Six “Romantic” Qualities of Tomorrow's CIO (And, In Fact, Any Leader) Print E-mail

Aspiring to lead their company’s digital transformation, CIOs often get bogged down by the demands of day-to-day business. If they want to strengthen IT as a strategic function that has a seat at the table, then they must lead and not just serve. They must move from information to imagination. But how?


Being a business-savvy technology strategist in addition to being a technology expert is a good start, but there’s another, often underrated dimension: I call it the “romantic” side of business. Business and romance? You may shudder at first at the sheer thought of such an unholy marriage. And the last department you can ever imagine “romanticizing” is IT, right? But wait, not so fast. Certain“romantic qualities” may indeed be beneficial for tomorrow’s CIOs and their organizations—and in fact every technology-savvy leader. Here are six of them:


1.    Feel more and show it: Romantics believe emotion eats reason for breakfast. Similarly, smart CIOs know their success not only hinges on connectivity, but connection. They must not only be communication enablers, but also excellent, empathetic communicators. They can’t solely rely on being reliable, but also on establishing meaningful relationships with their colleagues. This will help them overcome the perception that IT is just a “service” that checks off helpdesk tickets when things are broken. It’s the check-ins when things are working, the casual chat in the cafeteria, the occasional “phone-call-without-agenda,” that build good will and foster the impression that there are real, caring human beings between all the machines in the neon-lit server room. And when there’s a real crisis and the system is down, express how bad you feel instead of just the usual “we will fix it asap” boilerplate response. Show passion, not just professionalism. You’d be surprised how much people care—if you do.


2.    Give more than you take: If romantics believe something is the right thing to do, they are happy to transcend the principles of tit-for-tat in favor of pure giving. A CIO of an airline once told me, “First we need to cover the basics, then we can innovate and do all the fun stuff.” But this is a false dichotomy. Effective CIOs do both and find ways to make one work for the other. At Frog Design, CIO Christian Schluender managed all systems and built an entire asset management system inhouse, but also produced a series of internal videos that poked fun at the IT team and quickly went viral among employees. Produced on a shoestring, the videos were effective in showcasing IT’s creative prowess—which was paramount to being accepted as equals in a design firm. This may serve as an important reminder for IT teams across industries: excellence does not only come from over-delivery, but often just from generosity—from those casual gifts, those irreverent “hacks,” that make our lives at work more delightful. There is no reason why we shouldn’t expect them from IT.


3.    Create beauty: Romantics appreciate the beauty inherent in the most mundane objects and experiences. And seriously, why must the ever-so-functional business be immune to aesthetical pleasures? CIOs can bring together the corporation (arguably the most powerful organization of our time) and technology (arguably the most powerful tool of our time) to not only create solutions to problems that meet our need for convenience and comfort, but also conjure up elegance and yes, even magic. IT is a product-builder, after all, and the principles of state-of-the-art user experiences apply to every database, mobile app, and microsite that it builds and distributes. CIOs should make top-notch UI designers an integral part of their team. Steve Jobs famously insisted on beautiful (invisible) interiors in every device Apple shipped. Likewise, CIOs can create beauty from the inside and use the backbones of their organization to shape its soul.


4.    Build things that don’t last: Romance lies in the elusive, fleeting moments that disrupt our daily lives with unexpected delight. In other words: Romantic is what doesn’t last. Just a few years ago, ephemerality would have been anathema to CIOs. Not anymore. Formerly rewarded for building things that last, IT now needs to become an expert in building things that don’t. As innovation and go-to-market cycles accelerate, a companies’ systems and infrastructure must become more nimble and allow for on-the-fly adjustments and ad-hoc reconfigurations. “Super-flexibility” is the buzzword of the day, describing a culture that is designed to facilitate the rapid flow of information within highly adaptive, fluid organizations that instantly adjust to ever-evolving external and internal circumstances. Quick fixes are the new permanent. Like romantics, CIOs are “shapeshifters” who sacrifice consistency for agility, and are quick to give up policies should they stifle entrepreneurship and creativity.


5.    Lose control: The trend toward software-as-a-service and open-source may uncalcify legacy IT infrastructure, but it also means giving up control. With the consumerization of IT and social technologies spawning transparency and democratization, IT departments are no longer the gatekeepers. Instead of upholding rigid standards, CIOs must now act as concierges, curators, or even tastemakers, tasked with providing their colleagues the best access to the best technology available— inside and outside of their organization. While serving as the CTO of the World Economic Forum, Brian Behlendorf led the venerable institution to embracing an open data strategy, and the CIO of the city of Palo Alto, Jonathan Reichental, is widely acclaimed for its use of “civic hackathons” and crowdsourcing in his mission to “build a new operating system for government in the 21st century.” In best romantic tradition, these CIOs know that losing control can present new, richer opportunities. It is where the exciting stuff happens.


6.    Transcend the here and now: In the cracks of the empirical, information-based reality, romantics find the seeds of tomorrow. They can see the world not as it is, but as it could be. CIOs, too, have the opportunity to not just be safeguards of the doable, but apostles of the possible. Only if CIOs risk being fools will they be taken seriously. With their head in the cloud and their feet on the ground, they must use technology not just as reality check, but as crystal ball. At its heart, the quest for a better future—in other words, “innovation”— is a romantic pursuit. Stuart Evans, a Carnegie Mellon University professor who helped conduct a recent survey among Fortune 500 CIOs, believes that “CIOs are leading the transformation toward a digital enterprise. This effort requires the CIO to bring together cross-functional business units by providing a ‘romantic’ vision for re-invention.” Patrick Naef, award-winning CIO of Emirates Airlines, is using IT to reinvent travel, including an Innovation Lab in Dubai and a whole host of initiatives that are designed to restore the romance of air travel through highly data-driven personalized customer experiences.


Stuart Evans told me that “In the future, many of the CIO’s skills and capabilities will be needed in CEO’s and Board directors.” Besides the grasp of technology, perhaps the CIO can indeed pave the way for more business leaders to become “Business Romantics” and usher in a new generation of companies that don’t make us check our hearts and our dreams when we log on.


More than ever, amid hyper-connectivity, big data, and the quantification of everything, we crave experiences that honor our unpredictable, inconsistent, and wondrous selves: IT is uniquely positioned to deliver them.


To learn more, please see my new book THE BUSINESS ROMANTIC (HarperCollins).




3 Ways Businesses Can Lose Money on Printing Every Day – And 6 Tips to Optimize for Savings Print E-mail

Few small-to-medium businesses (SMBs) realize the unnoticed costs of printing and copying. However, data from InfoTrends shows that there are many opportunities for savings and productivity gains. Here are three key areas where you may be wasting valuable resources, followed by six strategies for curtailing the losses.


1) Overbuying and underusing printers and copiers

Did you know that up to 90 percent of the centralized printers and copiers in your SMB may be underutilized? Many multifunction printers (MFPs) placed within SMBs can print 100,000 pages per month, but average print volumes are closer to 10,000 pages per month. These devices are costly to own and operate. Leases/purchases, energy use, maintenance and housing all contribute to their care and feeding costs.


2) Many printers and copiers have features that are not being used

Did you know that A3 printing (11x17) is estimated to account for approximately 2 percent of all office print jobs? Most print jobs are five pages or fewer, reducing the need for costly finishing options - even if your business is still paying for them.


3) Centralized devices can lead to lost productivity costs

Did you know that a company with 500 employees can spend more than 4,000 hours per year in wasted time walking to and from printers and copiers? This translates to a loss of more than $129,000 annually.


With these known facts under your belt, you can begin improving productivity and cutting costs. Follow these 6 tips to optimize your SMB:

1) Place devices closer to employees for happier workers and productivity gains

2) Avoid units with expensive and unneeded finishing options to help reduce operating costs

3) Use less-complicated devices to reduce support demands and costs.

4) Use software solutions for cost recovery and security to help manage printer costs.

5) Explore industry-specific applications to help improve processes, compliance and security.

6) Leverage mobile devices and cloud solutions for improved productivity.


For more details on how to balance your printer/copier deployment and begin saving, download the whitepaper and take an in-depth self-service assessment with custom recommendations at


All data provided herein are excerpts from the white paper "Device Underuse and Unbalanced Fleets" by InfoTrends, sponsored by Brother International Corporation.

How Does Your Disaster Recovery Strategy Stack Up? Print E-mail

It happens. “It” being an IT disaster that can range from a simple server crash to business offices and datacenters destroyed by any number of environmental or malicious incidences. Few organizations find themselves immune, yet while developing and maintaining a tested disaster recovery strategy might top your CIO to-do list, time and resources often shift to revenue-generating IT initiatives.


Polling organizations about disaster recovery preparedness illustrates the need to move recovery planning from “nice to have” to “need to have.” According to a technology survey conducted by Evolve IP, 34 percent of organization have suffered a major incident that has required disaster recovery procedures. The report also shows that of those experiencing a major incident, 11 percent experienced permanent IT losses. The 2015 Evolve IP Disaster Recovery survey gained insight from 2084 IT professionals and executives during December 2014.


Are You Prepared for Outage Implications?

When delving further into IT disasters, key results of the Evolve IP survey show that the leading cause of incidents was hardware outages. Other top causes included thirty four percent siting environmental disasters, 27.5 percent indicated power outages and nearly two in 10 indicated human error. The hits keep coming for many organizations. Among those that have experienced a major incident, 44 percent had multiple disasters in the past five years.

The implications of an IT disaster or outage are far reaching. Effects include:

·         Permanent loss of data

·         Regulatory fines or other penalties as a result of a compliance lapse

·         Financial and business efficiency implications of staff time and resources shifted from revenue-driving initiatives or other mission-critical assignments to recovery

·         Time spent altering a disaster recovery plan and/or developing or refining recovery test plan procedures

When evaluating implications of an incident among survey respondents, Evolve IP found that the highest percentage of permanent loss was that backups were not recoverable, followed by loss of critical data. The highest percentages of losses for one or several days were loss of network connectivity, loss of a host machine and loss of a critical application.

Are You Assured of Your Disaster Recovery Approach?


In general the mindset of executives appears to have moved from thinking, “it’s not if an IT disaster will happen, but when.” However, confidence in their own disaster recovery approach isn’t great. Less than half of those surveyed (45.5 percent) believe they are very prepared to recover their IT assets. Confidence increases with a compliance requirement as 54 percent of regulated organizations note that they are very prepared to recover from a disaster. As such, it’s clear that compliance is a major driver for disaster recovery.


Confidence gains another boost from forward-thinking approaches to disaster recovery. Organizations that have compliance requirements and have implemented Disaster Recovery as a Service (DRaaS) ultimately feel the most confident to handle a disaster. DRaaS is a scalable, provisionable, cloud-based service that remotely replicates an organization’s servers while letting them set specific recovery point and recovery time objectives. DRaaS shifts accountability for recovery from an organization to a service provider, often selected by organizations for its technology, redundancy and backup strategy expertise reinforced by detailed service level agreements.


Are You Considering Innovative Approaches to Disaster Recovery


Despite the benefits of DRaaS, including the added confidence an organization’s has in its recovery approach, a significant number of organizations continue to use legacy methods. Forty five percent of those surveyed continue to use backup tapes and 41.5 percent use additional servers at their primary site as a principal method for disaster recovery. These methods are less than ideal due to concerns over human error and environmental disasters. Further, while many companies have put disaster recovery plans in place, in general these approaches only help companies recover data, not access to that data by employees or communication services.


There are potential flaws in some of the other approaches as well:


·         Onsite replicated data center: Replicating data centers in the same location provides little security against environmental disasters. Additionally, hardware failures in that data center are likely, considering hardware failure ranked as the highest culprit among those that experienced a loss.


·         Secondary mirror site: While a mirrored site offers better protection than onsite replication or tape backup, many secondary sites are not far enough away. In fact, 35 percent of organizations survey by Evolve IP have their disaster recovery site less than 100 miles away making it more likely that both sites would be impacted in the event of a major environmental disaster.


·         Public Cloud: Considering scrutiny in terms of security and reliability, it’s surprising any organizations rely on a public cloud for disaster recovery. Though, attractive pricing options could justify a public cloud offering for offsite storage of non-mission critical data.


When you evaluate your organization’s disaster recovery strategy, are you among the nearly half of organizations that feel fully prepared to recovery? To bring preparedness confidence from perception to reality, consider running disaster recovery tests. Your organizations will benefit from identifying gaps in backup coverage, technical or resource bottlenecks to recovery and long-tail implications of a permanent data loss before disaster actually strikes. 


The CES Tackles the Future of Digital Business Print E-mail

The Consumer Electronics Show, or CES, is a trade show held in Las Vegas every January, organized by the lobbying group CEA and aimed at bringing the latest and greatest in electronic gadgets and technology to the consumer electronics industry. Past years have seen the debut of the Microsoft Xbox, the Palm Pre and Palm Pixi Plus from Verizon Wireless, and the Parrot AR Drone, to name only a few.

This year’s show was once again a mix of technology designed for both individual consumers and businesses, focusing on innovation and portability in devices offered for both. One of the biggest digital trends of the year centers on the Internet of Things (IOT), a concept that encompasses the idea of devices connected by way of one central hub, whether it’s a smartphone app or one of the wearable devices touted at the CES.


What’s unique about the concept of the IOT is that it brings together tech companies that are not usually part of the CES with those producing compatible products, such as home automation devices that can be controlled with Apple’s iPhones, iPads, and Siri. This year, further home security advances included advanced utilization of the IoT, the ability to connect to at home devices through mobile tech, voice recognition for security management, and a use of the IFTTT, which was announced from ADT. Other tech advances include wearables such as the smartwatch, which are being developed to provide much of the same functionality as smartphones and tablets without the encumbrance of carrying the phone and tablet. In addition, they offer even more personal functionality by incorporating sensors that can measure biometrics and act as a personal GPS as needed. As more and more businesses operate remotely or on the move, such technology will continue to help keep employees plugged in and connected.

Mobile worker/warriors, today’s business people are finding themselves constantly in motion, away from the office more frequently than ever before, and the devices and apps found at the CES this year reflect this trend. One such device is the Dell XPS 13, touted as “the smallest 13-inch laptop on the planet.” With cutting edge technology that includes a 5.7-million-pixel display and a super-powered battery that can deliver up to 15 hours per charge, it weighs in at just less than three pounds.

Along the same lines as the laptop are the various devices designed to provide mobile power sources for mobile devices while going more green and cordless, such as the WakaWaka Power+ solar-powered charger for smartphones and other small devices and the Zolf Laptop Charger Plus, a micro-sized charger that has extra ports for charging other mobile devices at the same time as the laptop.

Applicable to tech companies, healthcare and medical device manufactures, and beyond, another development announced this year took 3D printing to a new level. While 3D printing technology is not new, the ability to print complete electronic gadgets is nearer than ever with the Voxel8 gadget printer. The printer showed that it could print both a plastic housing case and metal circuitry within the plastic, opening the door to a world of possibilities for the business world.

With the CES having completed its show for another year, tech companies and individuals alike can predict that the future of the technology industry will become both more personalized and more centralized at the same time in the years to come. Technology that allows us to automate more and more of our homes, our vehicles, and our lives can be expected, evolving as the internet and technology evolves.

Enterprise Mobility in 2015 - Top expert analysts chime in Print E-mail

It’s been a great year at InnoviMobile. With many exciting projects behind us and more ahead we reflect on the changes in the mobile industry this year. We talk with our customers and peers about the technology and trends that will be important in 2015. Our own Dan DiMassa took time to interview several notable analyst about the what’s in store for 2015. It’s always great to hear the thoughts of industry experts:

Chris Hazelton - Chris Hazelton is a research director at 451 Research, and all around mobility expert. When he isnt public speaking on mobile he is studying the shift of enterprise workers computing from desktop to mobile. Get his updates on Twitter.

Maribel Lopez – Maribel Lopez contributes to Forbes and is the CEO for Lopez Research a consulting firm that specializes in communications technologies with a heavy emphasis on the disruptive nature of mobile technologies. I’d recommend following her on Twitter.

Ed Featherston - Ed Featherston is an Enterprise Architect expert at Collaborative Consulting,  a business and information technology services firm that provides full lifecycle support to architect, plan, and implement technology-driven solutions. Catch his latest updates on Twitter.

1) What are your top 3 hints for CIOs dealing with enterprise mobility in 2015?

Chris Hazelton (451 Research):

For all IT projects in 2015, if not mobile first – at the very least mobile compatible. It is a lot to ask for IT to go mobile first, particularly when users are not quite ready to ditch their laptops. That said, there will be significant growth in enterprise mobile apps in 2015 (but see question #3 below).
Embrace business unit development of mobile apps – while at the same time providing a path to consistency for app development and provisioning across the company.

BYOD is not all its cracked up to be. There are very rarely cost savings from BYOD. For companies and divisions of companies that are serious about mobile – the cost saving from not buying the device will not offset some of the challenges that come with heterogeneous device environments. We may see companies standardizing on a popular consumer device to alleviate security and management concerns.

Maribel Lopez (Lopez Research):

Job one: Securing content that gets mobile enabled.
Job two: Prioritizing what needs to be mobile enabled and defining the best part of apps work flows to mobile enable.
Job three: Finding a way to scale mobile app development.

Ed Featherston (Collaborative Consulting):

Focus on user experience not the device. People are mobile and the devices are simply the conduit. Whether it’s employees or customers, we are a mobile society and devices are the tools that help the ‘mobile individual’ be more productive. Work with the users to understand how they work and provide value.

Don’t just play defense. Many enterprise mobile strategies are nothing more than protection from mobile devices. System and data security are an important part of any enterprise mobility strategy, but should not be the only part. Defense only strategies also perpetuate the perception of IT as the ‘group that says no’. Your strategy should encompass the ecosystem, balancing value and risk, and explaining the tradeoffs to the business. Mobility strategy is not optional; it’s the price of admission.

The mobile genie is out of the bottle. If you don’t have a mobility strategy in place, shadow IT groups will form and develop one independently of IT. You must work with users, provide value, and explain the benefits and risks. A successful strategy is developed with the business and finds the right balance for your company.

2) 2014 was a big year for wearables, but what’s your forecast on wearable in the enterprise for 2015?

Ed Featherston (Collaborative Consulting): 

Wearables is a very broad term that can mean different things to different folk. The business use cases for enterprise wearables tend to be very industry specific, such as healthcare, fitness, public safety and potentially even field service and repair. In 2015 we will start seeing early adoption and pilots of various  types of wearable technologies, especially in those industries

  • Healthcare & Fitness –The ability to monitor an individual’s health (heart rate, blood pressure,  glucose, etc.) and provide feedback to that individual or healthcare provider is one of the fastest growing areas of the wearable technology. Expect this trend to continue strongly in 2015.
  • Public safety – One area that can make a strong business case for heads up displays (e.g. Google Glass) is public safety. Prototype applications are being developed for firefighters to show blueprints of buildings as then enter them and also provide visuals and health monitoring. In law enforcement, body cams and heads up displays can provide up to date information and record events, field service repair.
  • Heads up displays are being explored in field service and repair, especially in the petroleum industry, where hands on repair while referencing critical data could have a huge impact.

Maribel Lopez (Lopez Research):

Google glass as a concept will live on but another company will make it a reality. I’ve attached a wearables report:

  • While other research reports focused on consumer wearable adoption, the September 2014 Lopez Research survey asked 300 enterprise IT leaders for their options on wearable use within their companies. In our survey, we defined wearables as smart watches, wristbands, and glasses. We omitted heads up displays and badge devices.
  • Nine months ago, only three percent of the organizations that we interviewed were interested in wearable technology in the enterprise
  • Today, over a third (34%) of the companies we interviewed are interested in using wearables while only five percent were evaluating wearables. None of the companies in our survey had deployed wearables.

Chris Hazelton (451 Research):

In 2015 we will see the initial role out of Google Glass deployments in the healthcare space that will eventually exceed 200k devices. An unrelated example use case in hospitals is with new mothers that have complications can’t often visit their baby in the neonatal intensive care unit (NICU) for several days. Today, hospitals are using iPads with Skype. Wearables will improve this interaction significantly as mothers can get a first person view of holding their child remotely from the safety of they hospital bed.

3) What do you think the top mobile priorities are in 2015, vs 2014?

Chris Hazelton (451 Research):

Taking control of enterprise apps in 2015 more so than 2014. We will see greater enterprise app usage in 2015 driven by screen size – but why in 2015 and not earlier? The iPhone is the most popular enterprise device (in the US). With Apple’ iPhone 6 pairing large screen smartphones with the most popular app platform for enterprise development, we will see greater demand for smartphone apps in 2015. To put this in perspective the iPhone 6 Plus screen area is equal to more than two iPhone 4S screens (they’re still out there in large numbers), as its screen real-estate is 128% larger than the iPhone 4S, and 95% larger than the iPhone 5S (iPhone 6 is two-thirds larger than the 4S, and 42% larger than 5S). This significant additional screen real estate will allow employees to get work done on their enterprise smartphones with enterprise apps.

Ed Featherston (Collaborative Consulting):

  • Embrace mobile – It is critical for business success. Your business users already have and will bypass IT if you don’t help them obtain business value from the mobile workforce and customer base.
  • Understand the data impact – Mobile tech and wearables result in more inbound and outbound data. Who owns the data? Where is the data stored? What will you do with the data? Lots of data with no analytics just consumes bandwidth and storage.
  • Be ready to change – Accept the fact that the plans and priorities you define could be turned on their head overnight. Technology changes are moving at breakneck speeds, and you need to be nimble enough to adjust course quickly.

Maribel Lopez (Lopez Research):

Mobilizing apps, getting content on to apps (MCM), securing apps not just devices.  Over 70% of the companies we interviewed said they’d be mobile enabling 10 or more apps in2015 So a big shift from email to enabling apps and processes that matter. 75% said security was a top concern .

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