Strategic CIO // Executive Insights & Innovation
Commentary
8/2/2007
10:29 PM
John Soat
John Soat
Commentary
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Eggs And IT

How much interesting shoptalk can you get up to over coffee and waffles? A lot -- and all of it relevant and penetrating.

How much interesting shoptalk can you get up to over coffee and waffles? A lot -- and all of it relevant and penetrating.I recently joined a group of CIOs from the Phoenix area for breakfast, and it was an enlightening conversation. In order to promote an open and honest exchange of ideas, I promised all of them that the meeting was off the record -- no names, no quotes -- but they agreed that I could write in this blog about some of the general topics that emerged over their omelettes and wheat toast.

First, and foremost, was the topic of IT resources. The Phoenix area has zero unemployment when it comes to IT jobs, according to this group. Imagine that: no one with the requisite skill set has to be without a job if she or he doesn't want to be. Unfortunately, this makes for a demand-driven economy: salaries are up (at least in certain industries), turnover is high, and additional resources have to be sought outside the Phoenix area, in particular in terms of management talent.

Second in the conversation was the topic of managing data center resources. This gets harder all the time. Once again, demand is up -- way up. Every business-line manager thinks a new application is as easy as slapping in a blade server (I wonder where they get that idea?). And since when have CIOs become facilities managers, concerned with heating, cooling, and space constraints?

Third, IT budgets. Do you charge back? If not, how do you get users to acknowledge and take responsibility for the IT resources they're using? That they want to use?

Fourth, data theft: A major bugaboo in every industry. Equally as insidious to hackers and network crackers are nefarious insiders and those proficient in social networking skills, such as talking their way into help desk areas or data centers. The popularity of personal data devices, such as thumb drives, cell phones, PDAs, and iPods, makes keeping track of dataa -- and keeping it from walking out the door -- a nightmare.

Fifth, Web 2.0. It's a matter of user comfort versus network control. Of course you filter access to the Internet, but do you have one set of rules for the workers and another for the executives? How about video? The younger generation has a different set of expectations when it comes to using the Internet. This becomes especially problematic in regards to young IT workers: How do limit their use of social networks and other Web 2.0 elements without risking missing out on the next wave of productivity-boosting collaboration tools?

Those are the highlights of the conversation -- no names, no quotes, but a lot of insight and analysis. Do any of these topics sound familiar -- all of them, maybe?

Add your own two cents, we'd love to have you join the conversation. And if you're interested in participating in a CIO breakfast get together like this one, let me know -- InformationWeek will be happy to host it.

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