Tom Sweeney

It's a coming of age tale….

Archive for July, 2011

Coming to Terms with the Consumerization of IT

Posted by sweens on July 14, 2011

By: R “Ray” Wang
R “Ray” Wang is Principal Analyst and CEO at Constellation Research Group.
The corporate e-mail server is down, but work doesn’t grind to a halt. Everybody just switches to Gmail, Skype, or BB Chat to get around the inconvenience. For the most part, they’re using these consumer technologies at work already — often because they’re better than anything the IT department can provide.

Except at financial, defense-related, and other firms that still lock down employees’ network access for reasons of security and legal compliance, this is the new reality. Technologies available to consumers at low cost or even for free are increasingly pushing aside enterprise applications. They’re not just more familiar and more attractive to use, they’re often more reliable. Software-as-a-Service and Cloud vendors mostly deliver 99.9% uptime. In an upcoming Constellation Research survey of IT departments, preliminary results show internal reliability ranging from 97% to 99.1%.

For the next generation of knowledge workers, entering the workplace often feels like entering a computer science museum. Newly minted college grads face resistance to bringing their own devices to work, have to collaborate with ancient tools that lack basic Google Docs functionality, and face social media policies crafted by clueless legal teams without an understanding of the social psyche. That alone will add what I estimate to be a one-third productivity tax on the newly entered workforce — because workers have to hunt for information, applications inhibit collaboration, and legal requirements prevent business innovation.

Business Leaders Now Drive Technology Purchasing

For IT leaders accustomed to having control over corporate technology, this represents a huge challenge — and it’s one they’re not meeting very well. While overall corporate tech spending is up by 17 to 20% in our latest data, spending by IT departments is flat at best. It’s business leaders, not their IT colleagues, who are driving purchasing decisions. Which makes sense: business leaders are tasked with deploying technologies for strategic advantage. They must move fast to gain a competitive edge.

The big danger in this business-driven approach to technology is that it can be slapdash, leaving IT to spend all its time in clean-up mode. When IT leads the purchasing, systems remain structured, orderly, and efficient. However, businesses suffer under the weight of this standardization as market conditions change and IT can’t react fast enough.

So what’s a business supposed to do?

An Enterprise-Class Checklist for Consumerization of IT

From conversations with over 100 early adopters, we’ve found some elements that help IT teams and business leaders come to terms with the consumerization of IT. These six elements have emerged as a quick checklist for determining what kinds of consumer tech are appropriate the enterprise:

1. Simple. Solutions should embody design thinking at the outset. Technology should not require a manual. Solutions should be easy to use and self-service.
2. Scalable. Solutions should flex up and flex down as demand changes. Technology must work in a wide range of environments.
3. Safe. Organizations expect these solutions to not only integrate with ease but also not to harm existing systems or jeopardize how users perform daily work and operations. New technology must not adversely impact another proven system.
4. Secure. These solutions should pass encryption requirements, prevent data intrusion, and protect key intellectual property assets. Resources must be invested to fend off internal and external digital threats.
5. Sustainable. Consumer technologies must meet requirements for flexibility and adaptability over longer periods of time (e.g. 7 to 10 years). Platforms must allow users to extend and expand their functionality. Solutions should be extensible.
6. Sexy. Solutions must draw passion among users. Users must enjoy using the software.

The Bottom Line
IT and business leaders need to work together and operate in parallel. If IT slows down the business capability to innovate, the company will suffer as new business models emerge and infrastructure will fail to keep up. If business moves ahead of IT in technology, then the company fails because IT will spend years cleaning up technology messes. As technologies mature, IT should take over the commoditized technologies and drive efficiencies. With new technologies, businesses should start with some basic requirements to ensure future compatibility with existing systems. We’ve yet to see many organizations succeed in building a coordinated plan, but one can expect that those who figure it out will be among tomorrow’s leaders.

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The Unemployed Worker’s New Friend: Outsourcers

Posted by sweens on July 12, 2011

Job Hunters Pay Firms to Launch Résumé Blitz
By: Joe Light

Last summer, Mel Moomjean was unemployed and looking for a job as a sales director, but without meaning to he also applied for work as a receptionist, manicurist and fitness coach. His résumé, which highlights more than 20 years’ experience managing sales teams, even landed at the beauty salon his wife goes to. It was looking for a stylist.

Gary Bauer, the salon’s owner, thought Mr. Moomjean was joking. “I talked to his wife, and we had a good laugh about it.”

It wasn’t a joke. Mr. Moomjean had outsourced his job hunt.

For a $10 monthly fee ($40 for the first month) an automated service called sent out more than 500 job applications in five months on Mr. Moomjean’s behalf. Within a day after a job opening hit the Web, the service scanned it for certain keywords. In Mr. Moomjean’s case, the words included “sales” and “retail.” If the listing was a match, the service would fire off a résumé to the employer without so much as showing it to the applicant.

Mr. Moomjean, who had been mostly out of work for two years, said the salon misfire was just a bit of collateral damage, a cost of his scattershot approach to finding work. “I think I was overqualified for the receptionist job,” he said facetiously.

Clients among U.S. job seekers are hoping to beat the soft job market and tedium of searching with the help of fast-growing niche outsourcing services that rely on computers and workers in India. Customers can send thousands of job applications in a flash, but spamming employers with résumés leads to some strange mishaps.

MyJobHunter is unique in its reliance on software. Customers of pay $30 a week to have their job applications sent out by workers based across the U.S. and abroad.

At, candidates pay up to $98 a week for one of a team of workers in Visakhapatnam, India, to find openings and apply for jobs. Many of JobSerf’s workers join the company because their English is too rudimentary for them to work in a call center, says CEO Jay Martin.

So language difficulties do crop up. When JobSerf six years ago first tested its service with a few U.S. executive clients, its Indian workers applied on their behalf to a number of adult-entertainment companies.

“They were porn magnets,” says Mr. Martin. “They’d apply to CEO and CFO jobs at every porn outfit out there,” says Mr. Martin. The company quickly taught the workers to avoid listings with “XXX” or “adult entertainment” in their descriptions, he adds.

Even with the rules in place, applications still miss the mark. Frankie Balint, 24, of Washington, D.C., hired JobSerf last fall to apply to finance jobs and openings with nonprofit organizations involved in politics or foreign affairs. But one of his first callbacks was for a position selling playground equipment.

“I emailed the guy in charge of my search in India to set new parameters,” he said.

Ultimately, Mr. Balint’s Indian team helped him land a job at Brooklyn Bridge to Cambodia, an outfit that helps small-business owners.

The shotgun approach to applications has other drawbacks: When recruiters call candidates about a job, they often don’t realize that it is something they have applied for.

A district manager for a Krispy Kreme doughnut franchise was taken aback when she called Mr. Moomjean about his application only to learn he had no idea what she was calling about.

“He didn’t know who I was or where I got his application,” recalled Melissa Surby-Curtin, the franchise group’s district manager. “I thought ‘Oh, this isn’t a good start.'”

Mr. Moomjean explained the service to Ms. Surby-Curtin, who now says that Mr. Moomjean’s qualifications fit what they were looking for so perfectly that she didn’t mind how he initially reached out.

Despite the initial confusion, Mr. Moomjean landed the position last August—fund-raising director for the group.

While many U.S. employers have received applications from the outsourcing services, few know they even exist, says Mr. Martin. They mask the email address to make it appear the application has come straight from the applicant. Job seekers, who sometimes aren’t clear in stating their requirements, are to blame for misdirected applications, said Sanjay Dasgupta, head of the JobSerf team in Visakhapatnam. MyJobHunter officials also say their automated system is only as good as the job hunter’s search parameters.

In a span of 240 hours over three months last summer, JobSerf’s staff applied to 711 jobs on behalf of IT manager Colin Campbell, 34, of Cincinnati. Mr. Campbell said he got dozens of calls from potential employers. But he didn’t get his current job that way; he got it through a personal connection.

On a single day last summer, Greg Moffitt, 47, of Houston, sent out more than 100 applications via MyJobHunter. An irritated recruiter, who got his résumé three times, eventually called to ask him to stop.

“I knew that 20% of positions were a complete miss, but I’d rather have too many submissions than too few,” Mr. Moffitt said.

Clients can set search parameters as wide or as narrow as they want. And that can result in either sending out just a few applications in a day or hundreds. Occasionally, the sheer abundance of job applications some clients send can spin out of control, forcing the services to cut them off. MyJobHunter’s service was once slowed by a customer who set his parameters so wide that he applied for more than 20,000 jobs, said Lee Marc, CEO of eDirect Publishing Inc., which owns MyJobHunter.

“They’re like junkies,” said Mr. Marc, who once had a customer apply to 10,000 jobs in a week.

This past fall, JobSerf accidentally forwarded the résumé of a New York University law student to a firm he had asked them not to contact. He had wanted to handle the application for the summer associate position himself.

Although the student’s own résumé was ignored, the JobSerf application landed him a phone interview, said the student.

Syracuse, N.Y., lawyer Joseph Mancuso also received an application from the candidate and was surprised to learn that he had received an outsourced application. “I respond to every single [application] individually,” he said. “I personalize the form letters myself.”


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Receive A Job Counter-Offer? Don’t Take It

Posted by sweens on July 12, 2011

Hal Reiter

Pitting your employer against another in a bidding war for you is often career suicide.

A few years ago, I recruited an executive to run a mid-level company. The night before he was supposed to start his new job, the executive called to say he was staying put. The board of directors at his current company–a major multinational retailer–had offered to name him CEO in one year’s time.

I was aghast, but my former candidate could hardly envision a better scenario. He had leveraged an offer to run a mid-sized company and used it to land the coveted top spot at a retailing giant. No greater career coup exists, right?


After three tumultuous years as CEO, my former candidate was fired. This executive was not yet ready to run such a large organization. Had he accepted the job at the smaller company, he could have gained the necessary experience to successfully run a major multinational in due time.

Instead, he lured his company into a bidding war and forced the board to make a rash decision about retention in the name of corporate competition. As a result, his career ultimately suffered a mortal blow, not to mention the damage he caused shareholders, who watched their stock drop as a result of his inexperience.

Unable to land another CEO position, he took an early retirement.

In my 25 years of experience, I have learned that accepting a counter-offer is usually career suicide. Watching your boss scramble to keep you may be a heady experience, but in exchange for that sweet moment, you’ll have squandered your honor, a sacrifice that will haunt you for many years. Even more troubling, you may never know exactly when or to what extent your reputation has been sullied.

There’s a good chance hiring executives might blacklist you from other employment opportunities.Aside from refusing to ever hire you again, executives have long memories and will bad mouth you any chance they get.

I remember sitting on a plane with a group of retail executives when someone mentioned, by name, a seasoned retailer. The group listened intently as one of the executives launched into an unflattering tale of how the employee had used the executive’s perfectly good job offer as a bargaining chip for a fat buyback. By being dishonest with one company, the employee harmed his reputation with all of the executives on that flight.

Whenever I deliver a short list for a top job to one of my clients, I feel obligated to mention which potential candidates have accepted buyback offers in the past. Often my client will choose not to proceed with one of these people. Remember: Recruiters never forget a buyback, and computer files help us immensely.

Bosses don’t forget either. Initially, the company that retained you delights in winning you back from the competition. But after perhaps six months, management will begin resenting you for essentially extorting money or power from the firm.

A bitter taste of disloyalty lingers. Now you’re tacitly expected to perform like a new hire, proving yourself all over again to justify your new salary or position. You had better be up to the task.

Anytime you use a new job offer as a bargaining chip with your boss, there’s always a risk you’ll lose the bet. Next thing you know, you’re sitting in a strange office, having left a trail of ill will in your wake.

To be fair, counter-offers can provide an opportunity for employees to voice issues or concerns about their jobs. When you are recruited for another job, ask yourself: What are the pros and cons of my current position? If the negatives outweigh the positives, you simply must leave. However, you may decide you genuinely like your position, aside from one or two problems, in which case it’s time to have an open, honest conversation with your boss–before you accept the offer.

Down the road, such a conversation will be far more valuable if you choose not to force your boss into a buyback offer. You will retain your reputation for honesty, and, in my experience, this will serves you far better than a single raise or promotion ever could.

Hal Reiter is chairman and CEO of Herbert Mines Associates, a senior-level executive search firm specializing in the retail, fashion, beauty and consumer products industries.

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