Saturday, June 30, 2012

Transforming the IT Workforce

Hi All,

I have some good news to share. I’ve been invited to speak at the ITSMF 3rd Quarter Symposium held in conjunction with the BDPA Conference on Friday, August 3rd. I will be presenting to senior IT executives and BDPA conference attendees on the theme “Transforming the IT Workforce”.

The objective of this workshop is to inspire senior IT executives to use innovative techniques to find top talent so they can "transform their workforce" to meet the growing demands of the future.

My presentation will offer a unique perspective, from the outside looking in. It’s an opportunity for me to share the survey results from the 2012 IT Job Outlook - Blacks Gone Geek Readers Poll in an intimate setting. My presentation will promote dialogue and discussion on what senior IT executives can do to develop their workforce to better meet the needs of the business.

Did you know that today there is a talent shortage? Yes, it’s true. Ask any IT executive how difficult it is to fill jobs that require unique skill sets and you’ll see what I mean. From the bottom to the top, good talent is hard to find. And companies are no longer in a position to hire second best or train "near fit" candidates for a job. New hires have to hit the ground running in order to be productive from day one. Agile methodology is HOT because time to market has to be FAST. Big companies and small companies alike have to be quick and nimble in order to out pace their competition.

How can senior IT executives transform their workforce to meet the growing demands of the business? There is no easy answer, but one way to do it is by looking from the outside in. In other words, don’t just look at the positions you have open at the moment, look at the external talent pool and figure out ways to grow your bench outside the company instead of carrying your bench inside the company on your payroll.

We will explore this theme further at the symposium, but why wait until then. Send us an email or leave us some comments to share your thoughts today. If you’re on the outside looking in, what advice would you offer to senior IT executives looking for innovative ways to transform their workforce?

We want to hear from you!

Milt Haynes
Founder and Chief Enterprise Architect, Blacks Gone Geek
CIO, National BDPA  

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Sunday, June 24, 2012

Whatever You Do: Don't Settle

Fear is a powerful force which frequently impedes the ability of those in the business community to realize the fullest measure of their companies’ missions. The fear of rejection, failure, and success are particularly instrumental in keeping talented, motivated professionals operating lower than their full capacity. Lack of investment, lessened productivity, poor morale, absenteeism, and turnover are often symptoms of this root issue. These all have a profound effect on the success and profitability of companies.

My company "E3+Fire" exists to enlighten, energize, and equip those in the business community to break through these barriers. I help company leaders create environments of safety which enhance productivity. I teach about the anatomy of fear and ways to transcend it. Practical exercises provide opportunities for participants' to apply these principles within the learning environment. This immediate application increases the likelihood participants’ will experience lasting change. Leaders learn the value of consistently recognizing the contributions of those they manage. Through this validation, employees experience greater confidence and a sense of significance. This directly results in increased investment, productivity, and morale while lessening absenteeism and turnover. These powerful principles create stronger companies which are far more profitable. For more information regarding these breakthrough insights, visit

Are you ready to inspire significantly more creativity, synergy, and passion within your company? Contact Rachel Cipriano today to coordinate this transformational learning experience. Call 630-701-4872 or e-mail at

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Sunday, June 10, 2012

Five Must-Have Skills for IT Departments

Cross post from:

Kerry Doyle, MA, ZDNet/ Associate Editor

May 2012
Today, users are more technologically savvy than ever. Moreover, the democratization of technology has resulted in end users having very different expectations of their IT departments than in the past. Usage and tastes have been influenced by dramatic developments in networking capacity, media streaming, data processing, and the Internet, to name a few. Along with these developments, IT faced its own set of challenges and obstacles that it has had to overcome.

For example, the consumerization of IT is just one model where IT departments are at the forefront of creating a bridge between mobile device usage and the corporate business world. In many respects, the door has already been opened, and mobile device use is effectively a factor in many of today's business environments. The challenge for IT has been how to become a multi-pronged technology enabler instead of simply a restrictive support service.

Technology trends such as these show no signs of abating, and IT administrators need to be prepared. Having a well-rounded and versatile team of IT practitioners is becoming increasingly necessary. In the following article, we examine five key skills that every IT department should have covered, regardless of the size of the company.

1. Project Management

It's interesting to note how this skill that might normally fall under production or administration responsibility is now considered essential for IT. For example, when you consider the number of advanced projects that IT has had to undertake, from virtualization implementation and cloud integration to storage increases, Disaster Recovery (DR), and Unified Communications (UC), the need for this skill is understandable. Every one of the new technologies IT is expected to implement consists of many complicated moving parts with hard deadlines and benchmark targets that have little room for compromise or failure.

When you consider that most if not all companies will expect normal business functioning during implementations, the need for precise, capable scheduling, prioritizing, and goal-setting is understandable. IT project managers, or IT team members who possess this skill, must have an understanding of the business on a larger scale as well as thorough knowledge of the IT world. IT is the locus for technology development and the complex technical initiatives companies undertake. Having competency in this skill set will be in great demand as companies continue to upgrade their technical environments to keep pace with new innovations as well as with their competitors.

2. Security

Malicious software, Distributed Denial of Service (DDOS), cyber attacks - these represent the reality of corporate computing today. Moreover, IT professionals must always be aware of internal security issues, from the mundane to the complex as well as understanding the vulnerabilities within their own networks, from operating systems and servers to basic hardware and cabling. While it's good to specialize, it's obvious from the breadth of these examples that having knowledge and capabilities across a broad security spectrum can make a difference in any IT department.

A few of the valuable security skills include expertise in identity and access management, threat/vulnerability assessment, encryption, data loss prevention, incident analysis, governance, compliance and auditing, biometrics, and Web content filtering. Today, it's increasingly common to outsource the more technical and sensitive areas to security specialists, but it's also important to pre-empt attacks and possible data loss with in-house capabilities. In terms of security, IT must have the necessary ability to make good decisions about the security portfolio, and this requires a certain level of security competency in some, or all, members of an IT team.

3. Virtualization/Cloud Computing

Virtualization means converting multiple physical servers to virtual machines (VM). This experience and the ability to convert non-virtualized environments into virtual ones is closely tied to networking abilities. When you partition one physical server into several VMs, you can deploy, operate, and manage multiple operating system instances at once on that single physical server and, consequently, save on a variety of costs. Some of the related skills that are important to have in this area are server maintenance, application development, storage allocation, and security.

In terms of cloud computing, a primary goal is to reduce the cost of computing resources while increasing system flexibility and scaling. During and after cloud implementation, there are a number of skills that are invaluable. These include scaling expertise which requires a unique ability to design and implement cloud-scale applications. A master integrator skill enables one to build best-of-breed hybrid solutions that consume elements from many different sources, both public and private clouds. Another key cloud-based skill is Application Programming Interface (API) knowledge. Designing or implementing an API is part science and part art, and highly specialized. Anyone with this skill would be a solid addition to an IT team. Finally, skill as an automation wizard means having familiarity with the design and implementation of automated systems. To fulfill the ideal of fast access to cloud services, automation is crucial and so is the ability to work with these systems.

4. Network Administration

Any complex datacenter lives or dies on the efficiency and dependability of its data network. Failure of a physical server, connection, switch, or router can be very costly when it disconnects end users, automated factory floors, or online retail operations from vital IT functionality. All of this increases the need for strong network management which provides vital information for planning and testing healthy networks and the environments they service. The amount and type of network traffic can provide important clues as to the kinds of hardware and software necessary to run an operation efficiently. The ability to knowledgeably choose the correct hardware, implement connections, and work with the software are highly specific skills.

Network administration covers a broad spectrum, but a solid understanding of TCP/IP, DNS, and related technologies (i.e., load balancing and NTP) are key. It seems that because of the volume and speed with which companies are adopting new technologies such as virtualization and the cloud, hands-on practical networking experience is preferred by hiring managers over certifications.

5. Business Analysis

IT plays an extremely valuable role in business. As overall data levels rise, business intelligence and data warehousing skills that enable professionals to gather and effectively analyze increasing amounts of data from various streams are also in demand. Moreover, instead of just focusing on cost savings, companies are investing in technology that provides access to, and analysis of, real-time data, enabling better business decisions.

This move from process-centric to data- and memory-centric computing is already having an impact on current computing trends. IT is expected to adopt a completely new approach to understanding data sets. Team members will be expected to possess new capabilities to perform fast, efficient data analysis. It will also require new hardware and software implementation skills as well as the ability to run and maintain them.

Today, business analysis, data mining, and modeling capabilities are highly valuable skills to possess in any IT department. For example, conceptual modeling of the business view of the solution is a critical tool to help bring business, technology, and delivery groups together in defining solution scope. In addition to an ability to communicate details and concepts, critical thinking and sometimes system thinking are also key. These mean taking something large, ambiguous, and abstract and breaking it down into smaller pieces, patterns, and views within a business context. Finally, focusing on risks to the business value of the solution and communicating that risk to shareholders is another vital skill that IT team members need to have in regards to performing effective business analysis.

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Saturday, June 9, 2012

Evolution is our Revolution

One of the things I like about Blacks Gone Geek is that it’s not just about blacks gone geek. Every once in a while we stray off the beaten path to deliver some fresh content that you can’t get anywhere else. When I think about the trials and tribulations of my recent job search I think about how I listened to people like Napoleon Hill and Joel Olsteen to think positive, to keep the faith, to believe in a higher power. Want to hear more on this topic? Stay tuned...

The current job market is super competitive, but the rewards are great. We continue to evolve and adapt as a people and that is why we prosper. We refuse to get left behind. If you’re looking for a job or your next career move, there are some things you need to know and some things you need to do. Networking is not enough anymore. Knowing who’s hiring won’t get you a seat at the table. Having the right skill set is only a fraction of what it takes. People with masters and doctorate degrees are having trouble finding work. We happily share the formula for the secret sauce. Check out the job seeker services on our website.

We’re going to make a few changes over time to revamp our site. We’ll unveil something soon that takes advantage of new technology available to us in the cloud. In the meantime we’re also going to stay true to the roots of our beginnings. Power to the voice of the people! Join our online community. Here are some topics for upcoming articles you’ll see.

  • Overcoming all odds
  • Leadership, from ordinary to extraordinary
  • How to tap into the hidden job market
  • Beating out the global competition
  • Careers in the cloud
  • Consultant vs. CIO, WIFM (What’s In It for Me)?

If you can think of another topic you want to hear more about, put the word out in the community. Don’t wait to hear it from me. That’s one of the things I like about Blacks Gone Geek. There are many voices, people just waiting to help. Just say what you want and you’ll get it!

I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me. Philippians 4:13

Power to the people!

Milt Haynes, Founder and Chief Architect
Blacks Gone Geek 

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