July 20, 2011 3:16 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
Dell makes incredibly effective use of social media
, social media interest can create new job opportunities for IT professionals
, social media savvy IT pros can write their own tickets on the job
Yesterday I had the honor and privilege of attending Dell’s second annual Customer Advisory Panel (CAP) meeting, as a replacement for my long-time colleague and friend David Strom on behalf of his employer’s Website ReadWriteWeb.com (aka RWW; see “Dave Strom Note” at the end of this blog for more info).
Members of CAP at Westin Hotel (7/19/2011, © Creative Commons; photo by Dell staff)
While one of the purposes of the Dell CAP meetings is to solicit input and feedback from the customer perspective, the name of the event omits another one of its primary foci — namely, it’s exclusive focus on social media, especially blogging, twitter, facebook, and so forth. Most of yesterday’s discussion focused on how Dell is using, measuring, and working with social media to provide better service and support for its customers, and to offer a faster and better channel for information dissemination as well as communication between Dell’s staff (of which there are now roughly 25,000) and its millions of customers.
I’m going to be writing an article about the details of that encounter for Dave at RWW later today, but that’s not why I’m writing this blog. I’m writing this blog because yesterday’s encounter also forcefully showed me that social media activity and savvy can be good for an IT career, or help IT professionals with a yen to get into higher levels of service, support, marketing, or communications, a great bridge from a purely technical position into something that combines technical savvy and skills with a communications and spokesperson role.
How might this happen? I’ll tell you how:
- Dell has created a social media support organization that started with 10 people in 2010 supporting English-language-only communications, and today involves 70 full-time staff supporting communications in 11 different languages around the world.
- Dell has invested millions of dollars in an astounding monitoring/measurement/dashboard environment called Radian 6 that provides detailed metrics on posts, tweets, Facebook wall activity, and so forth, associates them with key search terms, various product and service categories, and ranks such information and provides informative visual displays and dashboards. We visited Dell’s Social Media Operations Center yesterday: with its 6 huge screens’ worth of display and ongoing status updates it’s as impressive as any of the corporate NOCs (network operations centers) I’ve visited over the years at companies like EDS, IBM/Tivoli, or Computer Associates.
- Dell has created dozens of positions that essentially require employees to interact with users via twitter, Facebook, and so forth, or to create and maintain a regular blog presence with ongoing comment and chat support. These are generally technically and experienced IT professionals who also have the ability to communicate and interact well with customers. Several of them told us yesterday that they have never enjoyed any of their other jobs, at Dell or elsewhere, as much as they enjoy their current gigs. And FWIW, at least one of the social media team members told us yesterday that this is the first job she’s ever had where it continually comes as a surprise to her that it’s 5 PM or later, and already time to go home. At work, on the job, it seldom gets better than that!
What all of this tells me is that it’s crystal clear that social media have become an important conduit for companies to interact with customers (and partners, and even internally). That means that IT professionals with an interest in social media, and the ability to use it well, can carve out interesting and potentially more lucrative job positions and paths than might otherwise have been available to them. And it’s a win-win situation, in that effective use of social media is proving to be a great way to improve the customer experience, and burnish a company’s or organization’s perceived value or worth in the eyes of those customers.
Dave Strom Note
I knew of David as the founder and first Editor-in-Chief at Network Computing magazine when I met him in 1993 when I joined the Program Committee for Interop as Novell’s representative. When I left Novell in May 1994, I was delighted to be asked to stay on the Program Committee, so Dave and I worked together in that capacity until I left that group in 2002. Over the years, I’ve also worked for Dave at numerous publications including Tom’s Hardware and Tom’s Guide, Digital Landing, and on various corporate projects of one kind or another. Now, I’m working for him again at RWW. In all fairness, I should also observe that I’ve hired Dave to work on projects with me from time to time, so that relationship is not all one-way, either. But Dave is a passionate and well-informed user and observer of information technology, and a long-time source of insight and information about the tools and industries that support IT. Check out his blog, his video product reviews, and learn more about his speaking business, if you like.
July 18, 2011 6:06 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
no end to brinksmanship on debt ceiling in sight
, Republican cant does little to address raising the debt ceiling
The Hon Mr Carter and his response do not leave me warm and fuzzy
To my complete and utter amazement, I actually got a response from my Texas Congressman, John R. Carter, to my email about the need to get past partisan bickering and ideological grandstanding and increase the budget debt ceiling. Alas, however, that response does not fill me with joy, nor does it raise my hopes about a workable solution to this crisis.
Here are the paragraphs from his canned response that garnered the bulk of my attention, as outstanding examples of political doublespeak:
The United States has financial obligations, and it is unacceptable not to honor those commitments. Failing to win the necessary concessions on spending cuts would be detrimental to America’s future. That said, failing to raise the statutory debt limit would catastrophic to the world economy and would immediately and irreversibly weaken the full faith and credit of the United States. Fortunately, the United States has always paid its debts and remains in good financial standing with other countries, and we must make sure this good standing continues. However we must use this opportunity to ensure drastic spending cuts and reform Washington.
I will continue to fight for an economic agenda which reflects my principles as a fiscal conservative, emphasizing the value of common sense expenditures, and reforming wasteful government spending. Please know that I am committed to balancing our budget, reforming government spending, and reducing the deficit. Once again, thank you for taking the time to contact me. Please do not hesitate to do so in the future if I can be of any further assistance.
It looks like he understands full well that the USA must honor its financial obligation on the debt, but the message states flatly that ‘Washington spends too much and does not tax too little’ (my paraphrase) and that “The best way to increase revenue is to decrease the unemployment rate.” If anything, I am even more antsy about our prospects for a solution than I was before I started down this road.
Until SMBs know what the government is going to do, and are assured that markets aren’t going to crash, and interest rates skyrocket, they’re not hiring anybody. And until we get the debt crisis solved, it’s likely to stay that way. I could give the proverbial rodent’s hindquarters if we balance the buget, but I sure as heck don’t want to see the markets crash, and my retirement savings get decimated yet again, as they did after the .dot bomb debacle and then again in 2008.
July 15, 2011 8:53 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
do not overlook soft skills when planning your career growth
, the enduring value of soft skills to IT professionals
I just finished an article for Matt Gervais at SearchWinIT.com tentatively entitled “Write Your Way to IT Career Success.” Over the years, I’ve written numerous articles on the importance of soft skills for career development with a special emphasis on the following topics:
- written communication
- verbal communication and presentations
- project management
- time management
- people skills and people management (these are two different, but related sets of soft skills)
Although you will only seldom see these topics explicitly mentioned in your current job description, or in descriptions for such future jobs as may interest you, you’ll have to take my word for it that all of these things matter in varying degrees for any and every job around.
As you think about ways to improve your employability, and to improve your performance reviews and interview results, don’t forget to think, talk, learn, and and act in these various soft skill domains. As your skills and knowledge in these areas grow, so will your value as an employee. Even though they may not have the same cachet as an advanced degree or another high-end certification, soft skills can add as much value (and occasionally more value) than such things to your career prospects and opportunities. That’s why you should make learning, developing and improving soft skills an important aspect of your career and learning plans. Don’t forget: it really counts!
July 13, 2011 6:07 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
crisis looming that dwarfs 2008 and might even eclipse 1929
, dismal grim number for June 2011 employment situation
, latest employment numbers really suck
, time to tell Congress to fix the deficit
I’ve been noodling around like mad since last Friday, when the US Bureau of Labor Statistics posted the news that only a trifling number of new jobs — 18,000 to be precise — had been created for the month of June, 2011. After the first sign of substantial gains the month before (over 200,000 new jobs created in May) this comes as a shock, a warning that the economy remains far from vigorous, and to those dreading the August 2 deadline for raising the US Federal Debt Ceiling, a dire portent of things that very well could lie ahead in the next month or two.
Post-release of this information, most analysis has zeroed in on the fact that SMBs (companies with less than 500 or 1,000 employees, depending on who’s measuring) are still sitting on the sidelines, too afraid of the current situation and possible downsides to even think about hiring anybody right now. And if you understand the notion of an economic pyramid (which translates its shape: “Big at the bottom, pointy and narrow on top” into the recognition that there are a lot more bricks or stones at the bottom than at the top) and recognize that SMBs form its base, you’ll also understand that without SMBs becoming more sanguine about hiring staff, the unemployment situation in the USA is going exactly nowhere fast.
My friends, we are sitting at the cusp of a huge divide that will govern the future of this country and the global economy for the next decade and beyond. Unless the Congress can get its stuff together and make the compromises necessary to raise the US Federal Debt Ceiling, we are headed for a world of hurt. I must now believe that this means major market falls, a return to double-digit unemployment rates, and a double-dip recession with overtones of economic depression. At my most alarmist, I can see this as on par with or perhaps even worse than the Great Depression of 1929 and the subsequent decade of misery that followed.
Everybody needs to send an email to all of his or her congresspeople and both senators for their state that says: “We don’t care what you have to do to raise the debt ceiling, do it. Don’t let your partisan principles ruin the future prospects for economic recovery, and kill the American Dream for ourselves and our children. Fix it, now!” I just sent a message to this effect to my Senators, John Cornyn and Kaye Bailey Hutchison, and to my Congressman, John Carter. I urge everyone who reads this blog to do the same. It’s time to stand up and be counted. We must resolve this issue, or we will all suffer dreadfully. Party affiliations and partisan principles no longer matter: it’s time to stop the bleeding, or the patient will die!!!
July 11, 2011 4:43 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
Secrets of Consulting delivers what it promises
, Secrets of Consulting is a great book for IT pros
, Weinberg's Secret of Consulting dispenses great advice with equally great humor
From his mouth to your ear come Secrets of Consulting
I have the unique pleasure and privilege of writing today’s blog to recommend Gerald Weinberg’s fabulous book entitled The Secrets of Consulting (Dorset House Publishing, January 1986, ISBN: 0932633013). The title is actually something of a misnomer, in that it presents its audience as those who make their living by consulting with others (or who are considering a career change involving a consulting role). And while it is a peachy-keen reference for such professionals, it is also helpful to anyone who works in a service provider role to other organizations, or units within an organization. If that doesn’t describe IT perfectly, I’m not sure what does. At any rate, I’m firmly of the opinion that anyone who works in an IT job who also has to deal with users, or management outside of IT, will realize some amazing benefits from reading this book.
And that’s not the only reason IT professionals should read this book. It’s a paragon of communication all by its lonesome, and manages to be laugh-out-loud funny consistently from start to finish while also presenting incredibly valuable nuggets of information from a seemingly inexhaustible supply of same. There’s a good reason why this book hasn’t gone out of print since it first appeared in 1986, and why it remains a top pick for management, consulting, and even IT reading lists over 30 years after it first published. How can you go wrong with a book that includes such immortal labels as “Rudy’s Law of Rutabagas,” “The Inverse Gilded Rule,” and “The Potato Chip Principle?”
If you need some good, strong belly laughs to help you get some excellent career-enhancing advice down rush right out and buy this book (cheap used copies are plentiful, thanks to the number of years this book has been available, or you can pay around $60 for a brand-new or “like new” copy). My advice is: “Read. This. Book.”
July 8, 2011 3:34 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
ITIL offers certification in best IT service practices and processes
, ITIL provides interesting IT career boost
ITIL is an abbreviation for Information Technology Infrastructure Library. Based on work originally undertaken for the British Government’s Central Computer and Telecommunications Agency (CCTA) in the 1980s, it evolved into a set of recommendations and best practices that exercise profound impact on IT practices, processes, and procedures all over the world today. The fundamental concept is that standard IT practices help to ensure proper implementation, management, and maintenance of information technology for businesses and government bodies alike.
The first version, known as ITIL v1, was published by 1996, involved publication of over 30 volumes of material. By 2001, ITIL v2 compacted these publications into a collection of 8 logical sets that combined related process guidelines and practices for IT management, applications, and services. The primary focus in these materials is called Service Management (comprised of Service Delivery and Service Support), and provide the most widely published and used elements within ITIL v2.
By 2001 the CCTA was absorbed into the Office of Government Commerce (OGC) which is an arm of the UK Treasury department. By mid-2007, the OGC produced ITIL v3 which is comprised of 26 functions and processes, grouped into 5 volumes organized around a service lifecycle structure. By 2009 ITIL v2 certifications were withdrawn, and a transition to v3 certifications was made public. Nevertheless, v2 materials and information remain both popular and in-demand in IT organizations around the world. But by the end of June, 2011, ITIL v3 remains the only ITIL version still current, and defines the topics around which IT Professionals will want to seek certification.
The ITIL v3 certifications are modular, where each qualification earns a specific credit value. Upon completion of any given module, an individual earns some number of credits and a specific credential. The ITIL v3 Foundation certification is the base level, and earns 2 points. Intermediate credentials require 15 points and may come from a collection of either Lifecycle or Capability topics, or a combination of the two, where each Lifecycle cert earns 3 credits and each Capability cert earns 4. Candidates seeking Expert level certification must earn 22 points (2 from the Foundation, 15 from the Intermediate, and 5 credits from a “Managing Across the Lifecycle” exam).
For more information about topics and credentials please see my PearsonITCertification blog entitled “ITIL Certs Can Be a Real Career Booster for IT Professional.”
July 7, 2011 3:16 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
CEH provides CPE for ISACA CISM
, CISM as valid pre-req for EC-Council LPT certification
, ISACA and EC-Council offer mutual cert support
Although certification sponsors who work the same industry patches are often inclined to regard others with whom they share such patches as competitors, that’s not always the case. Consider the recent announcement from the ISACA (formerly known as the Information Systems Audit and Control Association; read “ISACA and EC-Council sign MOU” for more details) and the EC-Council (aka the International Council of Electronic Commerce Consultants).
ISACA is best known for its CISA (Certified Information Systems Auditor) and CISM (Certified Information Security Manager) credentials, while EC-Council is best known for its CEH (Certified Ethical Hacker) and related code analysis and penetration testing credentials. The cooperative agreement between these two organizations lets individuals who earn the ISACA CISM use that credential in place of the CEH as a pre-requisite for earning the EC-Council’s LPT (Licensed Penetration Tester) certification, while ISACA grants applicants for the CISA continuing professional education (CPE) credits for their pursuit and attainment of the CEH credential as well.
This sort of mutual reinforcement between programs is a good idea, because it encourages IT professionals to broaden their horizons to encompass multiple certification programs, and encourages synergy between similar but not identical credentials and bodies of knowledge. I’d like to see more of this kind of thing become common practice. Today, beyond the various programs that recognize various CompTIA certifications as initial stepping stones onto their certification ladders, there really isn’t that much of this kind of thing going on.
[A shout-out to Anne Martinez, whose latest Certification Watch Vol14#7 alerted me to this cross-organizational agreement.]
July 4, 2011 9:01 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
Upcoming IT Cert Seminar 7/27/2011
On Wednesday, July 27, from 3-4 PM Eastern Daylight time (-05:00 UCT) I will be presented a Webinar on the PearsonITCertification.com Website. The working title for this presentation is “Planning Your Next Certification Campaign.” It will deal with the issues involved in establishing and managing certification goals over the long and short terms, and with various techniques to plan activities, and to monitor progress.
I’ll also get into some useful self-assessment tools and techniques, to explain how to figure out where you are, and how to help you get to where you want to go professionally. To this end, I’ll also talk about how to assess and develop career and certification skills, too. The presentation will conclude with a discussion of how to develop and implement a study plan for certification, along with a personal support system to help you meet your own stated goals.
Header from my IT Cert Success article collection
All of this information is also available in much greater depth and detail through the “Ed Tittel’s IT Certification Success” web page on the PearsonITCertification.com site, in the form of a whole series of articles we wrote late last year (2010) and early this year (2011) to dig more deeply into all of these subjects. Be sure to check it out!
July 1, 2011 9:43 PM
Posted by: Ed Tittel
changes to Java exams follow switchover to Pearson VUE testing centers
, recent changes to Oracle Java cert exams
Thanks to a blog posted on Anne Martinez’ always interesting GoCertify.com Website the news is out about changes to the former Sun, now Oracle, Java certification exams are going through some changes (check Harold Green’s 6/20/2011 blog entitled “Java Certification Exam Changes Due to the Move to Oracle/Pearson VUE” for more details).
Certiblog Headline On Java Exam Changes
What’s in this set of changes, you ask? Here’s the 10,000-foot view:
- Exams renumbered to match Oracle-style Exam IDs
- Exam scores enhanced to offer more detailed feedback, including a list of all exam objectives for which incorrect answers were received.
- For some exams, lengthy, complex and time-consuming questions are out, replaced with shorter alternative versions (exam length is now uniform at 150 minutes, or 2.5 hours, for all Java topics).
- Interactive question types (drag and drop and matching type questions) are out, to simplify exam interaction and make it more consistent across all exams.
- Passing scores have been readjusted statistically to maintain parity with previous exam versions, to keep levels of difficulty unchanged. (No changes have been made regarding exam objectives and topics covered).
Glad to see that Oracle is simply adjusting the program to better integrate it with other Oracle Education cert stuff and (so far) leaving the Java exam content and coverage alone.