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  • Is your technology organization taking a "zero tolerance" position on unplanned downtime? If so, it's joining a very big club, as the vast majority of IT professionals feel that zero downtime is mission-critical. Unfortunately, most companies undergo an unexpected downtime at least several times a year, according to a recent survey from SUSE, the provider of the enterprise Linux distribution. And the stakes are very high: Among survey respondents at organizations that experienced unplanned downtime for their most important technology function, the average economic impact of the incident exceeded $800,000. "System downtime—particularly unplanned downtime—negatively affects organizations of all types and sizes, limiting growth, reducing revenue and affecting productivity," says Ralf Flaxa, vice president of engineering for SUSE. "CIOs and IT professionals recognize the need to reduce downtime, and they should work with software and hardware vendors that share their commitment to making near-zero downtime a reality." A total of 105 global IT professionals took part in the research.

  • If all our old and disposable devices—along with the gazillions of batteries we use to power them—end up in landfills, we're headed for a colossal waste problem.

  • It's shocking how little effort is often placed on mastering the art of business communication and keeping up with communication trends and technologies.

  • As reported by Baseline numerous times, the competition to hire top tech talent is getting brutal. But if you do end up landing that special performer—as a manager, team leader, analyst, developer or programmer—you may face challenges that seldom come up with the majority of workers. And, be warned, the challenges may try your patience—and your sanity. Hotshot tech professionals are often very aware that they're much more skilled than the rest of the staff, and they may eventually conclude that they'd rather "do their own thing" than work as part of a team. They may even challenge your authority and be convinced that they can do your job better than you can. Even if a superstar has a team-oriented attitude, he or she might jump ship after a short time if a sweeter offer came along. In a section of the recent book, The 27 Challenges Managers Face: Step-by-Step Solutions to (Nearly) All of Your Management Problems (Jossey-Bass/available now), author Bruce Tulgan provides insights and best practices for supervising, engaging and retaining top-notch employees. What's important, he writes, is to demonstrate a sincere regard for a superstar's capabilities and value, while working together on an extended plan for his or her future success. Tulgan is founder of Rainmaker Thinking, a management training firm. The following takeaways about managing a superstar are adapted from his book and should help you deal with the challenges you're sure to face.

  • Not every IT employee can develop into a leader of technology transformation, but you're more likely to get to that level if you know which steps to take. The book Leading Digital: Turning Technology into Business Transformation (Harvard Business Review Press/available now) offers a wide range of strategies and actions that professionals can pursue to become a digital authority. To further illustrate the best practices to follow, authors George Westerman, Didier Bonnet and Andrew McAfee feature real-life examples from organizations such as Burberry, Caesars Entertainment, Lloyds Banking Group and Nike. The book also includes original research that helps define a "digital master." In essence, the authors explain, digital masters excel at both the "what" of technology and the "how" of leading change. "Neither dimension is enough on its own," they write. "Taken together, they combine to give digital masters a clear advantage over their competitors." Westerman is a research scientist with the MIT Sloan Initiative on the Digital Economy. Bonnet is a global practice leader at Capgemini Consulting and executive sponsor for Capgemini Consulting's Digital Transformation program. McAfee is the associate director of the Center for Digital Business at the MIT Sloan School of Management. The following 11 ways to develop digital leadership are adapted from their book.

  • The world's deepest underwater observatory, the Aloha Cabled Observatory, relies on sophisticated IT systems to manage remote systems and a wave of data.

  • The majority of organizations today have transitioned at least some of their IT and business functions to an outsourcing and/or shared services model, according to a recent survey from KPMG LLP and HfS Research. And this trend is likely to grow over the next two years, findings indicate. The resulting report, "The State of Services & Outsourcing in 2014: Things Will Never Be the Same," states that enterprise leaders are seeking better, more standardized IT and business processes, improved automation and lower operating costs. In addition, the survey respondents are not pleased with their current state of innovation and digital sophistication. "The focus on digital outcomes has emerged, with many clients no longer viewing tactical success as their endgame," according to the report. "Whereas, in years gone by, the focus was slowly shifting from cost reduction to better global scale, the onus on clients is to move the conversation to one of better analytical capability, more savvy and creative support talent, and access to better tools and technology. These are the new stakes." More than 1,000 professionals took part in the research. They represent a cross-section of organizations, outsourcing and shared services advisors, consultants, and business and technology outsourcing providers.

  • Developing an effective working relationship with your manager can help your productivity soar, improve your morale and enhance your career success.

  • Despite clear concerns about their abilities to secure infrastructures in a public cloud, companies continue to forge ahead with plans to run their applications in infrastructure-as-a-service (IaaS) environments. Such are the findings of a recent survey of 363 information security and infrastructure professionals conducted by security policy-management vendor AlgoSec. The survey makes it clear that the migration of applications to public cloud infrastructures presents new challenges for the IT and security professionals and executives charged with protecting applications and data—challenges that will have to be overcome with more frequency."Network security in public IaaS is fundamentally different compared to traditional on-premise data centers, which results in the myriad of operational, security and compliance challenges highlighted in this survey," says Nimmy Reichenberg, vice president of marketing and strategy at AlgoSec. "As organizations look to strategically adopt public IaaS, they must ensure they have holistic visibility and a platform that can manage their network security policy consistently across their entire environment."

  • Global manufacturer Flow International needed greater network efficiency, so it turned to WAN optimization as a service to boost performance and lower costs.

  • A significant share of IT leaders liken today's "application economy" to a disruptive force of nature, according to a recent survey conducted by Vanson Bourne for CA Technologies. The accompanying report, "How to Survive and Thrive in the Application Economy," demonstrates how customer demand and competitive considerations are pressuring IT organizations to generate more apps, faster than ever. The majority of survey respondents said that they have either purchased or will acquire new software to increase their app-delivery capabilities, as these investments are now considered a "must have" to keep up with business-based expectations. "There is clear evidence that enterprises of all sizes, in all markets, have to embrace the application economy, and place software development and delivery at the center of their business strategy," says John Michelsen, CTO at CA Technologies. "Business success is tied to application performance, and the ability of a business to drive growth is no longer just about the products or services they deliver, but increasingly about a complete software-driven experience." The report divides organizations into "leaders" and "laggards" to represent differences in their responses to the app economy, noting that the former group is growing revenue at more than twice the rate of the latter. A total of 1,450 global senior IT leaders took part in the research.

  • Research shows that only 14 percent of companies have a female CEO, and women make up only 20 percent of the C-suite but fill 55 percent of administrative jobs.

  • Starting an information lifecycle governance program and improving your organization’s information economics will take time, commitment and resources. 

  • A significant number of employees say they've been bullied on the job, according to a recent survey from CareerBuilder. Many have even left their company due to the problem, and a stunningly high percentage of physically disabled workers say they've been bullied at work—a finding that seems hard to fathom. What defines bullying? While often a gray area, it typically involves what CareerBuilder describes as a "gross lack of professionalism, consideration and respect" that involves "intimidation, personal insults or behavior that is more passive-aggressive." Whatever the form, these practices appear to affect a lot of professionals, regardless of their background or organizational standing. "Bullying impacts workers of all backgrounds, regardless of race, education, income and level of authority within an organization," says Rosemary Haefner, vice president of human resources at CareerBuilder. "Many of the workers who have experienced this don't confront the bully or elect not to report the incidents, which can prolong a negative work experience that leads some to leave their jobs." Clearly, bullying is a serious workplace issue that management must address. More than 3,370 employees took part in the research.

  • For companies to succeed in the future, they will have to meet the high standards and requirements that Millennials have for mobile technologies and functions. For example, a significant percentage of young adults in the workforce want to use their smartphone's camera to perform daily tasks, such as depositing checks, signing up for health insurance and paying bills, according to a recent survey from Mitek. Why wouldn't they, when they use cameras to record virtually every aspect of their lives? Given the dominance of image-driven capabilities on mobile tools, IT departments should start thinking—now, rather than later—about how to adapt their consumer-facing services to accommodate camera-based interactions, rather than asking customers to manually type information into a field. "While it shouldn't be surprising that [Millennials'] smartphones never leave their sides, we also found that the role of the camera on a mobile device cannot be minimized," says James DeBello, Mitek's president and CEO. "The love of snapping selfies could be written off as a fad, but Millennials are telling us that this is how they want to bank, shop, find health care and enroll in classes." More than 1,000 U.S. Millennials took part in the research.