What Data Analytics Will Mean to Business by 2020

At this point, we know that big data is a disruptor in the market, and when combined with other emerging technologies, this trend can quite literally “see” business intelligence for your organization. Today’s valuable streams of data provide a window into your business, your customers, your market, and your industry, but it takes looking at the big picture – both internal and external data sources – to create true visibility. Gartner Research recently shared their predictions in the data analytics realm by 2020, and we wouldn’t suggest turning a blind eye to big data’s outlook.

Prediction #1 | In the next 5 years, big data will revolutionize 80% of business processes and products established within the last decade.
Growing market adoption of connected devices, smart machines, and IoT devices will steadily increase the volume, velocity, variety, and veracity of real-time, valuable data. Automated, digitalized operations based on algorithmic technologies will reinvent long practiced, manual processes, creating a league of useful devices. “The added connectivity, communications and intelligence of things will make many [devices] agents for services that are currently requested and delivered via human intervention,” such as a vehicle that can schedule its own oil change, a smart machine that contacts the technician automatically when it senses an error, or an inventory that self-fulfills.

Prediction #2 | In less than 3 years, more than 20% of consumer-facing analytic deployments will utilize live-time tracking via the IoT.
Consumers expect instant information at their finger-tips, fueled in large part to the analytic strategies of powerhouses like Amazon. But soon, retail giants won’t be the only ones leveraging the Internet of Things to provide their customers with constant streams of data. As  the IoT increases its market presence, the cost of smart sensors will be driven down, inviting a new wave of industries to the analytic circle. Streaming geo-location and condition data will provide consumers with increased visibility into their interactions with your business, creating loyal customers and a transparent business model.

Prediction #3 | In less than 3 years, more than 30% of organizations will look to a third-party service to provide context and insight into their business data.
Gartner predicts a new service model will emerge with along with big data’s expanding impact in the business landscape. Information services and data analytic tools will become a key aspect to intelligent operations and informed business decisions.

joey_skinnerJoey Skinner is Business Applications Senior Manager
with Eide Bailly Technology Consulting. Joey has
more than 22 years of experience in the information
technology field in roles ranging from application
architect and developer to technology consultant.
His expertise includes a strong understanding of
accounting principles and work flow procedures
with advanced application development and systems
implementation experience.



How To Succeed in the Digital Age

If we’ve said it once, we’ll say it again – The business landscape is evolving rapidly under the pressure of today’s technologies. If you aren’t leveraging this year’s emerging trends, you’re lagging your competitors. We are in the midst of a Digital Age, and it is impacting every aspect of your business – from your financials, operations and interactions to your overall business planning. At the forefront of this impact are your systems, the platforms from which your entire organization functions, and trending technologies leveraged alongside optimized systems will generate unprecedented growth opportunities for your business.

Leading strategies in these transformative trends, the Internet of Things (I0T) is continuing to drive efficiencies across the workplace while Bring-Your-Own-Device (BYOD) is paving the way for seamless integration at every touch point.

IoT continues to be a buzzword in the market, but it all boils down to automation. Home automation, smart car integration, wearable device synchronization, all these feed constant streams of data to-and-from intelligent devices for continual machine-to-machine communication. This can yield amazing results for your business, automating previously manual, time-consuming and clunky processes. A prime example of the far-reaching implications of this emerging technology is its power to streamline supply chain practices. Consumers are increasingly demanding immediate responses and consumption at the tap of their screen; realize this market expectation by utilizing the Internet of Things to personalize your service at every touch point. Orders can be fulfilled, shipped and tracked directly from warehouse smart devices, eliminating human error and providing customers with the immediate gratification that they demand in today’s highly commoditized marketplace.

BYOD policies within your business can complement IoT’s capabilities by providing a streamlined platform for interactions. A mobile, customer self-service application for integrated use across devices will support cross-channel communication between your company and your customers. Internally, BYOD allows streamlined accessibility to your business’ multi-channel, multi-location key data, increasing efficiencies and quality of service. Moreover, implementing a BYOD strategy that works for your business fosters employee satisfaction, empowers staff and customers to effectively self-serve, and improves overall productivity at every touch point in your operations. People always prefer their own technology; leverage this fact to create a competitive advantage through effective BYOD delivery.

At the end of the day, however, a system that is as dynamic and innovative as today’s emerging technologies is just as crucial – if not more so – than being an early trend adopter. In order to implement seamless front-to-back end office processes via IoT technologies, the two must be interconnected. Likewise, you cannot put valuable information at the fingertips of your team or your customers across devices without a real-time, holistic view of what is occurring within your business. Your ERP system is your business connector, joining the spider web of your processes and data onto a single interface for improved visibility and understanding. When leveraged with today’s emerging technologies, your business can integrate and communicate across disparate processes and traditional information silos for previously impossible levels of adaptability and flexibility.

Business operations must evolve alongside technology advancements. The emergence of Internet of Things and Bring-Your-Own-Device strategies in combination with today’s innovative ERP solutions creates an extraordinary potential to turn your business challenges into opportunities for growth. Complete financial and operational visibility from anywhere on any device, automated order fulfillment and inventory management, and an enriched, valuable customer experience is now not only realistic but attainable. True business acceleration is the Digital Age’s foremost result, but establishing your business on a solid system foundation is an essential first step. After all, strategy means nothing without the tools to deliver results.

stuart_tholenStuart Tholen is the Director of Eide Bailly Technology
Enterprise Resource Planning services.
With more than 30 years of
experience in tax, audit
and IT, Stuart has focused on building and

developing a consulting department to customize
and integrate
business solutions for the end-user.



Six Ways to Grow Your Business, Better

Every business has a challenge, and while each situation is unique, there are underlying trends that emerge regardless of industry or market. Recently, Hinge Research surveyed over 500 businesses across numerous fields of service and discovered that 2015 brings with it common organizational concerns.

Business Challenges

Over 70% of respondents agree that business development is a key challenge moving into the New Year. While your normal instinct to combat this may be to overload your sales pipeline with as many leads as possible, a more effective strategy is to focus on quality leads over the quantity of leads. This shift away from volume-centric can be difficult and seem counterintuitive – after all, if you want to increase sales, why wouldn’t you want more lead opportunities – but the reality is focusing your time and energy on the right leads will reap more benefits.

A first step in achieving quality leads in your business is identifying the aspects of your ideal client, from specific pain points to your organization’s value proposition. You can scope for these insights in sales calls, focus groups, industry research studies and direct surveys to prospect lists. Moreover, give your classifications more depth by employing a common marketing technique and define your ideal client by buyer personas, categorizing everything from role, industry and company size to geographical location and preferred communication methods. Across the board, all high-quality leads will understand the importance of a timely resolution and are already familiar with your business. Taking the time to qualify leads based on your defined ideal client characteristics ensures that your organization’s time and efforts are being targeted toward the right individuals, instead of wasting resources pursuing a prospect that will never become a customer.

Next comes nurturing your quality leads. The following are what I like to call the “Successful Six” for attracting and developing new business, better:

  • Be systematic and timely with interactions. Setting realistic expectations on both ends sets the foundation for a positive experience.
  • Track everything. An interaction and content history provides valuable insight to gauge and listen to your clients and prospects. This is where the right tools, such as a quality customer relationship management (CRM) solution, can be a key differentiator for your organization.
  • Maintain consistent communication, maneuvering the fine between being forgotten and being annoying.
  • Highlight your business’ value proposition clearly, often and early.
  • Ask for the business. This is where many businesses fall short; actively listen for agreement triggers during prospect conversations and execute. Additionally, don’t wait for the sale to close before asking a successful, satisfied client for referrals. Your ideal client’s network is an untapped goldmine for your business.
  • Constantly evolve and modify your lead generation and conversion process based on market experiences to positively impact your return on investment.

sandi_piatzSandi Piatz is the Director of Business Development with
Eide Bailly Technology Consulting. With more than 16
years’ experience in the technology industry, Sandi
specializes in recruitment, management, and
development of relationships, with a focus on
understanding organizations’ business objectives and
aligning their technology initiatives.



Locking Your Digital Door

Cybersecurity, like the threats it protects against, is ever evolving. Measures your organization once took to ensure the integrity of your network 3 years ago mean next to nothing in today’s highly volatile, threat ridden business landscape. And yet, many organizations have not taken the necessary precautions to safeguard their data against greedy, aggressive cybercriminals in the New Year. Once again, if you are leaving your business’ digital door wide open, statistically, it is only a matter of time before something is compromised.

This week brought to light a few alarming attacks, the most concerning being what is said to be the largest healthcare data breach in history. With more industries moving into the digital age, security and privacy are growing concerns, and everyone – regardless of industry – can learn from the Anthem hack. However, those in the healthcare sector in particular may find themselves overwhelmed and uncertain during this time of HIPAA compliance, Electronic Health Records (EHR) initiatives, electronic Protected Health Information (ePHI) concerns, and growing consumer expectations coupled with the news from Anthem. Luckily for them, our go-to healthcare guy, Jon Ault, has a very timely webinar on safeguarding patient information, from risk assessment to threat detection and best practices, next month to guide healthcare organizations to be proactive against these looming threats. The rest of us can take some measures of our own to ensure both our personal information and company data is secured.

Risk assessment is always the first step. From an individual standpoint or at an organizational level, you must identify your critical assets and regularly assess for vulnerabilities, remembering that locking the door does nothing if the window is wide open. As a best practice, establishing password refresh cycles and two-step authentication when available is always a good idea. As part of your business’ IT security strategy, you may want to consider awareness training across departments, educating staff on the rising threat of phishing campaigns. Those seemingly harmless free USBs at conferences and networking events may not be so innocuous; loading a transportable device with a hidden malware file is shockingly simple, and what better venue for hackers then SWAG bags at high traffic events? Ensuring your team understands today’s high threat social engineering practices is a key step toward properly defending your network.

Additionally, view your marketplace as a network, and work with other businesses to share and collaborate on security concerns. If you’ve discovered a vulnerability that will affect others within your peer group, share it. The ideal solution is more likely to surface with more involved, and hoarding information means everyone fails. Limit the number of administrators on your network within your business, and consider setting time parameters and approved locations for data accessibility. Businesses should always secure their test environments, which are rich in repetitive data, and employ data masking techniques that camouflage sensitive information with random characters, maintaining its requirements but de-identifying it to intrusive eyes.

At the end of the day you must do your research and take the necessary actions to protect yourself and your organization, being realistic about your capacity and expertise for DIY cybersecurity. When in doubt, a 101 class is a good place to start.

mike_arvidsonMike Arvidson is the Director of Eide Bailly Technology
Consulting’s Infrastructure Services. With more than 20
years of experience in the IT industry, Mike’s wealth of
knowledge includes network systems implementation,
integrated new technologies, and information security.



Back to Basics | What Is ERP?

Traditional explanations of Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP) can become so complex that the value it provides your organization goes unnoticed amidst the tangle of words. In short, ERP is simply a methodology for connection. This basic concept has since been translated into a number of software solutions available in the marketplace today that integrate the numerous disparate “back end office” systems of a business – from accounting, sales and customer relationship management (CRM) to manufacturing and distribution – into a single interface for value-added insights across an organization.

All organizations are comprised of a spider web of processes and data. At the foundation of every business is interaction, and each interaction  large or small  contributes to the value exchange between your company and your customer. While most organizations have an established framework for monitoring and evaluating ongoing interactions, as your business grows and processes multiply, past methods depreciate and provide less meaningful insight.  Additionally, as we often know all too well, teams are not always the best at communicating across “party lines.” As a rule, the more people and processes between pockets of data, the more challenging it becomes to share information that is accurate and valuable. Key performance indicators can provide helpful progress reports, but an increase in the number of applications used to manage these growing processes essentially “siloes” information, making it less readily accessible for everyone.

ERP_Spider Web

ERP joins the dispersed procedures, tasks and accomplishments throughout a business and makes it possible to manage and examine the organization as a whole. The compiling of data spanning departments, processes and interactions provides a holistic, comprehensive representation of your business; it establishes accountability and allows your organization to become progressively reactive to situations that reduce value creation while improving proactivity in the future.

The key focus of an ERP solution is to create a dynamic, actionable structure encompassing all areas of a business to clearly identify relationships and patterns in the data. This evolving interface allows teams and executive leaders to become agile and responsive to changing conditions within the business or marketplace, realized through defined, digestible facts and figures to more easily identify what is working and what is not. Connecting your financial systems to your value producing systems, human resources and even customer relationship management allows you to track, analyze and automate workflows and processes across your business. All these touch points across the business are recorded and later sorted, contextualized and presented in a useful format from one application. This will result in customers that are better served, staff that are more informed and capable, and leadership that is more aware and responsive.

Within a business, it is not always clear which processes are performing well, which ones suffice, and which desperately need to be altered. Patterns go unseen and inconsistencies between sales orders, inventory needs and manufacturing remain unaddressed. Identifying how individual practices are performing in isolation and against one another allows an organization to discover strategies for real improvement. By integrating otherwise separate – yet interdependent – data from all aspects of your business, you gain a complete vantage point of your organization from which you can make analysis, reporting and compliance needs not only more convenient but also more accurate. Enterprise Resource Planning is the solution platform to provide visibility into the big picture of your business and provide insights to think critically, identify opportunities to improve and, ultimately, create more value in an increasingly competitive marketplace.

eric_andersonEric Anderson is ERP Senior Manager with Eide
Bailly Technology Consulting, where he leads our
Sage 100 ERP practice. With more than 15 years
of experience in the accounting field, his expertise
includes enterprise resource planning consulting
and technology advising, with a focus on driving
successful solution selection, implementation,
and systems support. 


Business Intelligence | The Intersection of the “Internet of Things” and Big Data

Earlier this month, we gave you our top technology trends for 2015, and, not surprisingly to anyone observing the latest market trends, we highlighted the Internet of Things (IoT). There is often a lot of ambiguity surrounding the concept of IoT, but it all essentially boils down to connectivity. IoT refers to the connection of any powered device to the Internet, enabling interactive device-to-device and device-to-user communication to automate tasks for optimal efficiency and understanding; it has become a catch all phrase for utilizing device-driven data to create something useful.

Often, IoT brings to mind very “techie” inventions like smart home thermostats and wearable devices, and while these energy trackers are early growth areas for the industry, they are just scratching the surface of possibilities. Rather, these technologies demonstrate a major influencer of IoT that will have an astronomical impact on the business sector – Big data.

You see, the Internet of Things is not evolving in isolation; it is maturing alongside another huge market changer. Our lives are driven by data. Every interaction in our day-to-day creates an endless stream of data waiting to be transmitted, stored, and analyzed to make our lives better, which is basically what the Internet of Things is enabling. These two interconnected trends are shaping the market in vast ways. On its own, a small device with no storage or processing capacity would add little to our lives, but by backing it with the curation and correlation of high volumes and varieties of data, the outcome is utterly valuable convenience, optimization, and efficiency.

At the intersection of IoT and big data is true business intelligence. The insight gained through these trends creates competitive advantage. Improved customer experience, optimized processes, elevated business forecasting, and empowered decision making are all created at the convergence of the Internet of Things and big data. There are virtually endless opportunities for connections in the future of IoT, both personally and in your business. Whether that is your car syncing with your work calendar, road conditions, traffic congestion live stream, and available parking detection to provide you with the optimal morning commute, or the ability to track your business’ inventory shipments for quality control and maximum agility. IoT will change how we live, interact, parent, consume, and work.

Recognizing the need to manage and make sense of your business’ data is an essential first step. It is not as simple as slapping a wearable on your wrist – though, at some point in the future, wearable devices for office equipment to auto-manage supplies and self-diagnose issues could be a reality. Industries will be disrupted, markets will evolve, and security will become more crucial than ever as this technology becomes more prevalent in the marketplace. Meet next generation consumer expectations and automate your business by enabling visibility into your underlying data trends. If your business is ready for the cutting edge of business intelligence, consider these areas; a world of interconnectivity is upon us – Are you prepared?

joey_skinnerJoey Skinner is Business Applications Senior Manager
with Eide Bailly Technology Consulting. Joey has
more than 22 years of experience in the information
technology field in roles ranging from application
architect and developer to technology consultant.
His expertise includes a strong understanding of
accounting principles and work flow procedures
with advanced application development and systems
implementation experience.



SMB Security 101

Forty-three percent of organizations suffered a cyber-attack last year, and according to Forbes, 71% of those affected were small businesses. The absence of dialogue surrounding this steadily growing threat to small and midsized businesses (SMBs) is alarming. When we hear cyber-attacks, we often think Target, Sony, or any of the other numerous high-profile instances of the past year, not the regional restaurant we ate at last month, the family-owned business down the street, or a fellow competitor. But these instances are real and rising.

A lack of preparedness for a massive security hack coupled with minimal resources and general inexperience in combatting today’s advanced cyber-threats combine to create a low hanging fruit “epidemic” for small businesses that many hackers are looking to capitalize on. Joel Brenner, a former senior counsel and inspector general of the National Security Agency (NSA), explains that while “pervasive connectivity has brought dramatic gains in productivity and pleasure, [it] has created equally dramatic vulnerabilities. Huge heists of personal information are common, and cybertheft of intellectual property and infrastructure penetrations continue at a frightening pace.”

To combat this growing threat to your business, regardless of size, we have identified several key precautions to reduce your organizational vulnerabilities.

  • Ensure that you are compliant with any required regulations unique to your business.
  • Run a cybersecurity audit focused on attack surfaces and points of entry. Identify the location of your sensitive data and map it to your access control list, both internally and externally, to further assess vulnerabilities.
  • Confirm that operating systems are equipped with the latest security products and updates, including programs that can detect cyber-breaches within your network and evaluate threat levels.
  • Define access permissions to data across your organization.
  • Establish password protocols, including regular refresh cycles. Encourage staff to avoid passwords comprised of proper nouns, keyboard patterns, et al. and instead opt for meaningless combinations of letters and numbers for optimum security.
  • Invest in industrial strength firewall protection, antimalware and antiviral programs to thoroughly establish your defense foundation.
  • Safeguard sensitive data via encryption protocols.
  • Educate employees; at the end of the day, your people are often your greatest weakness. Train staff on spamming and hacking awareness so they do not undermine your organizational security by absentmindedly opening a malicious email, attachment or link.
  • Determine security practices on-premise, from the data allowed to leave company walls to the sensitive materials that need additional protection measures.

Additional security resources can be found here on our blog or in the following articles by Newsday, Tripwire, Ready.gov, and CFO.com.

Ultimately, if you do not feel confident in your organization’s internal ability and bandwidth to conduct exhaustive security testing to reduce your risk, look externally. Your data is not a gambling chip; cyber-attacks are growing in prevalence, and these steps are not simply recommendations but basic requirements in this day and age. Consider the above precautions the cyber equivalent of locking your front door; if you are not dead bolting the door to your data, you are essentially inviting a cyber-thief into your network.

mike_arvidsonMike Arvidson is the Director of Eide Bailly Technology
Consulting’s Infrastructure Services. With more than 20
years of experience in the IT industry, Mike’s wealth of
knowledge includes network systems implementation,
integrated new technologies, and information security.



Choosing Right or Right Now

As we welcome the New Year and a fresh calendar, it’s easy to get caught up in 2015’s shiny potential. The sense of having a clean slate allows us to conjure up big plans for the next twelve months in both our personal and professional lives. For project managers, this is a season we have come to dread. Although we are all for new projects – after all, without them, we would have no jobs – the turning of the fourth digit presents a highly desirable, and often lofty, target date for projects kicking off this time of year. It is in my experience that the majority of projects that come to life during December and January’s optimistic overload are given the target deadline of “by year end,” which is immediately followed by a proverbial face palm by project managers. As simple as it seems, “end of the year” is often not a realistic due date for most projects fueled by the fires of the New Year’s possibilities.

The sad truth remains that most projects never meet their target finish date. A simple internet search on the percentage of projects that do not meet their targeted completion dates results in alarming statistics ranging from 85% to 90%. What causes this? Simply put, nine times out of ten it’s because a project manager was not involved in setting the target deadline. Unrealistic expectations or promises lead to project due dates being plucked out of thin air with no real understanding of the true effort or scope required for the project’s success. While there is no shatterproof way to identify a realistic, achievable target date within your organization, there is a simple question that will help you narrow down your timeline: Do you want the project done Right, or do you want it done Right Now? Because, unfortunately, the two are not mutually exclusive.

Right versus Right Now

“You get out, what you put in.” This is true in virtually all of life. There are times when it just needs to get done, and then there are times when it needs to be done right. As an organization, you need to decide which is important and what your main objective is before you can decide how much effort realistically needs to go into the project.

Seeing as we just survived another Holiday Season, let’s examine your Holiday shopping to demonstrate the Right versus Right Now concept. Chances are there were people on your list, like family and close friends, that you took extra care in your purchasing to find that perfect, special something. You wanted to do it Right. There were likely also individuals on your list that you picked up the first thing that worked. You wanted to do it Right Now. This is the same in projects. There are times when you just need to get something implemented, perhaps due to a timely regulation change or an upcoming merger, but there are, more often than not, instances in which quality should take precedence over completion date.

Determine Your “Main Thing”

Late businessman and author Stephen Covey once said “the main thing is to keep the ‘main thing’ the main thing.” In terms of projects, you need to define your main objective in order to determine if you need it done Right or Right Now. This is a difficult pill to swallow for some. Who doesn’t want it done right in the end? But, keep in mind, “right” is relative. There are varying degrees of “right.” Right Now is still right; it’s just not the best possible right.

There are times when Right Now is necessary. Situations that require timely implementations without high quality expectations are candidates for the Right Now timeline. The end result is usually clunky and more painful on end users. I like to call Right Now the quick and dirty project. Management in these scenarios say things like “just get it done, and we’ll fix it later.”

Doing it Right, on the other hand, is generally more painful on the project team due to the slow and tedious process but easier on the end user because the final product is more efficient. As a rule of thumb, most software implementations and migrations should be done Right. There’s an enormous amount of effort that needs to be spent verifying business requirements and building processes to minimize risk to the business; the more time devoted to the planning and development stages, the less time required to fix issues during the implementation stage. Doing it Right means consciously taking the time to ensure all your ducks are accounted for and in a row before you cross the street.

What is “Done?”

So we’ve established that the Right Now approach will get it done sooner than Right. But, here’s the kicker – What is “done?” What is your idea of “done?” Yes, the project is implemented and being used, but how much time are you going to need to allocate after the fact to make it truly functional? This is where the boomerang of “we’ll fix it later” comes back to hit you. You are likely to spend far more time cleaning up issues and enhancing a Right Now’s effectiveness than you would have if you had just done it Right in the first place. The Right Now approach is a shortcut that usually doesn’t pay off; instead, it upsets and frustrates end users, creating more work and decreasing efficiencies in the end.

Be Realistic.

As a project manager, over promising has to be one of my greatest pet peeves. A simple solution? Be realistic. Include a project manager in the conversation when determining a target date for an upcoming project. A trained PM will be able to walk your organization through questions that will help identify your “main thing,” determine the “degree of right” required, and establish a realistic target “done” date with more confidence. Take time to reflect on previous project experiences and heed the lessons learned before setting expectations. And remember: “by the end of the year” is not an educated answer.

sabrina_schindlerSabrina Schindler is a technology consultant with
Eide Bailly Technology Consulting. She is a
certified Project Management Professional (PMP)
and Certified Scrum Master (CSM) with more than
7 years of experience managing software
application implementation and optimization
projects covering scope, timelines, and resources.



2015 | The Year of Technology Disruption

Another year has come and gone, and as we prepare for 2015, it’s important to reflect not only on the current status of your business but also to ensure that you are aligning your ongoing business objectives to the correct emerging technologies.

Last year’s technology review for 2014 is still largely relevant today; the Internet of Things (IoT) is moving across industries, disrupting markets in its wake, and wearables are continuing to gain traction in development, relevance, and consumer adoption. Interestingly, there is a growing pattern beginning to develop in today’s new technologies, a focus around three key areas: real-time, social, and mobile. Nearly every emerging technology has at least one of these underlying elements, and together, it is shaping the marketplace in vast ways. This April will also mark the 50th anniversary of Moore’s Law which explains the exponential improvement potential of technology. Gordon E. Moore of Intel predicted in 1965 that every two years processing capabilities will double, and this growth projection has proven accurate through half a century.

What does this mean for us?

In short, these are the factors that are disrupting the marketplace today and creating an extraordinary opportunity in technology trends.

Not only is there a central influence from the three leading trends – real-time, social, and mobile – impacting today’s emerging technologies, but there is also an external pressure from Moore’s Law compounding capacity for unprecedented growth in computing, storage, and bandwidth functionality.

Disrupting Technologies Graphic_2

This dual impact from the inside-out as well as the outside-in is generating a unique market climate for emerging technologies to flourish in unparalleled ways. Welcome to the future.

Big Data  |  Not only are smart machines like Watson changing the way we look at data and artificial intelligence/cognitive computing, but the growing presence of algorithms in our daily lives will create a new process of personalizing messaging across devices and audiences. Consumer behavior and engagement is creating a push-back on how the market is viewing the relationship between user and device; rather than the traditional product-driven approach, we will begin to see a shift to a consumer-centric focus for personalized content and storytelling by device and interests via algorithmic curation of big data.
Wearables  |  Traditional wearables like FitBit are seeing increased market competition with the likes of the Microsoft Band, a hybrid wearable at the intersection of smart watch and fitness tracker, which takes data gathered from biometric sensors and crunches the metrics for digestible, actional items to improve not only diet but overall health and wellbeing. There’s also a new focus on wearables for children that will allow parents to keep tabs on their location, activity, and communication. Adoption of this technology is increasing as is its pervasiveness; the NFL obviously understands the value.
Ambient Proximity  |  The next generation of geo-location has arrived. Essentially, ambient proximity is taking geo-location and push notifications to the next level via beacons that send and receive information from individual’s mobile devices. Imagine looking for new running shoes at your preferred sporting goods store and receiving specialized information on your cellphone on specials, product information and even styling suggestions directly from Pinterest. From a retailer perspective, these beacons can provide a new channel to gather data on your customer – everything from number of touches on a new display to how long someone looked at a product as well as the ability to cross-sell and up-sell other products based on real-time data.
Security  |  The numerous wide sweeping cyber-attacks of the past year, from Heartbleed to Shellshock, indicate a key focus moving forward on prevention and vulnerability detection. It will be critical for organizations across industries to conduct regular, weekly security checks looking ahead, especially as more personal data is being transferred and stored over the cloud for financial, government and healthcare institutions.
The Cloud  | Speaking of the cloud, this is one technology that is not going away, so businesses, take note. An effective, simple storage solution, the cloud will continue to see a growing number of applications being built on its platform over conventional on-premise software installs. Additionally, 2015 will introduce seamless indexing and sharing of content across devices on the cloud. Essentially, you could begin reading this blog post on your cellphone with your morning coffee and log on to your work computer hours later to pick up where you left off. Music, videos and content will follow the same trajectory as emails and no longer be device specific with users essentially creating an evolving playlist of content on the cloud to access everywhere.
Internet of Things (IoT)  |  A network of millions of smart digital devices all talking together, monitoring you, and automating tasks to make your day-to-day simpler, faster, and easier than ever. This is a growing reality. Everything from your traditional devices to your toothbrush, alarm clock, and kitchen appliances all connected, each with its own unique address, all feeding together to streamline operations. A little like “big brother” but the potential for continual self-improvement and efficiency is astronomical. This machine-to-machine communication has brought us technologies like Nest, which creates a two-way channel between you and your house to create more efficient and economical heating and cooling practices based on data gathered from your lifestyle and preferences.
Smart Virtual Personal Assistants (SVPAs)  |  This predictive intelligence application processes data gathered over user’s devices –  from calendars and emails to contact information – to anticipate behavior and aid, much like a personal assistant, in the management of tasks, finances, schedules, diet and more. New SVPA technologies like Emu can take a text conversation between you and your spouse regarding dinner, geo-locate the two of you, suggest a nearby restaurant with menus and available reservation times while also cross-referencing your calendar for availability. Once it has determined the best time and restaurant, it will guide you through making reservations and entering the dinner into your calendar – all via a single mobile application. The possibilities here are endless and powerful, and again, show the far reaching influences of big data.

Check out Webbmedia Group’s full 2015 Technology Report here.

scott_kostScott Kost is the Director & Principal of Eide Bailly
Technology Consulting. With over 25 years of
experience in the IT industry, Scott’s wealth of
knowledge includes new technologies
implementation, information security and
system operations, leadership
development, and strategic planning.


Have Yourself a Merry Little Tech Cleanse

“It’s the most wonderful time of the year,” but if you are finding it difficult to step away from your desk, you aren’t alone. It’s been proven, time and time again, that we Americans do not know how to leave work, even during this time filled with family, friends, and Holiday traditions. The work-life balance of Americans has been a long scrutinized topic, and after the recent discovery that U.S. workers took less time off in the last year than at any other point in the last forty years, it’s clearly an interesting subject to explore.

If you’re finding that you need a little extra help unplugging and recharging for the Holidays, we’ve pinpointed a few actionable tips to start your “techervention.”

  1. Stop Multi-Tasking | Continually finding yourself in your favorite comfy chair with your work phone, personal cellphone, tablet, and your laptop? This is a clear cry for help. Begin your digital detox by limiting yourself to one device at a time.
  2. Take a 20-20-20 | Break up your gadget gazing by taking 20 seconds every 20 minutes to focus on something 20 feet away. Your eyes will thank you.
  3. Get Back to Reality | Read a real book during your time off around the Holidays this year, and while you’re at it, go buy a real alarm clock. E-readers and cellphone alarms are gateway technologies.

Head over to Mashable to read more tech cleanse tips, and have yourself a wonderful, un-wired Holiday Season!