Have a global change project? Start by understanding remote offices

Successfully implementing global change projects, whether they involve a massive worldwide software package or "soft" changes like a new process or policy, involve a unique set of challenges.
Not only are you faced with the usual gauntlets of scope, timeline and budget, but unique additions like language, culture and the "headquarters dynamic" rear their heads, derailing the most well-intentioned efforts if they are ignored. The headquarters dynamic is one of the more interesting of these challenges and represents the relationship between corporate headquarters, which generally initiates a change project, and the field offices, which are usually on the receiving end of these efforts.
Sir, yes, sir!
Traditionally, most companies implementing large-scale global projects assume a command-and-control model, with headquarters marshaling resources, setting schedules and essentially dictating orders to field offices.
You don't need an advanced degree in international relations to imagine that this usually breeds discord and resentment; field offices see the initiative as yet another grand scheme cooked up in the "ivory towers" at headquarters, with little regard to local operating, legal and resource constraints.
At best, regional offices begrudgingly comply with headquarters' fiat and promptly look for the best way to modify, work around, or altogether disregard the results of the change effort.
The opposite model is to issue what amounts to "suggestions" to local operating entities and hope that they follow through. Like the hundreds of e-mails we each receive offering advice and mild threats if some new policy or procedure is not obeyed, most of these end up promptly filed in the nearest rubbish bin.
What is needed is a model that takes into account the unique assets of field offices and leverages the operational and administrative powers of the home office as an asset rather than an overbearing administrative headache.
Understanding the remote office
Using the headquarters dynamic as an asset rather than a liability requires some understanding of the conditions in the field office.
Most field offices have less staff than headquarters and are more tightly focused on core operational activities like sales, marketing, manufacturing and logistics. Since these offices are usually established as a beachhead in an attractive market, they are generally lean and mean and focused tightly on getting the maximum results with the minimum amount of resources. As such, creative ways of doing business are often developed, and models that could benefit the company as a whole may be lying about undiscovered.
Many remote offices take pride in the success they have achieved, without the additional perceived overhead that exists at headquarters. Key to leveraging the headquarters dynamic is to acknowledge the good work frequently done in the field and seek out any best practices that can be incorporated into a global model.
In addition, rather than trying to deploy a "one-size-fits-all" solution to every global problem, consider two or three "standard" processes that accommodate a wide variety of statutory requirements, volumes of business, and varying staff levels. Usually what works at headquarters or a major regional hub is vast overkill for a local office that works in dozens of transactions rather than thousands.
The obvious way to ensure regional voices are heard is to incorporate regional personnel on the planning and deployment teams. Not only will their thoughts and field experience prove invaluable, but seeing multinational faces rather than yet another team of "drones from HQ" on the next change project will instantly instill confidence and credibility that local concerns are being aired and accounted for.
Making a friend of HQ
Perhaps the best role of headquarters in a global project is to serve as a global clearinghouse of knowledge, people and dispute resolution. Most failed global projects are rooted in a poor understanding of the headquarters dynamic, usually with the home office underestimating the complexities of field operations or simply turning a blind eye to their requirements and attempting to implement an overly complex solution in the name of "global standardization".
When headquarters is seen as having an open ear and working to transparently resolve disputes that are bound to arise in the course of a global project, the field will eventually see headquarters as a trustworthy asset to the change effort, rather than a monolith bent on implementing ill-conceived projects that get in the way of local operational activities.
For more on the role headquarters should play in a successful global change project and other tips on global projects, please download the free white paper: "Conquering the World--Delivering Globally".
Patrick Gray is the founder and president of Prevoyance Group, and author of Breakthrough IT: Supercharging Organizational Value through Technology. Prevoyance Group provides strategic IT consulting services to Fortune 500 and 1000 companies.

via zdnetasia
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RIM: Carriers want users on Wi-Fi

ORLANDO, FLORIDA--The ability to route calls over Wi-Fi to the company PBX (private branch exchange) on BlackBerry phones will not alienate carrier partners, but be a welcome feature for the latter, says Research in Motion (RIM).
The new platform, called BlackBerry Mobile Voice System (MVS) 5, was announced Monday in a press briefing at the WES 2010 show. One of the highlighted features is the ability to allow users to make calls over their company PBX systems via any Wi-Fi network. Prior to this update, the phones were able to perform this function only over 3G.
This allows BlackBerrys to bypass a carrier's data network, and also costly roaming services whether it be voice or data, by connecting a user directly to the company's PBX. This is so long as there is a Wi-Fi network available.
Alan Brenner, senior vice president for the BlackBerry platform, said this move will not alienate carriers.
In an interview with ZDNet Asia, Brenner emphasized the phone maker's relationship with operators: "We do all of our business through carriers."
The cost savings from the new feature, he said, will present another reason for companies to get BlackBerrys, resulting in more business for carriers.
Wi-Fi offloading has also become an increasing aspect that carriers are looking into, as their networks feel the load strain of data-hungry smartphone users, Brenner added.
"Carriers will benefit from offloading of their networks to corporate networks. Call quality is also clearer over Wi-Fi," he said.
The update will be available to users mid this year.
Native apps more compelling
Irvin Nio, U.K.-based infrastructure architect with CapGemini, said his company is looking into enabling native access to its internal enterprise apps on BlackBerry phones. However, he added that the development tools available to his staff are behind in comparison to what is available for other platforms such as Windows Mobile.
Nio, who spoke to ZDNet Asia on the sidelines of the WES conference, said his users are asking for BlackBerry devices, but he is still "looking into how to make BlackBerrys more than just e-mail devices".
With native support for the company's ERP (enterprise resource planning) system available on other mobile platforms, Nio's team needs to get its BlackBerry support to catch up, he said.
Push e-mail--once synonymous with BlackBerrys--is now "commoditized" and available on other mobile platforms, so tight enterprise app integration is the next differentiator, he said.
Brenner said RIM offers developers three ways to make apps for BlackBerrys. Java apps are native and able to tap the phone's native functions through APIs, allowing the most control for developers, he said. Web-based apps are allowed, although these are not permitted to access APIs and are therefore more limited in function.
The third app type is the widget, which is based on Web apps, but which have some APIs available and can call up native device functions, he said.
Brenner said a number of RIM's customers have built BlackBerry apps for their SAP ERP systems, but these are Web-based. He could not say for certain if any have built native Java ERP apps, though these tools are available to developers.
Victoria Ho of ZDNet Asia reported from the WES 2010 show in Orlando, Florida.
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Exploits not needed to attack via PDF files

Portable Document Format (PDF) files could be used to spread malware to clean PDF files stored on a target computer running Adobe Acrobat Reader or Foxit Reader PDF software, a security researcher warned on Monday.
Jeremy Conway, product manager at NitroSecurity, created a proof of concept for an attack in which malicious code is injected into a file on a computer as part of an incremental update, but which could be used to inject malicious code into any or all PDF files on a computer.
The attack requires the user of the computer to allow the code to be executed by agreeing to it via a dialog box. However, the attacker could at least partially control the content of the dialog box that appears to prompt the user to launch the executable and thus use social engineering to entice the computer user to agree to execute the malware, said Conway.
Turning off JavaScript would not prevent the attack. It also does not require that the attacker exploit a vulnerability in the PDF reader itself.
The PDF reader incremental update capability "can be used as an infection vector", said Conway. The attack "does not exploit a vulnerability. No crazy Zero-Day (exploit) is needed to make this work."
Conway's proof of concept attack takes advantage of the same weakness in PDF readers that security researcher Didier Stevens of Belgium discovered a week ago and explained on his blog.
Stevens was able to launch a command and run an executable within a PDF file using a multi-part scripting process. As a result of that research and blog post, researchers at Adobe and Foxit Software are investigating ways to mitigate the risks from such attacks, according to ZDNet Asia's sister site ZDNet.
An Adobe spokeswoman did not have a comment on Conway's hack, but ZDNet posted Adobe's comment on Stevens':
"Didier Stevens' demo relies on functionality defined in the PDF specification, which is an ISO standard (ISO PDF 32000-1:2008)," the statement said. "Section of the specification defines the /launch command. This is an example of powerful functionality relied on by some users that also carries potential risks when used incorrectly. The warning message provided in Adobe Reader and Adobe Acrobat includes strong wording advising users to only open and execute the file if it comes from a trusted source. Adobe takes the security of our products and technologies very seriously; we are always evaluating ways to allow end-users and administrators to better manage and configure features like this one to mitigate potential associated risks."
Foxit provided ZDNet this comment:
"Foxit takes every security concern seriously and we focus our engineering resources at determining the cause of the problem and coming up with a complete and safe solution. Upon hearing of a possible security concern, our development team went to work and a resolution was determined in less than 24 hours and an updated version of the Foxit Reader will be made public in the next 72 hours."
The problem results from the PDF reader software allowing executable files to be opened or launched from within the program, according to Conway. "Most users don't use that additional functionality," he said.
He suggested that PDF software firms could provide a "minimalistic" version of the PDF readers that do not allow other types of programs to be launched and allow users to decide which specific types of executables they want to be able to open within the program.
This article was first published as a blog post on CNET News.
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APAC personal PCs see double-digit growth

Following a down in the first three quarters of 2009, the Asia-Pacific branded personal workstation (PWS) market finally grew 14 percent year-on-year in unit shipments, with gains driven mainly by key markets such as China and Australia, says a new IDC report.
PWS shipments in the region had suffered double-digit declines over three consecutive quarters, but beat the analyst firm's forecast for Q4 2009 by growing 11 percent sequentially.
Mujin Kang, IDC senior market analyst of Asia-Pacific enterprise hardware research, described China as a "pivotal" driver in the regional market, accounting for 42 percent of total shipments in the quarter.
Kang pointed to education as the fastest-growing vertical at 59 percent year-on-year due to the strong uptake of computer-aided design (CAD), computer-aided manufacturing (CAM) and digital content creation (DCC) solutions. Although manufacturing held on as the region's largest vertical for branded PWS, he noted in the report.
Rajnish Arora, IDC research director of Asia-Pacific enterprise servers and workstations research, said vendors are now trying different tricks to boost sales and revenue in a changing landscape. "The key competitive differentiator for vendors is their ability to quickly bring to market highly optimized hardware platforms that seamlessly run a broad selection of packaged applications," he said.
IDC also listed HP, Dell and Lenovo as the top three branded PWS vendors in the region. For 2009, HP had a market share of 52.2 percent similar to a year ago, although this registered a 12.5 percent drop in year-on-year unit growth.
In second place was Dell with 38.6 percent, a decrease of 41.7 percent market share in 2008 and a 19 percent decline in year-on-year unit growth.
Lenovo's market share rose 8.1 percent from 4.5 percent from the previous year, and was the only one among the trio to enjoy a 51 percent year-on-year unit growth.
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Mass market 4G handsets only in 2012

4G long term evolution (LTE) mobile phones are unlikely to hit markets within this year or next, even as carriers rush to set up their LTE networks, according to market analysts.
One primary barrier is the lack of support for legacy voice services within LTE, limiting the 4G network to data use for initial implementations, said Adam Leach, principal analyst at Ovum.
In a report he sent to ZDNet Asia, Leach said the lack of consensus within the industry regarding voice over LTE will likely result in early4G handset models being deployed over existing 2G and 3G network for voice, while data will be routed over LTE.
Voice can be delivered over LTE's IP-based network natively via IMS (IP Multimedia Subsystem), the older method of circuit switching that is currently used by 2G and 3G networks. Alternatively, operators can implement a VoIP (voice-over-Internet Protocol) application to tunnel voice traffic over LTE.
Daryl Chiam, Canalys senior analyst, said in a phone interview with ZDNet Asia that operators will also prioritize mobile broadband data usage with early LTE rollouts via devices, such as external modems.
"Several operators are prepping their LTE networks for initial rollout by the end of this year, but realistically we'd still have to wait another 12 to 14 months for commercial LTE network availability," Chiam said.
Leach said early adoption of LTE devices will likely come in the form of external modems such as dongles and PC cards, before users move to LTE-embedded devices such as laptops and mobile Internet devices (MIDs).
Ovum predicts voice-enabled LTE handsets will be a market reality only in the first half of 2012.
Once these handsets are available, Leach said shipments will grow at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 163 percent between 2010 and 2014 to hit 75 million devices in 2014.
Chiam noted that it is "too early to tell" when 4G handsets would eclipse 3G handsets in sales.
Operators already on trial
Some telcos in the Asia-Pacific region have embarked on LTE pilots.
Singapore's three telcos MobileOne (M1), StarHub and SingTel announced their LTE trial networks earlier this year. M1 said last month it would be ready to unveil commercial services on its network by early 2011, according to reports.
Taiwan's Chunghwa Telecom announced in December last year it had embarked on a plan to set up a trial LTE network.
When contacted, two manufacturers--Nokia and HTC--preferred to keep mum on their LTE handset plans.
Last week, Samsung said it would release an LTE handset for trial in some U.S. cities by the end of the year.
According to a report posted in May last year, LTE chipset manufacturers will launch their first chips designed for portable modems and PCs. This means handset manufacturers will get dedicated chips only later--and certainly not in time for this year, it added.
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