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.]]>
And as we have been writing about here in the CIO/IT Strategy Media Group for some time now, the “new” CIO is many things to many different companies. But our SearchCIO.com news director did a little digging into just exactly what kinds of skills companies are asking for in their top IT executives, and the answers are very interesting.
Here’s a sampling:
Not only do they sound like some real or potential Hollywood action flicks, these job skills show how intertwined the CIO and senior IT have become in the inner workings of the business as a whole. Non-IT executives should remember that when they are looking for ways to transform their businesses for today’s uncertain markets.]]>
Danish IT reporter Christiane Vejlo reported the shocking events as they played out.
After the break Mads Christensen shares with us his whole “show” about the bitchy women who want to steal the power in politics, boards and the home. “Science” he calls it and mentions that all the great inventions come from men. “We can thank women for the rolling pin,” he adds. And then the moderator of the day finishes of by asking all (men) in the room to promise him that they will go home and say, “Shut up b—-!” (via Elektronista)
Dell’s official Twitter presence in Denmark said, “[We] are sorry if some were offended. Dell works for women in corporate life.” Got to love the hostile workplace non-apologies that did not actually accept any responsibility for hiring Christensen.
While I am absolutely sure that Michael Dell, as well as Nicolai Moresco, Dell’s Danish director, had very little involvement in the hiring of Christensen, this is a publicity nightmare for the company. It’s important to note how Dell has responded to complaints — which is to say that it kind of hasn’t. Moresco told Vejlo that Christensen “did a good job” and then later echoed the Twitter feed, apologizing that women were offended but continuing to assert that it was all meant to be good, clean fun.
Obviously, there were women in the audience in that Dell summit in Copenhagen — women who either worked for Dell or were invited to attend. They had to sit there and pretend that they were entertained by the promise of a hostile workplace. They had to go home knowing that Dell’s senior IT leadership approved this message. When they complained to the CEO, he essentially shrugged and said, “I’m sorry that you feel that way.”
The editorial team here at SearchCIO-Midmarket.com has been discussing women in IT a great deal lately. We’ve grappled with how to discuss glass ceilings without making women feel like special cases or unique snowflakes, while also addressing the very real problem of a hostile workplace, which is usually not as overt as that which played out in Copenhagen. Many of the successful IT leaders are uncomfortable drawing attention to the fact that they are also women as well as senior IT leaders. I can respect and absolutely understand that, especially given the barely hidden resentment that was echoed in Christensen’s “jokes.”
When we think about a hostile workplace, it’s usually not one big event but, rather, death by a thousand cuts. Just as with the debate over booth babes, it’s important that we keep talking about women in technology. They ARE different. They DO have to deal with these issues and face an entire audience of men laughing at a man suggesting that women should stick to their rolling-pin innovations. We have to stop trying to blend and disappear in an attempt to break through glass ceilings. These are unacceptable attitudes, and whether one is male or female, we should all be appalled. Continuing to sit by and laugh at the “jokes” means that we are as complicit in creating a hostile workplace as the rest of these jokers.]]>
If you’re like most CIOs, your chances of ascending to the CEO position are very slim. When the board is looking for a new captain, in most cases, you’ll see people who hold another senior management position — like chief operating officer or possibly CFO — as the prime candidates. The CIO is rarely included.
Weathington’s analysis matches the findings of a recent Gartner Inc. survey of 229 CEOs on the role of the CIO: Most CEOs believed their CIO doesn’t have what it takes to ascend to the boardroom. Gartner reported that CEOs (45%) see their CIO moving to a CIO role in another company. Only one in 229 of the CEOs polled felt their CIO was primed to be their successor.
This might be a disappointment to ambitious CIOs, but there’s still hope. Gartner’s survey revealed that CEOs are taking financial cues from their strategic changes. When asked to “select two roles that are usually most closely involved with supporting the chief executive in a strategic change to [the] business,” CEOs overwhelmingly selected the CFO (33.2% chose that role first, and 26.6% chose it second). The chief operating officer/head of operations was a close second (19.7% first choice, and 22.3% second choice) while the CIO and IT director roles barely garnered a nod in helping guide the business’ strategic changes (2.6% first choice, and 2.6% second choice). Even in this tough economy, CEOs need their trusted advisers to show them the money.
Gartner analysts commented that while they were not surprised the CIO wasn’t on the top of the list, “we thought that the CIO role might be more relevant.” Gartner analysts also noted that HR directors were seen as more important than CIOs, despite the realities of our technological world having a real impact on a business’ performance.
The takeaway here is clear: If they want to be considered credible innovation leaders and partners in their company’s strategic changes, it’s vital that CIOs look for ways to make sure that information and technology are playing a part in their board’s vision and driving their company’s fiscal growth.]]>
We have written much in the past two years about how the CIO must make friends throughout the enterprise — with the CFO, the CEO, the chief marketing officer and even the facilities manager.
Yet despite their real efforts on taking the lead on business transformation and innovation, CIOs today still won’t find their best friend inside the corporation. That’s because the CIO’s real BFF is another CIO.
After enjoying our third SearchCIO 360 dinner this week in New York, I am convinced that CIOs will always learn more and become more effective in their own jobs — not to mention with business transformation — by listening to the experiences of their peers. Only in this way will they start to feel that they aren’t alone against the sea of troubles IT presents on a daily basis.
Need more evidence? None other than the CIO of IBM, Jeanette Horan, who oversees hundreds of thousands of users and millions of database reports a day, and says she needs the comfort of peer networking to help understand things — and to help others understand.
“People are very interested to hear how we eat our own cooking,” she said during a recent interview. “And the other thing is IBM’s business results; we have to say we’ve been doing very well over the past few years, and so there are a lot of people who want to know, how did you do that? And obviously, the whole kind of role that the CIO organization plays has been instrumental in helping that with respect to the productivity gains to the business.”
“CIOs like networking,” she said. “The topics I most often get questions on are BYOD, governance — not “IT,” as in how do you manage your data center, but governance, as in how do you stay aligned with your business. And the other topics that are hot right now are analytics and cloud. The reason is, they are new, and everybody is trying to figure out what’s the real use case and what’s the real value proposition; and they [CIOs] are really hungry for examples — that’s what they want.”]]>
The Best Buy move follows news of less than optimistic financials and of the imminent close of 50 of its so-called big-box stores. The company is feeling more and more pressure from online retailers, and at the same time it’s struggling to improve its customer service at brick-and-mortar outlets.
Best Buy’s Geek Squad organization makes up more than 10% of its employees and is part of its long-term growth strategy. The Geek Squad partner program for SMBs will allow some companies to outsource many basic functions of their IT operations while enabling remaining IT staff to focus on core business issues. This is a very small segment of the industry now, but it will be growing over the next few years.
And this is a small picture of what large companies will confront, if they have not already. The functions of IT are being commoditized on the one hand and becoming strategic on the other. Increasingly, a big part of the role of the CIO is managing that transition without stalling innovation and growth.]]>
Last November we asked IT professionals some very personal questions about their job satisfaction, salary and compensation, and overall IT zeitgeist. From the compensation survey data, we’ve learned that overall, 2011 IT salaries remained flat or were slightly depressed compared to 2010, but that salary was only a small part of overall job satisfaction. Our courageous respondents were extremely honest about the state of their careers, including revealing what they received for their 2011 annual pay increase.
The majority (59%) of CIOs and senior IT executives in midmarket companies received an annual performance increase of 2.0% to 4.9%. Another 8% received an annual salary increase of less than 2%. When we looked at the compensation survey data from last year — specifically, the average salary for senior IT executives in the midmarket — there was a 2.9% overall increase compared to the average salary for senior IT executives who took the same survey in 2010. And this average salary increase is not solely a trend in midmarket companies: We looked at the raises reported by all respondents in every size of organization, and found that 63% of consultants, IT managers and CIOs alike received an annual salary increase of 2.0% to 4.9%. In fact, midmarket companies were slightly more generous — 14% of senior IT executives at midmarket companies received an annual salary increase of 10% or higher, compared to just 10% of all survey respondents.
According to many CIOs we spoke with, salary doesn’t matter as much as their feeling of accomplishment and the chance they have to play with shiny, new technologies. Hopefully the cold hard truth will help decrease the mental tickle when your friend over at Hot Tech Company X mentions his 33% annual salary increase.
The 2011 compensation survey data seems to suggest that it’s not what you do that’s important but how you do it. High earners in midmarket companies were less likely to spend their time managing IT projects and more likely to work building IT relationships with other parts of the business. It might be something to consider when formulating your 2012 salary goals.]]>
This month’s topic here at SearchCIO-Midmarket.com is career management. It happens to overlap with what has become a period of significant change in my own career path. Recently, I left my CIO role and this week, I shared with you the lessons I learned along the way. Here’s my story of the steps I took to become a CIO and the experiences that supported my CIO career.
In 1994, I had just completed two years at a community college as a computer science major and had planned to transfer to a four-year institution to complete a Bachelor of Science degree. However, at the urging of my father, I applied for a job with a title of telecommunications technician for a New York state agency charged with supporting the efforts of K-12 school districts. I quickly grew to love what I was doing and made the decision to forgo — for a time — that computer science degree. I discovered that the job title was a bit misleading, as I was responsible for designing both voice and data networks, managing servers, developing and maintaining complex databases and directly supporting users. It was certainly a “jack of all trades” kind of job. I learned that I liked being a generalist.
During this period of time, I set a personal goal to become an IT director by the age of 35. It was sort of an arbitrary deadline but seemed reasonable. Four years later, I moved to my next job, where I managed the systems and network and services department for a college. Here, I got my first real taste of management and worked for someone that was willing to help me develop in this space.
Bear in mind that I was 24 years old; now, at the ripe “old” age of 38, I can say that I was a kid and I did what many kids of the male variety do … I followed a girl. I moved to the Washington, D.C., area. The girl is now history, but what I gained in that transition has been incredible. This was during the dot-com days, so moving around was more accepted. My first job in D.C. was not a good fit; I was bored, and it showed. After less than a year, I moved to a financial services firm on a contract basis, where I learned the ins and outs of working in a large-scale hosted environment. Although I’ve worked primarily in small settings, this “big shop” mentality really helped me build robust environments later.
By the time the contract was over, I had secured my first senior IT management position for a nonprofit association. I managed a team of two. We spent the next two-and-a-half years building custom content management systems for state agencies and creating communication solutions for the association membership.
My goal was to become an IT director at 35, but sheer luck helped me make it happen seven years sooner.
I also got married. My wife and I had our son in December of 2003. Although I’d been through a number of job changes and had moved a lot, having a child was, by far, the most impactful event of my life. We did it again in February of 2005, when our daughter was born. Why do I include these events? Because these life events have had more of an impact on my career than all of the planning in the world ever could! I mean that in the most positive way possible; my wife and kids are the most important things in my life.
My wife made the decision that she wanted to stay home with our children. Living in the D.C. area on one salary was simply not an option. Since I loved working in higher education, I chose an IT director position at a small private college in upstate New York, just 30 miles from my hometown. I learned how to manage a larger team of 15, to delegate better, undertake larger projects and work across a larger organization. I made another move to a CIO position for a small, private college in Missouri in 2006. Although a small organization, the work was more complex and I engaged with the organization in a much deeper way, managing technology and undertaking and leading major, non-IT focused organization-wide projects.
Unfortunately, as is often the case, financial challenges and crises in leadership reared their heads in the organization. For the first time in my career, I felt “burned out.”
My stress level was off the charts. I realized that, with that state of mind, I was about to become a CIO who wasn’t helpful to the organization or to my team. I saw no light at the end of the tunnel and felt that it was no longer possible to achieve my goals at work. The organization needed someone that could better meld with the emerging culture, and that wasn’t me. It was time to go. Luckily, I’ve built a solid history as a consultant, trainer and writer, which can sustain my family while I decide on my next CIO role. — Scott Lowe]]>
This might sound like a step up in the world, or it could even be amusing, except for the fact that about half the external calls and emails I get address me as TechTarget’s CIO. Comparing solicitations from media relations staff with those I get from salespeople who think I’m the CIO reveals very different assumptions on the part of the senders. Media requests are generally friendly and respectful of my time. Sales pitches are aggressive and pushy — almost rude, in my opinion. The salesperson doesn’t ask if I have time available; he says something like, “I have to talk to you now, please respond.” It’s the email equivalent of those guys lining Las Vegas streets pushing flyers into your hands.
I told TechTarget’s real CIO that I feel sorry for him, and asked how he deals with it. He said he tries to screen out as much as possible; and when it comes to buying products, he decides when and where he will respond to something that he might need. Better yet, he or his staff will perform their own research and reach out to a vendor or solution provider themselves when it’s time.
This experience has given me better insight into the demands put on CIOs, which I think everyone takes for granted. Given everything being asked of CIOs, from being a technology tactician to being a strategic innovator, the most difficult piece has to be finding time to give adequate attention to everything. As a result, there doesn’t seem to be any time for career development or advancement.
Take some time to evaluate where you are in your career in 2012, and see what other kinds of opportunities await.]]>
Is the outsourcing model going to be the death of IT? Vlad Mazek thinks you might be surprised.
Despite rigid restrictions, North Korea has just reached 1 million active cell phones. Considering that a North Korean citizen was actually executed last year for calling South Korea, that speaks to some hardcore desire for mobility.
Looking for your next job? Erica Swallow has tips to take control of your next job interview.
Amazon would like you to believe that the Kindle Fire is a service rather than a product. We’re not so sure we buy the rationale.
The iPhone was a technological breakthrough. Or was it? New Yorker columnist Peter Thiel doesn’t think so.
Everyone wants to be the smartest person in the room. Lewis Howes thinks that might be your biggest problem.
Next time you find yourself hammering out your outsourcing model, follow these three easy lessons on better negotiations.]]>