Stories by Julia King

How analytics helped Ford turn its fortunes

Big data and analytics permeate virtually every move Ford makes, from forecasting the worldwide price of commodities to figuring out what exactly consumers want, what it will build, where it should source parts and how to power its lineup of vehicles.

Wanted: IT staff with a wide-screen vision

As IT roles move up the value chain, global companies like Johnson & Johnson, WW Grainger, General Mills and Xerox are looking to hire smart, tech-savvy, collaborative business professionals for 20 or 30-year multifaceted careers, not for IT jobs.

IT job titles take on new twists

Think you want to be a CIO or CTO? Think again. What you might really want is to be a chief delivery officer or chief process officer.
Software developers eager to advance should consider looking for product architect roles. Network and security administrators may want to start looking for positions as electronic privacy specialists. If business analytics is your area of expertise, your next promotion might be to the job of information architect.
And one more thing: Don't expect to be part of an IT department. As a 21st century technology professional, you will be deeply rooted in the business, and your title will likely be scrubbed of any hint of computing.
"We'll see new and made-up titles come about," predicts David McCue, CIO at Computer Sciences Corporation. "I've already seen new cards and new titles like guru of X, advocate for Y and ombudsman of Z," he says.
CSC is also changing where and how it places some of its IT professionals within companies. "The traditional IT department is beginning to morph into a series of individuals who are comfortable using technology and who know its inherent characteristics," McCue says. "They are becoming embedded into the businesses as technology mentors.”
Patti Dodgen, vice president at consulting firm Mosaica Partners, says "IT is no longer a subset specialty. It is integrated into whatever work you're trying to get done".
Kamud Kalia, CIO at Direct Energy, says "The IT department is being disintermediated, but in a good way."
“A lot of stuff IT would have done, they no longer need to do. The problems have been fixed or the technology has been commoditized."
Ten years ago, for example, "you'd put smart guys on the project of joining applications together," Kalia says. "Now, middleware has obviated the need for that. You still want to have smart people, but you want them solving business problems, not technical ones."
Other companies, like Animas, a Johnson & Johnson subsidiary, are eliminating traditional IT roles and titles, such as systems analysts and administrators, as they either outsource datacentres or contract with vendors to provide software as a service.
CSC’s McCue says "You'll see titles like 'solutions architect' and 'product architect' that convey involvement in providing the product or service to a purchaser, as opposed to titles like 'network engineer’ “.
Market research firm TNS North America has no computer programmers, for example. "Everyone is either an architect or engineer — someone who has to have deep technological capabilities to automate a business process that they know just as deeply," Enzo Micalim, the company’s CIO, says.
According to Anthony Hill, CIO at Golden Gate University, which has outsourced virtually all of its technology operations, "IT is being driven out of the business of managing technology. Traditional IT has been about datacentres, servers, software development, software implementation, and the maintenance and management of all of that," he notes. Not any longer.
"IT will focus more on analysis and be more involved in the early life-cycle tasks [of developing products and services] and less on technology delivery. IT will focus more on simulation, content and information architecture," Hill says. The bottom line: "Moving away from technology management doesn't take IT out of the picture. It changes what IT does."
To be sure, there are still plenty of traditional IT titles and jobs to be had across all industries. Virtually all of the CIOs, analysts, IT job experts and career advisers interviewed for this story acknowledge that IT is at the very beginning of this trend.
"What we're describing is still very aspirational," says Vinnie Mirchandani, founder of Deal Architect and a former technology industry analyst and outsourcing executive. "There is still a viable and clear career path for techies."
CIOs say that as long as ease of use remains high on the IT priority list, there will be room for the most technical of techies in IT. The reason: Simpler-to-use technology still involves a lot of complexity.
"IT is really moving in two directions at once," observes Lynn Vogel, CIO at the MD Anderson Cancer Centre in Houston. "We're paying much more attention to the user experience, including graphic design and ease of navigation, but all of that makes it more complicated on the back end."
As a result, Vogel says, MD Anderson "will continue to invest in deeper and deeper technical skills. Technology is getting easier to use, but to make it easier to use, we have to be a lot smarter in IT."

Wal-Mart to hire 250 IT graduates

Wal-Mart plans to create 250 new IT jobs during the coming year, filling the majority of the positions with graduates rather than experienced IT veterans. The retail giant also plans to promote about 25% of its existing IT personnel.

Open source: A sunny forecast

Four years ago,, the online counterpart of The Weather Channel Interactive Inc.'s 24-hour TV channel, relied entirely on proprietary commercial software to serve up millions of Web pages of maps, forecasts and hour-by-hour weather data every day.

SANS Institute's Paller on fighting back hackers

PALM DESERT, CALIFORNIA (03/09/2004) - There's nothing like a detailed, hands-on demonstration of just how easily hackers can break into supposedly secure corporate networks to spark CIOs into action.

Salary squeeze

FRAMINGHAM (10/23/2003) - It's deja vu all over again.

Weighing the change to blades

FRAMINGHAM (10/02/2003) - As IBM Corp., Hewlett-Packard Co. and other system vendors push to market ever more powerful and lower-cost blade servers, evidence is mounting that these ultracompact servers may be ready to move beyond traditional applications such as Web server farms. But users and analysts say they're more likely to coexist with traditional rack servers than they are to replace them.

On-the-fly IT

More and more workers aren't showing up at the office. Their cubicles are vacant, their desktop PCs idle.

The 10 hottest IT certifications for 2003

The following ranking is based not on the most popular certifications, but rather on the fastest-growing certifications in the industry, according to Becky Nagel, editor of

Working alternatives to job cuts

Since salaries make up the lion's share of corporate costs, cutting jobs is one of the fastest and most readily accessible ways to significantly reduce expenses. Layoffs, then, make great fiscal sense in the current down economy. Right?