Written by Tom Emperor, Senior Engineer

With 2016 nearing an end, we can reflect on what the year brought us and what we can expect for 2017.  2016 saw quite a few progressions to the cloud landscape.  Security was brought into the forefront as phishing, keyloggers, and hacking made the front pages on several occasions from large companies to our own election.  Buzz words such as big data, SSO, cloud, cloud PBX, VR, and UTM continued to dominate board rooms as well.  But what does all of this mean for 2017 and how can we use these trends to further our clients MIS needs?

Let me be the first to say that while technology buzz words and the trending business IT landscape are cool to talk about, they still must live in the restraints of “good housekeeping”.  By this I mean networking and software fundamentals.  In the small business world, often getting from point A to point B requires sometimes re-evaluating what their current technology landscape is capable of and what they would need to do to accomplish getting to point B.  Sometimes these goals are easily met, and other times they require incremental improvements on the network to springboard from.  This typically requires some changes in the way a company uses technology to do business.  As a society, computers are now at the forefront of how we do business, but because of how rapid changes are taking place, we find that companies become inundated with the morass of catch phrases and buzz words without fully understanding how those trends can help them move their companies forward.

With the above said, I’d like to make the assumption that everyone reading this article has a fundamentally sound infrastructure and would like to use this infrastructure in 2017 as a tool set to help improve their operations.  If this is true, the first item I'd like to tackle is “big data," and will cover other items in future blogs.  For many years, technology has been a disjointed venture in both operations and administration.  Very few email systems were connected to a company’s phone system, file system, or operations.  A phone call would come in and not be tracked in any kind of CRM or ERP solution, and this record of communication would stall once again when email was involved or an inventory item was removed.  You can forget about automatically tracking the time involved in every aspect, and if it was done it was a manual process entering time into a software package that could not do it automatically.

Each system from an administrative side would also be managed as a separate entity.  This often means IT guys will be stuck with creating multiple accounts for multiple systems when doing something as simple as changing a users name because Betty in Accounting got married.  “Big data” comes into play with the assumption that the business in question understands the merging of these disparate systems is both a process and a goal that rarely has an end.  There are multiple software packages that allow this to take place, but each one increasingly encroaches upon territories that your systems administrator typically did not involve themselves in.

The term “big data” is meant to both signify the merging of disparate data sources as it is designed to improve operational efficiency.

This is having an impact in the IT world, where IT managers are more often pulled into operations meetings than in the past.  Instead of discussing how to upgrade servers we are now asking, “are the servers up to the task of combining our phone system with our email system, can this work with our outside sales force, and how can we streamline our operations by doing so?”  Pulling many data sources into one requires having systems that know how to talk to each other, and this is where i3's expertise can come into play.  Should you be interested in seeing how we can help your company use the technology tool sets to streamline the way you do business, please don’t hesitate to contact us for a network assessment. We look forward to hearing from you!

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