CIO Symmetry


November 11, 2011  2:20 PM

New social media platforms Tumblr and Pinterest make waves

Wendy Schuchart Wendy Schuchart Profile: Wendy Schuchart

Everyone and their neighbor has heard about Twitter and Facebook, but CIOs should have some new social media platforms on their radar. They’re all part of the social media trend called instablogging. That’s right, those social media magpies are bored writing 140-character tweets and now publish to their networks by clicking a single button.

Tumblr is a combination of Twitter and blogging, but with a visual slant. This social media upstart has seen tremendous growth in its use throughout 2011; according to the Nielsen Media Q3 2011 Social Media report, it’s now the third-most-visited social media website after Facebook and Blogger. Yep, it was even more popular than Twitter and LinkedIn this year, tripling its usage compared to 2010.

Just as Tumblr is a clone of Twitter and Facebook, it has its own cadre of clones as well. Pinterest, for instance, is akin to a visual link aggregator — like Twitter with images. As such, it works best with visually interesting concepts and photographs, but a single “pin” can propagate throughout the Pinterest network like wildfire. While the visual Pinterest is still in private beta, it seems to have found instant success with female users — a highly covetable consumer segment. Expect Pinterest to be a major player in 2012, and make sure you’re watching your company’s brand and reputation play out in this space.

Similar to Pinterest, Instagram takes a user’s smartphone’s internal camera and runs with it, melding user-created photographs with social media platforms. It allows unlimited characters for text, and integrates with most of the major players, like Twitter and Facebook. It would be very easy for an employee to innocently share photos of something humorous (but potentially embarrassing) around the workplace and blast it out to their enormous social network. Are you cringing right now?

These new heirs to the Twitter and Facebook throne should serve as a reminder to revisit your social media policy regularly. Make sure that the wording is inclusive, covering not just a single social media network, but all current and future social media platforms as well.

The important thing to note is that this latest generation of social media offerings allows users to connect and interact with users outside their social networks. Unlike Facebook, your customers don’t have to be “friends” with someone to see what they’re publishing. Facebook’s privacy issues are constantly ruffling feathers, but the new kids on the social media block aren’t concerned with who sees what. These users seem to understand that what they put on the Internet is, you know, on the Internet. This should be a relief — at least when it comes to concerns about proprietary information leaking out. But then again, there’s always that misguided worker in every bunch.

Another important thing to note is the sense of discovery with your company’s online audience. Savvy customers are leaning away from Google searches, with its misleading SEO tricks and system-gaming. Traditional search logic could fall by the wayside as Jane or Joe Consumer rely less on “Googling” and more on what their private curators and tastemakers on the latest crop of social media sites have to say. The CIO who figures out how to harness that tidal shift will be a force of nature.

November 8, 2011  7:58 PM

A new take on building CIO community

Wendy Schuchart Wendy Schuchart Profile: Wendy Schuchart

We’re always trying to consider what’s on the minds of CIOs today. We write tips and news articles about it. We interview CIOs and profile them. But much of that commentary happens in a controlled environment and one-on-one with a writer or editor.

The SearchCIO360 dinner event changed all that. New to TechTarget, this event brought together 15 CIOs from the Boston area and beyond. They met late last month at a local restaurant near our offices in Newton, Mass.

During dinner we had CIOs from large corporations in spirited debate with CIOs from midsize corporations about such subjects as business-technology convergence, cloud computing, IT consumerization and the future of the CIO as a career. One CIO from a midsize business defended his company’s BYOD policy, while the CIO of a large, multinational financial company said, “I love the iPad, but I can’t allow it in my company because I can’t secure it.”

Most importantly, this event was an opportunity for CIOs from companies of different sizes and from diverse industries to meet and share contact information, which they all did.

Look for more SearchCIO360 events next year in your area. These events are for you, the senior IT executive, so if you want to be part of a new and growing senior IT professional community, we encourage you to join in.


November 7, 2011  5:24 PM

Sustainability initiatives driving innovation

Wendy Schuchart Wendy Schuchart Profile: Wendy Schuchart

You got an extra hour this week, so why does it seem like you’re still crushed by the weight of your to-do list? We’re here to help. We’ve got an executive summary of the blogosphere’s greatest hits, including an optimistic piece on decision making, an update from the National Institutes of Science and Technology (NIST) on cloud computing, and a report on sustainability initiatives in technology.

IT often takes the blame for eating up tons of energy, but technology also is supporting sustainability initiatives at every turn. Lauren Drell details four ways that tech improves recycling rates for organizations, as well as for consumers.

Do you remember the early, heady days of the Web, when people fretted about dead links and teenagers who were considered addicted because they spent hours surfing on the Web? Check out this list of the pros and cons of the Internet, circa 1996, featuring AltaVista and Yahoo. So quaint!

Sure, everyone who has ever had to reboot a server at 4 a.m. is no stranger to the F-bomb. Scott Hanselman asks whether profanity at IT conferences has become an accepted tradition — and more importantly, how does it affect your credibility and reputation?

Are you afraid of making bad decisions? Elizabeth Harrin claims that there’s no such thing as bad decisions. They’re either good decisions or lessons for the future. Sure, that lesson might get you fired, but think of how much you learned.

In the wake of NIST’s new cloud computing update, Jon Stokes argues that NIST really doesn’t seem to grok what cloud computing is and should scrap the cloud entirely.

Women might be a clear minority in IT and in management in general, but they are leading the way in clean technology. Anna Brones writes about five women who are influencing sustainability initiatives in technology.

Google arguably is sitting pretty, but it’s only a matter of time before the mighty fall. Dan Kaplan details the many reasons why Google’s glory days are numbered.

As CIOs make inroads in supporting green IT practices, Zoe Fox lists five ways tech companies are leading the way in sustainability initiatives.


November 4, 2011  1:57 PM

Are you in danger of losing your Gen Xers?

Wendy Schuchart Wendy Schuchart Profile: Wendy Schuchart

We have been exploring how CIOs need to approach millennials in the workplace — especially how members of that generation interact with technology. Indeed, millennials get the credit for cutting their teeth on the Internet, despite the fact that many of the Web’s revolutionary aspects were created by Generation X techies. The guys behind Google? That’s the MTV generation, right there.

With all of this attention on Generation Y, the generation before it is getting overlooked. According to the Deloitte Talent Edge 2020 survey, released earlier this year, Gen Xers are by far the most likely to be dissatisfied with their current employment situation, and only 28% of survey respondents planned to stay with their current employers. That’s a potential talent exodus that CIOs can’t afford to ignore.

While Generation X has been branded as slackers, more than 40% of Gen Xers work more than 50 hours per week, a stark contrast to the feelings of the workforce under the age of 30. What’s driving that career angst?

Given that the very same Deloitte survey cites “promotion/job advancement” as a primary retention incentive for 64% of Generation X respondents, could it be that they are frustrated by the so-called grey ceiling? Many baby boomers are putting off their retirement, perhaps in part due to anemic retirement funds hit hard by the double dip recession. Whether CIOs intend for them to believe that or not, Gen Xers may have determined that the only way up is out.

“Gen Xers don’t expect anything; they don’t expect loyalty, they don’t expect special treatment. They expect to be given a deliverable and be told what to do and to get things done — and if their services are no longer needed, they’ll move on. It’s very Lone Ranger, silver-bullet kind of thing.” said Jessie Newburn, president of Stellium Communications.

So what’s the answer? Make sure that in your careful attention to the millennials, you haven’t neglected the silent generation. Give your 30- to 45-year-old workers proof that there are opportunities for advancement within your organization — and then make sure to follow through on your promises.


November 1, 2011  3:50 PM

PCI DSS compliance may be the answer to more than credit card privacy

Scot Petersen Scot Petersen Profile: Scot Petersen

The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard — PCI DSS — has been around for a few years and has seemingly done a good job of keeping credit card data safe.
No, it’s not a binding regulation, and there’s not a lot of official enforcement. But PCI DSS compliance has worked well for those who adhere to it — so much so that some PCI experts are calling for PCI to be used in other areas of risk management. After all, data privacy is data privacy, right?

That was the contention of some who congregated at the PCI Security Standards Council (PCI SSC) European Community Meeting in London recently, according to SearchSecurity.co.uk.

SearchCompliance.com contributor Kevin Beaver, of Principle Logic LCC, a noted expert in PCI DSS compliance, thinks this is a good idea.

“Many organizations would benefit from implementing PCI-type controls across other areas of the enterprise,” Beaver wrote in an email. “One of the things I see people struggling with is where to start with managing enterprise information risks. In particular, people get caught up in NIST for this, HIPAA for that and ISO/IEC for everything else. This approach can create unnecessary complexity which, as we’re all learning, is the enemy of security. In the end, all of these regulations, standards and frameworks address the same fundamental issues. It’s merely a matter of deciding on what’s best for your systems in the context of your business. The important thing is to not let apathy set in — just do something.”

I agree. There are plenty of areas where a bottom-up approach to data privacy is needed, and if PCI DSS compliance works and is widely accepted, you should do it. But remember, you are not necessarily secure just by being compliant with some standard framework. However, if you practice good security, with up-to-date hardware, software and policies, you likely will be in compliance with some standard. Find one that works for you.


October 31, 2011  5:44 PM

How to be a strategic leader in the IT industry

Lmartinek Lisa Martinek Profile: Lmartinek

What happened in the IT world last week? Here’s the scoop on what you might have missed, including how IBM set an example for strategic leadership, Hewlett-Packard Co.’s recent decision and cloud computing.

IBM made history by selecting its first female CEO, Ginni Rometty. But Jena McGregor believes the way she was selected is what makes IBM a strategic leader in the IT industry.

Meg Whitman recently took over as CEO at HP, and with that, HP has decided to stay in the PC business after considering “strategic alternatives.” She released a statement explaining that “keeping the Personal Systems Group within HP is right for customers and partners, right for shareholders, and right for employees.”

Dropbox formally announced Dropbox for Teams for enterprises, but is it ready to compete with Box.net?

Tony Fadell, the former leader of the development of the iPod and iPhone, has a new project. Are you imagining the possibilities right now? He’s remade the thermostat. Seriously.

Where does the future of cloud computing lie? According to Jeff Belk, the cloud is going to need some help, and its future is in our hands.

Steve Jobs was one of the most strategic leaders and innovators in tech history, but how are the sales of  his new biography? As you could have guessed, it’s already topped the charts and doesn’t seem to be going anywhere.


October 26, 2011  8:00 PM

Generation Y and technology: Till death do us part

Lmartinek Lisa Martinek Profile: Lmartinek

They’re here. No, I’m not talking about ghosts. I’m talking about the new generation. Generation Y, a group also known as millennials, is entering the workforce and baffling employers and co-workers. It’s important to examine the topic of Generation Y and technology, considering that a study by the Pew Research Center found that 24% of millennials believe using technology is the factor that makes their generation unique, compared with the 12% of Generation X (the age group preceding Generation Y) who believe this.

According to a Bomgar Corp. survey, more than 80% of IT managers view Generation Y as different or very different from previous generations with regard to its technology expectations. What are these expectations? Bomgar found that 59% of Generation Y individuals feel that an acceptable wait time for IT support is 10 minutes or less. If you’re worried about Generation Y’s unrealistic IT expectations, however, rest easy with this finding: Of that age group, 74% gave their IT department a six or seven on a scale of one to seven, even with the gap between expectation and reality.

The Bomgar survey also found that 61% of Generation Y individuals first use resources other than company support for dealing with technology problems. Fifty-eight percent prefer chat or text messaging for their IT support communications, rather than the telephone.

Another link between Generation Y and technology is mobility. Generational dynamics expert Jessie Newburn says that if you ask Generation Y what productivity tool they could never do without, the answer you’ll get is smartphones. The answer from Generation X is computers. “They [Generation Y] see their prime ability to be productive and effective and communicative is in the realm of smartphones and things that move with them,” she says. This need for mobility will no doubt affect how technology tools are managed within the workplace.

Here’s an interesting tidbit from the Pew Research study: 83% of Generation Y individuals sleep with their cell phone on or right next to their bed. This statistic surprised me for a second — until I realized I’m part of that 83%. 


October 25, 2011  5:20 PM

Apple’s Siri speaks to iPhone users, but what is the message?

Scot Petersen Scot Petersen Profile: Scot Petersen

Full disclosure: I’ve been an iPhone user since 2008 and I just bought my second iPad. So, I’m not bashing Apple products, and I’m not bashing iPhone users or users of Apple products in general.

However, as Bill Murray once said in Stripes, something is seriously wrong here. The new iPhone 4S and its Siri voice recognition software are getting very favorable reviews, and everyone I have talked to about Siri has nothing but good things to say about it. So, why do I dare to blaspheme?

It’s not the technology, it’s the message. As I’ve noted before, Apple has an irresistible power over its users. So, when in the new 4S TV commercials Apple shows several morons learning how to accomplish daily tasks by using Siri, I get a little worried. The message is, you can solve everything by asking Siri. My question is, why would you want to?

If I didn’t know better, I would say Apple is taking a subtle swipe at the intelligence of its customers and iPhone users. It’s a practice Microsoft created about a decade ago: We can give over our lives to software, which theoretically frees our minds to do more complex tasks. It could be a step toward the next phase of human evolution, or it could be the next step in the dumbing down of Internet users. But it’s not. It’s just a tool; and like any tool, it has its uses and its limits.

One final thought for companies that are thinking about a bring-your-own-device policy: If too many iPhone users start talking into their phones to accomplish their daily tasks, it’s going to send some people over the edge — like me.


October 24, 2011  4:27 PM

Why you need to care about trends in cloud computing

Wendy Schuchart Wendy Schuchart Profile: Wendy Schuchart

Every week, we scour the Web and give you a rundown of the week’s best and brightest blog posts. This week we’re serving up some analysis about DevOps in networking, the brain’s preference in user interfaces, and the latest and greatest trends in cloud computing. Sit back and pick your pleasure.

Oracle has completed its sixth acquisition of 2011, purchasing cloud-based customer service provider RightNow Technologies for its motley crew of cloud services. We’ll see whether Amazon.com starts shaking in its boots, but it seems doubtful that this acquisition will affect trends in cloud computing.

If networks start to look like the cloud, does networking need its own DevOps movement? Stacey Higginbottom thinks so.

Something to consider for your next user-integration project: Computer voices are mostly female because our brains are wired to like them better. Unless, of course, it’s Morgan Freeman’s voice; then, all bets are off.

We’re all sick of those reports about the sky falling, but in this case, the sky is indeed falling. A German satellite has made an “uncontrolled re-entry,” crashing somewhere in Southeast Asia.

It’s been 10 years since Apple introduced the world to the iPod. The event was a new high-water mark for the company as it moved from being a boutique brand to a major player in the tech arena. IPods used to max out at 10 GB. They grow up so fast!

IT leaders should focus on simplicity, calculated risks and trends like cloud computing and desktop virtualization, advised analysts at last week’s Gartner Symposium/ITxpo.

Worried that the PC is dead? Rumors of its death seem to be greatly exaggerated. Even in a floundering economy, Intel’s quarterly results are better than those from Apple, which missed its Q4 earnings estimates.

Another major birthday: Ubuntu turned 7 this week. Mark Shuttleworth points out that the use of Ubuntu is one of the biggest trends in cloud computing.


October 20, 2011  8:25 PM

Gartner Symposium/ITxpo urges creative destruction

Wendy Schuchart Wendy Schuchart Profile: Wendy Schuchart

Creative destruction. I’ve heard that term a lot this year, although it’s hardly a new concept. From what’s happening with the Occupy Wall Street madness to the pressure to innovate in the IT space. I always have a fanciful moment where I envision a CIO swinging a sledgehammer in the server room or maybe one of those Wile E. Coyote TNT push levers that blow everything sky high. If only it were that simple.

This week, SearchCIO-Midmarket.com writers Linda Tucci and Christina Torode are reporting from the annual Gartner Symposium/ITxpo in Orlando, Fla. Gartner’s top analysts are pushing creative destruction and urging IT leaders to “re-imagine IT.” CIOs need to take a step back and embrace a little imperfection, urges Gartner analysts. That’s easier said than done. Let’s face it: CIOs tend to be incredibly detail-oriented and precise. That’s part of what makes you so good at what you do. But creative destruction really embodies the notion that sometimes things get a little messy. And that’s OK.

“Most IT organizations have 70% or more of their time, money and mind share locked into reliability, keeping things going,” said Tina Nunno, vice president and distinguished analyst. “Yet demands for game-changing IT capabilities are growing every year. IT leaders must transform their businesses, products, services and value proposition to the external customer, and challenge traditional ways of thinking.”

Our editorial director, Scot Petersen, blogged about IT innovation and creative disruption this past March. In the post, he quoted Bryan Smith, CIO of Volvo Construction Equipment North America:

“I think of the process that either individuals or businesses go through of purposefully making the decision to do something in a different way, even though it might be disrupting a comfortable way of doing things,” Smith said. “Creative disruption is necessary, because it becomes so easy to say, well, we’ve always done it this way.”

Again, it comes back to serving the business and being a profitable business center. Gartner is pushing “people-centric design” to assist and enhance user experiences.

It’s difficult to really quantify those kinds of enhancements, though, so the other side of the innovation is also in figuring out a way to really show your CEO what a great job you’re doing.  Remember how IT is perceived as being the TSA of the company? Perception is key.

So tell me, how are you putting your own spin on creative destruction? Have you been inspired by this Gartner Symposium/ITxpo call to action? Who has led by example in tearing down old systems while making the users stand up and cheer? The comments are hanging on your every word.


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