Latest Leadership posts

Security is not a game of blame

17 Oct 2012

Security cannot be made perfect by any vendor or any end user organisation or any consultancy (Name and shame bad security vendors, not customers, says Simplexo CTO).

Suggesting you blame the vendor is patently ridiculous: if my team configure my firewall improperly, and we get hacked, who is culpable? My team, the vendor, or the reseller we bought it from?

Best practice isn’t perfect, but a blanket “blame the vendors” approach isn’t either. 

Gus Dudgeon

Where marketing stops and IT starts

21 Sep 2012

The management of availabilility of online services has always been a marketing concern, as has a great deal of the development of the technology (Businesses see availability management move away from IT).

What we are basically talking about here is the online shop presence – web design, online analytics, SEO and SEM, which are, and have always been, marketing decisions. Suggesting this is something new is BS of the first water.

It is also BS of the first water to imply, as Professor Nelson Phillips of Imperial College London Business School does by omission, that IT do not control the interconnectedness of all this stuff. Websites are not a technology island, they are connected to warehouses and the supply chain, they connect to finance systems for invoicing, and customer relationship management systems for orders via call centres, they connect to business intelligence for decision making.

Who does all this connecting? Not the marketing team, that’s for sure.

Mythologising the IT team as the people who previously always made the decisions and dressing up a normal situation as a drift towards decision-making by the business is a complete and total red herring – it’s NEVER been true.

The IT department sometimes leads – bringing great technology initiatives to the table – and sometimes follows, delivering on a business agenda through technology change.

Tony Defries

Fiasco at RBS Group smacks of a lack of leadership

04 Jul 2012

The software development lifecycle is overspecialised: several different people or teams performing business analysis, tech specifications, development, system testing, etc, with complicated interfaces between these units and a huge burden of documentation.

Nobody has an overall vision or responsibility for the technical solution (many so-called project managers merely check boxes on spreadsheets without knowing the usefulness of anything), and it becomes impossible to properly revisit earlier stages of design when problems show up in development or testing.

The problem is magnified with an offshore development team, but try to convince management that one or two people with brains thinking and working through design/development are more effective that 50 cheap developers who’ve sat through an Oracle (for example) course.

Joe Lalor

Exploding the myth of the UK ‘skills gap’

02 Mar 2012

Your article about the skills gap is somewhat adrift from reality (Is the UK heading for another tech skills crisis?). The skills gap seems to be mythical, or at least artificial. As a recruiter I have not had any trouble finding good applicants for developer jobs.

The article also says that there are more senior jobs than applicants; in fact for any senior role there are likely to be several hundred applicants. Typically there are 300 applicants for every IT manager position and that has been so for at least the past 10 years, barring a brief excursion to 500-plus in 2001.

A lot of the key IT skills are vested in people who got fed up and decided that driving minicabs was better money for less stress. Next time you take a minicab, particularly in the south-west, ask your driver what they did before. You might then ask why so many people with sufficient commercial skills to become self-employed have all left IT.

The principal reason is that employers do not recruit people with business skills if those skills are on their CV. Those skills dilute the technology buzzwords that an agency needs to search for when they have 300-plus applicants for each job. If industry wants these skills it needs to take active steps to find the people who have them and then endeavour to keep them.

My advice to companies looking to recruit is to go easy on the mushroom management: your IT manager should be the first person you discuss strategic initiatives with. They budget today for the systems to buy next year to enable the bold initiatives that the consultants will sell you in five years’ time. 

The helpdesk knows more about how the business really works than the CEO does: tap that knowledge. Change your recruitment policies: insist on a much higher level of computer literacy in every management or potential management role: the poor technology knowledge of your middle-managers is a drag on your operational efficiency and agility. The poor technology knowledge in the boardroom is a drag on strategic agility: adapt or die.

Bernard Peek

The role of the CIO in business

02 Mar 2012

Does a CFO really believe that the only way to run a business is by looking at the numbers (CIO role set to disappear, according to CFOs)?

Of course keeping the books balanced and managing cash flow is essential but without innovation, staff development, technological development, inspiring leadership, a CFO would end up managing the books of a business with no future.