3 Ways the Future of the Internet of Things will Shape Up

The Internet of Things is changing the face of web-connected devices as we know it. Some would argue that the world isn’t ready for the IoT, but it’s on its way nonetheless. But what really constitutes the Internet of Things? InfoWorld suggests that a lot of what the public sees as the Internet of Things shouldn’t be classified as IoT devices. Therefore, we need a more substantial definition for this revolutionary phenomenon.

There are three primary categories of what the public deems to be IoT devices:

  • Machine-to-machine technology.
  • Smart systems.
  • Ad hoc Internet of Things.

Machine-to-Machine: Efficiency to the Max
We live in an information age, and machines have to communicate with each other in order to function properly. This is especially important for medical, industrial, and office-operational equipment. This is called machine-to-machine communication (M2M). This makes sharing easy between systems. Variables, like heart rate or temperatures, can be shared instantaneously if need be.

But should M2M technology be considered part of the Internet of Things? Arguably not. In terms of principle, M2M technology isn’t changed by the IoT, but it has been made more affordable and readily available. According to Bernie Anger of General Electric, the spread of M2M technology can be attributed to several changes:

  • Cheaper Open Database Connectivity(ODBC): Having multiple devices connected to the same database is now cheaper than ever before, and even non-Windows devices can run ODBC User Agent now.
  • Cost-Effective Mass Scale Data Processing Technologies: Open source data processing technologies are effective for data collection on a budget. Companies were previously limited by the sheer cost of data collection, but that isn’t the case anymore.
  • Client User Interfaces are Much-Improved: The inception of the coding language HTML5 has brought about significant changes in the way that the user interface of many devices is designed, making them easier and more efficient to navigate.

Smart Systems and Bluetooth
One other technology that’s been around for a while, but not necessarily changed by the IoT, is what can be called a “smart system.” These communication systems are generally used for diagnostics or repairs, such as oil rig engineers using iPads while in the field to communicate with home base via a satellite signal.

That seems a lot like Bluetooth technology, doesn’t it? Bluetooth uses a device to communicate with another via a wireless connection, not unlike the above situation. Consumer-grade devices are basically just using this same technology (sort of like an IoT product) for new and improved purposes. It’s as simple as innovation versus rebranding. Innovation is taking something old and using it for new purposes, which doesn’t necessarily qualify as Internet of Things worthy.

The Internet of Things is Simply Complicated
One of the most important characteristics of the Internet of Things is that it’s sporadic and prone to change. It’s volatile and chaotic in its very nature. All of these ad hoc Internet of Things devices are designed for one function, and when so many different devices are involved, the situation quickly grows messy and complicated. While some of this technology has the capabilities to communicate with other systems, some don’t. The chief difference between these devices and older ones is that these devices are connected in a different manner.

The main idea behind the Internet of Things, for most companies, is that they want to create an environment where their new technology can thrive, and they want to control all of these devices from one central location. One example of this is Google Chromecast. Most major technology companies want to be at the head of the pack for the Internet of Things era.

So, if none of these devices fall under the category of “Internet of Things,” what does that mean for this new phenomenon? Basically, the IoT is a mismatched group of technologies being used for new and improved things, given a title which doesn’t really apply to them. If your business is looking to succeed in this new era of mobile technology, remember the differences between these three groups of devices, and you’ll surely be able to find your own definition for the Internet of Things. What are your thoughts on these new tech trends? Let us know in the comments.

Stop Ignoring Unneeded Applications That Take Up Space on Your Network

There’s a value to having a neat and tidy office where everything is where it’s supposed to be. In addition to seeing a boost in productivity because you’re not having to fight clutter, you just feel good about working in a space that’s clean and orderly. These same principles of organization apply to your company’s network.

If you’ve been in business for more than a few years, then your system has surely accumulated files and programs that you haven’t touched in a long time. This can make locating a needed file difficult and even slow down the performance of your PC. If every employee on your network is having to navigate a maze of unneeded programs just to do their jobs, then your system is leaking a lot of productivity.

If your network is facing this kind of disorganized dilemma, then you will want to call Michell Consulting Group (MCG) at 305.592.5433 ext.2601 for some organizational solutions. We’ve got just the technology for your virtual mess with our application management service. At MCG, we’ll take the time to work with you to find out which programs are the most used by your business and which ones are just taking up space. We will then rid your system of any unnecessary applications remotely, meaning that a visit from a tech isn’t required.

By taking advantage of our application management service, your business will experience all of these benefits and more:

  • Increased flexibility: When your employees aren’t fighting with a system that’s cluttered, they’ll become a workforce that’s more flexible to handle the changing demands of your business.
  • Cut operational costs: When it takes longer than it needs to for your employees to complete a project because unwanted software gets in their way, then operational costs increase on all fronts. When your company’s network is organized, operations are streamlined and the expense of doing business decreases.
  • Increased productivity: With our application management service, we’re able to do much more than simply delete unneeded programs; this service can also be used to organize network files and applications in such a way that productivity is maximized. At MCG, we consider ourselves to be productivity experts. We have an eye to organize your systems in such a way that you will get the most out of your technology.
  • Increase customer service quality: Naturally, if employees are able to more efficiently do their jobs, then customers will receive better service thanks to increased response times and quicker access to needed data.

Don’t let a few unwanted programs get in the way of your business being the best it can be. Reach out to MCG at305.592.5433 ext.2601 to take advantage of our application management service and other time-saving managed IT solutions. Now, as far as cleaning up a messy office goes, you’re on your own for that one, but in the quest to get your business organized, sorting out your digital mess is a great place to start.

“If it ain’t broke don’t fix it” – Could burn your company down

By Eric Huskey

Would you like to see your multi-million dollar business go up in flames?  It’s simple, don’t backup, don’t upgrade your systems and ignore technology!  Many of you might have heard about the upgrade hoopla when Microsoft ended extended support for Windows XP.   Now, the upgrade bonanza is coming back by way of Windows Server 2003.  If you thought the XP migration was important, upgrading your Server 2003 when extended support is terminated in July 2015 is absolutely mission critical.

Don’t think updating your Windows Server 2003 is important?  You might want to read this article that was published in the Wall Street Journal last week. “Homeland Security Sends Alert on Windows Server 2003 Risks” by Steven Norton.  Mr. Norton goes on to explain that the DHS is pushing businesses to upgrade in order to avoid security risks, software/hardware compatibility issues and potential compliance conflicts.

Mainstream support ended in July of 2010 and with it non-security support, no-charge incident support and design/feature changes.  When July 2015 rolls around all security fixes will cease and any security flaws found in Server 2003 will leave your organization vulnerable until you upgrade.  Servers are the work horses for business applications, the “if it ain’t broke don’t fix it” mentality, could leave your organization open to crippling attacks on your network and leave your IT professional with no escalation point when your systems ‘bug-out’.  This means he can’t guarantee a resolution.  Either way your business applications are out of commission.

If your business is subject to healthcare or financial regulations like HIPAA or PCI you will likely find that you are out of compliance.  What would the impact be to your organization? Would you lose important business partnerships?  Would you face regulatory sanctions or fines?  Would your clients continue doing business with you?

Unfortunately, planning a migration is not as easy as purchasing a new license and installing it on your server.  Potential compatibility issues may arise with legacy backup solutions and legacy applications.  Microsoft offers some free and low-cost tools to help make the move.   You can also download a free trial of Windows Server 2012 R2.  I recommend you read a significantly more detailed IDC white paper titled “Why You Should Get Current.”

If you are concerned about your updates, migrations or  BDR call us at 306.592.5433 ext.2601 to get a “Free Network Assessment”

5 Obscure Smartphone Chargers on the Market

A lot of people have a car charger for their smartphone, and it’s easy to understand why. A smartphone can be the link between you and your business. But did you know that you have a lot of other, more obscure (and more interesting) choices for phone chargers?

The truth of the matter is, whether you need it or not, technology has been producing some absolutely fantastic, and strange, things. Among them are many different types of chargers that run off of kinetic energy, hydrogen, bike pedaling, and more. Here are some of the more interesting ways to power your mobile technology.

PowerPot: Smartphone Power, Thermoelectric Style
Have you ever gone on a camping trip and needed to use your smartphone? The PowerPot can be used to heat food or water, all while charging your smartphone. The key is using thermoelectrics, which take advantage of the difference in power between the heat on the outside of the pot, and the substance on the inside. This contraption is capable of outputting five watts within a few seconds. Sure, it might cost you an arm and a leg, but if you’re stuck in the middle of the woods and need to get a hold of your office, it’s sure better than nothing.

EverPurse Clutch: One Powerful Wallet
The Everpurse Clutch takes advantage of everyone’s need for their wallet. Now, it can charge your other necessary possession, your smartphone, while on the go. It has a specific compartment for your smartphone, which it charges with a 4,200 mAh battery. It also has plenty of room for your credit cards and even your car keys.

Tigra BikeCharge: Integrating Exercise and Smartphone-charging
Biking is a great way to exercise, and if you do a lot of it, this smartphone charger is just for you. This device uses kinetic energy from your bicycle to charge your phone. It can be attached to your bike’s wheel, and converts pedals to power. Once you get up to speed, about three miles per hour, it can charge most smartphones in around two or three hours. The device also works as a light if you enjoy riding in the dark.

Smartphone Charging Emergency Lantern
For an impromptu camping trip, the Hammacher Schlemmer emergency lantern is a great choice for a phone charger. The lantern can operate on low power for up to 48 hours, six hours on high power, and has lights that can act as emergency beacons in the event disaster strikes. All you need to do is use the hand crank on the top of the lantern to produce energy. One minute of cranking allows the lantern to light up for ten hours. At full charge, the lantern can provide your smartphone (depending on brand) with up to two full charges.

Horizon MiniPak: Hydrogen-Fueled Phone Charging
We’re not quite sure we can harness nuclear fission to power smartphones yet (although we’re sure that someone is working on it), but Horizon has figured out a way to use Hydrogen to power them. The Horizon MiniPak works by using a fuel cell which contains a metal alloy to absorb hydrogen from water. It then generates power by recombining the hydrogen with oxygen from the air. It might not be the most conventional method of phone charging, but science enthusiasts might find the chemical reactions fascinating enough to give it a whirl.

Will you use these new methods of charging for your phone? Maybe, or maybe not. But either way, the point stands that these new technologies can teach the technology industry a lesson in innovation. All of these ideas are fairly new and original. Innovation provides your company with a niche that you can use in the increasingly-competitive market.

Which one of these five new phone chargers is your favorite? Let us know in the comments!

Friday’s Tip: 3 Ways to Make Sure Your Employees aren’t Wasting Time on the Internet

By now, you’re well aware of the Internet’s Catch 22 nature. Your business needs it so that employees can be equipped to do their jobs, but it can also be a major distraction and kill productivity. For this week’s tip, here are three ways that you can cut back on Internet distractions and maximize productivity.

For a major task like this, you’re going to need something a little more persuasive than making a new policy. The allure of cat videos is much too strong for a measly policy. To cut back on Internet waste, you’re going to need something more powerful like a content filtering solution from Michell Consulting Group.

Decide How Much Monitoring You Need
As the business owner, you’re the one making the call for what websites aren’t allowed on your network. Content filtering allows you to be as strict or as lenient about Internet viewing as you want. For you, this means making some tough decisions and sticking to them. Do you lock everything down and block every site that’s remotely fun? Do you monitor every employee keystroke? Or do you just block the explicit websites and boost morale by giving your staff more freedom? Only you can make important decisions like these.

Set and Communicate Policy
Setting a clear Internet policy on what’s not acceptable to view may not fix everything, but it’s still an important part of the content filtering process. Everything will go much smoother if an employee knows ahead of time what they aren’t allowed to look at, rather than time and time again discovering that the website they were highly anticipating on visiting has been blacklisted. Clear communication channels must be used when communicating your company’s Internet-use policy.

Outsource Your Network Monitoring
Doing content filtering right requires monitoring. This means staying on top of the latest time-wasting websites and adding them to the blacklist. You also have to monitor and block the latest security threats and regularly review your employee’s browsing history. Do you have time for all of this? If you don’t, then you can outsource this responsibility to Michell Consulting Group. With our network monitoring tools, we can remotely take care of all of this monitoring for you. This will free you up to get more work done, which is the point of content filtering.

By being lenient about what happens over your company’s Internet connection, you will end up losing significant amounts of productivity and open up your network to some serious security threats. You can’t afford to take on this kind of risk for the sake of granting access to a few favorite websites. Call Michell Consulting Group today at 305.592.5433 ext.2601 to take back your Internet.