Quadra

Connecting Technology and Business.

Smartphone user, are you being watched without your knowledge?

​Are you a smartphone user? Is your phone's Wi-Fi turned on always or at least most of the time? Are you in the habit of connecting to Wi-Fi in public places to download an app update or a mail or a video? Are you in the habit of updating your Facebook or Twitter accounts every now and then? Or do you just click a "Like" or make a short comment like LOL there? While doing so, remember that you are continuously broadcasting your location from these phones. Beware of all the secrets your smartphone is sharing about you. A lot of information can be gleaned with the help of your phone without your knowledge or without even asking you a single question.

Today wireless sensors are placed in business districts to track shoppers as they move out in the shopping malls and bazaars. Even if you don't connect to the locally available Wi-fi, these sensors follow signals emitted from our Wi-Fi enables smartphones which allows them to create profiles of people and their habits as they go about their everyday lives travelling from one place to another. Shopping malls can use sensors to analyse foot-traffic patterns, largely within the premises to glean insight about customer behaviour.

Location data is valuable to businesses. Instead of offering a general promotion, businesses can promote their products specifically depending upon their customers' tastes. It can help retailers see which neighbourhoods shoppers arrived from or limited information about their habits, such as restaurants they drive past. Even Apple has technology which can be integrated into sensors to read customer's smartphone signals in shopping malls and stores.

Business have begun using the technology more broadly to follow people where they live, work and shop. They can use that information, along with the wider foot traffic data, to come up with dozens of lifestyle categories, including yoga-goers, people who like theatre, and gizmo hunters.

For example, a business that knows which sports team is most favoured by its clients could offer special promotions on game days. Another example: A company could track people's visits to specialist doctors or hospitals. Marketers can in turn can infer that a person has a certain disease from their Internet searches. A geo-location company can actually see the person visiting the doctor, making the inference that the individual has this disease probably even more accurate.

Geo-location companies can build detailed dossiers of people's lifestyles by merging location data with those from other sources, including marketing firms. They can also buy bulk phone-signal data from cell phone carriers, and then break those users into lifestyle categories based on their daily travels.

Today, with their Android and iOS mobile operating systems, respectively, Google and Apple know the location of every customer's Wi-Fi-enabled phone—far more location data than any geo-location company could access. If you have also switched on the "Trace my phone" safety feature, it is all the more easy for the other number to track not only your phone but in most cases YOU. And if you are using apps like True Caller, you are exposing the names of people you know who are in your contact list to others who are willing to share their caller ids also in the shared network and thus you open up possible vulnerebilities, risks and threats for your contacts.

Places where people didn't think they were being watched are now repositories for collecting information and companies are increasingly able to connect between our online and offline lives.

Is your privacy becoming cheap?

Online Templates – A Treasury Of Readymade Workbooks

​Seasoned users of Excel (or any other Office Application) have always created their workbooks from scratch. The data as well as the formulae and functions that manipulate and present results in various worksheets of a workbook are entered by the users themselves. Today MS Office has evolved significantly. Online resources are overwhelming and help you save time and efforts of yours as well as others.

Office templates are mentionable resources that can not only create workbooks and documents quickly but can also prove to be very powerful learning resources as well. For instance, if an event has been planned in your enterprise. Assume that you have been given the responsibility of planning, executing and tracking the event activities and reporting the final outcome of the event. If you are an Excel user, help is just a click away.

As soon as you open Excel, you are presented with an option to open one of the many readily available templates that can be downloaded in just a few seconds and can be used immediately with no or little customization. (Or click New from the File tab). Click on the "Search for online templates" text box. Enter "Event". Excel searches for this and presents you with hundreds (at the time of my search, it was 467) of readymade workbook templates. I chose one of those and here is what I got: 3 worksheets – Expenses, Income and a Profit & Loss summary – with all formatted tables, formulae, graphs and summary report.

Event Budget - Workbook Template.png 

You can customize the format of the cells to show your local currency. You can rename the heads as per your requirement. And if you can spend some additional time to understand how the formulae work, then you can also add columns or rows as the situation would require it.

There are thousands of such workbook templates readily available for download and use by Excel users today. So, when you are required to create a workbook from scratch, wait a moment and see if you can benefit from this very valuable treasure trove.

Visualize Formula Linkages In Cells

​You workbook might contain many worksheets and each worksheet a lot of formulae. Or, you have received such a workbook from elsewhere. You are now interested in knowing how certain cells are related to the others in the same sheet or in other sheets. Excel has a very remarkable tool that will help you analyse this.

Under the Formulas tab of the ribbon you would see Formula Auditing cluster. This contains the necessary tools for this analysis.

First choose the cell that you want to analyse. This must contain a formula that connects to the content of one or more cells (which further can connect to other cells retrospectively or subsequently). Click the Trace Precedents command to see which cells link to this cells retrospectively. (Click Trace Dependents to see which cells link to this cell subsequently). Arrows are displayed to indicate the relationships of the cells. Boxes indicate an array of cells that are linked to the current cell. Click Trace Precedents further to see where the precedence goes until the original cell that determines the value of the current cell is reached through arrows. Precedent or dependent cells that lie in other worksheets or workbooks are indicated by a small worksheet icon at the tip of the arrow.

Trace dependents.png 

The figure above shows a sample worksheet with arrows of precedencies and dependencies of a selected cell.

Propel your business on Cloud

Propel your business on cloud : Quadra tells you how?

"Our industry is going through quite a wave of innovation and it's being powered by a phenomenon which is referred to as the cloud.

India will not only see a surge in cloud computing services but companies all over the world will look to India to support their transition to cloud computing." – Steve Ballmer, CEO Microsoft

A majority of us are paranoid and confused by the prospects of business in the cloud. Many even see it as a real threat to a business model that has been productive and profitable for decades. With a sea full of uncertainties and a lot of business up for grabs, Quadra makes you transit to cloud with ease and tells you how you can act strategically, gather meaningful information using cloud platforms which will win you both your wallet and mind share.

With the cloud, you can snap your fingers and instantly set up enterprise-class services. You will now have the ability to use the same tools and techniques that larger companies enjoyed for years. You can leverage Social Media tools to connect with prospects / customers, build their brands, and use Enterprise tools to automate systems within their workplace using free, inexpensive and simple tools and platforms.

And with the rapid evolution of the cloud as a viable IT implementation model, let's take a brief look at the various cloud platforms and the manner in which they have evolved. 2013 saw all the major players consistently offering various services which enhance their already diverse cloud portfolio.

Amazon continued to maintain an impressive product portfolio, it now offers over 30 services ranging from transcoding media files to compatible formats playable in various devices ranging from smart phones and tablets to solutions for protecting sensitive data subject to rigorous contractual or regulatory requirements. The most exciting announcement of the year was Amazon Kinesis, a fully managed service for real-time processing of streaming data at massive scale. Amazon Kinesis can collect and process hundreds of terabytes of data per hour from hundreds of thousands of sources, allowing you to easily write applications that process information in real-time, from sources such as web site click-streams, marketing and financial information, manufacturing instrumentation and social media, and operational logs and metering data.

Google Cloud is now versatile and powerful with the Google Compute Engine moving into General Availability with offering virtual machines that are scalable, reliable, and offer industry-leading security features like encryption of data at rest. Compute Engine is available with 24/7 support and a 99.95% monthly SLA for mission-critical workloads. Google focused on making sure that the CPU, disk I/O and network I/O are optimized to deliver the best possible performance. Virtual machines, Managed platforms, Blob storage, Block storage, NoSQL data store, MySQL database, Big Data analytics are some of the features offered by the Google platform.

HP Cloud was one of the first to go live based on the open source cloud management software. Through its commitment to OpenStack, HP is delivering open standards–based hybrid solutions that provide enterprises the agility of interoperable cloud solutions along with enterprise-grade security and manageability. HP wants to shift its focus to hybrid cloud by pushing the HP Cloud OS agenda to its partners and customers. HP Cloud OS is an attempt to push OpenStack, HP Cloud and HP services in the enterprise market.

IBM attempted to gain a foothold into commodity hosting/IaaS market dominated so far by AWS and Rackspace by acquiring Soft Layer. Its existing Smart Cloud Enterprise brand has been closed with its existing customer base transitioning to Soft Layer. This transition is being driven by Mirantis, an established open stack services company. On the PaaS front, IBM and Pivotal partnered to bring WebSphere to Cloud Foundry. Time will decide on the efficacy of IBM's strategy of investing in two leading open source cloud technologies.

Microsoft made the transition from PaaS to IaaS with Windows Azure Infrastructure Services (WAIS). WAIS supports popular variants of Linux, Java, WebLogic and Databases in its Windows Azure platform. Acquisition of datacenters in China was also noteworthy in 2013. Presently, Microsoft is well positioned in the cloud market with robust offerings.

Oracle is the corporate sponsor of OpenStackFoundation in 2013 with plans to integrate its virtualization infrastructure, Java, middleware and database products with OpenStack. However, clarity on its core competence is still to emerge with Oracle Fusion and Financials forming the SaaS layer, a robust PaaS platform and with the acquisition of Nimbula it also has a presence in in IaaS domain.

2013 saw declining revenues for Rackspace, it is hopeful that its open stack offerings in public cloud will bridge the existing divide. Red Hat's PaaS offering, OpenShift has moved to its second version this year, OpenShift is positioned as the true open source PaaS with its developers continuing to be extremely active. Salesforce continued its dominance in the SaaS domain, but 2013 saw Salesforce enter the PaaS domain with Heroku, the generic, polyglot PaaS.

VMware clearly demonstrated its intent to continue its market dominance in the private cloud domain by launching vCloud Hybrid Service (vCHS) to combat the emerging threat of Amazon in the enterprise cloud market. It sent a clear message to the industry and its customer base that its primary focus remains cloud by selling Wavemaker, Zimbra and SlideRocket.

With alternatives available in abundance, Quadra can help you with your Cloud requirements. And as an organization, we have built deep experience across both private and public cloud deployments, and have been early adopters of the cloud for our own internal applications. Our vendor agnostic, multi-platform approach, together with proven skills and certifications from major cloud vendors means that we are uniquely poised to provide you a holistic and balanced perspective on building a hybrid cloud infrastructure. We also bring to the table skills on federated identity management, and partnerships with cloud integration offerings, along with tried and trusted management and deployment capabilities that are critical in establishing a hybrid infrastructure.

The Hawk's Eye View of your Document

​You have a document ready. It contains the Title page, Table of contents, Introduction, other Sections, chapters with various level headings, tables, graphical shapes, graphs, pictures photographs, text boxes, screen shots, hyperlinks, cross references, headers, footers, page numbers, cross references, index entries, appendices and a hundred other components. You have arranged them in their respective places but you are not sure how the overall presentation (not the PowerPoint slides show (: )) of your document looks like. Is there a way to have a hawk's eye view of your document? Yes. Thanks to MS Word, we have a feature to show an entire document with its complete original layout in a convenient display.hawks eye view.png

We go to the View tab of the Ribbon and click on Multiple Pages. Then as you keep zooming out of the document, all your pages in the document are presented on the same screen to give you a hawk's eye view of your document. (Use the wheel of the mouse and the ctrl Key simultaneously to zoom in or zoom out. You can also use the slider at the bottom right of the Word window to choose a zoom level. 10% zoom level will show you the document at its top most level). You will now be able to make necessary changes to the layout of the components so that it is aesthetically pleasing to the reader. You can also standardize your document with the right fonts and right font sizes (if they are mixed up somehow) and give it a uniform look. You can also apply a certain theme to your document and see how it looks overall. Go to the Design tab and choose one of the Themes to apply to your entire document to make it look more professional.

Can your Free Facebook account prove Costly?

If you already have a Facebook account, this post is for you.

Does Facebook threaten YOUR privacy?

Here is a collection of all Information Facebook has about YOU which it uses and shares with its affiliates and with who knows who?

Information YOU provide at account creation

(Items in italics are treated as content for public sharing)

  • Your name
  • Your user name and User ID
  • Your cover photo
  • Your networks
  • Your email address
  • Your birthday – (this is used for showing you age-appropriate content)
  • Your gender
  • Your telephone number (if disclosed)

Information YOU provide while sharing

  • Your status updates
  • Your uploaded photos
  • Your comments on others' content
  • You add a friend
  • You Like a page or a website
  • You add a place to your story
  • Use Facebook's contact importers
  • Indicate you are in a relationship

Information YOUR FRIENDS provide about you

  • When they
    • upload your contact information
  • Tag you
    • in a photo or status update or at a location
  • Add you to a group

Information YOUR DEVICES provide

  • About the computer, mobile phone, or other devices you use
  • Info about multiple users logging in from the same device
  • Network and communication information
  • Your IP address
  • Your Mobile phone number
  • Your internet service
  • You devices' operating system
  • Your location
  • The type (including identifiers) of the device or browser you use
  • The pages you visit
  • Your GPS or other location information

Facebook could request device information from your devices to improve how their apps work on your device.

Information YOUR ONGOING FACEBOOK ACTIVITY provides

Whenever you use or are running Facebook

  • When you look at another person's timeline
  • All Messages - Sent or received
  • Your Search for a friend or a Page
  • Your Clicks, Views or other interactions with things
  • Facebook mobile app usage
  • Purchases made through Facebook.

When you post things like photos or videos on Facebook,

  • Additional related data (or metadata) such as the time, date, and place you took the photo or video.

Information the game YOU PLAY, application YOU USE, or website YOU VISIT that uses Facebook Platform or a Facebook feature (such as a social plugin) provides

sometimes through cookies.

  • The date and time you visit the site
  • The web address, or URL, you're on
  • Technical information about
  • The IP address
  • The browser
  • the operating system you use
  • Your User ID if you are logged in to Facebook

Information Facebook's affiliates or their advertising partners, customers and other third parties provide

  • information about you (like how you responded to an ad on Facebook or on another site)

The End User License Agreement (EULA)

The EULA is a very important document that comes as a part of a software license (or license for any other products). This contains details of the terms and conditions that the parties to the agreement agree to comply with during the term of the license or as long as the agreement is in force. This might also contain some fine print especially in in click wrap license agreements - a common type of agreement often used in connection with software licenses. Such forms of agreement are mostly found on the Internet, as part of the installation process of many software packages, or in other circumstances where agreement is sought using electronic media. It allow companies to hide unfavourable conditions from their customers which might create some problems for customers in due course. But innocent or careless consumers don't read these clauses or terms and so end up signing agreements with terms and conditions that they don't really agree with. Here is an example to illustrate that end users don't read the EULA.

On 1st April 2010, Gamestation (currently owned by Game) temporarily added the following clause to its online sales contract:

By placing an order via this Web site on the first day of the fourth month of the year 2010 Anno Domini, you agree to grant Us a non transferable option to claim, for now and for ever more, your immortal soul. Should We wish to exercise this option, you agree to surrender your immortal soul, and any claim you may have on it, within 5 (five) working days of receiving written notification from gamesation.co.uk or one of its duly authorised minions. We reserve the right to serve such notice in 6 (six) foot high letters of fire, however we can accept no liability for any loss or damage caused by such an act.

If you a) do not believe you have an immortal soul, b) have already given it to another party, or c) do not wish to grant Us such a license, please click the link below to nullify this sub-clause and proceed with your transaction.

It wasn't just a gag though: the roughly 12% of customers who clicked the links were given a free £5 voucher. It's all in good fun, but it does demonstrate how dastardly EULAs can be.

An analysis of the terms of service of major consumer websites has found that they frequently contain clauses that impede consumer rights in substantial and often unexpected ways.

EULA new.png 

 www.clickwrapped.com

Moral of the story: Read the EULAs before you click on the "I agree" button when you buy a license to any product online.

Crowdsourcing - A shot in the arm for people looking for big data

Data for research and analysis aimed at quality of life is essential for the wellbeing of the society at large. Thankfully, data is available.

Data is available everywhere – in the devices we use – servers and desktops, laptops, tablet PCs, mobile phones, enterprise storage devices like SAN and NAS and individual storage devices like CDs, DVDs and pen-drives. Big data is available in the Cloud – the online service providers have invested billions to create datacentres that cater to the needs of enterprises large and small as well as government offices, educational institutions and non-governmental organizations. A huge amount of data of individuals is also in the cloud in the form of mails and social media content.

While technology today provides all ways and means to access all this data – more importantly data that is shared – no individual is authorised to snoop into others' data. The non-disclosure agreements signed at the very start of every data sharing endeavour does not permit the service providers to either access data themselves or allow other agencies to access the data of the tenants.

When researchers and analysts need data they are dependent on the owners of this data. Again, just data from one person will not serve the purpose. They will need huge database to arrive at credible results. The larger the sample space, the more reliable the conclusions of such research and studies. So, the people in need of such data venture out the users through various means – currently the social media is a good approach path. They call for users to share their information voluntarily and participate in their studies. If the cause for which a particular study is carried out interests them, the users share information which in turn would help in better analysis and interpretation of data. This is crowdsourcing.

Right from studying the preferences of end users of products (software, hardware, consumer products and commercial products) to choosing the winners of competitions held through various media through voting to verifying the validity of a claims by individuals of agencies, crowdsourcing has become a very powerful means of predicting risks or evaluating facts. Even the medical research has got a shot in the arm in the form of crowdsourcing.

A typical example for crowdsourcing enabled study - Recently a claim by the US government was found to lack credibility as a result of a study conducted by The Center for Internet and Society at Stanford Law School.

Get your customers to work for you!

Get your customers to work for you!

Impact of social media on all aspects of our life has been discussed to death. The question is, have you integrated social media into your customer outreach channels? If you have, then congratulations, you have direct mindshare of your customer. Your interaction with your customer has moved beyond the structured parameters of business communication dictated by normal business hours, organizational roles and hierarchies and most importantly the interaction is customer driven. This is exactly why smart businesses are already engaging their customers using social media. Data generated by social media analytics is central to the way your products are developed, bug fixes are prioritized and the manner in which your firm reaches out to various demographic segments.

As in everything else, for leveraging social media optimally it is essential to know your customer. Demographic profile will dictate whether your customer is using Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, Foursquare or WhatsApp. Customer engagement can take various forms like obtaining feedback, disseminating information and promotion of events. The structure of the platform will of course impact the manner in which you engage with your target audience. While Facebook is ideal for creation of special interest groups to engage with each other thereby driving brand loyalty, Twitter is focused on reaching out to customers to resolve their issues, address their concerns and event promotions.

Social media has the ability to affect all aspects of your customer's lifecycle and tackling all aspects of Social CRM may prove a bit intimidating initially. You need to determine which phase(s) you want to tackle first and accordingly develop a plan which clearly defines objectives, responsibilities, milestones to be achieved and their timelines. Creating awareness within the organization is mandatory for optimal results.

Also you can use social media to increase intra organizational communication two-way dialogues, driving engagement throughout the whole organization by getting your employees on the same page and streamlining communication between them. We can break down communication barriers across cultures, geographies, and levels to accelerate innovation.

Social analytics can help you by enhancing your understanding your customers and employees much better than the competition. It facilitates direct interaction with the customer and enables collaborative decision making by sentiment analysis and study of customer behavior. Software offerings from premier companies enable you gain deeper understanding of customer needs to enable you to target new offers and products and enhance customer experience and ensure a consistent brand experience across all sales channels.

How Quadra can help?

If you are serious about connecting with your customer, you cannot ignore social media. However, like all CRM initiatives, engaging your customer base through social media needs is to be carefully planned and executed keeping in mind both the customer and the social media platform. This is where Quadra comes in. Our experience and expertise in working with portals and content management systems can help your organization leverage the extremely powerful capabilities of this medium in the most effective and risk free manner. We have expertise on major enterprise social collaboration tools, and help you to evaluate options, decide on a platform and technology, and devise the most effective way to harness this medium within and outside the organization. By increasing knowledge sharing and leveraging experts across an organization, regardless of location, we can help you to innovate rapidly, speed up decision making and achieve your business goals. When it comes to interfacing with the external world, our 360 degree services help you in technology evaluation, media monitoring, market research, competition analysis, while ensuring that it is in tune with your business objectives and corporate culture.

Enhanced Personal Security through Digital Technology

One of the five predictions by the technology stalwart IBM for the next five years is smart machines tapping into the Internet cloud that will be able to serve as "digital guardians" protecting people from hackers by recognizing unusual online behaviour, such as shopping binges at dubious websites, and spying scam email messages or booby-trapped links. This is the result of the cognitive systems that have recently pervaded the technology scene promising to improve quality of life.

Digital technology is available today not only to protect and safeguard an individual's online avatar, but also assure an individual's physical safety while away from home.

Microsoft has introduced new Windows App named Guardian, a new safety application available exclusively for windows phone users in India. Guardian enables users to switch on a 'track me' feature in the app that lets friends and family track them in real time using Microsoft Windows Azure cloud services and Bing Map APIs. The app was developed with an aim to protect women and to make them feel safer in the cities. Guardian users can call for help through an 'SOS' alert button and also connect to security agencies, police and hospitals easily via this app in times of distress.

A second example is that of another independent Software solution start-up in Bangalore who has developed a cloud based integrated child and school bus tracking and monitoring solution that can track students and the vehicles they take that ensures a child's safety and security when he or she travels to and from school. The solution communicates with cloud servers every 10 seconds and automatically sends alerts and notifications to authorized users - usually parents - via SMS, email, web and mobile channels. At last, parents can breath free.