Wednesday, January 28, 2009

Managing Employees at Distant Sites is Becoming a Reality of Doing Business

With business operations growing increasingly global, maintaining dispersed employees and identifying key tools for optimizing their efficiency and engagement become all the more vital to business success. To make managing an employee at a site other than one's own a mutually rewarding experience, several factors must be taken into consideration, according to a report released by The Conference Board.

Major findings of this study include:

--More than 60 percent of the respondents surveyed agreed that managing same-site employees is easier than managing distance employees.

--Nearly 80 percent of the respondents believe that the extra costs of enabling employees to work at a distance do pay off.

--Managers' perceptions of the job they're doing differs from that of distance employees -- 53 percent of managers surveyed reported spending more than an hour a week developing working relationships with distance employees, whereas only 18 percent of employees believed that their managers spent that much time with them.

Five practices were found to be shared among effective distance teams: in-person meetings; clear agreements on accessibility; good use of group software; adequate company support; and clearly defined roles for members.

Although managers and employees disagree about how much time is spent developing relationships, they both agree that it is vital. Of managers and employees surveyed, about 90 percent and 70 percent said "the phone" and "in person," respectively, were the two most effective communication tools for building distance relationships.

In addition to identifying the challenges presented, the group also identified key skills for managers and employees which maximize productivity and lead to effective manager-employee teams. At the heart of managing distance employees well is proper communication and employee engagement in order to create a productive work environment. Effective distance employees were identified as those who know how to execute, use technology and collaborate.

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Monday, January 26, 2009

More Wages, More Worried: Dice Salary Survey Reveals Conflicted Job Market

Technology professionals are seeing a spike in salary increases despite a recessionary economy, according to the 2008-09 Annual Salary Survey from Dice. Gathering the responses of more than 19,000 technology workers between August and November 2008, Dice tracked a 4.6 percent increase in average pay from the previous year to $78,035.

The top worries for technology professionals in 2009 are keeping skills up to date (22 percent), job elimination (20 percent), lower salary increases (14 percent), cancelled projects (12 percent) and increased workload due to staff cuts (10 percent). Supporting this theme, Dice reports a 67 percent increase in the number of new resumes posted to its site in the fourth quarter (year over year). Given that the majority of technology professionals who utilize Dice are currently employed, such "passive job hunting" indicates greater anxiety about the job market.

Still, individuals with specific training and capabilities received outsized raises in 2008: for example, Security Analysts saw increases of 8.4 percent, Software Engineers were up 7 percent, and Applications Developers enjoyed 6.6 percent raises.

Additional findings of the survey include:

--In major technology centers, IT salaries are up 5.8 percent in New York, 3.8 percent in Chicago, 3.6 percent in both Silicon Valley and Washington, D.C., and just 0.4 percent in Dallas/Fort Worth.

--Topping the compensation/skill set list are workers in the areas of ABAP - Advanced Business Application Programming ($106,975), ETL - Extract Transform and Load ($102,364) and Business Intelligence databases ($101,585).

--Project managers earned, on average, $103,424 in 2008, the highest earning title outside of top technology executives. Those workers, often holding CIO and CTO titles, earned an average of $111,998 in 2008.

--On an industry-by-industry basis, technology professionals in the Computer Hardware field received average raises of 9.4 percent to $77,387. Salaries in the Internet Services industry were boosted by 8.8 percent to $77,819. Retail/Mail Order/E-Commerce and Government/Defense fields were allotted the smallest raises, up 2.4 percent and 3.4 percent, respectively.

--Women technology professionals, as a group, earned 12% less on average than men. However, when comparing women IT professionals with their equivalent male counterpart (controlling for years of experience, education levels and job titles), the so-called gender gap disappeared.
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Sunday, January 25, 2009

2009 Global Predictions for Technology Industry

The arrival of netbooks as a competing PC platform, the explosion of social media networking for both business and personal use, and the rise of smart grid technology are among the emerging themes unveiled today in Deloitte’s 2009 Global Predictions for the technology industry.

Among Deloitte’s Technology Predictions for 2009, highlights include:

Making every electron count: the rise of the SmartGrid
In 2009, electricity is expected to account for over 16 percent of all energy used. However, the average efficiency of the world’s legacy electricity grids is around only 33 percent. Enter SmartGrid technologies. SmartGrid companies add computer intelligence and networking to existing electrical grids, yielding a consumption savings of up to 30 percent. SmartGrid solutions providers enjoyed 50 percent revenue growth in 2008 and may generate $25 billion in revenues in 2009.

Disrupting the PC: the rise of the Netbook
The netbook, also known as the mini-notebook, is likely to be the fastest growing PC segment in 2009. The momentum behind netbooks should grow, with new models offering better processors and improved hard drives. Although netbooks have the potential to threaten PC and other sub-sectors’ margins, careful market development and expanded applications offer significant opportunities as well. PC manufacturers should consider the market for premium netbooks, with producers of operating systems developing products designed specifically for netbooks. Other technology companies should take advantage of the inexpensive, low-power central processing units (CPU) of netbooks, with home-media systems, digital video recorders, and game consoles capitalizing on the new CPUs.

Social networks in the enterprise: Facebook for the Fortune 500
It looks as though 2009 will be the breakout year for social networks in the enterprise. Large Information Technology (IT )companies are planning on spending significant money in 2009 on social network applications and are building research centers that focus exclusively on enterprise social networking (ESN).

Some major telecommunications companies are already deploying social networking solutions internally and as part of their global service offerings. Even governments are likely to deploy ESN, both internally and to interact with constituents. But while ESN looks like an easy way to capture value at a relatively low cost and applications are still being refined, enterprises need to develop social networks so that they engender productivity and balance control with employees’ desire for privacy.

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Thursday, January 22, 2009

Quality Management/Liability Recording (Workforce Optimization) Market Defies Recession

DMG Consulting LLC, a provider of contact center and real-time analytics market research, has published the 2008-2009 Quality Management/Liability Recording Product and Market Report.

The Workforce Optimization (WFO) market continues to be a great performer, despite the recession gripping the US. In the first half of 2008, total revenue for the Quality Management (QM)/Liability Recording (WFO) market was $1,336 million. This represents an 18.3% increase over the $1,230 million of revenue in the first half of 2007. The contact center segment of the market exceeded $507 million in the first half of 2008, a 13.4% increase over the same period in 2007. Despite the worldwide economic slowdown in 2008, DMG predicts that the Quality Management/Liability Recording market will exceed $2.5 billion for the year, once all year-end reporting is completed.

2008 was a unique year for the WFO market. With no mergers, growth was organic. WFO vendors have succeeded by listening to their customers and delivering solutions and capabilities that meet their needs. This is the market's ongoing formula for success. The 2008 - 2009 Report features a new section dedicated to Product Innovation and Vision, which continue to fuel growth in the WFO market. Responding to customer needs, vendors have enhanced core recording and quality assurance tools and have seen increased sales of high-value WFO analytical modules, such as Speech Analytics, Surveying/Feedback, Contact Center Performance Management, and Coaching.

DMG expects the recession to last through most of 2010, but forecasts continued growth in the QM/Recording market. DMG expects this market to outperform other contact center technology sectors because WFO solutions are viewed as mission-critical, having proven their ability to improve productivity, customer retention, the customer experience, and to generate incremental revenue.

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Thursday, January 15, 2009

Outsourcing Will Continue to Grow in 2009 Despite Economic Slowdown

The outsourcing industry is not immune to the ripple effects of the widespread economic volatility, however, in an economic downturn, cost will trump value considerations, according to Gartner, Inc. The fifth annual “Gartner on Outsourcing, 2008-2009” report shows that the global economic slump has meant that outsourcing clients are re-evaluating their contracts to improve efficiency and costs. This is affecting provider selection and retention, how services are or will be delivered, delivery location and contract pricing. Beyond the drivers of efficiency and cost, however, many organizations will also experience business change as a result of repercussions of the economic crisis, which will impact current outsourcing or plans for outsourcing.

For organizations that are outsourcing, contract terms may be altered in response to corporate change: some will downsize, others will expand, acquisition and divestiture will impact others, and still others will cease to exist. Many organizations that are not outsourcing will consider or move aggressively to outsource their IT or business processes to focus on their core business. More than ever, buyers and providers must be attentive to contract issues to ensure a certain level of flexibility, since business change is almost certain.

In 2009, Gartner expects competition for outsourcing deals, particularly for standardized IT outsourcing (ITO) services, to be fierce. Some buyers will be lured by low prices from providers trying to make quarterly revenue goals or build market share. In 2008, based on analysis of Gartner’s Outsourcing Contract Database, about 76 percent of announced outsourcing contracts represented new deals; the remaining percentage was a combination of contract extensions, expansions or renewals.

Alternative delivery and acquisition models (ADAMs) will see a net boost in adoption due to the economic conditions in 2009. ADAMs will deliver IT services through new approaches, such as software as a service (SaaS), business process utility (BPU), infrastructure utility (IU), remote management services (RMS) and Web platform/cloud computing.

IU is defined as a key initiative for IT organizations during the next 12 months by many organizations. Providers that de-emphasized IU investment will react to the growing "everything as a service" buzz by refreshing their messages, creating new service bundles and reactivating investments. IU will gain more market share at the expense of traditional data center outsourcing service, which will put pressure on traditional IT outsourcing providers to deal with the pricing pressures that IU services represent and create change in their service portfolios and within their client bases.

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Monday, January 12, 2009

IT Security Spending Will Increase to Match Cybercrime Threat in 2009

Finjan Inc., a provider of secure web gateway solutions for the enterprise market, announced the findings of its IT security survey. The results reveal that the total IT budgets for 2009 tend to be reduced compared to 2008. However, the IT security budget outlook was more optimistic since organizations intend to dedicate a larger part of their total IT budgets to IT security. Key findings from the survey:

- 38% of all respondents stated that they do not expect a change in their 2009 IT budgets, while 34% indicated that they expect them to be Slightly smaller - reflecting the general declining trend in corporate budgets.

- 34% of the respondents indicated that their IT security budgets for2009 will increase, indicating a general trend that organizations will allocate a larger part of their overall IT budget to IT security. 43% of all respondents expect their IT security budget for 2009 to remain the same.

- The survey also found that the upward trend in IT security budgetallocation was more pronounced in the financial and governmental sectors than in others.

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Friday, January 9, 2009

With The Economy Stalled - What Can Service Managers Expect in 2009?

As the country plunges deeper into recession, customer service managers are finding that they are not immune to the impacts. As part of the "Customer Service Newsletter" annual trends report, editor Bill Keenan spoke with industry experts who identified the many issues service managers are facing as a result of the struggling economy, among them:

  • Service managers will have to do more with less in the new year, both in terms of smaller staffs and reduced investment in service technology.

  • Managers and their staffs will need to spend more time evaluating their processes and looking for opportunities to streamline and become ever more efficient.

  • The manager's role as leader and motivator will become increasingly important. Managers will be called upon to communicate openly and frequently with the frontline and to keep staff focused, motivated and productive.

  • On a more positive note, as companies compete for a dwindling number of customers, the role of the service department in retaining existing customers will become ever more critical and valued within the organization.

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    Wednesday, January 7, 2009

    CIO Resolutions for 2009

    Gartner, Inc presented its 10 CIO resolutions for 2009 designed to help CIOs excel and deliver better personal and team outcomes beyond their core IT agenda. Gartner’s 10 CIO resolutions for 2009 are as follows:

    1. Start building an alumni network: To maintain legacy skills and complex experienced pools of labor, Gartner recommends CIOs establish alumni networks.

    2. Stop being the exception that enforces the rules: CIOs should design and adopt two or three key behaviors to match the required direction they want their reports to follow such as turning away their option to upgrade to the glitziest new smartphone. Such signals will cause people to comment and think about their own values and behaviors.

    3. Start scouting for key talent: CIOs should identify the attributes of their absolute ideal candidates for the few, most important mid to senior IT positions to open and fulfil during 2009 and discuss directly with the chief financial officer (CFO) and chief human resources manager (CHRO) the possibility of holding just a few senior job slots open in return for a higher reduction target elsewhere.

    4. Start preparing for the unexpected: It’s important to challenge and develop the thinking styles and frame of reference of your leadership team as well as yourself.

    5. Start using social systems yourself, visibly: CIOs need to start visibly using social networks themselves to kick-start their participation from other staff - lurking in quiet observation is not enough. Gartner advised CIOs to also encourage the leadership team into using social media more openly to communicate internally and externally to rebuild brand confidence.

    6. Start taking cloud seriously: Cloud computing is a major new stage in the evolution of commercial IT that CIOs must take seriously but at this stage is confusing. In 10 years, much of IT will be served this way, so CIOs need to start leading their organiszations safely in this inevitable direction, or risk being sidelined by its progress.

    7. Stop ignoring people and opting for soft targets: CIOs should not lay off the people they will need long-term and who will be hard to replace just because their work is not an immediate deliverable (e.g. enterprise architects, emerging technologies staff). elsewhere. Similarly, they shouldn’t cut projects in areas which are in the hype cycle ‘trough of disillusionment’ just because they are unfashionable. CIOs should defend them if they will still yield significant value in a year or two.

    8. Start offering your vendors a free lunch: CIOs will require vendors to deliver flexibility and cost savings and will need to reset the style of the relationship. At the same time, suppliers will be keen on staying in close touch, working hard to attract CIOs off-site for ‘face time’, so CIOs must resolve to politely decline vendor courtesy trips in 2009.

    9. Stop fearing the future; start driving it: Internally, CIOs should also reflect conspicuous frugality but not be defined by it. They should resolve to occasionally and visibly splash out a little – where it really matters to staff moral such as training courses or software development tools.

    10: Newer technologies to get experience of in 2009: With so much work to do, Gartner reminded CIOs that they need to protect the time to stay in touch and get ‘hands-on’ with some key technologies in 2009: e-book readers, Google Chrome, building mini cloud applications, YouTube as a default search engine for a day and HD teleconferencing.

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    Monday, January 5, 2009

    Energy Concerns Lead the Way Toward Green IT Adoption

    Despite some regional differences in priorities and motivators, senior business executives and ICT decision-makers around the world agree that Green IT initiatives are at the top of their agenda. According to IDC's latest global Green IT survey, these executives are becoming more deeply involved in their companies' green-based initiatives as pressures mount to cut costs and as government mandates begin targeting carbon emissions and the disposal of all IT equipment.

    IDC polled more than 1,500 C-level business and technology executives across 10 industrial countries to understand what Green IT activities were important to them and why. Energy costs continue to be the most pressing factor driving Green IT adoption, even as oil prices drop. Globally, 71% of the respondents identified this as their highest priority. Among U.S. respondents, 77% identified energy as the most important factor behind green adoption in their companies, while 74% of European respondents saw energy concerns as the number 1 driver of green initiatives.

    Additionally, hardcopy output and printing is becoming a key green initiative among organizations expanding their green horizons. Nearly two thirds of the companies surveyed indicated that a shift from print to online is underway at their companies (either currently implemented, in pilot, or in proof of concept). In Asia/Pacific, 69% of the respondents identified these changes in company behavior.

    Other key findings from IDC's Green IT survey include:

    --Green IT initiatives in the U.S. will continue to focus on lowering energy costs, but pending asset management regulations will introduce a new set of issues.

    --Europe is lagging other regions in senior management interest in and customer pressure to show sustainability, but regulatory pressures are likely to drive change in this area.

    --In many ways, Japan is a leader in Green IT, having adopted many environmentally friendly policies years earlier. Yet investment in green IT is lower in Japan than in other regions.

    --Being green has become increasingly important in Latin American where Mexico's government is actively promoting Green IT initiatives and regulations. But overall, Green IT initiatives in the region are still at an early stage of development.

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