CIO Symmetry

November 22, 2011  8:19 PM

Celebrate a colleague with our CIO awards

Wendy Schuchart Wendy Schuchart Profile: Wendy Schuchart

We all know those amazing IT leaders who make a difference in our companies day in and day out but often go unrecognized by the IT world at large. Not everyone can pull a Steve Jobs or a Bill Gates, after all, but I have witnessed solid and amazing innovation in midmarket companies time and again. That’s why we want to celebrate and award those CIOs and IT leaders who are blazing trails and making exciting things happen within midmarket companies.

Our IT Leadership Awards are open for nominations. We’re looking for not just the brave and the daring technological advancements, but also those individuals who excel at building culture or embracing green IT as part of their inherent strategy. These CIO awards celebrate all manner of IT excellence, whether it’s building a culture where millennials feel comfortable or Gen Xers find places to lead inside and outside the org chart, or by introducing new technologies to the IT department, either through innovations in data center cooling or exciting BYOD policies. Of course, it could be something else that we haven’t even considered, which is why I’m so excited to be a part of these CIO awards. I can’t wait for the CIO award nominations to dazzle us with the creativity and inspirational leadership that I know is out there.

Do you know someone who deserves to be recognized for their outstanding IT leadership with one of our CIO awards? Someone who is always thinking of better ways to optimize and motivate their teams or drive business value through technological contributions? Someone who has figured out a way to really engage the customers of an organization, whether internal or external? Or is that person you? Let us know!

We’re looking forward to sharing with you stories about the outstanding IT leaders on throughout next year. We’ll also award six amazing individuals with American Express gift certificates as well as engraved glass trophies, suitable for bragging rights in the office. As well, recognized IT leaders will receive exclusive invitations to IT industry networking events throughout the country.  We’re also going to award one of those IT leaders with the title of IT Leader of the Year — and oh yeah, they’ll get an iPad2, too.

And because we’re not above bribery, if your nominated IT leader is one of those exceptional elite, we’re also going to give you an American Express gift card. Consider it a CIO awards finder’s fee.

There are no catches. Well, one: You can only nominate one person, so choose carefully. Ready, set, go get ’em!

November 21, 2011  8:50 PM

Will the outsourcing model be the death of CIOs?

Wendy Schuchart Wendy Schuchart Profile: Wendy Schuchart

Each week, we scour the Web to track down interesting news pieces and commentary to help you maximize your surfing potential and information consumption. This week, we’ve got analysis of the Kindle Fire’s marketing strategy, concerns about the IT outsourcing model, and tips for negotiations and job interviews.

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.

November 17, 2011  10:12 PM

Can the future of Yahoo withstand the dot-com bubble 2.0?

Wendy Schuchart Wendy Schuchart Profile: Wendy Schuchart

San Francisco’s Yahoo billboard has been a landmark in the city for over a decade. I always get a little thrill when I zoom over the 101 and spot its cheeky little sayings and delightful midcentury stylistic design. Sadly, the Yahoo billboard is coming down this month.

Is the future of Yahoo in jeopardy? Yahoo is one of the last remaining standouts from the dot-com era. The billboard went up during the days when the Nasdaq was ripe with tech stocks, and it has witnessed its fellow tech billboards fall by the wayside along with the companies they represented. Remember using AltaVista? Encarta? How about Remember when Apple was just a boutique brand favored mostly by artists and the truly eclectic? Remember when social media was little more than logging onto a special interest forum and then the truly pointless SixDegrees?

We often speak about the end of the dot-com era while ignoring the fact that we’re smack in the middle of another one. Some pundits are labeling it bubble 2.0. I’m not sure they’re entirely wrong. Startups are climbing, and cloud computing makes for fast and easy tech in just about everyone’s hands. Facebook is worth an astronomical amount. Groupon’s IPO earlier this month was the biggest in the U.S. since Google’s, which is pulling in respectable amounts of cash, thanks to its constant innovation and reinvention (case in point, Google’s digital music store opened this Thursday). Despite a few financial pundits who are shaking their heads at Groupon’s future growth potential, it’s plain that there’s still an appetite for dot-com commerce.

But what does this mean for the future of Yahoo in the Internet landscape? With other tech giants making huge inroads into the cultural lexicon, Yahoo seems to be floundering. It fired Carol A. Bartz two months ago in a messy PR nightmare, advertisers don’t seem to be biting, and the company’s attempts at engaging Web 2.0 dynamics are turning up with a Fail Whale.

What do you think? Is the future of Yahoo at risk? Is the Yahoo billboard’s demise a sign of tough times to come for the Internet giant? The comments are hanging on your every word.

November 15, 2011  5:10 PM

Confronting the malware problem: Is cutting the cord the answer?

Scot Petersen Scot Petersen Profile: Scot Petersen

Throughout 2011, and editors have been writing about creating new efficiencies in IT and empowering a new generation of users through mobility. At the same time, however, the malware problem continues to get worse and as a result, is threatening the freedoms employees now take for granted.

Dr. John Halamka, CIO at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, issued a wake-up call in a recent blog post: “If attacks are escalating and our existing tools to prevent them do not work, what must we do?” he wrote. “Alas, we must limit inbound and outbound traffic to corporate networks.”

BIDMC will start restricting access on a limited basis to see if that reduces the amount of malware in its network. Halamka goes on to say that the next step could be whitelisting, which will enable users to visit only authorized websites and will block personal email accounts.

It’s surprising that Halamka, who is known as a technophile’s technophile — the “Geek Doctor” — has come to this conclusion; but since he has, there’s no doubt that much more conservative IT managers are thinking the same thing. In many workplaces, the outcry against restrictive use policies will make Occupy Wall Street look like a meeting around the water cooler.

I have to admit that, despite many IT managers’ efforts to enforce policies and to educate users on security and malware prevention, the average IT user still is woefully ignorant of the effects of his or her Internet usage. Is it time to take users to the woodshed and teach them a lesson once and for all? Maybe, but such a policy should be exercised carefully and with role-based restrictions, because the productivity drain could cost a company more than a security breach ever would. It also could create anger, frustration and yes, even depression, among users who have become used to open access.

As Halamka writes, “It’s truly tragic that the Internet has become such a swamp, especially at a time that we want to encourage the purchase of consumer devices such as tablets and smartphones.”

Yes, it is. And maybe this wake-up call will really begin to transform employees into responsible Internet users. All I can say is, it had better.

November 14, 2011  8:36 PM

Tweak your corporate Twitter policy or risk getting p0wned

Wendy Schuchart Wendy Schuchart Profile: Wendy Schuchart

Each week we scour the Web and bring you the freshest scoop from around the blogosphere. This week, we’re serving up tasty helpings of corporate Twitter intellectual property questions, IT leadership paradigms, and whether you should stash away your R&D team members in a secret cave and mine their brains for innovative ideas.

Is the only way to beat internal bureaucracy in innovation by creating a secret R&D division independent of the rest of the company? It’s crazy but it just might work: It’s happening right now at Google’s top-secret creativity tank.

 Looking to tweak your corporate Twitter strategy? Mitch Joel’s confessions of Twitter snobbery might give you some ideas on what not to do.

 Are you sitting down? That’s the problem. According to researchers, the standard office chair might be the most unhealthy thing in your IT department.

 Do you obsess over small imperfections in your IT infrastructure and the day-to-day doldrums? If so, you’re thinking like Amazon’s Jeff Bezos.

 The world’s very first 16-core PC microprocessor was born yesterday. You won’t be surprised that it’s going to be used for cloud computing.

The U.S. Senate voted down the resolution that would have overturned Net neutrality legislation in the U.S.

Battery woes abound for Apple. The iPhone 4S iOS 5.0.1 upgrade was supposed to fix the battery-draining woes of the iPhone 4S — but it didn’t actually help all that much. Meanwhile, the first-generation iPod nano’s overheating battery increases the risk that the device will catch fire. You can get your antique iPod nano replaced but here’s a warning — you’re going to get another antique iPod nano. One would assume the replacement won’t spontaneously combust as well.

Think you own your company’s corporate Twitter account? PhoneDog, a mobile review site, claims a former employee “stole” his corporate Twitter account by changing the password and the identifying features, essentially hijacking more than 17,000 followers in the process.

November 11, 2011  2:20 PM

New social media platforms Tumblr and Pinterest make waves

Wendy Schuchart Wendy Schuchart Profile: Wendy Schuchart

Everyone and their neighbor has heard about Twitter and Facebook, but CIOs should have some new social media platforms on their radar. They’re all part of the social media trend called instablogging. That’s right, those social media magpies are bored writing 140-character tweets and now publish to their networks by clicking a single button.

Tumblr is a combination of Twitter and blogging, but with a visual slant. This social media upstart has seen tremendous growth in its use throughout 2011; according to the Nielsen Media Q3 2011 Social Media report, it’s now the third-most-visited social media website after Facebook and Blogger. Yep, it was even more popular than Twitter and LinkedIn this year, tripling its usage compared to 2010.

Just as Tumblr is a clone of Twitter and Facebook, it has its own cadre of clones as well. Pinterest, for instance, is akin to a visual link aggregator — like Twitter with images. As such, it works best with visually interesting concepts and photographs, but a single “pin” can propagate throughout the Pinterest network like wildfire. While the visual Pinterest is still in private beta, it seems to have found instant success with female users — a highly covetable consumer segment. Expect Pinterest to be a major player in 2012, and make sure you’re watching your company’s brand and reputation play out in this space.

Similar to Pinterest, Instagram takes a user’s smartphone’s internal camera and runs with it, melding user-created photographs with social media platforms. It allows unlimited characters for text, and integrates with most of the major players, like Twitter and Facebook. It would be very easy for an employee to innocently share photos of something humorous (but potentially embarrassing) around the workplace and blast it out to their enormous social network. Are you cringing right now?

These new heirs to the Twitter and Facebook throne should serve as a reminder to revisit your social media policy regularly. Make sure that the wording is inclusive, covering not just a single social media network, but all current and future social media platforms as well.

The important thing to note is that this latest generation of social media offerings allows users to connect and interact with users outside their social networks. Unlike Facebook, your customers don’t have to be “friends” with someone to see what they’re publishing. Facebook’s privacy issues are constantly ruffling feathers, but the new kids on the social media block aren’t concerned with who sees what. These users seem to understand that what they put on the Internet is, you know, on the Internet. This should be a relief — at least when it comes to concerns about proprietary information leaking out. But then again, there’s always that misguided worker in every bunch.

Another important thing to note is the sense of discovery with your company’s online audience. Savvy customers are leaning away from Google searches, with its misleading SEO tricks and system-gaming. Traditional search logic could fall by the wayside as Jane or Joe Consumer rely less on “Googling” and more on what their private curators and tastemakers on the latest crop of social media sites have to say. The CIO who figures out how to harness that tidal shift will be a force of nature.

November 8, 2011  7:58 PM

A new take on building CIO community

Wendy Schuchart Wendy Schuchart Profile: Wendy Schuchart

We’re always trying to consider what’s on the minds of CIOs today. We write tips and news articles about it. We interview CIOs and profile them. But much of that commentary happens in a controlled environment and one-on-one with a writer or editor.

The SearchCIO360 dinner event changed all that. New to TechTarget, this event brought together 15 CIOs from the Boston area and beyond. They met late last month at a local restaurant near our offices in Newton, Mass.

During dinner we had CIOs from large corporations in spirited debate with CIOs from midsize corporations about such subjects as business-technology convergence, cloud computing, IT consumerization and the future of the CIO as a career. One CIO from a midsize business defended his company’s BYOD policy, while the CIO of a large, multinational financial company said, “I love the iPad, but I can’t allow it in my company because I can’t secure it.”

Most importantly, this event was an opportunity for CIOs from companies of different sizes and from diverse industries to meet and share contact information, which they all did.

Look for more SearchCIO360 events next year in your area. These events are for you, the senior IT executive, so if you want to be part of a new and growing senior IT professional community, we encourage you to join in.

November 7, 2011  5:24 PM

Sustainability initiatives driving innovation

Wendy Schuchart Wendy Schuchart Profile: Wendy Schuchart

You got an extra hour this week, so why does it seem like you’re still crushed by the weight of your to-do list? We’re here to help. We’ve got an executive summary of the blogosphere’s greatest hits, including an optimistic piece on decision making, an update from the National Institutes of Science and Technology (NIST) on cloud computing, and a report on sustainability initiatives in technology.

IT often takes the blame for eating up tons of energy, but technology also is supporting sustainability initiatives at every turn. Lauren Drell details four ways that tech improves recycling rates for organizations, as well as for consumers.

Do you remember the early, heady days of the Web, when people fretted about dead links and teenagers who were considered addicted because they spent hours surfing on the Web? Check out this list of the pros and cons of the Internet, circa 1996, featuring AltaVista and Yahoo. So quaint!

Sure, everyone who has ever had to reboot a server at 4 a.m. is no stranger to the F-bomb. Scott Hanselman asks whether profanity at IT conferences has become an accepted tradition — and more importantly, how does it affect your credibility and reputation?

Are you afraid of making bad decisions? Elizabeth Harrin claims that there’s no such thing as bad decisions. They’re either good decisions or lessons for the future. Sure, that lesson might get you fired, but think of how much you learned.

In the wake of NIST’s new cloud computing update, Jon Stokes argues that NIST really doesn’t seem to grok what cloud computing is and should scrap the cloud entirely.

Women might be a clear minority in IT and in management in general, but they are leading the way in clean technology. Anna Brones writes about five women who are influencing sustainability initiatives in technology.

Google arguably is sitting pretty, but it’s only a matter of time before the mighty fall. Dan Kaplan details the many reasons why Google’s glory days are numbered.

As CIOs make inroads in supporting green IT practices, Zoe Fox lists five ways tech companies are leading the way in sustainability initiatives.

November 4, 2011  1:57 PM

Are you in danger of losing your Gen Xers?

Wendy Schuchart Wendy Schuchart Profile: Wendy Schuchart

We have been exploring how CIOs need to approach millennials in the workplace — especially how members of that generation interact with technology. Indeed, millennials get the credit for cutting their teeth on the Internet, despite the fact that many of the Web’s revolutionary aspects were created by Generation X techies. The guys behind Google? That’s the MTV generation, right there.

With all of this attention on Generation Y, the generation before it is getting overlooked. According to the Deloitte Talent Edge 2020 survey, released earlier this year, Gen Xers are by far the most likely to be dissatisfied with their current employment situation, and only 28% of survey respondents planned to stay with their current employers. That’s a potential talent exodus that CIOs can’t afford to ignore.

While Generation X has been branded as slackers, more than 40% of Gen Xers work more than 50 hours per week, a stark contrast to the feelings of the workforce under the age of 30. What’s driving that career angst?

Given that the very same Deloitte survey cites “promotion/job advancement” as a primary retention incentive for 64% of Generation X respondents, could it be that they are frustrated by the so-called grey ceiling? Many baby boomers are putting off their retirement, perhaps in part due to anemic retirement funds hit hard by the double dip recession. Whether CIOs intend for them to believe that or not, Gen Xers may have determined that the only way up is out.

“Gen Xers don’t expect anything; they don’t expect loyalty, they don’t expect special treatment. They expect to be given a deliverable and be told what to do and to get things done — and if their services are no longer needed, they’ll move on. It’s very Lone Ranger, silver-bullet kind of thing.” said Jessie Newburn, president of Stellium Communications.

So what’s the answer? Make sure that in your careful attention to the millennials, you haven’t neglected the silent generation. Give your 30- to 45-year-old workers proof that there are opportunities for advancement within your organization — and then make sure to follow through on your promises.

November 1, 2011  3:50 PM

PCI DSS compliance may be the answer to more than credit card privacy

Scot Petersen Scot Petersen Profile: Scot Petersen

The Payment Card Industry Data Security Standard — PCI DSS — has been around for a few years and has seemingly done a good job of keeping credit card data safe.
No, it’s not a binding regulation, and there’s not a lot of official enforcement. But PCI DSS compliance has worked well for those who adhere to it — so much so that some PCI experts are calling for PCI to be used in other areas of risk management. After all, data privacy is data privacy, right?

That was the contention of some who congregated at the PCI Security Standards Council (PCI SSC) European Community Meeting in London recently, according to contributor Kevin Beaver, of Principle Logic LCC, a noted expert in PCI DSS compliance, thinks this is a good idea.

“Many organizations would benefit from implementing PCI-type controls across other areas of the enterprise,” Beaver wrote in an email. “One of the things I see people struggling with is where to start with managing enterprise information risks. In particular, people get caught up in NIST for this, HIPAA for that and ISO/IEC for everything else. This approach can create unnecessary complexity which, as we’re all learning, is the enemy of security. In the end, all of these regulations, standards and frameworks address the same fundamental issues. It’s merely a matter of deciding on what’s best for your systems in the context of your business. The important thing is to not let apathy set in — just do something.”

I agree. There are plenty of areas where a bottom-up approach to data privacy is needed, and if PCI DSS compliance works and is widely accepted, you should do it. But remember, you are not necessarily secure just by being compliant with some standard framework. However, if you practice good security, with up-to-date hardware, software and policies, you likely will be in compliance with some standard. Find one that works for you.

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