Putting America Back to Work – President Obama’s Town Hall with LinkedIn.

Putting America Back to Work – President Obama’s Town Hall on Jobs and the Economy with LinkedIn.

President Obama spoke to the LinkedIn online community and a local crowd at the Computer History Museum in Silicon Valley yesterday.  The President spoke about America’s driving spirit – entrepreneurial, forward thinking, optimistic.  The hope he projected was reminiscent of his campaign trail speeches.  He wants America to succeed and progress, and he reminds us, “When America has moved forward, it is because we have moved forward together.

President Obama and LinkedInHe also spent much of his time promoting the American Jobs Act, and his concluding remarks included an appeal for Americans to tell their Congressmen that they support the American Jobs Act.  He believes that the majority of Americans believe in the tenets included in the Act, and he wants us to buy in, and to persuade our Congressmen to buy in.

Regardless of your political views, you can imagine that speaking in Silicon Valley left the President answering questions from several IT professionals, and more than once he touched on a problem that many unemployed IT professionals encounter – maintaining recent skills.  He echoed what many in the industry have said before – the most important thing an unemployed technical professional can do is take classes, or online training, to keep your skills sharp.

To paraphrase President Obama’s response to one unemployed IT professional:  Right now your challenge is not you; it’s the economy as a whole.  Your challenge is making sure you hang in between now and when it picks up. 

Whether you’ve found yourself recently unemployed, or if you’re experiencing long term unemployment, look into programs that will help you get into classes and/or certifications to keep your skills current.  You’ll make yourself more marketable, and when the call comes, you’ll be ready to go.

About the Author: 

Kathryn Smith is a Technology Recruiter at MATRIX Resources and has been recruiting for over a year. As an Economics graduate and prior Economic Research Analyst, she continues to follow the labor market and emerging technologies closely. Look for future blog posts about the recruiting process as well as labor market outlooks.

Posted in: 
Job Seeker

Become an Informed Executive - This Year at #IOD11.

Trustworthy information is critical in enabling organizations to compete in a global economy where the pace of change is unprecedented.  The data flowing through every aspect of the global economy is growing at an astounding rate.  Studies estimate that enterprises globally stored more than seven exabytes in 2010 (estimated to grow at 40% per year). And yet, the majority of CEOs studied feel ill prepared to handle the growing complexity and use of this data for a competitive advantage. 

Business Intelligence Performance Management (BIPM) programs have become critical factors in driving decision making in both day-to-day tactical activities as well as long-term strategic planning.  Leading companies are leveraging data as an asset to drive value, create competitive differentiation and increase operating margin.  Those who do not will be left behind.

Executives must leverage their organizational resources to identify innovative ways to create value for the business.  Pioneering organizations (corporate and non-profit) are using data to identify and develop new propositions to create value across operating functions.  However, companies that rely solely on IT to deliver ideas and execute will miss the mark.  We are at an inflection point where business process, technology trends and economic factors are accelerating and converging.  As a result, an effective BIPM program requires complete synergy between business and IT.  It requires moving beyond silos to an integrated environment and a holistic view into the many aspects of successful BIPM programs.  The CEO is looking for ideas and people that can present a compelling case for change.  Executing on those ideas will bring value to the organization and success to the teams involved. Over 90% of CIOs studied said they would lead or support efforts to drive real-time decisions and take advantage of analytics in order to support the executive imperative.

S.M.A.R.T WorkshopThrough our work across various business functions, we have distilled the core aspects of each BIPM program down to a simple framework that  can be used to communicate and align teams towards success - S.M.A.R.T. (See Figure)

When an organization aligns the business around these core components, the probability of BIPM program success increases dramatically.  However, since organizations tend to operate in silos, groups do not always interact in an optimal manner, and the teams rarely have a good perspective on what is important to other parts of the business.  Ideas come up across groups, but these ideas need to be shaped into a viable business proposition before they are presented to the Executive Team.  As consultants we continually need to coach clients on how best organize their ideas and concepts into a framework that and will capture the attention of the key project sponsor, and instill action to move forward.  Executives have repeatedly stated that this is a gap in corporate capabilities.  Hence, we developed the  S.M.A.R.T. Workshop with a focus around our core expertise in BIPM as a result of our work with both global and mid market businesses. 

The S.M.A.R.T. Workshop is designed to allow Senior Executives, Operational Management, IT Leadership and staff to collaborate and gain an understanding of the priorities and constraints involved with the needs of the business.

During the workshop, teams collaborate around the S.M.A.R.T. framework with a goal of obtaining a holistic view of the definition, appropriate use, delivery, and management of information assets in order to enhance business insight and drive business performance.

To date, over 200 attendees have come prepared to solve problems and collaborate with peers to discuss BIPM strategy, the use of metrics and analytics, reporting and scorecards, and supporting technologies.  They have left with a better perspective on what it takes to bring the many BIPM moving parts together and have improved their skills in building and presenting a 'case for change' to the management team.

This year at IBM's Information on Demand (#iod11) conference, October 25, 2011 in Las Vegas, myself (Greg Boyd) and Kwesi Oseitutu will be conducting two workshop sessions.  It's a valuable experience to network with your peers.  If you will be in attendance at IOD, feel free to join us for a session.  To register, click here.

About the Author: 

Greg Boyd has over 20 years of experience working with companies to solve complex Information Management issues. Greg, and his partner, Kwesi Oseitutu, designed the S.M.A.R.T Workshop to be a collaborative learning experience to help bridge the gap between business and IT. The session, which has been conducted with over 70 organizations across the U.S., continually receives rave reviews.

Posted in: 
Hiring Manager

SQL - Select Filtering (Part 2)

In the previous post, I covered the WHERE clause. You should now feel pretty comfortable limiting the number of rows you get to return based on the values in a column. But I'm sure you've already asked "How can I limit based on two different columns?" I'm glad you asked!

You can chain together your WHERE clause predicates by using AND or OR. If you've had any programming experience before you should be pretty familiar with these two. If you choose AND, then both criteria have to be true. If you choose OR, then only one has to be true.

Ok, let’s look at my Person.Contact table again, I want to look at all the Skywalkers in that table.

SELECT
FirstName, LastName
FROM person.Contact
WHERE
LastName = 'Skywalker'

OUTPUT

FirstName  LastName
--------- ---------
Luke Skywalker
Marvin Skywalker
Michael Skywalker

 

Looks like I have 81 Skywalkers in my Person.Contact table. Who knew, they were so prolific? Anyway, the problem with getting all 81, is I only wanted to look at Luke’s record. Since we know the FirstName and the LastName, we can combine them into one WHERE clause using the AND operator.

The AND operator

SELECT
FirstName, LastName
FROM person.Contact
WHERE
LastName = 'Skywalker'
AND FirstName = 'Luke'

OUTPUT

FirstName  LastName
--------- ---------
Luke Skywalker

Now we can see the one record we want. You can chain together as many criteria as you need with the AND clause.

The OR Operator

Like I was saying before, when you use the OR operator, if either of your two tests are true, then the result will be returned. Let’s take our last query and change the AND to an OR, and look at how the results have changed.

SELECT
FirstName, LastName
FROM person.Contact
WHERE
LastName = 'Skywalker'
OR FirstName = 'Luke'

OUTPUT

FirstName  LastName
--------- ---------
Luke Skywalker
Luke Foster
Marvin Skywalker

On my server, I got 133 results. This query returns every record in Person.Contact where the first name is Luke, no matter what the last name. It also shows you every record with Skywalker as the last name, no matter what the first name is. That's what OR does. It returns results that match either criterion.

Combining AND With OR

I'd like to issue a word of caution. When you need to combine AND with OR, please be aware of the order in which the comparisons will be made. This is where I introduce parentheses into my queries. Anyone remember "Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally"?

That can help you remember this: Anything in parentheses will be tested first.

When you start chaining together ANDs with ORs, you're going to see results that you don't expect to see. In those cases really study the logic you're sending to the SQL Parser. Should two of them really be considered at the same time?

Let's look at a contrived example. Show me all the products that are yellow or green and cost less than a dollar. You have to really consider that logic. Do you want to see all items that are yellow and less than a dollar and all the items green and less than a dollar? Or do you wish to see all items less than a dollar that are yellow or green?

SELECT
Name, color, ListPrice
FROM Production.product
WHERE
color = 'yellow'
OR color = 'green'
and ListPrice < 1.00

OUTPUT

Name                    color   listprice
--------------------- ------ ---------
Road-550-W Yellow, 38 Yellow 1120.49
Road-550-W Yellow, 40 Yellow 1120.49
Road-550-W Yellow, 42 Yellow 1120.49

The lesson I want you to pick up here is that you have to look at your results and compare them to the logic you intend the server to follow. If your results aren’t matching your intentions, look at the logic you’ve written. You may need to wrap some of your criteron together, so the server understand you.

The server after all is just a machine, and it will do exactly what you tell it, even if you’re not entirely sure what you’re telling it to do.

Conclusion

Logical operators are a fundamental part of developing queries. You'll have to define your instructions to the server is ways the server thinks are unambiguous. This can be a challenge, but with the proper training and patience, you can get the server to return the exact results you want every time. If not, you can always update your query and hit F5 again!

As always, if you have any questions send them in! I'm here to help.

About the Author: 

Look no further for expertise in: Business Analysis to gather the business requirements for the database; Database Architecting to design the logical design of the database; Database Development to actually build the objects needed by the business logic; finally, Database Administration to keep the database running in top form, and making sure there is a disaster recovery plan. Connect with Shannon Lowder.

Posted in: 
Development

"It's not you, it's . . . you." Passive Aggressiveness on Social Media.

My recent post What Annoys Me MOST about Facebook, stirred some fairly heated conversations among my colleagues and friends. "Are you talking about me?" "Were you talking about ___ (insert name here)?" Apparently it struck a nerve. Both positive and negative. I had numerous emails and tweets that agreed with me. Still others were defensive even if they had not specifically written any of my "top annoyances" on their page. I even had someone come up to me at a conference and say "I agree. I don't care what type of chilli you're making." I was taken back for a second then laughed as I knew what he was referencing.

On the off chance you will get offended at this blog, please note, that my writings come from weeks of research. I mean, any social media "guru" knows I just need to study something for a few weeks and I can be called an "expert."

A colleague, who I consider a good friend, knew I was writing this post and cautioned "Adam, you're not a psychologist." I agree. So please, get off my couch and just listen.

Passive Aggressiveness on Social Media"Passive Aggressive" is defined by Dictionary.com as " being, marked by, or displaying behavior characterized by expression of negative feelings, resentment, and aggression in an unassertive way (as through procrastination, stubbornness, and unwillingness to communicate) < span=""> <>passive-aggressive  personality"

You've seen it. A recent break-up. A friendship gone sour. Or simply just being unhappy about the way someone treated you. They are all painful experiences. I'm certainly not making light of them because we all know how painful those experiences are. Heartbreaking even.

But then, it all starts to unfold before our eyes in our news stream. A song posted with jabbing lyrics. Changing of a favorite quote to "If someone you love hurts you, cry a river, build a bridge, and get over it." Then like it or not, we are forced to choose sides. Or at least feel sympathy and "like" their status. After all, I'm not a good friend if I don't publicly sympathize with their pain by clicking my mouse.

I like what Teresa Boarman said in her blog "A social media tip for the passive aggressive:" 

"In general you can say anything to your twitter, or facebook, friends or in blog comments, emails or even text messages if you know the rules. Write what ever you want to and just end it with a ":)" or a "LOL".  It goes something like this: "You suck LOL" or "I can't stand you I would be surprised if your own mother loved you =) "

So friends, I leave you with this: stop being passive aggressive on social media. The rest of us just want to get on FB and see cute photos of your kids, funny things that happened that day, or meaningful updates about your life.

I really would rather not be sucked into taking sides. And if I do take sides, I'll let you know privately. LOL. =).

About the Author: 

Adam Waid is the Director of Marketing at Mediacurrrent, an industry-leader in helping organizations architect custom Drupal websites. Adam is also a MATRIX Alumnus, where he worked closely with the Sales and Recruiting organizations to develop differentiation strategies, create content, and drive CRM and social media initiatives with a single goal in mind - build stronger, more meaningful relationships with our clients. Leveraging new technology, the latest social media trends, and a good mix of traditional marketing, Adam grows online communities.  

Follow Adam on Twitter and Read his Social Media Blog.

Posted in: 
Fun

Kickin’ it up a notch…

A couple of weeks back, my wife and I had the occasion to attend a really cool event in the Northern Atlanta suburbs.  One of the city’s least appreciated features is the truly ‘world class’ symphony we have, right here in the capital of the New South.  The Atlanta Symphony Orchestra, or ASO as those in the know call it, hosted a special event at their summer home, the Verizon Wireless Amphitheater.  They  showed one of the greatest American films ever produced, Casablanca, with a unique twist: the orchestra played the film’s soundtrack. 

Rick's Cafe AmericainNow, as a fan of Casablanca, I always enjoy seeing the film.  In my opinion, it’s Humphrey Bogart at the height of his powers, defining the American anti-hero long before it became the fashionable thing to do (see Easy Rider, circa 1969).  Casablanca is filled with passion, with emotions constantly smoldering under the surface, threatening to erupt at any time.  But as moving as the film is, the real power supplied that evening came from the ASO themselves.  You cannot imagine the sheer force of impact that nearly 100 musicians generate, playing together in perfect time, synched to the moving visuals of film.  It is almost as though you, the viewer, have jumped directly into the movie yourself.

The incredible power generated by the symphony’s players flows from several sources.  First of all, each of the performers is a highly trained, experienced professional who is in the top one tenth of one percent for their instruments.  They are organized by outstanding conductors who are broadly known within classical music circles, coaxing exceptional performance from each player.  The symphony also invests significant time in practice, working closely together to ensure all runs smoothly during the performance.  Simply put, the ASO is a high performance team, working together to produce beautiful music capable of bringing a tear to your eye.

The key aspect of the symphony experience I mentioned earlier is that all of the performers are world class.  By finding outstanding professionals to work with, you will receive an incremental increase in overall output on an individual basis.  Coordinating the team of professionals with an experienced PM (or SCRUM master) increases the team’s performance, much like the conductor leads the symphony.   You also receive even greater benefits when you ‘practice’ a dynamic, flexible delivery methodology (like Agile, SCRUM, or various flavors of these lightweight approaches).  You can truly achieve speed to market results that outstrip the discreet increase in cost per team member.

So, let’s jump to today’s business environment, in particular IT and system implementation.  The entire industry is looking for the Holy Grail of implementation strategies:  simultaneously better, faster and cheaper results.  Anyone who has ever considered the ‘Triple Constraint’ of Implementations (Quality, Cost, Duration) knows that you can typically achieve two of the three by accepting a proportionate decrease in the third.  However, I believe that considering a fourth component will also yield better results: personal performance.

I often hear people say that development is a commodity, and that they can’t afford the real ‘top shelf talent’ in most cases.  I will admit that higher performing professionals usually have a higher average hourly rate than the typical ‘middle of the road’ resource.  However, if you focus strictly on the cost component with considering the benefit, you see the trees but miss the forest. 

The key metric to consider is the total cost of implementation.  Your high performance team, leveraging a lightweight methodology, will produce better quality code and deliver a usable code-base faster than an ‘average team’ using a more traditional, waterfall-type approach.  The Business Sponsor will have working code deployed to the field faster, reducing your total cost to market while creating a higher ROI and shorter payback cycle.

Sound too good to be true?  It’s not.  And if you think the music the symphony creates is sweet, that is nothing compared to the sounds your executive sponsor will make when they find out how much they are saving.  And you can play that again and again, Sam…

About the Author: 

Willard Woodrow, Senior Project Manager and BI Champion at Genuine Parts, has 15+ years of information technology experience in the utilities, retail, recruiting, telecom, and insurance verticals. His professional expertise includes business consulting, system implementation, project management, application operations, and client relationship management. Follow Willard on Twittter @willardwoodrow.

Posted in: 
PM-Agile