Are You An Innovative Leader?

Elana Varon

Elana Varon

Independent Contributor
Elana Varon is an award-winning editor with more than 20 years of experience writing about IT and facilitiating conversations among CIOs. Her coverage of technology, IT-enabled business innovation and the CIO role have been recognized by American Business Media, the American Society of Business Publication Editors and Media Business. As executive editor of CIO magazine from 2006-2011, Elana led a team of writers, editors and designers to produce the industry-leading publication for business and technology executives. You can also find her on Twitter, LinkedIn and at her personal blog, Cochituate Media.

Innovative leaders have excellent strategic vision, a strong customer focus and won’t throw their colleagues under the bus when something goes wrong. These are the most important traits uncovered in a study of 33 leaders at a telecommunications company by consultants at Zenger/Folkman. In an article for HBR.org, Jack Zenger and Joseph Folkman say they think their conclusions apply across industries and cross-culturally.

Though an ability to inspire the team makes their top 10, it’s last on the list. I suspect that’s because you need to demonstrate the other nine in order to inspire anyone. Three traits relate to communication: being receptive to ideas that come from the bottom up, persuasiveness, and honesty. The remaining three relate to setting goals and executing them.

The one that strikes me as hardest to practice ranks fourth: you’re not there to make your boss happy. Loyalty to the organization and customers should come first. Do you agree? How do you convey that idea to your team?

Competing for Cloud Computing Talent

Elana Varon

Elana Varon

Independent Contributor
Elana Varon is an award-winning editor with more than 20 years of experience writing about IT and facilitiating conversations among CIOs. Her coverage of technology, IT-enabled business innovation and the CIO role have been recognized by American Business Media, the American Society of Business Publication Editors and Media Business. As executive editor of CIO magazine from 2006-2011, Elana led a team of writers, editors and designers to produce the industry-leading publication for business and technology executives. You can also find her on Twitter, LinkedIn and at her personal blog, Cochituate Media.

A Forbes contributor crunched some numbers on cloud computing jobs, using data from Wanted Analytics, and identified 15 companies with the largest number of openings. Five are major IT software and services firms (with IBM, Oracle and Amazon at the top) and four (including the Army National Guard) are focused on national security. The remainder include health insurers, financial services firms and consultancies.

The numbers suggest intense competition in these industries. I’m wondering, though, whether that’s spilling over into other sectors. How important is industry-specific expertise? Does a need for industry knowledge narrow your options even further?

A Model for Deciding Who Owns Big Data?

Elana Varon

Elana Varon

Independent Contributor
Elana Varon is an award-winning editor with more than 20 years of experience writing about IT and facilitiating conversations among CIOs. Her coverage of technology, IT-enabled business innovation and the CIO role have been recognized by American Business Media, the American Society of Business Publication Editors and Media Business. As executive editor of CIO magazine from 2006-2011, Elana led a team of writers, editors and designers to produce the industry-leading publication for business and technology executives. You can also find her on Twitter, LinkedIn and at her personal blog, Cochituate Media.

Farmers and agriculture technology providers have worked out a set of principles for deciding who owns the data that farmers provide when they purchase advanced analytics services. At the heart of the agreement: farmers own their data. Service providers must be transparent about how that data is being used, and they can only use it as long as they have explicit permission to do so.

Tech Republic’s Michael Kassner summarizes the agreement here. A copy of the full list of principles, from American Farm Bureau is here. Could this be a model for other industries, or for agreements between companies and consumers?

Are Your IT Management Practices Outdated?

Elana Varon

Elana Varon

Independent Contributor
Elana Varon is an award-winning editor with more than 20 years of experience writing about IT and facilitiating conversations among CIOs. Her coverage of technology, IT-enabled business innovation and the CIO role have been recognized by American Business Media, the American Society of Business Publication Editors and Media Business. As executive editor of CIO magazine from 2006-2011, Elana led a team of writers, editors and designers to produce the industry-leading publication for business and technology executives. You can also find her on Twitter, LinkedIn and at her personal blog, Cochituate Media.

InformationWeek has a twist on the typical year-end “what’s hot, what’s not” list. Contributor Andi Mann offers a dozen IT management practices to abandon and suggests replacements. Some examples of practices that you should throw out: command and control, executive mandates and “feature complete” products. Instead, embrace network effects, collaboration and “good enough.” Are there processes or practices that you’ve decided are outdated? What are they, and how will the way you operate change?

You can read Andi Mann’s full article here: CIO Checklist: Ready For The Disrupted, Digital World?

How Do You Tell Business Users Their Projects Need More Time?

Elana Varon

Elana Varon

Independent Contributor
Elana Varon is an award-winning editor with more than 20 years of experience writing about IT and facilitiating conversations among CIOs. Her coverage of technology, IT-enabled business innovation and the CIO role have been recognized by American Business Media, the American Society of Business Publication Editors and Media Business. As executive editor of CIO magazine from 2006-2011, Elana led a team of writers, editors and designers to produce the industry-leading publication for business and technology executives. You can also find her on Twitter, LinkedIn and at her personal blog, Cochituate Media.

“You should never go live based on a deadline. You go live when the product is ready and the people are ready to use the product,” says John Halamka, CIO at Boston’s Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center (among other roles), in an interview with ZDNet blogger Michael Krigsman. “If you go live too early no one will ever forget; if you go live late no one will ever remember.”

That seems like sound advice for avoiding failure–one topic of their conversation. But I doubt it means you can take your time when delivering new capabilities. How do you communicate with business users when deploying new technologies, so they understand when projects need extra care?

John Halamanka’s full article can be read here: Harvard Medical professor and CIO on Failure and Massive Transparency

How Do You Get IT and Marketing Really Working Together?

Elana Varon

Elana Varon

Independent Contributor
Elana Varon is an award-winning editor with more than 20 years of experience writing about IT and facilitiating conversations among CIOs. Her coverage of technology, IT-enabled business innovation and the CIO role have been recognized by American Business Media, the American Society of Business Publication Editors and Media Business. As executive editor of CIO magazine from 2006-2011, Elana led a team of writers, editors and designers to produce the industry-leading publication for business and technology executives. You can also find her on Twitter, LinkedIn and at her personal blog, Cochituate Media.

CIOs and CMOs know they need to work together, but they’re still not getting much done, Forrester Research reports. A new survey of 308 marketing and IT leaders found ” virtually no progress in solving the problems that CMOs and CIOs face in turning large amounts of data into actionable customer insights,” writes analyst Sheryl Pattek.

Among Pattek’s ideas to improve collaboration: define a joint vision, and get cracking on development of a data center of excellence. What steps did you take in your organization to get marketing and IT really working together? Are there lessons from your work with other business functions that apply?

How Can Companies Help Consumers Control Their Privacy?

Elana Varon

Elana Varon

Independent Contributor
Elana Varon is an award-winning editor with more than 20 years of experience writing about IT and facilitiating conversations among CIOs. Her coverage of technology, IT-enabled business innovation and the CIO role have been recognized by American Business Media, the American Society of Business Publication Editors and Media Business. As executive editor of CIO magazine from 2006-2011, Elana led a team of writers, editors and designers to produce the industry-leading publication for business and technology executives. You can also find her on Twitter, LinkedIn and at her personal blog, Cochituate Media.

Most people don’t consider their purchasing or media consumption habits to be very sensitive information, according to a recent Pew Research Center survey. But lots of other personal data is, including web searches and website visits, as well as location data.

Few survey respondents complained about having negative experiences due to their digital footprints. But most want to do more to protect themselves online, and few feel that it’s easy to be anonymous if they want to be.

Are you rethinking the options you give consumers when asking them to share information? What can companies do differently to capture useful data while making it easy for customers to share only what they want?

Countering Risk with Expertise

Elana Varon

Elana Varon

Independent Contributor
Elana Varon is an award-winning editor with more than 20 years of experience writing about IT and facilitiating conversations among CIOs. Her coverage of technology, IT-enabled business innovation and the CIO role have been recognized by American Business Media, the American Society of Business Publication Editors and Media Business. As executive editor of CIO magazine from 2006-2011, Elana led a team of writers, editors and designers to produce the industry-leading publication for business and technology executives. You can also find her on Twitter, LinkedIn and at her personal blog, Cochituate Media.

I dropped pretty much everything on Wednesday morning, US Eastern Time, to follow the comet landing. Once the European Space Agency confirmed the Philae lander was in place, Director General Jean-Jacques Dordain praised the project team, as any leader should. This remark stood out: “The only way to reconcile risk and success is expertise.”

You know this. You put your best people on your toughest projects because their intelligence and experience are hedges against the possibility of failure. What about when it comes to training and development? Do you consider your investment in people as a way to mitigate risk? Have you ever talked about IT salaries and training and development budgets this way? Does it make sense to bring risk into the conversation about staffing?

Are CIOs Really Fighting for Their Role?

Elana Varon

Elana Varon

Independent Contributor
Elana Varon is an award-winning editor with more than 20 years of experience writing about IT and facilitiating conversations among CIOs. Her coverage of technology, IT-enabled business innovation and the CIO role have been recognized by American Business Media, the American Society of Business Publication Editors and Media Business. As executive editor of CIO magazine from 2006-2011, Elana led a team of writers, editors and designers to produce the industry-leading publication for business and technology executives. You can also find her on Twitter, LinkedIn and at her personal blog, Cochituate Media.

Information Week’s Rob Preston takes issue with IDC’s prediction that by 2020, 60 percent of CIOs at global companies “for the delivery of IT-enabled products and digital services.” Rather, Preston offers, CIOs “who can’t cut it as digital innovators and customer pleasers” will be replaced by CIOs who can. “By 2020, chief digital officers will be yesterday’s fad.” What do you see happening? Is the rest of the C-Suite really that skeptical of CIOs? Do CDOs have a place, and if so, what is it?

Has the 3rd Platform Become an Expectation?

Elana Varon

Elana Varon

Independent Contributor
Elana Varon is an award-winning editor with more than 20 years of experience writing about IT and facilitiating conversations among CIOs. Her coverage of technology, IT-enabled business innovation and the CIO role have been recognized by American Business Media, the American Society of Business Publication Editors and Media Business. As executive editor of CIO magazine from 2006-2011, Elana led a team of writers, editors and designers to produce the industry-leading publication for business and technology executives. You can also find her on Twitter, LinkedIn and at her personal blog, Cochituate Media.

Among its predictions for 2015, IDC says that within the next two years, nearly two-thirds (65 percent) of strategies for competing globally will require IT-as-a-Service, and that 80 percent of CIOs will be accelerating their deployments of the 3rd Platform. These numbers suggest to me that most companies are past the point where decision-makers need to debate whether migration is necessary–that they’ve moved on to questions about how, and how quickly, to make it happen. What do you think? Are you still wrestling with whether IaaS is a strategic need? Or do you take it as given? What factors have influenced your position?