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August 11, 2014

By Lotus Abrams for America's Backbone Weekly
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SMBs to Invest in Technology in the Year Ahead

More than half of small and medium businesses are planning to make an IT purchase in the next 12 months, according to The NPD Group's SMB Quarterly Tech Monitor. According to the report, 57 percent of the businesses surveyed said that they plan to make a tech purchase -- including PCs, servers, printers, storage, networking and tablets -- in the next 12 months, up 4 percent from the last quarter. In the short-term, only 44 percent of businesses stated they plan to make an IT purchase in the next three months, still a 13 percent increase over last quarter. The highest-spending firms cited improving business conditions and staff additions as the rationalization for expected increases in technology spending. "This makes sense because companies spending more than the average are likely viewing their purchases more holistically," said Stephen Baker, vice president of industry analysis, NPD. "They understand that hardware is not just about price, and there is tremendous value in internal corporate consistency and reseller support that enables them to maximize the benefit from their hardware spends."

Big Data Poses Unique Challenges for Data Scientists

When it comes to big data, it's not only the size of data sets, butalso the variety of data types that creates challenges for researchers,according to a recent survey by computational database companyParadigm4 and Innovation Enterprise, a B2B multichannel media company. Thereport, which surveyed more than 100 data scientists who manage and analyzehuge volumes of data for their companies, found that 71 percent say big datahas made their analytics tasks more difficult, and 36 percent of datascientists say it takes too long to arrive at insights because the data is toobig to move to their analytics software. Many data scientists reporteddifficulty incorporating diverse data types into analytical workflows usingtraditional relational database software. "Theincreasing variety of data sources is forcing data scientists into shortcutsthat leave data and money on the table," said Marilyn Matz, CEO ofParadigm4, in a press statement. "The focus on the volume of data hidesthe real challenge of data analytics today. Only by addressing the challenge ofutilizing diverse types of data will we be able to unlock the enormouspotential of analytics."

Hospitals Slow to Engage in Electronic Data Exchange

Despite the 2009HITECH Act's intent to encourage the electronic exchange of clinical datawithin and outside hospitals, a new study published in Healthcare: The Journal of DeliveryScience and Innovation reports thatthe majority of hospitals still do not engage in health informationexchange (HIE), and there is large variation in the practice between differentstates. Only 30 percent of U.S. hospitals are part of an HIE, the study found,with some states reaching more than 70 percent participation (Rhode Island,Delaware and Vermont) while others achieved only minimal participation.For-profit hospitals were found to be much less likely to engage in HIE thannonprofit hospitals, and hospitals with a larger market share were more likelyto practice HIE, as well as hospitals in less competitive markets. The reportsuggested that stronger policies and incentives may be neededto encourage organizations to share their data electronically, which isessential to ensuring the realization of quality and efficiency improvementsfrom the large national investment in health information technology.

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Lotus Abrams, StudioOne editor, is a New York City-based writer and editor with more than 10 yearsof experience working with content about small businesses and technology forsuch publications as American Salon, Macworld and Potentials.


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