I’m writing this blog post on my second monitor. It’s a 21-inch widescreen. I also have a third monitor, a 24-incher that actually belongs to a second computer — and sometimes I use my iPad as another auxiliary window to the world. And to think that just a few years ago I was satisfied with just a single 14-inch laptop screen! According to this week’s story in The New York Times, I’m multitasking on multiple monitors. But am I really? Is adding a second monitor like driving a car while talking on a cell phone?
Most of the time, I’m using one monitor to read source material while actively working in the second. Adding a second monitor can be like two hands washing dishes: The left hand might be scrubbing and the right hand might be rinsing, but you’re still doing one activity.
However, for other workers, working on two monitors might mean having a project open on one and their email and Facebook open on the second. In that case, true attention-splintering is taking place. A famous 2005 study found that email distraction can cause a decrease in functional IQ, akin to a whopping 10-point decrease overall. That’s worse than the impact of smoking marijuana. Ironically, the study was sponsored by a Hewlett-Packard, a major vendor of computer monitors.
Regardless, an easy way to increase employee retention is to give them excellent tools to do their job. If adding a second monitor is the thing that makes a worker — like me — happy, it’s a no-brainer. Whether it’s a productivity tool or a detriment to overall creativity is up for debate.
Out of curiosity, how many monitors do you have on your desk right now? What’s the ideal scenario for productivity? The comments are waiting to hear from you.
Last August, I sat at VMworld 2011 with 19,000 other IT literati and heard CEO Paul Maritz assure us that we were in the post-PC era. But are we really?
Certainly there isn’t much argument about how remote desktop virtualization increases worker productivity by giving them access on multiple platforms. Furthermore, desktop virtualization reduces company costs and upkeep. CIOs are definitely paying attention to the benefits of virtualization.
The main problem with this description is that it discounts the PC entirely and smacks of absolutism. CIOs live in the real world, and there are always differing use cases in every business. With judicious application, it’s possible to have your benefits of virtualization without damaging the productivity of some workers, especially around specialty-use cases and ergonomics.
Specialty-use cases come up when you have highly specialized software, as engineering or science professionals do. These highly technical workers have applications that simply don’t work, or work poorly, in a virtualized desktop environment. Overzealous rollout of a remote virtual desktop where the goal is 100% coverage creates an absolute — one that works counter to the company’s overall productivity. Crippling your engineers in order to fulfill an unrealistic goal? Not good for the business. CIOs need to remember that achieving 90% to 98% coverage is fantastic, and that those stubborn last percentage points are desktop users who actually might be better off being left alone, post-PC era or not.
Smart CIOs are mindful of the physical well-being of their workforce. Everybody loves a lighter, thinner laptop, and everybody loves a sleek tablet device. However, for workers who are not highly mobile, smaller screens and slick, tiny keyboards are a recipe for eyestrain, backaches and carpal tunnel syndrome. CIOs need to make sure that the IT departments they run are aware of use cases and are not making one-size-fits-all decisions. Certainly, use cases cannot be allowed to get too complicated, but a few standard configurations based on role will make employees more productive and prevent long-term problems for their health and happiness.
What do you think? Is this really the “post-PC era”? Is 100% remote desktop virtualization adoption even feasible? Is it pointless to cut the cord for each and every worker? Is it possible to extract some benefits of virtualization without going all the way? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments.
Last week I wrote about the transformation of banking services into products. This week I want to discuss different types of services–shared services.
One of the first technology news stories I ever worked on in my career was titled something like “Mainframe at your server.” The phrase recalls the bygone days of client/server, when hardware was king. Today’s adage, however, is “mainframe at your service.”
The February edition of the Enterprise CIO Decisions ezine on the topic of shared services is an important one, as the promises of virtualization, cloud computing and centralized IT become fully realized in enterprise computing. Yet IT executives don’t have a set definition of what shared services are. For some, the concept is all about pooling resources through virtualization; for others, shared services are a means to an end, that end being cost savings and efficiency.
But in reality, shared services are about moving from the server to the service. “It’s a fundamental shift,” says Jake Hughes, chief technical architect at Seattle Children’s Hospital, in the ezine. “Instead of HR saying, ‘That is my server and that is my storage,’ it is their service and they have no idea what’s on the back end. It is no longer any one person’s or any one business unit’s storage because we may move that storage 10 times in one week, depending on the needs of the overall organization.”
Experts agree that the goal of a services-oriented IT environment is to make services readily and easily accessible to end users. That in itself is what will really revolutionize IT.
Each week, we scour the Web and collect all the best and brightest links to start your week off swinging. This week, we’re looking at the latest credit card hacks, how Apple tricks its employees into keeping corporate secrets and a successful corporate social media campaign that will please all the Gen-Xers in the crowd.
• Honda managed to hit a whopper of a successful corporate social media campaign with its Ferris Bueller revamp for the Super Bowl. Alas, Cameron is nowhere to be seen.
• With a $50 device bought off eBay, hackers can lift credit card info from the cards inside your wallet.
• Move over Seattle and Silicon Valley, the hot new tech cities include San Antonio; Greensboro, N.C.; and St. Louis.
• How serious is Apple about maintaining corporate secrets? Way serious. It creates fake projects for new engineers to work on until they can be trusted.
• Does your corporation have a corporate blog? The corporate blogging trend is on the decline, according to a recent study by the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth. Don’t worry, you can still get your blog fix right here.
• In an effort to become one of the top tech cities, should a local government sell stock to raise money for a broadband network? What the Green Bay Packers and rural England can teach the world about raising capital for technology improvements.
• Fresh Yahoo CEO Scott Thompson is wasting no time cleaning house. The Internet company has announced it is whacking 10 of its big mobile apps, like Yahoo Deals and Yahoo News.
• Twitter announced that it was going to allow country-specific censorship of Twitter posts last week. The proposed #TwitterBlackout on Saturday, however, really didn’t do anything (as one might have suspected).
First, maybe I’m pessimistic, but I’m kind of shocked that Google hasn’t been combining its information about users all along. I mean, it’s 2012, right? Facebook basically knows enough about me to successfully predict what I’m going to wear tomorrow, yet we all grudgingly accept Zuckerberg’s evil empire and go on with our status updates. But Google makes one tweak with how its own products manage a user identity and everyone is up in arms? Face it, the war was over a long time ago when it comes to online identity. You want to be mad at a company, it’s not Google — not this time, anyway.
Of course, there’s the new Google Personal Search, which I’ll admit is a little disarming, but then again, I am somewhat surprised that there are still people who believe that the stuff you put on the Internet is somehow hidden from the world. This naïveté might have been appropriate in 1996, but at this point, how can people not understand how the Internet works?
The recent pullbacks of the two controversial anti-online piracy bills — SOPA and PIPA — don’t mean that users can continue indefinitely to download their favorite content whenever and wherever they are. But they also don’t mean that copyright-conscious content firms will be getting every penny and page view coming to them.
Proponents of tough anti-piracy laws will be back with more specific language about what defines a site that hosts online content and which punishments will be enforced for sites that host content “illegally.” Once that is settled, content providers can begin focusing on true pirates, not everyone who might have a rogue video posted on their server.
Assuming that eventually happens, the big issue seems to be users’ desire for online content and what they are willing to give up for it, whether it is a credit card or personal information or risk being able to download it at all.
While these fights are going on, lawmakers for the European Union are attacking another hazard of online life: privacy. EU officials are proposing privacy protections for data and individuals that are even more strict than existing EU laws. Opponents of these proposals say such stringent measures will hurt business and innovation.
I think it is interesting that the U.S.-based businesses (primarily entertainment firms) behind SOPA and PIPA are a lot more concerned about prohibiting unauthorized access to content than they are about protecting the privacy of their customers, whose data are mined by the terabyte every day in order to find more ways to get them to view all of that content.
What users should be fighting for is for more control over their online lives, and that means tougher privacy laws.
What do you think?
Each week, we scour the World Wide Web to give you a quick punch of last week’s biggest news stories and interesting blog posts. This week, we’re taking a look at whether computer science should be mandatory education, the new Wi-Fi coverage in the London Underground, and two very creative data center solutions that conserve energy and allow for more choices in data center build sites.
- The fancy new Facebook Timeline is now open to all, and you get a week to go through your old posts and hide anything you don’t want your neighbor or your old girlfriend to see. You know, stuff you did back in those naïve days when we thought that posting on Facebook was totally harmless. Ah, youth!
- We’ve all heard that the Internet is a series of tubes, but now Londoners will be able to surf the tubes while riding the Tube. The London Underground will have Wi-Fi coverage in time for the 2012 Olympics. We hope they don’t forget to mind the gap.
- With bigger and bigger data centers on the horizon, it’s always a struggle to find a place to put them. This developer has submitted a design for 36,000-square-foot data center solutions that hide in plain sight as a luxury mansion.
- Only days after we waxed poetic on the future of RIM, Mike Lazaridis and Jim Balisillie are stepping down as co-CEOs of RIM. Is there any hope left for BlackBerry at this point?
- “Stay hungry, stay foolish” is probably one of the best Steve Jobs quotes around, and now it’s going to be making the rounds on a Virgin America plane named after Jobs. You probably don’t even have to ask if it’s got great Wi-Fi coverage, right?
- Should computer science be mandatory for kids in school? Andy Young believes that all kids should learn coding along with their reading and ‘rithmatic, but first we need to make sure normal people understand what “coding” means.
- Have you ever experienced some of these stupid user tricks?
- Google recognizes its green data center solutions with solid ideas you could adapt for just about any size company.
Research in Motion (RIM) must feel like the belle of the ball this week, especially after a year of major foibles, like the big BlackBerry outage. After Boy Genius Report mentioned that Samsung might be looking to purchase the BlackBerry developer, RIM’s stock price jumped by 9%. There have been whispers of Microsoft sniffing around RIM as well.
While some BlackBerry Messenger users would rather cut off an arm than put down their beloved CrackBerrys, this rumbling about who will buy RIM seems a little irrelevant among the other smartphones’ features available today. I’m about to horrify BlackBerry users, but sorry, guys, BlackBerry apps just can’t even come close to what’s out there for iPhones and Androids. I understand that using a BlackBerry is akin to taking your grandpa’s Cadillac cruiser out for a spin. It has a certain flair, but wouldn’t you really rather sport something a little — I don’t know — fresher?
RIM has stated that the BlackBerry’s software — BlackBerry OS 10 — will be released at the end of 2012 to new hardware. In smartphone years, that’s a product lifecycle away. Heck, we might even have the iPhone 5 by then. RIM will need more than a BlackBerry software upgrade if it wants to keep a foot in the game.
“If Samsung (or any other Android partner) were to integrate RIM’s enterprise services, like BlackBerry Messenger, into their offering, they would achieve instant differentiation in the increasingly monochrome Android space. Not to mention gaining a brand which, despite its recent misfortune, still enjoys a loyal following and has seen recent gains in developing markets globally,” said Craig Cartier, a Frost & Sullivan analyst.
As I’ve said in the past, I’m an unabashed Applephile, so you can probably guess that I’m not using a BlackBerry. But I would definitely agree with Andy Patrizio that this is make-or-break time for RIM.
Let’s hear from the BlackBerry users in the group: Are you worried about losing your precious BlackBerry to the likes of Samsung or Microsoft? Am I being too hard on BlackBerry for its lackluster smartphone featuers? Do you think a buyout will change RIM’s strategy or commitment to quality?
The comments are waiting to hear from you.
Recently, I was with my son to open an account at the local branch of my once mighty but now struggling Mega Bank. The customer service rep ran through the “product” options we had for creating his account and linking it to our main accounts. This product was free but required a minimum balance, or this product didn’t require a minimum balance but was not free. And so on.
These products used to be called services back in the day, when banks made enough money on their own investments that they didn’t have to wring every last nickel out of their customers in order to stay solvent.
But since when did banks ever really “get it?” Their latest foray into the real world is with Twitter. I’m not sure about you, but banking and health care are the two areas where customers should avoid communicating through Twitter. Data privacy and effective communication would be the first reasons to avoid it. As it turns out, a research firm recently looked at banks on Twitter and concluded that the social media platform is not a good tool for customer service.
One comment on the New York Times story summed it up best: “Or, perhaps banks just struggle to help customers. Scripted responses, failure to listen and trouble getting customers to the right people to help them are all standard when dealing with banks — face-to-face, phone, email, website — Twitter is just the newest arena for failure.”
It’s a very special time of the year and no, it’s not just Girl Scout cookie season. We just completed our annual poll on IT salary satisfaction. Being kind of a data junkie, I’ve dived into our readers’ responses with gusto and have been delighted in reading them. You’ve been painting quite the compelling picture about your support of strategic innovations.
We asked how much time in a given month is being spent on strategic innovations such as business and IT integration, long-term planning, and IT product and services development. The majority of midmarket CIOs and senior IT executives reported spending only 10% to 25% of their time on those crucial activities. Only 20% of our midmarket respondents spend more than 50% of their time doing strategic planning.
It begs the question: What exactly is filling your days? The biggest challenge for most CIOs is in becoming a trusted partner with the rest of the senior leadership team. This statistic seems to reflect that CIOs and senior IT executives are still struggling to build those relationships and set themselves as valued partners in steering the company toward profits.
What’s the secret? One of our survey respondents, Chadd D. Carr, CIO at Advanced Concepts Research Group in Gainesville, Va., had an interesting take on the ideal strategic relationship. “Perhaps the most important is the support and commitment from leadership. Operating within a technology-aware organization allows me to forgo the usual hurdles relative to aligning IT spending with the organization’s business objectives, and focus in on securing and enabling the IS needed to sustain strategic advantages.”
So, what are CIOs and senior IT execs spending time on? Boring, guts-no-glory activities like project management. By far, our midmarket respondents spent more time managing projects in 2011 than they did in 2010. Budget crunches and shrinking IT staff caused senior IT leaders to roll up their sleeves and get their hands into the mix.
But this trend could have disastrous results for the IT talent pool. “I think many of the CIOs have been asked by their executive management teams to carry a disproportionate share of the burden in these lean times. In support of keeping their organizations afloat, many CIOs have been asking their staffs and themselves to do more with less and for less money. Most have done a fantastic job for an extended period of time. If they believe that when the economy picks up, their own organizations will not ‘make them whole,’ it seems highly likely they will move on to an organization that will provide better opportunities for personal and professional fulfillment,” remarked Ken Desforges, director of information services for the city of Diamond Bar, Calif.
Desforges’ predictions are supported by our CIO/IT Strategy Group poll on IT salary satisfaction. Many of our respondents reported being excited and driven by their role in strategic innovations, indicating that strategic innovations play a big part in their job satisfaction.
Over the next few weeks, we’ll be sharing the data on SearchCIO-Midmarket.com and our sister site SearchCIO.com, and some of the findings will surprise you. Don’t miss Editorial Director Scot Petersen’s discussion about IT job satisfaction between midmarket senior IT executives and midlevel IT directors.