Simplify IT to Help Save Your Bottom Line

IT News contributor, Dan Muse, counter-intuitively espouses the simplification of IT systems and processes to improve company profits. This, at a time when cloud technology, mobile devices, and remote access are creating complex business decisions for companies unsure of IT future directions. Muse suggests that old infrastructure and established legacy systems and applications do not blend well with newer, remote devices and the social networking environment. A study by International Data Corporation (IDC), and sponsored by Oracle, included nine companies from various industry sectors found that simpler IT systems save considerable financial resources. The report found that IT complexity is compounded by mergers and acquisitions, organization decentralization, business demands, legacy systems, the rapid pace of IT change, conflicting systems and regulations, and mobile and remote device infrastructure and support. Companies often require complex IT infrastructure and resources to enter the competitive IT market. Ironically, as iphones, ipads, websites, and applications become simpler and more user-friendly, the systems required to support these devices are becoming more complex. Companies must assess existing applications, systems, and data centers and determine if they are really necessary, are up-to-date, and whether any can be consolidated. Additionally, functions that do not fit with new operating systems should be outsourced. IDC has created a Simplification Road Map to guide companies in simplifying IT infrastructure. The road map suggests the following: • Support from company leadership is required because IT simplification requires significant investment and culture change. Training may be required throughout an organization. • Avoid building new layers of integration or applications. Adopt an innovative spirit that does not include old infrastructure and systems. • Employ...

Protecting Your Data by Minimizing the ROI for Hackers

Verizon’s 2014 Data Breach Investigations Report revealed that the majority of hackers, approximately 60 percent, seek financial gain from cyber activities. Industry spying for intellectual property accounts for approximately 25 percent, and few hack merely for fun. The implication is that hacking is all about the resale value of data, which affects the return on income (ROI) for hackers. Taylor Armerding of IT News emphasizes the need for organizations to invest in security systems to the extent that it raises the cost for hackers to steal company data. The more it costs a hacker to break through your firewalls or security systems, the lower the ROI for the hacker. Multiple security levels can deter hackers who will find another, cheaper target. A company does not need the latest and greatest defense, but just enough that the possible pay-off for hackers is not worth the cost of an offensive. Hacking is big business. The value of the data that can be stolen is an indicator of the level of investment a company should consider. The following are suggestions to ensure that your organization is an undesirable target. Analyze your data and its value. Credit card data is valuable information that can be easy to sell. Email lists should be protected; email addresses are often the names of multiple accounts that can be accessed. Intellectual property is only valuable to a limited market such as competitors. If this information is hacked, it is likely that there is a pre-determined buyer. Social security numbers are a hacker’s gold, facilitating assumed identities and access to credit lines. Security precautions should be diffused and...

Four Tips on Building Trust as a New IT Executive

In new role as an IT executive, or manager, you are charged with learning the ropes in a new organization while also attempting to gain people’s trust. Your IT and leadership expertise does not make you inured to the trials of being new and learning the machinations of a new company. Use your early days to show that you are vulnerable and that you require the support of your team. Understand the organization and the key personnel who will help you achieve business objectives. Start by building an organizational map and meeting as many personnel as you can. Only when you grasp the lay of the land, should you try to effect it. Enlist the help of your team. Invite their feedback, hold meetings, and learn. The most valuable information and ideas are often from those who work directly with clients and who experience day-to-day operations. Listening is a leader’s most powerful tool. Vanessa Merit Nornberg of Inc. reports on the ways that a casual remark can carry substantial business implications. As the listener, you receive valuable information that can be useful in formulating strategy. The speaker processes information in its delivery, which is of benefit in itself. If the listener acts on the information; mutual trust is established. According to Rich Hein of IT News, if the company is in crisis mode, quick action will not help and may cause more damage. Unless staff trust and respect you, your efforts will be in vain. If imminent action must be taken, identify those most likely to understand the situation and target them initially. Only when you have a solid...

Three Must Have IT Reforms in Washington

Kenneth Corbin from IT News reported on recent events at meetings between leading IT industry representatives, White House officials and members of Congress. These meetings represent efforts to lobby for policy action. The policies that technology stakeholders hold dear relate to the availability of skilled labor and maintaining a competitive and innovative IT industry that can sustain a strong presence in the global market. Immigration. Many IT firms find difficulty in recruiting high-level talent and rely on skilled foreign workers admitted to the US on H-1B visas.  The industry would like to see immigration reform that raises current visa limits to increase the availability of much needed resources. According to Kenneth Corbin of IT News, approximately 120,000 applications for H-1B visas are submitted each year for which only 85,000 are available. Critics lament that this is a ploy for companies to exploit cheap labor. Some are concerned that foreign workers who are trained in the US are ultimately sent back to their country and join companies that compete with US firms. STEM education. The IT industry is lobbying for improved K-12 education in science, technology, engineering, and math. Only 2,500 high schools offer an AP computer science course. A spokesperson from Microsoft stated that inadequate education in the US, and failing to allow enough skilled workers from other countries, is causing jobs to move elsewhere. Intelligence Gathering. Intelligence gathering practices have been detrimental to IT companies and innovations such as cloud technology. Companies such as Microsoft, Google, and Yahoo are demanding transparency in government access to digital information. Other policies that the IT industry is emphasizing include faster broadband...

Manage the IT Skills Shortage by Utilizing an IT Recruitment Firm

The IT skills shortage is not a new phenomenon; it is merely an exacerbated one. Hiring quality and talented coders and their ilk is complex because of three dynamics. Constant technology changes demand professionals armed with the latest IT knowledge in a world where education is expensive and sometimes inadequate. Sub-par assessment tools and recruitment processes fail to discern the best from the average, and there is increasing industry competition for the best employees. Rich Hein, CIO and contributor to IT News, offers a solution – IT skills and people architecture – which boils down to a recruitment strategy for IT skills. Here is the framework behind the strategy that recognizes a good team can successfully realize a company vision. Future planning is key to hiring sufficient talent. Analyze current and future needs and align them with growth plans. Determine areas where you may be lacking, such as network engineers or analysts who understand big data. Develop transparent and consistent HR policies. These should include revised job titles, separating management roles that demand people skills from IT specialized roles that require tech-specific skills. Ensure that compensation for each job type is competitive with industry standards for that skill. Design ways to engage, retain, and attract talent. Define IT roles not job titles and design career paths around them. For example, an IT architect path for system builders, project manager paths for those who oversee projects, an analyst path for those who have knowledge and assets that can be applied to specific cases, and an engineers and specialist path for those who team with the architects and find approaches and...

How Is the Internet of Things beginning to Drive CRM Investments?

The Internet of Things (IoT) refers to objects that support Internet structures. For example, radio-frequency identification and tagging, such as the use of bar codes, allows computers to collect big data. This technology is advancing so rapidly that effectively managing big data is a challenge. The potential for mining and applying such intelligence with respect to CRM is a focus for innovative IT companies. IT News contributor, J.D. Sartain, emphasizes that customer relationship management (CRM) technology is embracing mobile technology, social media, and analysis tools such as web analytics. Companies are eager to invest in multichannel technology products that will enhance customer engagement and facilitate customer loyalty to brands and products. CRM encompasses cloud technology, big data technology and, more recently IoT. IoT is poised to alter industries such as hospitality, construction, and healthcare as sensors and identifiers will facilitate superior performance from customer service centers and marketing groups. Already, CRM processes monitor social network platforms such as Facebook and LinkedIn to provide data and customer information for innovation. New mobile gadgets, the tablet is the most recent example, are challenging the IT community as it struggles to keep up with customer demand for service and support. Smartphone Internet connections are predicted to exceed PC connections by the end of 2014. Big data is being collected and is available for marketing purposes, but there is a lack of skills and resources to analyze and apply the plethora of intelligence that is available. The race is on among IT companies to develop the appropriate tools and expertise to exploit this intelligence. Cloud, social, mobile and big data technology are demanding...