IT Matters: The “It” Thing of Today

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Photo courtesy of appliedtech.iit.edu

Have you ever imagine what our lives would have been without cellular phones, computers or the internet? Life would have been so simple yet a little less convenient than what we currently have.

Things like cellular phones, computers, the internet and many others are all products of various applied knowledge brought about by information technology (IT) as discussed in my previous blog entries. Information technology as defined by Reynolds (2010) includes all tools that capture, store, process, exchange and use information.

So, does IT really matter? My answer to this would be yes. IT is the “it” thing of today. Information technology has evolved to become the basic unit of our everyday lives – in organizational and personal growth and development.

More and more organizations nowadays continue to thrive and exist because of a solid information system – infrastructures in IT that integrate employees and company procedures as previously discussed. Companies invest a lot in their information systems as they know they will be able to harness great returns on these.

Office tools, the more popular ones under the brand of Microsoft Office, and the like help employees in improving their productivity. The use of word processors, spreadsheets and many others hastened jobs such as reports and presentations.

Companies also made use of tools to improve communication and support collaboration within the organization. Wireless networks paved way for employees to work on assigned tasks even outside their designated workplaces or even in the comforts of their own homes. They have made use of various collaboration tools to make this possible. These include web conferencing, instant messaging, and online forums amongst others. As the company’s main concern is to get tasks done by employees whenever and wherever they maybe, these tools are every company and employee’s best buddies.

IT also drastically altered the business landscape. Business models have changed because of the advent of the internet. E-business emerged; this created a wider market scope and audience reach that made organizations adapt it to cope with competition. Business and trade have become more convenient with just a click as your usual brick and mortar store’s products are now made available on the internet.

Now that a borderless marketplace has been created, organizations became more efficient in delivering products and services to their clients. IT also paved way for companies to develop their own enterprise resource planning systems. ERPs help organizations in such a way that they can easily access business data, so work is more efficient and work processes are streamlined (Reynolds, 2010). To illustrate, when a customer purchases a product on the internet, the order processing department can easily detect the number of inventory left, if the product being purchased is available or not. At the same time, the procurement department can also see the number of inventory left so when the time comes that they need to re-order, the system automatically sends a prompt thus out-of-stock situation is minimized, if not eliminated. ERP systems mostly adapted and customized to fit an organization’s operation are SAP and Oracle amongst others.

The stiffer the competition has become, organization have also become more resourceful in order to know what the market wants and how to best appeal to them. IT also covers the area of business intelligence where various applications and practices are used to extract data from various customer touchpoints. These are maintained in databases of companies and processed to produce information that can be used to predict future actions of their target market as well as support management decisions.

Likewise, organizations maintain a set of experts that are usually considered a competitive advantage. These experts have knowledge that were gained through experience in the field. This is known as tacit knowledge. In order for an organization to maintain its level of operation, this tacit knowledge should be shared. Thus, organizations nowadays resort to knowledge management. Companies make use of IT that support knowledge management: Web 2.0 Technologies which include blogs, forums, RSS feeds and wikis which were also discussed in the previous blog posts.

Also, one of the products of IT that has greatly influenced they way we live is social media. Who in this age haven’t heard of Facebook, or doesn’t have a Facebook account? Facebook is only one of the numerous social media sites that foster knowledge and information sharing and collaboration. Social media sites such as Linkedin amongst others also presented new opportunities that can better improve an individual’s career. Companies nowadays heavily rely on social media to create awareness and interest and induce desire and action towards the products and services they offer. Social media has become a platform for marketing and advertising for most companies. It is a gift to everyone who knows how to use them according to their needs.

Information technology has come a long way that we have become very dependent to what it can offer, both on personal and organizational growth and development. Responsible use of IT will surely make our lives more convenient . As managers, IT should be befriended considering that it has become a core tool in today’s business process and landscape, it can make or break an organization.

IT is not the next big thing anymore. It has become the generation’s “it” thing that life can become unimaginable without it.

Reference: Reynolds, GW. Information Technology for Managers. Course Technology, Cengage Learning. 2010

 

Social Media Lurker-No-More

Lurker.

Root word, “Lurk” which means, in computers, to read messages written by other people on the Internet in a newsgroup, chat room, etc., without writing any messages yourself, as defined by Merriam Webster Dictionary.

I admit. I was once a social media lurker. I have accounts in various social media sites, from Friendster back then, to Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, Pinterest, Foursquare and a whole lot more. I created all of those just for the sake of creating them – so I won’t be left behind by my peers and with what’s “in” without actually using them such as participating in conversations, posting photos, and all other things that should be done by an active social media user.

I never really believed in the promise that’s brought by social networking and social media. My defense back then would be “Why would I invest most of my time in something that is virtual when I can do all of those things personally?” in reference to making new friends, chatting and the like.

However, it is our nature as humans, especially young ones that we adapt to constant changes especially that the advent of various technologies pushed us to do almost all of the things in a more convenient way using the internet. So, I gave in. I came to befriend and make the most of what a social media site can offer.

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Photo courtesy of socialmediatraining.in

As a social media user I have discovered that more than making new friends, sharing experiences and interests, social media sites can provide me with benefits and advantages:

  1. On finding better opportunities. Social media sites such as LinkedIn serve as platforms for professionals to showcase their online resumes to prospective companies. Companies also maintain pages and accounts in these sites for recruitment and company updates. I see to it that my LinkedIn account is updated and in place so it can come handy in case I need to use this. 🙂
  1. On catering to my professional and academic needs. I usually join professional groups and forums. I usually read topics and discussions related to my field of expertise and interests such that I could be up to date to various news and issues. I also seek for assistance of other group members whenever I need grad school references – for my outputs and papers. I find them reliable such that I can easily check on their LinkedIn profiles and companies to which they are connected. I get good insights from them most of the time. Me and my grad school classmates also maintain a group where we share our notes and report materials for reference of everyone.
  1. On learning something new of my interest. Learning something new seems to require so little effort when you incorporate them in your social media sessions. I always browse articles of various topics usually “Do-It-Yourself” ones, video tutorials, or just anything that captures my attention. I maintain a Pinterest account for all of these and other times I download them and store in my archive for future use.

The benefits and advantages I have mentioned above have made me outdo the lurking and convert this to discovering and learning.

As a social media “lurker-no-more”, here’s my personal commitment on its responsible use:

  1. I will use social media more for my personal growth and development
  2. I will not post things that are of sensitive and highly confidential information
  3. I will maintain strict and high privacy settings on all my social media accounts
  4. I will maintain being a good social media citizen – no to foul language and cyber bullying
  5. I will post only things that matter.

‘Coz there are better things to do in social media than lurking – it’s learning!

Choose Freeware. Choose Original!

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Photo courtesy of http://www.nytimes.com : Pirated copies of MS Windows XP and computer software sold in China

When I was about 8 years old, there’s this distorted lyrics of the Christmas Song “12 Gifts of Christmas”. It goes like “On the 5th day of Christmas, my true love sent to me, limang pirated CDs…” As a kid back then, I know what a CD is but the word “pirated” sounded foreign to me. I went to ask my aunt who was a lot better in explaining things. She said pirated means not original, a copycat but looks, sounds, and feels like the original but cheaper than the original and went to show me a pirated copy of her favorite movie “The Parent Trap”.

As a kid, I said to myself then, if that’s so, pirated maybe good only to find out later that it’s the other way around.

By definition, the act of illegally copying someone’s product or invention without permission or the unauthorized use of another’s production, invention or conception especially infringement of a copyright is known as piracy (Merriam-Webster, Inc., 2016). Products created by this act are what we call pirated ones like the mentioned earlier, a pirated CD.

Pirated products can be a CD of your favorite movie, a copy of your favorite online game and the like. One of the most commonly pirated objects nowadays are softwares of our personal computers and/or gadgets commonly manufactured by software companies such as Microsoft Corporation and many others.  This is another type of piracy known as software piracy.

Pirated softwares are cheaper that the market for these kinds of products continue to thrive. Original ones usually are twice to five times the price of the pirated copies thus customers would opt to buy pirated softwares. Though good for the customers, adverse effects are evident to software companies that a big part of their supposed to be income are eaten by this pirated software manufacturers. This is true mostly for countries that lack a comprehensive piracy policy and implementing agency such as our country, the Philippines.

However, there are also software manufacturers that offer these products for free known as “freeware”. Take the case of Microsoft Office application we usually use as office tools for reports, etc. Open Office.Org had already released its version of this office application that we can use. Open Office tools are free and most of all original. So for those who still choose to use pirated softwares I think, it is their choice to use pirated copies instead of original ones.

Software companies can also help lessen if not eliminate the use of pirated softwares and products. For instance, companies can at least lower the price of their products so those who really want to avail them can get a bigger chance of doing so. Another is, software companies who develop freewares should actively promote and extensively advertise their products highlighting the benefit of acquiring the product through “free downloads”. This may be reinforced by free banner ads in commonly visited web and social media sites such as Facebook and the like. Software companies just need to be creative and innovative in marketing these products.

In the Philippines, I know that we are not guilt free when it comes to patronizing these pirated products and softwares. Even, I cannot say that I haven’t done it but at least through various blogs like this and discussions on the internet, we can be aware that piracy is more detrimental to companies in the long run than beneficial. After all, we Filipinos wouldn’t want to end up in top list of the worst in the world again, right?

So, cliché as it sounds, Stop piracy! Choose original! 🙂

Or better yet, Choose freeware! Choose Original! 🙂

 

 

 

Creating Successors Through Knowledge Management

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Photo courtesy of gettyimages.com
“Kaya nga tinatawag ang isang taong successful kasi meron siyang maituturing na successor!” This may sound like a play of words from one of my personal mentors and idols in my previous organization but truth is told, you can never really say you have attained ultimate success when you don’t have something to leave behind – some may call this their legacy. My mentor also added “Yung confident ka, na umalis ka man, alam mong meron at merong papalit na kasinggaling mo na makakagawa ng trabahong maiiwan mo.”

Though indirectly, my mentor was already talking about knowledge management (KM) – a practice concerned with increasing awareness, fostering learning, speeding collaboration and innovation and exchanging insights as according to George W. Reynolds (2010).

We all know that the people in an organization are one of its most important assets. However, unlike any other asset, people come and go. Also, they are hard to replace in terms of expertise because not all knowledge they have gained are well documented (explicit knowledge) but most of these were gained from experiences and are often hard to convey and explain (tacit knowledge). KM’s ultimate goal is to transfer tacit knowledge from an expert to a novice so the impact of a lost expert is minimized or convert this tacit knowledge into explicit knowledge so knowledge is shared throughout the organization.

Through the experiences I had in my previous and present organization, I can attest that KM will surely benefit every organization.

  1. Preserve expertise of individuals leaving the organization for various reasons such as retirement, resignation, transfers, and many others. I have personally experienced being left on my own to do a work that I am not really familiar with. This was because my senior was fast tracked for promotion. I was left with no choice but to cope with the sudden increase in job scope. Though there are databases which can guide me through the “dos” of the job, I struggled in some of these which were not disclosed in the database. What I did was to call my senior every now and then to clarify these undisclosed matters. With proper KM initiatives, these could have been prevented. KM initiatives may range from a simple mentoring every after office hours or a buddy system between a senior and junior / an expert and a novice. Whereby little by little, the expert can be able to reveal to the novice how he/she does it best.
  2. Enhance expertise of people in the organization. In our organization email trails pertaining to various “consulta” especially legal ones are circulated to employees of concerned departments which served as their basis on how to deal with these situations when they arise.
  3. Exchange of ideas within the organization. Wouldn’t it be nice if a knowledge chat room will be implemented in our respective organizations? In this way, we can ask questions to expert employees and likewise received instant answers that we can apply in our daily work.

As beneficial as it is, certain barriers also prevent us from doing KM initiatives in our organization. Listed below are for me the biggest barriers in doing so.

  1. Time constraint. Competition is tougher nowadays that a day’s work of 8 hours is not enough. KM is a challenge when every employee hastens and aims of beating deadlines instead of sharing knowledge.
  2. Human nature and Competition. Sharing our tacit knowledge may deprive us the chance of having that competitive advantage over our peers and co-workers. That’s human nature and a strong barrier towards KM.

Knowledge management may need to overcome these mentioned barriers for an organization to continuously excel and preserve organization knowledge, skills and expertise. Surely when doing so, organizations can continuously excel and maintain the level of efficiency of employees, and the company more likely will succeed.

Time and time again, we should ask ourselves, what is success when you do not have a successor? Hone successors and make use of knowledge management.

“Knowledge is power but knowledge sharing is empowerment”.  Someone having the knowledge is someone who is always ready for battle being that knowledge as his/her weapon. While sharing that knowledge to someone is like giving him/her a weapon so he/she will be ever ready to any battle, with or without you.

3-Step Change to Business Intelligence

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Photo courtesy of http://www.datapine.com

Today’s market place and business landscape has become very competitive that most companies make use of various business tools and processes that can generate competitive advantage from other companies – creating a domino effect of generating sales, profit, growth, reaching goals and targets and eventually continued company success.

What more competitive advantage can a company get than being able to predict future conditions of the market, the company and the actions of people involved in the company as well? Being able to do this would entail better decision making for the company. These are also reasons why more and more companies and organizations make use of business intelligence and its tools as a business tool.

What is business intelligence (BI)? This includes a wide range of applications, practices, and technologies for the extraction, translation, integration, analysis and presentation of data to support improved decision making (Reynolds, 2010).

Business intelligence works in such a way that data is pulled out from multiple databases, maybe internally from company files and the like or externally from various company touch points. These are then laid out and presented to create useful information for the organization’s use. Examples of this would include spreadsheets, data and reality mining amongst others.

More and more companies spearheaded by their respective managers believe that the use of BI is one key to continued success. Imploring this change in the company’s way of doing things means a step closer to reaching company’s goals and targets. Thus, managers also should encourage more effective use of business intelligence tools. How?  Here’s a 3-step process that may be of help.

First, a rationale why business intelligence is critical in an organization should be clearly imparted to every employee in the organization likewise its corresponding benefits not only to the organization but to the employees as well. Can this significantly impact an employee’s day to day task? How? In the long run, what impact can this create to the organization? And things like that. Also, the company should also see to it that the employees understand how significant their role is towards the use of business intelligence tools and that their cooperation is highly needed and expected.

Second, proper orientation and training of the “how to(s)” should be introduced to every employee. The management should devise customized training programs for employees. This would mean being able to know ways that would enable employees to effectively grasp and understand how to use BI tools.

Third, counter resistance to change through the use of a rewards and recognition program. During this time, employees may also encounter obstacles in using these new tools and can somehow create resistance to using these. The management should be ready on how to properly address these. The use of a rewards and recognition program would also be helpful to motivate employees. The management can reward and recognize employees who have effectively managed the use of BI and have notably altered personal and company performance. The management can also make use of extrinsic factors such as increasing an employee’s salary / wage. These will not only encourage the use of BI tools but likewise motivate them to perform well to the extent of motivating others and become champions of this change.

Surely, encouraging the use of these business tools is a challenge to every company/organization especially to those that consider this a major change in day-to-day business operations. But through the 3-step process presented above can surely be a start for an organization wanting change for success through the use of business intelligence tools.

Reference: Reynolds, GW. Information Technology for Managers. Course Technology, Cengage Learning. 2010

Online Shopping and Me: Based on Experience

My first try of online shopping was back in 4th year college. That time, my life revolved around marketing cases and plans, presentations, group reports and a lot of research and paper works. As in, a lot! My best friend back then was my laptop and of course a reliable internet connection. It was also during those times that we got to work more in groups. My groupmate then, was the one who made us go into online shopping and showed us its perks.

Here’s how it went. The four of us were working on a paper with our laptops when one of our groupmate pulled out from her bag an android tablet. Back then, android tablets were not so common and a little pricey. We were all amazed and would also want to buy one since it also functions like a laptop plus it’s handy. She shared to us that she got it from ebay and that it’s cheaper compared to those in malls. Right there and then, the three of us decided to make an ebay account and purchase the android tablet. 🙂 Since we bought in bulk, the seller also gave us a discount. Two days after, we all had our brand new android tablets – like a boss! 🙂

Since then, online shopping has become a helpful routine for me.

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Here are a few of the things I have bought online 🙂

One of the reasons why I like online shopping is because it is convenient. I think there is no more convenient way of buying something you need than clicking that “buy” button in a website. The tedious and time consuming practice of roaming around stores and malls looking for the items in your shopping list is replaced by scrolling over a shopping site for the items you need, adding the items to your virtual shopping cart and directing into the check out page for your payment. Several days after, your purchased items are right on your doorsteps at home or in your office or wherever you would want your purchased items to be delivered.

Shopping online is also more convenient when the item you need is out of stock at the retailer’s brick and mortar store. Inventory in online shops are too many that items would hardly go out of stock. One time, I went looking for office shoes in a nearby mall. It turned out, my shoe size was not available anymore. I tried searching for it in an online store and they had the complete set of sizes for that particular design. So, without thinking twice, I bought the shoes online.

Comparing prices of items is more convenient when shopping online. Searching the item would generate a number of retailers for that item, quoted in different prices. It is easier to compare prices and go for the item sold at the lowest price.

Paying for the item is also convenient when shopping online as there also sites which allows you to choose the payment channel. Some online shopping sites would allow you to pay via banks, payment centers, credit cards or even cash-on-delivery (COD). I usually go for COD when this option is available such that I can personally check the item (if it’s the same item I ordered, if it’s free from defects, etc.) before receiving it from the courier. Thus, if it is otherwise, you can immediately return or ship the item back to the seller.

There are also times when online shopping is not convenient or less convenient than the traditional in-store shopping.

As mentioned, there are times when items purchased are with defects or the item shipped is different from what you purchased. This is inevitable since in online shopping, you don’t have the liberty of checking the item before your purchase. It is a hassle on our part to return the item especially if there are no drop-off points indicated for returned items. Thus, when purchasing online, we should always see to it that we check on the terms regarding return and exchange of the item – how to return the item, where to return the item and refund or money back guarantee.

Online shopping is also less convenient to buyers who want the products ASAP. Online sites usually have standard turnaround time from online purchase to receipt of item by the buyer. This usually would take 3-7 days or more depending on the buyer’s location, the seller/warehouse’s location and the courier.

Though a number of online sites and retailers make it more convenient to compare prices, these also make online shopping less convenient at the same time. How? More sellers mean you have to choose which of these are reliable and trustworthy and not bogus. Since you don’t get to examine the product before buying, you should carefully choose a site or retailer that would most likely give you the product as it is expected. Extra caution is necessary whenever the internet is involved; it also follows in online shopping.

Since, my first online shopping experience, I have already purchased a number of items. Some of which I’ve been very satisfied and happy. Though there are some I wish I didn’t buy at all.

Here are a few of the things I bought online / I will continue buying online without hesitation:

  1. Bags. They are usually what you see and read is what you get, most especially if bought in B2C sites. They are usually less expensive online and designs & varieties are always available.
  2. Home necessities such as shoe racks, organizers, storage boxes, etc. They are most of the time up to 25%-75% off compared to mall prices. And always a value for money.
  3. Hotel Room Reservations. Buying these online is more convenient and usually at a lower rate compared to booking through the company channels (even on the company website itself). There are websites that specialize on hotel room reservations / bookings such as agoda.com and bookings.com that show a number of available rooms at a lower rate which are sometimes contrary to the details and information indicated on the hotel company website. But of course we all know that this is legit e-business with hotel companies who agree to pay these websites in exchange of confirmed room bookings for let’s say a month or so depending on their agreement. Anyhow this is still a great deal for us online shoppers.

Meanwhile, here are the products I will have to think twice before buying over the internet. Some of which I have bought but have fallen short my expectations.

  1. As mentioned earlier I have experienced buying a pair of shoes in an online store without thinking twice since they got my shoe size which was unavailable in their local store. It turned out that the shoe size I specified doesn’t fit me perfectly. Lesson learned? Think before you click. Shoes should be bought with prudence since these should be for fitting before purchasing. Online sites should include measurements to give a buyer an idea how big or small the product is.
  2. Same reason with number 1. Unless you’re 100% sure that it will fit you, better think it over first or else you’ll just have to give them away.
  3. Vacation packages / Restaurant Discount Vouchers. You can save a lot of money from buying these because they cost 25%-50% off the regular price. However, validity and legitimacy of these items should be carefully evaluated before clicking the buy now option as various cases of fraud have been reported concerning these products/services.

And below are the products I wouldn’t buy over the internet simply because they are for me too costly for a risk I would take in case the product will not be delivered / is lost / is fake / is defective. My first online shopping experience buying an android tablet is an exception though.:)

  1. Electronic Gadgets
  2. Jewelry
  3. Home Appliance

So there – my own firsthand experience of online shopping! For those who haven’t tried it yet, go! Go online and find something you might want to buy. It may not be as expensive as an android tablet. A moderately priced item can be a start – in case you regret buying it, you can always give it to someone who would want it as a gift or would need it more than you do. There’s no harm in trying but I think you’ll appreciate online shopping in one way or another when you do.  Enjoy!

 

WWW:Wonderful Wireless World

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Photo courtesy of http://www.ist-cascom.org

Wouldn’t it be so nice if all things were wireless? Imagine, the convenience of not having to worry about tangled wires of gadgets’ chargers, headphones, and the like inside your bag? The satisfaction that every mother would feel if all appliances at home are looking neat and clean without dangling wires attached to each and every socket and plug at home? What a neat and organized world this would be – a wonderful wireless world!

 

We may be very far from that wonderful wireless world we are aiming for but not so long ago, geniuses have already embarked on this idea that we are currently benefiting from these – wireless technologies.

I believe at least once in our lives, we have been exposed to these wireless technologies. Embedded meaning in the word itself is technology that functions without the constraint or use of wires.

Yes, I know we are all familiar with our wireless LAN, the WiFi or WiMax which make it possible for us to connect to the World Wide Web, our mobile phones, 3G or 4G transmissions, the GPS, or even up to the simplest remote control we have at home, these are all wireless technologies.

These wireless technologies have changed the way we do things. One example is that, it is now easier for us to carry mobile phones and reach our loved ones, colleagues and friends through voice calls, emails, or even Facebook instead of the old telephone which limits us to phone calls alone. Another very simple example would be, the convenience we experience at home when using all appliances which function through a remote control. There is now no need to stand and push that button when switching from one TV channel to another; no need to get out of bed and adjust the aircon thermostat – all these made possible by our dear friend, the remote control.

Because it has changed how we do things, these also paved the way for various opportunities such as:

  1. Job opportunities. The rise of wireless technologies demanded for experts and skilled workers in the field of engineering, computer programming and design, software creation, mechanic, networking, data analysis, education and many others.
  2. Education. The internet thru the wireless LANs, Wifi or WiMax made way for education and knowledge enthusiasts to benefit from free internet based classes such as courseras, webinars and online master’s programs. Likewise, information gathering and research on any topic have become effortless. Search engines allow us to look into various websites that matches the keywords we are searching for by simply clicking on the search button.
  3. E-businesses. Brick and mortar stores have taken the initiative to invest in e-business for wider market reach. The internet thru wireless networks also made possible the exchange of goods not only between businesses and customers, but also B2B and e-government transactions through websites, portals, blogs, social media sites and many others.

Organizations nowadays are continuously building this wonderful wireless world by capitalizing on these opportunities. In our organization, we have incorporated the following:

  1. Job postings for almost any position in the organization would require literacy and proficiency in the use of computers and wireless technology, in communications or the web since almost all facilities are online and system integrated.
  2. Our website allows clients to be informed of the various products and services being offered by the company as well as educate them of their financial needs and wellness.
  3. We also cater to online inquiries and applications of clients with regards to our products and services. Clients are also given the convenience of transacting online, may this be via mobile phones or computers, by logging on to the clients’ portal. Through these, clients halfway across the globe or within the comforts of their homes need not go to the nearest business center or office.

Indeed, being able to do all the mentioned above with wireless technologies, makes us so powerful. However, “With great power, comes great responsibility”. There should be appropriate caution to ensure safety when using wireless technologies. Here are some to dos that can be used as guidelines:

  1. Passwords are confidential and should not be shared with anyone.
  2. Never click on the “Remember password” button whenever you log on to a website or portal. This is to preserve confidentiality of your password.
  3. Always log out your account.
  4. Ensure that data is encrypted, if possible.
  5. Ensure that you only give away your information to trusted sites and people.
  6. Call the attention of your immediate supervisor or boss whenever you feel that organization data security is compromised.

Since everything is made possible via wireless transmission, information travels faster and the risk of wrong recipients and compromised data security is high. We just have to be extra careful by following certain guidelines like those mentioned above.

Surely, wireless technology is beneficial. It brings various opportunities but it also has loopholes. When use for the advantages of one and the company, it truly can make the world we live in, a wonderful wireless world.