Apr 15

AEI – The public thinks the average company makes a 36% profit margin, which is about 5X too high

I find this totally fascinating, though not completely unexpected. When a random sample of American adults were asked the question “Just a rough guess, what percent profit on each dollar of sales do you think the average company makes after taxes?” for the Reason-Rupe poll in May 2013, the average response was 36%! That response was very close to historical results from the polling organization ORC’s polls for a slightly different, but related question: What percent profit on each dollar of sales do you think the average manufacturer makes after taxes? Responses to that question in 9 different polls between 1971 and 1987 ranged from 28% to 37% and averaged 31.6%.

How do the public’s estimates of corporate profit margins compare to reality? Not surprisingly they are off by a huge margin. According to this Yahoo!Finance database for 212 different industries, the average profit margin for the most recent quarter was 7.5% and the median profit margin was 6.5% (see chart above). Interestingly, there wasn’t a single industry out of 212 that had a profit margin as high as 36% in the most recent quarter. The industry “REIT-Diversified” had the highest profit margin at 33.5% followed by just one other industry – Wireless Communications at 30.9% – with a profit margin higher than 30%.

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Jan 15

Daily Burn – The 5-Second Mental Trick That Could Help You Maintain Strength

Having an injury can be a serious bummer. You’re stuck on the couch instead of training for your next race. You’re forced to “take it easy” instead of crushing workouts. But a recent study from the Ohio Musculoskeletal and Neurological Institute at Ohio University shows that a simple visualization exercise could help you retain strength — even while you’re out of commission.

In a study published in The Journal of Neurophysiology, researchers immobilized 29 individuals by putting their non-dominant hands in wrist casts for four weeks. Throughout the month, half of the participants participated in mental imagery exercises while the other half went about their normal lives.

Participants who completed mental imagery exercises lost 50 percent less strength than those who did not.

Five times each week, the 14 subjects in the visualization group were verbally guided through mental exercise sessions, which instructed them to imagine flexing their immobile wrist as hard as possible for five seconds. Participants heard instructions such as: “When we tell you to start, we want you to imagine that you are pushing in against a handgrip as hard as you can and continue to do so until we tell you to stop.” For two minutes, they alternated between five seconds of visualization and five seconds of rest, completing 13 rounds of the exercise.

More of the DailyBurn article from Alex Orlov

Jun 14

CIO Insight – A Lack of Leadership Cripples Business and IT

Countless words have been written and uttered about corporate leadership. Universities devote entire MBA programs to the topic and conferences dissect virtually every aspect of how to become a better leader.

Nevertheless, leadership is often MIA in business and IT. A recent study conducted by the public relations firm Ketchum found that only 22 percent of 6,509 respondents in 13 countries believe that today’s leaders demonstrate effective leadership. Moreover, there’s a 14 percent gap between expectations and delivery, and only 17 percent expect any type of improvement in 2014.
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But wait, there’s more. Only about four in 10 respondents believe that business leaders meet expectations and a mere 35 percent say they are effective communicators. The fallout? Customers financially punish companies that lack leadership. The Ketchum study found that 61 percent boycotted or bought less from firms that were perceived to be deficient. Conversely, 52 percent began buying or increased purchases due to the belief that a company demonstrated strong leadership.

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Jun 14

ZDNet – Is the Internet of Things strategic to the enterprise?

Are we to add the Internet of Things to the pantheon of top strategic technology priorities for the decade? That’s the question increasingly in front of IT decision makers these days as tech vendors add the buzzphrase to their marketing and practitioners evaluate the rapidly growing array of related tools and technologies.

That’s not to say there’s much doubt about the phenomenon itself. There’s essentially no question that the Internet of Things (IoT) is fast becoming entrenched both in consumer and enterprise IT. It already seems like just about other new digital device that emerges these days comes with an app to monitor or control it, remote home automation devices are exploding, and everything electric and digital seems to be heading for 24/7 connection to the Internet.

The data is familiar to anyone tracking the story: By 2020, IoT will be a $8.9 trillion market in 2020, with over 212 billion connected things. To put that in perspective, that’s about half the size of the entire U.S. economy, meaning that the connectedness of everything will soon be one of the world’s largest industries, even though one might say it’s nothing more than a convergence of the top pre-existing trends of smart mobility, cloud, and big data.

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Jun 14

Virtualization Practice – Is the end-to-end IT solution going to be the future?

The past two years have seen an arms race at the high end of the virtualization arena. The biggest players in the space have competed furiously to add features and capabilities to their combined platform offerings, either by swallowing up smaller companies or investing heavily in product development. MDM, DaaS, hybrid cloud, profile management, application virtualization, application publishing, cloud orchestration—the largest competitors in the virtualization space have either provided, or are looking to provide, these and many more features.

As the biggest companies try to provide the nirvana of an “everything-under-one-roof” end-to-end virtualization solution, a swarm of smaller players try to play catchup, aggressively growing their own product portfolios in a bid to keep their revenue streams maximized or to increase their own chances of acquisition by the larger beasts around them.
The Virtualization Arms Race

vSphere, Hyper-V, and XenServer are amongst the big hitters on the server virtualization level. In the desktop arena, Horizon 6 faces off against XenDesktop, Amazon WorkSpaces, and their ilk. App-V competes with ThinApp. Profile management tools abound, such as Microsoft UE-V, Citrix UPM, View Persona, and many more. XenMobile is positioned against Windows Intune and VMware’s freshly acquired AirWatch. The list of comparable technological features from the big vendors could go on and on. But this arms race isn’t simply confined to the virtualization tech titans—even smaller companies like AppSense and RES are expanding their product lines and software features quite aggressively. A case in point is enterprise file synchronization. It seems that today, a software suite isn’t complete without an enterprise file synchronization option.

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Jun 14

Data Center Knowledge – Survey: Enterprise Data Centers Fail More Often Than Colos

Traditional enterprise data centers had significantly more outages that had an impact on business than did colocation data centers over a recent span of 12 months.

That is another conclusion from the latest survey of data center industry professionals conducted by the Uptime Institute. We covered data center budget trends from the survey on Thursday, and today we are looking at outage-related data.

Seven percent of enterprise data center operators (other than financial services companies) that were surveyed, said they had five or more “business-impacting” data center outages over 12 months. Only three percent of the colocation data center operators that were surveyed could say the same for their recent outage record.

The split between enterprises and third-party data center service providers that participated in the survey was fairly even.

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Jun 14

CustomerThink – Privacy Ramifications of IT Infrastructure Everywhere

Most people don’t notice that information technology pervades our daily lives. Granted, some IT infrastructure is in the open and easy to spot, such as the computer and router on your desk hooked up via network cables. However, plenty of IT infrastructures are nearly invisible as they reside in locked network rooms or heavily guarded data centers. And some IT infrastructures are bundled underneath city streets, arrayed on rooftops, or even camouflaged as trees at the local park. Let’s take a closer look at a few ramifications of IT infrastructure everywhere.

1. Technology is pervasive and commonplace in our daily lives. Little is seen, much is hidden.

Good news: Companies have spent billions of dollars investing in wired and wireless connections that span cities, countries and oceans. This connectivity has enabled companies to ship work to lower cost providers in developing countries, and for certain IT projects to “follow the sun” and thus finish faster. Also, because we have IT infrastructure everywhere, it makes it possible for police forces and/or governments to identify and prosecute perpetrators of crime that much easier.

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Jun 14

CIO.com – How to Save the Daily Standup Meeting

Years ago, in the bad old days, you had the weekly status meeting. You’d wait for your turn to talk about your status to the project manager; when other people talked, you’d either tune out to think about what you were going to say or, possibly, tune out entirely and think about that upcoming skiing trip.

All that changed with scrum and the daily standup. It was a breath of fresh air.

But something happened with the daily standup in many organizations. As its focus changed, people were driven to prepare a list of what they were working on and to focus on it.

I woke up one morning and realized that, at a current client, we were still doing those painful, low-value weekly status meetings. The only difference: Now we were doing them every day.

If you’ve experienced this, take heart. You’re not alone. More importantly, the daily standup can be fixed. This article explains how.

Answer Me These Questions
First, let’s look at the famous Three Questions of Scrum:
What did you do yesterday?
What will you do today?
Are there any impediments in your way?

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May 14

VentureBeat – Agile in the enterprise: To succeed, avoid the fundamentalists

I remember it as though it were just months ago, but it was early 2005 when a heated discussion rippled across our company. A new way to develop software had matured and had been growing fast since 2001: the agile software development approach. We knew that it would disrupt the very controlled way CI&T had been developing custom software for big companies for over 6 years, and that was scary.

Until then, we were exclusively implementing a formal process called RUP (rational unified process), a successful implementation of the ideas from the unified process framework. In our pitch we were purposely fighting the waterfall method that had been eroding the reputation of software houses over time. Studies were consistently showing that more than 65 percent of big software projects would fail.

Today, it comes without a single sign of pain to say that 100 percent of our projects are carried out using agile, but during that time we were uncertain about the future. That pristine CMMI level 5 certification we had conquered with so much effort over the years was, after all, going to be irrelevant for the industry. Not to mention the detailed processes we had built to align teams and clients in very well defined tasks and waves of work, would all be compromised by a novelty we would need to learn how to use from scratch.

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May 14

Baseline – Why Can’t We Disconnect From Work?

Seventy-five percent of Americans do not take all of their allotted days off, and 15 percent of them didn’t take any vacation time in the last 12 months.

It’s obvious to most people that Americans are addicted to work. While Europeans nosh on tapas and sip wine after work hours and on weekends, we’re frantically creating the next PowerPoint presentation. While they’re enjoying a four-week summer break, we’re reading reports and responding to emails from our mobile office on the beach. We just can’t seem to disconnect.

Studies show that about half of all vacation time in the United States goes unclaimed. In addition, we’re the only country in the industrialized world that doesn’t guarantee days off.

Ponder these facts: Career site Glassdoor recently reported that 75 percent of Americans do not take all of their allotted days off, and 15 percent of them didn’t take any vacation time in the last 12 months. The leading reasons for not taking a break include: concern that no other employee could do the job (33 percent), fear of getting behind (28 percent), complete dedication to company (22 percent), the desire for a promotion (19 percent) and fear of losing the job (17 percent).

More of the Baseline Magazine article