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Why Attend IT Events At All?

Most VARs,  MSPs, ITSPs and even vendors question the benefits of going to IT events. It takes precious time away from the office and it is a significant drain on your resources. With over 500 IT events each year, it is impossible to do all, so you do need to be very selective. It will take some effort for you to review the value of each event and decide if it is worth your time. The key is to read about the content and see if it relates to your needs. Sometimes, you need to find new ideas and new opportunities so always keep an open mind. Ask…How would this event benefit my business and is it worth my investment of time?

An event is the best way to get first-hand information on the latest trends that matters to your business. Meet experts who can give you insights and guidance. Find the right solutions and partners to build your offering. Get research data to make the case to your clients. Network with your peers. Ask questions. Feel the buzz.  You will never learn this much and this fast from surfing the Internet or reading or watching videos. You need to invest your time wisely to go to events to get what you need to build your business. Nothing beats seeing it live and you ultimately save a lot of time!

Should you attend big IT shows like CeBIT in Germany? Will you find new ideas and opportunities? Could you find vendor partners that can bring you a new competitive advantage? You need to be there to know for sure…To help you decide, here are the 4 Big Trends that you will find at CeBIT 2014 and related solutions from over 3,000 vendors.

1. Social Media

Did you know that 74% of consumers rely on social media to influence their purchasing decisions or 41% of Americans say that their Facebook friends is their #1 influence in their buying decisions or 26% of mobile phone usage is for social media, or videos on landing pages will increase conversions by 86%, or 97% of people search for local businesses online, or 75% are critical of using their personal data in advertising? There is so much more data to digest and determine how you can leverage social media to benefit your company.

Social media has matured well past the level of hype or a passing phase – it has become a daily routine that appears to suit us well. The average user spends around two hours a day on social media activities – when we hardly spend an hour each day on eating. But for your company, social media should not just be treated as something routine. By leveraging the many and ever increasing possibilities for using social media effectively you can generate value and even profitability.

Dialogue fuels your database – and your sales.Certainly, social media has become an important component of any good CRM strategy. That is a given. What is much more important, however, is to apply the right tools. You not only need to talk with your users, you need to understand them so as to activate them in the next phase and steer them in the direction you want. Ever better software, intelligent CRM social systems and monitoring solutions are available that offer not only numerical but above all semantic analyses of your customers’ posts and comments. The result? You know what users are thinking, and also which users are influencers whose impact you can put to real use. Fully 75% of consumers use social media to help with their purchasing decisions – only close family and friends register a stronger influence.

The best social CRM tools also use this data to give you direct recommendations for marketing and sales initiatives. Every dialogue stored in your database can become resource material for your sales department. This means every word from your users has value – used properly, monetary value for your company.

2. Cloud

While Cloud seems to be such an over used word in the IT channel, did you know that the US Government will save $5.5 Billion dollars per year by shifting to Cloud Services, or this year the Canadian Government will be the largest outsourcers of IT in the country or Cloud can be up to 40 times more cost effective for SMBs or only 16% of people know that the Cloud is a place to access, store or share data, or 95% of people used the Cloud but did not know or 51% of people think that story weather will affect the Cloud? There is still much for the channel to do to help their clients understand and leverage the Cloud.

Like many IT trends, cloud computing is – as its name would indicate – constantly changing and developing very dynamically. For users these developments appear to remain somewhat obscure: Although nearly 90% of the population now use cloud services (for example via Facebook, Google or Amazon), around a third still think this technology relates in some way to real weather conditions. Your company must naturally have a clearer perspective, and be able to rapidly recognize and utilize new opportunities in the cloud. From hybrid clouds to cloud-based apps, many paths are open to you.

Private company clouds are being joined with public clouds – to what extent and how flexibly this integration is managed needs to be decided on a case-by-case basis. What is important for your company is that such multicloud solutions function smoothly. Standardized processes for data classification, as well as Stacks and APIs are crucial here.

Only by developing the requisite know-how in this area can successful Enterprise Cloud Management be achieved.

Once it is implemented, however, you can only benefit. Ideally, the strengths of the different clouds create a (nearly) perfect hybrid cloud that supports more efficient processes and further cost savings – savings that you can apply directly to recruiting more staff. One in every five companies hired new IT experts after applying cloud solutions. Their cloud solutions are bringing sunny prospects – for earnings and personnel.

3. Mobility

Did you know that 10% of e-commerce is already represented by mobile commerce, or men spend more money than women while mobile shopping, or 1 in 5 people spend time searching for products while watching TV, or 60% of college students and young professionals feel it is their right to work remotely or have a flexible work schedule, or 89% of employee mobile devices are connected to their corporate networks, or  29% of organizations expect their employees to work in coffee shops, or for every PC in existence there are 4X more mobile devices, or 91% of the World’s population has access to a mobile phone. BYOD is a hot market for the channel to grow business. Are you in the BYOD game?

Mobile first? Enter “Mobile only”.

The motto “mobile first” is still part of many marketing strategies, but “mobile only” is rapidly becoming the new reality. A mobile phone is the only known way to access the Internet in many emerging countries, where computers were not and are not a part of the digital evolution. Even in industrial countries, mobile is increasingly becoming the only relevant media channel. 91% of the global population has access to a mobile phone, and they like to keep them close – in Japan, for example, 90% of mobile phones are waterproof because people want to take their device into the shower with them. There are other mobile developments that your company will enjoy more, however, such as the new possibilities of mCommerce, worthwhile BYOD strategies or the potential of wearable devices.

Eliminate work spaces – to everyone’s benefit! No, this topic does not mean laying off your employees or sending them to early retirement. It has more to do with the nature of the work space that most employees encounter every morning – comprising a chair, table, telephone and computer. This “classic” model will increasingly become a thing of the past – at least for those who develop and implement a real BYOD strategy. Which is just what ever more companies are doing.

The key point is that Bring Your Own Device means much more than ensuring employees access to e-mails and corporate networks via their mobile phones. A real understanding of BYOD takes things much further. It includes file sharing and collaboration solutions, as well as options such as “Bring Your Own Cloud” and “Bring Your Own Software” for example. Applying this whole spectrum can significantly boost your employees’ productivity.

The biggest hurdle you must overcome? The security issue. Clear compliance rules must be defined, the right authentication solutions found, devices must be integrated into IT service management, and even the development of specific apps to integrate company content may be required. Plenty of work, then – but also plenty of benefit. Employees who use BYOD work an average of nine hours more each week. You would practically be introducing a very profitable six-day week for your company, to the envy of the competition.

4. Big Data

Did you know that some predictions say that by 2016 the global investment in Big Data will reach $232 Billion and 68% of US companies and 45% of European companies have Big Data initiatives , or companies who use analytics can make decisions 5 times faster than their competitors, or 75% of the digital universe is generated by individuals, or 1,826 petabytes of information is carried by the Internet each day, or Government investments in Big Data will grow to 22% annually by 2020? Are you ready to do big business with big data?

Talk of Big Data usually raises the specter of huge numbers: countless trillions of bytes in existence, countless billions of news items sent hourly, countless millions of photos shared daily. And so? One statistic says that there are now as many bytes as stars in the universe – but we would never choose to count the total number of stars every day. What is much more important for companies is what the data contains. What meaning and impact does it have for businesses?

Most companies have a diverse range of data, most of which tends to languish unused on some server or other.

Put crudely, big data is the art of linking bits of information together and making it commercially useable. The data sources can be as diverse as the companies themselves. In theory, pretty much any information that can be captured electronically can be linked, analyzed and used in this way.

Big Data is the art of linking bits of information together and making it commercially useable. For instance, in the retail sector, camera surveillance footage can be used to analyze customer movements in-store and optimize the placement of certain products. In theory, cameras can also be used to determine such things as whether customers in the store are shopping on their own or what times of the day shoppers are more likely to be mothers with children in tow. This sort of analysis facilitates better targeting of in-store advertising via public address systems and POS displays.

Great variety of applications. The analysis of customer data also makes for much more targeted human resource planning. Banks, for example, can use their CRM systems to determine with considerable accuracy what types of customers tend to seek out what branch at what time on what days and what kinds of business they transact while they’re there. Given that specialist bank employees tend in the main to work flexible hours, banks can use this customer information to optimize the deployment of their staff across their branches at various times of the day.

Similarly, the analysis of social media channels offers benefits far greater than just marketing. For example, by monitoring certain keywords across social media, manufacturers can gain valuable early knowledge of faults in their products. That is because buyers often turn to social media to vent their frustrations regarding poor or faulty products. In the past, the earliest a manufacturer might learn of a problem with one of its products would be when its distributors start returning them – which in many cases could be several weeks after the initial product launch. Now, thanks to social media, they can be alerted to problems early on and, if necessary, halt production and take remedial action.

The latest generation of automobiles for the US market are factory-fitted with SIM cards to enable the country’s mandatory emergency call functionality. Auto manufacturers can also use these cards to access vehicle telemetry data. By analyzing all the data collected from SIM card-enabled vehicles, auto manufacturers can gain valuable early knowledge of abnormal component behavior and hence recall vehicles before damage occurs and compromises other components.

All conventional forms of data collection based on market analyses and “representative” surveys pale by comparison.

These few examples give some idea of the many and varied applications of big data analyses. Thanks to technologies such as RFID, GPS, cameras and Internet search engines, there is virtually no limit to the volume and type of information that can be gathered and analyzed. All conventional forms of data collection based on market analyses and “representative” surveys pale by comparison, because in many cases the truly interesting questions don’t become apparent until one views and analyses existing stores of previously unused data.

You can get all of the latest information from the experts and vendors who are leading the charge in these 4 big trends at CeBIT. It is not difficult to understand the market, its potential, the solutions and how your clients can benefit. The big question is how will you exploit these big trends with your customers to grow your sales?



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