What-CIOs-Need-to-Excel-in-2015

As technology continues to evolve rapidly, so does the role of the Chief Information Officer (CIO). Like many other positions, the demands and responsibilities of this role are rising to meet the fast-paced changes throughout the industry. What is important for today’s CIOs — and what may be less important than it used to be?

Here’s a look at the future of the CIO role, for 2015 and beyond.

CIOs will be less tech-savvy, more boardroom-ready

Traditionally, the role of any IT professional has required high levels of technological skill. But in the modern business landscape, where every organization regardless of industry has an IT infrastructure to maintain, the technical side of a business is no longer separate — it’s an integral component of every department, and increasingly important to shareholders, partners, and customers.

The CIO of the (near) future will rely less on technical skill, and more on leadership and persuasion. CIOs will be responsible for gaining buy-in and getting the green light from shareholders and the C-suite, and for ensuring a strong business-IT alignment across the organization. These leaders can come from any background — not just IT.

Speed and agility are critical

Successful CIOs in 2015 will be able to move at the speed of technology. CIO strategies will incorporate high degrees of agility and scalability to accommodate the latest advances, leading organizations through massive transformations from companies that have tech departments, to world-class digital companies that also operate in the physical space.

The CIO of tomorrow understands that the competitive technology curve is moving away from strong IT skills and traditional IT services, and toward emerging digital business technologies in the social, mobile, analytics, and cloud spaces. Cutting-edge strategies in these areas will be vital to the success of any organization, particularly as big data evolves toward more practical uses and substantially increased ROI.

CIOs will adopt a customer point of view

The traditional role of the CIO has been internally focused. CIOs tend to consider internal operations and supporting functions, while leaving external impacts and customer-facing decisions to marketing and sales. But the new CIO will understand that the market is shifting toward customer-centric technologies and infrastructure decisions — and a customer-first attitude is essential for success.

Personalization, market segmentation, and targeting strategies must start at the foundational level in order to be effectively driven by the latest technologies. In 2015, successful CIOs will transition legacy skill sets to the new digital reality, and develop an outside-in view of an organization’s technology. Keeping up with the speed of the modern market will require massive changes in the mindsets of IT leaders as the focus shifts from maintaining internal functions, to streamlining external operations and creating a flawless customer experience.

For the modern CIO, success hinges on mastering the soft skills that have been regarded as the antithesis of the IT profession for decades. Exceptional communication, increased speed and agility, and strong leadership and persuasion skills will define the role of the CIO for 2015 and beyond.

 

 

What You Need to Know Before Reorganizing Your IT Department

IT reorganization is one of the biggest projects you may ever undertake as an IT manager. No matter how you approach a reorg, it’s going to cost you time, resources, and productivity. This means it’s essential to have a sound, business-oriented strategy in place before the decision to reorganize is made.

Here are the most important considerations for launching and implementing an effective IT reorganization for your company:

Know why you’re considering a reorganization

The best way to avoid potentially complex and costly mistakes is to understand the actual problems that prompted you to consider an IT reorg, and decide whether there’s another way to address those problems.

Ask yourself what you hope to accomplish with a reorganization. If your goals can be met through alternative fixes, try implementing the less disruptive solutions first.

If alternatives fail, or if reorganization is the clear answer, then it’s time to talk strategy.

Decide where to start

IT reorganization is a measure that’s intended to solve problems with the organization’s tech department. This means you need a thorough understanding of not just the problems themselves, but the issues they’re causing throughout the organization.

The first step in building a reorg strategy is to communicate — with your IT team, with key stakeholders, and with C-level management. Your approach may vary depending on the parties involved, but the goal is to same: to open conversations and gather input on pain points affecting various parts of the company, and IT areas that could stand improvement.

Gauge your reasons for reorganizing

There are several legitimate reasons to undertake IT reorganization. Here are some of the most common:

  • Your technology is an island: In today’s highly connected business environment, insular IT departments simply won’t survive. Bryan Kirschner, director of the Apogee Institute, indicates three must-have qualities for successful IT: outside-in, cloud-first, and mobile-centric. If your organization lacks these qualities, a reorganization may be the right solution.
  • IT is failing to deliver results: This is one of the most obvious reasons to consider a reorganization, but it’s also one that requires the most caution. If your IT department regularly misses deadlines and exceeds budgets, a reorg may be called for — but only if there’s no other way to fix these problems.
  • You’re new at the helm: If you’re a newly appointed IT leader, whether you’ve been promoted or arrived from another company, you may be itching to make sweeping changes. Depending on the actual situation, this may be a good idea — just be sure it’s the right one. Reorganizing simply because “it’s been a while since the last one” is never a good strategy.
  • The company mission refocuses on new technology: Every business in every industry today needs technology to thrive. If your organization is facing major changes to the way technology impacts your daily operations — such as migrating from single-channel to omni-channel customer experiences — reorganization is almost certainly the right choice.

Obtain buy-in at the C-level and within your team

If you don’t have key personnel on board, your chances of successfully reorganizing will plummet. As with any business initiative, C-level buy-in can make or break an IT reorganization — so make sure to involve them from the start, and maintain transparency by sharing your objectives throughout the process.

You’ll also need to involve your IT team, in order to keep morale elevated and maintain productivity during the often difficult and lengthy reorganization. Keeping your team involved and informed not only helps to decrease the stress that always comes with change, but also helps them feel they have a stake in the success of the reorg.

With thorough planning and communication, you can roll out an IT reorganization smoothly and effectively, and enjoy the benefits of a streamlined IT department for the entire organization. If you need help with this, or any, IT procedure, contact the experts at The Armada Group.

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Published in IT Infrastructure

 

Securing Your Personal Data Online

Throughout the digital shift, data breaches have been a serious and ongoing problem. Recent large-scale attacks resulted in malware-infected payments terminals and tens of millions of stolen card numbers from chain stores like Home Depot and Target. Part of the reason for these thefts is that, with the current magnetic stripe system, card information is stored inside payment terminals in an unencrypted form.

But technologies like tokenization and near field communication (NFC) are making secure data possible — and Apple may be leading the way to substantially heightened online security with the launch of their new mobile payment system.

How Apple Pay works

The latest phones from Apple, the iPhone 6 and iPhone 6 Plus, are equipped with a mobile payment system that lets users pay for purchases in stores quickly and conveniently, right from their phones.

This payment system uses multiple security features to protect payment information. The first is Touch ID, Apple’s biometric identification system already used in previous iPhones that identifies users by thumbprint. The second is NFC communication, which eliminates the magnetic stripe interface that is one of the leading reasons for security breaches.

But the most important security feature for Apple Pay is tokenization. The technology stores a 16-digit proxy number on a security chip inside the phone, rather than your actual payment card number. This “token” number is given to the retailer at the point of sale, and the retailer sends the token to the card issuer. Then, a trusted third party converts the token to the payment card number and sends it to the issuer — meaning the retailer never receives the actual card number.

The tokens also incorporate unique, transaction- and user-specific data, which prevents them from being reused even if they’re stolen.

Simplifying the user experience could lead to widespread adoption

In a recent keynote speech, Apple CEO Tim Cook demonstrated how easy it is to pay with this solution: Users simply hold their thumb on the Touch ID sensor and tap the phone against a payment terminal. The entire transaction takes only seconds, and is substantially more secure than magnetic stripe transactions — or even other mobile payment solutions.

Apple has always excelled at ease of use for its technologies, and the company’s entry into the mobile payment market could prompt the competition to step up their games. The more mobile payment providers offering easy-to-use solutions, the more retailers will adopt systems that accept these types of highly secure payments. In the time since Apple Pay was launched, competitor Google Wallet has already seen significant growth in usage and adoption from both customers and retailers.

Contactless NFC payment systems could provide the level of security required to make data breaches a thing of the past, especially if other providers adopt tokenization technologies to enhance security. Consumer data will be safer online, and the cumbersome and risky magnetic stripe system may be headed for obsolescence.

With Apple leading the way, widespread adoption of mobile payment solutions has a real chance of occurring — and the competition is sure to follow suit. If you want to know more about the future of personal data security or how it applies to your company, contact the IT experts at The Armada Group.

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Can You Work from Home and be Productive

Working from home is a dream for many IT professionals. It’s great to imagine reducing your commute to a few steps down the hallway, wearing pajamas to work, and never having to deal with office politics again — not to mention being able to set your own schedule and rates, and making enough money to have an in-ground pool as your office.

But the fact is, while the work-at-home lifestyle is portrayed as easy and carefree, it’s not so easy to actually work while you’re at home, surrounded by endless distractions. It takes some serious discipline and practice to stay focused, but it can be done.

Here’s a great collection of must-read advice for staying productive while you work from home.

Let go of telecommuting myths

When you work from home, you’ll be your own boss and have plenty of free time — or will you? It’s important to realize, especially when you’re first starting out, that you’ll have to work hard for several different bosses on all the freelance IT projects you take to reach success (but ultimately, you have the final say in what you do or don’t work on).

Microsoft’s Crabby Office Lady takes a look at common telecommuting myths, and offers tips on getting work-from-home to work for you.

Learn the 10 Commandments (of working from home)

From actually getting ready for work in the morning — even though you’re not going anywhere — to making time for your physical and mental needs, this checklist is a must-read for anyone considering or already working in a telecommuting environment. The bonus commandment also helps you maintain your friendships, which will be invaluable when the isolation of working from home gets to you.

Thou shalt read and remember the 10 Commandments of Working From Home.

Find out if you’re the work-from-home type

Telecommuting is not the right choice for everyone. If you don’t work well without direction, or depend on interaction with other people to get you through the day, you may flounder when the only person holding you accountable and keeping you going is you. You also need to have a real working space, and the ability to separate your personal and professional lives.

Find out why Entrepreneur.com says that Working From Home is Hard Work.

Get the lowdown on eating well at home

A lot of people who work from home find their eating habits dropping drastically into the poor to disastrous range — they might end up constantly snacking at the computer, or “forget” to eat for hours (or days). It takes a little planning, but balancing your nutritional needs with your work-from-home lifestyle is essential for keeping up motivation and productivity.

Lifehacker discusses how to eat well while working from home.

Avoid becoming a hermit

Another common problem for telecommuters is the sense of isolation. Spending the majority of your day alone, when email may be your only contact with other people, can take a toll on your mental health, creativity, and ability to produce. Fortunately, there are many ways you can alleviate the isolation and still work from home successfully.

Inc.com discusses this and more with 8 Ways to Be Happy and Productive in Your Home Office.

Know how to work from home…with kids

For a parent, working from home can be a fantastic opportunity to earn a living without having to shell out for daycare and juggle transportation. The ability to have a flexible schedule and be there for your kids is priceless — but making things work when you’re surrounded by little ones can take some extra effort.

One work-from-home mom shares her secrets to success in How to work from home without losing your mind.

Discover your personal productivity boosters

Everyone has different work habits. The best way to be successful as a telecommuter is to find what makes you most productive, and work it into your routine. There are plenty of out-of-the-box strategies that can help you keep things running smoothly in your home office.

Check out these productive work-at-home hacks from Lifehack to get started.

If you need help implementing successful work-from-home tactics, or are searching for a career with flexible hours and telecommuting options, contact the recruiting experts at The Armada Group today.

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Published in IT Infrastructure

 

Can Using Apps Improve Your Resume

An updated resume is an important tool for anyone, even if you’re not looking for a job right now. It’s a good idea to keep your resume continually fresh — noting new accomplishments or certifications, updating quantified results, adding portfolio links, and clearing off items that are no longer relevant. You should also have your resume handy and accessible, especially if you’re currently job hunting.

The good news is that you can do all of this right from your smartphone or tablet. Here are five apps that can help you create and maintain a recent, polished resume that’s ready to send or show to prospective employers.

1. Microsoft Word

The overwhelming top choice for resume format is .doc or .docx, which makes Microsoft Word an obvious choice for resume-generating apps. There are two ways to get MS Word on your phone: Microsoft Office Online, which can be accessed through a browser, or Microsoft Office Mobile, a free read-only app that you can use to create and edit documents with an Office 365 subscription ($7 per month).

For most users, the mobile app is the better choice. It’s a slimmed-down version of Word designed specifically for smaller screens, with an intuitive interface and mobile-friendly controls. The best feature of MS Word is the wide selection of resume templates that make resume-building on the go easy.

2. Resume Builder Pro (Android)

This Android app lets you build a resume quickly and easily with a database-driven approach. The app gives you individual sections to populate with information, such as Objective, Skills, and Education, and then generates a clean, professional-looking resume in .docx format — which is emailed to the address of your choice.

Potential drawbacks to this app: You have to move through multiple screens to make minor changes, and any formatting changes you make in Word will have to be re-applied after you edit through the app.

Resume Builder Pro is priced at $4.99 for the Android.

3. Resume Builder Pro (iOS)

While this app has the same name as the Android app above, it’s not the same program — though it does have similar features. Resume Builder Pro / Pocket Resume for the iPhone and iPad also generates database-driven resumes from individual sections you fill in. An extra feature this app includes is the ability to pull and integrate information from your LinkedIn account.

While the app doesn’t generate resumes in Word format, you can export to Dropbox, directly to a printer, or as a PDF to email. Resume Builder Pro for iOS costs $3.99.

4. LinkedIn apps

LinkedIn has become the essential social network for any job seeker. To potential employers, you might seem suspect if you don’t have a detailed LinkedIn profile available. And while LinkedIn offers basically the same information as your resume, but in a different format, you don’t have to write your resume twice to use it.

With LinkedIn’s profile editing interface, you can import an existing resume in a few clicks. The business-oriented social network also offers a suite of free apps to help with your resume and job search, including a mobile LinkedIn interface, Connected, Job Search, Pulse, Recruiter, and SlideShare.

5. LinkedIn Resume Builder

This experimental software from LinkedIn Labs offers to turn your existing LinkedIn profile into a functional resume. The LinkedIn Resume Builder offers a variety of templates, and you can share your resume through an exported PDF or a custom link. You can also edit the resume after it’s generated from your profile.

If you’re already active on LinkedIn and have a detailed profile, this free tool is an easy way to create a professional resume quickly from your computer or mobile device.

For more information on how to best build a professional resume, contact the career experts at The Armada Group. We know what top IT companies are looking for in candidates, and can help you build a resume to suit their expectations. 

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Thursday, Sep 11 2014

IT’s Role in Clean Energy

 

ITs Role in Clean Energy

As technology continues to advance at a rapid pace, there are massive changes taking place in the energy and utility industry. The energy grid that’s currently in use has been around for a long time — and the aging infrastructure is costly, inefficient, and unreliable. The world is moving toward standardized clean energy technology, and smart grids are at the heart of this movement.

There are a number of different technologies currently fueling growth in the smart grid industry, in both core and grid-edge areas. These include:

  • Smart meters, sensors, and software
  • Transmission gear technologies
  • Distribution automation through flexible, intelligent distribution systems
  • Solar photovoltaic (PV) technology
  • Charging stations for electric vehicles
  • Demand response systems

Here are some facts about smart grids, and the role IT will play in the future of cleaner, more intelligent energy distribution, storage, and management.

Smart grids are substantially more efficient

The longer something has been in use, the more likely it is to fail. This is the case with the current energy grid — failure is more frequent, and it costs everyone. While the existing electricity system has 99.97 percent reliability, power interruptions and outages still occur, and cost Americans an average of $150 billion or more each year — roughly $500 per person.

Aging infrastructures, retiring professionals, and the increasing use of solar and other distributed power generation resources are leading to gaps in safety and stability. Smart grids are becoming increasingly necessary to support — and eventually replace — a grid that is already relying more on newer technologies to sustain operation.

Companies are creating smart grid-based services

For hardware and software vendors, smart grid technology offers the potential for a range of management services that will benefit consumers and the energy industry. Examples of smart grid-enabled service include:

  • Home energy management
  • Asset management and condition monitoring
  • Demand response services
  • Advanced metering infrastructures
  • Automation for distribution and substation communications
  • Software solutions and analytics

A market forecast from Navigant Research predicts that the global market for services based on smart grid technology will grow from $1.7 billion in 2014, to over $11.1 billion by 2023.

Workforce development is vital to smart grid success

Many STEM-related careers are already experiencing talent shortages. In the coming years, this is expected to increase — and jobs relating to smart grids will be among the most pressing. To meet this need, the U.S. Department of Energy backs and promotes the Consortium for Electric Reliability Technology Solutions, which works with universities and other institutions to advance the smart grid through the development of new methods and technologies.

One of the largest categories in the smart grid industry is likely to be the market for IT solutions, and IT smart grid jobs will be in high demand. From transmission upgrades to analytics solution, smart grid IT is expected to grow as an industry to more than $23 billion by 2023.

Data scientists who work with smart grid technologies will also be in high demand, but many utility companies will be unable to afford the creation of a dedicated data scientist role. For this reason, some are turning to outsourced solutions that allow multiple utility clients to leverage one expert — a strategy that is likely to become more popular as smart grid technology spreads.

For more information on IT’s role in clean energy, or to find candidates who understand the necessity for implementing this type of technology in your workplace, contact The Armada Group today.

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Thought Leader Series with Treb Ryan, CEO of OpSource

treb ryan opsource400Treb’s perspective on the Cloud hype was fascinating. He had a simple no nonsense approach to explaining it last month when we sat down to discuss current industry trends and how Cloud is affecting businesses.

“First of all not many people even know why it’s called Cloud. When you look at the structure and architecture of the system you realize that it’s because of the way people drew the diagram and the internet was on the top “in the Cloud.”’Simply put . . .  it’s just a term for the internet. He notes that there are a few major key elements to helping deliver the Cloud: Availability, immediacy and expandability.

In the Silicon Valley today, we are undoubtedly seeing the “second act” of the mid-to-late 90’s dotcom IT hiring boom, with major technological innovation and investment in cloud, social, mobile, and business services software markets.  The Mercury News reports that venture capital funding in Silicon Valley in Q4 2011, totaled $3.028 billion, with a healthy $1.06 billion invested in the software sector, and $860 million in the business services sector.  Joint Venture Silicon Valley notes a 17% increase in VC investment in cloud computing, medical devices, and clean technology over the last 12 months.  According to the San Jose Mercury News, 2011 represented “the highest level of investment in Internet companies since the dot-com bust” and 2011 Silicon Valley employment was up 3.8% over 2010.
I just finished reading an article in a February issue of Business Journal entitled, “Young Silicon Valley Entrepreneurs Lament Talent Crunch”. Armada’s clients, both large and small, encounter the same recruiting and staffing challenges noted in Shana’s article on the young entrepreneurs participating in a recent Stanford Panel discussion. I agree with Corey Resse’s contention that, “Recruiting is the most challenging thing in today’s market. There’s no one silver bullet in this market. Try everything.”  I would add that challenge is not unique to today’s market as it is ALWAYS difficult to find exceptional talent and you should be partnering with the right providers to ensure you are securing extraordinary talent.
Published in Hiring Managers