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Friday, August 08, 2014

News roundup: This week's tech topics

Catch up on the latest developments in the tech world.

Category:   News and Events

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The tech world continues to expand and change before our eyes. Here are the need-to-know stories from this past week. 

Is big data all grown up?
Enterprises across the globe have long been refining their big data analytics strategies to gain insights into their operational efficiency, sales and marketing metrics, and overall performance. Still, decision-makers find themselves uncertain about the maturity and effectiveness of their initiatives, according to Information Management.

The source examined The Data Warehousing Institute's Big Data Maturity Model, a system that grades organizations on the quality of their big data programs relative to their industry peers. Early results of the initiative showed that most big data projects are far from reaching their full potential. 

TDWI's big data maturity scale is made up of five phases: nascent, pre-adoption, early adoption, enterprise adoption, and mature/visionary. In order to make this assessment, the organization issued survey participants 75 questions ranging across five dimensions of big data competence, including:

  • Organizational strategy, culture, and leadership supporting big data
  • Cohesiveness and advancement of infrastructure
  • Best practices and user tools for data management 
  • Analytics type and the extent to which they are used
  • Data governance involvement and focus on big data initiatives

Contactless payments gain steam
The discussion surrounding digital wallets and other mobile payment methods is heating up as more retailers, financial institutions, and consumers put away their cash in favor of smartphone scans and wireless purchases. Industry leaders such as Paypal and Amazon have released apps allowing shoppers to use gift cards and online balances in retail settings, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Starbucks is also paving the way for mobile payments, in addition to using loyalty programs that offer rewards for repeat customers. Nevertheless, widespread use of this technology is still a ways off, the source explained. As more users develop confidence in the security of these transactions, brands will undoubtedly seek to meet their growing demand. 

"I would say we're probably still three to maybe five years away from seeing mobile payments really common, with most of us using it," James Wester, the director of global payments research at IDC Financial Insights said, according to the source.

Hybrid cloud offers balance
Decision-makers remain conflicted on the topic of cloud computing and how these new systems should interact with legacy assets. Highlighting a grey area between these two approaches, Network World explored a growing trend known as hybrid cloud. The method lets organizations use their in-house servers and applications in combination with public cloud offerings such as AWS.

Companies that leverage hybrid environments can enjoy the familiarity and security of their on-premise systems without missing out on the public cloud's cost advantages and simplicity. This is a win for both IT administrators and executive leaders who seek to balance network protection with cost effectiveness and resource efficiency. 

"This 'two IT' system will be necessary because in order for either of the environments to be truly successful they would have to be managed very differently from each other," said Mark Thiele, executive vice president of data center technology at Switch, a cloud and collocation hosting provider, according to the source.