04
Aug 17

CIO Insight – A Practical Alternative to Two-Speed IT (Part 2)

In part one of this series, we explored a pair of competing requests many modern IT leaders receive from their stakeholders:

We investigated one “buzzwordy” solution—two-speed IT—and how implementing this solution often creates more problems than it solves. We proposed an alternate five-step framework for handling these requests. In steps one and two of this framework, we revealed how the above two competing requests are old problems, best solved with an old, proven solution—and not buzzwords.

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In part two of this series, we will walk you through the remaining steps in our practical framework and lead you down a path toward implementing this proven solution: the technology lifecycle.

Step 3: Think technology lifecycle, not “innovation” vs. “operations.”

To better understand why the good-on-paper “two-speed IT” approach often produces problems when implemented in the real world, look at Gartner’s two speeds (or modes) in which they shoehorn all technology systems and services:

Mode 1: Development projects related to core system maintenance, stability or efficiency. These require highly specialized programmers and traditional, slow-moving development cycles. There is little need for business involvement.

Mode 2: Development projects that help innovate or differentiate the business. These require a high degree of business involvement, fast turnaround and frequent updates. Mode 2 requires a rapid path (or IT fast lane) to transform business ideas into applications.

More of the CIO Insight post from Lee Reese


11
Jul 17

Data Center Knowledge – How to End On-Call IT Burnout and Post-Traumatic Alert Fatigue

In so many ways IT operations has developed a military-style culture. If IT ops teams are not fighting fires they’re triaging application casualties. Tech engineers are the troubleshooters and problems solvers who hunker down in command centers and war rooms.

For the battle weary on-call staff who are regularly dragged out of bed in the middle of the night, having to constantly deal with flaky infrastructure and poorly designed applications carries a heavy personal toll. So, what are the signs an IT organization is engaged in bad on-call practices? Three obvious ones to consider include:

Support teams are overloaded – Any talk of continuous delivery counts for squat if systems are badly designed, hurriedly released and poorly tested.

More of the Data Center Knowledge post from Peter Waterhouse


16
Jun 17

HBR – A Little Competition Could Improve Your HR, IT, and Legal Departments

I think we can all agree that corporate functions tend to be a locus of frustration for pretty much all employees — except, of course, the ones from the function that is the object of the frustration in question. If you have ever thought to yourself “Doesn’t legal understand that we are going to lose this deal if they don’t sign off soon?” or “Why is HR’s answer always Our rules don’t allow that?” you are not alone.

Recent McKinsey research showed that senior executives have a low level of satisfaction (an average of only 30%) in their corporate functions across the board. McKinsey’s recommendations are all sensible, such as: “Create incentives for functional leaders to contain costs, instead of allocating costs that business units can’t change.” This issue has long been a bugbear for me. Despite chronically low satisfaction and lots of intelligent prescriptions like this, the problem by all accounts seems to be getting worse, not better.

More of the Harvard Business Review article from Roger L Martin


27
Apr 17

Harvard Business Review – What to Do About Mediocrity on Your Team

What are you doing to stop the diligent pursuit of mediocrity in your business?

The toughest test of a manager is not how they deal with poor performance — it’s how they address mediocrity.

I’ve been struck over the years watching executives opine in public about the need for “accountability” and “high performance,” then complain helplessly in private about one or two middling members of their own team. You have no moral authority to ask other managers to hold people accountable if you’re not doing so yourself. Are you sure you’re doing enough to push for high performance? What do you do when someone’s work is good but not great? How many employees do you have whose performance isn’t bad enough for termination, but whom you’d pass on if you could get a do-over on hiring them?

Unfortunately, if you’re hoping for a silver bullet to address a mediocre performer, I have little to offer. Chronic mediocrity is a symptom of ineffective leadership, not anemic personnel.

More of the Harvard Business Review post from Joseph Grenny


26
Apr 17

Data Center Knowledge – Busy in the Data Center? Here’s How to Make Time for Learning

Continuing education should be a top priority for anyone involved with data centers or the entire IT field for that matter. It’s especially important in industries such as healthcare for example. While new technologies and approaches don’t always save lives, they can certainly alter the landscape of the market. Times change, and so should you. While we may agree that continuing education is fundamental to both organizational success and the development of one’s career, it’s not always easy to fit it into a busy schedule.

Keep in mind, continuing education does not have to mean an additional university degree or even a new certification. Your CE approach can take a number of different forms.

More of the Data Center Knowledge article from Karen Riccio


03
Apr 17

HBR – Why CIOs Make Great Board Directors

According to Korn Ferry unpublished data, there has been a 74% increase in the number of CIOs serving on Fortune 100 boards in the past two years.

It’s no wonder CIOs are the fastest-growing addition to the boardroom: They can help address a host of issues of crucial importance to boards, including using technologies to create operational efficiencies and competitive advantage; identifying opportunities related to cloud computing, digitization, and data; addressing threats and risks associated with information security; and using their experience and judgment to oversee, question, and provide input on technology budgets.

But there’s room for growth. Only 31% of Fortune 100 boards currently have a director who is a CIO, even though technology is at the core of every business today. As Sheila Jordan, CIO at Symantec and director at FactSet, put it, “All companies are technology companies today. Technology is a lever to run the business, but also to change and grow.”

More of the Harvard Business Review article from Craig Stephenson and Nels Olson


08
Feb 17

Fast Company – The Tech Geek’s Guide To Talking To Other People At Work

That blank stare from the CMO doesn’t mean she’s an idiot. It means you need to translate your tech speak into business speak.

I was talking with the head of research and development for a major medical device company, and he was really frustrated. “Anett,” he said, “my leadership team doesn’t understand what we’re doing. We’re not just a back-office function supporting the company—we’re building our products!” He felt like his team was getting trampled on and disregarded—he just didn’t know how to get his message across.

People in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) fields are used to getting blank stares and being asked dumb questions when they talk about their work. But it’s not that everyone else is stupid—it’s just that you know a lot more about the technical details than they do.

In other words, it’s a communication challenge: You need some better ways to present your solutions, discoveries, or obstacles to everybody else in your organization—to translate them from tech speak into business speak. So whether you’re a recent engineering grad just entering the corporate world, or a mid-career IT manager hoping for that big promotion, here are four tips to help you explain what you do and why it matters.

More of the FastCompany article from Anett Grant


16
Jan 17

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From the article: “The problem I see more often is that leaders don’t make decisions at all. They don’t clearly signal their intent about what matters. In short, they don’t prioritize.” Is your IT staff clear on priorities?

Every organization needs what I call a “hierarchy of purpose.” Without one, it is almost impossible to prioritize effectively.

When I first joined BNP Paribas Fortis, for example, two younger and more dynamic banks had just overtaken us. Although we had been a market leader for many years, our new products had been launched several months later than the competition — in fact, our time to market had doubled over the previous three years. Behind that problem was a deeper one: We had more than 100 large projects (each worth over 500,000 euros) under way. No one had a clear view of the status of those investments, or even the anticipated benefits. The bank was using a project management tool, but the lack of discipline in keeping it up to date made it largely fruitless. Capacity, not strategy, was determining which projects launched and when. If people were available, the project was launched. If not, it stalled or was killed.

Prioritization at a strategic and operational level is often the difference between success and failure. But many organizations do it badly.

More of the Harvard Business Review article from Antonio Nieto-Rodriguez


11
Jan 17

IT Business Edge – Whistleblower Advises IT Pros on How to Handle Corporate Malfeasance

Michael G. Winston’s name will probably forever be linked to the Great Recession of the late 2000s, but in a good way: He’s the whistleblower who dared to take on the subprime mortgage lender Countrywide Financial Corp. So what better person to ask about blowing the whistle as an IT pro?

Now a leadership consultant and author of the book, “World-Class Performance,” Winston has become something of a folk hero in the recession’s aftermath, never shying away from speaking out on corporate malfeasance. In a recent interview, I presented a hypothetical scenario to him in which a newly hired network engineer learns that the IT organization is engaged in an effort, initiated by the CEO, to hack into the networks of the company’s competitors, and he’s expected to go along with it. What should the network engineer do?

More of the IT Business Edge article from Don Tennant


22
Dec 16

ZDNet – If you want to be secure, get in the cloud

Some CIOs are reticent to rely on the cloud. The high cost of a data loss means executives decide to keep information within the enterprise firewall. However, a change in stance is taking place – and many business leaders recognise the cloud is actually a better way to keep information safe and lawmakers in check.

CIOs in all territories face a tranche of data rules. Businesses are currently preparing for another change in legislation. The European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) is due to come into force on 25 May 2018 and will see companies fined up to 4 per cent of their global turnover for breaches.

GDPR will require a serious step up in security policies and procedures. The potential costs, both in terms of financial and reputational damage, could leave executives out of pocket, out of a job – or even more seriously – in jail.

However, evidence suggests a wake up call is required. Research from insurance specialist Lloyd’s suggests 92 per cent of companies have suffered a data breach in the past five years. Executives must react and take a proactive approach to information security.

More of the ZDNet post from Mark Samuels