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In short Cutting the cord without shooting yourself in your SME head is, then, actually a pretty straightforward set of steps:Choose your equipment: decide on the kit you’re going to use, and make it into as small a set of standards as possible in order that it’s supportable and you can keep spares.
Plug the connectivity gap: where devices aren’t inherently connectable to the mobile network, figure out how you’re going to connect them; again, adopt a small number of standards.
Figure out how you’ll pay for the connectivity: this isn’t a case of negotiating some sort of Maastricht Treaty with your mobile provider, but you do need to understand the charging options and pick one that: (a) fits your mobile user model; and (b) can flex if that model changes.
Make the apps available: Present browser-based stuff via a reverse proxy and decide how you’ll do Windows-based applications (if you need to present any, that is), and treat Cloud installations in precisely the same way as on-premise ones.
Secure the applications: Wrap two-factor authentication around it, and give the users the virtual crypto-key apps on their Smartphones.
Secure the data: Employ an MDM model, pick one of the bazillion products on the market, get to grips with it, and roll it out.
Okay, some of these steps are non-trivial, but that’s what third-party implementation partners are for. If I’m really honest it’s only really the application presentation stuff that’s hard – the rest should be fine if you have a decent IT brain and a supportive partner and/or operator. And if you take a structured approach, don’t allow technology creep, and wrap everything in a set of protective policies and usable procedures, you’ll probably surprise yourself with a business benefit that far outweighs the implementation hassle.

“Talk to different areas of the business to understand how it works and what their goals are. Being proactive and approaching senior business people with ways IT can solve business problems and value will make a real impact,” he said.Michael Snow, business development manager at Capita IT Resourcing, agrees it is increasingly relevant for IT professionals to have an insight into any business “roadmaps” and future objectives so that planning and IT decisions can be made ahead zf time with little impact on “business as usual” processes.“Employees need to invest the time and effort into appreciating the mechanics of the corporate environment and how each element is connected, so that it can operate as one unit. This allows them to not only visualise where IT fits within the company, but also how it aids any business decisions,” Snow says.The ability to become visible within a company is key to gaining the recognition that many deserve, Snow adds, and in that respecting abandoning the TLAs is definitely a good thing.

“Individuals need to learn to talk the corporate language in order to stand out,” Snow said. “IT professionals also need to appreciate the impact of company decisions and how these will filter down to IT and other divisions in order to really demonstrate to the organisation just how valuable their role is.”Not all IT experts find self-promotion and the articulation of their own strengths particularly easy. Unless people master such skills, though, career progression could suffer.The onus isn’t just on the IT department to see the bigger picture, according to Alex Kleiner – EMEA general manager of procurement software company Coupa. Kleiner believes the disconnect between business and IT is also, in part due, to the fact that line-of-business teams have their own agenda and often don’t have the ability to express exactly what they want from their colleagues in IT.“Functional areas such as finance and procurement are very process driven. In some respects, they are very similar to where IT was five years ago, before people started bringing in their own devices and expecting IT to work around them. I find that getting to know these processes – and more importantly, the terminology that goes around them – is a great opportunity for IT, as it can sometimes be easier to use their own terms in order to establish that common ground,” Kleiner explains.

Those aren’t the only factors, though. That HDMI connection is the only way you’re getting anything out a streaming stick, so if it’s a really old TV, you may be better off choosing, for example, one of the Roku models that also offers a composite video output. In a similar vein, the Amazon FireTV box has an SPDIF, which could be handy if you have an older AV system.You may also need to think about power. The sticks can’t draw power through an HDMI port. Instead, you’ll find a USB power adaptor in the box, and you’ll have to find a way to route the cables from that to the back of the TV. If you’re lucky, you may have a fairly recent TV that includes a powered USB port, usually intended for a hard disk to record on.The net connection is something to watch out for with a stick as well. Both Roku and Amazon offer dual-band wireless, and Amazon chucks in MIMO too. Chromecast looks a bit old-fashioned by comparison – and that may be an issue in very built-up areas. Or perhaps with a built-in TV where the stick may be sandwiched between the TV and a metal mounting frame.The approach of the Chromecast differs too, of course, as it has no real UI of its own, and relies on you casting from an app. The Amazon and Roku can be controlled that way, or with a remote, though you will have to pay extra with Amazon’s stick to get one.

How much of an issue that will be is personal. While I don’t much care for Roku’s remote, it’s fine for browsing through the Netflix series I’ve been watching, for instance. When it comes to searching for new material, using the on-screen keyboard is a nightmare. Meanwhile, using Fire TV’s voice control is great.Ultimately, it’s probably in the way that they’re controlled that these modern streamers have come on most from that old Soundbridge and Roku. Notwithstanding the remotes on Roku and Amazon, many of these devices are at their best when you can use your tablet or phone to control them. Casting your screen from one device to another gives the best of both worlds – a rich interface, with much easier searching via a touchscreen keyboard, and the big screen experience for watching.However, in my experience, this is also where things can become tricky. For example, Chromecast can play back your Netflix content via a tablet controller, but getting surround via the gadget seems to be a bit hit and miss, especially when compared to doing so via the Roku.And not all devices are created equal. Testing the EE TV, it was exciting to see it pop up in the list of available devices from the YouTube app on Android. Could I cast anything else, to make up for the lack of available content on the box? Sadly not. It pops up for YouTube because the box advertises that it can handle YouTube via its built in app.

Similarly, while just about everything is available for playing YouTube, with the exception of Amazon’s Fire, when you venture into other areas, figuring out what can be played or controlled is far from obvious. Roku’s streaming stick and Amazon’s Fire, for example can be controlled via the Netflix app on my tablet. But my older 2XS can’t be, as it doesn’t run the latest version of Netflix. I can, however, cast Netflix from the tablet to the Chromecast – which is also the only way I can play Blinkbox content on the TV at all.In fact, despite it’s far superior specs, the Blinkbox app is marked on the Play Store as incompatible with my new Moto X, so I have to use my increasingly creaky Nexus 7 to control films. If that dies – and Lollipop may well push it into an early grave – my Blinkbox films will be accessible only on the laptop, unless I buy a new tablet.
So, if you’re toying with treating yourself to a streamer this Christmas, what the hell should you get? I’d love to say there’s a simple answer. But it’s not entirely straightforward.

Right now, your choice may be partly governed by whether you want specific services – say Blinkbox, or Amazon Prime – and to a degree by the other devices you have available. You might find lots of things you want to watch on Blinkbox, for instance, but even if you have a Chromecast, it’s no good if the app’s not compatible with your phone. And Amazon’s Fire is a cute little box, but if you habitually spend drunken evenings with YouTube, it’s not the one for you.Prices start at around £1,500 for a model with a conventional 1920×1080 display, but it’ll cost you £1,848.00 to step up to a quad-HD display with 3200×1800 resolution. However, the display is well suited to photo-editing and other graphics applications, producing a crisp, boldly coloured image with very good all-round viewing angles.
It provides professional-level performance too, thanks to a quad-core Haswell i7 processor running at 2.2GHz (3.2GHz with Turboboost), 16GB of memory, and both 256GB solid-state storage and a conventional 500GB hard drive. And, to drive that pixel-packed display, the M3800 includes both an integrated HD 4600 and a discrete nVidia Quadro K100M for workstation-class graphics performance.

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