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.]]>
As Dell rushes to plant flags in the IT services market, CIOs who have a relationship with SonicWall, Clerity, Wyse, Make Technology or AppAssure might be hesitating. After all, Dell undoubtedly will guarantee that those companies’ engineers have a 365-day lock-in period; but there is certainly a risk of brain drain if those engineers take flight as soon as they’re legally able to jump Dell’s corporate ship. The funny thing about people who work for smaller IT shops and startups is that they tend to treasure their indie street cred and might roll their eyes when handed a Dell polo shirt at a massive company picnic.
The good news for Dell is that the mergers are absolutely a good thing for Dell clients. They get access to a broader spectrum of technologies and the vendor is standing strong against the unceasing tide of Hewlett-Packard, IBM and Cisco techno-diversity. However, CIOs who are focused on preserving customer and vendor relations might find themselves considering a move to a different provider. For instance, when Dell scooped up SonicWall, so many of SonicWall’s customers and partners switched customer and vendor relations to other data protection providers that Dell pleaded with those groups to give Dell a chance.
What do you think? Does the rush of Dell acquisitions concern you as a current Dell customer or perhaps a customer of one of the companies Dell has acquired? Should current customers be concerned about their existing and future vendor relations? Sound out in the comments, and let’s discuss the pros and cons of the Dell acquisitions sweeps week.]]>
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.]]>
Any CIO faced with a meaningless key performance indicator (KPI) scorecard and performance dashboard knows that feeling about statistics: They can paint a rosy glow on your IT team’s performance, while anecdotal evidence tells a different story.
It’s a discussion that I had recently with our senior news writer, Linda Tucci, when it comes to outsourcing KPIs. My argument is that if you allow your consultants or your outsourcing team to designate the metrics and the KPI scorecard — essentially to grade themselves — the metrics themselves fall into question. In theory (and I know of at least one situation where this actually happened) they could lie outright about their own performance, especially if it’s tied to their own revenue stream.
The problem with metrics, KPIs, dashboards and every other self-performance measurement that we try to put into place is this: At best, you get exactly what you’re measuring; at worst, someone games the system but you take the numbers at face value.
A great example of a bad series of metrics comes from my tenure managing a newly outsourced help desk. One of the metrics was the number of completed issues (aka closed tickets). After three months, the contractor numbers were in the green, with greater than 99% of all tickets closed. The onshore help desk had never managed even to graze 97%, so senior leaders were ecstatic! Unfortunately, the user satisfaction scores were in the toilet. What the KPI dashboard wasn’t showing was that the number of user problem tickets had gone through the roof. Further root cause analysis revealed that when users called in, the agents closed tickets as soon as the call was completed, rather than keeping the ticket open to make sure that the actual problem was solved. When the user called back, they generated another ticket and another “solution” as soon as the agents got the user off the phone. Lather, rinse and repeat, with one user problem generating as many as 10 tickets in less than a week’s time.
It was our own fault. We weren’t measuring the actual solution and the users’ satisfaction. Aside from the obvious fact that a completed issue is a meaningless metric in the first place (all issues are not equal), the internal help desk staff members hadn’t needed an artificial construct to encourage them to satisfy the users — the members of the small, four-person team had known that if they didn’t solve the problem on the first pass, when the user called back, the help desk would pass the user through to the original agent. They worked with the product development team to deflect potential user problems proactively, and trained users as much as they helped them with problems. Why? Because we staffed four agents regardless of call volume — that bit of extra work made the agents’ lives easier in the long run. However, with the new outsourcing model, the contracted agents were staffed for call volume. Seemed like a good idea at the time, but why solve a problem if it means that your own hours are going to get cut next week?
We didn’t measure the user satisfaction KPI because it had been an invisible KPI all along. We changed the variables (the help desk agent structure) and were surprised when the same metrics no longer yielded similar results. Shame on us.
We are predicting (along with everyone else) that 2012 will be the Year of Big Data, but the devil is in the details. For some CIOs, the hardest thing they ever tackle will be their very own subset of “small” data on their very own KPI scorecard. May it be more valuable than Twain’s bemoaned statistics.]]>