7 attributes every IT leader must have

Leadership has little to do with one’s title or seniority; it’s an attribute that’s earned over time through study, practice and commitment. Are you prepared to become a true leader?

Becoming a true IT leader — someone who inspires teams to consistently reach new heights — requires skills that can only be acquired over time through hard work and a commitment to succeed.

Transformational leaders are typically described as lively, passionate, engaging and energetic. Such individuals aren’t focused only on helping teams achieve their planned goals; they also work hard to help team members reach their full potential.

Becoming a respected and prized leader isn’t easy, but it’s a goal within reach of just about anyone who’s willing to commit to the task. Here are seven fundamental attributes every IT leader needs to possess — and how to acquire them.

  1. Agility
  2. Vision
  3. Empathy
  4. Steadiness
  5. Authenticity
  6. Accessibility
  7. Curiosity

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How to build a resilient IT culture

The pandemic has underscored the importance of thriving through hardship and uncertainty. IT leaders discuss how they’re adjusting their leadership practices to help foster this key IT trait for the long haul.

The word ‘resilient’ is cropping up a lot lately as a cultural cornerstone for coping with the pressures the pandemic has foisted on IT. CIOs have played a significant role in enabling organization-wide remote work strategies at speed while accelerating digital initiatives central to the business in uncertain times.

For many, the ability to shift gears, double down and navigate hardship has been a testament to an IT culture capable of withstanding and recovering quickly from difficult challenges. For others, rising to the occasion has been a crash course in resilience, offering hard-earned lessons in what it will take to thrive in IT in the months and years to come.

“The last few months have been a huge social experiment for every company around the world,’’ says Jacqui Guichelaar, CIO of Cisco, who adds that many leaders discovered their staffs can be just as productive working remotely as in the office. The upshot? Leaders must model certain behaviors in this new way of working, she says. “Traditional tactics don’t work in the new reality.”

Here, IT leaders discuss what makes an IT organization resilient, and how they are adjusting their leadership practices to ensure IT can foster this key trait for the long haul.

Put people first
Keep connected
Find common purpose
Foster career growth
Establish mutual respect
Take care of yourself as well

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7 attributes every IT leader must have

Leadership has little to do with one’s title or seniority; it’s an attribute that’s earned over time through study, practice and commitment. Are you prepared to become a true leader?

Becoming a true IT leader — someone who inspires teams to consistently reach new heights — requires skills that can only be acquired over time through hard work and a commitment to succeed.

Transformational leaders are typically described as lively, passionate, engaging and energetic. Such individuals aren’t focused only on helping teams achieve their planned goals; they also work hard to help team members reach their full potential.

Becoming a respected and prized leader isn’t easy, but it’s a goal within reach of just about anyone who’s willing to commit to the task. Here are seven fundamental attributes every IT leader needs to possess — and how to acquire them.

  1. Agility
  2. Vision
  3. Empathy
  4. Steadiness
  5. Authenticity
  6. Accessibility
  7. Curiosity

Get the details HERE

10 tips for modernizing legacy IT systems

IT modernization is a key component for establishing an agile, responsive enterprise. IT leaders lend advice on how to transform legacy tech into digital assets.

This year’s extraordinary events have accentuated the need for a modern technology environment agile and responsive enough to meet rapidly changing business dynamics — whether those are emerging revenue opportunities or work-from-home mandates.

And that means having a strategic plan for modernizing legacy apps.

“Getting rid of legacy is a perennial issue, but modernization is a top issue now more than ever,” says Diane Carco, president and CEO of management consulting company Swingtide and a former CIO.

CIOs see modernization as critical for delivering better quality software faster, running IT with more controls and insights, integrating more security, and more quickly meeting the needs of the business, according to The State of Modern Applications in the Enterprise, a 2020 report released by cloud solutions provider Ahead.

IT has plenty of work ahead to achieve those objectives, as 26% of organizations are only at the beginning stages of IT modernization, while 19% have made only moderate progress, according to The State of IT Modernization 2020 report from IDG and tech company Insight.

To move your modernization initiative forward, Carco and other leading technologists advise keeping the following 10 tips in mind.

1. Know what you have
2. Prioritize projects based on business value
3. Calculate total cost of ownership
4. Create a business-backed modernization roadmap
5. Take an incremental approach
6. Elimination is a viable option
7. Don’t shortchange governance
8. Be selective with microservices
9. Skip ahead
10. Take a product-based approach

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With IT salaries dropping, some hard-earned skills still pay

Employers are still willing to pay highly skilled IT staff a premium — but certification is making much less of a difference than it used to, a study shows.

Even with more IT workers looking for jobs in the wake of COVID-19 than were prior to the pandemic, highly skilled staff are able to demand higher pay. Increasingly, however, it’s on-the-job experience and not certifications that employers are valuing the most.

The average premium paid for tech certifications fell to 6.8% of base salary in the third quarter, the lowest in 7 years, according to Foote Partners’ latest IT Skills & Certifications Pay Index, while non-certified skills earned workers an average bonus of 9.6% of base salary, the same as in the previous quarter — and the highest in the past 20 years.

Those bonuses are all the more important to employees when, as Foote Partners found in a separate survey of IT jobs, not yet published, salaries dropped over the past year for 41% of job titles. Among those titles hardest hit are jobs in mobile platform computing, business systems analysis, .NET, digital product development, IT architecture, enterprise messaging, web systems, and SAP. Overall, across the 516 certifications the company tracks, the average premium for certifications declined by 1.5% during the quarter, and by 6.7% over the year to Oct. 1.

In some categories, notably cybersecurity, architecture and project management, the decline accelerated in the third quarter, although there was a slight increase in bonus pay offered for some certifications in networking, communications, app development and programming languages during the same period.

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6 hidden risks of IT automation

6 hidden risks of IT automation

Automation is increasingly seen as a key IT strategy for competitive advantage, but pitfalls await those who fail to heed precautions.

Across nearly every industry automation is fast becoming king. Whether it’s through IT automation, robotic process automation (RPA), artificial intelligence (AI) or some other means of eliminating or reducing manual processes, enterprises across the spectrum seek to speed up all manner of functions to remain competitive — and IT is right in the middle of this movement.

The potential benefits of automating processes can be compelling: faster completion of tasks with fewer errors and at lower costs, for example. It’s not surprising then, that demand for automation tools is on the rise.

A September 2020 report by research firm Gartner projects that global RPA software revenue will reach $1.89 billion in 2021, an increase of 20 percent from 2020. Despite economic pressures caused by the coronavirus pandemic, the RPA market is still expected to grow at double-digit rates through 2024, the firm says.

Among the key drivers for RPA deployments is the ability to improve process quality, speed, and productivity, each of which is increasingly important as enterprises aim to meet the demands of cost reduction during the crisis, Gartner says.

The report predicts that 90 percent of large organizations worldwide will have adopted RPA in some form by 2022, “as they look to digitally empower critical business processes through resilience and scalability, while recalibrating human labor and manual effort.”

Automation can also come with risks, however, if organizations don’t take the needed precautions or if they fall into bad practices. Here are some issues and strategic misfires to look out for when deploying automation in the enterprise, so you can avoid unnecessary risk.

·        Automating processes before optimizing them
·        Allowing ‘automation complacency’ to take hold
·        Poor communication among stakeholders
·        Process automation misfit
·        Overlooking end user input
·        No consideration of interaction design

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The hidden costs of outsourcing

Calculating the total cost of IT services has always been a challenge, but the changing nature of IT coupled with unexpected expenses revealed during the COVID-19 crisis could leave your organization exposed to even more surprises charges.

One of the biggest mistakes an IT organization can make when outsourcing is failing to consider the total cost of the relationship — including all the hidden costs that are likely to accrue. Historically, there has been little incentive for service providers to bring these looming financial risks out into the open, so customers must be diligent about identifying these additional expenses in order to manage or eliminate them.

“Motivated customers can take this a step further and press their potential providers for greater transparency in the sourcing process. If you want to avoid unexpected costs cropping up, push your vendor to be clear about what’s included and what to expect if the engagement flexes or scales,” says Phil Fersht, CEO of outsourcing advisory and research firm HfS Research. “More importantly, the whole industry needs to get past its transactional heritage and start pushing towards genuine partnerships that are invested in mutual success.”

Veteran IT leaders understand this. But these issues have only gotten thornier. Outsourcing customers and their providers have shifted from traditional software and infrastructure solutions to cloud and everything-as-a-service. Moreover, new ways of working have been adopted to enable agile digital transformation. Add to all that the unprecedented disruption of a global pandemic.

“As most of the hidden costs are more nuanced and exaggerated than they were two years ago, it is even more critical to ensure recipients understand the impacts, know how they manifest, and ensure there is familiarity with the desired outcomes,” says Craig Wright, managing director with business transformation and outsourcing advisory firm Pace Harmon.

As always, the onus is on the buyer to beware. To that end, here are some of the most common hidden costs likely to emerge during the course of an outsourcing engagement today.

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CIOs grapple with how to jumpstart innovation amid pandemic

IT leaders turn to emerging technologies from strategic vendors and VC partners to help keep collaboration and innovation humming in a work world gone remote due to the coronavirus.

The coronavirus pandemic has spurred a proliferation of rapid-fire transformations, with IT leaders working through punch lists of priorities aimed at preserving business continuity. But with work from home (WFH) decrees eliminating workplace tête-à-têtes, CIOs are wondering what will happen to serendipitous innovation.

As much as CIOs like to boast about IT staff productivity since they were sent home in March, simulating the water-cooler conversation that can spark fresh ideas is difficult. And humans who have glazed through scripted back-to-back Zoom sessions all day are unlikely to pivot to an ad-hoc meeting to expound on The Next Big Idea. Frustration borne by Zoom fatigue and the lack of face-to-face interaction mounts.

“This is going to prove to be very challenging,” says Craig Williams, CIO of networking company Ciena.

The pandemic could have come at a worse time

It’s hard to argue that a pandemic is well-timed, but when the coronavirus gripped the U.S., CIOs, who had met with their C-suites and boards in late 2019 to strategize their IT roadmap for 2020, were already executing on their digital strategy, says Carol Fawcett, CIO of Golden State Foods, a purveyor of condiments, dipping sauces and other foods for McDonald’s, Starbucks and other brands.

Inspired CIOs and their teams executed on their digital strategy, accelerating moves to Zoom, Microsoft Teams or another equivalent, boosting VPN licenses and network capacity and accelerating migrations to cloud software. They reprioritized projects as needed, Fawcett says.

Fresh research from the 2020 Harvey Nash/KPMG CIO Survey suggests this momentum will continue, as 47 percent of 4,200 IT leaders surveyed say COVID-19 has permanently accelerated digital transformation and adoption of emerging technology.

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The 7 most popular IT pilot projects today

The coronavirus pandemic has IT leaders shaking up IT priorities, with innovation pilots shifting to areas and technologies best suited to set up their organizations for near-term success.

Tech spending is trending downward, with multiple studies showing IT is once again being asked to do more with less.

A July report issued by research firm Gartner said worldwide IT spending in 2020 will drop 7.9 percent from last year’s figure. IDC in May predicted a 5.1 percent decline in worldwide IT spending. And a survey of 100 IT leaders from Apptio found that 80 percent feel pressure to cut IT spend, while 50 percent have already cut budgets.

CIOs are clearly tightening budgets as the pandemic and its economic fallout have forced cost-cutting measures across many organizations. Yet these same events are also driving the need for new tech-enabled services. The Apptio survey, for example, found that 63 percent of the IT leaders report an increase in demand for IT capabilities. As such, CIOs continue to move forward with innovation-aimed projects — albeit more selectively.

IDG’s CIO Tech Poll: Tech Priorities 2020 research found CIOs launching pilots across a swath of IT capabilities, with artificial intelligence/machine learning, customer experience, employee experience, business intelligence/analytics, business process management/workflow automation, cybersecurity and mobile enterprise apps being the capabilities most frequently listed.

Although the IDG poll predated the pandemic, CIOs and executive advisors say IT continues to pursue pilots in those areas, but the pilots getting the greenlight now must show they have a short time to value, lower budgets to complete, and/or have a high return on investment, says Gartner analyst and chief forecaster John-David Lovelock.

Leading tech executives have reworked their IT roadmaps to align with revised organizational strategies that reflect and respond to the unanticipated realities of 2020 and the continuing uncertainties of the era, with multiple sources and studies showing that CIOs are testing out technologies that help their organizations become more efficient and effective as well as more responsive and resilient.

“CIOs are accelerating pilots that make employees as productive as possible and that can reduce costs,” says Steve Berez, a partner at Bain & Co. and a founder of the firm’s Enterprise Technology practice. “Businesses are becoming much more agile out of necessity in the way they prioritize the piloting and innovation they’re doing.”

Here’s a rundown of popular pilot projects that CIOs are pushing forward to improve their organizations through the pandemic and beyond.

1. More advanced collaboration capabilities

2. Remote anything and everything

3. Automation

4. Technologies for improved employee experiences

5. New security paradigms

6. Tools that support optimization

7. Technologies that push forward digital transformation

For more details, go HERE

Secrets of successful business-IT co-creation

Great things happen when business and IT define and solve problems together. Here’s how to make the shift — and deliver results.

In mid-March, as social distancing became widespread in the U.S., the IT team at LogMeIn noticed some changes. LogMeIn provides remote access for people working away from the office as well as the video conferencing software GoToMeeting, so it wasn’t surprising that activity was on the rise. But the very sharp increase presented some challenges.

“The IT team runs all the contact centers for our customer care and sales teams,” says Ian Pitt, LogMeIn’s CIO and senior vice president. “We noticed our call queues were getting too big.” On top of that, he says, there were leading indicators that suggested sales were about to rise sharply as well.

Something had to be done, and fast. Pitt came together with the senior vice presidents of global sales, business operations, and customer care. The four held weekly meetings and set up a Slack channel devoted to the COVID-related demand surge. It was a problem and opportunity that had to be met with a mix of technical and non-technical solutions. “We were tracking product sales across the world,” Pitt says. “This turned into IT reviewing all the contact center infrastructure.” At the time, like many of its customers, LogMeIn had itself just moved its customer care team to working from home, which posed its own set of challenges.

The customer care SVP reported that many of the calls to the contact center were from frustrated customers who needed to buy more licenses as soon as possible but couldn’t get through to the sales team because of the volume of incoming calls. To solve that problem, the COVID demand response team set about increasing the company’s sales force from about 800 people to its current size of about 1,000.

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