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  • It wasn't that long ago that the CIO's place in the C-suite was questioned, and the role was marginalized by other executives who felt CIOs should just focus on software and hardware. Well, that attitude is nothing compared to the beating chief information security officers (CISOs) take in a recent survey conducted by ThreatTrack Security. The security vendor surveyed more than 200 C-level executives this summer, and the findings indicate that information security leaders have some work to do if they want to earn the respect of their C-level peers. Responding executives made it clear that they do not view CISOs as equals, and they sometimes even blame CISOs for undermining the bottom line. "CISOs are often viewed simply as convenient scapegoats in the event of a headline-grabbing data breach, and they are significantly undervalued for the work they do every day to keep corporate data secure," says Julian Waits, Sr., CEO of ThreatTrack. "This perception needs to change, as CISOs—and the teams that work with them—should be viewed as drivers for business protection and growth." ThreatTrack offers some suggestions for CISOs who want to enhance their image in their company. Among these: Formalize your role; develop and communicate a strong security strategy; forge strong relationships with other C-level execs; and focus on the economic impact of risk and develop metrics that illustrate the financial impact of security efforts.

  • By virtually any standard, Pope Francis has become a beloved and effective world leader. He lives in a modest guesthouse instead of the Apostolic Palace. He wears the same cross he wore when he was a cardinal. And he gave up the famed Mercedes-Benz Popemobile in favor of a 30-year-old Renault. More important, his words and actions have gained favor with a broad range of global citizens, regardless of their faith. The book Lead with Humility: 12 Leadership Lessons from Pope Francis (Amacom/available in September) frames the life and accomplishments of the pope in the context of today's business environment. Author Jeffrey Krames explains how the pope's humble yet candid approach can be easily adopted by business leaders who need to engage their staff in order to effectively accomplish organizational goals. While Pope Francis is a very likeable figure, history will ultimately evaluate him based on what he accomplishes. The following nine takeaways for IT team leaders are adapted from the lessons highlighted in the book. Krames is CEO and president of JK Literary Services, a publishing and literary agency specializing in leadership, management and business books.

  • Have you always considered yourself management material, but are still waiting for that elusive promotion? It's a universal challenge for employees: Many professionals want to move into management, but there are obviously only so many of those positions available. And organizations need to be circumspect when it comes to making such promotions, especially when you consider the fact that four out of five people who become managers turn out to be wrong for the position, according to industry research. Clearly, if you do get that promotion, you want to be ready for the job. So you may want to read Becoming the Boss: New Rules for the Next Generation of Leaders (HarperCollins/available in September). This book provides concrete, actionable guidelines to help you attain a management position—and excel at it. Author Lindsey Pollak positions the book for Gen Y readers, but her advice on presentations, social media, project leadership and professional presence applies to a broad range of demographics. What's key is to understand that to be considered for career advancement, you have to go beyond simply doing your job well. You also have to inspire others to perform better at their jobs. The following nine takeaways were adapted from Pollak's book. She is a speaker and consultant who specializes in career topics for Millennials.

  • For many IT organizations, their resistance to adopting public clouds has given way to a more balanced perspective on the state of public cloud security.

  • The majority of U.S. companies recognize that the cloud will play an essential role in innovation in the very near future. Yet, most enterprises don't have a clear cloud migration plan in place, according to a recent survey conducted by Oxford Economics for Windstream. The accompanying survey report, titled "The Path to Value in the Cloud," reveals that organizations are falling short when it comes to getting the right performance and ROI metrics in place to measure cloud-enabling success. There are also concerns about the cloud's impact on security, costs, platform compatibility and privacy. However, overall sentiments remain upbeat, as the cloud is expected to help increase geographic market expansion, business transformation, collaboration and other strategy drivers. "Cloud computing today is fundamentally altering business processes and changing the way organizations interact with customers, partners and employees," according to the report. "This transformation brings incredible opportunities, including the ability to build a real-time enterprise where interaction and innovation flourish." A total of 350 U.S. business and technology executives took part in the research.

  • Remember when making six figures seemed like an elite level of compensation? These days, this milestone is obtainable for many technology professionals who have the right certifications, according to a survey from Global Knowledge and Penton. In the resulting "2014 IT Skills and Salary Survey" report, eight of the 10 top-ranked certifications average salaries of at least $100,000—and the other two are very close. Money isn't everything, of course. So it's encouraging to see that the skills represented here are empowering tech professionals to take leadership roles in IT project management, software development, security, virtualization, cloud computing and asset management. If you're missing these certifications, you may want to consider taking some classes. Nearly 12,000 U.S. IT and business professionals in North America took part in the research. (Note: Global Knowledge stated that some certifications, such as Cisco Certified Internetworking Expert (CCIE) and VMware Certified Design Expert (VCDX), are not included in the list due to their "exclusive nature.")

  • Have you ever considered whether it's more important to be smart or resourceful? Do you wonder why some people--and teams--constantly make the same mistakes? Are you challenged daily to deal with endless project demands that always seem to require "a brand new blueprint" to make them work? If so, then the following fall business books promise to help you sort through these and other relevant challenges. The authors represent highly respected academic institutions, including Harvard and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), as well as a long line of well-regarded business and technology leaders. One book conveys the urgency for businesses—even large enterprises—to recreate themselves with the best practices of start-ups. Another provides a more reflective perspective on the profound impact the Internet has had over the last two decades. So pick a title or two (or more) from this list and enjoy a good read that will help you become a more informed, well-rounded professional. These books are also likely to enhance your career prospects. (Release dates are subject to change, so check the listed books' Websites for updates.)

  • By 2020, the Internet of things (IoT) is expected to interconnect 26 billion computing devices in businesses, homes, cars, clothes, animals and pretty much everything else, according to Gartner. That's a thirtyfold increase over the past five years. While the potential for innovation is exciting, it's taking a toll on IT resources, according to survey research from Infoblox. Many tech professionals surveyed said that any required deployments for the IoT will become part of their existing IT network, even though most said their network is already at capacity. It doesn't help, findings reveal, that the business side often does not keep the IT organization informed about their IoT-related projects. "It's encouraging that IT professionals recognize the demands the Internet of things will make on their networks," says Cricket Liu, chief infrastructure officer at Infoblox. "But business units often get deep into the buying process before calling IT, sometimes forcing IT to scramble to provide support for devices that lack the full set of connectivity and security protocols found in established categories such as PCs, tablets and smart phones." On the positive side, IT employees feel their companies are committed to providing the budget and staffing needed to accommodate IoT-related demands. A total of 400 IT professionals from the United States and the United Kingdom took part in the research.

  • Do you think your IT organization has the right to be ranked "world class"? If so, that rating should be reflected in metrics such as the number of IT staffers employed and the need for fewer applications and platforms on a per-user basis, according to research from the Hackett Group. The accompanying report, "The World-Class Performance Advantage: How Leading IT Organizations Outperform Their Peers," reveals that top technology departments are more determined to drive business results than their counterparts are. Overall, they demonstrate a constant focus on efficiency and effectiveness, which is reflected in benefits such as a lower cost of operation and the need for fewer staff members. And with the digitization of virtually everything, the explosive growth of big data and the widespread integration of technology throughout companies, business leaders are more appreciative of the contributions of talented IT performers and organizations. "IT has become a key driver of the innovation-based growth strategy that most companies are relying on," says Erik Dorr, vice president of research for the Hackett Group. "We believe that unlocking the value of IT throughout the entire value chain is critical for companies that wish to dominate their industry. World-class IT organizations are well on their way to achieving this today." For the purposes of the report, "world class" designates IT departments that excel at completing projects that satisfy ROI projections, delivering on business expectations and deploying business process automation (BPA), among other qualities. The findings were based on the benchmark capability research of more than 100 of the Hackett Group's corporate clients, which are predominately large enterprises.

  • Remember when Oracle CEO Larry Ellison famously dismissed the cloud as "complete gibberish"? Or the days when you'd mention cloud computing in casual conversation with a non-techy friend or family member, and they'd have absolutely no clue what you were talking about? Clearly, those days are in the past, as the cloud is now a mainstream technology that is considered essential for business. Ninety-four percent of organizations surveyed are using cloud computing, and 58 percent have a hybrid (public and private) cloud strategy in place, according to the annual "2014 State of the Cloud Report" from RightScale. Given all the interest about this technology, there's been a lot of other research released about cloud investments and trends. So we've compiled the following slideshow to present a statistical snapshot of this dominant tech innovation. The information was adapted from a number of online resources, including those posted by Syntax, an IT hardware, software and services company, and SmartData Collective, an online community for data professionals.

  • The Mill implements a sophisticated storage approach to better manage the huge quantity of data it produces and to enhance availability and performance.

  • Memo to all you IT users out there: Please give your systems administrators a break. Many IT admins feel overworked and underappreciated, according to a recent survey from Ipswitch. That's not surprising, especially when findings reveal that employee tech users frequently hit a figurative panic button to request an admin to come to their rescue—often without even rebooting their machine to see if that simple step would correct the problem. The upshot: Far too many systems admins spend excessive amounts of their time putting out fires, instead of coming up with innovations and new products to make their organization more efficient and valuable to the company. "Systems administrators and other IT professionals work night and day to keep our networks and applications humming along," says Ennio Carboni, executive vice president over customer solutions at Ipswitch. "These IT heroes need to equip their colleagues with the technology and support [required] to innovate, collaborate and do their jobs. That's a lot of pressure to work under." An estimated 250 IT admins took part in the research.

  • Have you ever wondered whether you have what it takes to be one of your company's top-performers? Then consider the following checklist of must-have qualities of indispensable professionals, so you can perform a self-assessment. Sure, opinions will vary, but there are a number of core characteristics that employers and HR experts frequently cite. They include traits related to motivation, resourcefulness, knowledge base, time management and a team focus. Few workers can honestly claim to score "10s" on every quality highlighted here, but everyone can identify where on this list they shine and where they need to improve. Our top-performer qualities were adapted from a number of online postings, including those contributed by Laura Stack, author of Execution IS the Strategy (Berrett-Koehler/available now), and (through LinkedIn.com) Kevin Daum, an entrepreneur and marketing consultant. "It takes a lot to recruit and maintain top talent," Daum writes. "As an employer, I have always been grateful for those special employees who come along and just get it. They understand the power of cause and effect, drive the company forward, and know exactly what they need to do for advancement and rewards."

  • Increasing workloads and the ubiquitous presence of technology at work and home are combining to put more pressure on employees to remain always available, according to a recent survey from Randstad U.S. Many workers feel that they have to remain accountable when they're on vacation or sick at home. In fact, a notable share reported that they don't even use all of their available days off because they'd feel too guilty about shirking responsibilities if they did. Given this situation, managers should pay attention to research that indicates workers are less engaged on the job and morale is on the decline in the workplace. As a result, many workers expect to seriously consider offers from new employers in the near future. "Helping employees balance work and personal life remains a pain point for many U.S. companies," says Jim Link, chief human resources officer at Randstad North America. "With technology blurring workday boundaries, employees can easily slip into a pattern of being 'always available,' especially if their boss or co-workers engage in business after hours." More than 2,255 U.S. professionals took part in the research.

  • It's no surprise to business and IT leaders that cyber-security risks have reached alarming levels, but a recent report from Unisys and the Ponemon Institute has unveiled some shocking research about the state of cyber-security in critical infrastructure industries. This situation has serious repercussions for the global economy, as well as for national security. According to the report, "Critical Infrastructure: Security Preparedness and Maturity," nearly 70 percent of the companies surveyed—organizations that are responsible for the world's power, water and other critical functions—acknowledged at least one security breach that led to the loss of confidential information or disruption of operations over the past 12 months. "The findings of the survey are startling, given that these industries form the backbone of the global economy and cannot afford a disruption," noted Dr. Larry Ponemon, chairman and founder of the Ponemon Institute. "While the desire for security protection is apparent among these companies, not nearly enough is actually being done to secure critical infrastructure against attacks." The survey was based on a Web survey of 599 respondents from 13 countries in the oil and gas, utilities, alternative energy and manufacturing industries from April to May 2014.