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  • More than ever, IT professionals are helping their organizations increase agility. For example, they are deploying advanced technology tools to better anticipate business changes and overhaul outdated processes. Beyond that, agile companies are embracing diverse backgrounds and skill sets, while giving their employees and teams the resources and freedom needed to make quick, informed decisions. To determine what separates agile frontrunners from followers, Accenture conducted a comprehensive survey of global senior executives. The resulting report, "Traits of Truly Agile Businesses," covers the deployment of analytics, social media, data sharing and other tech-related functions, in addition to specifics on organizational shifts. It also divides companies into the categories of "leaders" and "laggards." Leaders are defined as organizations that increased sales more than 10 percent in the last fiscal year, while laggards are experiencing sales declines. "Leaders stand apart from other companies on nearly every dimension of agility," according to the report, "from speeding up decision making, to knowing what is strategic and what is operational, to aggressively investing in and using analytics to run their organizations." An estimated 1,300 global C-suite and senior-level executives took part in the research.

  • It seems that far too many information workers still don't fully understand the importance of keeping their log-in details confidential. In a recent study of 2,000 white-collar employees in the United States and the United Kingdom, security software vendor IS Decisions found that alarming numbers of workers don't believe their log-in details represent a security threat. What's worse, an even greater percentage of managers feel the same way. IS Decisions' report, "From Brutus to Snowden: A Study of Insider Threat Personas," also found that age is a significant determining factor, with younger workers being much more likely to share log-ins and passwords than their older colleagues. The findings serve as a reminder to IT security teams that understanding the behavior of their own users should be one of their most important jobs. "The recurrent theme is lack of education," said IS Decisions CEO François Amigorena. "This highlights the need for a tailored approach to tackling internal security that addresses everyone in an organization, from top to bottom." The company recommends some steps for dealing with this challenge, including making employees more familiar with security policies, restricting concurrent access and instituting harsher punishments for offenders. There's also one tongue-in-cheek piece of advice: Passwords are like underwear. They should be changed often, not shared with friends, kept as mysterious as possible and not left lying around.

  • Data visualization technologies communicate large amounts of data in ways that are easier for business groups to understand, so insights can be quickly gained.

  • Organizations are increasingly moving toward hybrid cloud integration models, according to a recent survey from Technology Business Research (TBR). As a result, the hybrid cloud represents a potential $7 billion hybrid integration market this year, as IT environments are expected to move toward becoming fully hybridized, the findings state. However, the market is still far from mature, with only a minority of large enterprises currently investing in the integration required to create hybrid clouds. Clearly, the trend creates opportunities for IT professionals who can help organizations move forward with hybrid cloud strategies. "A hybrid IT environment is the end-game for cloud, with the hybrid cloud as a first step," stated one of the reports in the series, "Hybrid Cloud Customer Research." "For enterprises, hybrid cloud will increasingly become the goal, leading to purchases across the cloud services landscape and moving integration into a lynchpin role." TBR defines the hybrid cloud as a cloud infrastructure, platform or application that is composed of two or more clouds (whether private or public) that remain unique but are integrated by technologies that enable data and application movement. The research is being published in a three-part series of reports from TBR, with each report based on a survey involving 2,200 global IT purchase decision-makers.

  • Agile development is about loosening controls, operating in a more iterative way, and constantly adapting, adjusting and pivoting based on changes in the market.

  • Demand for enterprise software is soaring, according to the latest research from Gartner. The worldwide IT spending growth forecast remains reasonably healthy at 2.1 percent ($3.7 trillion) for the year, findings reveal. That's down from prior projections of 3.2 percent. A reduction in growth expectations for devices, data center systems and IT services is accounting for the slight decline. In contrast, spending in the enterprise software market is on pace to total $321 billion this year, a 6.9 percent increase from 2013.  "Price pressure based on increased competition, lack of product differentiation and the increased availability of viable alternative solutions has had a dampening effect on the short-term IT spending outlook," says Richard Gordon, managing vice president at Gartner. "However, [we] will see a return to 'normal' spending growth levels as pricing and purchasing styles reach a new equilibrium. IT is entering its third phase of development, moving from a focus on technology and processes in the past to a focus in the future on new business models enabled by digitalization." The forecast is based on an analysis of sales of thousands of vendors representing the entire range of IT products and services.

  • Both employees and senior managers feel strongly that IT departments must help them increase existing mobile technology capabilities, according to a recent survey from Aruba Networks. Providing support and resources for an all-wireless workplace remains at the top of the must-have list for organizations, as today's professionals frequently work somewhere other than the corporate office. Much of the survey focuses on the needs of what Aruba calls "GenMobile": employees in their mid-20s to mid-30s who seek a more agile, creative and connected working environment. Executives and GenMobile employees "prefer an increasingly mobile style of working, and IT organizations are feeling the pressure to adapt existing technology investments to meet their requirements," says Ben Gibson, chief marketing officer for Aruba Networks. "The workplace of the future will not only need to be right-sized to align with IT budgets, but it will also require a mobility-centric and secure wireless infrastructure—a move toward employee self-service." An estimated 1,000 global IT professionals took part in the research.

  • With numerous studies indicating that IT hiring is on the rise, it's more critical than ever for companies to get better at finding the best candidates for their job openings. Unfortunately, recent survey data accumulated by the ADP Research Institute indicates a growing chasm between job seekers and the companies recruiting them. Despite the abundance of recruiting solutions and social media platforms available to bring employers and applicants together, neither side appears to be pleased with the resulting processes—but for completely different reasons. For instance, job seekers are frustrated with how long the hiring process takes, while employers say their recruitment systems are letting them down. The bottom line, ADP contends, is that it's up to employers to create a positive experience for job seekers. "Employers need to understand that their recruiting methodologies contribute to their brand perception," said Tony Marzulli, ADP's vice president of product management for talent solutions. "Even in tight job markets, candidates are going to select those employers whose brands align most with the experiences they have come to expect as good online consumers." In other words, companies need to think of job applicants as customers and treat them accordingly. A whitepaper detailing ADP's findings, which were culled from two surveys of more than 3,000 workers in midsize and large U.S. companies, can be downloaded here.

  • One of the nation's leading financial institutions turns to a DevOps approach to speed development and improve results, enabling it to run IT as a business.

  • These practical suggestions will prepare your organization to respond quickly and effectively to what experts consider nearly inevitable: a data breach.

  • You don't have to be the smartest person in the room to become an effective team leader. But you do need to know how to bring out the best in all the individuals on your team, so the resulting "whole" brings greater value to your organization than its individual parts. The recent book, Innovation Breakdown (Post Hill Press, available now), provides insights into how to best align a team of hotshots with disparate skill sets. It's all about striking the right balance, according to author Joseph Gulfo. You have to recognize when it's time to lead and when you should allow team members to take charge. To provide further guidance, we've adapted these 10 best practices from Gulfo's book, which covers everything from dress codes to work schedules, strategic input, personal accountability and problem resolution. Gulfo is a medical doctor, and his book focuses on the conflict between health industry innovation and regulatory constraints, but the following takeaways are readily applicable to all teams. Gulfo is currently CEO of Breakthrough Medical Innovations, which specializes in health care product and commercial development.

  • The majority of worldwide organizations today are either deploying or plan to deploy platform-as-a-service (PaaS) technologies, according to a recent survey from Progress, an app development and data integration software company. These organizations are finding that PaaS is increasing productivity and innovation capabilities, while saving costs. In addition, integration turnover time is being greatly reduced. All of this supports the trend of departments—including those outside the IT organization—adopting what's called a "develop your own application" (DYOA). "It's never been easier to develop an application that can allow your business, a department or even a specific individual to be more productive, regardless of your coding skills," says Matt Robinson, vice president, of technology at Progress. "However … there's still a huge appetite to be able to improve these cycles by making them quicker and better. The benefits of using a rapid application development PaaS to improve speed and productivity should not be lost in the excitement of the DYOA age." Approximately 700 global IT decision-makers took part in the research.

  • When does a spirit of relatively harmless snarky humor give way to morale-crushing cynicism? It's a fine line, and one that an organization and its employees should never cross because cynicism can tear away at a key quality of any successful organization: trust. It's a serious concern, as more than four out of five employees surveyed do not believe their bosses are capable of being honest with them. To avoid such negative sentiments, work teams and senior leadership can deploy the following trust-building practices from Rich Karlgaard, a Silicon Valley entrepreneur who is also the publisher of Forbes and the author of The Soft Edge: Where Great Companies Find Lasting Success (Jossey-Bass/A Wiley, available now). Karlgaard stresses the fact that trustful professional environments require more than vague, general directives, such as "Be nice to your co-workers!" Instead, these environments are driven by a top-to-bottom commitment to the principles of integrity, internal accountability, and service to customers and other stakeholders. Karlgaard is a past winner of Ernst & Young's "Entrepreneur of the Year" award, and he appears as a regular panelist on the Forbes on FOX television show. His guidelines below can help build trust in your organization.

  • While hiring plans for IT workers are in a slight decline, tech professionals are increasingly leveraging the existing demand for their skills to obtain better compensation packages, according to a recent survey from Dice.com. Findings also show that a significant number of IT pros are rejecting job offers outright. As a result, managers are struggling with the large number of tech positions that remain unfilled, presenting IT employees with a potential opportunity to stand firm during salary negotiations. After all, time may be fleeting for organizations to land needed talent. "Employers have been dealing with a tight technology job market for four years," says Shravan Goli, president of Dice.com, an online jobs and career community for technology professionals. "That said, [on a recent day] more than 7,500 U.S. technology professionals updated their résumés on Dice, signaling that they are open for a change. [Companies] should be as efficient as possible in putting the slate of candidates together." More than 700 hiring managers took part in the research. As a bonus, we're including tips on negotiating for a higher salary, compiled by Lifehacker.com.

  • In today's business environment, we've pretty much killed the concept of a regular 9-to-5 workday and have debunked the perception that you can be productive only when you're in the office. And the once-ubiquitous position of secretary is now a rarity in many organizations. So, given that we've virtually eliminated these once-common facts of office life, why do we still have painfully time-consuming and unproductive conference room meetings? Nearly one-half of employees consider a glut of meetings to be the biggest waste of their time—in large part because meetings account for 37 percent of their day, according to research. With that in mind, Robert Half Management Resources conducted the following research to pinpoint exactly why too many meetings waste too much of our time. In many cases, the factors are based on a lack of focus. So, if you stick with clear rules and remain firmly outcome-driven, you're far more likely to pull off a successful meeting. To elaborate on this, we're also including best practices for avoiding the most common meeting traps. More than 400 U.S. employees took part in the research.