The Modern CEO: Technology Tools, Innovation & Guidebook for today’s Tech Savvy Leader

The Modern CEO is a compilation of research, stories, strategies and sets forth a cutting-edge approach to sharing the message of innovative leadership through technology. This book provides an insiders prospective with insights from information technology practitioners, leadership experts, technology consultants, and more importantly organization leaders. As technology continues to play a larger role in leadership strategies as it pertains to achieving business goals, and objectives the author discusses best-practices for leaders to take their organizations to higher levels. West, goes inside the minds of today’s leader and prescribes viable tools, effective solutions, and solutions designed to address any organizations unique technology needs.

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“In a time when the field of information technology and the practice of innovation are experiencing rapid growth, The Modern CEO presents an accurate and detailed analysis of the relationship between leadership and technology. Mr. West has not only analyzed this relationship to demonstrate how technology can critically increase the value within leadership, but he also uses it to relate directly to pragmatic situations in which to apply it.”
 
-Dr. Leroy D. Simpson III
CEO, The Simpson Group

IT Consumerizes the Workplace

As the world shifts to a post-PC era, in which non-traditional devices like mobile phones have become the primary access tools, especially in emerging economies like India, and ‘IT-as-a-service’ model gains momentum, applications, like say an Excel spreadsheet, can be ordered the way we order a DVD movie or an email. Companies are now working to bring consumer life experiences to the work place. The move to the post-PC era can be seen from the fact that in 2010, tablets and smartphones combined sold more than PCs. By 2015, over 1.1 billion cell phones and 300 million tablets will be sold, according to research data. By the same year, the mobile applications market is estimated to rise to about $38-billion from $6-billion now.

These trends mean that companies need to fundamentally change the way they organize their IT infrastructure. And here accelerating cloud computing and virtualization trends will play a big role. Virtualization and cloud computing, which dramatically reduce the number of servers that are needed and with it the costs of building and maintaining large IT infrastructure, will help drive the consumerization of the workplace. Paul Maritz, CEO of VMware, at the VMworld 2011 conference announced to an audience of 19,000, comprising customers, vendors, partners, employees and media that VMware’s new products would help companies compete better in the post-PC era. He said that for the first time this year, more than 50% of server applications are on virtual rather than on physical infrastructure. He said that someone somewhere in the world turns on a virtual machine every six seconds. “At any given time, more virtual machines are in motion than planes that take off from earth every one second across the globe,” he said.

At the same time the massive physical IT infrastructure that has been built over the years cannot be wished away, he said. “Client server applications cannot be phased out. Cloud can be applied without disturbing physical infrastructure. The aim would be to make the legacy infrastructure more productive,” he said. This is where solutions from VMware, a provider of virtualization and cloud infrastructure software, come in.

Later, speaking to the media, Maritz said, “Reliance on physical CPU value is over. There’s a move to a virtual machine basis than CPU basis.” He admitted that the biggest threat to rapid adoption of cloud is security concerns. “We need not one but multiple fixes for that. The weakest link in security is human.” He added, “Concerns can only be addressed through history. We have to earn this and not assert.”

Maritz in his keynote address said that cloud is about three profound things: consumerization of IT, that is, millions of new devices and applications and billions of connected users and devices; renewal of applications; and modern infrastructure and operations.

Stephen Herrod, chief technical officer of VMware, said that “bringing consumer life to the enterprise” would be the defining IT trend in the near future. Speaking of the impact cloud computing will have in markets like India, he said, “It will change the way people write applications.” Indian offshoring majors are the biggest players in the applications space.

Raghu Raman, senior VP & GM, cloud infrastructure & management at VMware, pointed out that while in the US 40% of the servers are virtualized, in Australia and New Zealand, it is 80%, the highest in the world. Similar figures emerge for Scandinavia.

At the conference, VMware announced a slew of new products and cloud-based services that will help companies move away from a device-centric legacy desktop model. The new products aim to deliver better Windows-based desktop-as-a-service solution to enterprises.

The suite announced include: VMware View 5, a software to simplify the desktop, which the company says will simplify IT manageability and control while providing a high quality desktop virtualization experience. VMware also announced updates to VMware Horizon, an open, user-centric platform for delivery of different application types within a unified application catalogue from a wide range of devices. The company previewed two new end-user computing technologies: AppBlast and Octopus for enabling universal application and data delivery for the post-PC era.

Technology Thought-Leader: Andrew West, Microsoft IT Manager Advisory Council, discusses technology in schools

We are living in extraordinary times where we’ve seen the use of smart grid technology, social networking, and Wi-Fi improve the way we live, bank, and work. As a result of the giant gains we have made in new technology and in mobile application development, we have an exceptional opportunity to use technology to make learning creative and advance academic achievement.

Andrew West is my name and I work as a chief technology officer for an urban School District in the New Orleans metro area. I’ve worked in IT higher education and K-12 for the last five years and corporate IT before that, and I’m utterly convinced that meaningful use of technology can have a powerful impact on students’ academic achievement.

Technology in an academic environment is as important as all of the things that make schooling happen. Technology should not be relegated to just one period of the day, or lab time, or a mere assignment; but when parents, teachers, and administrators think of school, they should be thinking “technology-rich learning.”

Meaningful use
I’m not talking about something mandated by a government authority – although the No Child Left Behind (NCLB) Act and Title II Part D Enhancing Education Thru Technology (EETP) require having a technology plan—nor am I talking about technology for technology’s sake; I’m talking about meaningful use of information technology. I see the need for adopting a visionary concept that involves meaningfully integrating learning in a classroom where technology is a learning tool. When thinking of remediation and tutoring, technology practitioners should be thinking web-based and online learning tools. When thinking of project-based learning, students and informed teachers and parents should know how to use online research databases such as EBSCO host, etc.

At schools where I’ve been involved, we’ve implemented learning objectives in compliance with the International Society for Technology Education (ISTE) standards that include objective use and knowledge of Microsoft Applications including using Microsoft Word by 1st grade, PowerPoint by 2nd grade, and Excel by 5th. The State of North Carolina’s Department of Public Instruction has gone even further and adopted the Microsoft IT Academy this fall for every single one of the state’s 628 high schools. N.C. students will have an opportunity to earn Microsoft Officer Specialist (MOS) or Microsoft Certified Professional (MCP) certifications.

Highly Qualified IT Staff in Education Systems
I firmly believe that it’s important to have an IT staff that has prior experience in an educational setting and at least a bachelor’s degree. It’s not necessary that they have a teaching certificate, but preferable that they have worked in an environment where the concepts of learning, achievement, and the best interests of the students are owned by the technology support staff and technology practitioners. I believe that as you work around children, you promote education by demonstrating a commitment to your own personal education. (Yes, certifications certainly demonstrate commitment!)

School Administrators and Stakeholders
No one can accuse teachers or professors of not working long enough or hard enough, but it is a concern that often they have trouble keeping up to date with current technology or aren’t familiar with technologies outside of their own academic space. This is a problem not only because are they likely to be out of touch with their students, but also because they cannot serve as leaders for their students.

With all hands on board, stakeholders can improve achievement and at the same time make learning fun—which means effective. Ideally, a school should form a Tech Team that is a mix of energy and authority and include: academics, parents, students, highly qualified technologists, and administrators with decision-making authority. The authority point is important, as many projects fail or fizzle when a team has responsibility but lacks authority.

8 Ways to Ensure a Technology-rich Learning Environment

· Promote technology as the new learning tool.

· Have a solid technology plan that includes purchase of academic software, systems, and platforms.

· Invest in technology. Put funds aside.

· Invest in professional development to support technology integration for teachers, administrators, and IT staff.

· Have a robust and capable network infrastructure in place.

· Use social media to promote the new technology-infused learning. Kids use it. Parents use it. So, too, should schools to raise interest in ways that technology can enhance learning.

· See technology staff as leaders and innovators rather than mere break-fix techs. Experienced technologists do more than just assure uptime. They have a role to play in using technology strategically to advance academic achievement.

· Include IT staff “at the table” for discussions about academics.

In March of 2010, President Obama launched the first National Education Technology Plan, “Transforming American Education: Learning Powered by Technology.” It calls for every student receiving the opportunity to learn through digital technology in school and at home. What’s been your experience in initiating technology projects in educational environments?

Andrew West (“Awestechchief” on Twitter)

An equitable trend: Health Information Technology

By 2015, everyone in the country will be required to have electronic health records (EHR). The work required to reach this goal is expected to create a demand for more than 50,000 Health Information Technology (HIT) professionals by 2015. HIT Professionals support the use of electronic health records that make information exchanges possible between health care providers and other healthcare stakeholders. As the healthcare system continues to transition to electronic records, HIT professionals will be in high demand and will have a critical impact on medical care in the country.

Andrews Picks – Top Certifications for todays IT Landscape

The certification landscape changes as rapidly as the technologies you support and businesses rely on for operational function and innovation. Here’s an updated list of certiciations that currently offer the most value and validity for Information Technology professionals.

1: MCITP

THIS BEST CERTIFICATION LIST COULD BE BUILT USING 10 MICROSOFT CERTIFICATIONS, MANY OF WHICH WOULD BE MCITP ACCREDITATIONS. THE WORLD RUNS ON MICROSOFT. THOSE PROFESSIONALS EARNING MICROSOFT CERTIFIED IT PROFESSIONAL (MCITP) CERTIFICATION GIVE EMPLOYERS AND CLIENTS CONFIDENCE THAT THEY’VE DEVELOPED THE KNOWLEDGE AND SKILLS NECESSARY TO PLAN, DEPLOY, SUPPORT, MAINTAIN, AND OPTIMIZE WINDOWS TECHNOLOGIES. SPECIFICALLY, THE ENTERPRISE DESKTOP ADMINISTRATOR 7 AND SERVER ADMINISTRATOR TRACKS HOLD GREAT APPEAL, AS WILL ENTERPRISE MESSAGING ADMINISTRATOR 2010, AS OLDER EXCHANGE SERVERS ARE RETIRED IN FAVOR OF THE NEWER PLATFORM.

2: MCTS

WITH OPERATING SYSTEMS (WINDOWS 2000, 2003, 2008, ETC.) CYCLING THROUGH EVERY SEVERAL YEARS, MANY IT PROFESSIONALS SIMPLY AREN’T GOING TO INVEST THE EFFORT TO EARN MCITP OR MCSE ACCREDITATION ON EVERY VERSION. THAT’S UNDERSTANDABLE. BUT MASTERING A SINGLE EXAM, ESPECIALLY WHEN AVAILABLE EXAMINATIONS HELP IT PROS DEMONSTRATE EXPERTISE WITH SUCH POPULAR PLATFORMS AS WINDOWS SERVER 2008, WINDOWS 7, AND MICROSOFT SQL SERVER 2008, IS MORE THAN REASONABLE. THAT’S WHY THE MICROSOFT CERTIFIED TECHNOLOGY SPECIALIST (MCTS) ACCREDITATION EARNS A SPOT ON THE LIST; IT PROVIDES THE OPPORTUNITY FOR IT PROS TO DEMONSTRATE EXPERTISE ON A SPECIFIC TECHNOLOGY THAT AN ORGANIZATION MAY REQUIRE RIGHT HERE, RIGHT NOW.

3: NETWORK+

THERE’S SIMPLY NO DENYING THAT IT PROFESSIONALS MUST KNOW AND UNDERSTAND THE NETWORK PRINCIPLES AND CONCEPTS THAT POWER EVERYTHING WITHIN AN ORGANIZATION’S IT INFRASTRUCTURE, WHETHER RUNNING WINDOWS, LINUX, APPLE, OR OTHER TECHNOLOGIES. INSTEAD OF DISMISSING COMPTIA’S NETWORK+ AS A BASELINE ACCREDITATION, EVERY IT PROFESSIONAL SHOULD ADD IT TO THEIR RESUME.

4: A+

JUST AS WITH COMPTIA’S NETWORK+ CERTIFICATION, THE A+ ACCREDITATION IS ANOTHER CERT THAT ALL IT PROFESSIONALS SHOULD HAVE ON THEIR RESUME. PROVING BASELINE KNOWLEDGE AND EXPERTISE WITH THE HARDWARE COMPONENTS THAT POWER TODAY’S COMPUTERS SHOULD BE REQUIRED OF ALL TECHNICIANS. I’M AMAZED AT THE NUMBER OF SMART, INTELLIGENT, AND SEASONED IT PROS WHO AREN’T SURE HOW TO CRACK THE CASE OF A SONY VAIO OR DIAGNOSE FAILED CAPACITORS WITH A SIMPLE GLANCE. THE MORE INDUSTRY STAFF CAN LEARN ABOUT THE FUNDAMENTAL HARDWARE COMPONENTS, THE BETTER.

5: CSSA

SONICWALLS POWER COUNTLESS SMB VPNS. THE COMPANY’S NETWORK DEVICES ALSO PROVIDE FIREWALL AND ROUTING SERVICES, WHILE EXTENDING GATEWAY AND PERIMETER SECURITY PROTECTIONS TO ORGANIZATIONS OF ALL SIZES. BY GAINING CERTIFIED SONICWALL SECURITY ADMINISTRATOR (CSSA) CERTIFICATION, ENGINEERS CAN DEMONSTRATE THEIR MASTERY OF NETWORK SECURITY ESSENTIALS, SECURE REMOTE ACCESS, OR SECURE WIRELESS ADMINISTRATION. THERE’S AN IMMEDIATE NEED FOR ENGINEERS WITH THE KNOWLEDGE AND EXPERTISE REQUIRED TO CONFIGURE AND TROUBLESHOOT SONICWALL DEVICES PROVIDING SECURITY SERVICES.

6: CCNA

ALTHOUGH SONICWALL HAS EATEN SOME OF CISCO’S LUNCH, THE DEMAND FOR CISCO SKILLS REMAINS STRONG. ADDING CISCO CERTIFIED NETWORK ASSOCIATE (CCNA) EXPERTISE TO YOUR RESUME DOES NO HARM AND HELPS CONVINCE LARGER ORGANIZATIONS, IN PARTICULAR, THAT YOU HAVE THE KNOWLEDGE AND SKILLS NECESSARY TO DEPLOY AND TROUBLESHOOT CISCO ROUTING AND SWITCHING HARDWARE.

7: ACTC

HERE’S WHERE THE DEBATE REALLY BEGINS. INCREASINGLY, MY OFFICE IS BEING ASKED TO DEPLOY AND ADMINISTER MAC OS X NETWORKS. IN THE REAL WORLD, DIVORCED FROM IT-INDUSTRY RHETORIC, WE’RE BEING ASKED TO REPLACE OLDER WINDOWS NETWORKS WITH MAC OS X CLIENT-SERVER ENVIRONMENTS. WE’RE PARTICULARLY SEEING APPLE TRACTION WITHIN NONPROFIT ENVIRONMENTS. WE’VE FOUND THE BEST BET IS TO GET UP TO SPEED ON THE TECHNOLOGIES CLIENTS ARE REQUESTING, SO IT STANDS TO REASON THAT EARNING APPLE CERTIFIED TECHNICAL COORDINATOR (ACTC) 10.6 ACCREDITATION WON’T HURT. IN FACT, DEVELOPING MASTERY OVER MAC OS X SNOW LEOPARD SERVER WILL HELP PROVIDE CONFIDENCE NEEDED TO ACTUALLY BEGIN PURSUING APPLE PROJECTS, INSTEAD OF REACTIVELY RESPONDING TO CLIENT REQUESTS TO DEPLOY AND MAINTAIN APPLE INFRASTRUCTURE.

8: ACSP

APPLE CERTIFIED SUPPORT PROFESSIONAL (ACSP) 10.6 ACCREDITATION HELPS IT PROFESSIONALS DEMONSTRATE EXPERTISE SUPPORTING MAC OS X CLIENT WORKSTATIONS. IF YOU WORK FOR A SINGLE ORGANIZATION, AND THAT FIRM DOESN’T USE MACS, YOU WON’T NEED THIS CERTIFICATION. BUT LARGER ORGANIZATIONS ADDING MACS DUE TO DEMAND WITHIN DIFFERENT DEPARTMENTS OR CONSULTANTS WORKING WITH A WIDE CLIENT BASE WILL DO WELL TO ENSURE THEY HAVE SNOW LEOPARD CLIENT SKILLS. THE ACSP IS THE PERFECT WAY TO PROVE MASTERY.

9: CISSP

UNCHANGED FROM THE LAST 10 BEST CERTIFICATIONS LIST, ISC2’S SECURITY ACCREDITATION FOR INDUSTRY PROFESSIONALS WITH AT LEAST FIVE YEARS OF FULL-TIME EXPERIENCE IS INTERNATIONALLY RECOGNIZED FOR ITS VALUE AND VALIDITY. THE CERTIFIED INFORMATION SYSTEMS SECURITY PROFESSIONAL (CISSP) TITLE DEMONSTRATES EXPERTISE WITH OPERATIONS AND NETWORK SECURITY, SUBJECTS THAT WILL ONLY INCREASE IN IMPORTANCE AS LEGAL COMPLIANCE, PRIVACY, AND RISK MITIGATION CONTINUE COMMANDING LARGER ORGANIZATIONS’ ATTENTION.

10: PMP

I FEAR ORGANIZATIONS BEGIN CUTTING PROJECT MANAGERS FIRST WHEN TIMES GET TOUGH. MANAGEMENT ROLES AND RESPONSIBILITIES OFTEN GET PASSED TO TECHNICAL STAFF WHEN LAYOFFS OCCUR. EVEN IN CHALLENGING ECONOMIC TIMES, THOUGH, IT DEPARTMENTS REQUIRE STAFF FAMILIAR WITH PLANNING, SCHEDULING, BUDGETING, AND PROJECT MANAGEMENT. THAT’S WHY THE PROJECT MANAGEMENT INSTITUTE’S (PMI) PROJECT MANAGEMENT PROFESSIONAL (PMP) ACCREDITATION MAKES THE LIST. THE CERT MEASURES CANDIDATES’ EXPERTISE IN MANAGING AND PLANNING PROJECTS, BUDGETING EXPENSES, AND KEEPING INITIATIVES ON TRACK. WHILE THERE’S AN ARGUMENT TO PLACE COMPTIA’S PROJECT+ CERTIFICATION IN THIS SLOT, PMI IS A RESPECTED ORGANIZATION THAT EXISTS SOLELY TO FURTHER PROFESSIONAL PROJECT MANAGEMENT AND, AS SUCH, DESERVES THE NOD.

HONORABLE MENTIONS: MCSE, ITIL, RHCP, LINUX+, VCP, ACE, QUICKBOOKS, SECURITY+

IN THE PREVIOUS VERSION OF THIS ARTICLE, READERS ASKED WHERE NETWARE CERTIFICATION STANDS. IT’S NOT ON THE LIST. THAT’S NOT A MISTAKE. IT’S GONE THE WAY OF BNC CONNECTORS, IN MY OPINION. MICROSOFT OWNS THE MARKET. MCSES HAVE MORE VALUE.

ITIL HAS ITS PLACE, PARTICULARLY IN LARGER ENVIRONMENTS. RHCP (OR LINUX+) AND VCP HAVE ROLES WITHIN ENTERPRISES DEPENDENT UPON RED HAT/LINUX AND VMWARE VIRTUALIZATION TECHNOLOGIES CERTAINLY, BUT THOSE ORGANIZATIONS REMAIN HIT OR MISS.

ACRONIS’ ACE DESERVES A LOOK. WITH SOME 3 MILLION SYSTEMS BEING BACKED UP NOW BY ACRONIS IMAGE SOFTWARE, IT WOULD BEHOOVE TECHNOLOGY PROFESSIONALS TO LEARN HOW TO PROPERLY USE THE SOFTWARE. I THINK IT’S FAIR TO SAY THERE’S STILL SOME CONFUSION AS TO THE SOFTWARE’S TREMENDOUS POTENTIAL.

SMBS ARE ALSO DEMONSTRATING A SURGE OF INTEREST IN QUICKBOOKS TECHNOLOGIES. FROM QUICKBOOKS POINT-OF-SALE TO QUICKBOOKS ENTERPRISE PLATFORMS, THERE’S STRONG, GROWING DEMAND FOR QUICKBOOKS EXPERTISE IN THE FIELD. THE COMPANY’S GROWTH IS IMPRESSIVE. THERE’S NO OTHER WAY TO DESCRIBE IT. IN A CRAPPY ECONOMY, INTUIT’S GROWING.

SECURITY+, REALLY, IS A NO BRAINER, BUT I’LL GET LIT UP IF I INCLUDE NOTHING BUT COMPTIA CERTIFICATIONS IN THE TOP 10 LIST. HOWEVER, MY ADVICE FOR ANYONE ENTERING THE INDUSTRY OR EVEN VETERANS SEEKING THEIR FIRST ACCREDITATIONS WOULD BE TO LOAD UP ON COMPTIA CERTS. HOW CAN YOU GO WRONG WITH THE MANUFACTURER-INDEPENDENT CERTIFICATIONS THAT DEMONSTRATE MASTERY OF FUNDAMENTALS ACROSS A RANGE OF TOPICS, INCLUDING PROJECT MANAGEMENT, HARDWARE, NETWORKING, SECURITY, AND VOICE NETWORKS? YOU COULD DO MUCH WORSE.

A WORD ON THE METHODOLOGY

THERE’S NO DOUBLE-BLIND STATISTICALLY VALID DATA ANALYSIS RUN THROUGH A BAYESIAN PROBABILITY CALCULUS FORMULA HERE. I’VE WORKED IN IT LONG ENOUGH, HOWEVER, AND WITH ENOUGH DIFFERENT SMBS, TO KNOW WHAT SKILLS WE NEED WHEN THE FIRM I CO-OWN HIRES ENGINEERS AND SENDS TECHNICIANS ONSITE TO DEPLOY NEW SYSTEMS OR TROUBLESHOOT ISSUES.

SURE, I COULD HAVE THROWN IN ITIL TO SATISFY ENTERPRISE PROFESSIONALS, INCLUDED RHCP TO SATE THE RABID OPEN SOURCE CROWD, AND ADDED VCP TO LOOK HIP MODERNIZING THE LIST WITH A VIRTUALIZATION ELEMENT. BUT I’M JUST NOT SEEING THE DEMAND FOR THOSE SKILLS IN COMPANIES WITH UP TO SEVERAL HUNDRED EMPLOYEES. MY FIRM’S BEEN ASKED TO DEPLOY EXACTLY ONE LINUX SERVER IN ALMOST SEVEN YEARS. AND WE’VE VIRTUALIZED MAYBE A DOZEN SYSTEMS. THEREFORE, I FEEL IT WOULD BE A DISSERVICE TO READERS TO INCLUDE SUCH ACCREDITATIONS WHEN I SEE, ON A DAILY BASIS, VASTLY GREATER DEMAND FOR THESE OTHER SKILL SETS.

Certifications: A Pathway to a sustaining IT Career



This post is dedicated to Mr. Rayshun Hopson, a dear friend from undergrad @ the University of Southern Mississippi. I had a skype call with him earlier. He represents the ambitious IT early career professional looking for guidance as he navigates his Technology career.

IT professionals looking for a little love may want to look at stocking up on technical certifications. But not just any certifications. Dice Learning, a search engine that helps connect technology workers with the training and certifications they need, has gathered input from 17,000 IT workers on which of those certifications deliver the biggest boosts in pay. (Of course, the cynical IT staffer would answer that question “none”-luckily, it appears the cynics weren’t polled.)
Stay tuned for my comprehensive post on Certifications, coming soon.