Reflection: On Being Named One of the “Best Places to Work in CT”

Who would have thunk.

We set out to benchmark ourselves, nothing more, as we absolutely knew that our assets are our employees. Oh sure, we have assets as defined by accounting rules, but unlike those, these assets never depreciate. We have Intellectual Capital that transcends the demarcation of “goodwill” on a balance sheet.  And, most importantly, we have a team of incredibly caring, giving, talented and hard-working people here at ADNET.

The real value of this exercise, conducted in partnership with the Hartford Business Journal and the Best Companies Group, was that by completing the process as an organization, we would receive reports with all of the anonymous feedback provided by our employees. Making the list of Best Places to Work in CT in 2014 was something we considered to be a bonus. Honest feedback is always a gift, even if sometimes you wish it had come with a gift receipt.

We have been on a culture journey for the last several years, and change is something that is difficult for most. My change motto, “2 degrees at a time” is designed to be longer term in nature while allowing everyone to align themselves to a new destination.  Beginning our journey was the easy part; we grounded ourselves in our core values and beliefs, rewarded and empowered people, and set them free to take risks, to try new things and even to fail – as long as we learned something from the effort.  Commitment to the journey has not always come as easily, but as trust grows, so does our ability to accomplish new things. 

High performing teams are self-healing by nature, and maintaining high performance is not a task undertaken lightly.  We work hard, we play hard.  Why?  I promised myself long ago that I would never dread getting out of bed to go to work, and I want nothing less that that for the people on my team – every single one of them. Even when things become stressful beyond belief, I thoroughly enjoy being in that stressful, chaotic, frantic moment with people I call friends and family.

So now we get a glimpse of how we are perceived internally, and this drives the leadership to change.  In fact, we all must continually learn to not just survive, but to thrive.  While this win is an unbelievably humbling honor, it is ultimately about learning how we can be better and fully empowering our team to be a part of that change.

Where do we go from here? This is on us. It has to be something we want. This is not a plaque we hang on the wall once so that we can step back and applaud ourselves. This raises the bar. This heightens our expectation of ourselves. We’ve got something rare and powerful here. We’ve got to maintain this and work to make it even better. We want to be better than our best so far.

Well, only if you truly want to love what you do.  I know I do.

You are all the best.

The future of the CIO Role in 2020

A very well thought through perspective of the future role of the CIO in 2020.  Easy read, contemplate now.

Embracing the Digital Natives

Leadership is being impacted by young leaders, and those honing their leadership skills through gaming.  As IBM’s GIO 2.0 report eludes to, this impact needs guidance, and tools.  Do we, as leaders, allow the positive impact to grow?  Do we have the tools needed, and do we allow a “safe place to fail?”

laughingsquid:

Twelve Types of Social Media Users by First Direct


How true is this!
Who are you targeting?  You better make sure your Social Media efforts are focusing on the right demographics!  In many cases, your audience may not be what you were hoping they were.

Who are you targeting?  You better make sure your Social Media efforts are focusing on the right demographics!  In many cases, your audience may not be what you were hoping they were.

Life after the iPhone? My eyes are wide open now…

Eyes Wide Open – With Help From Long Lost Friends

As a technology strategy advisor, it is my job to understand how technology works, and further grasp its potential for impact in the corporate space.  I like to think that I am fairly agnostic, but I do get an occasional ribbing from my colleagues for my allegiance to certain technology manufacturers and their ecosystems – such as those from Apple.  As an avid reader of Walt Mossberg, the award winning technology journalist from the Wall Street Journal (@waltmossberg), I strive to see Apple’s role alongside others in the business space as he so eloquently does.

Here’s where the story starts to change.  I am a very socially connected individual, and spend quite a bit of time on Twitter (@ITwithValue) as well as LinkedIn (@ChristopherLuise).  I love to connect with my old colleagues and see how their journeys have evolved, and I am especially interested in how technology has made an impact on their careers.  One such individual was one of my closest friends in high school.  Larry, my long-lost friend, and I recently connected on Twitter and LinkedIn, and he goaded me on my Apple-friendly tweets.  I was shocked.  He held a virtual mirror to me.

His prodding, although I initially dismissed it, was shown to be a well-rounded perspective. Larry is now in the role of PR at HTC, and he quite effectively helped me see some important differences among the smart phone platforms that I had previously overlooked.  He asked me if I was up to a challenge (little did he remember how much I LOVE challenges.)  This was going to be magical, as I have always felt that the Droid marketplace focuses on a different generation, and that the Microsoft platform is comparatively immature to Apple.


Two weeks ago, a package arrived at my office, wrapped in a gift bag for good measure.  A treasure trove of HTC goodies was included – a new Windows Phone 8X, and an HTC One X on Android.  This was about to get fun.

I assembled a few folks from my team to help me, and asked them to take our new gifts on a week long love affair.  Let me say this: the two engineers I chose for the task, Bill Palmer on the HTC 8X, and Brendan McGann on the HTC One X, are known for being focused and brutal in their assessments. We opened the boxes and found two truly gorgeous phones.  The displays were big and beautiful.  The team prepared for the challenge ahead, as both put their iPhones to rest for a while and fired up their new devices. After the test, both shared their honest assessments with me, which I have consolidated with their permission:

The HTC One X, reviewed by Brendan McGann

The HTC One X and its dual core 1.5Ghz processor is astonishingly fast, running the Droid Ice Cream Sandwich operating system. The phone only offers 1GB of RAM but this works just fine. This is easily the fastest phone I have ever used.

The multi-tasking process is great for viewing currently loaded applications or those sitting in the background waiting to be used. The setup is quick, and the intuitive AT&T configuration portal is available to assistance with easy configuration of the tiles.

The HTC One X has a 4.7 inch infinity display which towers over my current iPhone. Initially, the increased size came at a cost.  The phone felt large in my hand, almost too large at first.  It did become cumbersome when trying to type with my thumb as I have been used to. However, the increased screen was great when reading emails and viewing documents in MS Word, or PDFs.

The HTC 8X, reviewed by Bill Palmer

My first impression of the HTC 8X out of the box was of its gorgeous, sleek design. The color was cool too! While it is a little longer and wider than the iPhone, it is considerably thinner, and also has a larger screen. It is a little heavier (130g versus 112g) than the iPhone, but the added weight is not very noticeable.

One of the first things I needed to do was to charge the phone. In the process, I was pleasantly surprised to find that it uses a standard mini USB cable (come on Apple – enough already with the proprietary cords!)

After powering up the phone, the live tiles immediately started to display relevant information. With one quick setup to my corporate Exchange account, I had pictures for users in my contact tiles as well as calendar information. The live tiles were easy to arrange and resize according to my preferences. Connecting the phone to the PC prompted me to install the Windows phone sync software, which is a fairly basic piece of software that is straight forward to use and allows sync’ing of media files. It also gave me the option to sync using iTunes.

The phone comes with several apps preinstalled, some that we have become accustomed to (photos, mail, maps, etc.), some that are important but would normally need to be purchased on an iPhone (Microsoft Office), and others that while not necessarily critical, would still need to be downloaded on an iPhone (QR reader, flashlight, converter).

Out of the box, the phone reads texts to you through your Bluetooth headset, and enabling the speech recognition service allows you to easily reply to texts via speech recording without having to take your hands of the wheel (nice!) The 8X also comes with something called the “attentive phone feature”. This feature allows you to silence a ringing phone by just turning it over and it also increases the ring volume when it senses that it is in a purse or pocket.  Well done.

The on-screen keyboard is similar to an iPhone, but the predictive typing is much more user friendly. Rather than trying to guess the word you are typing and inserting it when you hit the space key (leading to the sometimes very comical AutoCorrected texts), it shows a list of possible words above the keyboard area and allows you to select one. If you don’t, it will keep what you actually typed.

And the results are in:

After considering Brendan and Bill’s feedback on the HTC One X and the HTC 8X, I have a more informed perspective on both platforms. Based on the combination of impressive battery life, blazing fast speed, and ease of integration, the HTC One X is a phone I would actually consider replacing my reliable stand-by iPhone with (that is a big thing for me to say as it has been glued to my hand since 2009.) The HTC One X changed my thinking of Android as a half-baked market place and teen-based demographic to a platform offering devices that could be tailored to suit the needs of a more professional user.

Overall, I also really like the HTC 8X.  Its biggest downside, however, is the lack of available apps. While some of the essentials are there (Facebook, Evernote, LinkedIn), there certainly are not the millions of apps that are available for the iPhone. Hopefully this will change. One other baffling thing that we discovered was that the phone will not play a WAV file. Really??? On a Windows phone??? This oversight wouldn’t be a dealbreaker for me since our corporate Unified Messaging system sends MP3s (which the HTC 8X does play), but there are still many voicemail systems that send WAV files as email attachments.

Ultimately, I believe it is the lack of apps that will be the downfall of Windows Phone, unless Microsoft somehow finds a way to incent the developers to get moving. Fast.  They do, however, have an enormous third party ecosystem, and know how to lure developers.

Apart from the lack of apps and some standard features, both phones tested integrate well into a corporate infrastructure, as long as appropriate controls are  deployed for secure integration.

So, will we ditch the iPhones?  Eventually, we may just do that.  The one thing we all agree on is that the icon driven view of the iPhone is dated, and in dire need of a refresh.  Its overly proprietary approach to accessories seems inappropriate. No ecosystem is fully supporting the Lightning charger system, and the microUSB approach is pervasive.  As for battery life and speed?  Speaking as someone who preordered the iPhone 5 because these were promised improvements, Apple should be very worried.  

Larry, you were right.  There is a lot to admire about these devices, and HTC has some seriously beautiful and sturdy designs.  I’m looking forward to seeing the HTC One SV and DNA next!

When technology enables others - Heartwarming!

A co-worker of mine has an incredible story that made its way across my desk recently.  His 12 year old son (yes, I said 12), developed an App for the iPad that helps the family communicate with his sister, who is Autistic.  This has several things that catch my eye - not only the quality of the App (way to go, Eric!), but the absolute heart-warming story of a father passing his passion along to his son, and them using the technology to help their family - and therefore helping others!

By the way - it works in 13 languages!!!  Click on the link and watch the video of Eric demonstrate his work!

I am blessed to have such fantastic people around me - what a Holiday Blessing!

Reflections on a Year Past

At the end of each year, I, like so many others, take an opportunity to pause and reflect. 2012 has been a year of significant disruptions; those of a technological nature, such as the cloud, BYOD and mobility have brought change, but equally disruptive have been weather systems, security events, economic forces and political climates. In the technology industry, we know that change, however distracting, can bring progress, particularly when managed through integrity and compassion.

This time of year often makes us wonder what is truly important to us. What are the most important responsibilities in your world? What are your “big rocks”? For many companies, IT is not the most important thing in the world, yet without it, they will certainly not thrive. This is where we try to lend guidance. Our core business, however, is about much more than bridging the gap between business drivers and technology; put simply, it is about people helping each other.

My world has many sides. In another life I serve as Scoutmaster for a local Boy Scout Troop. As I write this, I see my world through the perspective of our youth and reflect on what kind of a legacy we’re leaving. Just days after the tragedy in Newtown, I’ve never been so convinced that our mission must be about making a difference not only to our clients, but to our community and to each other. This year we’ve collected food for the hungry in our community, coats for those affected by Hurricane Sandy, sponsored local families for the holidays and supported numerous vital causes. I’m proud of everything our people have accomplished this year, and I’m even more proud to be a part of a team that continues to grow and mature in a wholesome and compassionate way.

I am truly grateful for all of those that have made an impact to our lives this year, and I remain even more optimistic for 2013. I wish you all a year of good health, happiness and success in any way you define it. As a parting gift to you for the holidays, I’d like to share with you a wonderful TED presentation on “The Happy Secret to Better Work.” One of the secrets to happiness is in providing gratitude and I hope the essence of my gratitude comes forth in this letter. I leave you with a quote from the video: “Small changes ripple outward.”

(Source: ted.com)

fastcompany:

A symphony of (obsolete) printers and fax machines perform Bob Dylan’s “The Times They Are A Changin’”.

This is a great way to honor obsolescence. Times, they are a-changin’.

parislemon:

Dan Frommer:


  Obviously, if short-term profit is all that matters, Apple is winning by a mile. Apple has generated more than $73 billion of profit over the span of this chart, while Amazon is around $2 billion.


Yeah, that’s insane.

THIS is THE story. Perspective.

parislemon:

Dan Frommer:

Obviously, if short-term profit is all that matters, Apple is winning by a mile. Apple has generated more than $73 billion of profit over the span of this chart, while Amazon is around $2 billion.

Yeah, that’s insane.

THIS is THE story. Perspective.

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The ultimate streaming consciousness of businesses challenged with harnessing the power of technology and innovation. Some get it. Others , not so much.

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