CIO Symmetry

June 26, 2012  4:57 PM

Yammer does little to boost Microsoft’s enterprise collaboration wares

Scot Petersen Scot Petersen Profile: Scot Petersen

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.

June 22, 2012  9:31 AM

Study explores Internet consumers’ new mobile device use

Sarah Blanchette Profile: Sarah Blanchette

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.

June 18, 2012  5:01 PM

Web censorship: Should you be alarmed?

Wendy Schuchart Wendy Schuchart Profile: Wendy Schuchart

Each week, we scour the Web looking for the choicest bits of blogs and news that midmarket CIOs will find appealing. This week, we’re taking a hard look at Web censorship, the Google Nexus release and how big data is fueling smartphone apps in ways you’d never imagine.

Google reports an alarming rise in Web censorship by international governments in the last six months, according to its latest reports. The surprising thing is that most of those requests are coming from democracies.

Take one guess at the most important demographic in the tech industry. Now guess again, because your first guess was probably wrong.

Most of us have SoundHound or Shazam on our smartphones to help us play the “What’s that song?” game when out and about. But most users never realize that their smartphone apps are fueled by big data.

Got employees that work the 24/7 shift? Not the best strategy for success.

If you have stock in Nokia, you probably don’t want to read Andy Blumenthal’s latest.

Big bonus for the gadget-crazed among us: It’s rumored that Google’s first Android tablet will be called the Asus Nexus 7. Kind of rolls off your tongue, doesn’t it?

Speaking of tablets, Microsoft will not be announcing a partnership with Barnes & Noble this afternoon. Sorry, Charlie.

A proposed new Web censorship status code 451 would pay homage to recently deceased science-fiction writer Ray Bradbury.

June 12, 2012  8:02 PM

The role of the CIO is changing: What is your company doing about it?

Scot Petersen Scot Petersen Profile: Scot Petersen

I am going through the data from the second annual Role of the CIO survey. So far, the data suggests more skewing toward business transformation and innovation and away from “traditional” senior IT roles, such as supporting predefined business initiatives. More on that in the next few weeks.

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 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:

  • The vertical virtuoso
  • The enforcer
  • The protector
  • The translator
  • The negotiator

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.

June 11, 2012  8:24 PM

The Apple Retina display: Big whoop?

Wendy Schuchart Wendy Schuchart Profile: Wendy Schuchart

Each week, we round up an executive summary of the high points around the blogosphere. This week, we’re taking a look at the legality of Internet traffic regulation and how the big Internet companies deal with change haters. For gadget lovers, we’re also looking at the new Apple Retina display, the new Google tablet and whether ultrabooks have a hope of replacing tablet devices in the BYOD landscape.

June 5, 2012  3:13 PM

Let’s not go overboard about Flame malware

Scot Petersen Scot Petersen Profile: Scot Petersen

Similar to nuclear war scenarios, the most significant damage the recently discovered Flame malware will inflict comes from its fallout rather than from the initial blast.

The seriousness of Flame is real: Flame and the Duqu and Stuxnet malware are capable of attacking national critical infrastructure. The U.S. used Stuxnet against Iran’s nuclear program, which, given the many alternatives, seems like a pretty good idea. The same virus programs, however, could be used against any system that attackers wanted to target, including those in the U.S., and put millions of people at risk.

On the other hand, experts say there isn’t anything special about Flame and that it can be easily defended against with conventional security tools and policies. Microsoft this week revoked fraudulent certificates used by the Flame malware toolkit. Some experts say there is a bigger threat to businesses from application-level exploits by individual hackers than from the Flame-category cyberespionage attacks.

Two points are emerging in the wake of the discovery of Flame. One is (needless) panic; the second is a call for international treaties banning cyberwarfare. A big push for this is coming from Eugene Kaspersky, an influential security expert and founder of Russian antivirus company Kaspersky Labs, and the Russian government. Both entities are well populated with talented malware security experts, both legitimate and criminal.

As we have learned over the past decade, the best policy for security is openness. If we start making any kind of code or use of code illegal, we are going to have more problems than the threat of cyberattack. As the saying goes, if you outlaw guns, only outlaws will have guns.

June 4, 2012  10:35 AM

Corporate innovation: Why you’re never going to win

Wendy Schuchart Wendy Schuchart Profile: Wendy Schuchart

We scoured last week’s blogs for the best and brightest blog posts and media on topics of interest to midmarket CIOs. This week we’re examining the problems that plague midsize corporations, like middle-management tar pits and stuck organizations. We also look at the challenge of constant corporate innovation, as the Chief Innovation Officer must be a problem-solver as well as a visionary. Here are the high points of the braintrust that caught our editors’ eyes last week.

With Facebook’s disappointing IPO fallout, Allen Gannett has declared that the social media bubble has officially been popped. No offense, Allen, but we’re going to hold off on last rites for a bit.

Gartner has its own Gandalf in Mark P. McDonald, and he thinks that a CIO’s main problem is too few managers and too many administrators.

Are you willing to ignore dissent in your user community? If not, you might be stuck, according to Seth Godin.

CIOs are always chasing corporate innovation, but how do you measure the speed at which you chase it? Check out the Innovation Ambition Matrix.

Why do we innovate? Because you innovate or you die, says blogger Stefano Boscutti.

There are four zones for corporate innovation: Where does your team fall on Jim Kalbach’s scale?

June 1, 2012  3:23 PM

Smartphone usage a sign of impending mobility tsunami

Wendy Schuchart Wendy Schuchart Profile: Wendy Schuchart

Consider your own smartphone use when you engage with other businesses — whether it’s checking your servers with a thin client or watching the latest episode of “New Girl.” You rely on those apps. They have become a part of your life in some ways. In general, enterprise companies tend to have their ducks in a row, but midmarket companies are all over the board. Some companies dipped a toe into mobility early in the game and are already reaping rewards. For instance, Papa Gino’s, a New England pizza chain, engaged customers with a mobile app for ordering hot, fresh pies on the go, and increased their sales by 10%. Meanwhile, Dealer Services Corp. CIO Chris Brady implemented a mobile business intelligence solution to arm her internal customers when they were on the road. But not every CIO has been so forward-thinking.

In the last five months, mobile Internet traffic has shown tremendous growth compared with desktop usage. During this week’s D10 conference, analyst Mary Meeker noted that the number of Americans owning digital reading devices or tablets had a huge spike over the holidays, with almost one-third of all Americans reporting that they now own a Kindle, Nook, iPad or similar technology. Add that to the exponential growth of smartphone usage and iPad business apps — the future of mobile computing is impossible to ignore. There’s no sign of a smartphone usage tipping point– as Barney Stinson might say, it’s all rise.

2012 is turning out to be the Year of the App — again. Midmarket CIOs can no longer afford to “wait and see” when it comes to mobilizing their innovation. Check out my Midmarket Matters column for more of Meeker’s insights on the future of mobile technology.

May 29, 2012  5:40 PM

Strategic and agile equals true business transformation

Scot Petersen Scot Petersen Profile: Scot Petersen

Linda Tucci raised a great point in her debut CIO Matters column last week. That is, and I’m paraphrasing, how far have CIOs really come in this digital age from being caretakers of technology to leaders of business transformation?

Or are the two roles really inseparable from one another?

It’s both, and that’s the real challenge in business transformation. Technologies are changing fast, but the implications of those technological changes are accelerating even faster. The Facebook idea of “agility above all,” however, is flawed, in my opinion. As Tucci points out, the “shoot first, ask questions later” approach of the Web era is the very antithesis of the kind of business-transformation strategic approach that CIOs need to embrace.

The most successful IT leaders these days are those who are trying to synthesize both worlds: strategic but agile. You are seeing that synthesis in BYOD “implementations”, if you will — empowering the productivity of the employees while ultimately maintaining control of the devices.

May 24, 2012  4:03 PM

Should CIOs read their young employees’ social network profiles?

Sarah Blanchette Profile: Sarah Blanchette

Millennials are sometimes referred to as the “Facebook generation,” and for good reason. About 75% of millennials have a social network profile. Comparatively, about half of Generation X and only a third of Baby Boomers report that they have a social network profile of some kind, according to a 2010 Pew Research Center report.

Since so many Millennials have social network profiles, CIOs may believe that spying through online profiles will help them gather useful information on young employees. This begs the question: Is it ethical to spy on employees’ personal profile, or are they entitled to some social network privacy? Furthermore, is the information that CIOs are gathering even an accurate representation of these people?

As a Millennial, I know firsthand how often we are being warned about what we put online. There is no such thing as social network privacy, we are told. We know that anyone from a college admissions officer to a future employer could be looking at our social network profiles at any given time.

Some Millennials listen to the sound advice while others desperately seek out some social network privacy that really doesn’t exist. These Millennials employ the use of privacy settings that make it nearly impossible to be found, but there are even more ways. The more clever users may employ a pseudonym and change the name that appears on their account to make it difficult to be found. Other people make two separate accounts — one for professional purposes and one for fun. The more serious Millennials may deactivate their accounts while looking for jobs, out of fear that future employers will see something that they don’t want seen.

It’s not easy to grow up during the social media revolution. Try to imagine your entire college experience, your entire youth, being captured by cell phones and digital cameras and then plastered online, sometimes so quickly that it happens without your knowledge or consent. If you’re a member of Generation X or the Baby Boomer generation, you used to be able to walk into an interview and make a “real” first impression. Today, employers can simply Google the names of future employees, and by the time applicants arrive for an interview, the employer has already formed opinions about them. My suggestion: Try to give young people today the same fresh start that you were given at their age.

As a last resort, using social media profiles to get to know your Millennials may be beneficial. If there are obvious red flags that send you running in the other direction, don’t feel guilty for acting on that apprehension, as Millennials are very aware that social media information is fair game.

However, CIOs should try to avoid totally basing their opinions on an employee’s social network profile. You’ll find out more about employees by actually talking to them than you would by snooping through their Facebook or Twitter profile.

Sarah Blanchette is a journalism student interning as an editorial assistant at TechTarget.

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