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Wednesday, April 30, 2014

IT self-sabotage: Don't be your own worst enemy

http://www.techrepublic.com/article/it-self-sabotage-dont-be-your-own-worst-enemy/#ftag=RSS56d97e7

IT self-sabotage: Don't be your own worst enemy

By Patrick Gray April 28, 2014, 11:46 AM PST

One of the best ways for IT to stay relevant is to maintain a good reputation. Patrick Gray offers IT leaders tips on working with their counterparts and users. 

The Pogo comic strip famously coined the phrase "We have met the enemy and he is us," a quip that unfortunately can be applied to many IT departments. Here are a few tips to avoid sabotaging IT's reputation and stay relevant.

Don't be "the department of no"

A sure way to relegate IT to irrelevance is to continue the tradition of saying "no" to any and all new requests. While less obvious than Seinfeld's famous "Soup Nazi," who would shout "No soup for you" to unfavored customers, many IT organizations subtly use "department of no" techniques daily.

IT leaders lament that there is never enough money, time, or people; the technology isn't ready or is incompatible; or a request didn't fit within some grand (but as yet unpublished) technology strategy. When IT was the sole source of corporate technology this approach worked quite successfully, but with the dual trends ofconsumerization and cloud computing, users can now get technology on the open market.

If you continue as the "department of no," you're likely to wake up one day and find employees have simply gone around IT and sourced their technology elsewhere.

Watch the consumer space

Traditionally, corporate IT purchased "enterprise" products and services that are supposedly designed to handle the rigors of corporate computing. The latest technical innovations emerged from the enterprise space, and consumer technology was largely a late recipient of these technologies. While no one would suggest running your ERP on consumer hardware, innovation in many areas has shifted from the enterprise space to the consumer space. If you doubt this assessment, ask BlackBerry how they've fared recently.

There will always be a need for powerful and highly reliable hardware in corporate computing, but in some cases innovative hardware and software are hitting the consumer space first, and can be acquired at significant savings versus the "enterprise" equivalent. This trend isn't only relevant to small businesses trying to skimp on costs, but massive Fortune 500 conglomerates are using consumer technologies since, in many cases, they're superior to the enterprise equivalent on their own merits. A blanket dismissal of consumer technology is made at IT's peril.

Overinform

Many IT leaders tend to underinform their counterparts. This is often due to a "language barrier" of sorts, where IT people speak technology, their counterparts speak in business terms, and each side glazes over while the other speaks. This, then, creates an unconscious avoidance on the part of both parties, until communication dries to a trickle. The good news is that the average executive is now more technically savvy and has a better grasp of basic technical concepts that largely didn't exist in the past. However, it behooves IT to simplify complex technical topics and wrap them in business concepts like return on investment and business value.

Once speaking a common language, strive to speak with your counterparts more, rather than less. Areas like marketing that have traditionally had a minimal reliance on corporate IT are now on the forefront of digitalization, just as companies continue to merge, spin off divisions, and evolve into new markets. Over-informing your counterparts will keep you abreast of these developments and allow you to articulate how internal IT can help these high-level strategic objectives. This may be painful initially, but you'll gradually change your perception from incomprehensible "tech guy" to a strategic player who can articulate how technology can help accomplish critical business objectives.

The bottom line

While it may be comforting to blame "the business" or some other outside force for the woes of IT, we're often our own worst enemy. Consider how your IT organization and your own personal style impact how IT works with other leaders within your company, and make sure you're not sabotaging the organization you work so hard to build and advance.

About Patrick Gray

Patrick Gray works for a global Fortune 500 consulting and IT services company, and is the author of Breakthrough IT: Supercharging Organizational Value through Technology, as well as the companion e-book The Breakthrough CIO's Companion.

Ten minutes to mindfulness | smh.com.au

Can't find the time for mindfulness practice? You might need less time than you thought.Photo: Getty

http://m.smh.com.au/lifestyle/life/money-and-careers/ten-minutes-to-mindfulness-20140429-37ey4.html?skin=smart-phone

Ten minutes to mindfulness
April 29, 2014

A new initiative is helping people find time to de-stress in their day.

By RACHEL CLUN

Mindfulness training and meditation have many benefits, but finding the time to fit them into busy schedules can be hard.

With this in mind, mindfulness meditation teacher Dr Elise Bialylew created a month-long challenge starting on May 1, called Mindful in May.

And all you need is 10 minutes a day.

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"Mindfulness meditation has gotten a huge amount of media over recent years. But the challenge still remains: how do we actually bring the practice into our hectic lives in a sustained way? That's why I created Mindful in May," says Bialylew.

"The aim is to support and inspire people to practice for only 10 minutes a day. It's hard to come up with a reason why you can't commit to something when it only takes 10 minutes."

While the Mindful in May challenge is mainly a way of introducing time-poor people to mindfulness practices, it also raises money to provide developing nations access to clean water.

Mindfulness courses are becoming more commonplace as Australians become more stressed than ever – with our jobs often being one of the biggest causes.

A survey by the Australian Psychological Society last year found that almost half of working Australians named the workplace as a major source of stress.

Even big companies like Googlehave acknowledged the benefits of mindfulness training, providing meditation sessions for staff members.

Elizabeth Granger says she certainly felt the benefit of practicing meditation in her 14 years as a practicing lawyer, which led her to developing amindfulness program aimed directly at the corporate environment.

"Mindfulness training can be of real benefit to those working in demanding corporate environments," says Granger, whose meditation course starts next week in Sydney's CBD, "particularly in terms of cultivating resilience and the ability to perform well even in stressful circumstances."

What is mindfulness?

"When you make space for your mind, there is more room for creativity and innovation. That's probably why Google has started bringing mindfulness meditation into their workplace," says Bialylew.

"The brain is responsive to where we put our attention, so mindfulness can literally transform the brain."

Granger says mindfulness increases your presence, both at work and at home, which means you can live life "in a much more satisfying way".

"[It] has shown to lead to deeper levels of engagement in the workforce and in life generally," says Granger.

Importantly, both Granger and Bialylew point to the importance of mindfulness for regulating and noticing emotions, which can help with stress – if you can identify your emotions, you'll be much better equipped at dealing with them.

Becoming 'Mindful'

Bialylew, who began practicing meditation more seriously about nine years ago, says the pactice is simple but not easy.

"It can be as simple as training your attention to stay with the breath, or choosing an object to focus your attention on," says Bialylew.

"It isn't a complicated practice, but it's difficult because it's not in the nature of the mind to be present. It's simple but challenging."

Granger and Bialylew both say you really need either a teacher or a course in the beginning, so you have the opportunity to ask questions and develop a good practice.

Granger says one of the hardest parts of mindfulness is making the time for it in your daily life.

"It is a bit like wanting to be physically fit – it won't happen unless you spend some time going to the gym and lifting the weights," says Granger.

"You need to give it some priority so as to establish it as a habit."

She says 10 minutes of practice a day is better than one hour once a week, but the more time you dedicate to it the more beneficial it will be.

If mindfulness sounds great but you want to get something physical out of your limited time as well: well, there's an app for that too.

Tai chi, quigong and yoga instructor Fiona Patterson has developed an app, Salute the Desk, which gives you mini yoga or meditation sessions that can be done at work.

Tips for making mindfulness part of daily life

"Anything can be done mindfully," says Granger, adding formal mindfulness practice will make it easier for you to bring it into everyday life.

Here are some tips, given by both Granger and Bialylew, which should help you start or maintain your own mindfulness practice.

1. At any point in your day, pay attention to your breath.

Simply taking five or 10 minutes out of your day to sit and do the best you can to focus your attention on your breath is a great way to exercise your meditation muscle.

"This allows you to unhook, and stop worrying about the future and the past," says Bialylew.

2. Practice while you eat.

"When we eat we are generally doing other things and we're rushing, we're not in the present, so mindful eating is about bringing awareness to the experience," says Bialylew.

She says concentrate on all the senses – the colours, the sensations of chewing and of course the flavour and smell.

3. Pay attention to "transitions".

Granger says try making a conscious effort to be present during travel or between tasks.

"These are all great opportunities for deliberately shifting gears so that we can wisely choose how we engage with the new context," says Granger.

4. Have a mindful shower.

Bialylew suggests paying attention to the sensation of the water, the temperature, as well as the sound of the water when you take a shower.

5. Turn off.

As hard as it might be to turn away from the television or computer screen or to put down your phone or iPad, Granger says it's important to switch off from technology at least once a day.

"Listen to the ordinary sounds that are present in your environment, rather than always being 'plugged in'," says Granger.

4 strategies to help CIOs prepare for cyberattacks

4 strategies to help CIOs prepare for cyberattacks

Jonathan Hassell | April 30, 2014

The question isn't 'if' your company will suffer a cyberattack. It isn't even 'when.' The biggest question regarding cyberattacks is 'where' they will strike your business. Following these four strategies will help you mitigate an attack when -- and where -- they strike.

Cyberattacks threaten all of us. White House officials confirmed in March 2014 that federal agents told more than 3,000 U.S. companies that their IT deployments had been hacked, according to The Washington Post. Meanwhile, Bloomberg reports that the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) is looking into the constant threats of cyberattacks against stock exchanges, brokerages and other Wall Street firms.
These attacks are going to happen, no matter what you do. Here, then, are four strategies to help you deal with cyberattacks and the threats they pose.
1. Have a Cyberattack Disclosure Plan
Many industries are regulated by state, local and federal governments and have specific rules about what must be disclosed to consumers during a cyberattack. This is especially true of the healthcare and financial verticals, where sensitive customer information is involved.
Sometimes in the wake of an attack, though, or even while an attack is still happening, the evolving situation can be murky enough that disclosure rules get broken -- or, at the very least, the disclosure process is delayed or confused. For that reason, it's important to plan ahead and develop an action framework when events that trigger a disclosure response occur.
Here are some considerations:
Understand the applicable regulatory framework. For publicly traded companies, the SEC generally has disclosure guidelines and timeframes. For financial institutions, the Office of the Comptroller of the Currency (OCC) and the Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation (FDIC) handle this on the federal side. State regulations vary.
Engage your communications team. These employees are professionals who have developed relationships with media and other external stakeholders. They can help you control the messaging and disclosures that you're required to make, as well as advise on the timing and breadth of those statements.
Coordinate with the required departments. Most CIOs coordinate with the individual IT teams responsible for the area under attack -- as well as outside contractors and vendors helping with the mitigation and recovery, and applicable government agencies, to keep the disclosure plan on track. Identify key personnel ahead of time and make sure roles and next actions to carry out disclosure plans are known.
2. Understand What Targets Cybercriminals Value
The real question about cyberattacks isn't when they occur. Attackers constantly invent new ways to do everything, connectivity to the Internet is becoming more pervasive, and it's easier and cheaper than ever to acquire a botnet to do your bidding if you are a malfeasant. Cyberattacks will happen to you -- tonight, next week, next month or next year.
The real question about cyberattacks is where they will occur. Traditional attacks have really gone after most of the low-hanging fruit, such as payment information (witness the recent Target breach) or just general havoc-wreaking, such as the Syrian Electronic Army's distributed denial of service (DDoS) attacks. Many attacks have been motivated by political or moral issues, or they've been relatively simple attempts to harvest payment information to carry out low-level fraud.
Future attacks could have more significant ramifications, though, including the attempt to retrieve more dangerous identity information such as Social Security numbers. In a recent panel discussion at the Kaspersky CyberSecurity Summit, Steve Adegbite, senior vice president of enterprise information security oversight and strategy at Wells Fargo, hinted that attackers may well be attempting to penetrate where the data is -- implying that new cloud technologies and data warehouses, as well as weaknesses in emerging technologies embraced by larger companies, could well be future targets for attackers.
Where cyberattacks will occur also pertains to the location of your enterprise. Threats in the United States will have a different profile than threats in Europe. Location matters in this equation. Take some time with your team to assess where cyberattacks are likely to be directed across your enterprise. Understand what may now be at an increased risk of attack, especially relative to the past.
3. Lobby for Budget to Defend Against, Mitigate Cyberattacks
IT budgets are no goldmine. CIOs have been used to having to do more with less for a long time now. If you've sung the praises to your management group about how you can save money by, for example, moving to the cloud or consolidating and virtualizing many servers, you might find yourself with reduced budgets and reduced headcounts -- right as the storm of cyberattacks threatens you. This isn't a preferred position.
Unfortunately, cyberattacks aren't only damaging. They're expensive, not only in terms of the cost of services being down but also the expense directly attributable to mitigating and defending them. Vendors with experience in reacting in real time to cyberattacks and mitigating their effects are tremendously expensive, both at the time of the event and hosting data during periods of inactivity in order to be prepared if and when an attack occurs. Purchasing the hardware and software necessary to properly harden your systems is expensive. This is an important line item, an important sub area, in your budget for which you need to account. Consider it insurance on which you will almost certainly collect.
Also, look for products and technologies rated at EAL 6+, or High Robustness, which is a standard the government uses to protect intelligence information and other high-value targets.
Bottom line: Don't cannibalize your budget for proactive IT improvements and regular maintenance because you've failed to plan for a completely inevitable cyberattack.
4. In the Thick of an Attack, Ask for Help
When you're experiencing an attack, you need good information you can rely on. Others have that information. In particular, look for the following:
Join information-sharing consortiums that can help you monitor both the overall threat level for cyberattacks and the different patterns that attack victims have noticed. For example, the National Retail Federation announced a new platform to share information and patterns that aim to arrest the data breaches the industry has recently suffered. Financial services companies have set up an informational network, and other regulated industries often have a department of the governmental regulatory body that can serve as a contact point to help prevent this kind of illegal activity.
Develop a relationship with vendors with expertise on cyberattacks. It may be tempting to try to rely only on in-house resources and talent, both as a way to control costs and protect valuable information about your infrastructure, but many vendors and consulting companies have worked through multiple cyberattacks and have tremendous experience under their belts. Hiring one of these companies may well stop a cyberattacks before it does serious harm.
Using the security technology you have in place, understand what readings are important and what may well be just noise. In an effort to impress and appear complete, many software vendors monitor every little thing under the sun and spin up a multitude of readings that can mask or inadvertently dilute the notifications of serious problems. Use your technology wisely and understand what notifications refer to high-value targets so you can act earlier in the attack lifecycle.

Online gambling disguises money-laundering

http://www.mis-asia.com/resource/security/online-gambling-disguises-money-laundering/

Online gambling disguises money-laundering

Anuradha Shukla | April 29, 2014

Online gambling disguises money-laundering activities, according to a newly released study from McAfee.

Online gambling involves huge volumes of transactions and cash flows, which makes it difficult for authorities to track the flow of money. More than 25,000 unregulated gambling websites are operating around the world right now making it very difficult for local authorities to monitor their activities.

No physical product or exchange of currency is involved in online gambling that operates across several jurisdictions. Also, all casino operators are trained to support anonymity of players.

Gambling winnings are tax-free in many jurisdictions, and thus mandatory reporting to governments is not required in these cases.

This growing phenomenon has to be fought back as the proliferation of online casinos will continue at the rate of 30% over the next three years as per a 2013 report by the global gambling market research firm H2 Gambling Capital.

Fighting cybercrime

Landscape of online gambling is constantly changing and this is why McAfee suggests leveraging cross-sector, cross-border, and public-private partnerships to apprehend cybercriminals.  

The research firm also notes Europol's European Cybercrime Centre, which says that money-laundering through online gambling can be curbed by gathering information on cybercrime, and maintaining technical expertise for law enforcement in all member states.

This issue can be tackled by coordinating complex transnational cases in close collaboration with organizations such as Interpol and Eurojust.

Threat assessments should be conducted using trend analyses and forecasts and close collaboration should be done with organizations such as police academies to develop training activities for fighting cyber crime.

Development of forensic tools will enable member states to more effectively detect and prosecute cybercriminals.

Just how much bigger AWS is compared its next competitor may surprise you

http://www.computerworld.com.my/resource/cloud--virtualisation/just-how-much-bigger-aws-is-compared-its-next-competitor-may-surprise-you/

Just how much bigger AWS is compared its next competitor may surprise you

Brandon Butler | April 29, 2014

Amazon.com came out with its quarterly earnings last week and Technology Business Research analyst Jillian Mirandi crunched the numbers of how much of a lead AWS has on its competitors in the public cloud market. The numbers are striking. 

AWS broke $1.1 billion in quarterly revenues for  cloud IaaS in the first quarter of 2014. The company's next closest competitor in the cloud IaaS market, IBM, came in at $350 million. That's almost a three-fold lead for AWS compared to the nearest competitor, according to TBR. 

Behind IBM, Microsoft and Google close out the top four public cloud IaaS providers, but those latter two companies only generated about $30 million in cloud IaaS revenue last quarter, TBR estimates.

The results should be taken with somewhat of a grain of salt, however. These revenues figures are only for cloud IaaS - meaning virtual machines and storage. Microsoft and Google both have offerings in this market, but they are relatively new. AWS has been at this for seven years.

Also, IBM, Microsoft and Google all have much more significant revenue for their SaaS and PaaS operations, which are not taken in these TBR calculations. All of those hosted Office 365 accounts are not measured by this figure, for example.

Another reason to look at these numbers with a skeptical eye is because cloud companies are notorious for not disclosing in complete detail the actual revenues for their cloud operations. Amazon, for example, has an "other" category where it reports its cloud revenue, which leaves analysts like those at TBR and elsewhere making educated, and well-researched guesses as revenue. The same goes for Microsoft and Google. 

For reference, Microsoft's latest quarterly earnings statement does not break out revenue for Azure specifically, and it breaks up revenue for its different cloud products into different commercial and licensing categories. One of those categories, the commercial division had cloud services revenue that doubled in the quarter, growing $367 million, mainly from Office 365 commercial sales.

What these numbers demonstrate is that AWS seems to clearly have the lead in generating revenue for its IaaS business. If you look more broadly at the SaaS market, it's a different story though.

Companies like IBM, Microsoft and Google are making strong pushes to compete with AWS in the cloud. Microsoft seems to be adding new partners every few weeks to its cloud. Google is adding new features regularly. And IBM is making strong advancements to its platform too, including a new market place that is out just today. 

With the advancements from other competitors like VMware, and the swath of OpenStack companies coming to the fore, this public cloud IaaS market is only getting more crowded.

The good news is that for end users competition will help to lower prices and increase quality of service. And for the vendors, with the public cloud estimated to be more than a$100 billion industry by 2017, there should be enough money for everyone to go around. 

Source: Network World

75% of Malaysian businesses welcome forthcoming GST, says PIKOM

Photo - Cheah Kok Hoong, Chairman, National ICT Association of Malaysia [PIKOM]

http://www.computerworld.com.my/tech/industries/75-of-malaysian-businesses-welcome-forthcoming-gst-says-pikom/

75% of Malaysian businesses welcome forthcoming GST, says PIKOM

AvantiKumar | April 30, 2014

According to the National ICT Association of Malaysia, PIKOM, 75 percent of Malaysian businesses prefer the new Goods and Services Tax [GST] to the existing Sales and Services Tax [SST] model, however less than 25 percent of organisations have sent their ICT staff for GST training.

Announced by the Malaysian prime minister Seri Najib Tun Razak in Budget 2014, the GST will replace the existing indirect tax on 1 April 2015, said PIKOM chairman Cheah Kok Hoong, who added that more than 60 percent of local organisations said that GST will significantly impact their revenues.

PIKOM's GST study -' GST Impact on Businesses' Survey' - conducted in March of this year showed that although more than 60 percent of organisations have a GST project plan in place, Cheah said more financial and training support is required to help implement the new GST system more smoothly.

"PIKOM's GST Survey gathered that today's local organisations already have some basic knowledge about the impending GST system such include the zero-rated supply, exported goods exemption, non-compliance regulation, penalties and more," he said.

"This is likely mainly attributed to the effective advocacy and awareness programs that have been driven by the government together with select members of the private sector," said Cheah.  "However, PIKOM's GST Survey also reported that less than 50 percent (or half) of these local organisations admit that they are ready to adopt the new GST system from the perspectives of workforce, IT system and business processes."

 Companies slow to train

"Most shockingly is that as of now, less than 25 percent (or a quarter) employers have sent their ICT employees to be properly trained to implement and leverage the new GST system," said Cheah.

Local businesses, especially small and medium enterprises (SMEs), have started feeling the pressure to expedite the GST system implementation process in order to meet the deadline, he said.

Cheah said, "At this stage, many organisations have found out themselves that they have only allocated a limited budget, and possessed inadequate resources and knowledge, to properly get themselves ready in facing the far-reaching operational and financial impact of a new tax system in their business."

 Some of the other survey findings are:

- There is a clear market demand for more financial and training supports to implement GST system 
- The market's other significant requirements include guidance and support, on the aspects of business process automation and technology, to embrace the GST system quickly and efficiently
- More than 60 percent of local organisations have a GST project plan 
-  More than 70 percent of local of organisations indicated that their employees need (more) training to perform GST system implementation and manage the impact to the business operations

"The highlight point from this survey is that Malaysian organisations are looking for more alternatives for financial and training supports from local companies and government agencies to achieve a better success rate for their in-organisation GST system implementation projects," added Cheah.   
"In addition, they are also actively turning to ICT vendors to seek consultation to optimise the existing organisational infrastructures to comply with the new GST system," he said. 

"On a positive note, PIKOM is clearly seeing that local ICT organisations are playing an important role to 'cushion' the impact of local businesses trying to deal with the complexity of GST-readying their systems, by leveraging their expertise and track record of GST implementation in other countries," said Cheah, adding that PIKOM has planned a series of seminars and workshops to support businesses and consumers.

"In line with PIKOM's effort to advocate the GST system implementation, we are planning to offer businesses and consumer ICT consultations and solutions during the Digital Lifestyles Expo, which will be at KL Convention Centre and is scheduled from 8th to 10th August, 2014," he said.   

"Overall, despite the adoption challenges, organisations are still proactively putting efforts to keep the GST project moving as they are well aware of its importance and impacts to business on a long term basis," said Cheah.

The PIKOM's survey was conducted with more than 1,000 local organisations nationwide, primarily in the IT sector.

Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Resistance is futile!

http://www.computerworld.com.sg/resource/leadership-and-mgmt/resistance-is-futile/

Resistance is futile!

Louise Francis | April 28, 2014 

Ever since the first CIO roles evolved in the 1980s, each cycle of technological change has been accompanied by the notion that the CIO role will become irrelevant and disappear.

Instead IDC has seen that at each critical junction of change, the CIOs take up the challenge to adapt. For example, when the 'second platform' (PCs, LAN and client server) era of technology emerged, the democratisation of IT had many predicting that this would be the death knell of the IT department and CIOs. Instead many thrived as they were freed up to focus on new technologies that still required IT skills, particularly those that required a centralised focus.

With the emergence of the 'third platform' (cloud, mobility, big data and social technologies) the CIO is increasingly expected to become a multi-tasker who is often expected to wear several hats from technical, business and leadership roles. Despite these challenges, it often seems that the CIO is often expected to constantly prove their worth and validate their place at the executive table by demonstrating all these capabilities, whilst not holding the same expectation of other executives. However, the growing bombardment of demands means that CIOs are increasingly time and resource poor and this is creating an almost insurmountable obstacle to becoming not only a chief innovation officer, but also a chief influence, intelligence and inspiration officer.

As a result, IDC believes that in the transition from chief Infrastructure officer to chief innovation officer there will emerge three camps of CIOs: Those without the skill and capability to transition successfully, those reluctant to adapt, and the ones that successfully evolve. The first two camps are well advised to prepare themselves for a career change as their lack of relevance will leave little opportunity than to transition down or out. Those in the third camp of CIOs will reach their goal to become recognised as a chief innovation officer integral to the executive team.

What are the issues and developments that are expected to have the most significant impact on the local ICT market in the next 12 months?

IDC believes the answer to this dilemma could lie in the growing influence of line of business (LOB) on IT investment decisions and deployments. As third platform technology emerges, there is a blurring of the lines between the technologies, which is also creating a distortion in the traditional business model, tearing down to boundaries between IT and the LOB. Instead of a hindrance, the ascendance of the LOB can potentially liberate a CIO from the fetters of day to day micromanagement of IT to become a legitimate chief innovation officer.

A big characteristic of third platform technologies is that LOB managers get it. They understand how the technologies can help them meet their business objectives, they know how to acquire the technologies and they are quite capable of successfully implementing the technologies simply and quickly — at least that is how they perceive it.

Globally, IDC has found over half of new IT investments in 2013 involved direct participation by line of business (LOB) executives. If this trend is extrapolated LOB will be directly involved in 80 percent of new IT investments by 2016. This trend is equally relevant in a 2013 survey, of over 300 New Zealand executives, which found the CIO's level of involvement in business transformation projects has dropped below 50 per cent for virtually every stage of the project, whilst LOB involvement has risen to over 50 per cent.

Line of business executives are now making more technology decisions — with or without IT's imprimatur. CIOs and analysts share pointers on how to develop and nurture a working relationship with these business leaders.

However, the problem is not when IT is excluded. It occurs when IT is unaware and "shadow IT" develops within the organisation. Rather than the big stick approach (which will probably exasperate the situation), the CIO should seek out the root causes behind shadow IT. They should actively encourage LOB involvement in technology decision-making and implement an effective governance process that supports self-management of IT decision making.

How to negotiate a collaborative outsourcing deal

http://www.cio-asia.com/resource/leadership-and-mgmt/how-to-negotiate-a-collaborative-outsourcing-deal/

How to negotiate a collaborative outsourcing deal

Stephanie Overby | April 28, 2014 

IT outsourcing customers say they want more from their service providers. Yet they often use the same old negotiating tactics to set up their outsourcing deals.

If you want a more collaborative relationship with IT service providers, it has to start at the negotiating table, says Kate Vitasek, author of "Getting to We: Negotiating Agreements for Highly Collaborative Relationships," based on research conducted at the University of Tennessee Knoxville.

CIO.com talked to Vitasek about what's driving the need for more collaborative outsourcing relationships, how traditional negotiating tactics destroy value, and how to set up an IT outsourcing deal that benefits both customer and supplier.

CIO.com: You introduce the concept of "vested" outsourcing, in which customer and supplier are equally committed to each other's success, several years ago. Have outsourcing relationships become any more collaborative since then?

Kate Vitasek: Collaboration is certainly an often-heard buzzword these days, and I believe collaborative outsourcing relationships are gaining traction. A recent Gartner analysis (which focused on outsourcing in the logistics sector) said that by 2017 about 20 percent of logistics outsourcing will use collaborative, value-based relationship principles, up from about 10 percent today. That is a strong and encouraging growth curve.

Is the same kind of growth also occurring in the IT realm? I don't have hard data or an analyst's prediction to point to. But I can say that we are seeing a great deal of interest in our work in the IT sector with people taking either our online or in-person courses in the University of Tennessee's Vested Certified Deal Architect program.

CIO.com: What are the biggest hurdles to establishing more collaborative IT outsourcing deals?

Vitasek: Funny you ask because I do a great exercise on this exact topic in our courses and when I speak at supplier summits or customer forums. Overwhelmingly the number one answer to your question is "trust," or more appropriately a lack of trust.

It's sad. Why do companies outsource if they can't trust their supplier? If they need to change suppliers, they could do so. But what we find is that they don't trust any suppliers.

Lack of trust was something that plagued Dell in their outsourcing relationship with GENCO, which had managed Dell's North American reverse logistic operations for eight years. The two decided to have a strategic meeting in a neutral location to discuss their lack of trust and what was causing it.

Tom Perry, GENCO president of reverse logistics, said, 'There was a moment of truth in that June meeting. I did not want to proceed because I didn't have enough trust to move forward.' But his colleagues convinced Perry to stay the course. Perry is glad he did: 'I had an epiphany. If you can't get past absence of trust, you can't ever make it work. I can't say enough about how that's changed everything.'

One of the things the Vested team at UT has done to help companies address trust issues is to create a compatibility and trust assessment. It's an anonymous survey taken by the buyer and supplier and the results are shared in facilitated workshop. It helps pinpoint the magnitude of the trust issues companies have and what types of behavior are driving the mistrust.

Companies that have addressed their trust issues straight-on have had a great deal of success is working through them. It's often an issue of perception versus reality.

CIO.com: Your latest book, Getting to We, is about negotiating collaborative outsourcing agreements. How important is it to be collaborative with service providers from the very start?

Vitasek: One of the biggest roadblocks we see companies encounter when trying to create a vested agreement is understanding that they need to use a different mindset for negotiating. When you stop and think about it, it makes sense that highly collaborative relationships need different negotiation rules.

The whole concept of the book was born when I was sitting in a conference listening to a Fortune company share their "negotiations" best practices, which involved strategic gamesmanship to basically screw over their suppliers at the 11th hour. How can you have a trusting relationship when you are using negotiations tactics such as 'good cap, bad cap' and 'bluffing'?

CIO.com: What's the typical or traditional IT outsourcing deal negotiation like and what's wrong with it?

Vitasek: I'm not sure there is a typical or traditional outsourcing IT deal negotiation. Each deal is different based on the parties' prior experience, current market conditions, corporate cultures and what they want to accomplish.

Having said that, I have found three major problems with most outsourcing deals.

First, they remain stuck on old-school, highly legalistic, I-win-you-lose contract terms that seek the lowest price while shifting risk and avoiding liability.

Second, companies rely on a conventional transaction-based business model rather than using more collaborative and flexible outcome or investment-based sourcing business models that will best meet their business needs.

I call this the 'activity trap:' we get caught up in negotiating over the cost of activities and forget that real business value comes from solving true business problems like reducing transactions altogether through automation, reducing the overall total cost of ownership, or improving market share. We miss the big picture when we are focused on buying activities instead of business outcomes.

Third, they fail to lay the foundation for the relationship before they begin negotiating the deal points. It is imperative that you negotiate the essence of the relationship before you begin to negotiate the specific deal points.

CIO.com: Why should customers and suppliers approach the negotiating phase differently?

Vitasek: I think a better question is, 'Why not?' Business people have three basic ways to think about value. Most think about value exchange as the result of a competitive bid process and settling on a market price where they give the supplier one dollar for a unit of service.

In some cases, companies focus on value extraction by using their power and leverage to get the same unit of service for 80 cents. In both cases, they are losing sight of the potential to create real value. A better approach should be to ask, 'How can we work together where I optimize my one dollar to drive efficiencies, effectiveness, market share, and cost reduction, and create 50 cents in additional value we didn't have before?'

In today's era of constrained economic and financial resources, it's more important than ever to find the right business partners — compatible partners you can trust and create value with for the long haul. This is especially important for highly strategic relationships.

Unfortunately — and all too often — individuals have incentives to simply get the deal done, get the best deal for their companies, and then move on. Take, for example, the procurement metrics of purchase price variance. It motivates buyers into thinking about short-term value extraction rather than longer-term value creation that may likely generate a much higher ROI for both the buyer and the supplier.

Many companies have created a culture of short-term opportunism and don't view that as a bad thing. This mindset can and does create negotiation norms that foster destructive behaviors and actually destroy value rather than promoting value creation through mutual self-interest.

While contract law has evolved over time, the basic negotiation approach has stayed pretty much the same over the years. People enter contracts at an arm's length to pursue material ends, and the more powerful party pushes risk rather than focusing on working together to mitigate risks. The sad thing is they should be realizing that the risks don't go away, and that it would be far better to work collaboratively and transparently to mitigate risks through a contract that promotes mutual advantage.

CIO.com: What are your top three tips for negotiating a more collaborative outsourcing agreement?

Vitasek: First, adopt a 'what's in it for we' mindset based on trust, transparency and compatibility.

Next, recognize that creating a collaborative outsourcing agreement is a process that takes work and commitment, especially if you a seeking an innovative strategic partnership. You'll need to abide by six fundamental social norms that we outline in the Getting to We book. These are reciprocity, autonomy, honesty, loyalty, equity and integrity.

Third, if you are not familiar with how to craft a highly collaborative outsourcing agreement, seek advice. Our goal at UT is the teach people the methodology and we hope that one day all large companies have at least one certified deal architect on staff that understands the art and science of creating a highly collaborative outsourcing agreement.

CIO.com: Can you take collaborative outsourcing too far?

Vitasek: I don't see how. I suppose there could be such a thing as being so collaborative that results get lost in the shuffle. But I've never seen that happen. It's not about collaborating simply for the sake of collaboration.

Lessons in marketing IT's value

http://www.cio-asia.com/resource/industries/lessons-in-marketing-its-value/

Lessons in marketing IT's value

CIO Executive Council | April 29, 2014

Three IT executives share how they were able to boost their department's credibility by educating their peers about the business benefits they deliver.

Integrate Marketing Into Your Day Job
Gene P. Berry, VP & CIO, OneAmerica Financial Partners: As technologists, we tend not to be very adept at marketing—it doesn't come naturally, and we often let it fall by the wayside because IT has other things to do. But it is very important; IT provides a lot of value that's not always showcased appropriately.

Marketing does take time and effort, and it requires deliberation and planning. While it's hard to capture everything we do, given the size of the organization, we are collecting success stories and packaging them in a way that helps market IT internally. I've asked my direct reports to send stories, events and items of significance to me, which I share internally with executive management as appropriate.

I've also started a quarterly newsletter with an editorial team composed of cross-functional representatives from IT. The team meets regularly to discuss content, which has included a series of short articles about what is going on in IT, a column called CIO Corner that I write, and technology cartoons that lend a touch of levity to the publication.

IT has suffered from a lack of credibility, and I plan to focus more on marketing efforts this year to turn this perception of IT around by increasing awareness of how much value we provide on a daily basis.

Influence Through an Everyday Presence
Chandra Dhandapani, Senior Vice President of Financial Services IT, Capital One: As a financial services company, Capital One can't let IT be an add-on; IT is an everyday presence throughout our business. For example, we use an agile methodology for software development in which cross-functional teams work together on projects, and team members share space so that the IT staff and the marketing and operations partners can interact constantly.

This is an important aspect of influencing the business, a process that starts with understanding opportunities and pain points from our business partners' perspective so IT can bring technology to bear to solve those problems. I stress to my team that communication is critical; it's how we build our brand.

By communicating via email or in person and conveying what we want to say quickly and frequently, we constantly show the value that IT brings. We're also proponents of using visual management centers (whether physical or virtual) to display performance metrics.

These are placed near our marketing and operations executives so they can see how their teams are performing with regard to campaigns or customer service goals, along with metrics on technology projects and system performance. By making this information highly visible, we stay constantly connected with our business partners.

Design Visuals for Maximum Impact
Mark Carbrey, CIO, Agero: The most important aspects of marketing IT are transparency and creating empathy for the IT organization. Our company is metrics- and goal-based, so instead of just providing status updates, I focus on providing measurements that show where we stack up against our target metrics, and I design and distribute information about what IT does in a way that makes it easy to understand.

Because we want our internal staff to visually understand our message immediately, we collect a lot of information about IT projects and distribute it as a single chart or page.

We also made a major investment in a project and portfolio management (PPM) system, which is unusual for a midsize company. The PPM system allows us to clearly convey information about where we are on projects and correct what is wrong, and it serves as a single source of the truth.

Two years ago, we created a quality index that consists of 20 key quality parameters that roll up into a single index. Since the index was created, our quality score has increased every month.

The idea is to communicate basic information in a way that allows people to readily understand it—and rally around it—and that enables IT to be visible and transparent.

CIOs must actively encourage LoB involvement

http://www.computerworld.com.my/blogs/featured-blogs/cios-must-actively-encourage-lob-involvement/

CIOs must actively encourage LoB involvement

Louise Francis | April 28, 2014

Ever since the first CIO roles evolved in the 1980s, each cycle of technological change has been accompanied by the notion that the CIO role will become irrelevant and disappear.

Instead IDC has seen that at each critical junction of change, the CIOs take up the challenge to adapt. For example, when the 'second platform' (PCs, LAN and client server) era of technology emerged, the democratisation of IT had many predicting that this would be the death knell of the IT department and CIOs. Instead many thrived as they were freed up to focus on new technologies that still required IT skills, particularly those that required a centralised focus.

With the emergence of the 'third platform' (cloud, mobility, big data and social technologies) the CIO is increasingly expected to become a multi-tasker who is often expected to wear several hats from technical, business and leadership roles. Despite these challenges, it often seems that the CIO is often expected to constantly prove their worth and validate their place at the executive table by demonstrating all these capabilities, whilst not holding the same expectation of other executives. However, the growing bombardment of demands means that CIOs are increasingly time and resource poor and this is creating an almost insurmountable obstacle to becoming not only a chief innovation officer, but also a chief influence, intelligence and inspiration officer.

As a result, IDC believes that in the transition from chief Infrastructure officer to chief innovation officer there will emerge three camps of CIOs: Those without the skill and capability to transition successfully, those reluctant to adapt, and the ones that successfully evolve. The first two camps are well advised to prepare themselves for a career change as their lack of relevance will leave little opportunity than to transition down or out. Those in the third camp of CIOs will reach their goal to become recognised as a chief innovation officer integral to the executive team.

LoWhat are the issues and developments that are expected to have the most significant impact on the local ICT market in the next 12 months?

IDC believes the answer to this dilemma could lie in the growing influence of line of business (LOB) on IT investment decisions and deployments. As third platform technology emerges, there is a blurring of the lines between the technologies, which is also creating a distortion in the traditional business model, tearing down to boundaries between IT and the LOB. Instead of a hindrance, the ascendance of the LOB can potentially liberate a CIO from the fetters of day to day micromanagement of IT to become a legitimate chief innovation officer.

A big characteristic of third platform technologies is that LOB managers get it. They understand how the technologies can help them meet their business objectives, they know how to acquire the technologies and they are quite capable of successfully implementing the technologies simply and quickly -- at least that is how they perceive it.

Globally, IDC has found over half of new IT investments in 2013 involved direct participation by line of business (LOB) executives. If this trend is extrapolated LOB will be directly involved in 80 percent of new IT investments by 2016. This trend is equally relevant in a 2013 survey, of over 300 New Zealand executives, which found the CIO's level of involvement in business transformation projects has dropped below 50 per cent for virtually every stage of the project, whilst LOB involvement has risen to over 50 per cent.

Line of business executives are now making more technology decisions -- with or without IT's imprimatur. CIOs and analysts share pointers on how to develop and nurture a working relationship with these business leaders.

However, the problem is not when IT is excluded. It occurs when IT is unaware and "shadow IT" develops within the organisation. Rather than the big stick approach (which will probably exasperate the situation), the CIO should seek out the root causes behind shadow IT. They should actively encourage LOB involvement in technology decision-making and implement an effective governance process that supports self-management of IT decision making.

Source: ChannelWorld India

Monday, April 28, 2014

Pfizer offering $100 billion for Astra Zeneca

http://www.usatoday.com/story/money/business/2014/04/28/astra-zeneca-pfizer/8384717/?csp=eMail_DailyBriefing_47507068

Pfizer offering $100 billion for Astra Zeneca
Bruce Horovitz, USA TODAY
13 minutes ago Apr28 2014

Timothy A. Clary, AFP/Getty Images

A sign for pharmaceutical giant Pfizer at the company's headquarters in New York.

LONDON — Two drug titans -- considering a massive merger -- are shaking up the stock market.

Shares in Anglo-Swedish drugmaker AstraZeneca jumped 15% on Monday after U.S. pharmaceutical firm Pfizer said it offered to buy the company for around $100 billion. At the same time, Pfizer shares were up nearly 2% in pre-market trading, to $31.35.

The deal is gigantic. Pfizer's bid for AstraZeneca would represent the biggest-ever foreign takeover of a British business.

It's not the first time these two pharmaceutical giants have crossed paths. Pfizer, the maker of Viagra, said that AstraZeneca rejected an initial approach in January valuing the company at about 59 billion pounds ($100 billion). The cash and shares deal would represent a 30 percent premium on AstraZeneca's closing share price of 35.26 pounds on Jan. 3, the closing price around the time the offer was made.

AstraZeneca PLC said it concluded that the proposal "very significantly undervalued AstraZeneca and its prospects."

Shares traded Monday at 46.77 pounds after the approach was revealed.

Pfizer remains interested and is confident a combination is possible, issuing a statement to the markets underscoring the potential advantages of the deal.

"We believe patients all over the globe would benefit from our share commitment to R&D, which is critical to the future success of the pharmaceutical industry, in the form of potential new therapies that help to fight some of the world's most feared diseases, such as cancer," Pfizer said, in a statement.

Pfizer said the two companies would combine under a new U.K holding company, with management both in the U.S. and the United Kingdom. The company would maintain it headquarters in New York and list its shares on the New York stock exchange.

Timing is everything. Lower interest rates have been a catalyst for a series of recent mergers and acquisitions with the pharmaceutical industry. Last week, for example, Swiss drugmaker Novartis AG agreed to swap its vaccine business for GlaxoSmithKline PLC's cancer drug unit and sold its veterinary drug arm to Eli Lilly and Co.

One big driver for cutting costs: the growing competition from generic drug makers, who continuously undercut the costs of the pharmaceutical giants. Because of this, big drug makers are being hit by revenue declines and seeking ways to cut costs or bolster revenue -- such as mergers.

AstraZeneca is currently undergoing a major research and development re-organization to offset the expiration on patents for drugs like cholesterol medication, Crestor. The company has been reducing costs and trying to make research programs more productive.

Contributing: Associated Press

Want Success? Surround Yourself With People Who Challenge Your Thinking

Are you feeling uninspired and stuck? Perhaps it's the people around you. Here are five ways to get people to challenge and inspire you to success. It's nice to have people around who support you and are of like mind. Agreeable people boost your confidence and allow a certain level of relaxation....

http://www.inc.com/kevin-daum/want-success-surround-yourself-with-people-who-challenge-your-thinking.html

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Friday, April 25, 2014

IT leaders struggling to be strategic for their business

http://www.computerworld.com.my/resource/leadership-and-mgmt/it-leaders-struggling-to-be-strategic-for-their-business/

IT leaders struggling to be strategic for their business

Antony Savvas | April 24, 2014

Three out of four IT leaders say are limited in their ability to align their IT department's objectives with business strategy, despite almost 80 percent of them believing they should be "strategic as well as technical".

Cloud computing provider ControlCircle commissioned research among 250 IT decision makers and found that 78 percent of them believed they were being hindered by legacy infrastructure.

In addition, 53 percent said the proliferation of multiple infrastructures and applications, along with their associated monitoring tools, was having an adverse impact on service levels and availability.

On average, less than half of IT budgets are being spent on business growth and transformation projects combined, whilst over half is spent on IT operations, or the day-to-day running of the department.

Nearly half experienced weekly IT availability issues, 21 percent hourly or daily availability issues, and 48 percent hourly, daily or weekly issues.

"With so much effort going into 'keeping the lights on', and almost all businesses experiencing regular availability issues, it is hardly surprising that IT leaders are often unable to fulfill their ambitions," said Carmen Carey, managing director at ControlCircle.

Three quarters of respondents also believed a lack of IT resources - budget and skilled people - was hindering their operations.

The changing ownership of IT projects was also reflected in the fact that 43 percent of IT project budgets were being drawn from other departments, respondents said.

Security (65 percent), the cloud (36 percent) and compliance (34 percent) were the top three challenges for respondents.

How Super Retail Group is dealing with digital disruption

http://www.mis-asia.com/resource/industries/how-super-retail-group-is-dealing-with-digital-disruption/

How Super Retail Group is dealing with digital disruption

Nadia Cameron | April 24, 2014

If you've ever worked for a retailer, you'll know one of the first things employees are taught is that the customer is always right.

This desire to keep the customer happy is also top of mind for Super Retail Group's general manager of group information services (IS), Alan Hesketh. And for him, that commitment doesn't just cover the in-store experience, it's also extending across online interactions too.

Hesketh heads up Super Retail Group's IT team, which operates as a shared function to its retail divisions across Australia and New Zealand. These divisions are split into auto and commercial, leisure, and sports, and include well-known brands such as Supercheap Auto, Ray's Outdoors, Workout World and Amart.

IT is tasked not only with keeping operations running, but also driving better omni-channel experiences for end customers. It's a job that has led to significant transformation in recent years, as well as a cultural shift in how the business operates.

Hesketh is well-aware that the rise of ecommerce and mobile connectivity has transformed the way retailers interact with the end customer, as well as put control firmly into the consumer's hands.

"We've done a lot of work around the omni-channel experience to help our customers shop in the way they want," he tells CIO. "Whether they want to buy online, click and collect in-store or visit a physical location, we've got that capability across all the brands."

Building experience

Hesketh is no stranger to taking on ambitious projects, and his experience as an IT and business leader is diverse.

Hesketh grew up in New Zealand and completed a Bachelor of Science in Information Services at a time when mathematical operations research was required knowledge. He claims a lot of the high-powered modelling his group does today for the business taps into these early learnt skills.

After a stint in analyst programming, he joined Databank in New Zealand, a shared services provider for banks across the Tasman, working on the early support program for IBM's first relational database release, DV2.

He moved into consulting, then joined Unilever in 1990 and spent the next 10 years working with the consumer goods company first in New Zealand, then overseas.

He relocated to South Africa to run Unilever's IT for three years, then spent a year as head of IT for the Africa Business Group. The opportunity proved an eye-opening experience, and Hesketh says he visited several "very interesting places" on the job.

"South Africa was great, but anything north of there was a challenge - a lot of the plantations and factories were getting international and reliable email for the first time," he recalls.

Unilever sent Hesketh next to the UK, first to run IT for European Foods, then to set up the global infrastructure organisation. While he enjoyed the leadership roles, the travel became an issue and he made the decision to move to Sydney.

The next step was a one-year gig with NRMA as acting CIO, followed by a CIO's post at Brisbane City Council.

"The Lord Mayor at the time, Jim Soorley, had great ideas about a virtual city supporting the physical city," Hesketh says of the role. "There were very diverse requirements - from the traditional kind of roads rate and rubbish to social investments and digital."

An offer with New Zealand's multi-billion dollar supermarket giant, Progressive Enterprises, popped up and Hesketh jumped at it. After two years, the group was taken over by Woolworths in 2007.

Hesketh switched to the NZ Ministry of Health as deputy director general for the Information Director, which covered a broad portfolio of projects worth billions, including health IT policy. A government change put paid to that role, and Hesketh was approached by the Super Retail Group and moved back to Brisbane.

Transformation

Given his focus on business-led technology investment, it's not surprising Hesketh has spent four years already with Super Retail Group. When he joined in 2010, the group had 35 IT staff and turned over $900 million. At the end of last financial year, the group reported just over $2 billion and IT's headcount exceeded 70.

A major contributor to this rapid expansion was the acquisition of Rebel Sport in late 2011, swelling store numbers to 620 and staff to more than 10,000. The growth also presented a much more complex supply chain and significant IT change was necessary, Hesketh says.

To meet the needs of the bigger organisation, as well as the rising demand for omni-channel capabilities, the first step was centralising information flow.

Historically, Super Retail Group's IT team provided 24-hour updates to the core systems, then pushed down any new price and product range changes to a store level. Data latency was a huge issue as a result.

Customer details were also held at a store level, meaning an individual who shopped in more than one store in one day wouldn't be recognised.

The answer was a centralised core platform managed by the IS team. "Where we're talking about something specific to the [sales] channel, such as data about a customer in the call centre or team member experience in-store, we do that in a way we can distribute and target specifically for those different requirements," Hesketh says.

"Our point-of-sale terminals are in essence a checkout function. From head office, we deliver all of our store managers their daily sales and stock positions, and the pricing and customer details, using a single system."

Thanks to the new infrastructure, data latency has gone down to less than 20 minutes, Hesketh says.

"As sales happen in the store, they're fed back into our core systems so they update both our supply chain systems and the data warehouse we use. This allows us to get real-time sales information throughout the day and on-stock position."

It's a big internal cultural change, and a project driven by the group's corporate strategy of focusing on the customer experience, Hesketh says.

As chief of group IT, Hesketh sits on the executive leadership team and is involved in the development of corporate strategy. He points out that while the transformation project required technical capability to be a success, it also wouldn't have worked without the change management processes to go with it.

To ensure governance programs were appropriate, the IS team set up a product program management group under a general manager for business change. It used PRINCE2 methodology to run the program.

"Without the stores actually going through the process of understanding how these changes affected their jobs, and having the leadership out there in retail leading that change, none of it would've stuck," Hesketh adds. "This was very much a corporate strategy and one that again, combined governance with delivering actual change."

Cost versus value

Of course any conversation about transformation inevitably involves cost. At Super Retail Group, IT spend has gone up significantly in the last few years, partly as a result of growth, and partly because the business is operating near real-time, meaning information intensity is much higher.

Hesketh doesn't believe CIOs will ever get away from the cost discussion and says it's even more prevalent when IT is run as a shared service. "We deliver the capability and get the cost, but the benefit is often delivered in a different part of the business and they get the value," he admits.

"The challenge has always been to match up the value being contributed, to the additional cost we're actually bearing."

Hesketh achieves this by focusing on the customer experience, business benefits, and supply-chain capabilities being provided by IT. As a company, Super Retail Group also employs an overriding metric called 'return on capital', which positions capital against the returns generated and how those relate back into the different processes.

"I'm not being told you're spending too much, what I am asked is to show that the costs are appropriate," Hesketh comments. "How IT can alter the business' return through changes of processes or capability improvements is an important thing to demonstrate."

Within the IS team, there are also three key areas to juggle: Keeping the business running; omni-channel capability; and improving customer experience.

Another piece of the puzzle is developing team member capabilities to better support both the business and the end customer as their needs change. Hesketh explains one of the group's current corporate strategies is around team member engagement and retention.

"As a retailer we have quite a high turnover, but retention today sits at about 75 per cent," he says. "Understanding what sorts of people enjoy working here, if they want to stay, and how we make sure we're giving them what they need to deliver their job properly, is critical."

In line with the group's stronger customer-centricity, Hesketh stresses the importance of also improving the staff experience. One way IT is doing this is through a federated portal, which sits on top of its transaction systems and allows in-store staff to monitor tasks through customisable tabs.

Another focus is what Hesketh calls the 'rhythm' of the system versus staff usage. "If a staff member is at the checkout, each scan has to be under half a second for us, whereas in supermarkets performance is much more intense and probably needs to 0.10 of a second," he explains.

"If we're looking at doing a parts search, however, response times may be up to four or five seconds depending on what a staff member is doing with a customer. So it's understanding the rhythm of the task and making sure the performance of our systems meets that."

Future investment

Having invested heavily in its architecture, Super Retail Group is looking to leverage capabilities further. "We have an awful lot of capability and the thing we're looking at doing is saying, OK, how do we really get returns from that?" Hesketh says.

Mobility is another game-changer, both for staff enablement as well as for customers. Super Retail Group is in midst of an 18-month program to roll out mobile devices and Wi-Fi capability across stores as a way of enhancing customer shopping experiences and adding to its omni-channel offering, Hesketh says.

"The idea is to be able to provide a lot more digital information to team members," he says. Customers will also be able to connect in-store using Wi-Fi. "Consumers are doing up to 70 per cent of their research online before coming into store today, and we have to make sure our team members have access to the same information that customers do as part of that experience."

Business contributor

When asked what the modern CIO looks like today, Hesketh notes the increased business contribution the role must make.

"The CIO has to deliver that crossover between technology and value," he claims. "It comes back to trying to understand how new technologies, new opportunities, and the way technology's being used, impact the business and customer.

"If I look at the way businesses use IT, there's two major things I think about. One is how time and distance have changed as a result of technology. There has been this huge compression of business cycles and therefore our ability to respond and see what's going on.

"The other change is the information intensity in business. The amount of data available today is one thing; being able to get it in front of people in a way that's usable and decipherable so that we can understand it and see the patterns is another.

"That has all sorts of other challenges in terms of people's ability to use information to make good decisions. It's a whole different approach to just saying 'what's our sales trend over the last six months'."

The danger for any CIO is not recognising the balance between keeping the business running, and leading change, Hesketh concludes. "The big risk is losing sight of how the organisation you're working in establishes value. If we stay focused on that contribution as CIOs, we have a chance to succeed."

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

Big risks for small businesses who ignore data security

The recent security scare over the Heartbleed bug should send shivers down the spines of most small businesses. There you are thinking all your online customer data is safe, thanks to popular open-source encryption software called OpenSSL, and it turns out to be anything but. This small vulnerabi...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-27052250

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Saturday, April 19, 2014

No room for arrogance at the workplace

http://mobile.nation.co.ke/lifestyle/No-room-for-arrogance-at-the-workplace/-/1950774/2196114/-/format/xhtml/-/oxa6i4/-/index.html

POSTED  FRIDAY, FEBRUARY 7, 2014 |  BY- MORAA OBIRIA

No room for arrogance at the workplace

An arrogant employee is possessed with self-importance and superiority.

Gladys and Peter have been working for a communications consulting firm in the Creatives Department for the last three months. So far, none of their advertisement proposals has received consent of their supervisor.

Before joining the firm, the two worked for a rival company, where their ideas had brought large corporates into the company's customer base.

Interested in their magical touch, the current firm had poached them and had offered twice what they received at the former workplace.

But something was wrong. The consumer curve was dipping, and the CEO was becoming frustrated.

He was least aware that the Creative Department supervisor was the problem.

The man had erected a retrogressive know-it-all wall, dismissing all the proposals by Gladys and Peter with statements such as, "I know how this works. My model is the best". "I have more experience in this industry than you."

That is the trait of a toxic arrogant manager in the workplace, according to the organisational pyschologists.

Regardless of the position, an arrogant employee is possessed with self-importance and superiority.

Such an individual has bloated self-perceptions that are manifested in the manner in which they dismiss other workers' ideas because they hold the belief that they are more knowledgeable than any of the employees in the team. They even assert control over them.

KILLER DISEASE

When high performing employees are exposed to such environments, they would at the slightest opportunity exit to other organisations in pursuit of space to use their skills.

"Arrogance is a killer disease in any organisation, as it interferes with the employees' socio-emotions and interpersonal relations," says Devarest Ambale, a strategic management consultant and mentor.

"Even if you set the greatest objectives in the world, without a team in which every member understands the vital role of each employee, you are bound for a distressful failure," he adds.

A 2010 research on workplace arrogance showed that the moral vice created interpersonal complications that could result in customer dissatisfaction and dysfunctional teams.

With this understanding, finding ways to eliminate workplace arrogance is particularly non-negotiable, advise to the experts.

And the human resource department, they say, has the mandate to establish an open feedback support system for all staff members.

"The HR (department) must have an impartial feedback structure… This way, they can openly solve issues that are likely to affect the performance of the organisation," advises Mr Ambale.

An inter-employee evaluation platform is also necessary to help the HR identify the junior or senior staff, including the top executives, who may be wreaking havoc in the workplace.

The HR officer must keep the information confidential and only use it to find a way of neutralising that arrogant attitude in the accused staff member.

An annual teambuilding is an essential ingredient to toning down arrogance, according to Mr Ambale. "(Regular) team building offers the staff a platform to freely interact and psychologically creates an aspect of humility in each member of the staff," he explains.

Friday, April 18, 2014

Google under fire from European media tycoon

The boss of one of Europe's largest media companies has strongly criticised Google in an open letter printed in a German newspaper. Mathias Dopfner, chief executive of Axel Springer, says his company is afraid of Google and its power. He also asks in the letter, addressed to Google boss Eric Schm...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-27063372

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Instacart Could Raise A Big New Round Of Funding Valuing It At $400 Million

On-demand grocery startup Instacart is fielding term sheets for a big new round of funding, according to sources. We've heard the new financing could be led by a non-VC investor, and according to one source it would value the company at up to $400 million. Instacart provides same-day delivery of ...

http://techcrunch.com/2014/04/17/instacart-400m-valuation/

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Startup of the Week: Rentify

Rentify provides landlords with tools to manage their properties themselves so that they can bypass traditional letting agents. It was founded by George Spencer who previously worked in brand marketing and was a "terrible" PHP developer. Wired.co.uk caught up with him. Founder: George Spencer Lau...

http://www.wired.co.uk/news/archive/2014-04/17/startup-of-the-week-rentify

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Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Windows XP users face end to Microsoft support

Support for the venerable Windows XP operating system ends this Tuesday. It means that there will be no more official security updates and bug fixes for the operating system from Microsoft. Some governments have negotiated extended support contracts for the OS in a bid to keep users protected. Se...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/technology-26884167

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Saturday, April 5, 2014

Retail must reinvent itself for the omnichannel future

http://www.mis-asia.com/resource/applications/retail-must-reinvent-itself-for-the-omnichannel-future/

Retail must reinvent itself for the omnichannel future

Michael Friedenberg | April 1, 2014

If ever there was an industry ready for a massive technology shake-up, it's retail. Consider the confluence of pressures it faces: customer showrooming, evolving payment ecosystems, a meteoric rise in online shopping and the constant danger of being the target of the next high-profile security breach.

No wonder IDC analyst Robert Parker recently predicted that retail must "reinvent itself" by 2017 "as omnichannel leaders reach for customer relationship, relevancy, and reciprocity." I rarely dive into vertical industries in this column (in consideration of the breadth of our readership), but these trends affecting retail today are bound to manifest themselves in almost every other industry, especially those directly serving consumers.

In light of these likely developments, I offer up a selection of our sister company IDC's retail predictions for 2014, along with my advice and observations in parentheses.

Fast followers are chasing the top 50 global retailers as they transform in-store, mobile and e-commerce channels, as well as supply chains, merchandising and marketing for omnichannel customers.
(Put anytime-anywhere customers at the core of your business, too.)
Business transformation will drive retail enterprise software investments to 9 percent compound annual growth rates through 2015.
(Connect your systems from the back office to customer front lines.)
By 2017, marketing and advertising tech investment will increase by 50 percent.
(CIOs, make sure you're tight with your CMO partners.)
Retailers will rethink big data and analytics projects this year as up to 30 percent of those projects last year fell short of their goals.
(Be sure you're asking the right questions before investing in big data projects.)
Emerging consumer privacy concerns will force 50 percent of early adopters to reconsider the wisdom of offering hyper-personalized promotions by 2015.
(Don't underestimate the chilling effect of high-profile data breaches and abuses.)
Retailers will double down on the rate of supply chain investments this year.
(Managing the supply chain and improving customer engagement will be key business battlegrounds in the years to come.)

These are certainly exciting (even nerve-wracking) times for retail. How many of these predictions seem likely to come true for your industry?

Thursday, April 3, 2014

How To Make Money Without A Job

Before joining the staff of Forbes in July of 2011, I was happily self-employed for 23 years. For much of this time my husband and I ran two mostly unrelated home-based businesses. He worked in his office in the front of the house, while I was in mine across the hall. Our office doors were usuall...

http://www.forbes.com/sites/deborahljacobs/2011/12/14/how-to-make-money-without-a-job/

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Payments via mobile number to start this month

Consumers will be able to use mobile phone numbers to make bank payments from 29 April, it has been announced. The changes mean that account-holders will be able to pay friends, family or traders without having to ask for their bank details. Instead, they will only need to ask for their mobile nu...

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-26836380

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Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Beyond meritocracy: 6 ways IT employee performance evaluations are changing

http://www.cio-asia.com/resource/careers/beyond-meritocracy-6-ways-it-employee-performance-evaluations-are-changing/

Evaluating employee performance is never easy. The tired old methods -- holding an annual performance review, grading employees on a scale of 0-5 and basing pay increases only on a standard employee scorecard used for every role — are no longer effective. Instead, experts say social media, ongoing employee feedback, apps for evaluating performance for various IT roles and much more holistic efforts help go beyond basic meritocracy.

"A number of high-profile firms are doing away with forced ranking," says Lisa Rowan, an IDC analyst, referring to the practice that requires firms to identify a set percentage of employees who rank as high, medium and needs improvement. "There is some movement away from having a static once-per-year process towards more meaningful ongoing feedback."

Several emerging techniques and performance-related apps help make evaluation less about the yearly score and more about motivation and improving performance. Here are six that experts suggest.

1. Agile Performance Management Through Frequent Discussions
Going beyond a simple meritocracy of annual reviews and compensating employees directly as it relates to their scorecard is being replaced by something more agile — specifically, the use of agile performance management.

Management expert Josh Bersin, the principal and founder of Bersin by Deloitte, explains that companies are moving to more constant feedback through weekly and quarterly discussions with an employee about performance. "[These discussions] are about what a person can do to improve, what they're doing well, and recognizing when people are doing a good job."

2. Emerging Apps for Employee Performance Evaluation
IT can lead the charge when it comes to using new evaluation apps. Some of the best tools to track ongoing performance include Work.comand Peoplefluent.com. Like a dashboard tool used to monitor a website, these tools use a subjective and ongoing tracking methodology.

One such tool, Kapta, uses agile management in a real-time scorecard app. Says Kapta CEO Alex Raymond: "Smart companies are turning from annual performance management exercises to an ongoing process of setting objectives, aligning work and providing feedback. It's no longer enough to just be a HR-driven practice. Instead, this is a leadership imperative and a core part of the management system of the entire company."

3. Gamification as Performance Incentive
Rowan says there's a way IT can use gamification to track employee performance. This might involve incentives such as tokens at the company store or gift cards that encourage employees to post their successes and tasks completed. Bersin says large companies need to think about more than compensation packages and offer other rewards for good performance. Of course, this ties right intoemployee retention as a secondary benefit.

4. 360-degree Feedback for Less Subjective Judgment
Most large organisations already use 360-degree feedback, a process of getting input from those who work with an employee as well as directly from the employee, yet many companies make this step secondary to the main performance review.

"Making subjective judgments based on one person's perception or opinion is fraught with bias," says Angelo Kinicki, professor at the W.P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University. He suggests getting wider input, adding, "The use of 360-degree feedback is a good way to accomplish this part of an employee's evaluation."

5. Real-Time Performance Tracking
What if you could track employee performance in a more constant fashion? That's the idea behind tools such as WorkIQ, which tracks call center performance, tech support and other transaction-based roles. Meanwhile, the Salesforce.com add-on Cloudapps uses gamification to track sales performance.

"Immediate performance feedback lets supervisors and line managers course-correct on the spot, rather than after the damage is done," Rowan says.

6. Social Media as Evaluation Aid
It's easy to forget how social media can play a role in evaluating employee progress as well. One strength of tools such as SuccessFactors(from SAP) is the capability to track how employees collaborate and solve problems.

Rowan says social media is a great way to monitor and track the employee "wins" for an organization. However, Twitter and Facebook aren't as useful for tracking performance problems, as failures are rarely posted in public.

"While social media is all great in theory, it's my opinion that traditional appraisals won't go away altogether soon," she says. "Instead, new means will augment but not replace."