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Escape From The Wearables World, IT Edition

July 21st, 2014

As wearables get more sophisticated and integrated into our physical environments, virtual environments and entering the sacrosanct enterprise data stream, they certainly promise wonderful advantages. But as any other IT veteran knows, never look a corporate gift horse in the mouth without first performing security penetration testing. (The enterprise IT motto: Trust and get fired.)

What brings these happy thoughts to the surface was an interesting piece in Wired yesterday (July 21) about a wearable vendor’s efforts to focus on context in making its device more valuable. It’s a terrific goal, but the more IT allows these devices to access, collect and manipulate sensitive data, the more valuable those databases will be to cyberthieves and corporate spies for your direct rivals. In IT, greater convenience often means greater risk, something vendor slides somehow always forget. I am not suggesting a sci-fi plot where these devices learn all about us and then take over the planet and make humans into their slaves. (Dawn of the Wearable World? The Wearables War?) But a few security limits wouldn’t be out of line.

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Want To Convince Your People To Move In A New Direction? Study How Starbucks Has Done It

January 13th, 2014

Business would be so much easier if executives didn’t have to deal with human beings, with fears, hesitations and general avoidance of anything new. It makes little difference if those human beings are employees and you’re trying to push an aggressive cloud program or if those mammals are customers and you’re trying to get them to move to mobile or some form of biometric identification. If you’re struggling with pushing these behavioral changes, you might have an unlikely company to emulate: Starbucks, which seems to have mastered how these humans think and has consistently used a go-slow (make that extremely slow) approach.

A campaign unveiled by the coffee bean behemoth last week illustrates the latest example of this decaffeinated strategy. Starbucks is considered the most successful U.S. retailer when it comes to handling mobile payments and, for that matter, mobile anything. When the holiday shopping season for 2013 came around, the normal reaction for most retailers would be to push its mobile app and encourage shoppers to load dollars onto the mobile app of intended gift recipients. Instead, Starbucks deliberately chose to not push mobile at all, but to instead encourage the purchase of old-fashioned plastic Starbucks cards, the kind that fit neatly into holiday stockings.

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What To Include In Your Mobile Privacy Policy

January 7th, 2014

It’s well known that mobile devices are compact storehouses of vast amounts of data that they seem eager to broadcast to the world, which makes it all the more baffling that few companies have discussed — much less implemented — mobile-specific privacy policies. Putting off such a move (“procrastination” is such a negative word) may have made sense up to now to give us all time to get a handle on what the limits should be, but you really will regret waiting much longer. This new year we have entered may be a good time to craft a mobile privacy policy. If you’ve decided to do that, here are some things to consider.

You do really need a policy. Your employees expect IT to protect them, and your company’s executives expect you to make sure that corporate data is protected from the things that employees do with their mobile devices. But your customers also want to know what you’re doing with their data, and various contractors, distributors, suppliers and anyone else in your network need to know what they aren’t allowed to do.

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