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How to build a collaboration environment for a changing workforce

Most enterprise today are not the unified “all workers in the same space” environment that they were just a few years ago, when virtually everyone was in a corporate location and able to literally walk to the next office to communicate and/or collaborate with coworkers, or use email or simple internal messaging tools.

Employee communications, vital to the efficient operation of any organization, are far more complex today. Indeed, we estimate that a typical corporate entity has from 20 percent to 35 percent of its workforce as contingent labor – working independently and usually from remote locations. Keeping these independent contractors, consultants, third-party partners, and even customers connected is of critical importance to the productivity and the overall success of the organization.

[ Related: How to avoid collaboration burnout ]

A collaboration complication arises when we look at the future composition of the workforce and their work styles. By 2025, we estimate that 60 percent to 80 percent of workers in a typical organization will be millennials. These “digital natives” have a major impact on how worker collaboration takes place. They are not typically interested in walking next door to an office to communicate/collaborate.

Rather, they are much more likely to pick up a device and text, video chat and/or connect via a plethora of electronic means rather that in person. Further, they have highly varying work styles that don’t always equate to working a traditional 9-5 day. They have predisposed preferences for tools that must be met. 

[ Related: 14 Microsoft Teams apps to help you work smarter ]

Meeting their expected experiences in a secure fashion is mandatory. We’ve seen instances where companies trying to recruit employees among millennials have found

Most enterprise today are not the unified “all workers in the same space” environment that they were just a few years ago, when virtually everyone was in a corporate location and able to literally walk to the next office to communicate and/or collaborate with coworkers, or use email or simple internal messaging tools.

Employee communications, vital to the efficient operation of any organization, are far more complex today. Indeed, we estimate that a typical corporate entity has from 20 percent to 35 percent of its workforce as contingent labor – working independently and usually from remote locations. Keeping these independent contractors, consultants, third-party partners, and even customers connected is of critical importance to the productivity and the overall success of the organization.

[ Related: How to avoid collaboration burnout ]

A collaboration complication arises when we look at the future composition of the workforce and their work styles. By 2025, we estimate that 60 percent to 80 percent of workers in a typical organization will be millennials. These “digital natives” have a major impact on how worker collaboration takes place. They are not typically interested in walking next door to an office to communicate/collaborate.

Rather, they are much more likely to pick up a device and text, video chat and/or connect via a plethora of electronic means rather that in person. Further, they have highly varying work styles that don’t always equate to working a traditional 9-5 day. They have predisposed preferences for tools that must be met. 

[ Related: 14 Microsoft Teams apps to help you work smarter ]

Meeting their expected experiences in a secure fashion is mandatory. We’ve seen instances where companies trying to recruit employees among millennials have found they refused jobs or quit after a short period when these tools were not readily available (or acceptable) to them. The notion of a single work style dictated by the organization is outmoded thinking. This change is happening now, but most companies are not ready.

What we need to ensure effective collaboration

Allowing workers to use consumer-grade collaboration tools (e.g., texting, Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and so on) typically is not an adequate solution for corporate use. Such use could easily expose corporate sensitive information to hackers and “bad actors” and/or allow users to share data with unwanted recipients, exposing the company to loss of data, regulatory liabilities, or worse.

Equivalent and functional enterprise-class tools must be available for the use of current and future employees, to both make the organization maximally efficient as well as securing corporate-sensitive communications among workers. Fortunately, major vendors are moving to establish secure, enterprise-class tools to make collaboration secure (e.g., Microsoft Teams, Cisco Webex, Slack to name a few.).

What should you look for in a collaboration service?

Organizations need to evaluate what types of workers, communications and other forms of collaboration will to take place as the world moves to a digital transformation approach to the workplace. Picking the right tool means looking for capabilities that support and enhance collaboration in a changing workforce. These capabilities include the following:

  • Workflow flexibility – the capability to customize a solution based on typical roles and responsibilities over a broad scope of users, devices and apps
  • Workspace customization – the capability to create customized collaboration “rooms” and needed enhanced services, like scheduling, meeting tracking, note taking, connections to peripheral services, cloud vendor selection and so on.
  • Security of users, apps and data – the capability to use advanced security and privacy components to insure that no user or corporate data moves beyond specified “islands” to ensure isolation and protection, and that advanced authentication and encryption are in place.
  • Cognitive support for data extraction – the capability to capture and catalog all relevant data that takes place during a meeting or informal collaboration, and make it available as a knowledge source to the appropriate user base and/or entire organizations. Advanced AI capabilities to make this and automated rather than manual process.
  • Analytics to provide understanding of usage – analyzing what is and isn’t working in the organization and to modify and enhance the collaboration tools available as warranted. This is key to creating a flexible collaboration strategy.

As an example of an enhanced collaboration solution, Cisco recently released an updated version of its WebEx product, and added an AI-based assistant capability, including its recent Voicea acquisition’s products. Adding its Voicea voice recognition product to its meeting capabilities allows it to transcribe the entire meeting in minutes without having a manual recording secretary try to keep up with the conversation.

[ Related:  4 tips for picking the right collaboration suite ]

It also provides a version of the meeting that can then be searched by keywords, allowing much better discovery of corporate meeting contents. And users can make Voicea queries to extract information from the meeting even if they were not present.  Cisco claims a 30 percent increase in meeting productivity and six hours of labor savings as a result.

Staying secure and private

Other modern collaboration enhancements that Cisco added include keeping authentication and encryption keys local to various sites so that international organizations don’t have to worry about a localized breach exposing credentials in the entire organization, and also better complying with local privacy laws. This can be extended to implement isolated regional data repositories as well to better protect corporate data.



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Apple is changing the world of enterprise IT

I spoke with the CEO of one of Apple’s most recently announced enterprise mobility partners, Sunil Patro, founder and CEO at SignEasy, to learn more about Apple’s commitment to enterprise technology – and the growing importance of India to the tech economy.

Apple is an enterprise company

Apple’s focus on enterprise computing is intensifying, much to the surprise of the old guard in IT, for whom Macs, iPads and iPhones will always be “toys,” despite their proven effectiveness in the real world.

I believe it was the iPad that really drove Apple into the enterprise; that trickle has become a flood and it means you’ll find Apple platforms in most businesses today.

SignEasy was recently named an Apple mobility partner. Among other things, this means Apple’s enterprise developer relations worked with the company to help SignEasy become a better app for enterprises.

Sunil Patro SignEasy

Sunil Patro

“We have deep respect for how Apple works with partners to ensure users are always given the best experience on Apple platforms. Their focus on beautiful product experiences trickles down to everything that they do, including this program, which makes us doubly honored to be a part of it,” Patro told me.

“More than half of our business customers use SignEasy on their iOS devices, and we expect that number to grow as we leverage our new status as an Apple mobility partner,” he explained.

Integration matters.

Consumer-friendly apps for business pros

In today’s enterprise environment, it’s not appropriate to balkanize user experiences, offering different UIs across different platforms. What works on one device needs to work the same on other devices.

“Today’s business software solutions need to be optimized to work equally well on a mobile device, laptop computer or desktop computer. It also needs to integrate with other software solutions and systems at work where the exchange of data and files are as seamless as possible,” he said.

Design matters, too.

It’s not enough to have poorly designed solutions that work equally badly across platforms, the implementations need to be up to consumer standards — even for internal enterprise provisions.

“Poor design just doesn’t fly anymore,” he said. “With the proliferation of SaaS and ease of high-quality app development, consumers and businesses have innumerable options for digital solutions. Great design and user experience has become one of the biggest criteria that software can compete on, and more often than not becomes the deciding factor for a buyer because the end user demands it.”

Apple’s winning message

It seems clear that Apple’s enterprise appeal has always been, and continues to be, the attempt to provide superior user experiences. This gives it an advantage in a more digital economy.

“Apple wants to increasingly deliver more value to enterprise users because of their belief that the user should benefit from the same experience and delight that he or she is used to on their iPhones and iPads at work,” Patro said. “Since they are one of the biggest consumer brands in the world, many of the enterprise users come across the iOS experience first in their personal lives.

“So these users automatically become the champions in their workplace for carrying their business tasks using an iPhone, iPad or Mac on the go. That’s why you will see programs like ‘Apple at Work’ being promoted in Retail Stores, Channel partners and also online on their website.”

Digital transformation, boosted productivity

I asked about other rising technology implementations, such as Robotic Process Automation (RPA).

Patro admitted that his company is seeing tremendous adoption of RPA — customers come on board to use SignEasy as a SaaS solution for one department, and then learn the value of using the the company’s APIs to create business-wide solutions to provide automated or simplified processes across their business.

“We have customers like Rappi who on-board thousands of restaurant partners every month on their website and they have eliminated the repetitive and mundane human work involved in getting the

SignEasy SignEasy

SignEasy is designed to automate workflows involving legal and commercial contracts.

signed by automating that workflow using SignEasy. In another example, we have customers like OnBlick with a SaaS solution for customers who simplify the HR processes required for compliance and onboarding of new employees,” he said.

Like many tech giants, Apple is becoming increasingly active in India, where SignEasy’s development center is based.

The importance of India

“Bangalore is also home to Apple’s app accelerator in India, the very first to open anywhere in the world, where Apple’s team works directly with app developers to build solutions on its platforms,” he noted. “This is a strong acknowledgement by Apple that it recognizes the skill that exists in India, especially for developing solutions on its platforms.”

He explained a little about how the tech industry is evolving in India, where demand for skilled and experienced developers is high.

“India is one of the fastest-growing economies in the world, with the tech industry being one of the biggest contributors. India is also the largest off-shore destination for IT services, so technology skill-development is a big focus for the country.”

India is also investing in the industry: “Programming is being inculcated at the grassroots level, with kids learning to code in schools of all sizes and in the smallest of towns,” Patro explained.

I’ll be reporting extensively on Apple technologies in the enterprise in this week as I’ll be at JAMF Software’s annual JNUC event, the world’s largest event for Apple pros in enterprise IT. To keep up with news from this event, please follow me on Twitter, or join me in the AppleHolic’s bar & grill and Apple Discussions groups on MeWe.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.





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1Password is changing the way enterprises secure their data

Data breaches are a nightmare for any company. The expenses for mitigation and the loss of trust from customers and clients can be devastating, even putting some companies out of business. That’s why it’s so important to put security at the very core of your enterprise; it shouldn’t be an afterthought. 

That’s where 1Password Business can help: it’s easy to implement, cost-effective, and can provide a measurable impact on security just days after roll out. 1Password Advanced Protection provides extensive monitoring tools, giving you — and not the malicious actors threatening your business —  control of your security.

The biggest security threat to companies is human error. Employees hold valuable data in their hands, and sometimes it goes astray. Whether it’s a mistake or negligence, people can’t be perfect all the time. 1Password can fill in those gaps and immediately make your company more secure.

The real key to security is having control over your sensitive information, and that’s where Advanced Protection is crucial. This new suite of security features allows administrators to examine or block logins from specific locations, IP addresses, and more. You also can set rules for Master Passwords and force two-factor authentication for all team members.

1Password Business allows you to securely share passwords across teams and departments; every member of your organization has access to the information they need when they need it. But just as crucially, 1Password Business makes it easy to ensure that only the people who need access have it, so you aren’t unnecessarily sharing sensitive information across your company.

Watchtower, included with 1Password, also plays a vital role in keeping businesses safe: it keeps track of data breaches and alerts you to compromised passwords. If one of your passwords is breached, or a site where you hold an account is hacked, Watchtower will let you know that it’s time to change your password. It also alerts you to reused passwords, insecure passwords, and weak passwords, so you know where your team’s password problems are and can easily take corrective action.

If you’re looking to increase your company’s security, join the 50,000 businesses that already use 1Password to protect their sensitive information. Learn more about what 1Password Business can do for your enterprise and request a custom quote for your company.

This story, “1Password is changing the way enterprises secure their data” was originally published by

CIO.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.



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Filter Google Sheets Data without Changing What Collaborators See

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Filters in Google Sheets let you analyze data in your document by showing only the things you want. However, it changes how others see the document, too. Here’s how to use filter views to leave each collaborator’s view unchanged.

Fire up Google Sheets and open up a spreadsheet to get started.

Example of a dataset in Google Sheets.

Click Data > Filter Views > Create New Filter View.

Click Data > Filter Views > Create New Filter view.

The row numbers and column letters will turn a dark gray color when activated. At this time, you should give your filter view a name to distinguish it from any other views you make in the future and check the range is correct. You can always edit both of these later if needed.

Rename the view to something memorable and make sure the range is correct.

For this guide, we want to filter anything in the table that has a price per unit greater than $10. Click the filter icon in the field for “Price Per Unit.”

Click the filter icon next to the column name you want to filter by.

For this next part, you can choose to filter either by values or conditions to analyze your data. “Filter by Value” offers a simple way to see data and choose specific values in the column. “Filter by Condition” gives you a much more granular approach with the option to add custom formulas to find data.

First, click “Filter by Condition” to expand the section, click the dropdown box, and then click the “Greater Than” option.

Click "Filter by condition," click the dropdown box, and then choose "Greater than" from the list provided.

RELATED: How to Highlight a Row in Google Sheets Using Conditional Formatting

Enter the conditions for the filter and click the “OK” button.

Type in "10" and click "OK."

Just like that, you can now see all products that cost more than $10 per unit without disrupting the view of any other contributors.

Voila! The data in the table now shows only rows that cost more than $10 per unit.

Because you can toggle only one filter at a time, you can stack filters for each column to increase your data analyzing potential. All you have to do is click on another one of the filter icons and repeat the same process.

Add another filter to the same view by clicking an additional filter icon in the column you want to filter.

To turn all the filter views off, click the “X” in the top-right corner of the sheet.

Click the "X" to close filter view and return everything to normal.

Anytime you want to turn a filtered view back on, click Data > Filter Views and then choose a filter to view.

Want to see your view again? Click Data> Filter Views and choose a filter to view.

One of the great things about filter views is the ability to show filtered data without altering other collaborators’ spreadsheet view. However, if anyone wants to use your filter views, they can—even people who have view-only access.

Click Data > Filter Views, and then choose one of the custom views made by other collaborators.

Although filter views don't alter another person's perspective, anyone can toggle them by choosing a filter from the menu.


Although this is a very basic use of a filtered view, there seems to be no limits to its use. You can stack multiple filters and even add custom formulas to analyze and sort your data without having to disrupt other people you’re working with.





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Did you try changing the channel?

VP for this manufacturing company has two large TV screens in his office that display real-time metrics and machine details for the manufacturing floor in the production facility. The info is fed to the TVs by a laptop that sits on the VP’s desk. One day the VP contacts the support team to report that this laptop has died; nothing is being displayed on the two screens, and he needs a replacement computer ASAP.

Pilot fish heads to the VP’s office, where he finds that the TVs are powered off. He turns them on and the dashboards appear. But the laptop’s screen was blank, too, protests the VP. Yes, explains fish; it always will be blank when it’s projecting to external screens — even if those screens are turned off.

To read this article in full, please click here



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