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CIO Job Description And The Need For Technical Experience Mon 22 Sep 08

Geekyderek_penmachineLast month Laurie Orlov had an interesting article on CIO.com. Her article "Why Specific Tech Experience Shouldn't Define the CIO Resume" has been rattling around in my mind (as things so often do) since then.

Laurie was commenting on CIO job descriptions "that demand skills in configuring servers, designing the website, creating a long-term strategy, 20 years of experience plus a deep track record in a subbranch of financial services. Or that specify knowledge of an arcane, perhaps obsolete technology."  I can relate to this as I've seen job description calling for the CIO to have specific programming skills in the latest technology and even list specific programming languages.  In short, these types of job descriptions focus on tactical, technical skills. 

The irony in all this is as Laurie correctly points out is that "They want CIOs they can understand (no techno-speak, please) and who understand business. So even if a CIO enters with a laundry list of technical experience that matches what the company asked for in the job description, chances are she's going to spend virtually no time in the new job using those skills."

The part of all this that been rattling around in my mind is -- Why?  Why do people write these kinds of job descriptions.  After giving it some thought, the answer that I come to is rather straightforward and simple -- they don't know any better!  I'm not trying to be mean or belittle anyone but state this very plainly.  The people that write these job descriptions (probably someone in Human Resources) and the hiring managers don't really understand what a CIO can or should do. 

We can argue about who's fault this but that is not helpful.  Rather than argue about fault we should ask the question -- What can we do to change this so people understand what CIOs do?

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We're Out Of The Bunker After Hurricane Ike Wed 17 Sep 08

As some of you may know I live just north of Houston and we've had some interesting days lately.  I appreciate the notes of concern and I'm happy to say that we are all ok. 

We "hunkered down" and are now in the process of cleaning up after Hurricane Ike.  There was some damage to the house but we got a crane in today to remove a tree from my new skylight (courtesy of Ike) and things are progressing.  Phone, internet have returned although no power yet other than what is provided by Schaffner Power & Light.

Due to the clean-up and catch-up efforts I may be slow in responding to comments and such.  My last Monday's post was preset for publishing as is next Monday's so you may not hear from me for awhile.

The hurricane did present some new perspectives on technology reliability which I hope to write about soon.

Well it's back to the bunker for more cleaning.

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A Review of Chrome - Google's New Internet Browser Mon 15 Sep 08

ChromeAbout 2 weeks ago Google launched a beta (pre-official release) version of "Chrome" their Internet browser and it has created a lot of buzz in the IT world.  The big question is whether or not Chrome offers enough to make people want to make the switch from other browsers, such as Internet Explorer (IE) and Firefox.

I like Chrome for personal use but I think it will struggle to gain a foothold in corporate environments.  Let's start by looking at the 3 big things Google claims as Chrome's advantages--speed, security and stability--and then move to other factors.

Speed - Chrome is being touted as faster than other browsers, and I've seen some reports where people have said it really is faster. Admittedly, my test experience wasn't a controlled laboratory study, but I'm just not seeing a big improvement in speed.

It's certainly not any slower than IE, but I don't notice any particular speed improvement over IE either. For me, when you claim faster speed, it should mean noticeably faster, something that is obvious and doesn't need a chronograph to measure minor differences. 

Security - Google claims that it was able to design Chrome for the Internet as it exists today, not as it was years ago. So rather than creating patches as new threats and usage of the Internet evolved, Google says it designed a more robust security architecture. There is a certain logic to this; the basic flaw, however, is that the Internet is not static. Just as IE has had to adapt, so will Chrome.

Microsoft (nasdaq: MSFT - news - people ) has always claimed that IE has excellent security, something it touts with a straight face every time it issues a new security patch. I expect that we will see the same with Chrome. In fact, within hours of Chrome's release, there were reports of possible security flaws.

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An IT Question: Are Access Database The Problem Or Only A Symptom? Mon 08 Sep 08

Help_cobber99_3User-written Access databases (and other similar applications) always present a number of issues for IT.  Issues of on-going support, documentation, testing, Sarbanes-Oxley compliance, security, backup, licensing, disaster recovery and so on.  They represent all of the challenges that we continually work to minimize.

Some in IT view Access databases as the root cause of these issues and therefore the solution is clear.  Let's solve the problem by outlawing Access databases and limit user ability extract data from or to update data in the ERP systems other than through IT provided means.  No more user-written systems, no more issues.

Others view these user-written systems as a symptom of a larger issue.  The larger issue being that users take this route because IT doesn't give them a better alternative.  They don't feel IT is responsive enough to their needs and therefore they must take matters into their own hands.  Those that believe the Access database as a symptom issue don't believe we can ever eliminate them (users will always find away to meet their needs) until IT resolves the issue of responsiveness thereby providing a better alternative to users?

How do you view Access databases?  Are they the root cause of the problem or are they symptoms of bigger issues? 

"Help" photo by Cobber99

Got a question you'd like me to post for future discussion?  Email it to me using the "Email Mike" link in the left hand column.

If this topic was of interest, you might also like the other posts in the IT Question category.

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The Not So Silver Lining Behind Cloud Computing - Managing The Risks Mon 01 Sep 08

A_lonely_cloud_jasoneppinkCloud computing has been getting a lot of attention lately. Like the other current hot topic, Web 2.0, it's a loosely defined term. Generally, it refers to accessing information technology services such as data storage or applications in the Internet "cloud" without control of the underlying support infrastructure.

Chances are that you've used cloud services on a personal level, if not on a corporate level. Do you have a Yahoo! or Gmail e-mail account? It's a form of a cloud application. Do you store your photos on Flickr? Are you--or your kids--on Facebook? That's right, more cloud services.

So you've already got a lot of personal data stored on the cloud, and you assume the you own and control it--but do you? Depending on what was in the user agreement that you clicked through without a second thought when you signed up for the account, you might find that you've already ceded control of all that data. For example, Facebook's Terms of Use agreement states:

"... The Company may, but is not obligated to, review the Site and may delete or remove (without notice) any Site Content or User Content in its sole discretion, for any reason or no reason, including User Content…"

and

"…grant, to the Company an irrevocable, perpetual, non-exclusive, transferable, fully paid, worldwide license (with the right to sublicense) to use, copy, publicly perform, publicly display, reformat, translate, excerpt (in whole or in part) and distribute such User Content for any purpose, commercial, advertising or otherwise, on or in connection with the Site or the promotion thereof, to prepare derivative works of, or incorporate into other works, such User Content, and to grant and authorize sublicenses of the foregoing."

Flickr has similar terms and also indicates that there is no right of survivorship and the account is non-transferable. Remember all those precious family photos that your tech-savvy grandmother posted on Flickr? Well, they could be lost forever when her account goes "inactive" if she should die without having kept a copy. I post my photos on Flickr but I keep copies on my PC.

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