Category Archives: Technology

The CIO of the Future

Ray Wang from the Harvard Business Review posted a nice write-up about the essential characteristics of the future CIO. Today’s CIO typically functions as a Chief Infrastructure Officer whose main responsibilities include “keeping the lights on and managing legacy environments.”

With the advent of cloud computing, it’s clear that this central role will be eclipsed as infrastructure management responsibilities are outsourced. Many businesses will begin to reap myriad benefits by paying Amazon, Google, or Microsoft to power their servers. These benefits include cost savings through pay-per-use computing power, a more scalable infrastructure, increased fault tolerance, and of course less in-house maintenance, equipment, and power consumption. I believe that data privacy and legal concerns will be addressed in the coming years by more comprehensive “e-laws” that cover cloud computing and data ownership. In addition, it will take time for corporations to trust cloud computing providers with their sensitive information. This will come — ten years ago you would have thought posting your picture on the internet for all to see was crazy.

Back to the point: now that their infrastructure is taken care of, what will CIOs do with all their spare time? Glad you asked.

Wang describes the other roles as follows: Chief Integration Officer, Chief Intelligence Officer, and Chief Innovation Officer.

While all three are critical to future sucess, I believe that the Chief Intelligence Officer role will stand out as especially important. The area of business intelligence (BI) is ever-expanding. More and more, companies will leverage the vast amounts of data at their disposal to learn about customer consumption habits, emerging industry trends, and how to allocate personnel and other resources more efficiently. Mobile BI solutions such as Roambi, Cognos Go! Mobile, Salesforce Mobile, and Qlikview will only become more important as analysis is compiled and pushed out to field users.

With intuitive BI platforms both in-house and in the field, the CIO of the future will be able to better prepare his or her business for future challenges.

Information Overload

I’m suffering from information overload. Today, I determined which sources of media and information are vying for my attention . Here’s the quick list I came up with:

  • Google Reader
  • 100+ emails/day
  • GChat (often three conversations at a time)
  • www.ndnation.com
  • Twitter
  • Facebook
  • Phone calls/texts

Notes: Google Reader is a problem for me. I thought that one central location to read all of my favorite blogs would simplify my consumption. However, I now follow two news sources that often release 50+ posts per day — it’s too much. TV is noticeably absent from my list. Since I consume most all of my media through the internet, I only pay for basic cable.

It comes down to this: At some point, the wealth of information on the internet ceases to be useful and becomes overwhelming. It’s different for everyone, but I can now say that I’ve reached that point.

In response, I’ve taken some steps to filter the vast amount of information I consume. For example, I’ve unfollowed several Twitter feeds. When I began following them I didn’t realize that, more than any other media source, Twitter produces a lot of noise. Most tweets are marginally relevant and uninteresting to me.

On Facebook, I discovered a truly magical feature — mouse over any News Feed update and an X will appear in the top right corner. Click “Hide all by _____”. You’ll be freed instantly from that person’s incessant political ramblings, their daily personal crises, and any other updates that call into question their mental health.

The internet age has transformed us in to hyper-consumers with significantly reduced attention spans. Sadly, we’ve begun to treat all information as data to breeze through quickly. The subconscious tells us, “We better get going, there’s always more where that came from!” It takes a conscious decision to step back and determine whether or not our consumption is worth it or not. How do you define “worth it”? I’m going to leave it up to you.

Ramit summed it up nicely: “It’s so easy to consume. It’s much harder to produce something.” Now that I’ve tackled consumption, how can I step up production?

The Year of the Slate

I recently attended a seminar regarding mobile technology in the health care industry.  The presenter explained how the iPad and other slate-like devices will change the game this year. In my personal experience, the iPad has replaced my laptop for nearly all web surfing and basic email tasks.

In the coming months I think we’ll see the iPad and other slates become more readily adopted by the enterprise. Corporations are beginning to learn that sales teams and field workers have much to gain from a device that’s lightweight, always connected, relatively cheap, and intuitive to use.

While both the iPad/iPhone and Android platforms are “app-centric”, development frameworks such as Sencha Touch and jQTouch will continue to blur the lines between web applications and native applications. This will allow for customized, rapid deployment of cross-platform web apps for both home and business purposes.

Browser Update

In my second ever blog post I sang the praises of Google Chrome. I’m sad to report that the honeymoon is now over.

Although I gave it very fair chance (over 6 months of use!), Chrome still has problems opening certain multimedia content such as Flash and PDF documents. Firefox and even *cough* Internet Explorer *cough* do not struggle with these 3rd party applications.

Another annoyance, albeit not directly related to Chrome, is the difficulty I’ve had synchronizing my bookmarks. The XMarks extension for Chrome has performed poorly. In fact, I’ve spent the last two hours deleting thousands of duplicate bookmarks in Chrome.

I’ve decided to switch back to Firefox. The browser’s loading time seems to have been greatly improved since I abandoned it in favor of Chrome — that’s the reason why I switched in the first place. Chrome is definitely blazing fast but, for now, I’m going back to a tried and true browser.

What is 4G?

If you’ve seen any Sprint commercials lately (or you’re just a nerd like me) you may have heard the term “4G” thrown around quite a bit. 4G refers to the next generation of wireless data communication standards. Two competing flavors are currently in use or in the process of being deployed around the US: WiMAX and LTE. Both standards promise lower latency and higher transfer rates.

I found it interesting how, in this video, Verizon’s CTO envisions LTE devices becoming ubiqutious. He predicts that they will be embedded in cars, appliances, and electronics. I have a hunch that LTE will soon eclipse the WiMAX standard currently used by service providers Sprint and Clear. Telecom giants AT&T and Verizon have committed to LTE and have a nice chunk of radio spectrum in which to deploy it. In fact, we may see LTE devices released by Verizon as soon as 4Q 2010.

Virtualization is Cool

I did a presentation on virtualization for my Engineering/Business Fundamentals class. Virtualization is a huge part of most companies’ IT infrastructure these days (96% of the Fortune 1000 use VMWare products) and is only going to become more and more important. The slides are intentionally pretty thin since there was a lot of talking involved. Here’s the link: check it out!

Net Neutrality

During my sophomore year at Notre Dame I took a course called Networking and Security. One assignment was to present a current event relevant to the class. I chose the topic of network neutrality and wrote a fairly informal paper about the topic. The issue of net neutrality has huge implications for the future of the web and every internet user should be familiar with it. Click here to take a look at my paper.

Google Chrome

I’m a believer — I’ve switched to Google Chrome. I had been a loyal Firefox user for some time until recently when the browser began taking ages to start up. Chrome, on the other hand, starts up incredibly fast and provides an attractive, minimalist interface. This goes along with the speedy browsing experience that makes Chrome so popular. The only thing holding me back was the lack of an XMarks client for the Chrome browser. XMarks is an excellent way to sync your bookmarks across different computers, browsers, and platforms. You should definitely check it out if you want a single, unified set of bookmarks/favorites across all your computers and browsers. Happily, the new Chrome Beta features extensions as Firefox has done for some time.  Now I can use XMarks along with Chrome — a great combo.

The Search

I just finished reading The Search by John Battelle. I enjoyed the book — it not only provided a great history of Google and its roots but also a vision of how search will evolve in the future. Battelle depicts search as an innate human desire: we are always searching for knowledge, whether it be recovery (finding something we’ve seen before) or discovery (finding something new). Internet search is simply the online manifestation of this desire. As more and more information is put online, we will increasingly rely on search to interact with the information we need. Google gained control of search simply because their algorithm worked the best, and there’s no reason to believe that it won’t get better and better as what Battelle calls the Database of Intentions grows larger and larger.