The Rise of the Bots

Guest Blog from Robert Bertora @ Kamoha Tech – Original article here

The dawn of the rising bots is upon us. If you do not know what a Bot is, it’s the abbreviated form for the word Robot, and it is a term that is now commonly used to describe automated software programs that are capable of performing tasks on computers that traditionally were reserved for human beings. Bots are software and Robots are Hardware, all Robots need Bots to power their reasoning or “brain” so to speak. Today the Golden Goose is to build Artificial Intelligence (commonly known as AI) directly into the Bots, and the goal is, for these Bots to be able to learn on their own, either from being trained, or from their own experience of making mistakes. There is after all no evidence to suggest that the human mind is anything more than a machine, and therefore no reason for us to believe that we can’t build similar intelligent machines incorporating AI.

These days Bots are everywhere, you may not realise it so here are a few examples that come to mind:

Trading Bots: Trading Bots have existed for many years, at least 20 years if not more and are capable of watching financial markets that trade in anything from currency to company shares. Not only do they watch these markets, but they can perform trades just like any other Human Trader. What is more, is that they can reason out, and execute a trade in milliseconds, leaving a Human Trader in the dust.

Harvesting Bots were originally created by computer gamers who were tired of performing repetitive tasks in the games they played. Instead of sitting at their computer or consoles for hours killing foe for resources such as mana or gold, one could simply load up a Bot to do this tedious part of gameplay for you. While you slept, the Bot was “harvesting” game resources for you, and in the morning your mana and gold reserves would be nicely topped up and ready for you to spend in game on more fun stuff, like buying upgraded weapons or defences!

Without Harvesting Bots and their widespread proliferation in the gaming community we are all very unlikely to have ever heard of Crypto Currencies, you see it can be argued that these would never have been invented in the first place. Crypto Currencies and Block Chain technologies rely in part on the foundations set by the computer gaming Harvesting Bots. The Harvesting Bot concept was needed by the Crypto Currency Pioneers who used it to solve their problem of mimicking the mining of gold in the real world. They evolved the Harvesting Bot into Mining Bots which are capable of mining for crypto coins from the electronic Block Chain(s). You may have heard of people mining for Bitcoins and other Crypto coins, using mining Rigs and the Bots; the Rigs being the powerful computer hardware they need to run the Mining Bots.

What about Chat Bots? have you ever heard of these? These Bots replace the function of humans in customer service chat rooms online. There are two kinds of Chat Bots, the really simple ones, and the NLP (Neuro Linguistic Programming) ones which are capable of processing Natural Language.

Simple Chat Bots follow a question, answer, yes/no kind of flow. These Chatbots offer you a choice of actions or questions that you can click on, in order to give you a preprogramed answer or to take you through a preprogramed flow with preprogramed answers. You may have encountered these online, but if not, you will have certainly encountered this concept in Telephone Automation Systems that large companies use as part of their customer service functions.

NLP Chat Bots are able to take your communication in natural language (English, French etc..), making intelligent reasoning as to what you are saying or asking, and then formulating responses again in natural language that when done well may seem like you are chatting with another human online. This type of Chatbot displays what we call artificial intelligence and should be able to learn new responses or behaviours based on training and or experience of making mistakes and learning from these. At KAMOHA TECH, we develop industry agnostic NLP Bots on our KAMOHA Bot Engine incorporating AI and Neural Network coding techniques. Our industry agnostic Bot engine is used to deploy into almost any sector. Just as one could deploy a human into almost any job sector (with the right training and experience) so too we can do this with our industry agnostic artificially intelligent KAMOHA Bots.

Siri, Cortana and Alexa are all Bots which are integrated to many more systems across the internet, giving them seemingly endless access to resources in order to provide answers to our more trivial human questions, like “what’s the weather like in LA?”. These Bots are capable of responding not only to text NLP but also to voice natural language inputs.

Future Bots are currently being developed, Driverless vehicles: powered by Bots, any Robot (taking human or animal form) that you may see in the media or online in YouTube videos are and will be powered by their “AI brain” or Bot so to speak. Fridges that automatically place your online grocery shopping order – powered by Bots, buildings that maintain themselves: powered by Bots. Bot Doctors that can diagnose patients, Lawyer Bots, Banker Bots, Bots that can-do technical design, image recognition, Bots that can run your company? … Bots Bots Bots!

People have embraced new Technology for the last 100 years, almost without question, just as they did for most of Medical Science. Similar to certain branches of Medical Science, Technology has its bad boys though, that stray deeply into the Theological, Social, Moral and even Legal territories. Where IVF was 40-50 years ago, so too are our Artificially Intelligent Bots: pushing the boundaries, of normalities and our moral beliefs. Will Bots replace our jobs? What will become of humans? Are we making Robots in our own image? Are we the new Gods? Will Robots be our slaves? Will they break free and murder us all? A myriad of open ended questions and like a can of worms or pandora’s box, the lid was lifted decades ago. Just as sure as we developed world economies and currency in a hodgepodge of muddling through the millennia we are set to do the same with Bots; we will get there in the end.

It’s not beyond my imagination to say that if Bots replace human workers in substantial volume, then legislation will be put in place to tax these Bots as part of company corporation tax, and to protect human workers it is likely that these taxes will be higher than that of humans. If a bot does the work of 50 people? How do you tax that? Interesting times, interesting questions. My one recommendation to any one reading this, is do not fear change, do not fear the unknown, and have faith in the Human ability to make things work.

Love them or hate them Bots are on the rise, they will only get smarter and their usages will be as diverse as our own human capabilities. Brave new world.

Click on the image below to see our bots:

3 positions of leadership – Leading from the front

We can learn much from horses about teamwork and leadership in business. In our workshops with horses, we share a leadership model that the horses use to create cohesive teamwork. It involves three positions of leadership and we will explore Leading from the front in more detail in this post.

Many of our clients have found this leadership model to be enlightening and have embraced and implemented it into their business with substantial success. The model is based on building relationships rather than a more traditional command and control style of leadership which does not engage and inspire employees. The success of the team is dependent on every team member taking responsibility for leadership and changing their position within the team according to what they believe is needed in each moment.

The model we use is adapted from a model developed by Klaus Ferdinand Hempfling. He observed that there are three different leadership roles in a herd of horses:

  • Leading from the front where the leader sets the pace, destination and direction
  • Leading from the side where leaders coach each other in a democratic leadership style and ensure everyone is moving forward together in the same direction
  • Leading from behind which has a check and balance style of leadership and drives the team forward to maintain momentum

Each member of the team is leading at different moments, and all are essential to the success of the team.

It might seem obvious that dragging or shoving half a ton of horse is impossible yet many employees feel as though they are on the receiving end of this behaviour in the workplace. When we work with horses, we are always working at a fine-tuning level of leadership to maximise leaders’ effectiveness so we reduce coercion and passivity and help leaders find that knife-edge of assertiveness when they are leading out of the comfort zone. Asa result, they improve their ability to flex and adapt to what is needed in any given situation and are able to inspire their teams much more easily.

In this post, I share an extract from my book Leadership Beyond Measure which explores leading from the front in more detail.

Leading from the front
The alpha mare is the most dominant member of the herd and leads from the front. Her role is to set the pace, direction and destination. Since horses are a prey animal, they are on the alert for danger. Imagine a pack of wild dogs appears, the alpha mare will decide where the herd go, how they get there and how fast they go.

If the dogs are close by, she will set off at a gallop. If they are further away, she will set off at a walk. She will go as fast as is necessary to keep the herd safe. This way, the herd conserve their energy for when it is most needed. Many people in business are going at three hundred miles per hour constantly. That is exhausting, and more balance is essential to prevent burn-out and work-related stress.

In a workplace setting, the leader of the company and each team and department usually lead from the front. For example, the MD or CEO will set the strategy and vision for a company. A Project Manager defines clear goals and objectives for his project team. A leader of a team translates the vision and goals so everyone on their team has clear expectations. Everyone at some point will need to lead from the front.

If nobody takes the lead from the front or the vision and direction are not clear enough, the team gets diverted and disperses. This can ultimately lead to conflict in the team and causes increased workload as the team become ineffective. If you’ve ever sat in a meeting and listened to a discussion go round and round without a decision, you’ve experienced what happens when nobody is leading from the front.

And if you’ve ever sat in a meeting where everyone talks over the top of each other, then you’ve experienced what happens when everyone is trying to lead from the front!

One of the challenges of leading from the front is you can get so far ahead that you lose the team. It is essential to keep checking that all team members are coming with you and understand where they are going. A common mistake in organisations is to believe that the strategy and vision have been clearly communicated when they have not. If the team is not doing what you want them to do, the destination, pace and direction need to be clearer.

When leading from the front, the focus is in the direction you are heading. If you keep turning round and looking back, you create a stop/start behaviour in your team. It indicates doubt, a lack of self-belief and self-confidence. Leading from the front requires enormous trust in yourself and the team and a belief that people will execute the strategy you have set. Be purposeful, focused, committed and clear about where you are heading or the team may stall.

In today’s business environments of rapid transformation and change, leading from the front is critical to providing the clarity and vision that employees need in order to drive the business forward.

How clear is the vision in your business and team?

Next month, I’ll explore Leading from behind and how it is critical to drive the team forward in line with the vision and pace that has been articulated.

Jude Jennison is an international speaker, author and Horse Assisted Educator with a 16 year senior leadership career in a global IT organisation, where she led UK, European and global teams.

Jude helps senior leaders and executive teams develop embodied leadership skills that create tangible business results. By receiving a horse’s non-judgemental feedback, any leader can identify their leadership behaviours and transform themselves into a courageous and hugely influential non-verbal communicator.

For more information on our leadership development programmes,
contact us on 0800 170 1810 or visit our website www.theleadershipwhisperers.com

DevOps: An Immersive Simulation

It’s 8:15 am on Thursday 5th April and I’m on the 360 bus to Imperial College, London. No — I’ve not decided to go back to college, I am attending a DevOps (a software engineering culture and practice that aims at unifying software development and software operation) simulation day being run by the fabulous guys from G2G3.

I’ve known the G2G3 team for several years now, having been on my very first ITSM (IT Service Management) simulation way back in 2010 when I worked for the NHS in Norfolk and I can honestly say that that first simulation blew me away! In fact, I was so impressed with that I have helped deliver almost 25 ITSM sims since that day, in partnership with G2G3.

Having worked with ITIL (IT Infrastructure Library) based operations teams for most of my career, I remember when DevOps first became “a thing”. I was sharing an office with the Application Manager at the time and I can honestly say that it seemed a very chaotic way of justifying throwing fixes/enhancements into a live service. This really conflicted with my traditional ITSM beliefs that you should try to stop fires happening in the first place, so as you can imagine, we had some lively conversations in the office.

Since then, DevOps has grown into the significant, best practice approach that it is today. DevOps has found its place alongside service management best practice, allowing the two to complement each other.

Anyway, back to the 360 bus — let me tell you a bit about the day…

On arrival, I met with Jaro and Chris from G2G3 who were leading the day. The participants consisted of a variety of people from different backgrounds, some trainers, some practitioners, but all with a shared interest in DevOps. Big shout out as well to the guys who came all the way from Brazil!!! Shows how good these sessions are!

The day kicked off with us taking our places at the tables that are scattered around the room as we are given an explanation of how the sim works. I do not want to go into detail about what happens over the day, as you really need to approach these sessions with an open mind, rather than know the answers. What I can tell you is that the rest of the day consisted of rounds of activity, with each one followed by opportunities for learning and improving and planning. There are times when you find yourself doing something you would never normally do, amidst the chaos of the first round. This was summed up by my colleague, another service management professional, who had to admit that they “put it in untested”, much to the enjoyment of the rest of the room!

The day itself went by in a blur! People who you met at the beginning of the day, are now old friends that you go down the pub with at the end of the day! These new-found friends are also a fantastic pot of knowledge, with everyone able to share ideas and approaches.

The day was a rollercoaster of emotions — At the beginning of the day, I was apprehensive about whether I had enough knowledge of DevOps. Apprehension quickly changed to a general feeling of frustration and confusion through round one, as I tried to use my Tetris knowledge to develop products! I finished the day with a real sense of satisfaction — I had held my own and the whole team had been successful in developing products and delivering a profit for the business. There were some light-bulb moments for me along the way, in particular around needing to make sure that any developments should integrate with each other and also meet the user acceptance criteria. I also realised that DevOps is more structured than I thought with checkpoints along the way to ensure success. The unique way in which simulations are delivered serves to immerse people in a subject whilst encouraging them to change behaviours through self-discovery.

I have always received very good feedback for ITSM simulations, and I can see that the DevOps simulation will prove to be as successful.

Several of us also returned to Imperial College the next day to attend the Train the Trainer session for the DevOps simulation. This means that we can now offer tailored simulations either as an individual session or as part of a wider programme of change.

Simulations are always difficult to explain, without giving away the content of the day, but if you would like to find out more, please contact me onsandra.lewis@bedifrent.com


Written by Sandra Lewis — Difrent Service Mannagement Lead
@sandraattp | sandra.lewis@bedifrent.com | +44(0) 1753 752 220

The Business Consulting Industry Is Booming, and It’s About to Be Disrupted

Guest Blog: Soren Kaplan via Inc

Image CREDIT: Getty Images

Whether the focus is strategy, operations, tax, finance, HR, or IT, business consultants are a staple of corporate life. Today, over 700,000 consulting firms provide services across virtually all aspects of business globally. From defining strategic direction to simply serving as an additional pair of hands for outsourced work, consultants have become inextricably linked to the success of most large organizations.

Here’s the issue: Festering underneath myriad consulting offerings, methodologies, tools, and firms lie some vulnerabilities that will eventually unravel the consulting business model — the same kind of dramatic disruption that other industries like photography, publishing, health care, and many others have experienced.

An industry becomes susceptible to disruption when it becomes entrenched in its longstanding solutions and financial structure. Disruptive innovations provide simpler or more elegant solutions to existing problems, enabled by new technology and often at a lower cost. Think portable calculators versus computers, Amazon versus bookstores, Netflix versus Blockbuster, or digital cameras versus film.

Management consulting is not immune to the dynamics of disruption. According to IBISWorld, for example, “the Management Consulting industry is in the mature stage of its life cycle. The industry is characterized by growth in line with the overall economy, an increasing number of industry players, and technological change based on improving efficiency rather than developing entirely new services.”

In any industry, when the basis of competition becomes efficiency versus innovation and new solutions, disruption lies on the horizon.

Five fatal flaws of the consulting industry

Here are five inherent qualities of the management consulting industry that make it susceptible to technology-driven disruption:

  1. Labor intensive. Most consulting services rely on humans as the fundamental source of research, analysis, recommendations, process definition, process management, and facilitation.
  2. Billable time-based business model. The fee structure underlying most consulting services is tied to billable hours or days, which encourages lengthy, overstaffed engagements to maximize revenue.
  3. High margins. The cost of “goods” in consulting refers not to products but to people. The billable rates of junior consultants in most large firms far exceed what they are paid by the firms in which they work. Value pricing models also dramatically increase the profitability of many projects and firms.
  4. Time-bound value. With the increasing pace of change, the moment a research report, competitive analysis, or strategic plan is delivered to a client, its currency and relevance rapidly diminishes as new trends, issues, and unforeseen disrupters arise.
  5. Knowledge commoditization. The models, templates, and tools of the consulting trade have historically been kept “secret” by consultants and locked away as intellectual capital. The “democratization” of just about everything, including management information and knowledge, will continue so that anyone can access and apply “best practices” on their own.

Paradoxically, even with these fundamental flaws — all of which are contrary to the best interests of clients — the industry continues to grow. Last year, for example, the management consulting industry saw a 4.1 percent growth rate.

So why be concerned?

Intersecting trends drive disruption.

Rapidly emerging trends have created a new breed of competitor — even if the industry doesn’t yet view these upstarts as competition. Firms like Domo, Looker, Qlik, Radius, and CBInsights tap into the converging trends shaping the future of business, and the world. By creating solutions at the intersection of big data, data analytics, the cloud, cognitive computing, visualization, and cross platform anytime access, these firms provide a glimpse into the type of automated, scalable data gathering, insights, and decision-making made possible by next generation technology.

The first to feel the detrimental effects of disruption will likely be the large research and advisory firms such as Gartner, Forrester, and IDC. With models that rely on armies of analysts, PDF reports that become outdated the moment they’re published, and significant annual subscription fees, these firms embody the most significant vulnerabilities of the larger consulting industry. And this is just the tip of the iceberg. Just about any consultant or firm that conducts primary or secondary research will see the value of these offerings — and clients’ willingness to pay for them — diminish significantly.

While many consultants and consulting firms have established practices advising clients on strategies to leverage disruptive trends and technologies, few apply this to themselves. Investing in the technological innovations and next generation business models is a fundamentally paradoxical concept in an industry driven by billable hours, billable days, and closely held best practices in the form of “knowledge capital.”

Eat your own dog food.

In 2000, I wrote an article in the first issue of Consulting to Management (C2M) about the importance of creating “knowledge assets” as a strategy to scale professional services offerings. The article described the importance of capturing and codifying intellectual capital in the form of process methodologies, tools, and templates. Many firms do that quite successfully today.

Repeatable processes, models and tools are indeed important for efficiency, scalability, and profitability. Yet the physical delivery of these staples of the trade remain chained to an entrenched business model. A new approach is needed if the management consulting industry — let alone individual firms and consultants — will have the chance to unlock the next phase of its evolution and value, before some dramatic external threat forces the issue.

Many clients hire consultants to tap into strategic thinking — seeing the big picture, identifying scenarios, choosing options, and creating game plans. Yet a conspicuous void exists when it comes to addressing strategic questions by and for the industry itself.

Here is a set of questions that can help jump start new business models for management consulting:

  • Transformative problems. What emerging client challenges and needs exist that, if addressed, would transform their business by 10x, or even 100x?
  • Radical intelligence. How do we leverage big data, artificial intelligence, collaboration tools, and other technologies to create a step change in the level of knowledge and insight we deliver?
  • Scalable relevance. How do we scale our tools and methods while ensuring applicability to the widest possible audience globally?
  • Knowledge democratization. How do we make our models, tools, and resources ubiquitously available while building a sustainable business model?
  • Collaborative ecosystems. What networks can we build or join that exponentially elevate the value we create and deliver?

In the field of business strategy, the “tyranny of success” is a well-known dynamic: what led to today’s success will ultimately lead to tomorrow’s failure. Individual consultants and consulting firms that recognize the limitations of their existing business model while exploring opportunities that tap into emerging technologies and new delivery models will have the best chance of thriving in the fast-approaching disruptive future.

The opinions expressed here by Inc.com columnists are their own, not those of Inc.com.

The 7 Deadly Sins Of Product Development

Guest Blog: Travis Jacobs via LinkedIn

1.   The Pregnant Woman Theory

If one woman can make a baby in 9 months, then 9 women can make a baby in 30 days.  Now you may laugh, but this is the most common problem in developing a new product. Throwing more resources at the problem and praying it goes away does not solve anything.

2.   Stepping Over A Stack Of $100 Bills To Pick Up A Penny

We can’t spend $10 on an off the shelf tool but we can spend $1,000 to develop our own, which doesn’t work and causes more problems than it solves.

Spending countless hours in useless meetings and then having a meeting to discuss why everything is overbudget and behind schedule.

3.   Champagne On A Beer Budget

Expecting everything for free and having It done yesterday. This is a very common occurrence especially when subcontractors are hired.

I want to hire an Engineer with 3 PhD’s, and 30 years of experience for minimum wage

4.   The Scalpel Is Only As Good As The Surgeon Who Uses It, Not All Tools Are Created Equally.

A Scalpel is a commodity, the surgeon who uses it to save your life is not.

Not all tools are created equally, choose the right tool for the right job, not just because that tool Is the cheapest and the “sales guy” said it would “work”.

5.   You Never Run Out Of Things That Go Wrong

There will always be an endless supply of challenges and things that go wrong. Pretending there aren’t any problems doesn’t make them go away.

6.   A Plan Is Just A List Of Stuff That Didn’t Happen & Everything Takes Longer, And Costs More Than You Planned

The battle plan is the first casualty of war, as soon as the first shot is fired the plan goes out the window. Likewise, when the first problem is encountered when developing a new product, the plan and the Gantt Chart go out the window.

7.   Good, Fast, Cheap… Pick Any Two

We never have time to do it right, but we always have time to do it over….. and over….. and over…..

I hear time and time again. Just get it done right now, we’ll fix it later. The problem is that later never comes, and the product is only “fixed” after a very expensive product recall. By then it is too late and significant market share has been lost as well as the reputation of the brand. Trying to save a few bucks in product development can cost millions in product recalls.

Top 10 Technology Trends Impacting Infrastructure & Operations for 2018

Does your IT strategy include infrastructure, operations (I&O) practices and data center architectures that are sufficient to meet the demands of the digital business. Digital transformation requires IT agility and velocity that outstrips classical architectures and practices.

David Cappuccio, from Gartner outlines the top 10 trends that will impact IT operations (I&O) in 2018. Each will have an impact on how IT operates, plans, enhances internal skill sets, and supports the business.

 

Guest Blog: Original Article @ Gartner

Outside forces will shape IT’s journey towards a digital infrastructure.

Legacy infrastructure and operations (I&O) practices and traditional data center architectures are not sufficient to meet the demands of the digital business. Digital transformation requires IT agility and velocity that outstrips classical architectures and practices.

In 2018, IT will be increasingly tasked with supporting complex, distributed applications using new technologies that are spread across systems in multiple locations, including on-premises data centers, the public cloud and hosting providers.

David Cappuccio, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner, says I&O leaders should focus on 10 key technologies and trends to support digital transformation.

“These are not necessarily the top 10 technologies, or the hottest trends in IT, but rather the 10 trends we feel will have an impact on I&O teams over the next few years,” says Cappuccio. “Some are happening already, some are just beginning, but each will have an impact on how IT operates, plans, enhances internal skill sets, and supports the business.”

Strategic

Trend 1: Geo Planning
Outside factors including the European Union’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), geo specific workloads and global and regional network access are driving IT to spend more time on geo planning as part of their longer term strategies. The long term objective is not to own a global infrastructure, but to build the infrastructure needed to support the business via partners, as well as leveraging an organization’s partner’s infrastructure to help support initiatives such as multiple network connections and infrastructure design and support.

Trend 2: The Intelligent Edge
Many digital business projects create data that can be processed more efficiently when the computing power is close to the thing or person generating it. Edge computing solutions address this need for localized computing power. For example, in the context of the Internet of Things (IoT), the sources of data generation are usually things with sensors or embedded devices. The intelligent edge serves as the decentralized extension of the campus networks, cellular networks, data center networks or the cloud. Organizations that have embarked on a digital business journey have realized that a more decentralized approach is required to address digital business infrastructure requirements.

Trend 3: Intent-based Networking (IBNS)
Gartner predicts that by 2020, more than 1,000 large enterprises will use intent-based networking systems in production, up from less than 50 today. Intent-based networking (IBNS) is not a product, or a market. Instead, it is a piece of networking software that helps to plan, design and implement/operate networks that can improve network availability and agility, which becomes increasingly important as organizations transition towards digital business.

With IBNS, rather than explicitly defining to the network what needs to be done, the software translates the business intent to determine the “correctness” of the network configuration before deployment. The system then continuously compares the actual and desired state of the running network.

Say no to business as usual
Gartner IT Operations Strategies & Solutions Summit 2018

LEARN MORE

Tactical

Trend 4: APIs – Integration Economy
A digital business is supported by technology platforms in five areas: information systems; customer experience; data and analytics; IoT; and ecosystems. The ecosystems technology platform supports the creation of, and connection to, external ecosystems, marketplaces and communities. Application performance interface (API) management enables the digital platform to function.

Organizations should design APIs from the “outside in,” based on ecosystem requirements, not “inside out,” based on existing applications or technology infrastructure. “Ensure that your organization takes an ‘API first’ approach, designing APIs based on the requirements of your organization’s ecosystem,” says Cappuccio. “APIs designed in this way can be mapped to internal technology infrastructure. This approach is more effective than simply generating APIs based on existing infrastructure and data models.”

Trend 5: Reputation and Digital Experience
There are two interlinked trends impacting business today that have nothing to do with IT infrastructure, but everything to do with infrastructure design. Digital experience management (DEM) is the impact of presenting the right digital experience to customers. The experience could be mobile or web-based, and should be always available, continually improving and perform quickly and consistently. If any of these tenants are lacking, customer satisfaction is in peril. If customer satisfaction is in peril, especially in today’s social media savvy world, corporate reputation could quickly be damaged.

Trend 6: Beyond Traditional IT – New Realities
Business units are demanding agility, in opening new markets, taking on emerging competitors, bringing in new suppliers, and creating innovative ways of interacting with customers. Over 30% of current IT spend is not part of the IT budget, but overall responsibility for supporting these new initiatives, once they are tested and stabilized, will reside with traditional IT. Managing those new providers, managing workflows and managing new types of assets in this hybrid environment, regardless of where they are located, will become crucial to IT’s success.

Operational

Trend 7: DCaaS as a Strategy
In a perfect world, at least from the perspective of many business leaders, IT and the data center would be essentially a very agile provider of service outcomes, rather than the owner of the infrastructure. To do this organizations are creating a data center as a service (DCaaS) model, where the role of IT and the data center is to deliver the right service, at the right pace, from the right provider, at the right price.

“Making key short-term decisions can lead to a long-term strategy that incorporates the best of ‘as a service’ and the cloud without compromising IT’s overall goals to both protect and enable the business,” says Cappuccio. “In this manner, IT can enable the use of cloud services across the business, but with a focus on picking the right service, at the right time, from the right provider, and in such a way that underlying IT service and support does not get compromised.”

Trend 8: Cautious Cloud Adoption
For many enterprises the journey to the cloud is a slow, controlled process. Colocation and hosting providers have established private or shared clouds on their premises to provide customers some basic cloud services, enabling controlled migrations, staff skills training and a “safe” cloud environment as a stepping stone to increased cloud adoption in the future. As customers get comfortable with these services and costs, increased migrations to external providers are enabled via interconnect services. Using this partner ecosystem to enable an agile infrastructure is a rapidly emerging trend.

Trend 9: Capacity Optimization – Everywhere
Organizations need to focus on optimizing capacity and guard against stranded capacity – things that are paid for, but not really being used. This issue can be found both in existing on premise data centers and in the cloud. A change in culture is needed to fix this problem. Organizations must learn to focus not just on uptime and availability, but also on capacity, utilization and density. Doing so can extend the life of an existing data center and reduce operating expenditures from cloud providers.

Trend 10: Extended Infrastructure Management
The data center as the sole source of IT infrastructure has given way to a hybrid of on-premises, colocation, hosting, and public and private cloud solutions. These elements are being combined with a focus on providing business-enabling services and outcomes, rather than a focus on physical infrastructure. Enterprises must apply a future-looking, enterprise-wide “steady hand” to IT strategy and planning, and apply appropriate guardrails, or face the possibility of losing relevance, governance and enterprise agility.

 

How to Be a Great Leader: Stay Human

How exactly can the five elements of emotional intelligence EI be combined to result in great leadership?

The first step is to remember this: You’re a leader, not a super hero. It’s OK to be human. In fact, it’s critical to maintain all of the qualities of a human, particularly the ones that enable other people to relate to you and like you. Here are six ways to do just that.
#EI #Lead #People #Leadership

Guest Blog: Original article 

We all have the ability to influence other people, and are, thus, all leaders in some way. And while leading by example is a known recipe for success, how to combine the actual ingredients for that recipe is often elusive. A huge part of what makes an effective leader is emotional intelligence, the capacity to be aware of, control and express one’s emotions, as well as handle interpersonal relationships judiciously and empathetically. Emotional intelligence, also known as EQ or EI, is a term popularized by Daniel Goleman, who defined these five interconnected components of emotional intelligence:
1. Self-awareness.
2. Self-regulation.
3. Motivation.
4. Empathy.
5. Social skills.

So there’s a list of ingredients, but how exactly can those five elements be combined to result in great leadership? The first step is to remember this: You’re a leader, not a super hero. It’s OK to be human. In fact, it’s critical to maintain all of the qualities of a human, particularly the ones that enable other people to relate to you and like you. Here are six ways to do just that.

Vulnerability (self-awareness)
As counterintuitive as it may seem, great leadership relies on vulnerability. Humans aren’t perfect. We all make mistakes. We all fear something. A leader who can acknowledge and address his or her vulnerabilities is respected and emulated because vulnerability builds connection and trust.

Storytelling (self-awareness, empathy and social skills)
Ken Kesey, professional storyteller and author of One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest (among many other titles) once said, “You don’t lead by pointing and telling people some place to go. You lead by going to that place and making a case.” This is what stories can do. Instead of telling someone what to do or how to do it, share anecdotes from your life with takeaways that exemplify your values, how you came to appreciate those values and what you like to see in other people. Sharing personal stories (and listening to other people’s stories) also exposes a vulnerability that, ultimately, builds trust. If you’re not a natural storyteller, find a storytelling workshop or encourage your organization to host a storytelling lab. You’ll discover that we, as humans, have been telling stories for thousands of years and are programmed to do it. (In fact, the Latin word “historia,” which is where the word “history” derives from, has the word “story” right in it—because narratives—illustrated, oral and written—are how humans have always shared information.)

De-Powering (self-regulation)
Neuroscientists have studied why power corrupts and found that it impairs “mirroring,” a neural process that is a cornerstone of empathy. While it’s difficult to prevent power from having this affect on your brain, it is possible to remove yourself from power occasionally. To maintain a capacity for empathy, it’s important to not always feel powerful by participating in mundane obligations (e.g. buy milk, pay bills), recalling humbling episodes from your past, and interacting and relating (genuinely) with ordinary, less influential people.

Psychological Safety (motivation and empathy)
Emotional intelligence requires inner motivation, and leadership requires the ability to inspire and energize other people. But if you want an innovative team that enjoys coming to work and comes up with fresh ideas, approach them with compassion in order to nurture an environment where people feel comfortable expressing opposing opinions and taking risks. A supportive environment allows people to experiment with ideas without fear of ridicule or recrimination. Also toward that end, don’t be stingy with praise—but do be sincere.

Knowing People (empathy)
Isolation has a huge price. If your team doesn’t know you, understand you and like you, then the reverse is also true: You don’t know, understand or like the individuals on your team. And that means that you can’t help each person play to his or her strengths. Only by getting to know individuals will you be able to recognize their limitations and special abilities and be able to adapt and find the best role for everyone on the team.

Diffusing Conflict (social skills and empathy)
People push buttons. People disagree. And a good leader needs to know how to flip the script before arguments escalate and damage work relationships. One technique when someone flies off the handle is to simply stop the conversation and ask with genuine concern, “Are you OK?” A conflict-diffusing response like this, which interrupts the tempo of a heated conversation and subdues an amygdala hijack, is often effective.

Killer Content

Killer Content: Why it Matters, How to Get it

Do the buyers you target know what you do… understand what makes you different… see clearly the value you deliver? Really?

Great content is essential at each stage of your sales and marketing process:-

FIrstly, simply to get attention and creating positive awareness. To stand out from the crowd

Then create interest and understanding about the problems you solve (you do solve problems, don’t you?)

  1. Nurturing prospects, building trust and generating enquiries
  2. Confirming with prospects that you would be the right partner to work with
  3. Then reassuring them that they made the best decision to choose you
  4. Finally, keeping them onboard, protecting the relationship from your competitors

But there is a problem.

Many organisations lack the structure and resources to succeed. To create the crisp, compelling content you need to fuel a high-activity programme through multiple media channels.

So what do you need? Here’s the checklist for a winning content programme:-

  1. Hone your Corporate Message: Set out your specific offering for each market sector and job position (each ‘persona’): the problems you solve, how you solve them and for whom
  2. Be ‘One Voice’ – but in many channels: Select and refine your messages for each media channel: email, blogs, social media, tele-marketing, presentations, PDFs, and others
  3. Set your Campaign Objectives: You want more than a few retweets and new Friends. You want to meet measurable programme objectives for markets you influence, sales enquiries and conversions
  4. Your Response Mechanism is Essential: Get your prospects to respond directly – such as by asking for your free PDFs, webinars, and other collateral. Show the value you deliver
  5. Plan a ‘Multi-Channel’ Programme: This is proven to be the most effective DM strategy: combining email, tele-marketing, PR editorial – even posted letters and leaflets
  6. Prioritise a Monthly Plan: You need a proper monthly plan that sets out target media, frequency and messaging. You must be consistent and persistent for a content campaign to succeed
  7. Keep it Interesting. Don’t Bore Them: In the main you want short, compelling copy that grabs their attention from the off. Written as you speak and avoiding jargon
  8. Make it topical: Great content is relevant and deals with current key issues for your target market. Do you know what the key dates and events are? Exhibitions, major contracts, industry forums, legislative impact?
  9. Keep it regular: Selling is opportunistic. A prospect may have no interest or need today; but this time next month it may be a completely different matter
  10. Be the ‘Subject Matter Experts’: You want to be the go-to company in your key sector; the recognised source of knowledge, help, news on applications and fixes for common problems. So write about the common problems in your sector
  11. Follow-up with Tele-Sales: Yes, lookout for responses to your content – whether it is email click-throughs, Likes in LinkedIn or reTweets. Then follow-up with a quick call to qualify, to express interest and offer help. The sooner the better
  12. In-House or Outsource for your Campaign? Do your staff really have the time or competence to produce professional content, consistently and persistently?
  13. Save Time & Money, get Results: The Press Unit is a single source of content expertise for messaging and media channels. Fast turnaround by professional B2B and technical writers.

 

For High Performing Teams, CIOs must Lead by Character

Guest Blog: Doug Moran via Heller Search Associates

As CIO, you can lead with character, by knowing what are your values and what you believe.

Character is the attribute we ascribe to people whose lives and actions reflect their beliefs and values.  Strong character requires emotional maturity and self-confidence.  But leading with character goes beyond simply havingcharacter.  Our ability to lead is in large part based on our ability to trust ourselves and  instill trust in others.  Those we lead want and need to trust us.  And to trust us, they must know us.  That means allowing them to get close.  It means sharing and exposing our beliefs and values.

Leading with character can be uncomfortable.  We are in essence giving others insight into who we truly are.  Leading with character also means exposing ourselves to criticism and doubt, especially when our actions diverge (or appear to diverge) from our stated values.

The Part Character Plays in the CIO Role

Character has special importance for CIOs and other IT leaders.  This has nothing to do with moral superiority.  It is simply a function of the unique perspective our roles provide.  Because technology is a critical enabler connecting and touching every part of the enterprise, we have the ability to see how the groups or functions interact and interrelate.  We can see what works well and where challenges exist.  We can see the unintended consequences of actions and the knock-on value that no one anticipated.

“Strong character forms a strong leadership foundation.  It gives us the confidence to do what is right regardless of the doubts and complaints of others..”


Connecting Character to Great Leadership

Our unique perspective is an invaluable resource.  Unfortunately, we often fail to exploit it fully.  The problem is that most of us fail to see how important our character is.  We fail to see the connection between our beliefs and values and the service we provide.  Great leaders, however, see the connection.  They recognize that their character enables them to guide and propel their organizations into the future.

Although I’ve spent nearly 20 years working in IT, my greatest challenges have rarely been technical.  My biggest obstacles to overcome have been organizational complexities or dysfunctions.   These challenges provide CIOs many opportunities to develop their ability to lead with character.

CIOs play a key role in the softer side of business.  We are key contributors to things like defining and promoting corporate culture and organizational identity.   The character of an organization is often a reflection of its leaders’ beliefs and values.  As we provide solutions that cut across the enterprise and connect different parts of the organization together, we can often see things as they really are.  We observe the behaviors that reinforce or undermine the organization’s values.  For example, an organization may place a premium on collaboration and honesty.  Do our business partners look for ways to share resources or collaborate when they acquire new capabilities?  Does our reward and compensation system promote or discourage this type of behavior?  Our perspective enables us to see the interactions that either reflect a particular value or run counter to that value.

Why Character Matters in IT Leadership

It is easy to see the role character plays in the softer side of business.  What about the more objective functions?  How does character contribute to things like strategic planning, R&D, technology innovation, project prioritization, capacity planning, vendor/product selection, and the myriad other tasks for which we are accountable?  Character matters for these things, because our values determine what and how things are done.  For example, we all strive for objectivity and intellectual rigor in our decision-making processes.  Look at how business cases are evaluated and priorities are set.  How often do sponsors “game” the system to get their project done?  Does the CEO’s pet project that has questionable value make the cut because no one is willing to ask the hard questions?  How can you influence those processes to ensure that they remain objective and analytically sound?

Ultimately, we can use our position and visibility to understand and change fundamentally how our organizations operate and behave.  We can encourage positive behavior while identifying and correcting problems.  The challenge for us is to overcome our trepidation about the personal (and often polarizing) aspects of character.  It is important to find balance in how we express our values and beliefs.  At one extreme, we can come across as self-righteous.  At the other, we seem irresolute.

Strong character comes from knowing oneself.  Self-knowledge gives us the confidence to trust ourselves.  The more we demonstrate the strength of our character – by ensuring that our words and deeds are consistent with our beliefs and values – the stronger that trust grows.  Strong character forms a strong leadership foundation.  It gives us the confidence to do what is right regardless of the doubts and complaints of others.

How do we build and demonstrate a strong character?  Here are five steps that one can take to begin the process.

  1. Decide that character matters.  The simple act of making character important will raise your awareness of whether your actions are harmonious with your beliefs.
  2. Take time to inventory and examine your beliefs and values.  Your beliefs and values are your character’s foundation.  The process of fully understanding them is unending, so get started now!  While you are at it, take a look at your organization’s beliefs and values.  Examine the character of other leaders around you. Are your beliefs and values aligned?
  3. Share your beliefs and values.  Leading with character means being open and explicit about what truly matters.  This means talking about your personal beliefs, your organization’s beliefs and what they mean to you.
  4. Test your actions and decisions. Critical self-examination will help us maintain alignment between our actions and our beliefs and values.
  5. Have the character to act on your self-examination.  It takes character to stay the course when all doubt you.  It also takes character to change your position, especially one that you hold dear.  Leadership demands that we be able to do both as the situation dictates.

Character builds our self-confidence and trust.  It allows us to trust ourselves and others.  Being a leader often means taking unpopular positions.  It means making difficult decisions.  Our positions and decisions may cause others to doubt us.  At times, we may even share their doubt.  When our actions are based on who we are and what we believe, we will have the strength of character to endure these doubts.  Success in the face of doubt depends on our ability to remain true to our principles and beliefs.  Failures will occur, and we will make mistakes.  Character is not about perfection.  It is about striving to seek the wisdom to know what is right and having the conviction to do it regardless of the opinion of others.