Category Archives: Careers

Congratulations to the 2014 vExperts

The list of 2014 vExperts was announced on April 1st – no, this was serious, not meant as a joke. There were 754 vExperts on this list, making it the largest one ever. In addition, there will be more announcements on a quarterly basis during the year as well. The formal announcement and the entire list of 2014 vExperts can be viewed here.

So what is the qualification to become a vExpert, and how do to earn their stripes? As Corey Romero mentioned in his blog post, vExpert is not a “technical certification”, and does not measure the technical aptitude or capability of the applicant. Rather, it is a method of identifying people who were particularly engaged with their community, and had substantial influence within those communities. This award is particularly apt in the age of social media, that it identifies and rewards the influencers who spread the word about benefits of technology platforms.

I was one of the vExperts anointed this year (my first vExpert award), and I consider this a great honor, and a recognition of my support to this community. This award energizes me to serve the VMware user community in roles beyond my existing ones as Board Member at VMware User Group (VMUG), Chairman of the VMUG Partner Council, and Leader of Silicon Valley VMUG. I look forward to ideas from the community on additional roles.

On a related note, if you will be in Silicon Valley on April 23, 2014, I would like to meet you at the Silicon Valley VMUG User Conference at the San Jose Convention Center. The link to register is http://www.vmug.com/p/cm/ld/fid=4864, hoping to see you there.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Silicon Valley VMUG User Conference on April 23

I would like to invite you to the 2014 VMware User Group’s User Conference at the San Jose Convention Center on April 23rd. There will be a wide range of choices from VMware and partner sessions, a Solutions Center with partner exhibits, keynote session by Ben Fathi, CTO at VMware, and panel sessions from reputed speakers within the industry. What is more, VMUG has you covered with breakfast, lunch, and coffee – you can spend the entire day attending sessions, previewing the Solutions Center, and networking with fellow attendees.

Some demographics about the attendees:

Pic1

Some key facts from 2013 User Conference attendees (information gathered from attendee surveys)

  • 99% of attendee survey respondents plan to return in 2014
  • 98% would recommend events to a colleague
  • 85% of attendees are decision makers / influencers within their organizations

Attendees also mentioned these as their primary reasons for attending:

  1. Build Relationships with VMUG Members
  2. Learn about the latest solutions to their VMware installations
  3. Share their Knowledge

One of the key membership benefits that all VMUG members receive is unlimited participation in VMUG meetings and VMUG User Conferences. Registration is open for this conference, kindly login to your VMUG account to register.  The registration link can be accessed here. If you live in the San Francisco Bay Area, I hope to meet you there.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Transformation and the future of the IT Organization – Part 2

In Part 1 of this post, I examined the various forces that drove the development of technology and computers, and how this gave rise to the IT department to manage this for the enterprise. The IT department has established itself within businesses, but is now subject to financial and performance standards like other organizational functions. If the business does not perceive commensurate value for costs incurred in supporting the IT department, what does the future hold for corporate IT organizations?  I spoke with the following executives to get insights into some of these issues.

Paul Chapman: Paul is the VP of Global Infrastructure at VMware. He runs the Global Infrastructure and Cloud Ops Organization within VMware, primarily focused upon running internal infrastructure, networks, datacenters, compute, the internal private cloud, and all the traditional IT services.

Mark Settle: Mark is the Chief Information Officer at BMC Software, with responsibility for applications and Business Operations. He has been a CIO at companies within various industries, such as Oil & Gas, Financial services, Consumer products, and Hitech distribution.

I discussed a number of topics with them, including the current state of the IT function within their companies, and the industry in general. What are the transformational forces driving IT and what are its effects?  How would the future IT organization be, and what would it need to do to thrive? Most of all, I wanted their opinion on the role of innovation within IT, and its value to the business. I have listed some of their insights on various topics from our conversation below.

On IT Transformation

Mark “There is always a wave of transformation sweeping through the IT industry, and some of the (traditional IT) construction skills are getting commoditized”.

Paul “I think that there has always been a notion of IT transformation; it is more a movement than transformation. Transformation has a real and defined start and end; there is a movement to IT as a Service”.

Mark “We have an assembly line model kind of concept, which is unfortunately prevailing in IT, where we have highly specialized jobs that need to be performed in a certain sequence to deliver service to the ultimate customer”.

Value for IT

Paul “I think the key is that you understand the new roles that are starting to emerge”.

Mark “The value for IT always gets generated really from interaction with the business”.

Paul “All the complexity that had been holding IT back is being solved. The challenge now has shifted from technology to the organization itself, it is about change management, about adopting and embracing the service model”.

Mark “They (IT organizations) know how to cut costs, they know all the stones to turn over, and they have become quite good at doing it, so they are asked to do it every budget cycle”.

Paul “IT is no longer able to hide behind the complexity (of technology)”.

Role of Innovation

Paul “Absolutely, IT organizations need to innovate (to provide value to the business)”.

Mark “If the SaaS providers start to displace the development activities, and the IaaS providers disrupt the extension of the datacenter, the only kind of equity that IT delivers is the data”.

Paul “By focusing on agility, we have freed up resources, and dollars to focus on innovation activities without necessarily increasing the overall IT budget”.

Future IT organization

Paul “We are seeing less demand for people that manage storage, people that manage compute, and people that keep the lights on in an infrastructure role”.

Mark “The IT organization of the future, (needs to) focus in moving to the value boundary with the business”.

Paul “IT professionals are always on a continuum of always needing to reinvent themselves, because of technology change. I think constant change is the new steady state”.

Mark “Figure out where you are within the commoditization wave, try to swim upstream, to get to wherever the maximum value gets generated, which is typically in direct interaction with the business”.

Read more of their insights from my conversations here.

In my opinion, IT needs to innovate for the business, providing Points of Differentiation. After one player within an industry demonstrates improved business due to an innovation, competitors quickly catch up to the leader. However, not catching up will become a competitive disadvantage. As Mark stated, “(IT) is kind of a force multiplier that goes out and finds solutions that makes groups more productive, at a personal level, or as a group, and helps in supporting the business”. Providing a steady stream of innovation is the crucial advantage that an IT organization can provide to the business.

Technology has become simpler to setup and use, and processes will simplify as well. The organizational cost focus has already afflicted IT departments, and the only manner that IT organizations survive is by providing a strategic edge to the business, like every other function within the company. As Paul summarized, “an IT organization that is very low in terms of innovation output, then by default, you have greater scrutiny of your IT budget”.

I think that IT Transformation this time has to focus upon the actual needs of the business – agility, simplicity, and cost. In addition, it has to deliver tangible value to the bottomline of the organization.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

Transformation and the future of the IT Organization – Part 1

Transformation is a buzzword within the industry, since it gets companies to spend large amounts of money. It is welcomed by some and feared by others, but this term is overused to a large extent. What does transformation mean to Information Technology (IT) organizations today?

Where we are

Today’s IT organization grew from automation of the industry, from within humble EDP departments that ran reports for management. This developed into MIS and the PC revolution kicked in. Automation and reliance upon computers for all tasks increased. While this increased worker productivity, investments in IT are now leading to diminishing returns.

Evolution of computing technology

Moore’s Law has had its relentless impact upon the technology industry, driving up performance of computers while driving down costs. Enterprise applications such as Email, ERP, and complex client-server applications were implemented by IT to demonstrate value. In the face of resistance from the business to maintain IT spending during recent downturns, there has been a push to establish metrics to demonstrate the efficacy of the IT organization. We are at a tipping point where personnel costs exceed capital costs, drawing greater scrutiny to the productivity of IT staff. However, each of these “transformations” within the IT organization has not affected how users worked, or their perception of IT.

Some possibilities:

  1.  This was only a change, not transformation.
  2. If it was a real transformation, it did not help the business much. IT was focused on providing a technology solution that improved efficiency, but also needs to be effective.
  3. IT tracks its own KPIs; it does not track the business KPIs, or how it moves the needle on them.
  4. IT is slowly losing credibility with the business.

What has changed now?

  1. IT is increasingly perceived as a barrier than an enabler due to its slow pace.
  2. The business is getting more technology savvy, thanks to the evolution of consumer focused technologies and products.
  3. SaaS offerings are point solutions that the business can easily implement without IT, and at a much lower cost. The phenomenon of “Rogue IT” is fairly recent, but its impact is already visible.
  4. The business realizes that agility is crucial for success in today’s environment. There are compelling economic reasons for businesses to be agile, as seen here.

These are some of the forces facing IT today. There is a pressing need for “real” transformation of the IT organization. How does the IT function transform, what will the future organization look like, and what will it need to do in order to provide value? We will hear industry leaders weigh in on this topic in my next post.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS

What makes us successful in our career?

I have worked with many people over the years, and established contact with many more through professional and social engagements. Thinking back about my numerous interactions and conversations, the one thing that struck me was that a small subset of these persons always seemed to be happy and contented, describing their career and life in superlative terms. Given that there are both positive and negative types of people, this seems quite likely; however, the satisfied persons did not seem to belong to any one of these types. What could be the cause of career satisfaction for these individuals?

There are some common attributes to these persons, such as being strategic and proactive, engaging in constant learning, building relationships, and taking on extra responsibilities. However, can merely performing these activities cause satisfaction, or is there another reason? The answer to this question is of great interest to me since I wish to be happy and contented (Who wouldn’t?) in my career, and feel that I am successful. Analyzing the career tracks of these persons, I narrowed it to three critical factors.

  1. Skills, or what a person is good at – not the hard skills, but expertise such as data analysis, building relationships, etc. that make a person stand out in comparison with peers.
  2. Aspirations, or what the person intends to learn or to be next – refers to a growth path that enhances the individual’s value and provides career satisfaction.
  3. Money, or what the market demands and pays for – in-demand careers in fast-growing sectors that pay premium wages and benefits.

I noticed that the satisfied people were successful in achieving all three of these factors, i.e., they had the skills and capabilities in a career that met their aspirations for their future, and compensated them well. Again, who would refuse such an offer if it was handed to them?  We know that there are no free lunches or handouts, which means each of us has to put in hard work to achieve this level of success in our careers. Most people are unable to achieve all three factors; what could be the downside for them?

  • Skills only – We are at the risk of shifting market demand, and never achieve our aspirations
  • Aspirations only – We lack skills that make us employable
  • Money only – At the fickle mercy of the market, with the risk of becoming unemployed
  • Skills and Aspirations – Perennially underemployed, unhappy, and under financial stress
  • Skills and Money – Achieving our aspirations is extremely difficult
  • Aspirations and Money – Manageable if already employed, a nightmare otherwise

I always think about my career many steps in advance, keenly observe technology and market shifts, and believe in lifelong learning. I am an advocate for my customers, a mentor for my team, and a friend to my colleagues. Above all, I like to work with people and teams to learn from them and give them the benefit of my thoughts, experience, and leadership. I have looked at every step in my career based on these criteria, and have been rewarded with many valuable insights.

I have a question for you, my dear reader. Do you feel that you have been successful in realizing your ideal career, and how did you achieve this? Kindly let me know your thoughts by leaving a message below. I would highly appreciate your opinion and comments about this post as well.

Share and Enjoy

  • Facebook
  • Twitter
  • Delicious
  • LinkedIn
  • StumbleUpon
  • Add to favorites
  • Email
  • RSS