There are many hot button topics in the realm of technology that, depending on how you move forward, could impact your business in a positive or negative manner. Here’s a cheat sheet of technology trends to be aware of to help you and your business get ready for the New Year.

BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) to Work:

There is a lot of controversy over whether business costs will go up, down or remain the same in 2014 because of the BYOD movement, but no matter what happens, the reality is that BYOD is not going to disappear. That is why you need to draft a policy for employees and educate/train your employees about the use of their personal devices at the office. Wherever possible, use virtual machine (VM) solutions to keep employee and company software/data separated.

And in a nutshell, while BYOD seems like a good idea, there are a couple of issues you need to address and make clear in a policy from the start. First, state that your company is not responsible for maintenance or repair of the employees’ devices, should anything happen to them. Otherwise, you will find your IT staff servicing different platforms of devices on company time. Second, do not allow installation of company e-mail services (for example, Exchange) on any employee-owned device. Doing so creates another attack vector for malware. The reason is simple: If an employee’s personal e-mail gets attacked, your company network may then get attacked. A better option is to use a browser-based e-mail portal instead.

Technology as a Generational Link:

Children no longer view crayons and toys as the objects of their desires — instead, they, just like their parents, want the latest and greatest tech gadgets. Keep this in mind when considering BYOD, because iPad’s and other tablets may be used by all family members, which could have an impact on corporate data, access to malware and viruses, and security. Determine if your employees are bringing in devices that are shared among their family members. If so, tell each employee to give family members user accounts with appropriate access rights to protect against interference with corporate data.

Mobile Computing:

2014 will see an increase in mobile computing which includes mobile use, mobile advertising and mobile commerce. How will this impact your business? Do you need a mobile app? And, at a minimum, is your website mobile-enabled?

Communication Methods:

Millennials tend to text more, Gen X’ers tend to use e-mail more — your business needs to understand this and integrate these differences into your corporate communications and ways you communicate with customers, vendors, media, etc. You will need a written communications policy signed by employees, because text messages and e-mails can both be subpoenaed during e-discovery. Make sure your employees know what can and cannot be discussed over text and e-mail.

Ergonomics:

You may not realize it, but there are many health dangers based on technology, including eye strain due to lengthy use of computers without breaks, carpal tunnel and cubital tunnel due to typing for long periods without breaks, and thumb pain due to improper use of thumbs when texting and pounding on space bars. Be sure you make it clear that all employees should take stretch breaks throughout the day. Injured employees lead to workers’ compensation injuries, which in turn, can lead to higher workers’ comp premiums.

E-Waste:

With so many desktops moving to the sidelines so that laptops, smartphones, and tablets can take center stage, the question becomes: What to do with the equipment that is no longer being used or is outdated? Don’t throw it away. Visit a Goodwill center that takes electronic items or e-waste, or find a drop-off location in your local area.

Drones and the Internet of Things:

While the possibility of books and other items arriving on your doorstep via drone has people talking, it won’t happen in 2014. But product developers will continue to push the envelope and create new ways for products to assist people with their daily lives. Apps already exist that can access home devices from afar (turn off the stove if you cannot remember if you did that) and cars can parallel park without humans turning the steering wheel. But all of these new technologies can have security ramifications – we cannot ever forget that.

So, what’s the hottest tech trend in your industry, and how will it impact how you do business in 2014?

Allan Pratt

Allan Pratt MBAAbout the Author: Allan Pratt, an infosec strategist, represents the alignment of technology, marketing, and management. With an MBA Degree and four CompTIA certs in computers, networks, servers, and security, Allan translates tech issues into everyday language that is easily understandable by all business units. His expertise includes the installation and maintenance of all aspects of the PC and peripheral lifecycle and the planning and integration of end-to-end security solutions. Allan also teaches both the CompTIA A+ and the CompTIA Security+ certification courses, and has been quoted in industry publications. Follow Allan on Twitter and on Facebook.

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