Leveraging cloud for backend ops
At Dallas-based TopGolf, CIO Tom LaPlante is one IT leader who goes well beyond lip service when it comes to innovation. In just over year since he was named the golf entertainment company’s first CIO, he has brought new life to business and change management processes, seen the opening of two new venues and a technology lab and he’s gearing up launch an innovation think tank with employees dedicated to focusing on what’s next.
With so much focus on innovation, LaPlante seeks to make it as relatively simple as possible to run backend operations. Freeing up employees to work on more innovation-focused projects is often cited as a potential perk of leveraging cloud solutions. For LaPlante, embracing cloud has meant keeping the innovation focus while avoiding additional hires.
“Our philosophy is to be lean and mean, so if I were to do a certain thing in-house I might have to add three people versus letting someone implement that technology and let the cloud vendor deal with the rest.”
LaPlante currently runs Microsoft Office 365 in the cloud and several of TopGolf’s site-specific solutions are cloud based or run on software-as-a-service (SaaS). It’s proved a good way to get solutions tailored for TopGolf’s sites and get them scaled up faster than they could by building and hosting them in-house.
“Thus far we’re seeing cost that’s if not neutral, slightly lower, because I don’t have to staff up and house a big data center,” he said. “We use colo facilities and for our data warehouse initiative we’re still deciding whether to host that in the cloud or stand up our own, but we try to make as much use of cloud capabilities and technologies as possible.”
Click here to read the full SearchCIO Innovator profile of Tom LaPlante .
One step forward, two steps back for women in technology? Just when women in tech seem to be breaking through IT leadership glass ceilings and making strides towards equality on the consumer end of technology, Samsung goes and gets all sexist with its Samsung Galaxy S4 launch.
IT leaders like Marissa Mayer, Sheryl Sandberg and Pamela Goldberg have sparked a debate about women’s role in technology, demonstrating through both actions and words that the IT gender gap is closing slowly but surely. But during this period of reform within IT, despite the examples set by these women and the publicity around their successful careers, Samsung was not deterred from boldly alluding to female IT illiteracy and common gender stereotypes as part of its Galaxy S4 launch stage at Radio City Music Hall March 14.
During the unveiling of its newest smartphone (due to hit shelves late April 2013), the Korean tech giant showcased the device’s new features (5-inch screen, 1080p display, 2GB RAM, 13 megapixel camera, etc.) with the help of some theatrics. Like any other product launch, improved product specs took priority. However, during Samsung’s presentation of newer applications like Air Gesture and S Health, the presentation took a turn toward the sexist, enlisting the help of six actresses posing as girlfriends from Miami planning an upscale wedding with the help of their smartphones and a few glasses of wine.
When the question of Galaxy S4’s usefulness was posed, the Samsung ladies sounded off: “My nails are wet,” “Sticky fingers!” “Sunscreen” and “I really don’t want to put down this drink!”
Similar to Air Gesture is Samsung Smart Pause. As the emcee described it, “If DeeDee was watching a video and something caught her eye (handsome man posing as landscaper crosses the stage, sensual music plays), the Galaxy S4 will automatically pause the video.” Samsung, don’t you think this hands-free browsing and pausing might benefit women in a different way — say, for business matters?
Another aspect of the Galaxy S4 launch presentation that stirred up some controversy was the ladies’ explanation of S Health. One housewife joked, “My mother always dreamed I’d end up with a doctor. I bet she didn’t imagine this!”
Generalizing women as health and fitness enthusiasts seems wrong, no? Not every woman is trying to emulate the Barbie or housewife lifestyle. Female leaders like Mayer and Sandberg are concerned with the same mobility issues that plague all mobile workers — male and female. What would these advocates for women in technology have to say about Samsung furthering negative stereotypes of female users? How would the women of WITI (Women in Technology International) respond?
In its Samsung Galaxy S4 launch, a tech giant not only referenced the 1950s, marry-rich, housewife stereotype, but insulted the progress of women in technology. Having three businesswomen thrown into the mix of Samsung’s group of girlfriends might have changed everything.
Readers, this blog post is not to deter you from the purchase of an impressive device, but rather to discourage vendors from treating consumer women as vain, self-absorbed money grabbers. Women have proven their IT literacy and definitely have more to say and do than marvel at a smartphone’s candy-colored accessories and its ability to preserve their manicures.
Tell us what you think about the role of women in technology. Do you think the Samsung Galaxy S4 launch was sexist? Sound off in the comment section below.
Can local law enforcement utilize facial recognition technology against images now visible with the new Facebook privacy settings? That’s one question raised by this week’s Best of the Web, where we scour the blogosphere for the news that relevant to midmarket CIOs. This week, we’ve got the scoop on soon-to-be-announced iPad Mini, an attack at the world’s largest oil producer, the latest patent from the braintrust at Google and how successful CIOs start their day.
We all know that the iPhone is tough to work on but is the iPad 2 a bit too hefty? Apple’s next generation iPhone and the rumored iPad mini will debut this fall, starting at a mystery event on September 12, according to blogger John Paczkowski.
Facebook’s new streamlined design seems to be tricking users into exposing personal data unintentionally.
First it was vision with Google Glass — could Google Hands be next? The search engine giant patented a smart glove design last week.
What’s the first thing successful CIOs do in the morning? If you think that you should check your email, you might be doing it wrong.
Is The Oatmeal’s Michael Inman the next technology wunderkind? He’s singlehandedly defeated the “world’s silliest tech lawsuit” and now Inman has raised a million dollars for a Nikola Tesla museum in New York. Let’s hope he continues to use his powers for good.
The world’s largest oil producer Saudi Aramco got nailed by a cyber-attack that is putting its 30,000 workstations at risk of being completely wiped. One would hope that such a large enterprise has a brilliant disaster plan in place.
Will law enforcement agencies use their new facial recognition technology to access newly available Facebook photos?
Are you tired of chasing the social media revolution? Do you wonder how Google manages to gain such fierce employee loyalty? We are too, so we’ve chased answers to these questions and more in our weekly blog roundup. This week, we’re looking at innovation from a government perspective, tips on how to take less time doing social media updates and a reverse mentor theory that you might not have seen before.
Venture capitalists and tech entrepreneurs are telling the U.S. government to focus on more technological innovation and less IP policing.
Top talent is attracted to unique working environments and none is more storied than Google’s corporate culture. Here’s a peek into how Google takes care of its employees‘ families after they go to the great search engine in the sky.
Harassment at tech conferences does matter, says Valerie Aurora, and here’s what the industry needs to do to stop harassing women at large tech events.
With Facebook’s waning stock price, is the social media revolution the next dot com bubble to burst?
We scour the Web to give you the latest news from around the blogosphere. This week, we’re looking at the very first computer animation, the formula behind the very successful Malcolm Gladwell books, and why it’s essential that CIOs embrace social media users.
Public sector CIOs need to use Facebook and Twitter because they serve social media users, according to CIO Barry Condry.
The world’s first computer animation was programmed in Fortran almost 50 years ago.
Still clinging to that old 2G Motorola Razr phone? Time to upgrade. AT&T is planning to shut down the 2G network by 2017.
Curiosity, the NASA Mars science lab, has touched down on the red planet last night. Already there are fresh high res images of the Martian landscape. Fascinating!
As expected, post-IPO Facebook is experiencing massive braindrain with many of its movers and shakers cutting and running. More alarming is the news that insiders are ditching their Facebook stock.
The CIO need to be the “cheerleader” of the community, according to the city of Seattle’s social CTO Bill Schrier.
Part of the social media users’ strategy is to become more visible, something this blogger feels CIOs struggle to accomplish within the organization.
TechTarget is a believer in fostering new talent in journalism. Welcome Miki Onwudinjo to the SearchCIO-Midmarket.com family as our new editorial assistant.
CIOs are leaders in determining the direction of a business. When the London Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games (LOCOG) aimed to produce a zero-carbon, zero-waste event using energy-efficient technology, Gerry Pennell, CIO of the London summer games, used his IT expertise to help make the London summer games the greenest games ever.
Pennell deployed a combination of green IT technologies including piezoelectricity. Piezoelectricity occurs when pressure is applied to an object — a negative charge is produced on one side and a positive charge is produced on the other. Once pressure is relieved, electrical currents flow. Twelve 17.7″ X 23.6″ energy floor tiles lead visitors to Olympic Park. The kinetic energy harvested from over 12 million foot impressions will illuminate central LED floodlights 24 hours a day. This produces 2.1 watts of electricity per hour. The extra renewable energy is then stored in a lithium polymer battery for up to three days. It’s also sent via transmitter to power local street lights, displays and other off-grid applications.
On the surface, it sounds like one of those inventions that seems so simple in a “why didn’t I think of that?” kind of way. If someone told me I could step on a piece of rubber and generate light for three days, I never would have believed them. Now just imagine if all sidewalks, paths, corridors and floor spaces were constructed of piezoelectric tiles. This trending technology could be the key to helping CIOs run an energy-efficient and sustainable business. For example, the energy created from swivel chairs constantly rolling across piezoelectric tiles could operate low-power applications in offices. On a grand scale, a CIO could run an entire energy-savings system from the foot traffic of company employees.
These special rubber piezoelectric tiles are the handiwork of young London brainiac Laurence Kemball-Cook’s Pavegen Systems. The tiles are a great low-carbon solution. They are waterproof, last up to five years and are made from recycled trunk tires and some marine grade steel.
Kemball-Cook has installed his tiles as a dance floor at the music festival Bestival in Isle of Wright, England. Currently, he has 30 permanent installations in schools, shopping malls, city squares and now the 2012 London summer games. However, the piezoelectric device’s hybrid formula is a secret. Even the price per tile is kept a mystery. Kemball-Cook eventually wants to make his tiles practical for the real world and affordable to smaller markets.
Piezoelectricity isn’t a new concept. The East Japan Railway Company in Japan experimented with piezoelectric flooring since 2006 at its main station. In 2010, the city of Toulouse, France, installed piezoelectric tiles in sidewalks to generate its street lamps. Israeli company Innowattech tested piezoelectricity on railroad tracks and highways.
While many of these examples come from organizations with deep pockets, smaller companies are employing piezoelectric technology today. For instance, some dance clubs capture the energy on a dance floor and use it to power LED lights.
CIOs drive an organization’s performance and end results, so it’s mission-critical for CIOs to be as engaged as possible with all aspects of the company, including the human element. Piezoelectricity might just be the green way for CIOs to involve employees in IT.
For instance, in my own work life, I’m in my own mindset at my desk. I sometimes forget that I work alongside a durable IT team. With piezoelectric flooring, I might feel more included in my company and the behind-the-scenes operations. There would no longer be an invisible shield between employees and the IT team. Transmitters connected to piezoelectric floor tiles could charge our office printers and power ceiling lights. Knowing that just walking from my desk to the break room could generate electricity would bring all the departments together. And, with that, midmarket CIOs could be one step closer to not only a more tightly knit company, but a smaller carbon footprint.
Miki Onwudinjo is a TechTarget editorial assistant and a journalism student at Northeastern University in Boston.
Worried that you missed the latest news? Don’t be. We scour the Web and wrangle up the best and brightest from around the blogosphere. This week, we’re looking at the Cybersecurity Bill, creepy WiFi spying and women in technology.
From our latest CIO Matters column on Marissa Mayer’s new role at Yaoo: “Being a female CEO at all is kind of like being a zebra in a rodeo, but being a woman in technology leadership is like being a unicorn.”
The Cybersecurity Bill is alive and well in Congress. New regulations proposed will promise tougher protection of privacy and also authorizes the Department of Homeland Security to set “mandatory standards for critical infrastructure.”
Get your tinfoil hats out: WiFi can be used to detect human presence in a room, even if that person isn’t carrying a WiFi device. Can you say “creepy”?
Note to businesses and politicians: Don’t buy your Twitter followers. People will and do notice.
“When I was your age, portable computers weighed 55 pounds and cost more than a car! You didn’t put them on your lap unless you wanted a broken femur.”
Oh Microsoft. Thanks for making women in technology feel even more objectified.
Did the “leap second” get you down this weekend? Did the Amazon cloud computing services outage prevent you from watching old episodes of Louie on your iPad’s Netflix app? Us too. Between all of the service outages this weekend, you might have missed some prime Internet surfing time. Don’t worry: We’ve got your back. We’ve gathered up all the choicest bits of news and blog posts from around the Web so that you won’t miss a thing.
CIOs looking to harness the power of talent retention should look no further than Apple’s low-paid workers. Wait, something doesn’t sound right about that plan.
Got a BlackBerry? You’re quickly becoming an endangered user.
Did you think Dell had slowed down with the buyouts? Silly reader. Dell is acquiring Quest Software this week.
CIOs got heart, too. Check out the CIO Scholarship Fund event to help future IT leaders with tuition.
The leap second caused outages on many sites over the weekend, like Reddit, BuzzFeed, Gawker, LinkedIn and Yelp, plus scores of Linux sites. Bad news for lovers of cloud computing services. You’ll be happy to know that the TechTarget network was just fine.
And if the leap second wasn’t bad enough, real storm clouds knocked out Amazon’s data center, wiping swaths of the Internet’s cloud computing services with it, including Netflix, Instagram and Pinterest.
At this month’s SearchCIO360 dinner, we met Seth Kutty, director of IT at Tesla Motors, one of the ten companies that are changing the world. Don’t miss our upcoming dinners in Chicago and Boston!
So, with its $1.2 billion acquisition of Yammer, Microsoft confirms its desire to become a player in “enterprise social.” My question is, since when was the company not all about enterprise collaboration?
Windows has been enterprises’ de facto collaboration platform for the last 20 years. It’s had hooks into instant messaging (Windows Messenger), messaging and collaboration (Outlook and SharePoint), and even cloud services (Windows Live services) for a long time. But maybe a lot of that “old” software now is starting to hold Microsoft back.
If you listen to the rhetoric from Redmond following the Yammer acquisition, you’d think none of those legacy platforms mattered. Yammer makes a difference because, as CEO Steve Ballmer points out, it “underscores our commitment to deliver technology that businesses need and people love.”
The company shelled out $8.5 billion for Skype just about a year ago. Besides being the leader in Internet video and phone calls, Skype has a great chat feature. Now, with Yammer, that makes three chat platforms in the Microsoft arsenal.
Maybe this is about making sure that the ready-to-be-released Windows 8 operating system and Surface tablets have the most recent collaboration software, without having to rejigger existing software or develop new applications.
But let’s understand one thing: Microsoft will have a place in enterprise collaboration for a long time to come, given its install base and the remnants of enterprise computing that will remain tethered to a desktop or laptop. However, it’s no longer the king of collaboration, with Apple, Google and Facebook, among others, having claimed huge numbers of users who have changed their ways of doing things forever.
According to a recent worldwide survey of mobile device use, 36% of global consumers said that they now own a smartphone; that’s a 15% increase since 2010. Also according to the survey, 9% of respondents will “definitely” purchase a smartphone within the next year, and 12% will “probably” purchase a smartphone in 2012 — meaning that a whopping 57% of global consumers potentially will own a smartphone within the next year.
Since 2010, there has been a marked growth in online and mobile technologies. According to the survey, 74% of respondents reported watching videos on the Internet, and 56% of consumers said they watch videos on their mobile phones at least once a month. With more users watching video on computers, online or on mobile phones, home television use dropped 7% between 2010 and 2011.
The Nielsen Co.’s Global Online Consumers and Multi-Screen Media report surveyed more than 28,000 Internet consumers in 56 countries to analyze their multi-screen media use, device ownership and purchasing intentions, as well as to gauge how they see mobile technology’s role in the future.
Using smartphones to make purchases in stores instead of cash, cards or checks also has the potential for market share. About 11% of the consumers Nielsen surveyed said they “definitely” would use their smartphones to make payments in shops and restaurants if the option was available, and 24% said that they “probably” would.
“The impact of mobile technology can be felt around the globe and touches all aspects of life, from entertainment and shopping to business and personal communication,” said Amilcar Pérez, president of telecommunications for Nielsen.
Because of the increasing popularity of smartphones and new trends in mobile device use, are tablets next? As of 2012, 31% of global consumers either own or reported they were planning to purchase a tablet device within the next year. In the United States, a similar survey among owners of tablets and digital readers has followed the same pattern, increasing from 18% in December 2010 to 29% in January 2012.