The Bay Area is known as a major technology center, and it continues to be part of a major tech boom. Tech employment in the region continues to grow rapidly, far outpacing other sectors and reaching record highs, even when compared to the dot-com era. Additionally, the San Francisco-San Mateo area is grabbing a bigger piece of the technology pie thanks to the unprecedented surge.
When corporate leaders think of protecting corporate data, they usually think in terms of protecting it against cyberattacks. But in reality – even if a company is fully protected against external threats – those aren't the biggest issues companies face with respect to their data.
Storage devices have high reliability, but they aren't fail proof. Companies need their storage plans to account for failures. This means using clustering, mirrored disks, and replication to ensure that data is available on another device.
Most companies have automated backups, but the backup plans often aren't reviewed and updated. This means it's easy to miss new devices and omit them from the procedure. Backups also need to be monitored, to make sure the automated scripts work properly. Lastly, companies rarely test restoring from backup, but this should be done in order to verify the procedure and understand how long it will take.
People make mistakes that expose corporate data. Phishing campaigns have convinced users to provide corporate bank accounts. But it doesn't take a phishing campaign. Users often send sensitive data through unencrypted email. They share passwords because getting set up properly takes too long. They mistype a command and the system doesn't require confirmation before executing it. Issues like these can largely be addressed through better training or redesigning systems.
The biggest data issue companies face, though, is corrupt data. When incorrect data feeds into other corporate processes, the company's decision making is inevitably adversely affected. Corrupt data entry is often caused by poorly designed applications; it can also occur when data is force-fit into legacy systems because creating a new application with appropriately named data fields would take too long. At the same time, migrating data from legacy fields to new applications introduces possibilities for error when fields are mapped wrong. In many businesses, the same data is entered into multiple systems, with chances of incorrect or inconsistent values.
Data is at the heart of business operations, and it's unquestionably important for companies to protect it. Doing so effectively requires taking a broad view of the data at rest, in transit, and when it's accessed by both man and machine.
Package delivery sounds like a low-tech industry: carry a cardboard box from one location to another. But DHL is finding surprising ways that high-tech can transform the delivery industry.
Amazon made headlines when it received approval to test delivery via drones. The Amazon Prime Air service hopes to deliver packages within 30 minutes. But while the FAA just gave Amazon permission to test its drone delivery service this year, DHL has already tested using drones to deliver packages in Germany. Drones were used to provide delivery service to an island which previously received deliveries by boat. While the flights were autonomous and there was a restricted area set aside for the drone project, a ground station monitored the flights and was ready to take action if needed. The ground crew also stayed in touch with air traffic control.
DHL worked with one of its clients, Ricoh, to use Google glasses to speed the process of creating packages. Instead of working with a paper order list and a handheld scanner to record the selected packages, the order picker can view all the needed info on the glass. Though it was only used for a limited time during a pilot project, the Google Glass-equipped employees filled orders more quickly and accurately.
There's no mention of whether Google's self-driving cars might help DHL deliver packages by truck, but self-driving vehicles might make it into DHL's warehouses in the form of self-driving forklifts.
Printing Products on Demand
In one vision of the future, delivery services aren't needed because home-based 3D printers will create products immediately upon purchase. For higher-end products that need better printers than households could afford, DHL has even considered warehousing high-end 3D printers to fulfill those orders.
The company is experimenting with high-tech software, too. The logistics business is heavily data-driven. DHL has plans to use big data to improve operations through optimizing delivery routes. Big Data may help the company improve customer relations by predicting customer behavior. It might also identify new lines of business by selling market intelligence to its customers.
Small companies often partner with bigger companies to work together on projects. The small companies gain access to opportunities they can't win on their own; the bigger companies get the smaller firms' specialized expertise, dynamism, and creativity. For these partnerships to succeed, the responsibilities and obligations of both firms need to be spelled out clearly in the contract. These are some of the aspects contracts should address:
The most basic aspect of the contract will be the price to be paid for services. Neither side should agree to the contract if the financial terms are unsatisfactory. However, even if the contract's financial terms are acceptable, other contract points may need to be negotiated.
Indemnification clauses state that one of the parties to the contract will be held harmless, in case a third party sues over a specified matter. Typical contracts dictate that the larger firm will not be liable for matters related to new technology introduced by the smaller firm. Because the smaller firm cannot rely on the resources of the larger company to support it in case of a lawsuit, indemnification insurance may be necessary for both parties to be adequately protected.
• Non-infringement of intellectual property
These clauses state that the smaller firm represents that its intellectual property is its own, and not infringing any existing patents. Agreeing to this clause can be difficult for firms that use emerging technologies where patents have been applied for but not yet granted. This contract clause may therefore require negotiation and flexibility on the part of both parties to reach agreeable wording.
• Filing for patents
If the partnership between the two firms will generate patentable ideas, the contract should specify where patents will be applied for and which party will pay for the applications. Big firms may have global reach and require patent coverage around the world, while the smaller firm may not have resources to apply for patents in every market. Frequently, contracts specify that the larger firm will pay the fees in certain markets or split the cost of filing fees with the smaller firm.
• Limitation of liability
Limitation of liability clauses cap the damages that can be owed due to breach of contract. Agreements between large businesses often cap damages to a low multiple of the prior year's fees. However, small firms may be heavily dependent on a single contract, and financially devastated if the contract is breached. Negotiating the limit to an appropriate value is one of the critical points to be addressed when large and small firms need to do business together.
Companies invest heavily in technology to protect themselves from cyberthreats: firewalls, antivirus software, and other tools to keep out intruders. Not all threats are external, however. Whether deliberately through malicious actions, or accidentally through online naïveté, company employees present the biggest threat to corporate information security.
Deliberate Misuse of Resources
Employees can misuse company computer resources in several ways that expose a company to risk. Use of the Internet for personal matters, like online shopping or visiting social media sites, can overload a company's computer network. This can mean companies invest money to upgrade a network when that isn't supported by business needs, and the money would be more beneficial elsewhere.
When employees bring adult content into the office, they can create a potentially hostile work environment that can lead to sexual harassment lawsuits. Employees who use corporate resources to download illegal copies of software, movies, or music also expose the company to lawsuits. In addition, these sites are also often infested with malware, so files brought onto company computers can risk introducing viruses and other dangerous software into the corporate environment.
Employees also misuse resources by removing them from the company. If files aren't appropriately protected, employees can remove confidential company information by emailing them or carrying them out on a USB drive. Employees may be able to take advantage of code bugs to escalate their privileges in an application, and view data they aren't supposed to be able to access.
Accidental Exposure of Company Data
Phishing and social engineering are still extremely effective ways for hackers to gain access. It's surprisingly easy to trick humans into sharing confidential data like passwords and company bank accounts. Employees also can accidentally expose company data if they lose a company laptop or access the company network from an insecure hotspot. The increased popularity of BYOD means that company data is accessed from devices the company doesn't control. If these devices aren't appropriately protected, confidential company information may be at risk.
Use Technology and Training to Increase Security
Companies that want to protect themselves from these risks need to take a comprehensive approach to information security. They need to use the right technological tools; firewalls and antivirus software remain important. They need to have – and enforce – policies that govern the appropriate use of company resources; these policies should also govern the handling of company information on non-company, BYOD devices.
But the most important step companies can take is to train their employees to recognize online risks, and how to defend against them. Educated employees will help defend against these online dangers because they recognize they aren't only a threat to information security; information security failures that seriously damage a company are a threat to their job security as well.
Until recently, the biggest technical innovation in luggage was the wheel. Now, though, bag makers are teaming up with tech firms to make smart bags that will streamline the travel process and make lost luggage a thing of the past. Samsung and Samsonite, plus other vendors, are adding features that mean bags do more than just hide your dirty laundry from prying eyes.
No More Bag Check-In Line
You won't have to stand in line to check in your bags with the new smart luggage. Because of a chip inside, these bags will know when they've arrived at the airport and talk to airline systems automatically. You'll get a unique baggage ID sent to your phone. Just drop the bag on a conveyor belt. With some bags, you'll avoid overweight bag fees because the bags have a built-in scale and it'll tell you before you leave home if you've packed too much.
No More Dragging Your Luggage
Human traffic patterns in an airport concourse can seem more chaotic than highway traffic patterns, so self-propelling luggage may be as difficult as a self-driving car, but it's coming. A motor in the bag will let luggage trail close by your heels as you walk through the terminal. Don't worry about forgetting to keep it with you, because a proximity detector will alert you if you walk off without it. It's too bad bags won't self-propel themselves into the overhead storage bins, though!
No More Hanging Around the Luggage Carousel
If you've ever raced through the terminal only to wait interminably for your bag, you can now take your time. Bags will send a message to your phone when they've made it off the plane and head for the carousel. Once everyone uses this feature, you won't need to fight through the crowd to get close enough to grab your bag. If everyone has a self-propelling bag, it's possible the luggage carousels will be eliminated and your bag will find its own way over to you.
No More Lost Luggage
Worse than an interminable wait in baggage claim is an interminable wait that ends when you realize your luggage isn't going to come. If your bag doesn't show up, the new smart bags can tell you where they are, so you don't have to wait for the airline to track it down.
In the IT job market, your technical abilities can often be the be-all and end-all. The idea often seems to be that if you don’t meet the long list of necessary skills, you simply aren’t the right person for the position. However, this isn’t always the case. For many hiring managers, certain aspects of your personality may actually be more important than skills you’ve picked up along the way.
Below are a few examples of soft skills that may land you that IT dream job, and why hiring managers may choose them over more technical capabilities.
Willingness (and Ability) to Learn
A thirst for knowledge is a highly sought-after character trait in any industry, but it can go a long way in tech. You may not have mastered PHP or networking just yet, but if you have a voracious appetite for new information, you may find that hiring managers are willing to teach you the necessary skills. Quick learners are often a worthwhile investment, as they tend to stay on top of their skills and constantly refresh and update their knowledge base.
Passion and motivation can be invaluable for IT companies, particularly startups and those who specialize in innovative technology. Hiring someone who’s emotionally invested in their finished product will improve both the quality of their work and their drive to complete it. An infectiously enthusiastic personality can also impact the morale of co-workers, creating a more effective (and happy) workforce overall.
In tech, it’s often expected that you be capable of a certain degree of autonomy. No matter how advanced your skills are, it simply isn’t worth the investment if your manager has to hold your hand through every project. A candidate who possesses self-drive, on the other hand, will not only be able to complete tasks on their own, but will be able to occupy themselves with meaningful work when they aren’t given explicit direction.
A desire to succeed in your industry can be very appealing to hiring managers. This soft skill often translates into intuitive insight into what’s best for the company, granting you the opportunity to impress your managers with the added benefit of improving your place of work. Ambitious candidates are also fiercely competitive, and this competitiveness can inspire your team to work harder, particularly when you’re incentivized by upper management.
These are just a few examples of personality traits that hiring managers may prioritize over technical capabilities. Don’t let the fact that your skill sets don’t perfectly align with the position’s requirements discourage you from applying. You may find yourself pleasantly surprised by how valuable your soft skills really are.
Chief Information Officers are evolving with their industry. As they develop a deeper understanding of new technologies, they adapt their strategies and restructure their priorities to reflect emerging trends. Regardless of their industry, many CIOs have similar tech goals. These are just a few of their core priorities in 2015.
As we develop more and more tools to collect customer data, we come face-to-face with how truly massive that data actually is. Big data is quickly closing in on zettabyte territory, and we have to address how we’re processing it, rather than how we’re collecting it. Many CIOs are turning to real-time data through updated analytics. This intuitive model will allow you to change what the customer or client sees and experiences as you learn about them.
A high degree of sensitivity is required when handling the amount of user data that many CIOs encounter on a daily basis. The risks involved with this level of information are tremendous, so you not only have to contend with outside threats, but also the fine line of acceptable use of customer information. Abuse of personal data can not only damage a company’s reputation, it can actually result in costly lawsuits. As a result, CIOs often prioritize data sensitivity and security on their list of tech concerns.
In past years, cloud services were considered an emerging technology that required a certain level of boldness to adopt. However, perspectives have shifted and the cloud is now a leading priority for CIOs. It’s been a slow process, but every year more major companies invest in this technology. With benefits like improved scalability, reduced costs, and a more efficient infrastructure, it’s no surprise that cloud services are spearheading advancements in the tech industry.
An ever-growing number of customers are interacting with companies from mobile devices. As a result, it’s never been more important to engage with them on a playing field they understand. By prioritizing mobile technologies, CIOs open new connections between their business and the people they’re trying to reach. No matter the industry, or whether the company is B2B or B2C, the benefit of mobile connection is extremely powerful.
The momentum of these new technologies is growing with every year, and a tech-savvy CIO will choose to prioritize these emerging trends. This will not only grant access to the myriad of benefits that come with advanced technology, but it will also allow your business to compete in the global marketplace.
In 2014, VMware was ranked ninth on Forbes’ “Most Innovative Companies” list, but this hasn’t stopped new developments in virtualization from rapidly closing the gap between VMware’s software suite and heavy hitters like OpenStack or CloudStack. These evolving technologies may actually come to replace VMware’s niche software as more and more customers opt for these newer stacks. But before we look at where this technology is going, let’s look at where it’s been.
Virtual Stacks: Origins
VMware was designed to meet specific needs of CIOs during the rise of virtualization. The businesses these CIOs and managers represented had applications or software packages that were never designed for virtualization, and at its most basic level, VMware’s purpose was to address this cultural shift in the tech industry. Once corporations were on board, more features were added to advance the technology.
Its origins, however, made VMware a very niche product. It was designed for enterprise-level customers, and others found themselves left out in the cold. OpenStack and CloudStack, on the other hand, were created to address a different need: the increased dependency of VMware on traditional uses. There are strengths to all three, but many innovative companies are drawn to these newer, more flexible technologies. So why exactly is VMware being replaced?
VMware vs. OpenStack vs. CloudStack
VMware comes with a rich legacy of established features and a strong support community, as well as a full suite of virtualization software. That being said, it’s a closed system, so there’s very little flexibility or room for creativity. In every aspect of the tech industry, experts are finding themselves drawn to open source technology like its two competitors. The ability to customize solutions, innovate your system, and collaborate with big-name companies to improve the software is more exciting than tradition.
Then there’s the matter of price. VMware can be relatively expensive, but it’s easier to install and get off the ground. OpenStack and CloudStack are free, but require a team of engineers to get it up and running (which can translate into higher initial costs). However, VMware comes with hefty licensing fees, so once you’ve covered the initial cost of OpenStack or CloudStack deployment, your price tag will begin to taper down over time. As a long-term solution, open source virtualization software may actually be the more cost effective means of achieving your goals.
Between the two VMware competitors, OpenStack has a better track record with large, well-known companies and a healthier reputation. As a result, it tends to take the lead as the most mature choice among open source virtualization technologies. With these attractive alternatives to VMware’s traditional infrastructure, it may come as no surprise that these new software packages are quickly taking the lead in virtualization technology.
With the influx of tech jobs and the shortage of qualified software engineers, many recent graduates have discovered that finding a position in Silicon Valley is remarkably easy. But while the talent gap isn’t going anywhere, tech companies are beginning to demand more and more of their engineers, resulting in remarkably high expectations for those new to the tech industry. These are a few of the ways standards are changing for Silicon Valley engineers.
More Skills, More Experience
Experience doesn’t always mean years on the job, but hiring managers in the tech industry are now expecting engineers to have a stronger grasp on a wider variety of tools. Whether that means you’ve used a suite of different coding languages to create fully-functional sites, or you’ve designed a feature-rich app, you have to have something concrete in your portfolio to get your foot in the door. With so many technologies at their disposal, tech companies like to see candidates with strong skills in a variety of areas. Create a well-rounded portfolio during your early years as an engineer to give yourself a jump start during your job search.
Creative Thinking & Other Soft Skills
Your technical capabilities, however, are no longer the be-all and end-all. You also have to work well in a team and have the ability to effectively communicate your ideas. Many of the more discerning companies are also looking for engineers who possess the ability to think creatively and find elegant, non-traditional solutions to common problems. If you possess these skills, you’ll be a more competitive candidate in the Silicon Valley tech industry. These skills, however, are often innate rather than learned, and can be difficult to replicate if they don’t come to you naturally.
In recent years, software engineers have gravitated towards social, consumer-based platforms like Facebook and Google. These industries often search for candidates with the ability to problem solve from an end user’s perspective. They need developers who can implement features and programs that would benefit and appeal to the consumer. This ingenuity can be hard to find in those who are more technical by nature, so the well-balanced engineer will find that their chances are actually better than those who are purely tech-savvy.
Meeting the new standards of Silicon Valley’s tech industry is a tall order for even the most qualified engineers. As the culture trends towards more social interfaces, they demand more socially minded engineers who can place themselves in the positions of their target audience. If you can partner creativity, collaborative effort, and the necessary know-how, you have the potential to meet and exceed these new expectations.