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  • No organization can afford to ignore the potential of a disaster that could shut down operations. The results can be devastating. Consider these statistics: According to published research, 95 percent of companies experience a data outage within a year, and the average cost of downtime is $70,000 per hour. Even worse, seven out of 10 companies that experience a major data loss go out of business within a year. Despite the dangers, nearly three-quarters of organizations surveyed do not backup all of their virtual servers. Clearly, companies face formidable challenges as they pursue seamless business continuity. On the positive side, three out of five large organizations do have a continuity plan in place. Whether they have the right one in place is debatable. To assess whether your IT organization is on the right track, consider the following checklist of essential points of focus for disaster recovery and business continuity. These guidelines were adapted from recommendations posed by Janco Associates, and they cover everything from communications to risk management to social media to mobility.

  • If you want to learn about the hottest programming languages today, don't miss this list from IEEE Spectrum. This respected organization, which has 400,000 members and is considered the world's largest association of technology professionals, enlisted the services of Nick Diakopoulos, a well-known computational journalist and assistant professor at the University of Maryland, to compile the language rankings. Diakopoulos proceeded by weighing and combining 12 metrics from 10 sources, including IEEE Xplore, Google and GitHub. The result is a compilation of languages that cover big data analytics, graphics, system administration, network programming and virtually every other tech-supported function. And if you disagree with Diakopoulos' conclusions—or want to see which language dominates within your particular tech niche (such as mobility)—that's not a problem: IEEE has posted an online, interactive version of the list that enables you to adjust the weight of each metric used to create the customized ranking.

  • IT leaders express overall satisfaction with the adoption of mobile applications within their companies, according to a recent survey from Apperian. And the resulting "2014 Executive Enterprise Mobility Report" reveals that CIOs have high hopes about the positive impact of mobile investments on business processes, employee satisfaction, cost savings and competitive advantage. Security, however, is still a top concern. That's not surprising, especially because the vast majority of IT executives don't know the extent of data and device loss among their mobile users. Another major struggle: Figuring out how to determine the ROI of mobile deployments. Regardless of the current obstacles, a significant number of survey participants said they will be equipping thousands of enterprise users with mobile apps for the immediate and foreseeable future. To ensure success, the report recommends that IT departments avoid making generic decisions, as "users have different needs and talents that must be taken into account. Think like a marketer, and create formal segmentation and improve it over time." An estimated 100 technology executives took part in the research.

  • GE Capital CTO Eric Reed offers insights into how the financial services firm makes various IT systems work together in a streamlined and cost-efficient way.

  • One trend addresses computers so intelligent that they're capable of conducting human-like reasoning and conversations. Another focuses on machines so small that you could literally drink one with a sip of water and not realize you swallowed it. A third pits the need for advanced cyber-security tools against the demand for personal privacy. Combined, these and other selected IT developments represent the following 11 game-changing technology trends for the next eight years. They were adapted from a recent report published by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE), considered the world's largest association of technology professionals, with 400,000 members. The "IEEE CS 2022 Report" includes some of the usual tech suspects—the cloud, big data and the Internet of things—but it casts these familiar topics in a fresh light. The report also provides insights into technologies that don't generate as much attention, and it conveys a compellingly human side to the equation. "Technology is the enabler," says IEEE Computer Society President Dejan Milojicic, who led the "2022" effort. "What humanity takes out of it really depends on human society." The report is based on the input of nine IEEE leaders.

  • Today's technologies are best deployed when they leverage a strong foundation of transactional data—the kind of data that is largely managed by your ERP system.

  • Need more proof that employees are increasingly driven by mobility? Then consider this: There are 10 times more smartphones and tablets sold every day than babies born. And this: The average person checks his or her smartphone 150 times a day—nearly once every six minutes, assuming they sleep. Meanwhile, mobile data traffic increases about 80 percent a year. Along with these and other findings in a recent report, the IBM Institute for Business Value presents a how-to guide for IT professionals to help them empower their organizations to become thriving mobile enterprises. The report, "The Individual Enterprise: How Mobility Redefines Business," introduces best practices and five essential mobile enterprise building blocks, which cover connectivity and security, as well as more strategic qualities such as analytics. "Currently, most enterprise mobile use has been restricted to email, calendaring and instant messaging," says Saul Berman, vice president and chief strategist for IBM Global Business Services. "Consider how combining mobile devices and cognitive analytics can completely transform how we work, industries operate and companies perform. Getting started with this new imperative requires leaders who can define what this journey will look like and champion a call to action."

  • There's a lot more to football than simply tossing the pigskin and dealing with countless on-field collisions. Though the sport does demand a high degree of athletic skill and a knack for "getting physical" with opponents, there are many intriguing dynamics that keep us fascinated with the game. They include the way organizational practices translate into success on the gridiron. It's not a coincidence that standout players and coaches are highly sought as motivational speakers for business audiences. After all, their experiences and insights are readily applicable to the modern workplace. For example, they can discuss in-depth the value of relentless focus, preparation, resiliency, emotional "fire" and in-game analysis, among other transferable qualities. Keep in mind that football players benefit as much from marathon planning and film sessions as they do from gym workouts and team scrimmages. And they remain devoted to professional self-improvement in order to be at their best when it matters most: game time. So, with a new football season upon us, we're presenting these seven lessons that you can apply to yourself and your team at the office.

  • If you believe that your company's leaders struggle to understand information technology, you'll find a partner in the marketing department. In fact, only a minority of global marketing executives think that the C-suite comprehends digital strategies, according to a recent survey from Epsilon. The accompanying report, "Leading a Digital Marketing Evolution: Lessons in Transformation, Culture and Technology from the Global 1000," also reveals that companies with rigid structures and high barriers to innovation are nearly twice as likely to have difficulty attracting and keeping tech talent. The survey divides companies into "leaders," and "mainstream," with three-quarters of the former enterprises reporting positive 2013 revenue trends, when compared with the sector average. In contrast, only 43 percent of the mainstream companies showed positive revenue trends. Leader companies are also considered trailblazers with respect to digital change and disruption, while mainstream organizations are more likely to face pressures due to those factors. "Technology enables marketers to expand their capabilities, especially when it comes to making their efforts more customer-centric," says Kim Finnerty, senior vice president of research and insights for Epsilon. More than 400 global consumer marketing executives took part in the research.

  • It's no secret that line-of-business departments are taking command of how they acquire and use information technology, and a growing number of business users are now adopting their own cloud computing environments. As a result, something called the "shadow cloud" has emerged, according to a recent report from PwC. The rapid pace of business change is bringing a sense of urgency to this topic, as the cloud enables rapid deployment of essential business tools in a cost-effective manner. The report, "Managing the Shadow Cloud: Integrating Cloud Governance into Your Existing Compliance Program," makes it clear that, like the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) movement, there's not much the IT organization can do to stop this trend. Instead, given the shadow cloud's vast potential to help organizations gain a competitive edge, IT should work closely with other departments to maximize the cloud's positive impact and minimize any risks. "The days of 'big IT' are gone," the report concludes, "but successful IT departments will be those that work with the business to solve the organization's most important problems: IT will move from a centralized authority to an advisor, broker and orchestrator of business services." To gain insight into how to best move forward with shadow clouds, consider the following best practices, which are adapted from the report.

  • If you're a project manager, you probably deal with a lot of frustration—and you are not alone. Seven out of 10 organizations surveyed experience at least one project failure in a year. To make matters worse, nearly four out of five software development project professionals say that the business side is "usually" or "always" out of sync with project requirements. And only 40 percent of change-management executives say IT projects generally meet schedule, budget and quality-based goals. So what factors contribute to these issues? The top culprit appears to be giving project teams work that has nothing to do with the project itself, according to a recent survey from Janco Associates. In addition, there are an assortment of unrealistic expectations, time pressures, staffing shortfalls and inadequate tech resources, findings reveal. Clearly, IT projects need leadership that combines technology savvy with effective business-focused oversight to successfully navigate these hurdles. Following are the top challenges facing  project managers, according to nearly 180 IT project managers who took part in the research. All of them have at least one year of experience in managing teams with at least five members.

  • In today's topsy-turvy digital world, no concept goes unexplored. One of the more interesting wrinkles on the innovation front? Enterprises turning to citizen developers to spur innovation and fill key skill gaps. According to Gartner, employees outside the IT department now write 25 percent of new business apps. This community is increasingly in demand and is of growing value to enterprises as they attempt to stay ahead of competitors and the marketplace. Recognizing this trend, IBM has conducted a global study titled: "Raising the Game: The IBM Business Tech Trends Report." Among other things, it found that 80 percent of leading enterprises are forming new partnerships with citizen developers to close the skills gap for application development. This approach drives greater collaboration and innovation across key cloud, analytics, mobile and social technologies, the study reports. Interestingly, these initiatives take many forms, including hackathons, application challenges, contests, crowdsourcing projects, cooperating with academia and open-source Websites that serve as repositories for code. Here's a look at what some organizations are doing.

  • CEOs in the United States are increasingly viewing innovation as a prime key to future growth, according to a recent survey from KPMG. According to the accompanying report, "Setting the Course for Growth: CEO Perspectives," CEOs are generally confident in growth prospects for both their organization and the overall economy. And the vast majority of them are developing a formal companywide plan to increase innovation. Obviously, that benefits the IT organization because innovation almost always involves technology. These efforts are expected to lead enterprises through a make-or-break era of change, as it's time to transform "or wither away" into industry irrelevancy, according to KPMG. "Looking out on the next three years," the report states, "CEOs see opportunities in the steadily improving economy—but they remain focused on efficient growth and are wary of new challenges in a significantly different, post-recovery marketplace. Amid an unprecedented wave of transformative changes, setting the course for growth will require new strategies, new tools and new thinking." An estimated 400 U.S. CEOs took part in the research.