Posts Tagged ‘Robert Driscoll’

Information: The Most Precious Thing Your Company Has

by Robert Driscoll on February 4, 2010

Every day our lives get more and more connected online which has made our lives easier, but at the same time, has put us more at risk as more of our sensitive information is stored online.  With IPv6 right around the corner, which will be able to support an almost infinite number of IP addresses, we will only be more connected, and therefore, more at risk.

On a personal basis, I’m the first to admit that online services such as banking, travel and email, to name a few, have made our lives easier.  On a professional basis, as businesses push more services online to expand their marketplace, conversely, they are also making themselves more susceptible to data breaches from hackers.  Hosting providers are pushing the envelope by trying to get their customers to accept cloud services: email, applications and storage to name a few.  Some of these providers such as Google and Amazon have been successful in selling their cloud based services to small business and have now started making headway in to the enterprise segment of the marketplace.  Their services also allow you to access your information anywhere you have web access.  Their services are great for non-core, non-critical applications that won’t impact your business in the event their service goes down and you are unable to access your applications or data. 

While every company is talking about cloud services, not many are acting on it.  According to a white paper published by Gartner called Hype Cycles of Emerging Technologies, 2009, the most hyped technology was cloud computing. 

Why is this technology “hyped” and not being accepted with open arms?  The hack against Googles intellectual property last month should give you a pretty good idea as to why cloud services are still vulnerable. 

If you decide to move in to cloud services, don’t push all of your applications online.  Start slow.  Test a non-critical application first, or store non-critical data in the cloud that will help off-load space on your storage platform.  If you lose the application or the data, you’ll probably be upset over this mishap, but your life and the business will move on.  From there, look at moving parts of your development environment online and start testing other applications to see how they perform online and how well you can secure the data.  When testing these applications in the cloud, always be skeptical of who will access your data and how.  Don’t move at the pace your providers want you to move at.  Move at the pace that you’re comfortable with and that will protect your intellectual property and your company’s (and customers) sensitive information.

In a Newsweek article recently published by Daniel Lyons called “Where Secrets Aren’t Safe”, he mentions, “Information is not at all like electricity.  Electricity is a cheap, dumb commodity.  Nobody wants to steal your electricity, and even if someone did, who cares?  Information, on the other hand, may be the most precious thing your company has.”

Week In Review – Jan 24 – Jan 30, 2009

by Magesh Tarala on January 31, 2010

Quality #14: Process Improvement and the 3E’s

by Tanmay Vora, Jan 25, 2009

When process improvement initiatives fail, it is typically due to the lack of one or more of the three E’s – Lack of Empowerment, Lack of Education / Training or Lack of Empathy. Upper management needs to show they are serious about process by allocating the right resources. Implementation staff need to understand what they need to do and why. Lastly, there should be realization across the board that one-size-fits-all approach will not work. Focus on the three E’s and your journey will become easier and fun. more…

BLOGTASTIC!: You have to give back!

by Rajesh Setty, Jan 25, 2009

In life or on your blog, there is more joy in giving than getting. Your blog expands your capacity to give. Invest some of your time expanding the capacity of fellow bloggers who need your help. You’ll quickly find that the effort will produce its own rewards. You will quickly realize that the incremental costs will be quite low for you to provide high-value to someone or some cause. more…

Change Management #1 – Leadership: Navigating with an Executive Map and Compass

by Gary Monti, Jan 26, 2010

Welcome! to the first post in the Change Management Series. This blog is a simple user’s guide to a change management map, compass, and navigation method. We will look at their make-up and how they work. Later blogs will go deeper into how they work.

In this post Gary talks about the three essential components required to lead your company through change – The Map, the Compass and the Navigation Method. In an ever changing environment (the map), you need to be able to adhere to your values (the compass) and adapt your (navigation) methods to reach the goal. more…

BLOGTASTIC!: Say more than “me too.”

by Rajesh Setty, Jan 26, 2009

You may come across blogs with great content and you may link to them. But if you don’t have anything original to say, your links won’t help much. It’s like giving somebody free movie tickets to a bad movie! Understand that the “me too” comments and links only add to the noise and don’t add value to the conversation. more…

Performance comes from Performing People

by Guy Ralfe, Jan 27, 2009

An organization’s goals and an individual’s aspiration will both be successful only if they intersect with each other. Guy illustrates this point in this blog through his recent experience on an airport ramp waiting to get into a plane undergoing tests to make sure the aircraft is clear to fly. more…

BLOGTASTIC!: All about comments

by Rajesh Setty, Jan 27, 2009

How do you create online conversations? Well, in the blogosphere, you do it via comments. Leaving comments on other blogs is a powerful mechanism to build traffic to your blog, build your credibility and in the process build valuable relationships. But before you start commenting, be sure to learn the basic commenting etiquette. more…

When Securing Your Data and Network, Just Look Inside

by Robert Driscoll, Jan 28, 2009

When securing data and network, the most obvious threats to guard against are the external intrusions. Studies have shown time and again that a great number of attacks originate from internal sources. You can safeguard against these risks by constantly reviewing your security policies, following a stringent hiring process and having more than one administrator for critical systems. more…

BLOGTASTIC!: The ultimate leverage engine

by Rajesh Setty, Jan 28, 2009

Whatever you do offline, you can leverage your online presence to your benefit. For example, you can use your blog to generate business or get speaking engagements. What you get out of it depends entirely upon you. You can read a good book and get nothing out of it. Or you can be moved to change the rest of your life. Same thing holds true for your blog. more…

Author’s Journey #6 – What’s the best size for your book?

by Roger Parker, Jan 29, 2009

Common thinking triggered by the word “book” is the long and never ending text books in school and college. Not true anymore. With the dawn of twitter and blogs, smaller books from 140 to 160 pages are popular. It takes less time to create, the cost to publish is lower and also the books are more focused. The trend is not to “tell all” but tell just what’s needed. more…

BLOGTASTIC!: Increase your capacity to do more good

by Rajesh Setty, Jan 29, 2009

You can use your blog for good causes too. In this post Rajesh talks about David Armano’s experience in raising money for a woman who recently separated from an abusive husband – through his blog. This illustrates that your blog can change who you are, your blog can change who your readers are and best of all, your blog can change the world! more…

When Securing Your Data and Network, Just Look Inside

by Robert Driscoll on January 28, 2010

Securing your company or organizations network and/or data is more critical today than ever.  Unfortunately, too often we take it for granted and don’t even realize that our environment could be easily compromised.  The worst thing that any person in the IT department can do is ignore the potential risks to their environments.  When it comes to security, the three easiest remedies one could do is:

  • Monitor your security logs regularly
  • Constantly update and patch your software
  • Train your staff and regularly remind them of the threats to your network and data

Instead of writing about security threats in a general manner, I’m going to focus on one area and how to possibly help mitigate it:  insider attacks.

A study conducted in 2008 by the Verizon Business Risk Team noted that of the 500 intrusions they investigated over a four year period, 18% of them occurred internally by employees.  Of that 18%, over half of the breaches were done by employees in the IT department.  While most breaches occur in larger companies where it can be harder to track employees, they can and will occur in smaller companies as well. 

There are pros and cons to the number of people who have access to your company’s critical data and network.  The pros to a larger group of people having access to your critical data and networks is continuity in the event someone should leave or something happens to someone.  The obvious con is that you have too many people who have access to your critical components.  The pros to having a smaller group of people who have access to this environment is that you minimize the risk for an impact.  The flip side is that if you minimize it so much that you entrust everything to one person with no one able to back them up, it’s just a matter of time before disaster strikes.  Take for instance when the City of San Francisco was unable to access their WAN because of a rogue network administrator who blocked entry to anyone.  The network administrator was the only one who fully understood the network and therefore they were the gatekeeper.

So how do we minimize or eliminate these risks?

  • Have more than one administrator – but not too many.  Always have a continuity plan in place.  Not only for your data and your infrastructure, but also for those who have access to it.
  • Have a stringent hiring process.  If it’s critical environments that the person will be in charge of protecting, do the appropriate background checks (criminal, credit, etc…) before hiring them.
  • Constantly review and update your security policies as well as providing periodic training to your employees to remind them and keep them aware of the policies that are in place.

When guarding your organizations critical data and/or network, never put your guard down and never put too much trust in to just one person.  There must always be checks and balances.  What commonality exists in all security breaches?  Most of them could have been avoided through reasonable controls.

Week In Review – Jan 17 – Jan 23, 2010

by Magesh Tarala on January 24, 2010

Learning without training

by Wayne Turmel, Jan 18, 2010

The traditional training model where companies identify competencies everyone across the organization needs is over. The audience for training is no longer the companies themselves, but the individuals in them. This has changed the way the players (Executives, Training Department, Training Companies and Individual Learner) look at training this year. In essence, training has shifted from a B2B model to a modified B2C model. more…

BLOGTASTIC! Help others succeed first

by Rajesh Setty, Jan 18, 2010

It is not a dog eat dog world in the blogosphere. If everyone thinks only they should succeed, then we’d be competing so hard against each other that no one will win. Instead, acknowledge the value you see on other blogs. The way you do it is by linking to their blogs on your posts. Don’t expect a reciprocal link thought – that ‘s not how blog links work. Focus on creating link-worthy content and your readers will link to you. First you give some and they you get some – in that order. more…

Quality #13: Reviews can be fun (if done right)

by Tanmay Vora, Jan 19, 2010

After 12 awesome posts last year, Tanmay is back with his first post this year and the 13th in the series.

Reviews are an integral part of product/service quality improvement. The purpose of a review is to make things better. Here are a set of common sense rules to adopt in the review process in the software world.

  1. Review early
  2. Stay positive
  3. Keep review records
  4. Review the work, not the person
  5. Train the reviewers
  6. Review iteratively
  7. Review the review process


BLOGTASTIC! Avoid mudslinging

by Rajesh Setty, Jan 19, 2010

Slinging mud at other bloggers may help you generate traffic in the short run, but you won’t be able to retain quality visitors for your blog. You may be tempted to use your platform to vent your frustrations, but it is not a powerful move. You can demonstrate thought leadership without hurting anyone. more…

Measure for Success

by Guy Ralfe, Jan 20, 2010

Doing your best is not going to bring you success. It is at best a cop out. You may feel content about yourself. It is very difficult for humans to be objective for their own sake. What is needed is that you do what is right. Put in that extra degree, go that extra mile and you will see absolutely phenomenal results. Guy brings out this concept brilliantly in this post through a personal experience. more…

BLOGTASTIC! Earn links to your blog

by Rajesh Setty, Jan 20, 2010

A link is a give and treat it accordingly. Just like you would not approach a stranger and ask for a gift, you should not ask for a link from a blogger. Consistently writing compelling and link worthy content and providing a high “return on investment for an interacation (ROII)” will automatically get you links. So, focus on earning links rather than asking for them. more…

Take Care of your Top Employees

by Robert Driscoll, Jan 21, 2010

The worst economic situation in 70 years, has forced companies to do more with less. Employers have retained the top performers while eliminating the bottom performers. This has put enormous pressure on the top performers who cannot wait for the market to get back to “normal”. Companies should take action to identify top performers, define risks and take necessary action to mitigate the risk. more…

BLOGTASTIC! Don’t impose your rules on other bloggers

by Rajesh Setty, Jan 21, 2010

If you are getting something for free, then you lose your right to complain. Bloggers give away their knowledge and expertise and so they can set their own rules for their site. You can make up your own blog’s rules. Your rules can help you, or they can hurt you. Make sure that your rules help you gain more power. Don’t drive readers away with your blog’s rules. more…

Author’s Journey #5 – Choosing the right publishing alternative

by Roger Parker, Jan 22, 2010

Authors should not be carried away by the latest publishing hype. There are several formats in which to release your book – E-books, Trade publishing and Self-publishing. Each of these have their own pros and cons. Ultimately choosing the right publishing option boils down to just 2 issues: cash-flow and task preferences. Roger has created several worksheets to help authors realistically run the numbers and make the right decisions. more…

BLOGTASTIC! Don’t apply the rule of reciprocation for blogs

by Rajesh Setty, Jan 22, 2010

Just because you help your friend, it doesn’t mean they will help you in return. The same concept applies in the blogosphere. While there are no guarantees of reciprocation in the blogosphere, being nice on and off the blog really helps in the long run. more…

Take Care of Your Top Employees

by Robert Driscoll on January 21, 2010

The marketplace in 2008 and 2009 was unlike any other in the past 70 years.  Businesses saw their top line revenue drop overnight.  Access to capital dried up and continues to be difficult to get.  While organizations had to trim their workforce, they continued to “protect” their top talent.  I put the word protect in quotes because while businesses kept their top employees, they expected them to do more with less.  While the top employees cannot wait for the market to get back to “normal”, they are still hungry for opportunities, but still need a break from overwork and pressure.

Everyone is working hard to survive, but businesses need to be careful not to put too much pressure and strain on their top employees because when the economy recovers and companies start hiring again, if businesses aren’t careful, they will lose their top talent as they accept offers from competitors.  A company’s top talents are important assets and will help the company achieve its short-term goals during this recovery period, but just as important, during the growth period after this recession.

Most employees today are burned out as they’ve taken on more work, stress and responsibility.  Because of this, employees’ loyalties to their companies have diminished as they are looking, more now than ever, to take care of their concerns.

In a recent report by Gartner, senior executives identified retention of top talent as a key concern.  In a 4Q09 survey done by Gartner, they asked senior executives to identify their top 5 concerns for 2010, and attracting and retaining top talent as number four on their list.

In the report conducted by Gartner, they made the following recommendations for companies:

–          Clearly define your “top talent” – profiles, behaviors and skills

–          Assess the state of the top talent from (2) perspectives:

  • Identify business areas where the top talent is sufficient to achieve short-term plans for recovery and return to growth.  At the same time, identify talent gaps or misalignment with business plans.
  • Assess the attitudes, expectations and “climate” of your top employees.  Determine positive and negative attitudes, people and business functions at risk, and the nature of the risk.

–          Address your findings head-on and discuss these issues with your top talent.  Design incentive and reward programs to address any of these issues.

–          Conduct periodic assessments and adjustments to actions until your top employees and risk return to normal levels.

Whether you are a manager or senior executive in a large company or an owner of a small business, remember to take care of your top employees.  If you don’t, your employees will take care of their concerns which may not include you or your company.

What Are You Waiting For?

by Robert Driscoll on January 14, 2010

As we enter this jobless recovery in 2010, it won’t be big business that will pick up the economy.  Once again, it will be the small business entrepreneurs.  News agencies and financial firms follow what the CEO’s of major firms foresee for 2010 to see when the light at the end of the tunnel will become visible.  What many people don’t realize is that small businesses employ over half of all private sector employees and generated 64 percent of net new jobs over the past 15 years.  It is small businesses and entrepreneurs who will bring us out of this slump.

While the days of working for one employer during your professional career are long over, big business continues to squeeze more perks out of their employees to cut expenses. Almost a third of Fortune 1000 companies have now frozen their pension plans in an effort to control expenses. US wages and salaries rose at record lows according to the Labor Department in 2009.  Over the past 12 months, wages and salaries only rose 1.5 percent making it the lowest increase since the figures started to be collected in 1982.

Wages for non-managerial workers have fallen by 1.4 percent so far this year, according to an article in USA Today, and are on track for even further declines. The official unemployment rate has reached 9.8 percent, and when one takes into account discouraged workers and people who are underemployed, it is at 17 percent, possibly higher.  And for 2010, while more employers state that they will be hiring more employees, it’s nothing to write home about as it’s not much higher than 2009.

With the marketplace now changing faster than ever and forcing businesses to adapt more quickly, more employers will have to rethink their hiring efforts as they look to their employees to be more flexible as well.  This request from big business employers to employees for flexibility will be: increasing and decreasing work hours depending on demand; the continued request to do-more-for-less; continue to learn new skills.  How do you think employees are reacting to this?  According to a survey of 2900 companies done by revealed that nearly a quarter of them rate their organization’s morale as low.  So what can you do during these tough economic times?  You can be thankful that you have a job and suck it up or you can make a change.

Recently a good friend of mine told me that he was considering quitting his corporate job in the northeast and moving to the mid-west to help a family member of his grow his small business and take it to the next level.  While he would initially be taking a pay cut, the opportunity for growth and exceeding his income today is enormous, but he worries about leaving his “comfortable” corporate job.  He called me to ask me for my opinion.  I told him that there are risks in working for a small business, or for that matter, helping to start one, but in today’s uncertain economy, there aren’t any more uncertainties working for big business as there are working for a small company.  The difference, I told him, is that there will be nothing more fulfilling than creating something that is his and being in control of his financial destiny.  I asked him what he’s waiting for and when he’s leaving to start his new journey.  I hope it’s soon.

So ask yourself, “Am I happy?” or, “Is my career/job fulfilling?” If not, then what are you waiting for to change it?

The Difference Between Balance and Harmony

by Robert Driscoll on January 8, 2010

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Everyone wants their life to be perfect with no concerns and in perfect harmony and balance.  Or do they?  If you think about it, a perfect life with no concerns would actually be pretty boring where you have no disagreements and no worries.  Your life would be like a stick in the stream with no obstacles.  In reality though, life is full of challenges.  Some challenges you can foresee them coming, but most of the time you can’t and it’s how you deal with these challenges that defines you and your identity at home and in the marketplace.  Everyone strives for balance and harmony in their lives, or so they say, but is there a difference?

There are several definitions for each.  For balance, one of the definitions states that balance is a point between two opposite forces that is desirable over purely one state or the other.  With harmony , the definition states that it is an order or congruity of parts to their whole or to one another.

If you take a moment and think about both definitions, they are actually very different.  If you are striving to have balance in your life, then by the definition, you will have to ease up on something or give it up to bring your life in balance.  In the end you might not be fulfilled by having to give something up that brought you some pleasure in life.  Granted, if what you had to give up was causing you or those around you pain, then it’s understandable.  While many of us say that we want to have balance in life, do we really want to have something always pulling on us?

This leads us to harmony.  Life is full of challenges and we face them every day in our marriages, our friendships and in our professional lives.  Learning to work through these challenges and not letting them overwhelm you by accepting and understanding them and by working through them and eventually embracing them, you can have a more fulfilling life.  At the same time, embracing the good things that come to you in life and taking advantage of these moments will make life that much more enjoyable.

Like Forrest Gump said, “Life is like a box of chocolates. You never know what you’re gonna get.”  Instead of trying to achieve balance in your life and always fighting or dealing with opposing forces, try to find harmony with everything that comes to you and embrace it.  Accepting the challenges that come to you in life and working to improve the areas that bring you joy in life will open up the space for new possibilities  which in turn will make your life more fulfilling.

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Are You A Partner or Opponent In The Marketplace?

by Robert Driscoll on December 31, 2009

85925361_partnerHow we use words in our day-to-day life, both in our personal and professional world, are very important.  Through language, we use words to convey our thoughts and feelings.  As we communicate with others, we need to be cognizant of how others are interpreting our words to ensure our message comes across the way we intended it to and get the reaction we want.  “Partner” and “opponent” are words that can used to describe the relationship between two individuals or companies in the marketplace, but their meanings are very different.

When most of us think of the word “opponent”, we think of our competitors or rivals in the marketplace.  We think about victory and defeat or winning and losing.  In the marketplace we are constantly trying to “beat up” our opponents.  “Aggressive” is the key word here.  Very few people can handle a tough marketplace and become successful.  The strong take advantage of the weak and the majority will quit never quite realizing what they could have made of themselves or their company.

For many in today’s marketplace, the attitude is, “Only the strong survive.”  Too often though we forget to ask ourselves if the goal is really to survive or is it to grow and use the knowledge you’ve gained to evolve?  With an adversarial attitude, the only thing that grows is yours and your competitor’s ego.  You could say that a person who has a “take no enemies” approach to business and has “accomplished” a lot, when in reality they might be over-stressed and are sadly unfulfilled as they are never satisfied and want to “conquer” the next task.  Succumbing to this opponent attitude is futile as your struggle is always with yourself.

Now, think of the difference in both your personal and professional life if you shifted from an opponent or adversarial role to a partner role.  When you do this, you stop looking at life as every man for themselves and instead you look at the skills you bring to the table along with those of your partners, whether they are your colleagues at work or other companies you work with.  The environment becomes one of increasing progress versus a mindset of kill or be killed.

A great partner learns to adapt to the environment they are in and recognizes the skill level of the other people they are working with and encourages everyone to work at their greatest potential.  Pushing and challenging your partners will be just as intense as when you were looking at the marketplace as full of opponents.  The difference though, is that instead of creating an offer by yourself, you learn to partner with others to create offers in the marketplace that have marginal value and that make you unique in the marketplace.

Changing your mindset from an opponent to a partner one can help in making you a trusted advisor to your clients as you seek to create solutions that are specific to their concerns and not developing solutions that differentiate you from the competitor who is bidding on the same contract.  A partner mindset will allow you create uncommon offers without having to think about what the competition is offering.  Addressing your clients specific concerns will make them feel like they are in a win/win situation and your clients will want to return to you again and again.

How To Qualify Opportunities When Meeting With Your Customers

by Robert Driscoll on December 17, 2009

56503918You’ve developed your customer profiles and you’ve set up a meeting with your customer with an objective and an agenda.  So, how do you identify and qualify opportunities during the meeting?

The purpose of you meeting with your customer(s) is to indentify concerns they have, create an offer that takes care of these concerns and they accept, which in turn takes care of your concerns of meeting your sales goals for your company.  To help uncover current and future opportunities, start off with open-ended questions.  Use some of these questions to help you determine your customers willingness to work with you:

  • Tell me about your vision for the organization.
  • What are your plans to support that vision?
  • What plans have you defined for each of these goals?
  • What would you like to improve in the organization?
  • What opportunities do you see in your marketplace?
  • What process do you go through when you make decisions like this?
  • Who besides yourself will be involved in the decision-making process?

As you ask these questions, be certain to understand how every issue impacts the organization.  As you ask each question and a concern is brought up, be sure to ask one of the following open-ended questions:

  • What impact will this issue have on your organization?
  • How do you measure/define the impact?

As you start having these conversations, you can start seeing gaps that exist between where your customer(s) organization is today and where they want to be.  Listening to your customer(s) and paying attention to their background of listening will allow you to create offers that are specific to your customer(s) needs that help fill these gaps.  These conversations in turn allow you to open your space of possibilities with your customer(s) for creating new offers.

90079650You’ve been trying to get a meeting with a client for quite some time now and now you have one.  Now what?  In my previous post (Developing Opportunities), I discussed what you need to do when trying to identify and develop opportunities before you meet with your customers.

In this post, I’ll discuss how when you secure a meeting with your customer, it’s important that you set the objective and create an agenda so that both you and your customer clearly understand what you will be covering and to ensure that you have the right audience.  Setting the objective will allow you to seize and maintain control of the process as well as help ensure you set the tone to effectively gather the desired information.

As you state your objective in your meeting with your customer, it is important to let your customer know that you are looking for ways to measurably impact their business.  You can continue this conversation by stating that you are looking for opportunities to help them increase their revenues, control their expenses, increase their productivity and/or efficiencies.  To help you uncover this, the next step is to go over the agenda for the meeting.

In your agenda, the last thing you should talk about is your company.  In creating your agenda, follow these steps:

  • It is important first to learn as much as possible about your customers’ organization.  This will help you not only understand their concerns, but help you create the best offer to meet their business needs.
  • Next, discuss the criteria they will use to determine which provider is best for their company.  Do this to ensure that you provide them with all the information they need to evaluate your offer.
  • Third, discuss the process the customer will be using to make a decision and their timeframes to ensure that you bring the desired information to your customer in a timely fashion.
  • Finally, talk about your company and the products/services you can offer them and how it can help address their concern.  During this part of the meeting, it will help you determine whether or not your company has an offer that can address your customers concern(s) and whether or not your company could possibly be a good long-term partner for your customer.

Today, more than ever, employers are asking more from their employees.  Remember this when meeting with your customers and be respectful of their time.  Stating a clear objective and having a defined agenda will help you keep your customer(s) focused, ensure that they have the right audience for your meeting and in turn, further help you identify opportunities.