CIO Symmetry

February 20, 2015  5:35 PM

The CIO identity crisis; Apple car poised to shake up IoT conversation

Brian Holak Brian Holak Profile: Brian Holak
application consolidation, CIO, CIO innovation, CIO leadership, Hadoop, iot, Mobility

CIOs are at a critical point in their evolution, and they need to find a way to stay relevant in a corporate culture, according to author Jill Dyché. In part one of one of her two-part feature story, Senior News Writer Nicole Laskowski chats with Dyché about how to cure the CIO identity crisis. In part two, Dyché explains the key factors that kill innovation.

Is the connected car the next big step toward an IoT-dominated future? In her latest Searchlight entry, Associate Editor Fran Sales highlights the buzz around a possible Apple car and discusses how it can help CIOs drive the conversation around IoT security. Also in Searchlight: U.S. spyware in foreign networks and Snapchat’s big funding proposal.

Speaking of IoT security, check out this #CIOChat recap to hear what SearchCIO followers and guest expert Harvey Koeppel have to say about mitigating IoT security risks amid a notable lack of precedent.

Hadoop is a powerful technology, but is it secure? In the latest Data Mill, read why Hadoop security is a different beast from traditional security, see a list of current Hadoop security projects, and get the latest 2015 budget expectations.

Mobility’s disruptive forces are at it again! SearchCIO expert Niel Nickolaisen explains how mobile technology is shaking up next-generation information security and how CIOs can make the most of it.

Our new handbook has everything you need to know about application consolidation in one place. Learn from experts’ success stories and discover the best ways to consolidate your applications and maximize their business benefit.

Think you know what the future holds for mobile networking? Take our quiz to assess your knowledge and review recent mobility and networking content.

It’s almost time for the next #CIOChat! Join SearchCIO editors and fellow tweeters Wednesday, Feb. 25, at 2 p.m. EST to talk about the death of the CIO as we know it. We’ll be discussing the challenges of modern CIOs and how CIOs can stay relevant in a digital enterprise. See you there!

CIOChat - Death of the CIO

Please follow @SearchCIO, @SearchCIOSMB and @ITCompliance for our new stories throughout the week.

February 13, 2015  8:25 PM

When to cut your legacy systems; the new innovation culture

Brian Holak Brian Holak Profile: Brian Holak
CIO, cloud, IT innovation, Legacy systems, SMAC

When it comes to legacy systems, deciding what stays and what goes is no easy task. Hear from enterprise CIOs on the importance of strategizing and finding the right balance between the costs and value of your legacy systems.

Chief innovation officers are leading the charge and tasked with shaking up enterprise culture, but they can’t do it alone. Innovators at Hyatt, Merck and Nestlé Purina explain how new language, celebrating failures and a strong understanding of innovation culture are vital for business transformation.

Tim McDermott, chief innovation officer for the Philadelphia 76ers, is helping Millennials get back in the game and drive innovation for the team. Hear how he is embracing the youthful workforce and redefining business as usual.

A few months into 2015, Features Writer Kristen Lee checked in with CIOs to see what cloud projects they’re working on and what IT goals are on the horizon. The verdict: Office 365 and hybrid cloud top their CIO checklists.

Box, the cloud storage and file sharing company, is hoping to ease your cloud security worries with the introduction of a new service called Enterprise Key Management (EKM) that would give companies more encryption control. In this week’s Searchlight, Associate Editor Fran Sales breaks down the mechanics and explores the implications of this service.

Is your startup keeping its eye on the prize? Do you still have the passion necessary to take your startup to the next level? SearchCIO expert Bryan Barringer uses his own experiences to explain how to keep your startup focused and prevent failure.

The intersection of social, mobile, analytics and cloud (SMAC) is a disruptive force that is driving present and future business innovation. In the latest Essential Guide, learn tips on SMAC strategy and governance, hear from companies with successful SMAC integration and peek into the future of enterprise SMAC technologies.

Not every provider-company relationship lasts. Leaving your private cloud provider can be very legally tricky, but, luckily, David Rutchik, a partner at Pace Harmon LLC, is here to advise CIOs and companies how to prepare for the breakup.

Are you prepared for the new security paradigm? In this CIO Decisions e-zine, we explore how companies can strategize around data protection in order to stay ahead of their attackers and protect their valuable assets.

HIPAA compliance requirements mean well, but is proving a challenge for HIPAA business associates and other non-healthcare industries. SearchCIO expert Daniel Allen gives tips on navigating the choppy waters of HIPPA data privacy compliance requirements.

Over on the TotalCIO blog, Senior News Writer Nicole Laskowski talks building strategic partnerships to help drive business innovation, while Lee dishes on making a successful mobile wallet by having it double as a marketing platform. Meanwhile, on the IT Compliance Advisor blog, Sales explores the FCC’s net neutrality proposal and the implications of the Anthem breach.

Speaking of net neutrality, it’s almost time for the next #GRCChat! Join SearchCompliance editors and fellow tweeters Thursday, Feb. 19, at 12 p.m. EST to talk net neutrality in the wake of the FCC proposal. We’ll be discussing the potential effects on innovation and the future of net neutrality practices. See you there!

Please follow @SearchCIO, @SearchCIOSMB and @ITCompliance for our new stories throughout the week.

February 6, 2015  7:20 PM

Distributed storage simplified; how to consolidate your apps

Brian Holak Brian Holak Profile: Brian Holak
application consolidation, Big Data, CIO, cloud, Distributed storage, Distributed system, iot, Wearable devices

Does talk of distributed storage leave you feeling confused? Tired of the messy definitions and explanations out there? Senior News Writer Nicole Laskowski has you covered. In this week’s Data Mill, data expert Tim Berglund explains data storage systems in straightforward, coffee-shop terms.

It’s time to get your application consolidation education. Executive Editor Linda Tucci talks to two CIOs in the educational system for their take on app consolidation efforts. First up: Utah State University’s Eric Hawley discusses his team’s consolidation plans, which involve quick access to mobile data, CRM consolidation and the building of APIs. Then, Deepak Agarwal , CIO at the School District of Palm Beach County, shares his app consolidation success story and talks about the challenges and benefits of updating legacy apps.

Want to know when and how to use a diversified cloud strategy? In her two-part story, Features Writer Kristen Lee talks to cloud experts about using a diversified cloud strategy to offset provider instability, and the complexities and sophisticated management skills involved in such a strategy.

The Federal Communications Commission (FCC) recently made a bold move on net neutrality. This week’s Searchlight explores the implications for CIOs. Plus: Anthem hacked, Google and Uber butt heads, and Target hires a new CIO from the UK.

Our latest e-handbooks have arrived! Find out how retail companies are capitalizing on big data in our latest SearchCIO handbook on big data in retail. In SearchCompliance’s newest handbook, learn how to keep mobile data compliant and get expert tips on bring your own device management success.

New cyberthreats are everywhere — are your information security controls regimented? In this video interview, SearchCompliance editor Ben Cole talks with Christopher T. Pierson, executive vice president, general counsel and CSO at Viewpost, about the importance of continually monitoring and adapting security controls in the midst of increasingly sophisticated cyberthreats.

To that point, disaster recovery is expensive, especially for small businesses. Here on the CIO Symmetry blog, learn the options, benefits and use cases for disaster recovery as a service.

To what extent will wearables affect existing governance, risk and compliance policies? In this #GRChat recap, participants consider the effect of wearables in the workplace on established policies and how organizations can ensure data security and compliance.

Please follow @SearchCIO, @SearchCIOSMB and @ITCompliance for our new stories throughout the week.

January 30, 2015  10:11 PM

Why SMBs should consider DR as a service

Fran Sales Fran Sales Profile: Fran Sales
CIO, Cloud Disaster Recovery, Disaster Recovery, DRaaS, Server virtualization, SMB

Disaster recovery (DR) is expensive — and not just because traditional disaster recovery services come at a very high price. Other factors contribute to the financial toll of DR: underfunded DR budgets, poor DR planning and testing procedures, and technological deficiencies, all of which contribute to the failure of critical applications, data center outages and data loss. These, in turn, can amount to anywhere from a few thousand dollars to a whopping $5 million in losses, according to a 2014 study by the Disaster Recovery Preparedness Council.

To small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs), many of which lack the necessary resources to properly implement or test an effective DR plan, these circumstances can be disheartening. Luckily, cloud computing and virtualization have been playing a greater role in DR — and opening up more, and less costly, options for SMBs.

The cloud, in particular, is “ideal as a data protection scheme,” according to George Crump, president of analyst firm Storage Switzerland. That’s because “you get a secondary site, it’s generally several disaster zones away, and it really is generally made for that effort,” he said. And unlike traditional DR schemes, the business doesn’t have to manage the off-site data center itself.

Where DRaaS fits in your business continuity scheme

Disaster recovery as a service (DRaaS), a particular breed of cloud DR, is taking off among SMBs, and not only because of its pay-per-use pricing model. DRaaS allows businesses to replicate and host their virtual machines (VMs) in the cloud so that, in the event of a catastrophe, they don’t have to wait to move all of their data back to their data center — they can just start up those VMs. This means significantly reduced recovery time. Plus, DRaaS providers offer their own service-level agreements, DR planning and testing, network operations, support, and even self-service admin tools — more enticements for SMBs that aren’t adequately staffed or equipped to fully handle DR themselves.

Moving to DRaaS isn’t such a huge leap for SMBs, according to SearchCloudStorage Site Editor Andrew Burton. “It’s a good deal for SMBs, as many are heavily virtualized, and as such are probably already using a backup software product that has the ability to replicate VMs to the cloud,” he said.

This all might sound too good to be true, but the statistics prove otherwise. For instance, in a 2013 study conducted by cloud backup provider Intronis Inc. and analyst firm The 2112 Group, more than 50% of SMBs that rely on an IT service provider for backup and recovery are using cloud-based technologies. And a 2012 survey by research firm Aberdeen found that midsized businesses suffered 50% fewer instances of downtime and 20% of the financial losses of those who used in-house DR; they also recovered three times faster than the latter group.

DRaaS options and use cases

SMBs aren’t the only ones availing themselves of the perks of DRaaS. Both established DR and backup vendors and burgeoning startups are making swift moves in this space. VMware, for example, added cloud disaster recover features to vCloud Hybrid Service, its infrastructure as a service offering. And startup Zerto just garnered $26 million in funding last year, which went into its Cloud Fabric product, which transports virtualized workloads between cloud providers.

Bit9, a software security company based in Waltham, Mass., is one midsized company that’s benefited from the DRaaS feature offered by cloud storage provider TwinStrata. The feature allows users to start up vSphere servers in the cloud and run live copies of data and apps without having to rebuild their servers. Combined with Veeam’s Backup & Replication product, which enables IT director Bill Suarez to replicate to multiple locations while making synchronous backup copies at another location, “we could have our email flowing again within a business day,” he said.

You and your DRaaS provider are on the hook

DRaaS doesn’t come without warnings and downsides. For instance, once a DRaaS provider runs your apps in the cloud, you need to make sure you fully understand what that provider’s cloud computing service-level agreement entails, Crump explained. Plus, moving data to the cloud takes up a lot of bandwidth, and you need to make sure you and your provider can accommodate it. And, after the catastrophe has passed, you need to have worked out a plan with your provider on synchronizing the application data in the cloud with your primary servers, all without disrupting critical processes.

According to Crump and fellow Storage Switzerland analyst Erick Slack, make sure to ask your provider the following questions:

  • Do you have the infrastructure to run the applications I need?
  • Can you allocate the compute resources to run these applications at my desired performance level?
  • Can you guarantee uptime?
  • Can you offer the same level of support if a regional catastrophe brings down multiple clients’ data centers?

If your DRaaS provider can’t meet these requirements, Crump said, it could be time to look elsewhere.

January 30, 2015  7:31 PM

Snowden talks encryption drawbacks; experts dish app consolidation tips

Brian Holak Brian Holak Profile: Brian Holak
application consolidation, CIO, Data Encryption, GRC strategy

Is data encryption enough to ensure data protection? According to Edward Snowden, the answer is no. At Harvard University’s fourth annual Symposium on the Future of Computation in Science and Engineering, which took place last week, Snowden joined security technology expert Bruce Schneier to talk open source encryption, policies and privacy, the Data Mill reports.

Before you start consolidating your apps, get some pointers from two SearchCIO experts, Niel Nickolaisen and Harvey Koeppel. First, Nickolaisen dishes on the best ways to overcome application consolidation hurdles, including introducing data brokers and segregating activities based on purpose. Then, Koeppel shares his personal experience with application consolidation and explains how the process is not an end, but a starting point for wider business benefits.

IoT devices are great, but the personal privacy and security implications cannot be ignored, according to a new Federal Trade Commission (FTC) report. Associate Site Editor Francesca Sales highlights the report’s key findings in this week’s Searchlight. Plus: Apple breaks the bank again and Amazon gives Microsoft’s Outlook some competition.

Saving time and money is on every CIO’s mind, and, when it comes to mobile application development, that might just mean walking in your customers’ shoes, according to Nickolaisen. In this tip, Nickolaisen talks about focusing on the customer to streamline the mobile app development process.

Risk management and information governance don’t have to conflict, according to data management expert Jeffrey Ritter. In this SearchCompliance video Q&A, Ritter discusses the relationship between risk management and information governance, and what role analytics plays in alleviating risk.

Also on SearchCompliance, information security consultant J. Michael Butler chats with Site Editor Ben Cole about information security professionals’ shifting roles as data protection takes center stage within the business. Plus, in this #GRCChat recap, participants disclose what #GRC features you should keep in mind when implementing a BYOD policy.

How much do you know about SMAC governance and strategy? Review some of our recent stories on social, mobile, analytics and cloud strategy and test your knowledge with this CIO quiz.

Finally, over on the TotalCIO blog, Features Writer Kristen Lee explains how CIO attitudes are changing when it comes to software-defined networks.

Please follow @SearchCIO, @SearchCIOSMB and @ITCompliance for our new stories throughout the week.

January 23, 2015  7:04 PM

CIO talks data center consolidation; big data do’s and don’ts

Brian Holak Brian Holak Profile: Brian Holak
Big Data, CIO, iot

Is your company looking to consolidate data centers? AMD CIO Jake Dominguez knows a thing or two about that, having consolidated 18 data centers down to two. Read Dominguez’s story and get tips on the right way to proceed with your IT consolidation strategy.

Success and failure of a big data strategy hinges on a few key factors. Before you start you next big data project, read Senior News Writer Nicole Laskowski’s latest Data Mill to familiarize yourself with the do’s and don’ts of big data.

Will Microsoft’s Windows 10 usher in a new category of computing? At the recent Windows 10 announcement event, Microsoft unveiled a holographic headset, personal digital assistant Cortana and the Continuum interface, among other developments aimed at reeling back in consumers and enterprises. The latest Searchlight addresses the details and implications of the Windows 10 announcement.

As SearchCIO Columnist Brian Barringer writes, crowdfunding finance methods have been around since the 17th century, but the phenomenon that we’re familiar with – spurred by sites like Kickstarter and Indigogo — has only been around for a few years. Is this form of financing a good option for your small business? Barringer gives his take on crowdfunding for small businesses.

How should CIOs prepare for systems of engagement? In this Ask the Expert, IDC Analyst Rick Villars discusses how IT organizations can adapt to evolving systems of engagement through data management, automation and other practices.

Refresh your knowledge of TechTarget’s 2014 Information Technology Salary and Careers Survey with the latest Essential Guide, and learn about IT executives’ compensation, salary trends across the IT landscape and 2015 project priorities.

Speaking of the 2014 salary survey, Mark Schlack, TechTarget’s Senior Vice President of Editorial, presents a 2015 information technology outlook based on the results of the survey, indicating higher budgets and more cloud services in the coming year.

That’s not the only predictions made for 2015. In this #GRCChat recap, participants forecast which GRC-related technologies will grow in popularity in 2015 and which will wane. Plus, #GRCChat-ters share which GRC terms they’re swearing off in 2015.

Over on the TotalCIO blog, Features Writer Kristen Lee discusses the secrets to successfully rationalizing applications and explores how digitization is transforming business practices with the president of Lundberg Media. Meanwhile, on the IT Compliance Advisor blog, Associate Site Editor Francesca Sales dishes on a controversial website that offers hackers for hire and describes Obama’s advocacy for new data privacy laws.

It’s almost time for the next #CIOChat! Join SearchCIO editors and fellow tweeters Wednesday, Jan 28, at 3 p.m. EST to talk Internet of Things (IoT) security. We’ll be discussing whether the enterprise is prepared for the security implications of IoT and much more. See you there!

Please follow @SearchCIO, @SearchCIOSMB and @ITCompliance for our new stories throughout the week

January 16, 2015  7:12 PM

The emergence of containers; turning security hindsight into foresight

Brian Holak Brian Holak Profile: Brian Holak
CIO, cybersecurity, Data Science, grc, IaaS, Risk management, Security

Container software has been around for a while, but it’s only just now finally having its big moment in the spotlight. In the latest SearchCIO Searchlight, Associate Site Editor Francesca Sales examines the containers buzz and whether companies should jump on board. Also in Searchlight: Samsung-Blackberry acquisition rumor nixed; the U.S. Central Command’s Twitter gets hacked.

According to a recent survey by EiQ Networks, 90% of CIOs across industries listed security as their top concern for 2015. What does that mean for security strategies? More money, monitoring and employee training, and that’s just for starters. SearchCIO contributing writer Dina Gerdeman lays out the current state of security in the wake of 2014’s high-profile data breaches and how enterprises can turn hindsight into foresight.

“We have to learn how to surf instead of trying to control the waves,” according to Matt Barcomb of the consultancy Odbox. He’s talking about the need for CIOs to adapt to change and, as Senior News Writer Nicole Laskowksi reports in this week’s Data Mill, one way is by utilizing systems diagrams to map out system boundaries, parts and connections.

Not sure if those pants you want to buy will fit? Let data science help. Fashion-tech startups Virtusize, Clothes Horse and LoveThatFit have built virtual dressing rooms to help customers find the perfect fit without leaving the house.

IDC predicts that during the next year, 75% of infrastructure as a service (IaaS) provider offerings will be redesigned, rebranded or phased out. Why is that? What will IaaS offerings look like in 2016? In this Ask the Expert, IDC Analyst Rick Villars answers these burning IaaS questions and puts the change in perspective for CIOs.

One of the most-talked-about technologies of late has been wearables. How can companies take full advantage of these devices while also keeping their information secure? It’s not an easy task, but Scott Christensen, director of technology at Edwards Wildman Palmer LLP, dished on embracing the new technology and outlined data loss prevention steps companies must take to protect data stored on wearable technology.

Speaking of wearables, Laskowski looks at devices that collect data 24 hours a day, seven days a week, to track sleep quality and tremors in Parkinson’s patients. This data can then be analyzed with the hope of answering questions such as why the disease progresses faster in some than in others.

Constant security threats and stricter compliance rules complicate security and protection strategies. In this tip, SearchCompliance expert Jeffrey Ritter explains how governance processes can help manage risk and looks at how to build classification tools and functional descriptive data into your digital assets for increased velocity and accuracy.

Technology advances so quickly that it can be hard for companies to keep pace. In this video interview at the ISSA International Conference, SearchCompliance Editor Benjamin Cole speaks to Jim Wiggins, executive director at the Federal IT Security Institute, about keeping up with technological advancement through employee training and keeping a continual balance between security and compliance.

Are there any buzzwords that make you cringe? In the latest #CIOChat recap, SearchCIO editors and followers share the IT terminology that they are swearing off in 2015. Over on SearchCompliance, participants in our #GRCChat revealed their GRC and security predictions for 2015.

It’s almost time for the next #GRCChat! Join SearchCompliance editors and fellow tweeters Thursday, Jan 22, at 12 p.m. EST to talk BYOD compliance. We’ll be discussing how to balance mobile security with legal compliance and much more. See you there!

Please follow @SearchCIO, @SearchCIOSMB and @ITCompliance for our new stories throughout the week

January 9, 2015  7:09 PM

Profiting from big data; highlights from CES 2015

Brian Holak Brian Holak Profile: Brian Holak
Big Data, CIO, GRC strategy, Hack, Internet of Things, iot, IT

Everybody’s talking about big data, but is your company actually profiting from it? IT leaders at two retail companies share their big data money-making secrets with SearchCIO Senior News Writer Nicole Laskowski, stressing the importance of quality research and development and project management.

If you’re following the newest, coolest technologies and gadgets to hit the market, the International Consumer Electronics Show (CES) in Las Vegas was the place to be this week. As Associate Editor Francesca Sales discusses in the latest Searchlight, the Internet of Things (IoT) stole the show, while wearables, smart robots and drones also garnered a lot of attention.

More Searchlight: Everyone loves end-of-year (and start-of-year) lists! In the annual Searchlight List of Lists, Sales compiled some of the most notable IT lists from across the internet and highlighted the top technology predictions for 2015 as well as 2014 flops.

Speaking of top technology predictions, participants in our latest #CIOChat made their own IT predictions for 2015, ranging from the evolution of big data analytics to a boom in mobile payment apps. Then, over on SearchCompliance, #GRChat-ters looked back on 2014 and reflected on their biggest GRC regrets.

The repercussions of the Sony hack are still making waves. Now, more U.S. firms are considering turning to the hacking back approach to protect their data and ward off attackers. Also in cybersecurity news, North Korea slammed new U.S. sanctions in response to the Sony hack, and a new report says that last year’s JPMorgan Chase data breach was the result of a basic security flaw.

Please follow @SearchCIO, @SearchCIOSMB and @ITCompliance for our new stories throughout the week

January 5, 2015  10:09 PM

Top stories of 2014; big data and the UN

Brian Holak Brian Holak Profile: Brian Holak
Big Data, CIO, GRC strategy, HP, IT, IT salaries, IT salary

As we start a new year, it’s the perfect time to reflect on SearchCIO’s and SearchCompliance’s most popular stories of 2014. Did your favorites make the list? SearchCIO’s top technology pieces of 2014 include the IT salary survey, big data case studies and reactions to the HP split. And speaking of the salary survey, test your IT careers know-how in this salary survey quiz.

Also in end-of-year lists: Senior News Writer Nicole Laskowski rounded up a Data Mill of Data Mills and listed her most popular columns of last year. 2014 was also an important and complicated year for governance, risk and compliance (GRC) strategies; over on SearchCompliance, we gathered the top 10 GRC-related stories of 2014.

It’s a great time to be a CIO, but challenges remain. In this interview, IT executive headhunter Shawn Banerji discusses the present CIO role and offers advice on how not to be marginalized in 2015. And on that note, have you made your IT resolutions for 2015? In this #CIOChat recap, participants share their It resolutions, which include focusing more on security and putting customers first.

What are the implications and limitations of big data? In this CIO Voices Q&A, SearchCIO Executive Editor Linda Tucci talks big data, politics and IT challenges with Atefeh “Atti” Riazi, CIO of the United Nations.

According to the International Institute of Analytics’ (IIA) top trends for 2015, storytelling will be a critical skill for businesses in the coming year. Are you utilizing storytelling in your organization? Associate Editor Francesca Sales breaks down the elements of effective business storytelling in this CIO Symmetry blog post.

Is your big data know-how lacking? Don’t worry, there’s a class for that! Earlier this year, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology launched an online big data course for professionals, attracting participants from even the biggest technology companies.

Please follow @SearchCIO, @SearchCIOSMB and @ITCompliance for our new stories throughout the week

December 30, 2014  2:34 PM

Stand out in 2015 with business storytelling

Fran Sales Fran Sales Profile: Fran Sales
Big Data, Big Data analytics, CIO, Content marketing, Midmarket, Midmarket CIO, Online branding, SMB, Startups

As markets get more crowded, it’s getting even more difficult for startups and small and medium-sized businesses (SMBs) to stand out to prospective investors and customers. But things just might change in 2015 with the help of an age-old tool: storytelling.

Yes, storytelling. According to the International Institute of Analytics’ (IIA) top trends for 2015, storytelling will be a critical skill for businesses in the coming year. It’s a tool that’s helpful in pitching an app or other products to potential investors; improving employee relationships across departments; and enlightening the board about the business value of new concepts, such as big data.

The IIA pointed to an organization that’s already gotten a head start on driving the adoption and use of analytics by using storytelling. The University of Pittsburgh Medical Center Insurance Services division has a full-time journalist on staff whose job is to “communicate in clear and concise business terms what the analytics are about and what they can do for the business,” IIA faculty member Robert Morison recently told SearchCIO.

But is the usefulness of storytelling a new trend? After all, it’s something we humans have employed for thousands of years. Unfortunately, even though we frequently use storytelling in our personal relationships, it’s a skill we need to re-learn when it comes to business — and learning it isn’t easy, as evidenced by the abundance of publications, coaches and consulting companies teaching it, which, by the way, don’t come cheap.

So what, exactly, makes for a good story in business? Let’s start with what a good story is not. The main reason many business narratives don’t work is because people have the habit of explaining rather than simply telling, said Andrew Linderman, a story coach who works with the likes of American Express and PBS, as well as nonprofits and startups.

“Good stories are detailed, honest and personal,” Linderman told The New York Times.

Indeed, a compelling story, as you may have learned in creative writing class in high school, usually contains certain elements. Yes, the advice on this topic from business storytelling experts, such as Harvard Business Review (HBR) and The New York Times, varies slightly on the particulars, but some ingredients are non-negotiable: Keep your audience in mind, employ your personal experience, use concrete details but keep things simple, and, last but not least, be dramatic!

Here’s one such template from ABC Copywriting: What really makes a good story?

A more complete story with as many ingredients as possible will be more compelling to consumers. The Times story details how Keith Quesenberry, a lecturer at the Center for Leadership Education at Johns Hopkins University, studied Super Bowl commercials from the past two years, using Freytag’s Pyramid of dramatic structure, to see which were rated the highest by consumers.

You can probably guess what he and his team found: Consumers rated commercials with more acts from the Pyramid higher, which increased their odds of being shared on social media.

The lesson? The more “dramatic” a story is, the more successfully a message is conveyed.

Let’s break down these ingredients of a dramatic story:

Keep your audience in mind. Knowing the message you want to impart and your audience is key to deciding which framework and details will resound with your audience, according to HBR. This, in turn, can help your listeners relate more easily to your story. For example: “If your team is behaving as if failure is not an option, you might decide to impart the message that failure is actually the grandfather of success,” writes Carolyn O’Hara of HBR.

Use your personal experience. The quirks of your personal experiences allow your listeners to relate more to your company’s story, which helps differentiate it from others that are devoid of personality. “The specifics of storytelling are relatively easy to articulate,” Linderman told the Times. “It’s the nuances that make a story distinct.” These nuances should include anything from your successes to your struggles.

Use concrete details, but keep things simple. Less is more. If well-placed details help listeners immerse themselves in the narrative, an overabundance of them — especially those that don’t serve your narrative — could prove detrimental. Will Mahoney, who’s on the hunt for investors for an app he plans to release next year, is taking a storytelling class in an effort to do just that: consider his audience and incorporate the necessary details to convey his message. “It’s about balancing your story — incorporating your values … and telling how investors can get involved and also benefit themselves,” he told the Times.

Be dramatic. In storytelling, being dramatic means having a conflict and a resolution, a beginning and an end, according to ABC Copywriting: “There should be losses and gains, setbacks and comebacks, peaks and troughs. And, above all, a story should be about people: their dreams and desires; loves and hates; problems and passions.” This means telling the bad parts of your story along with the good, and not setting yourself up to be the hero — in other words, showing your vulnerability, Linderman said.

Indeed, conflict can be good. HBR provided an example where a CEO of a Detroit interactive promotions company, Josh Linkner, embedded conflict by inventing an adversary to motivate his employees. “Greatness is often achieved in the face of adversity, but we didn’t have a competitor to gun against,” he explained. The results? Improved performance and increased creativity within the company.

So, how about it: Is your SMB ready to dive into business storytelling in 2015, gain the attention of prospective investors and the trust of your customer? If you’re seeking further inspiration, SearchCIO’s Startup Spotlight video series, which tells the stories of innovative startups, is a good place to start:

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