Tag Archives: smart phones

iPhone Business Apps

‘Bring Your Own Device’ trend a growing concern

The rise in popularity of smart phones, tablets and laptops has blurred the increasingly thin line between professional and personal life, between work time and personal time. But it’s is also creating security concerns for business owners who let their employees use those tech toys for work.

“Employers need to address the question of how to react to the inevitable or current use of personal or shared devices by their employees,” said Cheri Vandergrift, a staff attorney for Mountain States Employers Council, a leader in human resource and employment law services for the business community. “From IT issues to privacy and litigation concerns, companies that ignore the rising ‘Bring Your Own Device’ tide may find that BYOD brought nothing but disaster.”

While an AccelOps Cloud Security Survey of IT security personnel ranked BYOD as the top source for fear of incurring data loss, there are also concerns regarding employee privacy should litigation ensue and the question of using personal devices goes into the courtroom. The use of personal devices in the workplace stirs questions within the IT, legal and human resources departments of companies.

“Data access and ownership are significant legal issues that surround the BYOD trend,” said John Balitis, director at Fennemore Craig. “Employees accessing employer systems with personal devices can create major network security risks and employer IT staff accessing the devices to support them can infringe on employee privacy. Further, how to define who owns what information on the devices is challenging.”

Laurent Badoux, a shareholder in Greenberg Traurig’s Phoenix office, said there are a number of legal issues that could arise from the BYOD trend. Among them:

* Breach of confidentiality — especially with medical or financial data.
* Commercial espionage or unfair competition.
* Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) claims of unreported or unpaid time.
* Dispute as to ownership of data stored on personal devices.
* Claims of harassment, defamation, invasion of privacy, etc. from improper social media posting of workplace conduct.
* Negligence torts if an exployee tries to answer a work text or email while driving and causes an accident.

“The most glaring risk (an employer takes) is that sensitive confidential corporate data becomes compromised, either because an outsider is able to access that data through an employee’s device or to copy data stored on that device,” Badoux said. “When their sensitive data becomes compromised, companies face damage to the bottom lines and public image.”

According to Travis Williams, senior counsel at the Frutkin Law Firm, if a company believes information is jeopardized, or upon termination of an employee’s employment, the employer may have the right to seize the device for a short time to ensure proper protection or removal of company’s sensitive information.

“Employees need to understand that business information on their device is the property of the employer,” Williams said. “The employer has the right to protect the information. The protection may allow the employer to seize or force ‘wipe’ the device to ensure proper removal of the information.”

While there is no doubt that the BYOD trend has given tech-savvy employees the opportunity to create a more flexible schedule and therefore increase their productivity, experts said it’s imperative that companies find a balance between protecting sensitive work data, while still providing employees flexibility and independence.

“Have a policy that specifically addresses what employees can and cannot do with PEDs (personal electronic devices) used for work-related purposes and enforce that policy,” said Tibor Nagy, Jr., a shareholder at the Tucson office of Ogletree, Deakins, Nash, Smoak & Stewart. “Be sure the policy addresses what happens to employer data when the employee leaves employment.”

Experts said companies who worry about issues related to the BYOD trend should look to impose tighter security constraints, develop technology guidelines and policies or employ mobile-device management tools, services and systems.

“An employer absolutely should implement a BYOD policy if the employer allows or encourages employees to use personal devices for work,” Balitis said.

Badoux said an effective BYOD program should include:

1. Mandatory Mobile Device Management software
2. Clarification of expectations on ownership of data, privacy and access to dual-use devices.
3. “Acceptable Use” procedures harmonized with the employee handbook or agreement).
4. A well-crafted social media policy.

“Do not allow highly sensitive employer, personnel, health information, or customer data to be stored on an employee’s PED, unless you are certain that device will be used and protected to the same degree as an employer-owned device,” Nagy said. “Only allow PEDs that are ‘enterprise; enabled. Enterprise requirements include encryption of storage media; the ability to remotely wipe or clean a device; the ability to enforce password changes and password complexity; the ability to apply upgrades and patches; and the ability to revoke rights to data or corporate network access.”

Mobile payments - AZ Business Magazine March/April 2012

Mobile Payments – The Pay Of The Future

They’re not here yet, but expect mobile payments to change the way we pay

If your wallet feels thinner in the upcoming months, blame your cell phone, not the down economy. Mobile payments, also called mobile money and mobile wallet, are the future of commerce. If they haven’t already, mobile payments will soon revolutionize the way you receive, spend and monitor your money — no plastic required.

Instead of swiping a conventional debit or credit card when you’re at the grocery store or out to dinner, mobile payments digitize the process. Simply open your smartphone’s finance application and tap your cellphone on the checkout counter’s PayPass terminal.

Voilà, the transaction is complete.

Your cell phone, operating a technology called Near Field Communication, uses a semiconductor chip housed in your smartphone to transfer the payment from a pre-paid or credit card account with the application. Though not many existing smartphones possess NFC technology, few released in 2012 won’t have it.

LG, Panasonic, Microsoft, and Toshiba say they plan to incorporate the technology in their phones soon. Motorola, Samsung, Nokia, BlackBerry and Android released smartphone models with NFC chips in 2011, but most don’t yet have compatible applications on which to perform mobile payments.

Google Wallet, the first major NFC-enabled mobile payments application in America, is only operational on Sprint’s Nexus S 4G (also created by Google), using Citi Mastercard. Naturally, Google plans to support more payment and phone types in the future.

Tailing by a hair, Verizon, T-Mobile, and AT&T plan to launch ISIS — a similar mobile payments system — later this year.

Alas, though the future feels so close, your reimbursing cell might still take a few years, according to a study released by Gartner in July.

Gartner estimates that 50 percent of smart phones will be NFC-enabled by 2015.

“We believe mass market adoption of NFC mobile payments is at least four years away,” says Sandy Shen, research director at Gartner. “The biggest hurdle is the need to change user behavior by convincing consumers to pay with mobile phones instead of cash and cards.”

So, though financial institutions and software providers race to offer NFC, most customers are too accustomed to contemporary payment forms, Gartner speculates. A main motive for consumer hesitation is financial security.

David Peterson, founder of electronic payment software provider Goldleaf, says that fortified firewalls and other electronic gatekeepers make mobile payments quite trustworthy.

“NFC works only for a very small distance, say a few inches,” Peterson says. “By narrowing the field in which NFC works, it enables individual transactions with more accuracy and privacy.

“And, if I lose my phone, I can go to my computer and kill it, remotely,” he says. “I don’t care where it is or who’s got it – I can wipe out anything.”

Despite protective measures to stop fraud from occurring, what if the inevitable happens? Should a customer dispute a mobile transaction, unfortunately, there are only limited regulations regarding liability … for now.

Depending on which application is used and who the provider is, customers have different levels of protection.

“People need to be smart, because there’s not been a new prudent body of law saying banks or apps have to offer specific protection,” Peterson says. “If a customer has issues with stuff going on with a bank’s mobile payments application, then there are not any separate regulations that covers them than if they were online, or frankly, in the bank’s lobby … But any time a purchase is made bypassing the bank with a service provider, consumers and businesses should assume that there is not much protection of liability.”

For banks, customer liability isn’t the biggest problem. It’s staying modern.

Companies who have successfully created NFC mobile money applications, like Google Wallet, will determine banks’ and financial software companies’ relevance in the increasingly pertinent world of smartphones.

Eric Haler, retailer market manager at Bank of Arizona, says that after Bank of Arizona developed its iPhone, Android and iPad mobile banking applications last year, they quickly became indispensable.

“It’s definitely been good for business, and is certainly something clients like to have,” Haler says. “Now, for customers, it’s an expectation instead of a luxury.”

However, like most mobile money applications, Bank of Arizona’s does not yet use NFC technology, and customers’ smartphones cannot be used in lieu of a credit card.

“I haven’t heard of anyone leaving their bank over that or even really needing that feature, but obviously a lot of people are using it and it’s growing so it’ll be important to see that we keep up,” Haler says.

Keeping up, however, is an enormous undertaking. In today’s world of fleeting modernity and ever-evolving technological horizons, it can be hard to know in which direction to shoot.

Some companies, skeptical of NFC’s practicality, are skipping NFC entirely. Instead of following the latest trend, their finances operate with cloud computing.

Scottsdale-based Apriva LLC, a mobile payments processing and security service provider founded in 1987, says it looks ahead of NFC for the future of mobile commerce.

“Many people believe it’s going to grow rapidly over the next 50 years and become an important page in technology’s history. But today, it’s a just fraction of the market,” says Paul Coppinger, Apriva’s president. “Yes, our applications work with NFC, but the deeper end is they don’t have to use NFC. We’re independent of that fact, because our wallet isn’t built into the point of sale or phone, it’s in the cloud.”

Cloud computing, a wireless system of sharing via servers and the internet, doesn’t require additional hardware.

“With NFC, if you want advanced mobile payments capabilities, you have to get a special phone with NFC in it and merchants need to use it, too,” Coppinger says. “When you take all those special things and net them together… it’s impractical.”

Whether NFC is fleeting or conducts your finances forever, mobile, contactless payments are imminent.

Arizona Business Magazine March/April 2012

Photo by Flickr, okalkavan

Mobile Applications Can Help Business Sustainability

Smartphones have become a communication necessity in business. They can do just about anything, from tracking packages to depositing a check into the bank. Business owners and entrepreneurs are embracing smart phones because they are better, faster and have applications that focus to specific business needs.

Now these phones are helping companies go green. With applications such as Greenpeace Tissue Guide, which allows a consumer to make better green-buying decisions on toilet paper, paper towels, tissue and paper napkins is available on the iPhone and Android. Greenpeace Tissue Guide is an organization that focuses on the use of recycled paper products.

The smartphone application features 100 brands of paper products to choose from, ability to search for brands or browse by product category, ratings based on expert analysis and brand recommendations.

If business owners are worried about gas prices they can download an app called Avego. This application is a real-time, ridesharing app. It allows drivers to be matched in real time as they travel, so ridesharing can be done whenever and wherever you are. It also helps to operate and manage fleet operations with web-based instructions with no additional IT help.

This app helps business save on route issues and gas. Allowing employees to sign up for ridesharing also helps the economy to focus on working together for a greener environment.

Mobile Applications Can Help Business Sustainabliltiy

If your company requires employees to be on the road, try an app called GreenDrive, that helps heavy-footed drivers put their driving in perspective by suggesting the most economical driving method. When you are going too slow or fast it will let you know how much more speed to increase or decrease in order to achieve maximum fuel efficiency. This app is said to save you an average of 15 – 25 percent on fuel costs.

No matter what type of business you have, smartphones are advancing the way you service your customer base, invest your time and money. Communicate with employees on a new level. Mobile applications will continue to be a driving force in everyday business ventures, including green initiatives.

By 2014, green mobile applications could exceed 400 million according to a report issued by Juniper Research.

Mobile technology can help business sustainability initiatives and create a reliable form of green standards for employees, owners and consumers to follow. Don’t loose money when you don’t have to. Make sure your company is allowing your smart phone to work for you.

Apple's iPhone4

Consumer Tech Products To Expect In 2011

The first week of January can only mean one thing: what’s coming out in consumer tech in the next year. Last year at the Consumer Electronics Show (the mecca for new gadgets) there seemed to be two prevailing themes: 3D TVs and smart phones. We all saw how well 3D TV went over. (Really, you didn’t want to sit in your own living room wearing uncomfortable, goofy glasses?) While we expect that smart phones will still be a major draw, my prediction is there will be a couple more prevailing technologies this year that everyone will be buzzing about: tablets and power.

I’m heading out to CES in Las Vegas this week, and plan to report back here on what I see at the show that’s cool (and what’s not). But here’s my preliminary take on what’s going to be hot in tech over the next 12 months.

Phones

Undoubtedly the most anticipated release will be the iPhone on the Verizon Wireless network. Finally, we will all be free to enjoy America’s favorite handheld device AND enjoy the luxury of not dropping every other call. The rumor on the Vegas Strip is that Verizon will make the announcement during the CEO’s keynote at the show.

While everyone is ooohing and aaahing over the marriage of iPhone and reliable 3G and 4G service, Google will be making strong headway with the Android platform, and a buffet of new Android phones will hit the market from HTC, Motorola, Samsung and other major handset developers. As a user and lover of an Android phone, I am extremely excited to see what comes on the market in this space. Right now, Sprint’s Evo is shaping up to be a hell of an iPhone competitor.

Tablets

 

While it took four iterations of the iPhone for a serious competitor to emerge in the Android corner, iPad might see some challengers from this growing platform in the next couple of months. Expect to see several tablets debut this week that will surely eat into Apple’s next iPad release (expected in March). The best thing about the emergence of the tablet wave is that consumers will now be presented with a very nice selection of sleek, affordable tablets that can be used for personal and work life. Expect Samsung, HP, and Microsoft to lead the way.

Power

This is obviously a timely topic from a commercialization standpoint, but it’s also finding its way in the CE conversation. Over the last five years, we’ve seen more and more companies crop up that address our changing needs for how we power all of our devices. From universal chargers (one power device for all of your gadgets), to wireless charging, to solar-powered chargers, to vehicles being embedded with charging technology, power has a vital place in the conversation of gadgetry. I think this year at CES we’re going to see some technology that will change the way consumers charge up. The big issue on the table? Saving energy. Expect to see Duracell, Radio Shack and even phone carriers such as T-Mobile to have cutting-edge power solutions that hit retail shelves this year. And there are plenty of smaller companies holding their own in this space too — Powermat, Call Pod, and iGo, to name a few.

We’ll see if my predictions are on target.CES is known for not only debuting big ideas in consumer tech, but also small ones that are equally cool and noteworthy. I’ll see as much as I can in three short days. Here’s keeping my fingers crossed for short cab lines. Until then, Happy New Year!

Executive gadgets

Cool Gadgets For The Cool Executive

 

Getting a shiny new toy for the office doesn’t always have to be justified by how much money it will save or how much more productive it will make you (unless you’ve got one of those CFOs). Sometimes you just want cool gear. Here are some fun gadgets just out that get business execs into the cool zone.

We all know a hand talker. Those ever expressive types who accentuate any conversation with their hands waving about. If you have one of these in your office, put those hands to good use with the Air Mouse Elite. Using your own natural hand movements, this uber-sensitive mouse turns into a master presentation controller. You can walk freely and flail your hands every which way while giving a killer presentation. The cursor even turns into a highlighter, laser pointer or pen. You can even gently swipe it in mid-air to activate embedded media and other special effects. It works with both PCs and Macs, retails for $79.99, and it’s carried at a slew of retailers, including Amazon.

 

Keep your laptop and hand-held devices juiced up wherever you go with this slick new universal charger from Targus. The Targus Premium Laptop Charger is smaller and lighter than other universals, and it lets you charge your notebook, plus one low-power device, at the same time.  The charger comes with nine “tips” the enable the connection between the charger and most laptop brands on the market, so you’re likely to find one that works with your laptop.  It also includes a mini-USB tip and an Apple iPod/iPhone/iTouchcharging tip. Power up in the wall or in your car with both AC and DC plugs. $149.99 at www.targus.com.

 

 

Are you fairly certain you’re wasting time in meetings? Want to know exactly how much is being wasted? Not time — money. The Time Is Money (TIM) clock shows you exactly what you’re tossing in terms of cash as every minute passes on the clock. You simply enter your hourly rate, the number of people in the meeting, hit start, and as your team blah, blah, blahs you can see very clearly what it’s costing the company. Now if only they could somehow integrate this with Facebook … This little guy is $24.99 at www.bringtim.com.

 

 

If you’re one of the millions of people who use their iPad for business, then you probably enjoy carrying it around in a stylish case. Why not let your case do more than just protect the device inside? The M-Edge Method Portfolio, while pricey, is a multi-functional, modern portfolio that lets you organize and carry your business wares in the same swanky sleeve as your iPad. This portfolio is designed with a sleeve that holds the iPad in place, four credit cards slots, a clear ID window, and a business envelope/boarding pass pocket. Two leather pockets are sized to fit your smart phones (up to two). A handy zipper pocket keeps all of your other incidentals. $119.99 at www.medgestore.com.

Apple officially launched the iPhone 4 with its usual mastery

Apple’s iPhone 4 Fumbles

What a crazy summer it’s been for Apple.

On June 24, Apple officially launched the iPhone 4 with its usual mastery. In April, there had been the prototype that was “accidentally” left in a bar and ended up in the hands of Gizmodo’s editor, Jason Chen. The subsequent police raid on Chen’s home a few days later gave new life to the story just as it was beginning to fade. In May, another prototype popped up in the hands of a Vietnamese businessman. Now the renewed speculation had the added spice of mystery: How could Apple lose two prototypes so close to the anticipated June announcement? Were these accidents or a ploy?

The ensuing announcement on June 7 by Steve Jobs answered all the questions about features and everyone now knew when they’d be able to get their hands on the phone: June 24. Some began waiting in line days early, and in Manhattan a few sold their spots in line. The lines were so long, that in places it got ugly. In Los Angeles, 2,000 people were incensed that Jason Bateman was able to jump the line for his iPhone.

And then it really got interesting.

There were immediate reports of a problem: poor reception and dropped calls. At first, Apple let people blame AT&T, an easy target. Next, they said that the problem was with the software in their phone, which was over-reporting the actual signal strength. In other words, ‘”we made a mistake but the real problem is with AT&T.” As evidence mounted, Apple finally acknowledged that there was indeed a design problem: If you held the phone in your left hand to make the call you compromised the antenna. But they also had a ready answer: “Don’t hold the phone like that.”

Gee thanks.

Many Apple customers were understandably incensed. As they were with the suggested alternative: buy a case from Apple. As the anger mounted, Apple tried again. This time masterfully. With misdirection. “All smart phones suffer from this problem,” announced Apple. “It’s called the ‘death grip.’”

Apple’s partly right: the “death grip” problem is a common problem to at least some degree with most smart phones. But the misdirection is this: the original problem is completely unique to Apple. When Consumer Reports called Apple’s bluff, Apple finally relented and announced free iPhone covers that fix the real problem.

Thanks Apple. That was easy.