Have patience, as technology is complex and change takes time. When things appear challenging, it’s probably a good sign.

Jerry Justice, MCSA, MCSE, is director of internal technology at SS&G. Reach him at (330) 668-9696 or [email protected]

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Viacom wins reversal in landmark YouTube case over copyrighted videos

SAN FRANCISCO, Thu Apr 5, 2012 – A U.S. appeals court has revived lawsuits by Viacom Inc., the English Premier League and various film studios and television networks accusing Google Inc. of allowing copyrighted videos on its YouTube service without permission.

The 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals on Thursday reversed a June 2010 lower court decision in favor of YouTube, which had been considered a landmark in setting guidelines for how websites could use content uploaded by users.

“It’s hard to characterize this as anything other than a loss for Google, and potentially a significant one,” said Eric Goldman, director of the High Tech Law Institute at Santa Clara University School of Law. “It has given new life to a case that Google thought was dead.”

The original $1 billion lawsuit filed by Viacom in 2007 went to the heart of a major issue facing media companies, specifically how to win Internet viewers without ceding control of TV shows, movies and music.

It was seen as a test of the Digital Millennium Copyright Act, a 1998 federal law making it illegal to produce technology to circumvent anti-piracy measures, and limiting liability of online service providers for copyright infringement by users.

Writing for a two-judge panel of the 2nd Circuit, Judge Jose Cabranes concluded that “a reasonable jury could find that YouTube had actual knowledge or awareness of specific infringing activity on its website.”

A YouTube spokeswoman said in an e-mailed statement: “All that is left of the Viacom lawsuit that began as a wholesale attack on YouTube is a dispute over a tiny percentage of videos long ago removed from YouTube. Nothing in this decision impacts the way YouTube is operating.”

Viacom, in a statement, said the appeals court “delivered a definitive, common sense message to YouTube: intentionally ignoring theft is not protected by the law.”

Cable’s concept of opening night may get imitated by networks

PASADENA, Calif. — Broadcast network executives departing the informal talks known as the Television Critics press tour last week pretty much agreed on one thing: It is time to start acting more like cable networks.

That applies not only to the newest roster of network programs, which are increasingly being influenced by standout cable series like “Homeland,” “Breaking Bad” and “Justified,” but also to how forthcoming network entries like “Smash” on NBC, “The River” on ABC, and “Touch” on Fox are going to be marketed and scheduled.

The networks have embraced the idea — originally hatched by cable networks — of introducing initial episodes of their shows through other distribution outlets like YouTube before they have their premiere on their own schedules. And executives also suggested that a growing number of series might shift to the cable model of 10 to 13 episodes a season — to be run consecutively with no pre-emptions or repeats — rather than 22 to 24 episodes spread out over nine months.

That the strategies found on cable are infiltrating the broadcast networks comes as little surprise, since three of the four network programming chiefs built their reputations at cable networks: NBC’s Bob Greenblatt at Showtime; Fox’s Kevin Reilly at FX; and ABC’s Paul Lee at the Disney Family Channel.