Category Archives: Business

CIOs are Rethinking Their Software Strategies

There’s been a change of thinking among CIOs, a new openness to alternative software models such as Google’s online e-mail and productivity suite. That’s the idea behind this week’s InformationWeek cover story. This rethinking is driven by new capabilities in the cloud, but even more so by the grinding recession of the past year, which made the tradeoffs of online software more palatable.

That opens the door for Google. But Google needs to prove once and for all that it’s deadly serious about enterprise IT business. It’s time for one of the company’s founders, Sergey Brin or Larry Page, to take personal responsibility for the enterprise business. One of these leaders needs to lash his incredible intelligence and creativity and passion and personal credibility inextricably to making Google Enterprise a multi-billion dollar business.

Google can be an effective service provider to businesses without this level of leadership commitment. Or, with it, it could become a strategic partner to businesses, one of the four or five vendors that IT works hand-in-hand to solve entirely new problems. To be that strategic partner, the world’s largest CIOs want to know someone like Brin or Page is right there with them, that his future is tied just as firmly to this effort as the CIO’s.

Click here for the full story.

Detroit CIO Executive Summit Recap

Whew!  Where to begin?  I spent the day out in Dearborn, MI attending a CIO Executive Summit  organized by Evanta and the CIO Leadership Network and I must admit, I was very impressed.  As the CIO of Billhighway.com I tend to participate in a number of local and national events, conferences, workshops, you name it – but the quality of content today was just superb.

The opening keynote by Ed Ruggero, Former U.S. Army Office, Author and Military Historian re: A Winning Culture: Leadership as Competitive Advantage set the stage for a very productive day.  Mr. Ruggero is a great story teller and excellent speaker – making countless comparisons between the military and IT leadership.  The CIO Leadership Network will be publishing videos of each presentation soon, and I’ll be sure to post a link once its available.

After a short break, Phillip Bertolini, Deputy County Executive & CIO of Oakland County along with L. Brooks Patterson, Oakland County Executive had a unique presentation about the “marriage” between the CEO and CIO, which was very well done.  They touched on the typical stages leading up to and into a successful marriage; courting, building trust, communication and partnership.  A couple noteworthy highlights:

  • CEO Vision + CIO Tools = ROI
  • CEO must have some understanding of Technology
  • CIO must have some understanding of Business
  • To gain the trust of the CEO, the CIO must build and delivery dependable, predictable, repeatable strategic technology solutions

At 11am there were several break out sessions, in which I attended “Achieving Higher Performance in your Current Role and How to Successfully Transition into Your Next Role.”  A couple of the takeways I found here were:

  • Have executive/leadership presence (this is something I’ve been hearing alot lately)
  • Be inspirational, captivate, motivate and lead by example
  • Handle touch situations with confidence
  • Build Relationships
  • Enhance Collaboration
  • Integration your Personal Values

Lastly, a couple book recommendations: Why CEOs Fail & What got you here, won’t get you there.

At lunch, Andre Mendes, SVP, Strategic Planning & Global CIO of the Special Olympics International gave a talk on Crisis-Driven Innovation: The Ultimate Change Agent, which I found very uplifting.  Not only is Mr Mendes extremely intelligent, but a great speaker – very TED esq. touching on a broad spectrum of topics, where we’ve been, where we’re going and the speed of change, often unrealized by industry that’s so closely engaged in the day-to-day business affairs.  This will be another great talk to catch online, once it’s available.  A few takeaways here, for a CIO’s to-do list:

  • Build abstraction layers
  • Consolidate – streamline line of business applications, investigate SaaS
  • Virtualize – reduce hardware footprint, increase manageability
  • Co-locate – ping, power, pipe are commodities, leave this to the pro’s
  • Cloud IT – have the applications you want, without any of the headaches

Lastly, Mr. Mendes challenged CIOs to get out of your comfort zone, expose yourself to the unknown and take [managed] risks.  Abstract technology, focus on the business.  Scalability, availability and security all have their place – in the abstraction layer; don’t let them choke innovation.  To me, this means if you’re spending any respectable amount of time here, GET OUT OF THE WEEDS – you, as the CIO are not allowing your business to realize the value of your role.  Oh yea, and don’t be a “NO” man, as we get older and more experienced, it’s natural to become complacent – not embracing “change”, however if/when opportunities get presented to improve X, you might be better served by giving it a try.

The day closed out for me with a session about eight simple rules for Survival, by Greg Schwem, president of Comedy with a Byte who was very entertaining, keeping things on the lighter side and some pointing out some (often overlooked) examples of Do’s & Don’ts.  Closing keynote was by Kevin Summers, Corporate VP & Global CIO of Whirlpool Corporation who shared some rare insight into the operational aspects of overhauling a nearly 100 year old, multinational organization.  His 10 Transformational best-practices were:

  1. Create a strategic roadmap
  2. Implement a formal change management program (and team)
  3. Adopt (and standardize) an Enterprise Architecture early
  4. Invest time/energy into Value Chain Integration (it works)
  5. Align vision/strategy with business partners
  6. Leverage strategic partners (reduce key vendors where possible)
  7. Manage IT like a business
  8. Talent management is key (yet more about Top-Grading, if you’re not familiar with it, take time to read up!)
  9. Ensure stable operational practices exist
  10. Markets (and opportunities) will return – so be ready!

That about summarizes it, overall GREAT day, packed with invaluable content, excellent speakers and thought-provoking subjects.  I literally took pages of notes, but this should suffice for those that couldn’t make it.  If you get the opportunity to attend this event next year, or in another city, I highly recommend it!  For more information visit: http://www.bycios.com/

TiECon 2009

What is TiE Midwest 20?

TiE Midwest 20 is a new program at the TiECon Midwest annual conference. TiE Midwest 20 acknowledges excellence among 20 startups within five industry tracks including Software, Wireless, Cleantech, media, Life Sciences. TiE Midwest 20

TiECon Midwest 2009 is an entrepreneurial conference , attracting Hundreds of entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and other professionals. TiECon Midwest has been running from 2008 in Detroit with well known keynote speakers. This year TiECon Midwest is being held on Oct 23-24, 2009 at The Ritz-Carlton, Dearborn.

Selection process:
TiE Midwest 20 finalists will be selected by a combination of public opinion polls and an experienced panel of industry judges. Last date for Nominations Sep 21th 2009.

The Benefits:
TiE Midwest 20 winners will be honored with awards of excellence in front of hundreds of entrepreneurs, Venture Capitalists and other professionals at TiECon Midwest 2009. Additionally, the TiE Midwest 20 winners will get special invitations to PowerConnect premium networking sessions at TiECon and will be part of ongoing recognition from TiE Detroit throughout the year.

2009 Detroit CIO Executive Summit

September 10, 2009 | The Ritz-Carlton, Dearborn

The CIO Executive Summit is driven by a Governing Body of leading CIOs who play a vital role in the development of this conference. These CIOs create an agenda that addresses today’s opportunities and challenges faced by their peers, thus delivering on the event promise: “by CIOs, for CIOsSM.”

The CIO Executive Summit also enhances the power and reach of your professional relationships by providing a seat at the table with hundreds of other IT leaders.

Nationally recognized as the most respected IT Leadership conference in North America, the conference is without question, the networking event of the year for CIOs.

Qualifications:

The 2009 Detroit CIO Executive Summit is a private conference designed by CIOs, for CIOs. Attendance is by invitation only. All qualified registrants will be considered and will be granted confirmation based upon qualifications and space availability. Access to the conference is open to individuals that meet the following criteria:

Enterprise Corporations:
  • CIOs, VPs of IT and Direct Reports from $1B+ organizations
  • CIOs & Direct Reports from $500M-$1B organizations
  • CIOs (or equivalent) from $250-$500M organizations
Government, Education and Not-for-Profit Organizations:
  • CIOs (or equivalent) of agencies or organizations with greater than 1,000 employees
Information Technology Corporations:
  • CIOs (or equivalent) from $1B+ organizations

More information can be found here: http://www.bycios.com/event_cio_es/agenda/id/119

Substance is Everything

Responsibility. Resolve. Resourcefulness.

The list of qualities the very best executives demonstrate goes on and on. But first and foremost is a keen sense of leadership. Of knowing what needs to be done and doing it, unflinchingly, taking a never-give-up attitude to its logical conclusion. This year’s crop of Corp! magazine’s Michigan Top Executives is no exception. Once nominated, the list of individuals are further scrutinized and screened. And what remains are those who any company would be proud to consider their own.

I’m very thankful to have been recently recognized as a 2009 Honoree of Corp! Magazine’s Michigcan’s Top Executive Award.  More details can be found here: http://www.corpmagazine.com/Departments/CoverStories/tabid/54/itemid/871/Default.aspx

Many thanks to Corp! Magazine for helping to promote Michigan businesses and the leaders within those businesses helping to make a difference.

Gartner Says Today’s CEO Priorities Will Become CIO Priorities in 6 to 18 Months.

STAMFORD, Conn., March 19, 2009 —

With CEOs facing unprecedented challenges ahead as businesses struggle with the realities of dealing with the economic downturn, Gartner, Inc. has identified the seven greatest concerns for CEOs in 2009.

“The tumultuous events of the past 12 months have shocked the world. CEOs are confronting reduced revenues and profits and need to restructure their businesses accordingly,” said Mark Raskino, vice president and Gartner fellow. “As a consequence, CIOs should plan for extraordinary requests in 2009 for work and changes.”

“Today’s CEO concerns provide an advanced look at what will become CIO priorities in six to 18 months,” said Jorge Lopez, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner. “We’ve identified these conclusions based on more than a dozen sources of CEO insights, our own analysis of business and economic trends, and changes in the IT landscape.”

CEO Issue One: Restructuring
Restructuring is impacting companies in a number of ways from organizational restructuring in the form of layoffs, financial restructuring through deleveraging of financial structure, corporate restructuring via entity consolidation, and finally industry restructuring through the failure and survival of different players and business models.

As the restructuring plan unfolds, CIOs must be prepared to clear the table of current plans and start again, deliver significant cost reduction, deliver significant headcount reduction, cancel some major projects no longer aligned with survival and ensure that all outsourcing partners are viable. At the same time, they will need to deal with unexpected acquisitions and divestitures, manage higher risk taking on projects, work with lower procedural obstacles and stronger CIO powers, and build contingency plans for significant suppliers.

CEO Issue Two: Can’t Write Off Fast Enough
The urgent issue of the CEO is to pare the corporate efforts down to those that are central to the company’s short-term survival while not killing off its future. CIOs should expect to support peaks of public-relations activity in response to press interest in the condition of the company, as well as travel at short notice to perform due diligence on potential acquisitions. Both talent raids and layoffs will place more pressure on the human resources department and its systems, as will sourcing based on financial reengineering, both of which will add to the IT workload. Above all, CIOs should be aware that restructuring may not be readily apparent, but when it is ready, it will proceed quickly, and a “SWAT team” should be identified to react and respond swiftly.

CEO Issue Three: Loss of Business and Governmental Trust
The institutions that were once counted on to safeguard the economy seem to have failed, and the lack of transparency in the economic system has been exposed. There has been a subsequent loss of trust, as well, amid fears that other unknowns are awaiting. Trust is an intangible element in business but is crucial to transact business. IT can help improve transparency in the way business is done through reputation management, e-discovery and business intelligence. Gartner also expects a strengthening of “data driven” management culture as the risks of moving forward with insufficient data become far less acceptable.

CEO Issue Four: Globalization Instability
Until recently, the onward advance of globalization has been unquestionable. However, the disparity of growth between developed and emerging nations is driving tensions as policy differences become more apparent. At the same time, rapid and large changes in strategies for growth, risk and currency are in need of reappraisal as long-term assumptions about fuel prices and supply logistics change. The keyword for the IT agenda in the face of this high level of uncertainty and risk is flexibility. CIOs need to ensure that their IT operations are ready for the challenges and shifts that are sure to emerge.

CEO Issue Five: New Major Regulation Coming
With the current recession and the crisis of business confidence, CEOs should expect new governmental oversight of their business dealings. Although it is too early to tell where major regulation will be headed, there are some actions that CIOs need to take to ensure they are not caught behind the curve in their industry. These include staying deeply connected to the ebbs and flows of industry regulation and paying attention to tax policy as taxes are another form of regulatory control.

CEO Issue Six: Government as the New Emerging Market
The recession has shifted the growth dynamics of the global economy away from private industry to government. For example, the U.S. Congress recently passed the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, which commits $787 billion to the U.S. economy. This has implications for business and IT, not only in major shifts in key industries, but also in how IT is managed. CIOs should expect their organizations, which may never have sold products or services to a government agency, to retune processes for the sensitivities of government with detailed procedures to avoid fraud and unfairness in bidding for contracts.

CEO Issue Seven: Green Is Not Going Away
While Gartner does not expect green to necessarily be “top of mind” in 2009, it will still have a place at the table as long as CEOs believe it is a useful part of reducing the break-even point of the business. IT vendors and CIOs need to review policies and practices to reflect changing views and to focus on improving environmental sustainability. IT operations probably represent the biggest environmental impact for enterprises that have low total environmental impact, so the CIO may well take the lead on this issue.

Additional information is available in the Gartner report “CEO Concerns 2009: Dealing with the Downturn.” The report is available on Gartner’s Website at http://www.gartner.com/DisplayDocument?ref=g_search&id=905912&subref=simplesearch.

IT Job outlook for 2009

January has been brutal for U.S. workers. Company after company has announced layoffs, salary freezes, unpaid furloughs, hiring freezes, plant closings, and budget cuts. With all the bad news flooding the wire, it’s easy to forget that more than nine out of ten Americans in the workforce still have jobs despite the dramatic downturn.

Those who work in the IT profession are certainly not immune to the pain that has been afflicting the U.S. job market, but they do have a few factors going for them that could help many of them weather the storm better than some of their co-workers in other fields. Let’s take a look at several trends – the good and the bad – currently affecting the IT job market and then read the tea leaves to decipher what we might expect from the IT jobs outlook in 2009.

IT pro salaries went up in 2008

As part of its annual salary survey, the tech job portal Dice.com surveyed 19,444 IT professionals between August and November 2008. Dice reported that the average salary for working in IT is now $78,035, a 4.6% increase over 2007 ($74,570).

Other key findings from the survey include:

  • Job roles with the largest raises: Security analyst (8.4%), Software engineer (7%), Application developer (6.6%), and Network engineer (6%)
  • Outside of managers and executives, the highest paying job role in IT was Project manager, making an average salary of $103,424.
  • Several large metro areas saw significant jumps in average pay: Detroit (9%), Phoenix (8.5%), San Diego (8.3%), and Miami (7.7%)
  • The metropolitan areas that saw the largest increases in IT worker salaries were all mid-sized cities: Charlotte (14.7%), St. Louis (12.5%), Pittsburgh (11.9%), Portland, OR (9.3%), and Baltimore (9.2%)
  • As a whole, female IT pros make 12% less than male IT pros, although this number flattens out when comparing women and men with comparable job titles, years of experience, and educational levels

“That average tech salaries are rising even as the economy falls reveals how much has changed since the dot-com days,” said Tom Silver, Chief Marketing Officer at Dice. “Today many technology professionals are seen as core assets where they work. As they enhance their skills, they’ll need to align those efforts with the market’s shifting demands. However, over the long-term, updating and broadening one’s skill set is the key to continued salary gains.”

IT pros are worried about 2009

Despite the salary uptick in 2008, the respondents to the Dice survey also expressed some major fear and uncertainty about 2009.When asked about their biggest career concerns for 2009, the IT pros responded as follows:

  • Keeping skills up to date (22%)
  • Position elimination (20%)
  • Lower salary increases (14%)
  • Canceled projects / fewer projects (12%)
  • Increased workload, due to staff cuts (10%)

The survey also stated, “Dice reports a 67 percent increase in the number of new resumes posted to its site in the fourth quarter (year over year). Given that the majority of technology professionals who utilize Dice are currently employed, such ‘passive job hunting’ indicates greater anxiety about the job market.”

Companies with cash are still laying off workers

Tom Foremski over at ZDNet also spotted a disturbing trend. He did an analysis of several of the big tech companies that have announced layoffs and found that many of them have very strong balance sheets, with enough cash to weather the downturn without resorting to layoffs. The fact that they are still doing layoffs is a bad sign. It says that they do not have confidence that the economy will turn around anytime soon, otherwise they would simply use their ample cash to ride it out in the short term and come out stronger on the other side.

Here are the big tech companies that Foremski pinpointed:

  • Microsoft: $19.71 billion ($1.98 billion debt)
  • Apple: $24.49 billion (0 debt)
  • Intel: $11.84 billion ($1.99 billion debt)
  • Cisco Systems: $26.7 billion ($6.87 billion debt)
  • Adobe: $2.02 billion ($350 million debt)
  • Google: $14.41 billion (0 debt)
  • Yahoo: $3.2 billion ($63 million debt)

As Tom put it, “It’s tough to be laid off, [but] it must be tougher still to be laid off from a company with billions in cash – especially since you helped build that cash reserve.”

Who’s hiring?

Rafe Needleman over at Webware has a spreadsheet that tracks the tech companies that are still hiring despite the current economic malaise. Here is list of the some of the most recognizable companies on the spreadsheet and in parentheses you can see the number of open positions they have at the time this article is being written.

  • Intel (1000+)
  • Salesforce.com (400+)
  • Walmart IT (300+)
  • Apple (189)
  • Siemens IT (100+)
  • Garmin (100+)
  • Facebook (100)
  • Samsung (50+)
  • Research in Motion (50)
  • Yale University IT (45)
  • GoDaddy (45)
  • Omniture (35)
  • Mozilla (30)
  • Barracuda Networks (28)
  • Cisco (25)
  • Billhighway (5)

At the time this article was written, Dice.com listed 56,830 open jobs in the IT field.

The bottom line

The biggest factor that IT professionals have going for them during this economic downturn is that many organizations are looking to IT to help the company streamline, automate, conserve energy, cut costs, reduce headcount, and generally do-more-with-less. In some cases, that will mean spending more money in IT in order to reduce costs in other departments.

On the other hand, one of the biggest targets for cuts in many organizations is central services, which is being whacked in order to reduce overhead. Highly-centralized IT departments will be a huge target in these types of organizations because IT professionals are typically well-paid on the salary scale and a centralized IT budget is typically a big number, which puts a huge bulls-eye on it.

Ultimately, some centralized IT departments that have not articulated their value well enough will be hit hard by this current economic downturn. However, a lot of others will seize on this as a great opportunity to demonstrate the value of IT at a time when the chips are down and a lot is at stake.

*Re-posted article by Jason Hiner, Editor in Chief of TechRepublichttp://blogs.techrepublic.com.com/hiner/?p=918