Ten Steps To Increased Productivity Through Effective Training

Nigel Fenwick

What if there was an easy way to increase employee productivity by 10% using the technology that’s already in place? What would that do to the bottom line? Even a 1% gain would be significant for most large organizations. In this day and age when CIOs are competing for budget and every dollar of technology investment must be justified, CIOs should not overlook training as a means to boost employee productivity and the ROI of existing technology investments.

Unfortunately it seems that too few people really know how to use the applications they have available in an effective way. Take for example the proliferation of spreadsheets in the workplace. Tools like Microsoft Excel have amazing features that support some powerful analysis and reporting. Yet many people fail to utilize basic productivity features built into such applications. We probably all observe people misusing tools and completing work the hard way simply because they don’t know any better. And Excel is just one tool that many of us use day-in-day-out. Outlook has some amazing features to boost productivity but few people know how to take advantage of them.

Even where some level of training in core ERP applications is provided to new employees, we know that very little is actually absorbed in early training. And much of IT training is focused on what buttons to press in what sequence to get a job done; very little seems to focus on how to use all the technology together as part of a productive business process.

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Brain Fitness Joins Physical Fitness As Part Of A Workout Strategy

Claire Schooley

I had an interesting discussion today with a new company called Cogniciti that is developing a platform for helping adults “extend their memory and cognitive abilities longer in the lifespan.” Based on research from Baycrest, a health services center focusing on aging and affiliated with the University of Toronto, the company’s work is grounded in solid research.

I think extending one’s memory to stay as sharp as possible in both professional and personal life is a hot topic that is growing fast as an essential component of general fitness. We spend hours at the gym maintaining our physical fitness. But in order to enjoy our healthy bodies, we also need to be mentally fit.  In the last few months, I’ve seen a lot of emphasis on informing people about what they can do to maintain their memory. PBS had a special over the Holidays and a brain fitness package was one of the “thank you” gifts for pledging money to the TV station. I picked up an AARP magazine in a doctor’s office last week and the lead article was on exercising the brain through challenging games. I felt quite satisfied when I completed the puzzles effortlessly (whew!)

I’m convinced we will see brain fitness as a soft skill for employees in the corporate world. Everyone can use memory strategies to improve their work performance. I like the blend of research and technology. Using self-paced online information and exercises that use simulations and other multimedia production techniques combined with self-study and online discussions give employees a complete brain enhancing program. Employees can also access brain games and exercises from their mobile device and get some brain stimulation on the way to work in the morning!

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The Information Workplace Gets Social

Rob Koplowitz

"Super, then you'll have plenty to talk about!"

                                           Greg Marmalard, Animal House

Collaboration and social technologies continue to be hot in 2010. In Forrester's 2009 Enterprise Software Survey, we asked respondents to rate the following on a scale of 1-5:

How important are the following software initiatives in supporting your firm's current business goals?

          -Increase deployment and use of collaboration technologies

58% answered 4 or 5. In conversations with clients, it's clear that as we exit the current recession and enter a new economy, firms are betting on knowledge workers to drive competitive differentiation in the same manner that they bet on technology to drive efficiency in the early to mid-90's. The trend is particularly strong in North America and Western Europe where big bets are being made on innovation, design and other differentiation that will derive from more efficient, better connected knowledge workers.

This trend indicates high level, organizational goals and is likely to be more dependent on sociology than technology. The truth of the matter is that firms that have made large investments in collaboration, particularly social technologies, and have not made an accompanying investment in driving organizational and cultural change, have struggled. Why then, the trend toward investments in collaboration technologies?

The answer is that technology will support the efforts in a very significant way. And, in the case of social technologies, 2010 will be a break out year. Why? The market is clearly hungry for solutions and the vendors are poised to deliver.

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Frequent Computing Customers Need Local Providers: Where are the "Cloud Team" and "Cloud Alliance" Partner Programs?

Jennifer Belissent, Ph.D.

flightmap.PNGHello from Dubai!  I arrived a few days ago for customer visits across the region including UAE, Qatar and Bahrain.  Although I’ve traveled extensively, this is my first trip to the Middle East. 

As a frequent flyer (both in terms of travel and airline loyalty), I looked first to my preferred airlines when I booked my flights to the region.  Neither of them (yes, I fly two airlines regularly which suggests that I’m not all that loyal) provided service to my destinations.  So, I looked for a partner airline – one that is part of my preferred airlines’ networks.  I went with Emirates which not only serves the Gulf States I was planning to visit, but enabled me to stay within network and collect my frequent flier miles. Why do I mention this?  Well, I have been thinking about that model of a “Star Alliance” or a “Skyteam,” and how it could apply to service providers of other kinds. 

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Is There a Role For Pre-moderation In Internal Social Networks?

Rob Koplowitz

"Well, as of this moment, they're on double-secret probation!"

Dean Wormer, Faber College

Recently I have had a number of conversations regarding the role of pre-moderation of internal social networks. Just by way of explanation, pre-moderation would be the approval of all content (posts and comments) prior to posting. Over the past several years and hundreds of conversations with enterprise clients, this has rarely come up.

Just to be clear, there is risk associated with enterprise social networking. There is nothing about social technologies that precludes requirements for privacy, security, maintenance of intellectual capital, regulatory compliance, etc. However, given the right degree of attention, these all are manageable. In fact, over time, social technologies will reduce the risk associated with all of these (more on that later).

OK, so if anyone can say anything at anytime, that's risky right? Well, in thoery, but in reality, not really. Remember, we're talking about internal social networks. Presumably, these are IT sanctioned, authenticated solutions. In other words, everyone knows who you are. And, we can assume that with some degree of planning and education, your users will be aware of the policies that govern the environment. And if you post something not within policy, well you get put on probation (or maybe double-secret probation). Animal House references aside, many a fine internal social networking policy begins with "don't do anything that will get you fired".

There are three key points here:

  • One, provide a sanctioned solution for your organization because if you don't they may well find something on their own and that could be a whole different kind of trouble.
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CIO Job Tenure Rises – Long-term Trend or Fleeting Phase?

Sharyn Leaver

CIO job tenure is now averaging 4.6 years, according to the Society for Information Management.  That’s up – way up -- from the 2-3 year average that we saw just a few years ago. How do you explain the lengthening time in job? Is it just because CIOs are better at their jobs than CEOs or CFOs who have higher churn rates? Probably not.

 

My guess is that the post dot-com bust and post 9/11 recession triggered CIOs to hunker down and be a bit more risk-adverse. They stayed put for a few years, then facing the more recent economic slump, stayed put even longer. They stayed busy doing what they unfortunately are known for -- helping with enterprise cost cutting. More reactive, more cost conscious, and less innovative CIOs are less likely to take risks and less likely to be fired for risk-taking.

 

But I suspect the trend towards longer tenure is rapidly coming to an end. The CIOs I speak with are eagerly waking up to tackle innovation and new investments in 2010. And we’re seeing more and more ex-consultant hot shots and business execs from elsewhere in the company recently hired on to “fix IT” join the CIO ranks. More proactive, innovative, and impactful CIOs are more likely to follow ambitious career paths – or (if your a glass-half-empty kind of guy or girl) get fired for risk-taking.

Launching A New Blog On Tech Economics

Andrew Bartels

With Forrester’s new blogging platform in place, I have the opportunity to launch a series of blogs about tech economics.  What do I mean by tech economics?  To me, tech economics first means how the larger economy and the tech sector interact.  I am interested both in how economic conditions impact the demand for technology goods and services and how business and government purchases of these tech goods and services affect the economy as a whole and the industries and firms in the economy.  Second, tech economics is about the revenue of tech vendors, both what they are reporting in the present and past and what we expect those revenues will be based on future purchases by their business and government customers.

 

My published research on the US and global IT market outlook, industry, regional, and country IT purchase trends, big trends like Smart Computing, and the ePurchasing software market (which I also cover) will continue to be my platform for addressing tech economics.  However, I want to use this blog to talk about four focused aspects of the tech market: 1) tech data sources; 2) tech industry definitions; 3) tech market developments; and 4) tech market dynamics.   Let’s call these the 4Ds of tech economics, and each will have its own strand of comments and observations.

 

D1: Tech data sources will be of most use to the data geeks like me in tech vendors.  These are folks who use my numbers in their own forecasts of the market for their firm and its products.  These blogs will talk about the data sources that I use in building my tech market sizing and forecasts, issues and questions about these data sources, and how the data geeks can leverage them.  I will share some (but not all!) of our secret sauce for our forecasts, and I hope you will share some of yours so we can all get better.

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A Tale of Two Cities: Two Approaches to Making Cities Smarter, Part III

Jennifer Belissent, Ph.D.

This post is the third in a three part series on Smart Cities. Best to start with Part I.

Two Approaches to Making Smart Cities

As with most things in life, there are a number of ways to approach smart cities. One way is to start from the ground up. A new city is born - a clean slate - to be made smart with the necessary infrastructure for its connected systems to communicate and collaborate to create an efficiently running city. A recent article in Fast Company, highlighted a number of smart cities projects that essentially started from the ground up - or, in one case, from the mud flats up. The most widely written about start-up city is Songdo. The concept was launched as a vision of the South Korean government and eventually, through the work of a real-estate developer and Cisco as the IT infrastructure provider, has become a reality - although the city is not expected to be complete until 2015. Songdo and other start-up cities have become one answer to the nagging concern about increasing urbanization.

Reconciling the rapid urbanization in China with the observation of one World Bank official that "Cities are expensive to retrofit and modify once they are built," start-up cities just might be one answer to China's urban needs.

China's "start-up" smart city: Meixi Lake

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A Tale of Two Cities: Two Approaches to Making Cities Smarter, Part II

Jennifer Belissent, Ph.D.

This is the second in a three part series on Smart Cities. Best to start with Part I.

Urbanization in China Sets the Stage by Defining the Need

According to the World Bank, China's urban population was 191 million in 1980. By 2007, it was 594 million, excluding migrants. About half of China's population now lives in cities, and that trend looks likely to continue particularly as the government relaxes restrictions on internal movement institutionalized in the strict hukou system of residential registration.

And, bigger cities face bigger challenges to meet the needs of their burgeoning populations:

  • Infrastructure and jobs. Between now and 2025, it's likely that another 200 to 250 million people will migrate to China's cities, adding to an existing mobile or migrant population of about 155 million. Providing infrastructure - housing, roads, hospitals etc. - and jobs for this anticipated inflow of people poses major challenges. With new changes to the hukou system, this migration into cities could be even greater.
  • Energy. Urban residents use 3.6 times as much energy as rural residents; suggesting that energy use is far from its peak. In China, energy intensity (consumption of energy per unit of GDP) is 7 times that of Japan and 3.5 times that of the United States, and over 70% of electricity use is coal-produced.
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A Tale of Two Cities: Two Approaches to Making Cities Smarter, Part I

Jennifer Belissent, Ph.D.

This is actually not a tale of two specific cities but of two types of cities, or “smart cities” as the new moniker goes. It will appear in three parts.

Defining Smart Cities 

“Smart” has become the adjective of choice among tech vendors to describe solutions that capture, synthesize and analyze the vast amounts of data being produced by computing and networking systems. Forrester defines Smart Computing as: 

a new generation of integrated hardware, software, and network technologies that provide IT systems with real-time awareness of the real world and advanced analytics to help people make more intelligent decisions about alternatives and actions that will optimize business processes and business balance sheet results. 

What does that mean in layman’s terms?  Every system can be smarter if it can learn from and act on the data it produces. 

A city is a “system of systems” making the potential for efficiency exponential as all of its systems interact.  Therefore, a smart city is:

A city that uses technology to transform its core systems – city administration, education, healthcare, transportation, public safety, real estate, utilities and business — enabling them to capture, analyze and act on the data they produce.

As a result, a smart city’s systems can optimize the use of and return from largely finite resources.  It can, in other words, “do more with less.” Using resources in this smarter way also boosts innovation, a key factor underpinning competitiveness and economic growth.

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