Solutions Blog

“Rudolph, with your GPS…”

By Richard Arneson

If you really want to get into the Christmas spirit, catch a quick flight to Finland, where the reindeer roam the countryside like squirrels at a city park. It’s estimated that there are as many reindeer as there are people in Finland, and if your livelihood depends on the animal, herding them throughout the country’s northern region is a bear. That is until reindeer will soon be given a label that’s never been used to describe them—smart.

Something else that’s not associated with reindeer—IoT

Finland’s Reindeer Herding Association has been working with Digita, a Helsinki-based communications company, to design a reindeer collar that uses GPS and a Digita’s long-distance wireless network. In Lapland, Finland’s northernmost region, there over fifteen hundred (1,500) reindeer herders who rely almost solely on the animal to provide their living. It doesn’t sound like a lot, but considering the region is home to only a hundred and eighty thousand (180,000) Finns, it’s not an insignificant number. They rely on reindeer for milk, meat and fur, and the reindeer trade dates back hundreds of years. The profession is revered there.

Herders’ high cost of loss

At least five thousand (5,000) reindeer are killed each year, and most of their remains are never found. While the cause of death is primarily due to four-legged predators from nearby Russia—mainly wolverines and lynx—without a body the herders can’t collect a significant stipend from the Finnish government to cover their losses. And when herders lose, on average, roughly ten percent (10%) of their herd each year, that’s a decent chunk of Finnish change.

Herders who decide not to deploy the Internet-connected collars will continue to do what their forbearers have for centuries—roam the vast, snow- and forest-covered countryside on foot to count their herd one (1) Blixen at a time.

Each collar is fitted with a GPS device that’s approximately the size and shape of a deck of cards. They’re hoping to get it down to the size of a quarter—an American quarter―and jettison the collar altogether. Instead, it will be attached to the reindeer’s ear.

If a collared reindeer doesn’t move for four (4) hours, the herder is alerted of their inactivity. If they’ve been felled by a predator, the herder knows exactly where to find their remains. And with the remains comes that government payment. In addition, use of GPS to track and herd reindeer has reduced the need to employ as many workers. Their largest stumbling block had been battery life, but their latest prototype lasts for approximately one (1) year. It’s estimated that the device will cost about a hundred American dollars, but tracking large herds won’t require each reindeer be given a collar. They’re counting on attaching only one (1) to the herd’s female leader, which will allow them to know the whereabouts of the entire herd (apparently, they don’t stray far from the female in charge).

In addition to simplifying reindeer herding, reducing costs and increasing revenue, the Reindeer Herding Association hopes bringing IoT technology into the mix will help provide future generations incentive to carry on the occupation’s longstanding Finnish tradition.

Internet of Things (IoT) questions?

GDT’s tenured, talented solutions architects, engineers and security analysts understand how to design and deploy IoT—including Smart City—solutions for enterprises, service providers, government agencies and cities of all sizes to help them enjoy more productivity, enhanced operations and greater revenue. GDT helps organizations transform their legacy environments into highly productive digital infrastructures and architectures. You can reach them at SolutionsArchitects@GDT.com or at Engineering@GDT.com. They’d love to hear from you.

You can read more about IoT and Smart City Solutions below:

Farmers may soon have a new, hard-working friend

Why Smart Cities? It’s in the numbers

Five (5) things to consider prior to your company’s IoT journey

Without Application Performance Monitoring, your IoT goals may be MIA

How does IoT fit with SD-WAN?

GDT is leading the Smart Cities Revolution

Who doesn’t want to modernize?

By Richard Arneson

COBOL. Remember it? Haven’t heard that name in a while, right? No, it hasn’t gone the way of Novell Networks or Blockbuster Video. Even though it dates back to the 1950’s, it’s still used, and used widely, today. In fact, according to InformationWeek, over seventy percent (70%) of business transactions are still processed by COBOL; or, as it’s never referred to as, Common-Oriented Business Language. But if you do hear “COBOL”, know this—it can’t be combined with the word modernization.

Application modernization allows organizations to advance legacy apps into ones that are more nimble, can reduce costs and, better still, free up time so IT staff can work on more forward-thinking, business-changing initiatives. But application modernization doesn’t refer to ripping out legacy apps and building new versions from the ground up. It’s like a frame up car restoration—the bones stay, but the application gets an overhaul to be more cloud- and mobile-friendly. The degree to which an application needs to be modernized can vary greatly. Some may require a heavy dose of re-coding, while others may need less invasive upgrades. For instance, IBM still utilizes applications that were written for mainframes fifty (50) years ago; as you might imagine, modernizing those applications would require a considerable amount of work.

If you’re looking at modernizing applications, consider the following:

Don’t be a wallflower

Don’t be shy. Solicit information, and lots of it. Get out there and talk to applications’ users. There’s no such thing as too much feedback. If you give this consideration short shrift, you’ll be unnecessarily complicating your modernization goals. Talking to users will provide you with a wealth of information, including issues you won’t find in documentation. They’ll probably be able to relay golden nuggets of information that has never been considered by the IT staff. Without this level of upfront education, re-coding will be required, deployment will be delayed, and architects will lose their senses of humor.

If it ain’t broke…

There’s no law that requires organizations to modernize applications. Remember, IBM is successfully using legacy applications that perform as well today as they did when LBJ was president. Don’t assume all applications need to be “modernized.” Don’t get hung up on that word.

…but if it is

If you’ve determined that particular applications can no longer be saddled as “legacy”, make sure to look for any redundant code in them prior to attempting to make them mobile-, cloud- or digital-ready. This code-level detective work, if done properly and comprehensively, can reduce costs and enhance efficiencies.

Map how data flows throughout the organization and your migration will thank you for it

One (1) of the biggest challenges facing application modernization involves understanding how data is represented in legacy applications and those with which it integrates. In other words, understand applications’ interdependencies with other apps, including which data flows to, and from, them. And, of course, know how it flows. Without comprehensively mapping how data flows through your organization, count on costs going up and efficiency going down.

Once data flows are understood and documented, they need to be scrubbed clean and standardized. If you skip this step, “garbage in, garbage out” will soon be ringing through the hallways. And standardizing data (a great use of automation) means applications agree on what is, and isn’t, considered data. The result? Applications can more easily sync with other applications, which helps the data migration progress more smoothly.

Automate Testing

Another great use of automation is in the testing phase, and automating processes is both a time saver and a headache reliever. Speed aside, it’s simply a more accurate and objective way to handle application testing.

Partition data to optimize performance

Data volumes are increasing exponentially, which makes partitioning it all the more important if you’re at all interested in performance optimization (trust me, you are). Partitions can be constructed through automation to separate data, so only the data needed can more easily be accessed and managed. And it simplifies data archiving.

Questions about application and data center modernization?

For more information about how your organization can develop or enhance its road to digital transformation, call on the expert solutions architects and engineers at GDT. For years they’ve been helping customers of all sizes, and from all industries, realize their digital transformation goals by designing and deploying innovative, cutting-edge solutions that shape their organizations and help them realize positive business outcomes. Contact them at SolutionsArchitects@gdt.com or at Engineering@gdt.com. They’d love to hear from you.

You can read more about how to digital transform your infrastructure here:

Workshops uncover insights into the state of IT and Digital Transformation

What is Digital Transformation?

The only thing we have to fear is…definitely not automation

Without application performance monitoring, your IoT goals may be MIA

When implementing a new technology, don’t forget this word

Automation and Autonomics—the difference is more than just a few letters

Is Blockchain a lie detector for the digital age?

If you fall victim to it, you won’t end up marking it as “like”

They were discovered on Google Play, but this is no game

Blockchain; it’s more than just Bitcoin

When being disruptive is a good thing

Mo Money, Mo Technology

By Richard Arneson

Facial recognition has come a long way since the 1960’s, when a man named Woodrow Wilson Bledsoe (great name, right?) took measurements between key, primary facial elements, laid those coordinates out on grid-lined tablet, and, ultimately, could replicate subjects’ faces. His tablet—known as a RAND tablet—was actually a screen similar to an iPad, and Bledsoe would enter the measured lines on the tablet with a stylus, which emitted electromagnetic pulses. Those pulsed lines would enter a database maintaining hundreds of etchings. When Bledsoe’s system was “shown” a picture of the subject, it would rifle through the database and pick out—when it worked—the associated electronic sketch.

It was roughly twenty (20) years later when facial recognition, at least the bones of how it currently works, was invented. Called the Eigenface approach, it utilized linear algebra to automatically detected faces from images. Distances between facial features were automatically assigned coordinates, which were then submitted to a database. Once there, the magic would happen and soon cough up the individual in question.

For fighting crime, it’s a natural

Facial recognition was first used in crimefighting at the 2002 Super Bowl, where it helped authorities nab a few petty criminals. More significant, though, was the spate of false positives it reported. Imagine spending thousands of dollars on Super Bowl tickets, only to be ushered aside upon entry and told that a machine suspects you’re part of an international crime syndicate. Fighting crime with facial recognition was getting close, but it wasn’t quite there. There was considerable work to be done, and they did it—lots of it. And who could have predicted that sixteen (16) years and billions of dollars later it would be used to help keep a megastar safe.

There are a lot of creeps out there

Perennial pop chart topper Taylor Swift, with album sales of well over 35 million and a gazillion dollars in the bank, is probably one (1) of facial recognition technology’s biggest fans. It was recently disclosed by Rolling Stone that at her Rose Bowl concert last May, well-disguised facial recognition kiosks were set up to detect the very worst of her fans—stalkers.

The kiosks baited the creeps by displaying sundry information about Swift, including rehearsal clips, so anybody who decided to peruse them was scanned. Those images were sent to a command center, of sorts, located in Swift’s hometown of Nashville, Tennessee. From there, each scanned picture was cross-referenced against a considerable list of Swift stalkers (there are hundreds). There were several who weren’t scanned, however; they’re serving prison time for their penchant for a number Swift-stalking related crimes.

Considering the scans weren’t turned over to authorities, it’s unclear for precisely what purpose the facial recognition technology was used. The whereabouts of the scans are unknown, and the Swift camp has remained mum on the entire subject; it’s clear they have no plans to disclose any information on the subject.

From a legality standpoint—and because concerts are considered private events and are open to, among other security measures, surveillance—there’s no indication that Swift broke any privacy laws, even though concertgoers weren’t notified that they were being surveilled. Oh, but don’t worry—the ACLU is looking into it.

Security Concerns?

To find out how to secure your organization’s network, contact GDT’s tenured and talented engineers and security analysts at SOC@GDT.com. From their Security and Network Operations Centers, they manage, monitor and protect the networks of companies of all sizes, including those for some of the most notable enterprises, service providers, healthcare organizations and government agencies in the world. They’d love to hear from you.

Read more about network security here:

Step aside all ye crimes—there’s a new king in town

Q & A for a Q & A website: Quora, what happened?

They were discovered on Google Play, but this is no game

And in this corner…

Elections are in, but there’s one (1) tally that remains to be counted

Hiring A Hacker Probably Shouldn’t Be Part of Your Business Plan

Gen V

Sexy, yes, but potentially dangerous

Tetration—you should know its meaning

It’s in their DNA

When SOC plays second fiddle to NOC, you could be in for an expensive tune

How to protect against Ransomware

How leasing can help guide your digital transformation journey

By Richard Arneson

Turn on your radio and you’ll probably hear about it within the first two (2) commercial breaks—Heavens to Betsy, why are you buying instead of leasing? Radio-wise, they’re probably talking about automobiles. But in many industries, decision makers are asking themselves that very same question. Information technology is no exception, but why would it be? The cost to stay relevant from a technological standpoint, especially if you’re digitally transforming your infrastructure to drive business initiatives and shape the future of your organization, takes a wad of cash. Leasing can take care of that.

Following are some of the benefits your company can enjoy if you’re trying to determine whether leasing network equipment is the way to go.

Relevance

In technology, what’s great today can be tomorrow’s afterthought. It changes so fast, and the need to stay technologically relevant is critical to the success of any organization. And with digital transformation, it’s no longer about simply providing high-speed Internet and connecting offices with an MPLS network. It’s about transforming data centers, hyperconvergence, composable infrastructures, storage solutions, cloud migrations, blending DevOps with cloud strategies, etc. The list is seemingly endless, and will certainly seem so if you’re trying to budget for any, or all, of the aforementioned technologies.

Leasing equipment can help ensure you’re implementing network assets that will keep your digital transformation journey progressing down the track. And the ability to utilize the latest and greatest technologies is, according to a 2005 study by the Equipment Leasing Association, the number one (1) reason companies turn to leasing. Concerns about technological obsolescence are taken off your shoulders and transferred to the lessor’s.

Budgeting

It’s probably a word that doesn’t bring a smile to your face, but setting budgets and adhering to them is the kind of stuff that keeps finance departments up at night. Leasing equipment provides a set, predictable expense you can count on. It moves spending from the CapEx to the OpEx bucket, and does so without upfront costs. And low, or no, upfront costs mean more cash flow.

In technology, purchasing equipment means you’re probably planning on utilizing it for a long time, otherwise you won’t get to enjoy the tax benefits that listing it as a depreciating asset provide. But, again, technology changes. It requires careful consideration, along with loads of dough, to pull the trigger on purchasing it.

Competitive Edge

Leasing, especially for small businesses, allows them to stay competitive in the marketplace. But that’s not to say it won’t provide the same for larger corporations. Keeping up with your competitors
―and hopefully surpassing them―without the financial burden of purchasing equipment can be a significant short- and long-term boon for your business.

Upfront costs

As previously mentioned, leasing equipment doesn’t require deep pockets to foot the upfront costs required for ownership. In many cases, there are zero (0) upfront costs, especially regarding the IT industry (automobile leases don’t share the same philosophy).

This is not to say that equipment ownership doesn’t provide benefits, as well, but leasing it in today’s digital transformation world is a cash-friendly, predictable-payment way to ensure your organization doesn’t get left behind.

Want to learn more about how leasing can help pave your road to digital transformation? Talk to these experts

GDT Financial Services provides customers with full-service financial solutions for IT products, services and solutions. They’ve structured leasing arrangements that have met the needs of companies large and small, and from a variety of industries. For information about how they can help financially guide you on your digital transformation journey, contact them at financialservices@gdt.com.  They’d love to hear from you.

Our neighbors to the north know a thing or two about generating heat

By Richard Arneson

It would be impossible to argue that cryptocurrency is a green initiative, at least from an electricity perspective. It’s estimated that the power it takes to mine cryptocurrency worldwide could power Ireland—yes, that Ireland.

The amount of computing power required to mine cryptocurrency is staggering, so much so that Quebec, home to Quebec City, Canada’s capital, is hiking rates by seventy-five percent (75%) for cryptocurrency companies. With the lowest kilowatt per hour rates in North America, Quebec has been the real estate of choice for crypto miners. And even though most of Quebec’s power grids are fed by green-friendly hydroelectricity due to the province’s abundance of lakes, streams, dams, etc., overages rely on good old-fashioned electricity―the eco-unfriendly kind. But with problems come solutions, and this one (1) is a doozy.

Mining for Heat

Heatmine is a Quebec startup that believes it has an answer to the energy drain that is crypto mining. It hasn’t figured out a way to reduce the computational power needed, but it is experimenting with another way to make use of the massive amounts of 1’s and 0’s—capturing the heat generated from the equipment.

If you’ve ever been in a data center, you understand the amount of heat computational equipment produces. And the frigid data center temps tell you another thing about equipment—it does’t like heat. So Heatmine has developed a solution to relieve crypto miners of that unwanted heat.

Their device looks like a Rube Goldberg concoction that combines metal cabinets, hot water heaters, graphic cards, PVC, copper pipes, and a lot of clunky junction points. It sits atop the equipment and pulls heat from it, much like belt-driven fans draw heat away from engines. The hot water heater sits inside the cabinet with dozens of graphic cards, all of which are connected to a maze of pipes. The equipment-generated heat gets converted into hot water, which is stored in, fittingly, the hot water heater. From there, it does what hot water heaters do—wait for hot water taps to open when hand washing, showers or radiant heat is needed.Each unit, which is installed outside whatever area houses the equipment, comes equipped with 3G data connectivity, which allows for remote management. Heatmine claims that a single unit can provide heat up to three hundred (300) square meters of space, or generate 75,000 BTUs per hour (not bad, considering that 300 sq. ft. space is probably Canada). Heatmine is so confident in its solution—albeit a rather unsightly one—that they’re footing the bill to install the units at crypto mining companies. They just want their heat, and if they’re given it, the crypto mining company will get their electricity for free. 

Here’s the (potential) rub

As of yet, Heatmine hasn’t made it clear exactly how businesses that aren’t in close proximity to crypto mining companies can get access to all of that hot water. Yes, that’s a problem. But hot water aside, Heatmine’s website doesn’t explain how they’re going to provide customers with bargain basement electricity pricing. Apparently, for now they’re leaving a few of the details up to our imaginations.

Heatmine’s invention is fascinating, the technology is interesting, it’s renewable energy goals are admirable, but as of yet it’s hard to tell if their business model is half- or fully-baked.

Questions about your organization’s digital transformation journey?

For more information about how your organization can develop or enhance its road to digital transformation, call on the expert solutions architects and engineers at GDT. For years they’ve been helping customers of all sizes, and from all industries, realize their digital transformation goals by designing and deploying innovative, cutting-edge solutions that shape their organizations and help them realize positive business outcomes. Contact them at SolutionsArchitects@gdt.com or at Engineering@gdt.com. They’d love to hear from you.

Is Blockchain a lie detector for the digital age?

If you fall victim to it, you won’t end up marking it as “like”

They were discovered on Google Play, but this is no game

Blockchain; it’s more than just Bitcoin

When being disruptive is a good thing

Step aside all ye crimes—there’s a new king in town

 By Richard Arneson

It may not attract the attention of Hollywood like jewel heists or the mob, but neither can hold a candle to cybercrime―at least financially. In a recent study by The Herjavec Group, headed by Canadian entrepreneur and Shark Tank regular Robert Herjavec, cybercrime will pass $6 trillion dollars in the next three (3) years. Yes, $6 trillion. Write 6, then follow it with 12 zeroes—that’s a lot of cybercrime. And because that figure is double what it was just two (2) years ago, it stands to reason that $6 trillion will someday, perhaps as early as 2025, sound like a pittance.

No crime in the United States is growing at a faster rate―not even those associated with illicit drugs. The report estimates that $1 trillion will be spent fighting cybercrime over the next three (3) years. But perhaps the greatest threat to fighting cybercrime doesn’t have to do with money, but the lack of professionals who want to specialize in IT security.

It’s a bird…it’s a plane…no, it’s a cybercrime fighter

Several reports estimate that by 2021 there will be almost 4 million unfilled cybersecurity positions. One (1) reason for the shortage seems fairly intuitive given the precipitous rise in cybercrimes—companies can’t keep up with the demand. As Watergate informant Deep Throat advised to reporters Woodward and Bernstein: “Follow the money.” Yes, cybercrime pays, and pays very well. And the more ill-gotten gains, the more miscreants enter the “profession”.

Part of the security job gap is a skills issue. Many companies don’t want to train IT personnel to become security experts, but want instead to hire somebody who can bring the experience, expertise, certifications and accreditations with them. Combine that hiring philosophy with the super high demand for security professionals and the numbers don’t add up. The trained, experienced IT security pros have already been snatched up. It’s not that hiring IT security professionals isn’t on the rise, it’s that many companies stymie the hiring numbers by looking for experts that have no intentions of leaving their company. Remember, it’s in high demand, which means they’re also making a lot of dough.

Ransomware—cybercrime’s current business model

It’s predicted that a company is hit with a ransomware attack every fourteen (14) seconds (that number jumps to eleven (11) seconds by 2021). And the bad guys are getting better at it. Their shotgun, spray and pray approach has been supplanted by launching more targeted and effective infections. Ransomware is still the king of cybercrime. The FBI estimates that ransom payments hit $1 billion last year, and that total damages due to ransomware―including lost and destroyed data, halted productivity, theft of intellectual property, stolen customer, company and employee data, network outages, lost productivity, etc.―exceeded $5 billion. They believe that figure will hit $20 billion within three (3) years.

Dollars, productivity and copped data aside, there’s another fear that’s been voiced by somebody who knows a thing or two (2) about crime. According to Frank Abagnale, who’s shady, crime-fueled past was the subject of Steven Spielberg’s 2002 film Catch Me If You Can, “Up until now it’s just a financial crime for the purpose of stealing money―or stealing data that is money―but we have the ability now to turn someone’s pacemaker off.”

Security Concerns?

To find out how to secure your organization’s network, contact GDT’s tenured and talented engineers and security analysts at SOC@GDT.com. From their Security and Network Operations Centers, they manage, monitor and protect the networks of companies of all sizes, including those for some of the most notable enterprises, service providers, healthcare organizations and government agencies in the world. They’d love to hear from you.

Read more about network security here:

Q & A for a Q & A website: Quora, what happened?

They were discovered on Google Play, but this is no game

And in this corner…

Elections are in, but there’s one (1) tally that remains to be counted

Hiring A Hacker Probably Shouldn’t Be Part of Your Business Plan

Gen V

Sexy, yes, but potentially dangerous

Tetration—you should know its meaning

It’s in their DNA

When SOC plays second fiddle to NOC, you could be in for an expensive tune

How to protect against Ransomware

Farmers may soon have a new, hard-working friend

By Richard Arneson

First off, check today’s date. You’ll notice that it’s not April 1st. Yes, what you are about to read is real—and nothing short of amazing. And, perhaps best of all, it’s an IoT story.

Researchers at The University of Washington have developed a backpack for (wait for it, wait for it) bees. While it’s unclear how they affix them (imagine trying to get their little arms through the straps), the backpacks are so light—.0035 ounces—that they allow the little critters to buzz around unfettered. They’ve yet to determine if the bees are burning more calories than normal, but it stands to reason they are. It just so happens that bees also weigh about .0035 ounces. But cardio aside, the best part is what the backpack carries—data!

In the event you’re unaware, farmers currently monitor crops with drones to, obviously, increase production and revenue. Thermal imaging from drone-captured video can quickly provide better views of the crop canopy, which tells them, among other things, which farming methods work the best. And while the bees aren’t capable of providing video—yet—they don’t require hours of battery recharging. The backpacks can gather up to seven (7) hours of data; find a drone that will stay in the air longer than thirty (30) minutes. Currently, the backpack sensors can only store about 30 kB of data, which limits them to collecting basic information related to light, temperature and humidity. But, as researchers do, they’re looking for ways to collect more, even live, data.

Nope, it’s not GPS

The researchers had to skirt the need to utilize GPS, which is a power hog. They got around this by scattering broadcasting antennas that, through triangulation, can detect the backpack’s position based on its signal strength. Collected data is then sent by reflecting radio waves from nearby antennas, a process known as backscatter.

Yes, there are control issues. Until they can be properly trained, there’s no telling where the bees will go (no, they’re not attempting to train them). The researchers are working on ways to collect data only when the bees are flying over certain areas. But the good news is that bees go back to their hives, where the backpacks will get recharged wirelessly (try finding a charging port on a crumb-sized backpack). As yet, there’s no information on how they’ll keep rogue bees from flying off with the backpacks, then selling them on eBay.

Internet of Things (IoT) questions?

GDT’s tenured, talented solutions architects, engineers and security analysts understand how to design and deploy IoT—including Smart City—solutions for enterprises, service providers, government agencies and cities of all sizes to help them enjoy more productivity, enhanced operations and greater revenue. GDT helps organizations transform their legacy environments into highly productive digital infrastructures and architectures. You can reach them at SolutionsArchitects@GDT.com or at Engineering@GDT.com. They’d love to hear from you.

You can read more about IoT and Smart City Solutions below:

Why Smart Cities? It’s in the numbers

Five (5) things to consider prior to your company’s IoT journey

Without Application Performance Monitoring, your IoT goals may be MIA

How does IoT fit with SD-WAN?

GDT is leading the Smart Cities Revolution

In Information Technology, it’s the biggest thing going

By Richard Arneson

It’s big. It’s sweeping across college campuses. It’s the new rage. No, it’s not a band, a movie or some nonsensical fad, it’s…supply chain. While it may not be offered at liberal arts colleges, if a school offers a business degree you can count on supply chain classes being filled to the brim. It’s quickly pushing marketing, finance and management to the side and becoming THE business degree to earn. My son, who’s a senior in college, has five (5) roommates; three (3) of them are getting a degree in Supply Chain. Oh, and they all have very good jobs lined up when they graduate in five (5) months. Yes, supply chain is big, and rightly so.

Supply chain is simply how a company works with its suppliers to ensure products get to consumers quickly and efficiently. And, of course, it brings revenue to a company and its suppliers faster, so their money can be making them money sooner. While the words Supply Chain to describe the aforementioned were coined approximately 35 years ago, it’s been around as long as vendors have offered products made by somebody other than themselves. It chains together all individuals or companies that help bring a product to market, from the rawest of materials to the finished, consumer-ready product.

Supply Chain, meet Digital Transformation

Digital transformation may be to the IT world what supply chain is to the business world. Everybody wants digital transformation (some want it but don’t know exactly why), but both it and supply chain deliver, if done well, the same thing―a competitive advantage in the marketplace. In industrial environments, where extraordinary amounts of information and traffic need to reach a highly mobile workforce, it’s especially effective.

By digitizing warehouses and distribution facilities, costly, time-consuming manual errors can become a thing of the past. Siloed operations and processes mean poor system integration, which can result in losses of revenue and customers. IoT assets in the form of sensors and cameras can help monitor operations and protect against theft and loss, and cybersecurity measures can protect sensitive customer, supplier and company information.

By connecting warehousing equipment and systems, such as sensors, smart mobile devices, automated sorters and conveyors, and security systems, companies can stay on top of operations and warehouse systems. Also, they can access key data and information from a variety of sources to help develop solutions to address any issues that are brought to light. And maintenance of equipment can be monitored to ensure operations run smoothly and continue to do so in the future.

And once products leave the warehouse, shipments and fleets, such as delivery trucks, are more easily and accurately managed.

Now step from the warehouse and into the store. Yes, retailers have taken big hits over the past few years thanks to online shopping, but they, too, are enjoying the rewards of digital transformation. For retailers, those rewards are coming in the form of collected data, which, when utilized, can help them make insightful, customer-centric decisions. For example, is there a need to offer new or additional product lines? Are shoppers’ in-store needs being met? Retailers that are successfully enjoying digital transformation have become less about products and more about the customer.

Questions about your digital transformation journey?

For more information about how your organization can develop or enhance its road to digital transformation, call on the expert solutions architects and engineers at GDT. For years they’ve been helping customers of all sizes, and from all industries, realize their digital transformation goals by designing and deploying innovative, cutting-edge solutions that shape their organizations and help them realize positive business outcomes. Contact them at SolutionsArchitects@gdt.com or at Engineering@gdt.com. They’d love to hear from you.

You can read more about Digital Transformation and how it’s changing the business landscape here:

Workshops uncover insights into the state of IT and Digital Transformation

What is Digital Transformation?

The only thing we have to fear is…definitely not automation

Without application performance monitoring, your IoT goals may be MIA

When implementing a new technology, don’t forget this word

When being disruptive is a good thing

Automation and Autonomics—the difference is more than just a few letters

Is blockchain a lie detector for the digital age?

By Richard Arneson

We’re almost to the point when people no longer hear blockchain and think Bitcoin. Blockchain is now helping businesses and organizations tackle a variety of issues. For instance, Walmart has turned to blockchain to keep customers safe from E. coli-tainted produce (read about it here). The United Nations World Food Programme (UNWFP) recently provided cryptocurrency-based food vouchers to thousands of Syrian refugees. Healthcare organizations are beginning to utilize blockchain to better track patients after they’ve left the hospital. Several real estate companies have turned to blockchain to manage the cumbersome legal procedures and processes related to the sale or transfer of property. And blockchain is now addressing the age-old question that has haunted hiring managers for years—are job candidates being truthful?

Eight (8) out of ten (10)

A 2017 study conducted by HireRight, a background screening company, found that eight (8) out of ten (10) people lied on their resume (actually, the figure is 85%, up from 66% just five (5) years ago). While the study doesn’t distinguish between the magnitude of the lie (slight fib vs. claims of inventing the cure for polio), it’s still a shocking number, especially considering the current job market is the best in decades. It’s a candidate’s job market; why the need to lie?

The Gig Economy

The word gig economy is gaining steam. If you’re unaware of its 2018 meaning, it refers to the move toward hiring contracted workers for set periods of time. Recent studies predict that the percentage of contracted workers will be anywhere from thirty to forty percent (30-40%) within the next couple of years. But with the increasing velocity to hire contracted workers comes some downside, at least for hiring managers―how can they vet candidates better and faster? With the gig economy, there are a lot more candidates to scrutinize.

The process of vetting, selecting and onboarding candidates is timely and laborious. It’s already costly, but in the event a candidate slips through the vetting process with a lot of creative writing on their resume, the cost skyrockets. The entire process starts over, but there’s no guarantee it won’t happen again.

It’s ingenious

Blockchain’s encrypted public ledger structure is actually an ideal—and certainly creative–solution for the staffing industry. For instance, a blockchain could be used to verify a candidate’s work history, including their tenure, job title, achievements and supervisor. A candidate’s former employer can easily add to the public ledger as it relates to their company, and hiring managers and recruiters can simply check the ledger for verification purposes. The candidate would have to provide the past and any future employers access to their wallet, within which the credentials are located. And if they refuse to provide access, you’ve now got a big, red flag waving in your face.

Once employment has been verified, it’s time-stamped and doesn’t require additional action. Future employers can easily check candidates’ work histories, which would greatly speed up the hiring process. No more waiting for days to get a call back for employment verification. And once employment, education, references, certifications and accreditations are verified, they can’t be altered by either the candidate or the verifier.

But it doesn’t just benefit the hiring company

Candidates can provide access to whomever they’d like, and, with a cryptographic key, they can protect their background information with the level of privacy and security they’d like. And with blockchain, they can start earning a paycheck much faster.

Questions? Turn to the Experts

If you have questions about what to look for in an IT staffing solutions firm, contact the staffing professionals at Staffing@gdt.com. They’d love to hear from you. Some of the largest, most notable companies in the world have turned to GDT so key initiatives can be matched with the right IT professionals to drive projects to completion. GDT maintains a vast database of IT professionals who maintain the highest levels of certifications and accreditations in the industry. And they understand the importance of finding professionals with the right soft skills. In addition, the IT professionals they place have access to the talented, tenured solutions architects, engineers and professionals at GDT.

To learn more about IT Staffing, read the following…

Utilizing an IT Staffing Solutions firm boils down to savings, whether in dollars or time

IT Staff Augmentation–it’s about more than just the resume

Do you need Staff Aug or Outsourcing—or both?

How Companies are benefiting from IT Staff Augmentation

And read about how GDT’s Staffing Solutions team helped a financial services firm find the perfect candidate in record time

Why Smart Cities? It’s in the numbers

By Richard Arneson

We’re living in a world where some of the most mundane of tasks can be offloaded thanks to artificial intelligence (AI), machine learning and predictive analytics. Whether regarding businesses or individuals, time-consuming tasks and processes can grind down productivity and prevent individuals, teams and departments from working on initiatives that should be helping shape their company’s future for years to come. And our personal lives are benefiting tremendously from the Smart Revolution. Healthcare apps are freeing up time that patients would have otherwise spent sitting in traffic or in a waiting room flipping through a 5-year-old copy of Good Housekeeping. You can monitor your home’s temperature, lighting and security while sipping a margarita on a Cancun beach. Yes, the smart life is simpler, less stressful and, perhaps best of all, more fiscally-minded. And in the off chance you haven’t heard, cities, both big and small, are beginning to see the light.

A Smart approach to combat budget cuts

Try to find city that hasn’t experienced budget cuts in the past twenty (20) years. It’s rare, if one even exists. Police forces and fire departments have become understaffed, bone-jarring pot holes remain unrepaired, parks are left untended and unsafe, youth sports and arts districts go unsupported; the list goes on and on. Reading further down it quickly becomes disheartening. And what’s the most common way cities try to combat budget cuts? Higher taxes. Yay!

But some cities, at least the smarter ones, are turning to a smarter solution and transforming themselves into a Smart City. The following stats and figures provide a brief list of some of the many reasons they’re doing so:

Lighting alone composes up to forty percent (40%) of cities’ utility bills

By utilizing sensors and a scalable platform to smartly address street lighting, both utility costs and those related to crime can be greatly reduced. Without it, energy is wasted and cities’ carbon footprint will continue to grow. IoT-enabled lampposts allow lights to be dimmed or turned off in the absence of nearby traffic, whether foot or vehicular.

Thirty percent (30%) of traffic congestion is due to drivers looking for a parking space

Smart Cities are better and more rapidly directing drivers to areas where parking is available. As a result, traffic congestion and emissions are reduced, and time and cost savings―and far happier citizens―are the result. And don’t forget what IoT-based ride sharing solutions, along with bicycle and scooter rentals, are doing to reduce traffic snarls and emissions.

Air pollution costs municipalities $1.7 trillion dollars per year

With location-based and real-time monitoring of air quality, Smart Cities can quickly determine which parts of town have the highest emissions levels. This level of information allows them to determine what is causing the disparities in air quality, and develop measures to fix them. In addition, citizens will be equipped with better, more timely information about when to venture outdoors or remain inside.

Traffic congestion costs drivers $300 billion each year

With data gathered from connected vehicles, city workers can be more quickly deployed to address congestion due to everything from abandoned vehicles, road debris or other safety issues.

Crime, and indirect costs related to it, total $3.2 billion annually

With sensors and connected first responders, Smart Cities can more efficiently monitor and respond to crime-related incidents. And retail districts, among other areas, soon reap the rewards, as consumers feel more secure to frequent local businesses and stay for longer periods of time.

Cities report a sixty percent (60%) inefficiency rate regarding trash collection

Smart Cities can better direct trash collection personnel to areas and collection receptacles that require immediate attention. This level of information ensures collections are conducted more efficiently, which not only saves time and money, but improves air quality.

The Smart City Revolution has already saved thousands of cities across the globe money and jobs, greatly reduced budget cuts, and helped keep their city safer, cleaner and healthier. Becoming a Smart City is certainly a fiscally and societally responsible goal, but to get it beyond the dream stage requires a high level of insight, empirical experience and planning. “It’s important to take a holistic view of the city’s entire financial and infrastructural landscape prior to attempting a Smart City migration,” said Alllen Sulgrove, GDT’s Director of its Smart City and IoT Solutions practice. “It’s only when data and technologies are tightly integrated to address particular needs that municipalities will enjoy the full value, from a societal and economic impact, of becoming a Smart City.”

Before acting on your dreams to become a Smart City, consult with experts who’ve done it

Becoming a Smart City only becomes beneficial to municipalities if its deployment results in economies of scale, cost efficiencies, optimization of resources, better customer service and satisfaction, and, ultimately, higher revenue. And that’s why consulting with Smart City and IoT professionals like those at GDT is critically important. GDT’s tenured, talented solutions architects, engineers and security analysts understand how to design and deploy Smart City solutions for cities of all sizes to help them realize more productivity, enhanced operations and greater revenue. GDT helps organizations transform their legacy environments into highly productive digital infrastructures and architectures. You can reach them at SolutionsArchitects@GDT.com or at Engineering@GDT.com. They’d love to hear from you.

You can read more about Smart Cities and IoT Solutions below:

Five (5) things to consider prior to your company’s IoT journey

Without Application Performance Monitoring, your IoT goals may be MIA

How does IoT fit with SD-WAN?

GDT is leading the Smart Cities Revolution