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Friday, August 15, 2014

News roundup: This week's tech topics

This week's biggest tech headlines. 

Category:   Enterprise Mobility

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The evolution of the enterprise IT environment will stop at nothing as it continues to transform the business world.  Here are four stories hot off the presses from this week.

Brand-specific mobile apps a must
Applications engineered to enhance a brand's user experience have long been a key part of engagement and loyalty for large companies, but these programs are now appearing more often in the small business arena, according to MarketingProfs. Now that organizations can afford to create and integrate useful applications into their online environments, the playing field has been leveled for brands seeking to compete with industry giants and other up-and-coming rivals.

While the development of an app can be an expensive, time-consuming endeavor, the source pointed out that decision-makers should not rush their programs onto app stores upon completion. Instead, rigorous A/B testing must be employed to ensure the application delivers on its promises and provides users with an experience that can't be found elsewhere in the brand's multi-channel environment.

Top tech trends ranked by hype
There is no shortage of buzzwords floating around the tech environment, but when does a trend transition into a legitimately useful asset? According to Network World, Gartner recently updated its 'Hype Cycle' diagram to account for this quarter's biggest, buzz-worthy tech movements. The chart, reportedly designed to help companies get a jump start on IT initiatives relevant to their industry, represents a 20-year outlook showing where trends stand on the spectrum of expectations, disillusionment, and value realization. 

"Understanding where your enterprise is on this journey and where you need to go will not only determine the amount of change expected for your enterprise, but also map out which combination of technologies support your progression," said Hung LeHong, vice president and Gartner fellow, as quoted by the source. 

Which trends have yet to gain enough momentum to enter the mainstream? Gartner reportedly cited autonomous vehicles, predictive analytics, smart robots, holographic displays, software-defined components, quantum computing, and connected homes as technologies that need some refining before they make an impact.

Smartphones continue to dominate
Consumers and corporations alike continue to leverage smartphone technology for personal and business-related needs, and IDC research noted that the market has surpassed the 300 million shipments benchmark this past quarter, according to ZDNet.

Android, iOS, Windows Phone, and Blackberry represented the four most popular operating systems, although market share has been largely in Android's control. The platform's shipment volume topped 255 million this past quarter, claiming nearly 85 percent of the market.

Utilities express cybersecurity concerns
Maintaining and optimizing United States' electric grids is challenging enough, but according to US News, utilities leaders are making network security a top priority as well. A report from the consulting, construction, and engineering firm Black & Veatch reportedly found that only 32 percent of surveyed companies had adequate segmentation, monitoring, and redundancy measures in place to effectively defend against cyberattackers. An alarming 48 percent said they lacked these security features altogether. 

"The industry is paying attention and actively seeking ways to bolster security practices to limit power system vulnerability," stated the report, as quoted by the source.

Security now ranks as the fourth most urgent concern for utilities, behind reliability, environmental regulation, and economic regulation, Black & Veatch's report noted.