A guide to vendor management

Now that you understand how to select the right IT service provider for you, how can you make the most of that relationship and ensure that it stays on track?

Vendor management, particularly in a complex and dynamic IT environment, requires moving beyond traditional vendor relationships and establishing bonds that are personal, productive, cost-efficient, responsive, and measurable. This may take some upfront work, but it can pay dividends over time.

Communicate effectively

As in any relationship, open and consistent communication is the key to success. For a vendor to deliver the greatest value, they have to know exactly what you need. In a 2017 report on enterprise analytics conducted by Dun & Bradstreet and Forbes Insights, researchers determined that “Finding a key external partner that understands your business and technology ecosystems shortens response times and accelerates decision-making.”

Make sure that when you discuss a particular issue, expectation, or need, you are expressing it clearly and without jargon specific to your organization or team. An IT service provider won’t be able to understand all the nuances and quirks of your particular business from the outset, so try to remain patient and thorough during the introductory phase of your partnership. Vendors, like new employees, require an onboarding process. If something changes within your organization, don’t forget to let the vendor know if it will impact their service.

Try to stay well-informed and remember that you shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions. You’ll certainly want to educate yourself about what the vendor can provide, but if you need more information or are confused about something, ask.

It’s important to set reasonable goals and standards. If the vendor isn’t living up to your expectations, raise the issue with them politely yet firmly—avoid asking for the impossible. Be sure to take time to debrief and provide feedback where appropriate so the partnership can grow stronger over time.

Build trust; ensure security

Research from the Ponemon Institute found that 37 percent of IT pros believe their third-party vendors would not notify them if a data breach involving sensitive, confidential information occurred. Such a lack of trust is a major issue in vendor management, especially considering that massive hacks into the systems of Target, Home Depot, and Wendy’s, among others, have been linked to third-party service providers.

Trust is critical to building a lasting relationship and getting the most out of IT service providers. Part of effective vendor management is understanding that network security also involves third parties. With that in mind, your organization should look to include security requirements, protocols, and policies into its contracts. Determine from the outset who will control access, how often audits will occur, and what happens in the event of a breach. Regular security audits of vendors can be a great way to reduce risk through cooperation.

Managed services

With the rise of SaaS and the on-demand economy, there’s an expectation among businesses and customers that they will be able to utilize the services they need when they need them while saving on time and money by outsourcing certain tasks. This model tends to offer the advantage of cost efficiency and can lead to more fruitful relationships between vendors and clients.

Managed services are a valuable part of vendor management. For example, HP offers managed print and document services and Device as a Service, or DaaS, offerings. With managed print services, clients receive assessment, setup, reporting, and optimization assistance to improve decision-making and relieve IT’s workload so they can focus their energy on other responsibilities. With DaaS, HP helps clients optimize their IT assets by proactively identifying and mitigating issues, running analytics, and tailoring solutions to each client’s needs. Managed services of this kind can help organizations unlock the full potential of their vendors while sparing staff time that can be put toward business-critical tasks.

Measure your progress with vendors

Setting metrics, collecting data, and analyzing are key steps for IT pros looking to understand whether their vendor relationships are delivering the intended results. To that end, make sure your business and the vendor agree on what should be tracked and how. The Institute for Supply Management (ISM) has outlined five categories that should be measured and managed:

  • Spending visibility

  • Vendor segmentation

  • Collaboration

  • Vendor performance management

  • Risk management

For KPIs to be effective, make sure they are realistic and attainable, qualitative and quantitative, and reviewed regularly.

Without proper vendor management solutions, your third-party IT service providers can end up bogging down the IT staff that they should be assisting. But with the right partners and the right solutions to manage them, you can create relationships with vendors that will be successful in the long term.

How human-centric jobs are emerging from new tech

New technologies make humans redundant, and robots will take everyone’s jobs—these are the types of headlines that are often generated around the impact of new technologies on jobs.

The truth is more nuanced. A historical perspective suggests that when new and transformational technologies are introduced, they filter through the economy with mixed effect. While new technologies can displace some jobs, they also have the potential to create many new jobs.

The clear, established trend sees humans transitioning out of jobs that require hard or repetitive manual labor—which can often be performed more efficiently by machines—and into positions of creative problem-solving, such as leadership analysis and decision-making.

A classic example of a shifting vertical is agriculture, a sector that employs 4.2 percent of the workforce within countries belonging to the Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) and as little as 2.8 percent in Europe and North America. Half of these positions or fewer are based in Europe and North America. A century ago, the agriculture sector employed closer to 40 percent of the American workforce, but machines have now replaced dangerous, physical labor to the point where modern tractors need only be instructed to cultivate a particular field, and then robotics and GPS will do the rest. This leaves farmers with additional time to be more strategic in their planning and operations.

New technologies make new jobs

Sectors of work today are highly varied; consequently, so are the places where autonomous tech like robotics and artificial intelligence will likely be implemented. John Hawksworth, chief economist at PwC, said “Major new technologies, from steam engines to computers, displace some existing jobs but also generate large productivity gains. This reduces prices and increases real income and spending levels, which in turn, creates demand for additional workers. From our study, the analysis suggests the same will be true of AI, robots, and related technologies, but the distribution of jobs across sectors will shift considerably in the process.”

The study explains that this analysis is borne out of the historical experience that technological change is a key driver of economic growth. It is now broadly accepted that the first industrial revolution eventually led to improving standards of living in society, for the working class in particular.

Recent automation does not seem to have led to an overall decline in employment levels. In fact, the net impact of new technologies on employment can be strongly positive. Employment losses in manufacturing have largely been compensated by increasing employment in services, leading to stable or growing overall employment levels.

Growing productivity can bring greater demand for labor, the study concludes. And should the adoption of AI lead to automation, economic modeling suggests that this demand will, to an extent, countervail potential job losses.

Alongside these findings, The World Economic Forum’s recent Future of Jobs Report reveals that 38 percent of businesses surveyed expect to extend their workforce to new productivity-enhancing roles, where tasks such as decision making, reasoning, and communication will be the primary focus, while more than a quarter expect automation to lead to the creation of new roles in their enterprise. The report also shows that businesses plan to expand their use of contractors doing task-specialized work, with many respondents highlighting their intention to engage workers in a more flexible manner, utilizing remote staffing beyond physical offices and decentralization of operations.

New technology

Diversity upskilling will increase

Many of these new jobs will require a human element that machines will never be able to replicate. A comprehensive report prepared for the Royal Society and the British Academy by Frontier Economics outlined areas AI would foster job creation and expansion: from “trainers” (performing tasks useful to train AI systems) and “explainers” (interpreting the outputs generated by AI systems) to “sustainers” (monitoring the work of AI systems to prevent and mitigate any unintended consequences). They also predicted growth in a number of existing occupations across the board, including food preparation, hospitality, and the creative industries, alongside construction, sports and fitness occupations, and the electrical and electronic trades.

An additional positive result from a reduced need for physical labor is a gradual fall in gender stereotyping in the workforce. As the World Bank points out, women currently represent only 39 percent of the global workforce.

While many sectors are still gender unbalanced, the engineering industry is making positive efforts to recruit more women. BAE Systems, for example, has stated that “In 2017, 27 percent of our apprentices and 33 percent of graduates were female. This represents the highest proportion of females in both our early career programs since we began recording the gender of our graduate and apprentice recruits.”

Not only is this a healthy development for women, it also represents an opportunity to utilize previously untapped talent pools. Looking at the future of the workforce, McKinsey finds that the emphasis will be on three key skills:

  • Higher cognitive, such as creativity, and complex information processing and interpretation
  • Social and emotional, such as entrepreneurship and initiative taking, and leadership and management
  • Technological, such as advanced IT skills and programming, as well as basic digital skills

The report concludes optimistically: “A well-trained workforce equipped with the skills required to adopt automation and AI technologies will ensure that our economies enjoy strengthened productivity growth and that the talents of all workers are harnessed.”

Employees working

Analytics from HP DaaS can enable IT to innovate

As you can see from the wealth of research into the topic of new technology and job creation, innovative technologies can create new possibilities. Modern service-based offerings like HP Device as a Service (DaaS) that simplify how organizations source, support, and manage IT devices can play a significant role in freeing up time for innovation.

HP DaaS service plans provide a combination of hardware and services, such as insightful predictive analytics, proactive management, and services for every stage of the device lifecycle. The unique analytics technology HP TechPulse delivers actionable intelligence on multi-OS devices and applications through a simple cloud-based dashboard. The solution can also predict when batteries need replacing, determine how best to allocate devices to users, and identify which programs are slowing down CPU cycles.

These insights can help to optimize IT resources and create a more satisfied and productive workforce. HP DaaS can help your team offload day-to-day device management so IT staff can focus on supporting users and engaging in other projects to create value for your organization.

How to fit hardware management into your IT strategy

In 1999, a British technology pioneer named Kevin Ashton coined the term Internet of Things (IoT) to describe a network that connects objects, rather than people, to the internet. Back then, the idea may have seemed more like science fiction than reality, but by 2020, the number of IoT devices is expected to reach 31 billion worldwide. By 2025, it is forecast to hit 75.44 billion.

These technologies are transforming both public and private sectors, and hardware management considerations, which constitute a critical part of any IT strategy, must keep pace.

Prioritize security

Between mobile devices and the IoT, there are now more connected endpoints than ever before. This represents a massive security risk if teams don’t prioritize security in their IT strategy. The more endpoints there are, the more potential entry points hackers have into your network, and the GSMA has warned that having more connected devices has created an “exponential increase in new security threats.” Indeed, IoT developers frequently cite security as one of their top concerns, according to Gartner, and the security of connected devices affects the security of an entire organization.

Toward the end of the Obama administration, the National Institute of Standards and Technology released a report in response to damaging DDoS attacks that exploited vulnerabilities in IoT devices. Author Ron Ross wrote that “trustworthiness” is key, but it’s not a quality that arises by accident—it has to be engineered into the system. Therefore, to balance the benefits of the IoT with the need to protect the network, security must be baked into the hardware management strategy at every level—and this is as true for a government agency as it is for a private company.

For example, when determining which printers the company will use, IT professionals should consider modern options, like HP Enterprise devices, which come with embedded security features that continually detect and stop threats, adapt to new dangers, and self-heal. Investing in devices that come armed with these features often means that updates happen automatically, making it more difficult for a vulnerability to slip through the cracks.

Find ways to streamline

Investing in devices with built-in security features can also streamline hardware management to the benefit of IT strategy. The IoT can help organizations become more data-driven, agile, productive, and efficient, but not if the network is so unwieldy that it adds to IT’s burden. The responsibility of managing hundreds or thousands of connected devices across multiple physical locations while maintaining security standards can distract IT staff from other important projects.

Executives and IT professionals should be smart about the platforms they use to develop their IT strategies. Look for unified IoT platforms that allow teams to manage visibility, security updates, and scaling from a single dashboard. By aggregating devices and consolidating management, you can help your hardware reach its full potential.

Work with a managed service provider

Working with a managed service provider can strengthen your IT strategy by boosting security capabilities and streamlining processes. With a sprawling network of devices and a rapidly evolving threat matrix, most IT teams have numerous concerns that constantly demand their attention. Outdated, unprotected printers alone can present a number of vulnerabilities and prevent the proper implementation of security protocols across your whole network.

Fortunately, a managed print services provider can handle the finer details of the necessary upgrades and offer expertise with regard to maintenance, security, and support for your environment. Such a partnership can free up IT time and ensure devices are operating as they should.

All IT strategies involve a lot of moving parts, and often, priorities compete for attention. Teams with tight budgets and limited resources have to make the most of what they’ve got by investing in technologies and services that enhance productivity without compromising security or adding significantly to the IT workload. The growth of the IoT opens up tremendous possibilities for how businesses are run, but to take advantage of these developments, firms must view comprehensive hardware management as an integral component of IT strategy.

By deploying devices that have security features out of the gate, choosing unified platforms for visibility and management, and working with trusted managed service providers, IT professionals can help fit hardware into their broader IT strategy.

3 ways to create a healthier print environment

Printing can be one of the most logical areas to introduce more environment-friendly practices within your organization. New printing technology makes it easier than ever for tech leaders to reduce energy usage and curb wasteful practices, but many businesses still struggle to launch and maintain sustainability efforts within the print environment.

Why? In many cases, companies do not fully commit to “healthier” printing due to assumptions that the associated practices will be costly and threaten efficiency. While most organizations are initially on board with corporate sustainability initiatives, devotion tends to diminish once those efforts become expensive or inconvenient.

But here’s the kicker: sustainability in the printing industry can actually streamline processes for employees and save your organization money. In fact, managed print services reportedly reduce IT overhead by as much as 30 percent. In other words, if you’ve been avoiding overhauling your printing processes because you don’t think it’s a worthwhile investment, it may be time to make some changes.

Here are three ways successful organizations are creating a greener print environment while cutting costs and boosting productivity.

1. Update your printing workflow with managed print services

How many times have you inadvertently printed too many copies, sent your print job to the wrong place, or printed a several-page document single-sided? Now imagine how many times mistakes like these happen each day across your entire organization—even for a small business, there’s likely a lot of wasteful printing going on.

Fortunately, managed print services (MPS) can help streamline your printing workflow and reduce these inefficiencies to help save on energy, money, and headaches. For instance, after MetLife implemented HP Managed Print Services, the company was able to track individual print jobs, introduce mobile printing, and increase duplex printing. These upgrades had the added benefits of shrinking the firm’s carbon footprint and reducing costs.

Similarly, the German tool manufacturer Wolfcraft cut the number of printing devices in its employ by 30 percent by using HP MPS, which helped the company meet its goals of lower power consumption and increased efficiency.

Even simple improvements, like automatic two-sided printing and required user-authentication for printing, can significantly reduce wasted paper and ink.

2. Communicate documents digitally

It’s 2019, and everyone in your organization likely has a screen within arm’s reach at all times. Even if your employees aren’t lugging a laptop from meeting to meeting, 77 percent of American adults own a smartphone, according to Pew Research. So why do so many companies still insist on routinely printing, copying, and handing out multi-page documents?

Paper clutter is not conducive to clean desk policies, and the environmental and economic costs of unnecessary printing can also add up. MPS can help employees capture and distribute relevant documents to colleagues electronically, eliminating the need for hundreds of hard copies doomed for the wastebasket.

3. Commit to responsible hardware recycling

While plenty of organizations have already implemented some form of a recycling program, many haven’t yet created a plan for the responsible recycling of hardware. And when employees don’t know how to dispose of outdated and broken equipment properly, hardware often ends up in dumpsters, which affects the environment and can also create security risks.

Thanks to efforts at sustainability in the printing industry, MPS can assist with these challenges too. For example, HP Asset Recovery Services can help you remove and trade-in, donate, or recycle old equipment easily and securely. That way, your old printers won’t end up in landfills, and recycling them could help you earn a better deal on new equipment.

As your company continues to roll out new business sustainability strategies, don’t overlook your print environment. By committing to these three practices, you can cut costs, increase operational efficiencies, and limit your organization’s environmental impact.

Is healthcare security ready for entrepreneurial hackers?

The strategic component of defense against hacking can be fascinating or terrifying, depending on where you sit.

Healthcare is catching up in the realm of security, but hackers are also becoming increasingly innovative and entrepreneurial. There’s an entire shadow industry looking to profit from the data theft attempts that pop into your inbox every day. And it’s a big business—a 2018 report from MacAfee and CSIS estimates that cybercrime cost the world more than $600 billion last year and shows no signs of slowing.

So what does this mean for endpoint device security? Healthcare security leaders currently have an opportunity to counter hacks with approaches that are just as strategic and proactive as those being cooked up by the hackers themselves. But doing so will require taking a fresh look at all security vulnerabilities within the organization, especially digital endpoints.

It all starts with exploited endpoints

Unfortunately, most organizations’ endpoints are in a pretty sorry state where security is concerned. Healthcare Info Security sat down with Dan Schiappa, SVP and GM of Products with Sophos, who had an enlightening perspective on the matter.

“When you start to dig into the details of how [organizations] get hit, why they get hit, you start to learn that they don’t really, fully understand all the approaches that hackers take to have successful ransomware attacks . . . When you dig in a little bit deeper, a lot of these ransomware attacks . . . the entry points were exploits.”

Because losses from healthcare data breaches are becoming the new norm, healthcare security professionals can’t afford not to implement protections for all exploitable devices—especially those that are often overlooked as potential points of entry.

Printers and multifunction devices

State-of-the-art office equipment is incredibly complex in terms of its functionality and processing power. However, if your organization is relying on outdated, unsupported devices that can’t take advantage of the most recent cyberdefense developments, security will suffer.

You may even be at an organization that doesn’t manage its own printers’ security configurations or updates. If this is the case, make sure the vendors responsible for your devices are accountable—and not just in contract language. Security best practices should involve checks to ensure that all devices are properly configured and patches are timely and up to date.

The internet of medical things

While IoMT devices might not process patient health information or sensitive data, they’re still endpoints and, therefore, still vulnerabilities. IoMT devices are often made as cheaply as possible, with security being an afterthought.

As with printers, healthcare security professionals often don’t have much control over IoMT updates or patches. Beyond that, inventory isn’t usually well kept, which leaves dozens, if not hundreds, of invisible opportunities for exploitation by enterprising hackers. As a result, healthcare security professionals will likely need to be granted additional permissions to oversee the securing of these endpoints and effectively stop attacks.

The imaging suite

Imaging technology has become incredibly sophisticated, but with every MRI and ultrasound comes another layer of endpoint device challenges. Once again, ownership and management frequently involve outside players whose reputations aren’t on the line for HIPAA violations like healthcare institutions’ are.

Since these devices are expensive, manufacturers tend to control their security. Still, security teams should monitor the interactions between devices of this kind and the organization’s network. Ideally, the connections should be segmented into secure VLANs that are unable to access the internet or sensitive systems.

Get endpoint device security caught up

Remaining resilient against healthcare security threats is going to take more than simply sticking to the best practices of the past. Consider the following tactics to sharpen your organization’s security capabilities.

  • Go Beyond the Firewall: Even the sophistication of next-generation firewalls (NGFW) isn’t always enough to protect the data and patients you’re tasked with keeping safe. The risk of theft and the sheer volume of endpoints that security professionals deal with mean that the firewall is just one part of a truly solid security strategy.
  • Invest in the Strategy: It’s time to stop looking at IT security budgets as examples of burdensome spending and more as investments in organizational resilience and patient well-being. Security is a part of your business, and investment is what keeps it healthy.
  • Focus on People: People are one of the greatest risks to healthcare security. Three out of four hospitals don’t have a designated security person, and that’s a dangerous position for any organization to occupy when antagonistic actors are putting together whole toolkits just to hack into printers. Designating professionals to deal with these matters and ensuring that employees are trained to avoid falling for cyber attacks are crucial developments for any institution operating in the healthcare space.
  • Endpoints as Allies: Devices themselves have to be centers of security excellence. Partnering with thoughtful device providers is a smart way to create opportunities not only to keep individual devices secure, but also to reduce the average time of threat detection. Attacks will happen, but you can minimize their impact by implementing automatic defense measures to assist with detection, response, and recovery.

Healthcare data security is turning a corner, but it’s still in critical condition. With hackers and threats growing in sophistication, taking a smart approach to modern endpoint security can and should start today.

Make time to develop your own IT skills in today’s landscape

It’s only wise to consider whether your IT team is prepared for your latest initiative or what’s just around the corner. Technology is evolving quickly, and knowledge is doubling almost every day, according to Digital Journal. As a result, you likely spend a lot of time worrying about their IT skills. But when was the last time you considered your own?

Nearly one-third of U.S. workers will need to find new jobs by 2030 in response to the rapidly advancing pace of technology, according to a recent study by McKinsey. The best way to future-proof your career is to develop your own skill sets constantly. As an IT manager, your role straddles the line between people and technology, and while there are some aspects of your job, like communicating and collaborating, that aren’t going to disappear or become automated, many other elements are going to change quickly.

What IT managers need to know

According to LinkedIn’s recent analysis of job postings for 2019 published through CNBC, the top five most in-demand skills are all relevant to IT managers. These areas include:

  1. Cloud computing
  2. Artificial intelligence
  3. Analytical reasoning
  4. People management
  5. UX design

While cybersecurity didn’t make the cut, it’s certainly up there. There are currently around 350,000 unfilled cybersecurity positions in the United States, per CSO Online, and analysts predict the security skills gap will reach 3.5 million unfilled jobs by 2021.

While smart devices will likely automate the duties of many existing positions, IT managers will still need to develop human security skill sets to manage devices and people effectively. Here are some ways to do just that.

Prioritize skill development

The right approach to leveling up your IT skills with regard to managing probably isn’t heading back to school. You need an approach to education that you can balance with your demanding list of tasks.

If you’ve found an alternate approach to skills development that you believe could help your department—like a certification path or a virtual education course—make a pitch to your boss for the funds. There’s a real ROI to professional development, and studies by the ASTD have determined that companies that invest heavily in training have significantly higher profit margins and price-to-book ratios.

There are benefits to both classroom learning and eLearning. eLearning courses offered by high-quality training institutes can provide instant feedback on coursework progress, create a paper trail of knowledge in case your company is audited, and allow you to “upskill” your career on your own time.

Some eLearning communities even offer a group discount if you can convince your boss to purchase a membership for the department. Not only can eLearning as a group supply motivation and opportunity for healthy competition through gamification, but it can also help you retain and recruit talent. Seventy-six percent of millennials believe professional development is one of the most appealing benefits an employer can offer, according to Access Perks.

Upskill your IT

When you consider the list of technologies that will be obsolete in less than 10 years time, the number is pretty staggering. Unsecured business printers and copiers, for instance, are surely going to disappear and be replaced with secure print solutions. USB drives have lived far longer than they ever should have, and there is a strong chance that smartphone cameras will replace DSLR cameras for the majority of users.

Don’t let your IT skills as a manager become like an inventory of last decade’s technology. Committing to upskilling yourself is critical, especially since you probably have concerns about whether your team has the skills to compete. Fortunately, a well-prepared team that makes use of the right combination of smarts and secure devices is one that is equipped for the future.

Convert your office IT into a mobility force

As an office IT decision-maker, you’re concerned with making employees’ lives easier and more productive—that’s why you’re always on the hunt for new tech solutions that add convenience. And in the current environment, office IT convenience means utilizing mobile apps. Mobile apps, which have long been platforms for more trivial matters like gaming, are quickly emerging as the dominant business interface.

But while companies are rushing to extend mobility to customer interfaces, executives are slow to grant their own employees mobile access, according to a study by Accenture. Currently, only about 40 percent deploy mobile apps for their employees.

Three areas ripe for mobile integration include collaboration, task management, and workplace productivity. With these points in mind, now may be the right time for business leaders who are on the fence to consider how mobility can empower their workforces.

Use collaborative tech to motivates employees

A study by Stanford University researchers found that employees tend to be more productive when they have a sense that they are working together. According to the study, “simply feeling like you’re part of a team of people working on a task makes people more motivated as they take on challenges. Moreover, the results reflect an increase in motivation—not a sense of obligation, competition, or pressure to join others in an activity.”

Fortunately, you don’t have to look far for useful mobile collaboration tools; Techradar grades the features of some of the most popular, including Slack, Asana, Podio, Ryver, Trello, and Flock. With such a wide range of offerings, companies can choose precisely the right apps for their business.

Complete work on time with task management apps

Task management software can help your team complete client jobs on time while managing budget and scope constraints effectively. Cloud-based project management software can be acquired through providers known as “software as a service” firms (SaaS).

Check out Project-Management.com to learn the value of leveraging software apps including Wrike, Smartsheet, Clarizen, Workzone, Mavenlink, Jira, ProWorkflow, Intervals, and Office Timeline.

Drive workplace productivity

The “Big Four” software companies have glimpsed the future and declared that mobile apps will dominate the business landscape. Accordingly, these companies have re-crafted their flagship products to adapt workplace productivity apps to the small screen in the following ways:

  • Microsoft Suite transformed MS Word, Excel, and PowerPoint into smartphone technologies. According to The Street, the app makes it easy to edit documents, crunch numbers, and create presentations while mobile.
  • Apple claims its Apple at Work offering for iPhone, iPad, and Mac will help employees solve problems in creative ways, be productive wherever they are, and collaborate more effectively through intuitive interfaces and a wide selection of business-oriented apps.
  • Facebook has tossed its hat into the ring with Workplace, which brings elements of the popular social network into the world of business. The service combines the look and feel of Facebook’s consumer app with features targeted toward enterprise users.
  • Google offers G Suite by Google Cloud for the new generation of connected workers. To understand how mobile solutions will alter the shape of business, Google teamed with Raconteur for cross-industry research and found that for many organizations, especially those in retail, the time for mobility is now.

Take advantage of mobile printing

“Business went mobile. Now printing has caught up.” That’s how HP describes its new HP Roam for Business, a subscription-based cloud solution that allows mobile professionals to print from any device, virtually anywhere, to any HP printer—securely through the cloud. HP Roam uses GPS to display nearby printing spots, such as hotels, airports, and libraries. Customer and company data are protected by encryption, authentication, and integration with Azure Active Directory.

The HP Smart App enables users to handle certain tasks directly from a smartphone. These tasks include ordering print toner, printing documents, scanning files using the camera or printer’s scan bed, and sharing documentation to email or the cloud.

Join the smart app revolution

In 2020, worldwide mobility revenues are expected to reach $188.9B, according to Statista. That figure would reflect growth of more than $100 billion since 2016. This success underscores the need for every company to integrate mobile features into their own platforms and systems. Firms can start their own smart app revolutions internally by taking the following steps:

  • Create a business case for providing collaborative mobility apps to teams who perform critical business operations
  • Determine how many projects have run over client deadlines or required significant staff overtime, then find and recommend appropriate task management apps to address any issues
  • Determine which workplace productivity apps would best enable your employees to handle remote work
  • Survey employees to determine the feasibility of mobile printing across teams

As you put your office IT systems under a microscope, you may be surprised at how many areas stand out as prime candidates for mobile enhancement.

HP Reinvent: 4 trends that will impact the year ahead

What happens when you gather business leaders from around the world to examine the intersection of emerging technology, corporate sustainability, and the modern customer experience? A little magic and a lot of innovation.

Last month, HP held its 2019 World Partner Forum, HP Reinvent. The brand assembled more than a thousand of its leading partners from across the globe into one event center in Houston, TX for a few days of learning, sharing, and action-inspiring conversation.

Here are some of the event’s top themes, including four trends most likely to impact the year ahead.

1. Customer experience

With the digital space growing more crowded by the day, business leaders realize that standing out is essential to their organizations’ success. That’s why a significant chunk of HP Reinvent was dedicated to discussions about creating a positive, personalized, and memorable customer experience.

Speakers urged business leaders from diverse vertical markets to keep the customer experience at the center of their digital transformations. Throwing its full weight behind this philosophy, the host took the stage to announced a new product: HP’s Integrated Financial Solutions will offer instant credit approval, electronic signatures, mobile apps, automated document management, and other features that can streamline the way customers engage with brands throughout the purchasing process.

By leveraging products and services that simplify internal processes, organizations can increase their capacity to meet customers’ growing expectations.

2. Everything as a service

Since the dawn of cloud computing, we’ve witnessed a growing wave of companies exchanging their on-premises technology solutions for software as a service, infrastructure as a service, device as a service, and more. Thanks to emerging tech and hyper-connected environments, it has become easier than ever to leverage and offer products through a subscription-based model.

Everything as a service, sometimes written as “XaaS,” harnesses the power of the cloud and eliminates many of tech’s biggest barriers to entry (such as cost or physical location), and makes emerging solutions more accessible to the global community.

In addition to HP’s announcements about its printing as a service expansion, discussions also centered on how today’s IT decision-makers are more interested in buying outcomes than buying products—and how the service-based model can help meet their needs and expectations.

3. Connecting with millennials and Generation Z

Millennials already comprise the largest generation in the U.S. workforce, and by 2020 they’ll make up one-third of the global workforce, according to data from ManpowerGroup. Now, even the oldest members of Gen Z (those born after 1997) are joining the global workforce. Because millennials and their successors will be making more of the tech purchasing decisions, it’s crucial that businesses are building solutions that meet the needs and expectations of the younger generations.

Much of the discussion at HP Reinvent regarding millennials and Gen Z focused on keeping up with key trends—namely personalizing the customer experience and younger generations’ penchant for flexibility and subscriptions (e.g., coworking spaces and service-based models) rather than collecting overhead.

4. Sustainability and innovation

There’s no denying that climate change is on business leaders’ minds, and this theme reverberated through the event. From increasing efficiency to decreasing reliance on fossil fuels, many of the critical conversations at HP Reinvent focused on sustainable innovation.

HP has long been committed to environmentally friendly business practices and reaffirmed its pledge to corporate sustainability by announcing its “forest positive” printing initiative: Moving forward, the brand will only source paper from trees planted for that specific purpose.

HP also highlighted a few practices it’s implementing to help reduce carbon emissions, such as making products out of recycled goods and offering energy-saving managed print services. “What’s good for the environment is good for business,” said HP Chief Sustainability & Social Impact Officer, Nathan Hurst.

The topics discussed at HP Reinvent represent some of the most critical and influential global trends that are likely to shape technology into 2020 and beyond. As we move into the next decade, HP and its partners are more committed to sustainable innovation, corporate environmental practices, and creating better customer experiences than ever before. By adopting these values, business leaders can help prepare their organization for whatever the future holds.

IoT security trends: Protecting a hacker’s favorite target

Hackers love to target smart devices, and poor IoT security can leave your organization a sitting duck. According to the latest Cyber Threat Report by Sonic Wall, the number of IoT attacks more than doubled last year with routers being among the most frequently-targeted IoT devices.

Breaking into these often overlooked devices can be remarkably easy for hackers, according to Security Weekly. Wolves are always busy scanning for unprotected routers, and once they find one, they can hack into it with exploit codes that are available to the public.

In late February, researchers from Avast illustrated this problem at the Mobile World Congress by setting up 500 “honeypots,” or fake routers with deliberately open ports. As the event unfolded, the trap attracted a daily average of 11,588 attempts to connect with each honeypot.

Avast estimates that 60 percent of routers deployed worldwide “either [have] weak credentials or software vulnerabilities.” Due to the prevalence of these attacks and the general lack of protective measures in place across businesses, the router security crisis may be worse than you thought.

5 tips on router security for IT teams

Wolves are constantly circling your routers, striking up to 12,000 times per day. In fact, Ponemon estimates that your chances of experiencing a cyber attack are 1 in 4—you’d be better off betting against a rolled die. Your network is only as strong as your endpoint security, so make sure your IT team is following these tips.

Create strong passwords

Hackers love to target poorly secured credentials for endpoint devices that security teams frequently overlook, including routers, business printers, VoIP phones, and other IoT devices. To counter this, create strong, unique passwords for every IoT device on your network. Use at least 10 characters, including numbers and special characters, and avoid using obvious passwords like “ReceptionRouter.”

Monitor vulnerabilities

Actively monitor your router and other IoT devices and quickly apply available security patches designed by vendors to address known firmware vulnerabilities.

Hold vendors responsible

IoT security is a shared responsibility between your organization’s security team and the vendor of a device or service. Your passwords and intrusion detection efforts can’t compensate for critical vulnerabilities. When evaluating router vendors, check to see whether they will supply patches and how frequently security software updates are made—infrequent patching habits can make your router a serious target.

Compartmentalize your routers on a VPN

Failing to separate your networks is risky. When a cybercriminal gains control of an IoT device on a shared network, they can seamlessly navigate your company’s systems and steal data. Using a VPN to segregate your routers from other endpoints, like personal computers and mobile devices, can help protect your data.

Configure advanced settings

Most new enterprise routers offer built-in firewall protections, including advanced settings for port forwarding and port filtering. Using these port settings can enable your organization to block malicious traffic patterns associated with DDoS attempts. Employ expert third-party assistance if necessary, as misconfigured port settings can be a huge source of vulnerabilities.

3 initiatives for IoT security

Security isn’t just an IT responsibility. Company leadership should also support initiatives to improve the security of routers and other frequently targeted endpoints, like printers.

Adopt a framework

Chances are good that your IT security team is overworked and overwhelmed by the task of managing tens of thousands of endpoints. Adopting a formal framework can simplify IoT security and cyber hygiene and provide shared goals for the security team and executive leadership. One framework for organizing your efforts is the Department of Homeland Security’s Continuous Diagnostics and Mitigation (CDM) approach, which includes four phases:

  • Phase 1: “What is on the Network?”
  • Phase 2: “Who is on the Network?”
  • Phase 3: “What is Happening on the Network?”
  • Phase 4: “How is Data Protected?”

While these questions might seem elementary, taking a systematic approach to your security strategy can help you ensure that all your bases are covered.

Boost visibility

Every IoT device on your network is a potential attack vector. If your security team doesn’t know what’s on the network, they can’t defend against threats. Implement automation in endpoint visibility with centralized administrative tools for endpoint management so you can easily see what’s on your networks across the organization and identify the riskiest routers.

Refresh your hardware

Work to understand which routers are a source of risk and whether these devices require smarter configuration or, in some cases, replacement. You may need new routers if your devices contain well-known software vulnerabilities or are incompatible with the latest protocol for router security (WPA3).

Hackers know that routers are easy targets, and weak router security could leave your organization falling prey to data theft or unwittingly victimizing another organization if your IoT devices are hijacked by a DDoS botnet. Innovating your approach to IoT security is a company-wide effort, but it’s well worth it to close security gaps and send hackers on their way.

What you need to know about IoT device security right now

There’s no denying the allure of IoT devices, but don’t let the impressive opportunities they represent distract you from the IT security risks they introduce. If you’ve considered deploying these devices within your environment but fear they could turn your network into an instant haven for darknet threats, you’re not the only one—and you’ve come to the right place.

Let’s take a look at why these devices have the reputation of being risky and, more importantly, how you can mitigate any potential dangers they could pose to your systems.

What’s the problem?

You may be wondering: Is IoT really worth the potential security risks? In a word, yes. Despite possible dangers, IoT devices can grant your environment a greater degree of intelligence. By connecting otherwise “dumb” devices to the internet, you can unlock more than a few awesome benefits, including:

  • More data
  • Better analytics
  • Increased control over your environment

But while these benefits can offer many opportunities for success, they can also open up inherent vulnerabilities, including:

  • More potential attack vectors
  • Increased system complexity
  • Greater risks related to privacy and compliance

At first glance, these may not seem so different from the threats associated with adding any other device to your network. The difference with regard to IoT lies in the quantity and obscurity of the connected devices—not to mention their propensity for living on the fringes of firewalls and networks that may connect to critical infrastructure.

How do you solve a problem like IoT security?

Now that you have a general understanding of what risks IoT devices bring to the IT security paradigm, how can you go about mitigating them? This is, after all, a problem worth solving for the sake of bolstering your organization’s capabilities. Consider the following solutions:

For the issue of increased attack vectors: This one’s pretty easy to understand. The more connected devices you have in your environment, the more paths there are through which potential threats can enter. How can you mitigate these risks while still investing in the future of IoT?

You simply need to start small. In other words, you should begin with the individual devices that make up your IoT fleet. Each of these “pathways” should have localized features that handle access control and threat detection. This will likely require secure authentication measures that screen the permissions of any users who wish to access the given devices, as well as an active, local agent (think malware detection) that constantly scans inbound transmissions for potential attacks.

For the issue of increased complexity: To save IT staff from working overtime at wrangling a growing fleet of faceless, connected devices, make sure you’re taking full advantage of autonomous capabilities. Take the time sooner rather than later to configure all the self-monitoring features you can—after some initial setup steps, many new devices can carry on unassisted, decreasing complexity even as the number of devices grows.

Let’s use printers as an example. These office tools are a necessary component of business, and most workplaces have several of them. As these devices get smarter and more numerous, it’s more important than ever to protect them from dangerous intrusions. Fortunately, the best printers come with built-in security features to detect and self-heal from malware, as well as the ability to self-manage.

These printers can determine their own configuration instructions on boot and automatically report on their activity to IT—long story short, you should never have to wonder whether your IoT devices are up-to-date and configured correctly. Timely updates and optimizations should be ensured by automatic processes, and your devices should be able to notify you when something is amiss.

For the issue of increased risk related to privacy and compliance: Compliance has always been and will always be a big deal in IT security. Any data that will pass through or be stored in your IoT devices must remain inaccessible to hackers.

The name of the game here is encryption of data—both in transit and at rest. Any new devices you add to your network should be able to utilize industry standard secure protocols for communication. It’s worth noting that many standard IoT protocols, like Message Queue Telemetry Transport (MQTT), aren’t inherently secure, as CSO Online points out. For this reason, you’ll want to look for devices that either maintain their own encryption of data at all times or leverage encryption at the transport layer.

In the end, effective IT security and the presence of IoT devices aren’t at odds; all that’s needed for the two to coexist is a little foresight when you add to your fleet of devices. With the right safeguards in place, you can manage complexity, plug attack vectors, and mitigate risk without losing a wink of sleep.