How To: Build intelligent robots with EZ-Robot and Microsoft Cognitive Services P.18
The key ingredients to maintaining a safe and secure remote workforce P.22
October/ November 2017 VOLUME 8 NUMBER 3
INSIGHT FOR TECHNOLOGY PROFESSIONALS
COLLABORATION Your employees may be in the office, but do they feel engaged?
Indigenous groups use data to save lives
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Vol 8 No 3 October/November 2017
4 Publisherâ€™s Note 6 News 12 Security Shelf 18 How to
8 Indigenous groups use data to save lives 10 Your employees may be in the office, but do they feel engaged? 16 Six trends in intelligent document capture 17 Eight strategies to limit corporate credit card abuse 20
Five things online retailers must do now to enjoy nonstop sales on Black Friday
22 The key ingredients to maintaining a safe and secure remote workforce 23 Digital payment options help entrepreneurs thrive
COVER STORY: Your employees may be in the office, but do they feel engaged?
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Pushing the collaboration and engagement envelope Technology has changed the way we communicate with each other and as the stream of new devices and solutions continue to flow they too are transforming the way we work. In the workplaces of today, we use Skype for face-to-face meetings with remote clients and colleagues, converse about projects with remote team mates via Slack, GoToMeeting or some other collaboration tools, and send emails to our cubicle neighbour. However, not all companies are delivering what their employees are demanding in terms of technology adoption, according to Matthew Leppanen. In this digital issue of ITinCanada, Leppanen, who leads product management for unified communications and collaboration solutions at Rogers, explains that there is a correlation between employee engagement and employee productivity. In his piece YOUR EMPLOYEES MAY BE IN THE OFFICE, BUT DO THEY FEEL ENGAGED? He talks about the three pillars can help businesses drive higher employee engagement levels. While we’re on the topic of workplaces, check out Rob Lunney’s article THE KEY INGREDIENTS TO MAINTAINING A SAFE AND SECURE REMOTE WORKFORCE. In this article, Lunney, who is the country manager for Canada of Palo Alto Networks, assess the current workplace cyber threat landscape. Then he provides some fundamental strategies for securing the enterprise network. Also in this issue, we take a look at how data analytics can help solve some of the problems plaguing Indigenous communities. Our story INDIGENOUS GROUPS USE DATA TO SAVE LIVES covers a new initiative by analytics software maker SAS, BlackBerry, and Forest Green which involves providing Indigenous leaders with analytics tools that can aim in determining the appropriate strategies for preventing violence and improving health outcomes in native communities. Those were just a sneak peek of the awesome lineup we’ve got for you in this issue. Flip through the pages of our digital edition to find more engaging articles like our article on digital payments and the options aimed at helping entrepreneurs to thrive; strategies to limit corporate credit card abuse; the latest trends in intelligence document capture; and the five things online retailers need to do now to keep the cash register ringing on Black Friday.
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IN THE NEWS
By Nestor Arellano
Montreal security solutions firm gets $7-M to fuel European expansion Telecom operators gearing up for 5G: Ericsson survey
TrackTik Inc., a developer of a security workforce management platform, announced that it has received $7 million in financing from Caisse de dépôt et de placement du Québec (la Caisse) and iNovia Capital. The Montreal-based firm will use the money to fund ongoing product development projects, hire up to 70 new workers and fuel its ambition to capture half of the security solutions market in Europe. TrackTiks all-in-one solution delivers the mission-critical components required to run a professional security service firm, including real-time management and incident reporting, on a single integrated platform, according to Simon Ferragne, founder, and CEO of the company. The solution is used by companies such as Commissionaires, Securitas, GardaWorld, and UAS. “Having already secured a market-leading position in North America, we are ready to enter new markets,” he said. “We’ve proven product fit with more than 100,000 facilities protected each month by tens of thousands of users of our software, it’s exciting to now move into new regions.” TrackTik intends to enter the European and Latin American security solutions market. “In Europe alone, top enterprise security firms spend an estimated $34 billion annually, and many are using antiquated systems, including pen and paper,” Ferragne said. “Our goal is to capture 50 per cent market share 6 / IT in Canada Online October/November 2017
among the top security players in the U.K., France, Germany, Spain, and Portugal. We’re already in talks with potential customers and they’re telling us that nobody is offering a platform like ours.” Apart from recruiting for its international staffing need, the company is aggressively hiring to double its Montreal team. For Montreal, TrackTik is looking for fill positions in R&D, sales, support and customer success. TrackTik’s main focus will be continued product development in the areas of artificial intelligence and mobility, providing trend analysis to help clients cut overhead, reduce staff overtime and run leaner, more responsive operations. “TrackTik is leading innovation in an industry that is rife with inefficiencies by using mobile and cloud software to drive cost savings and new revenue,” said David Nault, principal, iNovia Capital. “iNovia is proud to support such a great team and customerfocused company.” “This transaction is part of our effort to support Quebec’s new-economy companies as they grow and enter new markets,” added Christian Dubé, Caisse’s executive vicepresident, Quebec. “TrackTik’s rapid growth demonstrates the innovative nature of its technology platform, which allows its customers to manage their workforce through an integrated and efficient solution.”
The number of telecom operators worldwide that are preparing their networks for the 5th generation wireless systems standard is on the rise, according to a recent global survey conducted by mobile broadband and Internet communication company Ericsson. The company’s recently released has released 5G Readiness Survey 2017 report shows that many operators have accelerated preparations for the new technology and that trials are being carried out by 78 per cent of the respondents. Furthermore, 28 per cent of the respondents expects to deploy 5G next year. Last year, only 32 per cent of respondents indicated that they were conducting 5G trials. The surveyed queried 50 executives in business and technical areas who work for 37 operators globally that have announced publicly they are working on 5G. There is currently no standard for 5G deployments. Last year, Canada three major telecom operators had taken steps towards 5G. Bell Canada, Rogers Communications, and Telus are taking part in a global effort to develop operating standards for 5G wireless networks. The proposed 5G telecommunications standards go beyond the current 4G/IMT-Advance standards and offer higher capacity. 5G allows for a higher density of mobile broadband users, supports device-to-device applications, and massive machine communications. Ongoing 5G research is also aiming for lower latency than 4G equipment, and lower battery consumption – factors that make the standard ideal for Internet of Things applications. The survey results, according to Ericsson, shows that operators are now looking beyond the consumer segment and foresee opportunities in the enterprise and industrial segments as well. “In the 2016 survey, 90 per cent of the respondents pointed to consumers as the main segment in their 5G business planning,” said Thomas Noren, head of 5G commercialization at Ericsson. “This year, it is an even split between three segments and operators have identified business opportunities not only in the consum-
IN THE NEWS ments (58 per cent), business users (56 per cent), and consumers (52 per cent). The survey showed that the top four areas for 5G applications were: • Media and entertainment • Automotive • Public transport • Healthcare
er segment but also with enterprise users and specialized industries.” Operators are realizing that the consumer
market has become saturated, he said. As a result, 5G planning this year is more evenly distributed across specialized industry seg-
A clear majority of the respondents believe that IoT will play an important role and that third-party collaboration will be essential in this context. Respondents believe their organizations can realize additional revenue from increased market share, migration of 4G subscribers, higher prices for new services, and by expansion into new enterprise and industry segments.
Forget about millennials, Gen Z is new goldmine for payments industry Millennials have been the front and centre of concerns by various industries in the last few years. However, at least as far as the global payments industry is concerned, it’s the cohort immediately following this demographic that should be closely watched. Businesses have been preoccupied with how to cater to and exploit to their advantage the peculiar characteristics associated with consumers born between the early 1980s and early 2000s. A new report released by professional consulting firm Accenture indicates that the so-called Gen Z – the generation immediately following millennials – is the payment industry’s future customer base. Gen Zs are projected to make up 40 per cent of all North American consumers by 2020, according to Accenture’s report Driving the future of payments – 10 mega trends. Accenture conducted an online survey of 1,000 adults in the United States and 500 in Canada between September 1, 2017, and September 10, 2017. The overall margin of error is +/- 1.55 percentage points at the midpoint of the 95 percent confidence level. “While these future consumers share some traits with their older siblings, Gen Z is very different from their parents and grandparents,” according to the report. “Gen Z is naturally digital. They have never lived without Google, Apple, Facebook, and Amazon. They are mobile mavens.” Here are some of the key findings of the survey:
• More than half of the millennials and Gen Z are comfortable sharing online bank account credentials to a third-party for more value (rewards/discounts). • 68 per cent of Gen Z consumers are interested in person-to-person payments more than any cohort • While Gen Z use mobile banking the most, 23 per cent of Gen Z consumers still visit bank branches – more than any other age cohort • 70 per cent of Millennials and Gen Z consumers are attracted to AI-enable tools to manage finances • With $15 billion redeemed in cashback/ miles/points, a large sign-up bonus or value of purchase is the biggest reason to switch their primary rewards card • 23 per cent of consumers would give up their mobile banking app for a digital wallet so all their payment information is in one place • 80 per cent of Gen Z consumers would give up television for a day—and an astonishing 28 per cent would give up friends or money—to keep their mobile phone “This ‘see now, buy no’” generation craves immediacy,” the report said. “Devotees of Snapchat and Instagram, their average attention span is just a few seconds.” User experience is one key to winning over the Gen Z consumer, according to Accenture. GenZers move fast but still demand per-
sonalized and highly-relevant experiences as consumers. As the payments market expands, customer experience will become a prime differentiator. The danger for many traditional non-digital players is that they are losing control of customers due to their difficulties of getting a handle on customer experience. For instance, businesses need to tie-in other desirable services to the payment solutions they offer customers. The survey showed that 70 per cent of millennials and Gen Z consumers are interested in digital payments advisory and expense management services that can give them a better understanding and control of their personal spending. “This is a clear signal that payments have moved beyond the transaction. Next-level customer experiences matter more than ever,” the report said. Businesses can look to Google as an example of how to do it right. The search engine has made a fortune in becoming the prime destination of choice for finding information. By owning search, Google collects billions in advertising revenue. “Even if people have no interest in the ads, the times that they actually do is pure gold. The same is true in payments. Providers that are present across the payments journey in the moments that matter to consumers—not just if or when a transaction occurs—are golden,” the report said. October/November 2017 IT in Canada Online / 7
By Nestor Arellano
INDIGENOUS GROUPS USE DATA TO SAVE LIVES sentatives from data analytics software maker SAS; technology company, BlackBerry; along with officials from data quality and professional service firm, Forest Green met to discuss the crisis. They also talked about how data analytics can be used to prevent violence and improve health outcomes in Indigenous communities. The Indigenous Controlled Technology Forum in Ottawa brought together Indigenous leaders such as Ontario Regional Chief Isadore Day, Grand Chief Joseph Tokwiro Norton, Mohawk Council of Kahnawá:ke, Chief Byron Louis, Okanagan Indian Band, and John Paul, Executive Director Atlantic Policy Congress First Nations Chiefs Secretariat.
In September, the families of 29 murdered and missing Indigenous women from the West Coast travelled to Port Alberni and shared their stories with the National Inquiry into Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Girls. 8 / IT in Canada Online October/November 2017
he testimonies provided by relatives of those that are missing or dead during the public hearing differ from one another. But abuse, addiction, poverty, and welfare come up time and again. The exact number of Indigenous women, girls, as well as two-spirit people that have gone missing or have been murdered in Canada over the past 30 to 40 years, is in dispute. Some estimates put the number at 500. There are statistics which say it could be 1,100. Numbers, data – they’re part of the problem and they could be part of the solution as well. This summer in Ottawa, First Nations chiefs from all over the country, and repre-
Greg Henderson from SAS Canada, JP Beaupre from BlackBerry, and Murray Rowe Jr. from Forrest Green discussed how data and analytics can help Indigenous communities not only address addressing the issue of missing and murdered Indigenous women but also a host of other matters. In an interview with IT in Canada, Rowe made it clear that the aim of the project was not to solve crimes that have occurred “but to prevent future ones from happening.” He also emphasized that this was not your typical bureaucrat-led IT project. “The end goal is to build an Indigenousled initiative with a common technology infrastructure which they can all share and which will allow them to tackle problems from a lower cost – call it shared service if you will,” Henderson pointed out. “…This
DATA “THE END GOAL IS TO BUILD AN INDIGENOUS-LED INITIATIVE WITH A COMMON TECHNOLOGY INFRASTRUCTURE WHICH THEY CAN ALL SHARE AND WHICH WILL ALLOW THEM TO TACKLE PROBLEMS FROM A LOWER COST – CALL IT SHARED SERVICE IF YOU WILL. THIS IS DESIGNED AS ANOTHER TOOL THE COMMUNITIES CAN USE TO BETTER INFORM CASEWORKERS. IT CAN BE USED FOR OTHER ISSUES SUCH AS CHILD ABUSE, NEGLECT, CRIMINAL JUSTICE, AND OTHER SOCIAL PROGRAMS.” — Greg Henderson, SAS Canada
is designed as another tool the communities can use to better inform caseworkers. It can be used for other issues such as child abuse, neglect, criminal justice, and other social programs.”
Data for Good SAS called it Data for Good. A movement which fosters the use of information in meaningful ways to solve humanitarian issues around poverty, health, human rights, education and the environment. The system envisioned for Canada’s Indigenous communities will have three main components, according to Henderson – data integration, analytics, and the operational piece. The idea is to integrate data from case management systems with data from other sources such as social benefits, education, healthcare, law enforcement, and criminal justice systems. SAS will work with Blackberry, Forest Green and other technology partners to securely apply advanced analytics to spot trends, uncover patterns and identify key relationships. The aim is to build a community-run, data collection and management systems. This system will also have emergency notification and crisis communication features.
Speeding up intervention The system will enable families to securely share sensitive records with law enforcement agencies, caseworkers, and healthcare providers. The key is to be able to identify high-risk
situations faster so that caseworkers can intervene sooner and that more lives could be saved, according to Rowe of Forest Green. His technology services company has been working with Indigenous communities and helping their businesses grow. He said case overload is a common problem for outreach programs. “Do you know how long a social worker lasts in his or her work on average,” Murray asks. “Eighteen months, because by that time the caseload just becomes too heavy that they just can’t focus their efforts.” Problems are coming at them from all sides. But what if there was a system that could help caseworkers accurately identify the families or individuals that needed immediate or more concentrated attention and assistance? SAS has been involved in something like this before in Florida, which was at that time dealing with an escalating number of child murders. SAS analyzed nearly six years of data on children that had some contact with the Florida Department of Children and Families, according to Henderson. The SAS analysis considered factors such as prior removals because of sexual abuse or drug abuse, as well as physical or mental disabilities. To this day, the resulting five-year Child Fatality Trend Analysis is helping investigators better predict the needs of families in crisis. Some of the key findings were: • Children who experienced prior removal
due to physical abuse were 14 times more likely to die. • Children who experienced prior removal due to parental drug or alcohol abuse were 15 times more likely to die. “There were several factors responsible for reducing the risk of a child being murdered,” said Henderson. “But our analysis showed that caseworker visits cut the likelihood of a child being killed by 90 per cent.” Since the project, overall child deaths within the agency have been on a downward trend. Henderson believes a data analyticssystem similar to this could be used to help Indigenous communities in Canada.
Filing the data gap During the Indigenous Controlled Technology Forum, Ontario Regional Chief Day noted a lack of tracking of the social safety nets and medical services that Indigenous communities need. “That’s a big gap. And if we can fill that gap, if we can design systems, work with partners and other jurisdictions — government and industry — then I think we’ll do a much better job at saving lives,” he was quoted as saying by the CBC. “We have information, we have the wherewithal, the technology, now we’re seeing that we have many partners saying the same thing: let’s build an information management system where First Nations have control, we’re working with other jurisdictions to make sure that we have a better quality of life for First Nations children,” Day said. October/November 2017 IT in Canada Online / 9
By Matthew Leppanen
YOUR EMPLOYEES MAY BE IN THE OFFICE,
BUT DO THEY FEEL ENGAGED? 2
Having the right technology to allow employees simple and easy ways to connect and collaborate can help improve employee engagement and productivity. Some business look to achieve this by implementing multiple technologies and legacy systems, but employees get a better experience if the business uses one seamless system. It really comes down to providing the tools and technology that gives employees the ability to work in teams, no matter where they are.
hink about how connected we are as consumers – we use our smartphones to talk and connect with friends instantly and FaceTime or Skype to see family or acquaintances that could be anywhere in the world. Now think about how connected we are at work. In many cases, it’s not the same. The technology at work doesn’t deliver on the experience we have come to expect. Yes, expect. The way we work has changed, and our expectations around how we should work have changed. It’s no longer about working alone at a cubicle. Today it’s about collaboration and connectivity. Employees want to connect from home, in the car, at a customer’s site, or in the office and have the same experience in order to be productive. And there are major drawbacks to ignoring the ways employees want to work. Research shows that over half of Canadian workers said that a workplace with antiquated technology – think traditional IP phones and conference lines – would cause them to reconsider their job. Workers also feel more 10 / IT in Canada Online October/November 2017
engaged and connected to their organization when they are provided flexibility and the technology that allows them to collaborate. But less than a quarter of businesses are actually delivering what employees say they are looking for. There is a lot being left on the table. Businesses need to adapt. Here’s how I think they can do that and how they’ll benefit:
Transform the workplace If there is one key to delivering on what employees are looking for, it’s transforming the workplace. This doesn’t just mean the physical space – although that is part of it. In general, there are three pillars to do this: Physical space. On average, employees spend almost 50 per cent of their time away from their fixed workspace, so having an office full of cubicles isn’t all that effective. Look at work stations, meeting rooms, and public spaces to help bring people together and allow them to work more effectively.
Work policies. As part of the transformation, the business needs to provide the right policies and environment to ensure the change runs smoothly and employees understand what’s changed, why and how it will help them. Policies can range from things like providing flexible hours, work-from-home options, to setting office norms and conduct based on an open workspace environment.
Benefitting the bottom line There is a correlation between employee engagement and employee productivity – higher engagement means more productive employees. But the positives don’t end there. Higher levels of engagement (and productivity) can lead to less turnover, improve the customer experience, and benefit the bottom line. The way that employees want to work has changed (and there is no going back). Mobile and collaboration technologies have integrated themselves too completely into our lives. If businesses can deliver a seamless, connected experience, they’ll see better engagement and productivity. Technology is moving business along at a rapid pace – now’s not the time to leave anything on the table. Matthew Leppanen leads product management for Unified Communication and Collaboration solutions at Rogers.
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By Eric Jacksch
PARLIAMENT HILL: The balancing Act
arlier this month I had the privilege of testifying as an expert witness before the House of Commons Standing Committee on Public Safety and National Security. The subject of the proceedings was Bill C-21, an Act to amend the Customs Act. My March 2016 column, “No, the sky is not falling,” discussed the exchange of personal information between Canadian and American authorities that C-21 proposes to expand. My opening statement outlined the situation and potential cybersecurity concerns: In December 2011, then Prime Minister Harper and President Obama released the Beyond the Border Action Plan for Perimeter
Security and Economic Competitiveness. As part of the plan, Canada and the United States committed to establishing a coordinated entry and exit information system that includes sharing information so that the record of a land entry into one country can be used to establish an exit record from the other. According to the CBSA, Phase I ran from Sept 2012 to January 2013, during which time “both countries tested their capacity to exchange and reconcile biographic entry information of third-country nationals (non-U.S. or Canadian citizens), permanent residents of Canada who are not U.S. citizens, and lawful permanent residents of the
U.S. who are not Canadian citizens having crossed at four land ports of entry in British Columbia/Washington State and Ontario/ New York.” In June 2013, Phase II expanded the program to all common land border ports of entry with the processing capacity to capture traveller passage as an electronic record. During this phase, information was not shared on Canadian or U.S. citizens, Registered Indians, or protected persons. What we are essentially talking about today is the next phase of the Entry/Exit Initiative and expanding information sharing to all travellers at land border crossings. It is understandable that Canadians are con-
AS LEGISLATORS, I URGE YOU TO ENSURE APPROPRIATE PRIVACY CONTROLS ARE IN PLACE, AND MAKE IT CLEAR TO CANADIANS HOW AND UNDER WHAT CIRCUMSTANCES THIS ENTRY AND EXIT INFORMATION MAY BE SHARED OUTSIDE OF CBSA.
12 / IT in Canada Online October/November 2017
cerned about the prospect of Canada and the United States sharing personal information. From a security perspective, I see three areas of potential concern: First, there is the actual impact of information sharing between CBSA and US Customs and Border Protection. To understand that impact, we need to consider what is being shared, and I’ll quote the Privacy Impact Assessment summary for Phase II published by the CBSA: “At entry, each country presently collects the following data elements as agreed to for the Phase II exchange: Name (first, middle, last), Date of Birth, Nationality/Citizenship, Gender, Document information (type, number and country of issuance)…The only data to be exchanged, which are not already known to the receiving country, will be the date of entry, time of entry, and the port through which the individual has entered.” Assuming that information sharing is constrained to this set of biographical data, which I see reflected in Bill C-21, this exchange of information between CBSA and US CBP has no practical impact on honest, law-abiding travellers. The second area is how this information is protected in transit and at rest. Canada has proven methodologies to assess cybersecurity risks, and specific guidance on the security controls required to effectively protect this type information is readily available. Assuming cybersecurity aspects of this data sharing are taken seriously, there is minimal risk to Canadians. The third, and perhaps most difficult area, is ensuring that the information is used only for the intended purposes. When any entity, public or private, has information, there is always temptation to find new uses for it. Abuse of information by individuals is a problem. Informal information sharing between organizations can give rise to serious security and privacy concerns. I understand that the Privacy Commissioner has been involved, and hope that continues. I also applaud CBSA for publishing a summary of their Privacy Impact Assessment. As legislators, I urge you to ensure appropriate
privacy controls are in place, and make it clear to Canadians how and under what circumstances this entry and exit information may be shared outside of CBSA. One interesting question I was asked by a Member of Parliament involved appropriate data retention timeframes, and there is no clear answer. Privacy principles suggest that data should be retained only as long as required to fulfill the purpose for which is was collected. It is difficult to contemplate why information on border crossings would be required for longer than tax records, and hopefully discussions between CBSA and the Privacy Commissioner will result in a retention decision that balances personal privacy and national security interests. Responding to a question from M.P. Peter Fragiskatos on security vs. privacy, I told the Committee: “There is a balance. Particularly when we’re dealing with issues of law enforcement and issues of national security, there is a very delicate balance. I feel for legislators because, on one hand, Canadians demand that you protect them, you protect the country, and you ensure that law enforcement and intelligence agencies are able to do their jobs. On the other hand, Canadians demand privacy. One of the important elements in that balance is the Privacy Commissioner. I wish I could draw a line and say, here is
I FEEL FOR LEGISLATORS BECAUSE, ON ONE HAND, CANADIANS DEMAND THAT YOU PROTECT THEM, YOU PROTECT THE COUNTRY, AND YOU ENSURE THAT LAW ENFORCEMENT AND INTELLIGENCE AGENCIES ARE ABLE TO DO THEIR JOBS. ON THE OTHER HAND, CANADIANS DEMAND PRIVACY.
security, here is privacy, and here is where we should sit, but it really depends on the situation and it depends on things like the type of information. I’d urge you to go back to those basic privacy principles. Certainly we’ve Canadianized them, but the principles in our privacy legislation are drawn from European privacy principles, and they’re really principles that are commonly agreed on by many countries around the world. I think those are very helpful to look at.” October/November 2017 IT in Canada Online / 13
ZELLO: A revolutionary tool A
mong photographers, it is often said that the best camera is the one you have with you at the time. As it turns out, the best available two-way radio might be the one you can install on your smartphone. In aftermath of Hurricane Harvey, volunteer rescue organizations mobilized to aid fellow citizens. The Cajun Navy, a volunteer group comprised of private boat owners, formed in response to Hurricane Katrina in 2005. “If you need rescue or want to help rescue, the best source of communication at this time is the Zello walkie talkie app,” read their Facebook page. “There are many more organizations on the ground helping in the rescue efforts, and the majority are using this app to navigate to where the needs are.” The post continued with instructions to install the Zello app and use it to communicate directly with rescue groups, noting that, “Most volunteer groups do not have the manpower to man their Facebook page at this time.” Zello, available for Android, Blackberry, iOS, Windows Phone, and Windows desktops, provides two-way radio-like functionality over the Internet. Users can contact each other directly, or join channels to communicate with groups of users, just like modern radio systems. Zello Inc. CEO Bill Moore explained that his love of radio lead him to found TuneIn, where he met Alexey Gavrilov, the founder and current CTO of Zello. In 2011, Moore joined Zello, which he describes as “social radio.” The company currently has 25 employees and a staggering 100 million registered users. “Voice is how we naturally communicate,” 14 / IT in Canada Online October/November 2017
said Moore, explaining that far more information is conveyed in live voice than in text. In the free consumer service, the company is focused on features that enhance the social aspects. For example, channel owners need a way to moderate content and remove disruptive users. But unlike other social products, Zello contains no advertising. The company’s revenue model is to provide ZelloWork to corporate customers. Zello is straightforward to install. Communicating directly with others requires, like most social networks, that the recipient accept a request. Using open channels is just a matter of searching for the channel and joining it. Private channels require the user to enter a password to join. Creating a channel is easy. Numerous channel-specific features include requiring users to have a confirmed email or phone number, restricting the channel to users age 18 and above, allowing or disallowing image sharing, recording a voice introduction to the channel, and an optional password. Users can select the level of notification on a per-channel basis. Options include always or never being notified of traffic on the channel, only being notified when a channel is connected, or being notified only when the Zello app is running. In addition, users can turn individual channels on and off. Combining these features allows users to listen to channels of interest, while remaining reachable at all times on a family or business channel. ZelloWork builds on the consumer offering by providing larger organizations enhanced features on a closed system, including unlimited channels, archiving of all messages, and the ability to automate user and channel assignments via an API. This allows companies to integrate Zello with a
By Eric Jacksch
larger workflow, such as automatically assigning users to a common channel when a triggering event occurs. Pricing starts at US $6 per user per month. While many businesses choose the cloudbased ZelloWork service, allowing users to communicate seamlessly from anywhere they can get online, Zello also offers a on-premises version that will allow users to communicate without Internet connectivity. This could be a good option for organizations in remote areas that are able to provide solid WiFi connectivity, or where communication is only required when employees are on site. Zello has established relationships with third-party hardware vendors to integrate ZelloWork with existing radio systems. These solutions range from a single channel configuration to sophisticated multi-channel digital radio integrations. As a result, companies now have the flexibility to extend RF radio systems to smart phone users. Zello apps currently require users to log in to either a free consumer account or a ZelloWork account, but not both, at any given time. Zello is considering an option to allow ZelloWork users to communicate with Zello consumer users in the future. Third-party bluetooth hardware extends Zello functionality, allowing phones to remain in a bag or cradle. Products include external push-to-talk buttons and water resistant speaker-mics similar to those used with traditional mobile and handheld radios. During recent emergencies, some misinformation regarding the product has been circulating. While Zello uses an adaptive codec to allow communications over lower bandwidths, Internet connectivity is required: WiFi, LTE, 3G, or even 2G. As a result, Zello’s biggest strength is also its biggest weakness. As long as connectivity is available, the app can be quickly installed and used for real-time global communications. But in a disaster, if Internet infrastructure is interrupted, RF-based communication, including satellite phones and amateur radio, may be the only services left operating. Despite its reliance on the Internet, Zello remains a revolutionary tool for social, commercial, and emergency communications.
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6 TRENDS in intelligent document capture I
n the early 2000’s, the Nokia 1110 was the most popular cell phone on the planet. It was a great, functional phone at the time, but within a few years, it was obsolete. If you forced your users to work with that phone today, you would have a mass rebellion. So why do organizations still use legacy technology from the same decade for document automation and capture? The answer: Many are not. Progressive organizations are quickly moving to modern, newly designed technology, and reaping great benefits. For organizations looking to capitalize on the enhanced efficiency and productivity modern intelligent capture can provide, here are some trends within the broader capture and document analytics market.
1. The browser is the UI of choice As organizations look to refresh their capture technology and migrate to modern platforms, the thick client is going the way of the Dodo. Web-enabled applications provide simple access through any of the major browsers, ease the burden on IT staff from a deployment and management perspective and allow an easy transition to the cloud. Providing both enduser and administrator access through a Web app also allows for broad reaching distributed capture solutions, a must in today’s global, connected Enterprise.
2. RESTful Web service APIs are now king (and queen) As organizations drive for maximum efficiency and productivity, capture-enabled line-ofbusiness systems are the weapon of choice. From the ERP solution that auto-classifies a document on upload, to the workflow app that uses data extraction to make branching decisions, “transparent” capture that just happens, offers a seamless way to leverage the power of document automation. In addition, two types of APIs are on the street: 16 / IT in Canada Online October/November 2017
By Stephen Boals
prietary architecture of the past is over and done. CIOs are demanding open interfaces in all their apps for ease of integration, and standard software languages for extending functionality. Modularity with an open “plugin” type architecture allows administrators and developers to only use what they need when they need it.
5. Machine learning provides the ultimate in efficiency A.Macro-services - APIs that perform multiple tasks provide efficiency in code, and allow single calls to process from start to finish. These all-in-one services will classify, extract data and return a searchable PDF, and in one swoop. B.Micro-services – having an expansive toolkit available, through web services, provides an all-encompassing documentcentric platform. This platform can service end users through the browser, provide broad-reaching macro functionality where needed, but also provide niche solutions. Examples might include the ability to convert an image to searchable PDF or read a barcode from a photo.
3. True cloud is necessary Being cloud-ready means quite a bit more than just running a VM with software in the cloud. A platform that is built from the ground up to take advantage of the key benefits of the cloud: A. Automatic scale-up/scale-down B. Native Web browser support C. Cluster-awareness D. Support for cloud DB architectures E. Core-based licensing Having a structured, tiered offering that can support all types of organizations and usage scenarios is also key.
4. Open, modular architectures Just like the fat client, the locked down, pro-
Basic pattern matching and templates are long gone and have outlived their useful days. OCR and provided text are now just input for the intelligent, learning application. The emphasis is now on automated learning, not only during configuration but also supervised learning provided by the end user/knowledge worker. The system gets smarter as you use it, always working towards zero end-user interaction.
6. Companion analytics There is so much information that is buried within an organization’s document content. Providing that content in an “analytics ready” state optimizes processing, and provides ready access to “dark” data. Today’s modern capture platforms can feed the big data beast, and provide powerful, oncehidden information to those that can benefit the organization. The last two points are the future of the market, and forward-looking companies are focusing on vendors that provide a vision and path to take full advantage of the unstructured information that lies within document content. Stephen Boals is the business development director at Ephesoft Inc. Ephesoft delivers intelligent document capture platforms that liberate meaning through machine learning. Ephesoft classifies documents and extracts the valuable information that they contain, accelerating purchases, invoices, mortgage approvals, insurance claims and other important transactions.
By Brian Veloso
to limit corporate credit card abuse
roviding employees with a company credit card offers many positive benefits, especially for those who travel regularly. A corporate credit card saves employees from having to bear the brunt of costs they incur while travelling on business. Meanwhile, it also gives the business complete visibility into who spent what, where and why, generating insight and opportunities to negotiate better rates with vendors. However, irresponsible employees who misuse or abuse cards can lead to costly implications â€“ especially for cash-strapped small and mid-sized businesses. Developing a comprehensive oversight strategy for company credit card use will lead to better compliance and accuracy of credit expenses, helping small businesses see spending more clearly and manage it proactively. As a global leader in the travel, expense and invoice management industry, Concur has a wealth of experience and data to help managers keep track of employee credit card use. Here are eight strategies to help businesses reduce the risks associated with issuing employees a company credit card: Set expectations. Be crystal clear on how the company credit cards should be used. Set out responsibilities and expectations for employees, the types of expenses they can incur and the proof of purchase they need to provide with each item so everyone is aligned.
Limit liabilities. Set spending limits for certain items like hotel rooms and establish overall spending caps to limit your liabilities. Companies should review limits on a regular basis to ensure they are still reasonable, keeping pace with important trends, and not being exploited. Control card issuing. Businesses should be careful to limit the number of credit cards issued to essential users. Make sure users are aware of their responsibilities and be sure to collect and cancel cards when an employee leaves or no longer requires a corporate card. Monitor employee spend. It seems obvious but companies should be careful to actually monitor all items of spend and not simply assume that employees will do the right thing. Lookout for items bought for personal use, or items that users may then try to reclaim via expense reclaim. Deploying an automated expense software, such as Concur Expense, offers the transparency to help your finance team quickly analyze and identify any spending abnormalities, ensuring they can be handled appropriately. Secure details. Businesses should store and record details of all credit cards and their holders securely with encryption while encouraging users to look after the card as if it were their own. Ensure all employees know how to report theft or loss and to do so as soon as possible. Insist on receipts. While they may not be required for expense reclaim, itâ€™s still good practice to insist on itemized receipts for all purchases. E-receipts can make this process more convenient for employees. Set alerts. Businesses should utilize all opportunities to flag inconsistencies or errors. Expense management systems should allow companies to set alerts and ensure your credit card provider can send notification of any suspicious activity or attempts to use the card outside of its intended remit. Approve and control reports. For maximum visibility, put steps in place that require supervisors or approving managers to accept every credit card statement from employees in their teams. Company credit cards are an excellent way to manage and improve visibility of your expenses spend, while at the same time empowering your people. A thoughtful approach to expense management, leveraging technology to expand visibility is the best way effectively and seamlessly mitigate the associated risk. October/November 2017 IT in Canada Online / 17
HOW TO HOW TO
By Sergiy Baydachnyy
BUILD INTELLIGENT ROBOTS with EZ-Robot and Microsoft Cognitive Services
hat if a robot could tell how you are feeling? Microsoft Cognitive Services is a set of APIs and SDK services that can enable developers to easily add features that can detect emotion, identify objects and understand language understanding into their applications. Imagine utilizing that same set of features in a robot. Enter Calgary based EZ-Robot who has created a solution to allow those interested in building robots to create applications for their robots using different SDKs. Their core product called EZ-Builder allows anybody, regardless of programming knowledge, to bring robots to life. The software is available from Windows Store and is able to incorporate Microsoft Cognitive Services to allow for further depth to the EZ-Robot’s capabilities.. This post will cover is the use of three plugins compatible with EZ-Builder that are based on Microsoft Cognitive Services. The following are a list of these plugins: • Bing Speech Recognition: based on Bing Speech API and allows your robots to understand voice commands; • Microsoft Cognitive Emotion: uses Emotion API to understand your primary (with the most confidence) emotion and it’s confidence. Thanks to that you can program different behavior for your robots depends on your emotions; • Microsoft Cognitive Vision: based on Computer Vision API and allows you to grab image frames from input video stream to describe them and find some tags that are associated with the frames; To setup any of these plugins you simple need to install them on your computer and add to your EZ-Builder project. Once you have these plugins in your project, it’s easy to setup each of them. For example, if you 18 / IT in Canada Online October/November October/November 2017 2017
want to use voice commands in your project, you need to provide some parameters using Config window below. Working with the configuration for the plugin you will be able to invoke Script Editor to define robot actions based on input. Access to recognized text based on input voice command will be stored in BingSpeech variable, but you can rename it any time. Finally, you have to provide API Key to get access to Microsoft service. It’s just one place where you need to deal with the service directly. Just visit https:// azure.microsoft.com/en-us/services/cognitive-services/ and create a free account to generate a key. The plugin will do all other things for you automatically and you can program robot’s behavior just imagine that the robots is getting text commands rather than voice commands. The same situation for Cognitive Emo-
tion and Cognitive Vision plugins. You need to provide API Key and after that you will be able to go ahead and start using the plugins just working with some predefined variables. In the case of the Emotion plugin, you can use EmotionDescription and EmotionConfidence variables. In the case of the Vision plugin, you can get access to image description and tags using VisionDescription, VisionConfidence and VisionReadText variable. Therefore, it’s really easy to start using cognitive services in your EZ-Robot applications and I can promise some fun. If you want to know more and watch some videos, EZ-Robot has begun publishing their lessons on YouTube and videos about Emotion and Vision services are already published. Start using these plugins now and add some intelligence to your robots!
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By Tony Brandson
5 THINGS ONLINE RETAILERS MUST DO NOW to Enjoy Nonstop Sales on Black Friday The crazy 4-day shopping frenzy that begins on Black Friday and ends on Cyber Monday accounts for almost 40 per cent of the annual revenue for many online retailers. 20 / IT in Canada Online October/November 2017
No wonder online stores are already gearing up for this year’s Black Friday Sale. Every year the holiday season will continue to make record-breaking sales, so if you want to ensure a successful sale season, make sure you follow these five steps.
1. Review Previous Year’s Sale Performance and Predict This Year’s Consumption Study all the performance trends from the previous year’s sale season including the number of transactions processed per second, the disk response time, the number of batch requests coming in every second, the throughput, the application responsiveness, and the CPU and memory usage. Based on these insights, estimate your expected load on Black Friday and evaluate your existing hardware to check if it can handle the expected volume of traffic.
IF YOU WANT YOUR SALES TO GROW WITH EVERY SHOPPING SEASON, TAP INTO THE POWER OF DATABASE LOAD BALANCING SOFTWARE. WITH DATABASE LOAD BALANCING SOFTWARE YOU WON’T HAVE TO WORRY EVEN IF YOU GET 10X TRAFFIC TOMORROW.
2. Access your Failover Mechanism and Test Your DR Server Have a backup strategy in place along with a redundant copy of data safely stored in a data center on an external device and make sure the backup can be quickly restored following a disaster. Conduct a dry run to test the efficacy of your restoration procedure. Testing your system for disaster recovery will help you ensure that your system doesn’t get caught up in the high traffic tides of the holiday season and crash. Where possible, move to active/active operations so that operations can continue uninterrupted, even during and after a disaster.
5. Perform Connection Pooling to Handle Traffic During Seasonal Peaks
4. Make Sure your Apps Scale On Demand
To ensure that your database server efficiently handles the estimated number of requests even during traffic spikes and accommodates any amount of transactions, your database needs to be configured to sail smoothly through database and hardware failures. Connection pooling and multiplexing let you reuse your existing connections and simultaneously multiplex several connections into a few. The software can also augment database performance by offloading authentication from the primary database server. If you want your sales to grow with every shopping season, tap into the power of database load balancing software. With database load balancing software you won’t have to worry even if you get 10X traffic tomorrow. Deploying database load balancing software is the ultimate backup plan that will keep you covered against downtime, overloading, crashing, inefficient coding, and slowdown. It is everything you can possibly do to ensure a seamless shopping experience this Black Friday.
Scalability is the most important factor for an eCommerce app that allows shoppers to order anything at anytime from anywhere. The concept of on-demand is built on mobility and convenience but when a web app is subjected to too much traffic, the app may run out of resources that are keeping pace with growing sales. Until and unless you
A self-proclaimed tech geek, with a passion for ScaleArc’s disruptive technology innovation in database load balancing. Tony has a passion for dissecting tech topics such as transparent failover, centralized control, ACID compliance, database scalability and downtime effects. On his days off, he can be found watching sci-fi movies, rock climbing or volunteering.
3. Evaluate your Database Performance
Load test your servers by simulating the point-of-sale transactions and based on the test results, adjust your existing hardware to accommodate unexpected traffic spikes smoothly.
figure out what is limiting your app performance (CPU, memory, disk I/O, network I/O, database throughput) and fix the issue, no one can help you scale it. Fortunately, a load balancer has you covered. Database load balancing software is one of the best investments you can make – it enables eCommerce companies to deliver 100% uptime, scale to accommodate sudden spikes in shopping demands, and deploy security patches to avoid downtime. A load balancer deploys transparently between the app the database to ensure app continuity through Black Friday and all year round.
If you want to stay up and accessible every single second on the biggest shopping day of the year, pay close attention to your database performance. The database is the key component of your website’s stability, speed, and performance so if you want to ensure a seamless shopping experience, deploy database load balancing software to improve application uptime and performance in a database environment. A load balancer will let you split up the incoming read requests across all database servers, and it supports caching to boost application performance. In a nutshell, database load balancing software will enable fast performance and 100% uptime even on a Black Friday Sale.
October/November 2017 IT in Canada Online / 21
By Rob Lunney
The key ingredients to maintaining
A SAFE AND SECURE REMOTE WORKFORCE
e live in a progressively mobilefirst and distributed world, where remote networks and mobile users are a new reality – and they all require access to business-critical applications, which used to be located safely behind the corporate firewall. Today, users, networks, and applications can, and should, exist everywhere, which puts new burdens on security teams to protect them in the same way as the traditional perimeter. This is becoming more crucial as Canadian employees, especially millennials, are increasingly demanding to work from home. According to a recent report from the Conference Board of Canada, more than 70 percent of full-time employees aged 18-29 said they would have greater job satisfaction if they were allowed to work remotely. With more Canadian organizations allowing their employees to work from anywhere, at any time, it is of paramount importance for their security teams to regularly review cybersecurity best practices when it comes to remote connections to their core networks. For users and security teams alike, the cardinal rule is that all traffic connecting to the network must have the same security controls and policies applied, regardless of user location. There should be no deviations or exceptions made to accommodate remote users – cybersecurity must be consistent in order to be effective. 22 / IT in Canada Online October/November 2017
In the past, organizations supported various remote access strategies to enable remote users, generally backhauling traffic to the corporate network or using multiple point products. When it comes to security policy and protection, these strategies are difficult to manage, costly and inconsistent. With timeliness or efficiency top of mind, employees would often bypass normal security protocols to access network resources, especially when on vacation and trying to finish up work so they can get back to their R&R – an understandable behavior in the heat of the moment, but one that could potentially open the door for attackers to infiltrate the network. As we’ve seen, the threat landscape continues to evolve, with new techniques and toolkits available for almost every threat use-case, such as the targeting of remote and mobile employees. In an environment where infecting these users is almost too easy, it is imperative that organizations adopt security practices that are equally simple to use, an extension of the protections they already deliver and include a seamless user-experience that does not hinder their work. So, thanks to changing norms within the workplace, I’d like to offer the following advice for IT security teams expecting a spike in remote network connections: • When and if you’re using separate security protection for remote networks, mobile
users and your local networks, you need to reevaluate your strategy. The truth is you’re putting a heavier burden on security and operations staff, increasing cost and potentially opening seams in your protection that attackers can use against you. • Consider deploying an approach to cloudbased security for remote networks and users that extends your local policies. This should be simple for users and provide access to all the applications they need to incentivize use. • A prime target for cybercriminals is personal mobile devices, as they are so prevalent and can be less secure than employerissued devices. Make sure employees are aware that the loss or theft of a personal device, even if not used for work purposes, can be a security risk to IT assets. Keep in mind that cybersecurity cannot be the sole responsibility of the IT team – users have a role to play as well. In addition to following the cybersecurity processes your security team has put in place for remote users, here are some additional best practices to share with remote employees: • Make sure to regularly update your mobile devices with the latest security patches and software updates for its operating system and applications. • Install password managers to keep credentials secure on their mobile devices. • Avoid using public Wi-Fi networks or workstations in cafes, airports, or shopping malls. If you must use public Wi-Fi, be sure to log out of any SaaS applications or Web sites you are using and clear the browser’s cache before you end your online session. As soon as possible, change your log-in credentials for any SaaS applications or other network assets you accessed while using the public network or workstation. Rob Lunney, is country manager for Canada at Palo Alto Networks
By Iain McLean
DIGITAL PAYMENT OPTIONS Help Entrepreneurs Thrive There are few industries that have evolved as quickly and completely as the payments industry has in recent years. You may remember a time when a cashier swiped your credit card and asked for a signature, but such a thing seems almost archaic nowadays. Consumers are demanding retailers provide more easy, seamless and secure ways to pay.
or entrepreneurs and small businesses, offering digital payment options to consumers can give a leg up against their larger competitors. Here’s how: • Increasing the speed of the sale. Digital payments mean that money is transferred from the consumer to the business almost immediately. Small businesses don’t have to wait for the funds to come through days later, rather they have access to that money right away to invest it where needed. • Accepting digital payments also helps lines move along faster. Rather than each customer having to insert a card and enter a PIN – or count out their pocket change – a tap of their mobile phone is all that’s needed to complete the transaction. Less waiting ultimately means a better customer experience and more customers served. • Insight into consumer preferences. Digital payments generate real-time data that can help an entrepreneur maintain a competitive advantage and improve the customer experience. This data can give an entrepreneur insight into consumer preferences like what time of day a sale is most likely to occur and which items are likely to be purchased together, allowing for tailoring of customer communications and advertising. In addition, deals and promotions that cater to the customer base
can be developed. All of this equals a more tailored, personal and relevant experience with the brand. • Convenience. Ultimately, all consumers are looking for convenience, and enabling digital payments certainly makes for a more seamless payment experience. You don’t have to rely to a POS system that’s plugged into a computer with mobile payments. Rather, a payment can happen online or on-the-go using a mobile device. • Safety and security. Security is paramount to the digital payment experience. For as long as people have been paying for goods and services, fraud has existed. It once took the form of fraudulent cash or card fraud, but as payments moved to digital, so did fraud. Now, digital payments are actually the safest way to pay – for both the consumer and the business owner due to all the security steps that take place out-ofsite from the consumer. Digital payments improve so many aspects of a business, from customer convenience, online shopping applications, safety and customer insights. Businesses big and small will continue to progress through digital adoption. Iain McLean is the Senior Vice President of Canada Market Development at Mastercard October/November 2017 IT in Canada Online / 23
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