Thursday, December 16, 2010

2010 Year in Review Offers Online Employment Trends and Glimpses at Future of Work

Elance, a platform for online employment, released its 2010 Year in Review, which revealed record growth in online hiring, showcased the top skill trends in 2010 and previewed work trends to expect in 2011. The Elance 2010 Year in Review showed that a growing segment of the labor market looked beyond traditional onsite jobs and traded stressful commutes and office politics for home offices and online employment.

In a year when the economy has been described as something between “stagnant” and “rock bottom,” several key categories in online work proved to be “recession-proof.” Hot skills in technology and marketing are fueling the demand for online workers as employers turn to the human cloud to make key investments in the best talent to keep their business competitive. Here is a look back at the skills that made a big impact in 2010:

-- Desktop Ditched for Mobile. Back in the day, the first step was to build a website, then build a mobile app afterwards. However, consumers and businesses in 2010 have made it clear: With a 98% increase for mobile development jobs posted on Elance in 2010, touchscreen tablets and smartphones like iPhone and Android are clearly the number one priority. In 2011, it will be absolutely key for businesses, startups and entrepreneurs looking to construct new websites or revamp existing ones to design with mobile in mind. Expect to see simpler, cleaner, more straightforward web designs and a shift in design philosophy that puts mobile first and desktop second.

-- Only the Highest Quality Content Will Win. Keyword-rich content for search engine optimization was king in 2010, but that simply won’t cut it next year and beyond. Search engines like Google are beginning to find new ways to differentiate quality original content by tracking social media “buzz” through sites like Twitter and Facebook and its very own Google Buzz. Businesses won’t be hiring content creators for quantity anymore – it’s all about quality in 2011.

-- Traditional Marketing is Dead. The numbers do not lie. In 2010, businesses have signaled a shift in investments for freelance talent that has gone from traditional marketing techniques like direct mail, telemarketing and other forms of traditional marketing, to cutting edge forms of promotion and customer acquisition, like Search Engine Marketing, Search Engine Optimization and Social Media Marketing. Next year, traditional marketing will become even more obsolete as businesses will be drawn towards viral and social marketing methods.

-- HTML5 vs. Flash: Flash is Alive and Kicking. One of the biggest tech stories of 2010 was the ongoing war waged between HTML5 and Flash. However, the rumors spun up by technology pundits around the world regarding Adobe Flash’s death have been greatly exaggerated, according to businesses working on Elance. While demand for HTML5 programmers continues to grow at an exponential pace, Flash maintains its position as one of the leading platforms for rich media content due to the rising popularity of casual gaming on the web and the loosening of Apple’s App Store restrictions.

Predictions for 2011
As we prepare to drop the disco ball and call 2010 a wrap, we take a sneak peak at 2011 with Elance’s predictions for the year to come:

-- Online Work Flourishes, More Businesses Hire in the Cloud. Every year, advancements in technology continue to take communication to unprecedented heights. Businesses both large and small will adopt more robust online tools, like shared digital workrooms, real-time collaboration, telepresence and online employment platforms to hire the people they need to get the job done. Online work won’t be just a buzzword in 2011 – it will be the way to do business, period.

-- Digital Profiles Push Resumes to the Brink of Extinction. Simply put, digital portfolios provide businesses and employers far more context and insight into a potential hire than any traditional resume ever could. Case in point: Throughout the course of the past year, records on Elance were continually broken as the number of individual online portfolio assets surpassed 1.2 million and the number of online worker profiles exceeded 300,000. In 2011, expect referencing of verified work history, digital portfolios, online test scores, online reviews, social graph and social media footprint to become the standard for hiring short or long-term employees.

-- Business Goes Social. Google’s almost-but-wasn’t $6+ billion purchase of Groupon is a clear sign that big business is going social. Social buying quickly went from a cool trend to an economic force, while demand for social media skills by businesses has grown significantly throughout the course of 2010. Shopping will not be the only industry to leverage the social graph; in 2011, recruiting and hiring will also undergo a socially inspired transformation.

More information on CRM can be found at

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

IT Spending Improving Bit by Bit

For IT organizations, the year ahead will not only be a time for rebuilding but also for innovation. Spending will remain restrained, and IT executives will continue to be asked to deliver more with less. But they are also receiving the go-ahead to take risks with projects that promise long-term improvements in the ability of IT to support new business initiatives.

A new study by Computer Economics, Outlook for IT Spending and Staffing in 2011, forecasts that IT operational spending will increase by 2% at the median, based on a fourth-quarter survey of 136 IT organizations in the U.S. and Canada.

The anticipated growth is welcome news after two years of no change at the median, accompanied by substantial budget cuts by organizations at the 25th percentile. But the forecast is modest in comparison to the three years leading up to the recession.

Although 2% growth at the median is modest, the forecast for growth appears firm, based on actions taken by IT executives in the fourth quarter. IT organizations have been extending staff hours, adding temporary workers, and launching major projects that promise strong ROI or improved agility, our survey finds.

One net trend that is seen is IT organizations are having IT staff work more hours. In fact, only 1.5% of organizations cut hours, while 48.5% increased hours, for a net change of 47%.

Almost as aggressive is work on major projects, where the net trend is 46%. In fact, 56% of all organizations increased work on major projects over the past three months compared to only 10% that decreased expenditures in this area.

The good news continues: not only are IT organizations giving staff members more hours, they are hiring contractors and temporary workers and turning to outsourcing. The net trends for these two actions are 31% and 24%, respectively. These actions are a prelude to making a commitment to take on permanent, full-time workers.

However, the net trend for increasing the size of the IT staff is only 13%. The message seems to be that while companies are increasing IT operational spending, the commitment is still soft, and IT executives are willing to pay a bit of a premium to maintain a flexible workforce. 

More information on IT spending can be found at

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

More CIOs Plan to Hire During First Quarter

Hiring in the information technology field will increase in the first quarter, according to the just-released the Robert Half Technology IT Hiring Index and Skills Report. In the latest survey, 11 percent of chief information officers (CIOs) said they plan to add information technology (IT) staff in the first three months of the year, and just 3 percent foresee cutbacks. The net 8 percent increase in hiring activity is up 5 points from the fourth-quarter forecast.

The survey also found that 84 percent of CIOs are at least somewhat confident in their companies' growth prospects in the first quarter, the same number reported in the fourth-quarter survey. In addition, more than half (54 percent) of executives said it is very or somewhat challenging to find skilled IT professionals today.

The IT Hiring Index and Skills Report is based on telephone interviews with more than 1,400 CIOs from companies across the United States with 100 or more employees. It was conducted by an independent research firm and developed by Robert Half Technology, a leading provider of IT professionals on a project and full-time basis.

Key Findings

-- The net 8 percent increase in projected IT hiring activity for the first quarter is the highest in one year and up 5 points from the prior quarter's forecast.

-- Technology executives in the East North Central and West South Central regions will be hiring the most actively.

-- Eighty-four percent of CIOs are at least somewhat confident in their companies' growth prospects in the first quarter; 35 percent are very confident.

-- More than half (54 percent) of CIOs expect to encounter recruiting challenges in the quarter ahead.

-- Network administration is the most highly sought area of expertise for job candidates, as it has been for the last four quarters of the survey.

More information on IT can be found at

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Nearly One-Third of Workers Holiday Shop Online at Work; Half of Employers Monitor Internet and E-mail Use of Employees

According to a new survey by CareerBuilder, twenty-nine percent of workers say they have holiday shopped online at work, on par with previous years. Of those planning to shop online this year, 27 percent will spend one hour or more. More than one-in-ten (13 percent) said they will spend two hours or more. Workers should be mindful of their companies’ electronic communications policies, though, as nearly half (47 percent) of companies said that they monitor Internet and e-mail use of employees. This year’s survey included more than 2,400 employers and more than 3,100 workers.

More than one-in-10 workers (13 percent) said they spend one hour or more using the Internet each day for non-work related activities or research while at work. Workers are advised to limit their Internet searches to those related to work or to use their lunch hour or break time for these activities:

-- 21 percent of employers have fired someone for using the Internet for non-work related activities.

-- 5 percent of employers have fired someone for holiday shopping online at work.

-- Half of employers (50 percent) block employees from accessing certain web sites while at work.

Workers are also cautioned about email content as nearly six-in-10 (59 percent) said they typically send non-work related emails each day. Sixteen percent report they send six or more personal e-mails during a typical workday.

-- 27 percent of employers monitor emails.

-- 9 percent of employers have fired someone for non-work related emails.

More information on service and support can be found at

Monday, December 6, 2010

Executive Guidance 2011 Reveals Four Management Principles Crucial to Achieving Intelligent Growth

The Corporate Executive Board, a research and advisory services company, announced the publication of Executive Guidance 2011, the company's year-end analysis of industry trends and corporate best practices designed to inform and support business planning. This year's Executive Guidance focuses on "Intelligent Growth"--a long-term pattern of above-industry performance in both revenue growth and efficiency--and highlights four key management principles that are critical to achieving it. While most companies aspire to create this balance, currently less than 10 percent of global organizations are considered Intelligent Growth companies.

Corporate Executive Board has identified four key management principles necessary to achieve Intelligent Growth:

-- Customer Experience Innovation--Intelligent Growth companies de-emphasize the standard sales process and relentlessly seek to innovate their product and service lines.

-- Key Talent Engagement--Intelligent Growth leaders are actively re-invigorating their lost generation of talent and by doing so they are realizing higher productivity and greater ROI.

-- Risk Vigilance--Most Intelligent Growth companies avoided a major crisis. They likely encountered risks but because of their culture, they were able to surface them early or responded more effectively than their peers.

-- Permanent Cost and Capital Management--Intelligent Growth companies continuously manage operating cost structures throughout economic cycles, avoiding the pain that comes with "boom and bust" management approaches and taking what might be considered big risks along the way.

More information can be found at

Wednesday, December 1, 2010

Gartner Reveals Top Predictions for IT Organizations and Users for 2011 and Beyond

Gartner, Inc. has revealed its top predictions for IT organizations and users for 2011 and beyond. Analysts said that the predictions highlight the significant changes in the roles played by technology and IT organizations in business, the global economy and the lives of individual users.

Last year's theme of rebalancing supply, consumer demand and regulation is still present across most of the predictions, but the view has shifted further toward external effects. This year's top predictions highlight an increasingly visible linkage between technology decisions and outcomes, both economic and societal.

The top predictions include:

-- By 2015, a G20 nation's critical infrastructure will be disrupted and damaged by online sabotage.

-- By 2015, new revenue generated each year by IT will determine the annual compensation of most new Global 2000 CIOs.

-- By 2015, information-smart businesses will increase recognized IT spending per head by 60 percent.

-- By 2015, tools and automation will eliminate 25 percent of labor hours associated with IT services.

-- By 2015, 20 percent of non-IT Global 500 companies will be cloud service providers.

-- By 2014, 90 percent of organizations will support corporate applications on personal devices.

-- By 2013, 80 percent of businesses will support a workforce using tablets.

-- By 2015, 10 percent of your online "friends" will be nonhuman.

More information on IT trends can be found at

Monday, November 29, 2010

$8.6 Billion per Year Wasted on Inefficient Software Licensing Practices

1E, a software and services company that improves IT efficiency, released new research outlining major trends in software management and distribution.

The Help Desk Efficiency report found that three-quarters of respondents have unused software on their PCs -- averaging three to six applications per user. A leading industry analyst firm estimates that 22 percent of all IT spending is on software, which is $726 billion annually worldwide. Knowing that a single piece of software can cost upwards of several hundred dollars with licensing and support, these findings indicate that a significant percentage of IT software spending is currently being wasted.

While industry analyst firms estimate that IT departments spend on average $12,000 per user per year, more than one-third of respondents to the Help Desk Efficiency Report say they are receiving little or no value from the money their IT department spends on them.

New software requests are a common occurrence, with more than one-half of respondents requesting one or more software applications in the last 12 months. Disturbingly, 62 percent of users have waited up to a week or longer to receive their requested software. This data shows that the impact on user productivity is clearly too great.

Slow and inconsistent delivery of new software is not by chance. The research indicates that the process for requesting new software is fragmented and manual -- with 73 percent of users still initiating requests by phone or email. 1E estimates that deploying user self-service tools to automate software requests could collectively save organizations $8.6 billion per year in IT help desk costs.

Commissioned by 1E and conducted by Vanson Bourne, an independent research company, the report includes responses from 1,000 business users across the United States and United Kingdom.

More information can be found at

Wednesday, November 24, 2010

Top Ten Retailers for Customer Service Released as Holiday Shoppers Hit Stores

With millions of Americans beginning to flood stores and websites in search of holiday deals, the NRF Foundation, the research and education arm of the National Retail Federation, has announced the top 10 retailers for customer service selected by shoppers in the sixth annual NRF Foundation/American Express Customers’ Choice survey. The survey, which asked 9,291 shoppers which retailer provides the best customer service, was conducted by BIGresearch.

According to shoppers, the top ten retailers for customer service, in alphabetical order, are:

-- JCPenney
-- Kohl’s Department Stores
-- Lands’ End
-- L.L.Bean
-- Newegg
-- Nordstrom
-- QVC
-- Zappos 

More information on customer service can be found at

Friday, November 19, 2010

CIOs Are Change Agents for a More Collaborative, Virtual Workplace

Cognizant, a provider of consulting, technology, and business process outsourcing services, announced today the results of a research report, “Next-Generation CIOs: Change Agents for the Global Virtual Workplace.” The Economist Intelligence Unit conducted the research across Europe and North America and wrote the report, in cooperation with the Cognizant Business Consulting practice.

The report reveals the CIO’s role in restructuring how work is done throughout the organization. Among the more than 400 survey respondents, mostly CIO, CEO, vice president, and director-level, those who are moving toward more virtual, collaborative teams are benefitting from increased innovation, more effective talent recruitment and retention, and higher productivity. One in six said their companies are already seeing these results, and another one-fifth expect to garner benefits within a year.

The CIO should spearhead the transformation to a more virtualized workplace, according to 45 percent of respondents. Only CEOs ranked higher, with 47 percent, indicating the CIO is a strategic enabler who, alongside the CEO, can align IT capabilities with business needs.

Key findings include:

-- Virtual team structures are fostering more productive relationships with internal and external partners.

-- Organizations that have embraced virtual teams benefit from increased innovation and competitiveness, but often lack methods to measure the quantitative impact on the bottom line.

-- CIOs have a unique enterprise-wide perspective and are familiar with the people, tools, technologies, and techniques needed to create a corporate culture of virtual teams. 

More information on virtual workplaces can be found at

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

New Research Examines Transformation of Customer Contact Centers

Empirix Inc., a provider of service quality assurance solutions for new IP communications, announced the results of an industry survey, conducted by Opus Research, about the adoption of online tools into enterprise customer care programs. A majority of respondents believe that improved customer service through new community-building and collaboration platforms and tools will help them gain a competitive advantage. However, concerns over issues such as network complexity and performance have impeded the adoption of these resources. In fact, 45 percent of respondents claim they do not use social media to communicate with end-users.

In "A Survey of Multi-Channel Customer Care" conducted among 985 respondents earlier this year, Opus found that social networks and Web chat were already employed more than 45 percent of the time to find and purchase by products and to get technical support. Use of the application programming interfaces (APIs) which enable enterprise IT departments to gain access to the cloud-based cash registers, product reviews, marketplaces and message exchanges operated by the likes of Facebook, Amazon and Google is growing exponentially. Both of these sets of findings provide dramatic evidence that companies have to offer their customers and prospects rapid access to a broad set of services in order to meet their expectations.

Key findings include:

-- Transformational times in the Contact Center - Contact center personnel are increasingly engaged in multi-modal, multi-channel and social interactions. Though most believe they are doing an excellent job in meeting customer requirements, nearly 40 percent admit they are on par with their competitors, and only 8 percent feel confident in their leading position in the marketplace. A majority of the executives realize that improved customer service will help them gain a competitive advantage through new communication platforms and tools (e.g., social media).

-- Nearly half of respondents already incorporate social media - Facebook, blogs and Twitter lead the way; Facebook alone has become another viable marketing channel and also helps organizations boost their search engine optimization.

-- Social nets and "cloud-based" apps are in the mix - The majority of organizations surveyed already treat e-mail and Web chat as customer-facing channels, and deployment plans will move outbound alerts, home agents and screen sharing into the mainstream.

-- Facebook and Google Apps are on par with Unified Communications (UC) stalwarts - Cisco and Microsoft OCS dominate UC discussions, but, according to the survey, Facebook, LinkedIn and Google Apps are establishing presence "inside the firewall," showcasing the growing need for UC assurance.

-- More video and mobile apps are coming this year - Organizations are anxious to reach their "anywhere/anytime" customers and prospects, adding another layer to the already complex network.

-- Performance monitoring and testing gain importance - Respondents indicate they are monitoring in order to "improve customer service" and "success rates," both of which create a better customer experience.

-- Overall impressions of social media - Most organizations have not made social media channels a priority (33 percent); however, 31 percent have deployed social media platforms as a low-cost way to communicate with customers and almost no organizations believe that social media for customer care is merely a "fad."

More information on contact centers can be found at

Monday, November 15, 2010

Survey Finds Executives Still Cautious About Long-Term Economic Outlook; Projecting Modest Growth Over Next 12 Months

Optimism among senior executives about the future of the economy increased slightly in the last three months, as companies anticipate continued growth but face challenges adjusting to the new post-recession marketplace. Measuring the economic assumptions of more than 400 executives across six functional business roles, the latest Business Barometer released by the Corporate Executive Board (CEB) shows that sentiment among business leaders is improving due to a positive outlook for sales, IT spending and emerging market growth.

One of the more significant signals from CEB's Q4 Business Barometer is the continued increase in the number of executives who expect rising cost pressures. Overall, 68 percent of executives expect greater cost pressures (up from 63 percent in Q3). Specifically, 74 percent of executives surveyed expect higher core input prices and 69 percent expect higher labor costs (up from 70 percent and 67 percent in Q3 2010 respectively). In addition, half of executives anticipate that energy costs will increase.

Senior executives also have a moderate outlook when it comes to their company's hiring practices. While 65 percent of executives expect hiring volume to improve, only 50 percent of executives now expect total headcount to improve (a slight increase from 48% in Q3).

Areas for Optimism

Despite these challenges, executives are feeling optimistic in a number of key areas that point to a steady improvement in the business landscape. Most notably, growth expectations for emerging markets are increasing. While 32 percent of executives see strong growth prospects in the U.S. and Europe, in contrast a startling 71 percent of executives anticipate accelerating growth in emerging economies (compared to 59 percent in Q3).

CEB's Q4 Business Barometer also indicated an improvement in the overall sales outlook with more than two-thirds of sales executives expecting sales to new and existing customers to rise in the year ahead. Fewer expect to rely on customer discounts compared to the last quarter (77 percent compared to 80 percent in Q3 2010).

Compared to Q3 2010, sentiment among IT executives has continued to increase with 56 percent saying they expect higher discretionary spending (up from 54 percent in Q3 and 47 percent in Q2 2010) and 60 percent saying they expect software spending to increase.

Additional notable findings from CEB's Q4 Business Barometer include:

-- Finance executives continue to expect increases in the number of M&A deals this year (up to 53 percent compared to 51 percent in Q3) although are not yet as optimistic as they were in Q2 (63 percent expected an increase in new deals).

-- Executive sentiment about consumer confidence remained unchanged since last quarter, with only 39 percent of executives anticipating that it will rise in the year ahead.

-- Outside of increased spending in IT, finance executives expect declines in CAPEX for facilities and manufacturing equipment as well as R&D spending, with only 43 percent of executives planning to increase their spending in that area (down from 52 percent in Q3 2010).

-- Seventy-three percent of human resources executives believe unemployment will remain high or grow higher. In relation to current employees, 47 percent of executives believe employee engagement will increase and 48 percent believe unwanted turnover will rise.

-- Sixty-seven percent of supply chain and operations executives expect an increase in the number of orders their company will receive in the next year and 63 percent anticipate higher production levels (which is only slightly down from 67 percent in Q3). 

More information on IT can be found at

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Emerging technology trends increase risks of protecting corporate information

An increasingly mobile workforce, cloud computing and social networking all pose significant threats to organizations’ information security programs, according to the 13th annual Ernst & Young Global Information Security Survey. The report indicates that while there is a commitment to protecting data, organizations still face advanced, persistent threats that jeopardize the traditional corporate umbrella.

The report is based on a survey of nearly 1,600 senior executives in 56 countries and takes an in-depth look at the challenges organizations face when it comes to current trends, new technologies used by their workforce and the difficulties of trying to protect information while operating in a virtual business environment. As these changes bring new risks, the survey also examines how organizations are adapting and addressing their information security needs. The results show that 60% perceive increased risk from the use of social networking, cloud computing and personal mobile devices at work. Additionally, 64% of respondents see data protection as one of the top IT risks that has escalated in the current environment.
Additionally, businesses no longer view information security management programs as insurance policies to be used only in the event of a disaster.

Managing the mobile workforce
The proliferation of a mobile workforce has put employees on the front line of information security. According to the survey, respondents view the most serious risk associated with mobile computing as the potential loss of business information; 52% see the use of personal devices as the main cause of data leakage. In addition, 53% of respondents indicate that workforce mobility is a considerable challenge to delivering information security solutions effectively. The majority of respondents (92%) also view employee awareness of security as a challenge, as the demands of an increasingly mobile workforce change the way companies support and protect the flow of information.

Information security at a cost
Overall, organizations recognize the risks that come with emerging technology trends and are taking steps to protect information with stronger information security programs. In fact, half of those surveyed plan to increase their spending on data leakage/data loss prevention efforts over the next year.

But, while spending will increase to protect data, many organizations still feel pressured to reduce IT spend in other areas, leading them to look externally for efficient solutions. Despite an unproven track record, 45% of organizations are currently using, evaluating or planning to use cloud computing services within the next 12 months. The risks associated with cloud computing include data leakage, with 52% identifying it as the largest associated risk, followed by 39% who cite the lost visibility of company data as an increased risk of cloud-based solutions.

However, most respondents (85%) indicate that external certification of cloud service providers would help to evaluate security controls and increase trust.
Evidence also suggests that few organizations have fully assessed the risks associated with social networking. Just one-third report that social media presents a considerable information security challenge and only 10% say examining new and emerging IT trends is a very important information security function.

Plugging the leak
The focus in information security is shifting from a technology-only approach to a technology and people approach, as information security becomes an expanded function of which all employees are aware of and have a responsibility to adhere to. Without clearly defined and communicated security policies on the use of new technology, organizations’ exposure to risk will increase.

More information on technology trends can be found at

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Businesses out of touch with automated customer service hell

Businesses are out of touch with the frustration customers experience from automated customer service systems and are jeopardizing their loyalty as a result, according to Ovum.

In a new report, the independent analyst states that businesses need to utilize automated and voice recognition services for phones to stay competitive due to increasing call volumes. However according to its findings, when evaluating their systems, most businesses focus on how they help them to save money and not the customer experience, making them unaware of the high level of frustration they can cause.

Daniel Hong, Ovum analyst and author of the report, said: “There is significant customer frustration when it comes to automated self-service and voice recognition systems. In fact in a recent Ovum survey, one third of respondents said they found it the most challenging aspect of customer service.

“Businesses need to optimize their use of automated and voice recognition services to stay competitive, but there is a fine line between providing cost-effective customer service and actually turning customers off your company. Just a two to three percent increase in automation rates can cause customer frustration and potentially increase customer turnover.

“But many businesses do not realize that their automated systems cause this level of frustration. They are not aware of what their customers are actually experiencing because they are measuring their systems by how much money they are saving them. This is a vulnerable position to be in because frustrated customers are unlikely to be loyal and could be defecting to the competition.”

According to Hong, the most successful automated services are those that are measured on the task completion rate (TCR) as this gives businesses an insight into both efficiency and effectiveness and a better understanding of the customer experience.

He added: “Businesses are under extreme pressure to improve customer retention, reduce costs and do more with less and automated customer service plays a key role. However, getting the system right is paramount to customer loyalty and unless they have an insight into what their customers are experiencing they will not be able to address and reduce frustration.”

More information on customer service can be found at

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Seven Major Projects CIOs Should Consider During the Next Three Years

With the IT industry on track to show a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4 percent for the next five years Gartner has identified seven business and IT issues that CIOs should act on during the next three years. The seven issues include:

IT/OT Alignment- Inadequate software management of operational technology (OT) systems will result in a major business failure of a top Global 100 company by 2013.
Executives are realizing there are cost savings and management efficiencies to be gained by integrating the IT and OT groups together. Although efforts to integrate groups are challenging, benefits from streamlined budgets, coordinated planning, consistent technology architectural decisions and maximizing technology purchasing power make for extremely compelling cases for IT and OT group integration.

Business Gets Social -Through 2015, 80 percent of organizations will lack a coherent approach for dealing with information from the collective.
Today, social media is changing the way business is conducted. Understanding the power of communities, the multiple personas of their members expectations, their aspirations and how to interact with them will become essential skills for business in the 21st century.

Pattern-Based Strategy- Through 2015, pattern-seeking technology will be the fastest-growing intelligence investment among the most successful Global 2000.
A Pattern-Based Strategy provides a framework to proactively seek, model and adapt to leading indicators, often-termed "weak" signals that form patterns in the marketplace. It will allow IT leaders to seek-out patterns amidst the burgeoning information sources and model future possibilities.

Cloud Computing- By 2016, all Global 2000 companies will use public cloud services.
Cloud computing represents a shift in the relationship between the providers and consumers of IT-based solutions. It constitutes the basis of a discontinuity that amounts to a new opportunity to shape the relationship between those who use IT services and those who sell them. Gartner said worldwide cloud services revenue (including public and private services) is forecast to reach $148.8 billion in 2014.

Context-Aware Computing- By 2016, one-third of worldwide mobile consumer marketing will be context-awareness-based. Context-aware computing will foster people to be more digital with the assets they have available. Context-aware computing is taking advantage of location and time and is a new era of augmented reality. More than $150 billion of global telecom spending will shift from services to applications by 2012, and the global market for context-aware services will amount to $215 billion.

Sustainability- By 2016, sustainability will be the fastest-growing enterprise compliance expense worldwide. As long as the current science surrounding climate change remains credible, organizations should anticipate that the current focus on energy, water and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions will continue, and this will draw attention to other environmental issues, such as resource depletion, species extinction, bio-diversity and environmental justice. There will remain many hard trade-offs between an organization’s financial and operational performance and that of its environmental performance. Information systems will be critical in the role -- from governance, risk and compliance, through corporate social responsibility systems, to enabling new and more-sustainable business models.

New Realities of IT: Balancing Cost and Innovation with Risk and Governance- Innovation accomplishments will be among the top-three selection criteria for new CIOs by 2016.
With the recent global recession, innovative thinkers must find new ways to create growth -- in revenue, jobs and industries --- in this new business climate. Cost and value optimization must remain a top priority, while the search for growth continues. Regulatory and corporate demands for greater attention to risk have already begun to emerge. Gartner also foresees a new emphasis on business change governance.

Future Trends
Beyond 2020, Gartner analysts forecast that two emerging trends will become $1 billion markets. First, human augmentation, a technology that focuses on creating cognitive and physical improvements as an integral part of the human body is slowly but steadily becoming a reality and enhancing peoples’ lives. The second trend is wireless power devices. By 2011, there will be more than 1 billion PCs and 5 billion mobile phones in use in the world, and based on the levels of demand Gartner foresees cumulative sales from wireless power products surpassing $1 billion by 2020.

More information on the service and support industry can be found at

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Gartner to CEOs: Seize the iPad Opportunity Now

The Apple iPad and its ecosystem are likely to disrupt existing technology use profiles and business models, and CEOs should ensure that its potential is being seriously evaluated inside their organizations, according to a new report from Gartner Inc.

Gartner forecasts worldwide media tablet sales to end users to reach 19.5 million units in 2010, driven by sales of the iPad. Media tablets are poised for strong growth with worldwide end user sales projected to total 54.8 million units in 2011, up 181 percent from 2010, and surpass 208 million units in 2014.

Unless there is a self-evident case to the contrary, Gartner recommends that IT organizations should provide at least "concierge"-level iPad support for a limited number of key users, and prepare a budgeted plan for widespread support of the iPad by mid-2011.

Gartner also recommends that CEOs ask their marketing and product development teams to present a creative briefing as soon as possible, detailing how iPads could be used by the company and its competitors, because the iPad has the potential to be hugely disruptive to the business models and markets of many enterprises.

According to Gartner analysts, the iPad is not a notebook replacement for most users, but a valuable companion device. As it is much less intrusive in face-to-face environments than conventional notebooks, it is well suited to a sales or information-sharing environment. It also makes electronic media consumption effortless and casual, thereby increasing consumption.

As use of the iPad grows, examples are emerging in industries and professions including consumer applications (such as a personal stock portfolio review), book and magazine publishing, architects and realtors sharing plans in the field, finance specialists sharing quotations with prospects, and salespeople looking to demonstrate interactive presentations. Interest from the healthcare sector is high, but the inability of the device to withstand sanitization or operate inside a sealed pouch is a limitation.

More information can be found at

Monday, November 1, 2010

Strategic CIOs Struggle to Achieve Ambitions

The CIO Executive Council surveyed members about the advancement of the CIO role and found it is significantly affected by an IT executive’s relationship with other C-suite leaders and business stakeholders. Eighty percent of those surveyed aspire to be strategic IT leaders and 44 percent of CEOs want them to follow that path. Yet only 21 percent of respondents identify themselves in this role.

Time management is difficult for CIOs trying to expand their role while running IT. While more than 90 percent say they want to focus on business strategy, improving IT operations and systems performance is taking most of their time.

CIOs may be bogged down with day-to-day operational issues due to a lack of appropriate staff to delegate to. Fifty-three percent list developing leadership depth in their staff as the top issue impeding the advancement of their role. And 62 percent say that their top staff-improvement priority is training employees to partner better with business stakeholders. Training staff to understand the business better was a close second.

Having relationships with stakeholders also goes a long way toward building a CIO’s reputation and credibility. Respondents say meeting with stakeholders (more than 70 percent) and creating quick wins for business partners (more than 60 percent) have the most impact.

More information can be found at

Thursday, October 28, 2010

Overall IT Worker Confidence Index Drops Sharply from the Second Quarter; Signs of Optimism Still Remain

The IT Employee Confidence Index dropped 7.6 points to 50.6 in the third quarter of 2010, according to a recent survey commissioned by Technisource, the technology services division of SFN Group, Inc. The survey, conducted by Harris Interactive, shows a quick reversal in IT worker confidence in the strength of the economy -- with optimism around this question dropping 18 percentage points from the second quarter of 2010. Coupled with this decrease, 56 percent of technology workers believe fewer jobs are available (versus 49 percent in the previous quarter).

Results from the IT Employment Report:

-- A scant 20 percent of technology workers believe the economy is getting stronger (compared to 38 percent in the second quarter). Nearly half (47 percent) of workers believing the economy is staying the same.

-- More than half of the respondents believe there are fewer jobs available (56 percent). At the same time, 43 percent of IT workers are confident in their ability to find a new job.

-- Thirty-eight percent of technology workers are likely to search for job opportunities in the next 12 months, up a single percentage point from the second quarter of 2010 and the highest since the fourth quarter of 2009.

More information on the IT sector can be found at

Tuesday, October 26, 2010

IT Spending to Return to Pre-Recession Levels According to Corporate Executive Board

The Corporate Executive Board, a research and advisory services company, released new data that indicates a 3.3 percent increase in IT operational budgets for 2011, following two years of zero growth. This finding is based on the benchmarking of projected IT spending, staffing and project data of CIOs and IT managers at 133 Fortune 1,000 Companies and collectively represents an IT spend of approximately $70 billion. Based on the projections, leading corporations are cautiously preparing for a return to growth.

CEB's research, conducted by its Information Technology practice, also revealed that nearly 45 percent of the IT project budget within the surveyed companies will be allocated to deploying business intelligence and collaboration tools, or to enabling the customer interface. In fact, 10 percent more business intelligence and collaboration projects are expected to be undertaken in 2011 vs. 2010. This spending will come at the direct expense of process automation projects, which will decrease to 41 percent of the total projected budget.

Additional key findings of CEB's benchmarking research include:

-- Broad-based Growth Among Companies: Encouragingly, the trend of increasing IT operational budgets is broad-based, as two-thirds of CIOs will increase expenditures in 2011. This compares starkly with forecasts of last year, when 75 percent of CIOs expected operating budgets to remain flat or decline.

-- Integrated IT Services are Fast Becoming a Reality: CIOs plan to integrate their traditionally siloed infrastructure and applications groups or merge IT into a cross-functional enterprise services organization. By 2012, 20 percent of organizations will be integrated into a multi-functional shared services organization, and an additional thirty-five percent of organizations will have integrated IT services.

-- IT Capital Budgets Will Remain Flat in 2011: Two-thirds of the total IT budget will be continue to be consumed by "keep-the-lights-on" maintenance or costs associated with regulatory compliance activities. IT capital budgets will remain flat in 2011, at 0.6 percent of revenue, mirroring the lack of growth IT organizations saw in the last three years. 

 More information on IT can be found at

Wednesday, October 20, 2010

CIOs Are Change Agents for a More Collaborative, Virtual Workplace: Survey by Economist Intelligence Unit

Cognizant, a provider of consulting, technology, and business process outsourcing services, announced the results of a research report, “Next-Generation CIOs: Change Agents for the Global Virtual Workplace.” The report reveals the CIO’s role in restructuring how work is done throughout the organization. Among the more than 400 survey respondents, mostly CIO, CEO, vice president, and director-level, those who are moving toward more virtual, collaborative teams are benefitting from increased innovation, more effective talent recruitment and retention, and higher productivity. One in six said their companies are already seeing these results, and another one-fifth expect to garner benefits within a year.

The CIO should spearhead the transformation to a more virtualized workplace, according to 45 percent of respondents. Only CEOs ranked higher, with 47 percent, indicating the CIO is a strategic enabler who, alongside the CEO, can align IT capabilities with business needs.

Key findings include:

-- Virtual team structures are fostering more productive relationships with internal and external partners.

-- Organizations that have embraced virtual teams benefit from increased innovation and competitiveness, but often lack methods to measure the quantitative impact on the bottom line.

-- CIOs have a unique enterprise-wide perspective and are familiar with the people, tools, technologies, and techniques needed to create a corporate culture of virtual teams. 

More information can be found at

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

2010 Cost of Waiting Survey and Report Uncovers the True Economic Cost of Waiting for Consumers and Businesses

Being forced to wait for hours at home for a service or delivery appointment is a frustrating experience for today's busy consumer, and it is also an expensive one. TOA Technologies conducted the second annual Cost of Waiting Survey and Report to shed new light on the economic impact of waiting for in-home appointments. The report found 69% of American adults have waited for utilities, cable/satellite TV, Internet, retail home deliveries and other services in the past year. Those that wait typically do so about four times per year, for an astonishing average wait of almost four and a half hours per appointment - costing consumers about $752 in lost time annually.

Businesses are also losing money and hurting their reputations by making people wait. The margin of time companies have to satisfy their customers is slim. Customer satisfaction drops from 60% when on time to 19% when service or delivery companies are just 15 minutes late. In addition, 48% of waiting Americans contacted customer service to complain about their experience.

The Cost of Waiting Survey also found that:

-- 21% of respondents switched companies as a direct result of waiting for their appointment.

-- 28% of Americans waiting for an appointment or delivery gave up and left their home in frustration.

-- Businesses lose $719 annually for each person who cancels or switches service providers (based on respondent estimates).

-- 48% of waiting Americans contacted customer service to complain about their experience. 

More information can be found at

Monday, October 18, 2010

Worldwide Enterprise IT Spending to Reach $2.5 Trillion in 2011

Worldwide enterprise IT spending is forecast to reach $2.5 trillion in 2011, a 3.1 percent increase from 2010 spending of $2.4 trillion, according to Gartner, Inc. 2010 enterprise IT spending is on track to total $2.4 trillion, a 2.4 percent increase from 2009. Over the next five years, enterprise IT spending will represent a period of timid and at times lackluster growth with spending totaling $2.8 trillion in 2014.

In addition, Gartner discussed four broad trends that will support change in IT, and in the economy, the next 10 years.

1. Cloud
2. Business impact of social computing
3. Context Aware Computing
4. Pattern Based Strategy

Cloud computing is a style of computing where scalable and elastic IT-related capabilities are provided “as a service” to external customers using Internet technologies. It constitutes the basis of a discontinuity that amounts to a new opportunity to shape the relationship between those who use IT services and those who sell them.

The second major trend is the business impact of social computing. Not simply more platforms such as Facebook or Twitter, the real impact will come as the underlying ethos, culture and attitudes which shape social computing and have driven growth to date, pervade the enterprise and blur the boundaries between personal and professional activities.

The third major trend impacting IT leaders is Context Aware Computing. The proliferation and availability of wireless technologies – coupled with an explosion of super intelligent devices – notebooks, tablets and smartphones -- in the hands of consumers– linked to cost effective compute and communication capabilities in all physical products – has created a new Internet

The last trend is Pattern-Based Strategy. A Pattern-Based Strategy provides a framework to proactively seek patterns from traditional and non-traditional sources, model their impact, and adapt according to the needs of the pattern.

This builds on pattern-based technologies such as social network analysis, context aware technologies and predictive analytic tools. It will allow IT leaders to seek-out patterns amidst the burgeoning information sources and model future possibilities.

More information on IT can be found at

Wednesday, October 13, 2010

Research Shows Increase in Average Starting Salaries for IT Professionals

Information technology (IT) professionals in the United States can expect starting salaries to increase an average of 3.4 percent in 2011, according to the just-released Robert Half Technology Salary Guide 2011. Larger increases in base compensation are expected in high-demand segments such as applications and web development, data security and enterprise resource planning (ERP).

According to the Salary Guide, web designers will see the greatest starting salary gains of any job classification in 2011, with base compensation expected to rise 5.5 percent, to between $50,750 and $83,000 annually.

Other key findings from the Robert Half Technology Salary Guide 2011 include:

-- Base compensation for ERP technical developers – who tailor ERP software for their organizations – is projected to increase 5.2 percent next year, to a range of $79,250 to $109,500.

-- Average starting salaries for business intelligence analysts will rise 5 percent, to the range of $82,500 to $116,250 annually.

-- Data modelers can expect base compensation in the range of $80,750 to $111,250, a gain of 4.5 percent over 2010.

-- Network managers will see average starting salaries rise 4.3 percent, to the range of $79,250 to $109,500 per year.

-- Base compensation for IT auditors will increase 4.2 percent, with starting salaries of $77,750 to $108,000 annually, on average.

Industries forecasting particularly strong demand for IT professionals in 2011 include business services, transportation and healthcare. 

More information on IT can be found at

Monday, October 11, 2010

85% of Tech Leaders Optimistic on Economic Recovery, but Companies Project Employment to Remain Flat

On the heels of one of the most severe economic downturns of the last century, and amid a continued sluggish global economy, the DLA Piper Technology Leaders Forecast Survey found that industry leaders are confident of continued economic recovery and project moderately increased sales revenues for tech companies over the next six- to 12 months.

The survey, measuring the attitudes and perspectives of top executives within the technology industry, reveals that close to 85 percent of technology and venture capital executives believe the global economy is on a sustained path of economic recovery. This is a notable increase in confidence over the survey DLA Piper commissioned just six months ago, when 69 percent of technology leaders projected that an economic recovery was at hand.

Tech Companies Expect Sales Growth, But No Increases in Employment and R&D

Survey respondents indicated high levels of confidence for their own respective business plans and financial forecasts during the next six- to 12 months. Nearly 72 percent of respondents expect their firms to experience sales growth during that time period; more than 82 percent forecasted business demand will rise. Start-ups and mid-sized technology companies were slightly more optimistic about their sales growth prospects than were larger technology companies.

Still, in a clear illustration of the caution with which companies are proceeding in the current economic environment, 43 percent of companies reported they expect to keep staffing levels flat. The outlook is gloomier among large tech companies. For those companies with over $1 billion in annual revenue, nearly 60 percent expect flat or decreasing employment over the next six- to 12 months.

Weak IPO Market Permanently Altering Model for Tech Start-Ups

Respondents also widely agreed that the weakness in the IPO market will continue notwithstanding some improvement in 2010, with nearly 72 percent of respondents indicating that they no longer view an IPO as an optimal exit strategy. As a result, more than 59 percent of these executives believe the traditional venture capital model has been “permanently altered” – and expect both fewer venture capital firms and fewer funded technology companies in the future.

Government Impact on Tech Sector

There was a mixed reaction to the expected debate and vote on the Bush-era tax cuts that are set to expire at the end of the year. A majority of the business executives responding to the survey (56 percent) believe that an expiration of the tax cuts would result in reduced investments in start-up tech companies and venture capital funds. However, 30 percent of tech executives believe the increased government revenues generated with the resulting tax increase would help reduce deficits and improve general economic confidence.

Tech leaders were more bullish on government investment and involvement in the CleanTech sector, with nearly 84 percent of respondents favoring tax incentives and other active involvement in that sector. CleanTech and Cloud Computing were seen as the tech industry’s two most promising growth opportunities according to a ranking that appears in the survey.

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Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Bad data costing US businesses $700 billion a year

Bad data is costing US businesses hundreds of billions of dollars a year and is affecting their ability to ride out the tough economic climate, according to Ovum.

In a new report the independent technology analyst claims that poor quality data is now costing US businesses an estimated $700 billion a year due to the inefficiency it causes and through lost customers, sales and revenue.

Bad data includes incorrect and outdated values, missing data and inconsistent formats. Costs mount as it wastes time and leads to poor targeting of resources and flawed pricing strategies.

While there are many data quality tools available to help businesses reduce the effect on their bottom line, choosing the right one is half the battle.

More information can be found at

Monday, October 4, 2010

Social Media is Changing Attraction & Retention of Talent, Yet 76 Percent of Companies Have No Formal Social Media Strategy

Social media is changing the way people find jobs, but according to the latest Emerging Workforce Study by SFN Group, most companies are out of step. In fact, less than one-fourth have a formal social media strategy in place, and of those, only one-third say they've had success.

While successful adoption of social media requires a radical mindset change, the SFN study found many companies continue to apply conventional thinking to attracting, cultivating and retaining workers -- a strategy that may fall short in today's digital world.

Conventional Misfire #1: Attracting Talent Is Most Successful through Traditional Means
According to the study, only four percent of HR executives use social networking to recruit. For many, attracting workers remains a sterile, one-size-fits-all approach, regardless of an onslaught of social media that now offers boundless opportunities to target specific candidate groups and tap into markets which might otherwise have been inaccessible.

Conventional Misfire #2: Providing a Paycheck Alone Ensures an Engaged Workforce
The Emerging Workforce Study found that for 75 percent of workers, their job means more than just a way to earn a living. A full 88 percent want to think of new and creative ways to do things, with most workers naming growth potential as the top reason to stay beyond pay and benefits. One of the most effective venues to engage workers is social media, yet of the 44 percent of businesses using it, only 20 percent use it to motivate existing employees.

Conventional Misfire #3: Social Media Has Little to Do with Retaining Workers
Less than 20 percent of companies leverage social media to retain employees, according to the study. This is not surprising, when only 23 percent of HR executives said they are concerned about retention. However, utilizing social media to reinforce a company's commitment to its mission can deliver tremendous dividends in employee loyalty.

The study found that workers who feel their employer has a clear corporate mission -- and follows through on it -- are nearly twice as likely to stick around, compared to those who work for companies without a clear mission.

Arguably, a compelling reason behind the growth of social media is it allows people to be heard. Giving workers an outlet to speak their minds can dramatically improve employee retention.

More information can be found at

Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Service and Support Metrics Survey: The 2010 Report Card

Budgets are stagnating. Support volume is increasing. The complexity of support transactions is up. And, curiously, customers are happier. Does something have to give in this equation? Yes – support is taking longer than it used to, compared with last year's survey. The centerpiece of the 2010 Service and Support Metrics Survey, our review of support metrics, shows a clear trend that productivity metrics are beginning to slow down under the weight of cost and resource burdens. Here is what the data are telling us:

Average speed to answer for phone-based support: 43% answer within 30 seconds or less, but 22.5% take a minute or more. By comparison, only 3.2% required a minute or greater in 2009.

Average hold time: Exactly half of the survey respondents can boast hold times of a minute or less, with 20.5% having no hold time at all. In 2009, however, nearly three-quarters of respondents required less than a minute on hold.

Average abandonment rate: 60.7% of respondents had an abandonment rate of less than 5%, with 22.5% experiencing a rate of less than 1%. At the other end of the spectrum, approximately 9% of respondents had abandonment rates of over 10%, including a couple of outliers over 15%. This statistic was not measured in 2009.

Average number of e-mails exchanged to resolve a support request: 59.8% of respondents handle e-mail support requests within 1 to 3 e-mails, while most of the remainder (21.5%) resolve an average request within 4 to 6 e-mails. These numbers are comparable with 2009 statistics.

Escalation: Nearly one-third of people (30.3%) escalate less than 10% of their transactions to level 2, while at the other end of the spectrum, 7.8% escalate more than half of their issues. Remaining responses were fairly well distributed between these two extremes.

Cost of support transactions: Phone support remains the most expensive option, with e-mail and chat/instant message support following in order. Slightly more than half of respondents reported costs ranging up to $24 for phone transactions, with 30.3% holding costs to under $10 a transaction. For e-mail, 45% reported costs under $10 per transaction, while for chat/IM 45% reported costs under $5 per transaction. At the other end of the spectrum, the percentage of respondents reporting average costs above $24/transaction were 25.4%, 17.6%, and 4.8% for phone, e-mail, and chat/IM respectively. Factoring in non-responders, these results were very similar to those of 2009.

Holding these numbers up against customer satisfaction levels, which are generally increasing, the trend seems to be that customers feel good support is worth waiting for – as long as it isn't a long wait. So while the difference between, say, waiting on hold for one minute versus one minute and 20 seconds may not be significant, trends towards the ends of the spectrum are likely to need attention or intervention to keep customers happy.

Find out more at the one hour event discussing the results of the 2010 Service and Support Metrics survey.

Monday, September 27, 2010

Gartner Estimates Global 'IT Debt' to Be $500 Billion This Year, with Potential to Grow to $1 Trillion by 2015

Global IT debt will total approximately $500 billion in 2010, with the potential to rise to $1 trillion by 2015, according to Gartner, Inc. After a decade of tight budgets, the scale of the maintenance backlog has created a systemic risk, particularly for large organizations. Gartner defines IT debt as the cost of clearing the backlog of maintenance that would be required to bring the corporate applications portfolio to a fully supported current release state.

Gartner analysts said one way to characterize this backlog of deferred liability is to see it as a debt incurred in previous years that will need to be paid off at some time. This "IT debt" is a hidden risk for many organizations, and given continued tight economic conditions, this IT debt is growing, and the associated business risk is growing.

As businesses continue to invest in business value-added projects that add more functionality and complexity into the existing and aging portfolio, the size of the IT debt grows as well, because the additional functionality and complexity will need to be maintained and upgraded to a more-reliable state at some point in the future.

Gartner analysts said IT leaders should produce an annual report on the status of the application portfolio. The report should detail the status of the application portfolio in terms that the rest of the business can readily absorb, detailing the number of applications in use, the number acquired, the number decommissioned, and the current and projected costs of both operating and sustaining or improving the integrity of the application assets.

More information on IT can be found at