SMB Tech Issues: BYOD, Anyone…?

BYOD Poster presentation at ISTE11

BYOD Poster presentation at ISTE11 (Photo credit: micwalker84)

From ZDNet.

For some small and midsize businesses (SMBs), the cost of embracing bring-your-own-device (BYOD) may sometimes outweigh the benefits.

According to Drew Graham, director at IT services company eVantage Technology, there are significant overheads in implementing BYOD management policies and accommodating personal devices in the workplace, especially for SMBs with larger IT departments.

“On a cost-benefit ratio, it can be a pretty onerous consideration for SMBs,” Graham said. A key focus, for instance, should be on controling access to data rather than devices which is typically done in traditional policies, he added.

He pointed out SMBs can tap existing infrastructures available without having to go down the route large organizations take, which can be out of reach for the typical SMB budget. This includes the use of existing public key infrastructure, which can help control access to devices, he said.

Graham also underscored the importance of thinking from a functionality perspective, rather than an IT perspective, when developing policies for small businesses. “Once you figure out what the workflow demands, then you can start putting a policy in place,” he said.

He added it was also critical to consult users on these policies because “if they don’t like [the policy], they will just ignore it”.

ZDNet Video

Day of Reckoning? Influential Insider Now Supports Break Up of Big Banks

In Defining Hypocrisy, Weill, Who Led Repeal Of Glass Steagall, Now Says Big Banks Should Be Broken Up

Courtesy of ZeroHedge. View original post here.

Submitted by Tyler Durden.

Who is Sandy Weill? He is none other than a retired Citigroup Chairman, a former NY Fed Director, and a “philanthropist.” He is also the man who lobbied for overturning of Glass Steagall in the last years of the 20th century, whose repeal permitted the merger of Travelers of Citibank, in the process creating Citigroup, the largest of the TBTF banks eventually bailed out by taxpayers. In his memoir Weill brags that he and Republican Senator Phil Gramm joked that it should have been called the Weill-Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. Informally, some dubbed it “the Citigroup Authorization Act.” As The Nation explains, “Weill was instrumental in getting then-President BillClinton to sign off on the Republican-sponsored legislation that upended the sensible restraints on financecapital that had worked splendidly since the Great Depression.” Of course, by overturning Glass Steagall the last hindrance to ushering in the TBTF juggernaut and the Greenspan Put, followed by the global Bernanke put, was removed, in the process making the terminal collapse of the US financial system inevitable. Why is Weill relevant? Because in a statement that simply redefines hypocrisy, the same individual had the temerity to appear on selloutvision, and tell his fawning CNBC hosts that it is “time to break up the big banks.” That’s right:the person who benefited the most of all from the repeal of Glass Steagall is now calling for its return.

Hypocrisy defined 5:20 into the interview below:

I am suggesting that [big banks] be broken up so that the taxpayer will never be at risk, the depositors won’t be at risk, the leverage of the banks will be something reasonable… I want us to be a leader… I think the world changes and the world we live in now is different from the world we lived in ten years ago.

How ironic is it then that at the signing ceremony of the Gramm-Leach-Bliley, aka the Glass Steagall repeal act, Clinton presented Weill with one of the pens he used to “fine-tune” Glass-Steagall out of existence, proclaiming, “Today what we are doing is modernizing the financial services industry, tearing down those antiquated laws and granting banks significant new authority.”

How ironic indeed. And how hypocritical for this person to have the temerity to show himself in public, let alone demand the law he ushered in, be undone.

Weill discussing all of the above and more with a straight face here:

For those curious to learn a bit more about Weill, here is some good reading:

Weill is the Wall Street hustler who led the successful lobbying to reverse the Glass-Steagall law, which long had been a barrier between investment and commercial banks. That 1999 reversal permitted the merger of Travelers and Citibank, thereby creating Citigroup as the largest of the “too big to fail” banks eventually bailed out by taxpayers. Weill was instrumental in getting then-President Bill Clinton to sign off on the Republican-sponsored legislation that upended the sensible restraints on finance capital that had worked splendidly since the Great Depression.

Those restrictions were initially flouted when Weill, then CEO of Travelers, which contained a major investment banking division, decided to merge the company with Citibank, a commercial bank headed by John S. Reed. The merger had actually been arranged before the enabling legislation became law, and it was granted a temporary waiver by Alan Greenspan’s Federal Reserve. The night before the announcement of the merger, as Wall Street Journal reporter Monica Langley writes in her book “Tearing Down the Walls: How Sandy Weill Fought His Way to the Top of the Financial World… and Then Nearly Lost It All,” a buoyant Weill suggested to Reed, “We should call Clinton.” On a Sunday night Weill had no trouble getting through to the president and informed him of the merger, which violated existing law. After hanging up, Weill boasted to Reed, “We just made the president of the United States an insider.”

The fix was in to repeal Glass-Steagall, as The New York Times celebrated in a 1998 article: “…the announcement on Monday of a giant merger of Citicorp and Travelers Group not only altered the financial landscape of banking, it also changed the political landscape in Washington…. Indeed, within 24 hours of the deal’s announcement, lobbyists for insurers, banks and Wall Street firms were huddling with Congressional banking committee staff members to fine-tune a measure that would update the 1933 Glass-Steagall Act separating commercial banking from Wall Street and insurance, to make it more politically acceptable to more members of Congress.”

At the signing ceremony Clinton presented Weill with one of the pens he used to “fine-tune” Glass-Steagall out of existence, proclaiming, “Today what we are doing is modernizing the financial services industry, tearing down those antiquated laws and granting banks significant new authority.” What a jerk.

Although Weill has shown not the slightest remorse, Reed has had the honesty to acknowledge that the elimination of Glass-Steagall was a disaster: “I would compartmentalize the industry for the same reason you compartmentalize ships,” he told Bloomberg News. “If you have a leak, the leak doesn’t spread and sink the whole vessel. So generally speaking, you’d have consumer banking separate from trading bonds and equity.”

Instead, all such compartmentalization was ended when Clinton signed the Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act in late 1999. In his memoir Weill brags that he and Republican Senator Phil Gramm joked that it should have been called the Weill-Gramm-Leach-Bliley Act. Informally, some dubbed it “the Citigroup Authorization Act.”

Gramm left the Senate to become a top executive at the Swiss-based UBS bank, which like Citigroup ran into deep trouble. Leach—former Republican Representative James Leach—was appointed by President Barack Obama in 2009 to head the National Endowment for the Humanities, where his banking skills could serve the needs of intellectuals. Robert Rubin, the Clinton administration treasury secretary who helped push through the Citigroup Authorization Act, was the most blatant double dealer of all: He accepted a $15-million-a-year offer from Weill to join Citigroup, where he eventually helped run the corporation into the ground.

Citigroup went on to be a major purveyor of toxic mortgage–based securities that required $45 billion in direct government investment and a $300 billion guarantee of its bad assets in order to avoid bankruptcy.

Weill himself bailed out shortly before the crash. His retirement from what was then the world’s largest financial conglomerate was chronicled in the New York Times under the headline “Laughing All the Way From the Bank.” The article told of “an enormous wooden plaque” in the bank’s headquarters that featured a likeness of Weill with the inscription “The Man Who Shattered Glass-Steagall.”

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Market Shadows (

Psychology of Design – by Richard Lee

One of my wife’s favorite stores for home furnishings is Restoration Hardware.  So when I saw its fall 2011 catalog sitting on the coffee table, I took a minute to glance through it.  It was nicely bound with luxurious cover page that read “There are pieces that furnish a home.  And those that define it.”  The CEO’s welcome letter started with a line “Every movement has a lunatic fringe…”  Huh?  He goes on to talk about America’s first Nobel Prize winner and how his company is inspired by progressive thinkers.  OK, I get it…  

I turn the pages to find more and more pictures of hallways, living rooms, kitchens that I would want to live in.  Nice layout; appropriate, insightful, witty commentaries; I could not put it down until I reached the end of the 600+ page catalog.  As far as RH is concerned, mission accomplished.  The founder of cult yogurt shop Pinkberry is famous for pushing form as well as function.  He once stated that his learning how lighting, mood and music affect consumer behavior did not come from formal education in design, rather his after-hours job as a doorman at a night club.  Well, who can argue with Pinkberry’s success, especially after recent 30MM in growth capital investment from the Starbucks founder.

The rest of the corporate world is catching on what the Madison Avenue and other advertising and PR executives have always evangelized – form counts as much as function.  Presentation is equally as important as content.  Who can forget a Silicon Valley urban legend of Steve Jobs walking into early Mac keyboard assembly line and asking an engineer to open up the cover to the back of the keyboard?  When the wiring behind the scenes did not meet his standards in the aesthetics department, he demanded a redesign. 

As WSJ recently proclaimed, forget B-school.  These days, is the place to go.  The trend is yet another step up from mass customization.  It’s a combination of psychological and almost anthropological observation of human needs to solve problems that have yet to be articulated in order to best forecast demand.  From consumer products to professional services to B2B offerings, we can no longer ignore the psychology of design in order to arrive at desirable results.  Besides…   How else would Milli Vanilli have found a career in lip synching?

Five Ways to Soothe The Savage Beast

There was recently a study published in The Wall Street Journal about the pros and cons of using earphones at work.  Count me into the “pros” camp.  I have a rather eclectic music collection, and listen to everything from old Ned’s Atomic Dustbin to Daler Mehndi to Miles Davis.  As my daughter and I are slowly getting into gardening, I may take up my SMBMatters pal Richard Lee’s advice and play Beethoven’s Symphony #9 to the blooming pea plants in her garden.

As my last post shared the Top 5 Titles in my movie library, I’d like to extend this “taste reveal” to my music collection.  Here are the top 5 groups that get heavy airplay on my trusty iPhone.

The Beatles The Beatles

Steve Jobs considered the entrance of the Beatles into the iTunes Music Store to be one of his final great works.  Not one prone to unmerited positive affirmation, Jobs was quite effusive in his praise for the group, finding close personal connection with John, Paul, George, and the fourth one.  As Jobs did with Apple, the Beatles continually reinvented their style: the psychedelic, scruffy hippies behind Helter Skelter bore little resemblance to the squeaky clean team that debuted on the Ed Sullivan show a mere six years earlier.  Looking at their expansive corpus of work, awe-inspiring in terms of depth, breadth and diversity, it’s hard to believe the Fab Four were only around for 10 years.

The Rolling Stones

The Rolling Stones' "Tongue and Lip Desig...

If The Beatles were the rock equivalent of Apple, we can then equate The Rolling Stones with Microsoft (a correlation made more literal by the use of “Start Me Up” in Windows 95 commercials).  While the Beatles flamed out fairly early on, the Stones continued cranking out the hits well into the present day.  As with Microsoft, the Rolling Stones of today are a much lesser version of their original incarnation.  Where the Beatles were all about originality, creativity, and an understated style the Stones were not shy about imitation and winning ugly.  Of the Stones’ 50 year lifespan, the 1968-1973 period is in my estimation their golden age.  Gimme Shelter and You Can’t Always Get What You Want artfully captured the tumult and upheaval of the Vietnam era.  Not surprisingly, Stones classics from this period factor heavily into the films of my favorite director, Martin Scorcese.  They always leave me with a great deal of Satisfaction.

The Doors

The Doors

In my teenage years I was not quite the paragon of politeness, obedience and the other virtues that I try to instill in my children.  I found a kindred spirit from the previous generation in Jim Morrison, frontman for the iconoclastic 60’s band The Doors.  As with the Beatles, it is hard to believe that they were only around for 4 years given the enormous cultural impact and the power of timeless tracks such as Light My Fire and People are Strange.  The Doors had many hooks, including the mysticism that infused their songs, accentuated by Ray Manzarek’s use of the organ.   Not to mention Morrison’s penchant for defying censors’ instructions and flouting the rules of public decency.

You kids out there – stay in school, and don’t be like Jimmy!

The Beastie Boys

English: Ricky Powell

Please see my earlier post on the Beastie Boys, inspired by the premature demise of beer-swilling hooligan turned enlightened elder statesman Adam Yauch.  The only thing I’d add is that the Beasties should have called it quits after Ill Communication.  While Hello Nasty gets passing marks, To the 5 Boroughs is quite embarrassing.

The Strokes

“Leave the gun, take the cannoli.”  One of the best quotes from one of the greatest movies of all timeThe Godfather.  The best cannolis I ever had were from Venieros, a humble little Italian hole in the wall in the Lower East Side of Manhattan.  During our year in New York City, my wife and I would routinely trek all the way from the Upper West Side to the LES to feast on these flaky, pistachio-toped powder-sprinkled delectables.  This would prompt our NYC friends to glower in disbelief: “you have a car in this city??”

Along with cannolis, one of my strongest memories of the Big Apple in 2003 was “Room on Fire,” the second album from Lower East Side standout The Strokes.  This song also marked a demarcation in my listening habits from analog to digital, as it was the first album I purchased from the iTunes music store.  Many have written off the Strokes as being derivative of previous punk outfits such as Velvet UndergroundTelevision, and the Ramones.  All true: in fact, Triumph the Insult Comic damned them with faint praise, noting “look how cute you are!  You’re like the Monkees, with a drinking problem!”  There is something, however, about the rough-hewn, ragged rebelliousness underlying tracks such as Alone Together and Reptilia, that takes me back to life in NYC.  Their last album was, admittedly quite a jumbled mess nowhere near the caliber of their impressive debut Is this It.  Let’s hope they redeem themselves with their next showing, and let’s hope it doesn’t take another five years.

Listen Up…

To be sure, there are some anti-social implications of tuning out the world with headphones planted in your ears.  That said, the benefits of background music on productivity cannot be overstated.   I routinely keep music in the background, whether filling out TPS reportsrunning, or broadening my horizons with the latest and greatest reading material.

Bear in mind that this list is by no means exhaustive, as it excludes other notable such as Dave Brubeck, Pink Floyd, and Jay-Z.  Nonetheless, as with my post on movies, I hope this prompts you to take time out of your busy schedule, think about who your favorite artists are, why you like them, and what this reflects about you.

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