mrc's Cup of Joe Blog

Join us in exploring the world of modern development, evolving technologies, and the art of future-proof software

Month: March 2014

Weekly Recap: The future of on-premise IT, managing legacy apps, and more…

EducationEvery week, I share the most interesting and useful tech articles that I’ve found over the past week. This week’s top articles focus on the future of on-premise IT, managing legacy apps, and more. I hope you find them useful:

IT shops as roadblocks to data analytics projects
Business groups in a growing number of companies appear to be plowing ahead on data analytics projects with little input or help from their own IT organizations. Rather than leveraging in-house IT skills and technology, many business groups are using their own data and department-level analysts to cobble together analytics strategies, according to a survey by IDC.

6 Ways to Bridge the IT Skills Gap

EducationA recent study finds that a whopping 93% of businesses indicate there is an IT skills gap–a substantial shortfall between the supply of qualified IT professionals and the demand for modern IT skills. As technology evolves at breakneck speed, this IT skills gap is widening. Businesses are having more and more trouble finding IT pros with the modern skills they require–and the problem is only growing worse.

The big(ger) problem: The same study finds that the importance of information technology to a company’s overall success is growing. In other words, as technology becomes more important, finding employees with modern technology skills is becoming more challenging.

The real difficulty: Your company must address this skills gap while staying current with the ever-changing tech trends. After all, your business won’t stop and wait while you fix the skills gap. The competition won’t take a timeout while you search for modern skills. You must bridge the IT skills gap while operating at full speed.

How can companies deal with the shortage of qualified IT pros and developers? Outside of outsourcing everything or bringing in high-priced consultants, how can your company bridge this growing skills gap while remaining competitive?

Today, I’d like to focus on a few ways to address this IT skills gap in your company. How can your company stay on the cutting edge of technology in the midst of a skills gap? Here are 6 ways:

What is event-triggered messaging?

EducationToday, let’s explain another important term in the world of web application development: event-triggered messaging. What is it, why is it important, and how does it help your company? Let me explain.

Event-triggered messaging is a web application feature that involves automated email or sms messages sent on a pre-determined schedule, or based on application events. Messages can be triggered by any event, from customer interactions to changes in data and everything in between.

Weekly Recap: 10 best practices for legacy modernization, the future of information dashboards, and more…

EducationEvery week, I share the most interesting and useful tech articles that I’ve found over the past week. This week’s top articles focus on data visualization, best practices for updating legacy applications, and more. I hope you find them useful:

IT Shifting from support function to business strategy
Nearly two out of three CIOs and other technology professionals say there’s a “major IT transformation” underway in their organizations, driven largely by broader efforts to deliver added value, enhance business performance and increase security, according to a new survey.

5 signs that Shadow IT lurks in your company

EducationA growing trend, “Shadow IT” is a term used to describe IT systems and solutions built and/or used inside organizations without the approval of the IT department. This could include anything from employees emailing spreadsheets back and forth to entire departments licensing third-party, cloud solutions behind IT’s back.

While the usage varies, one thing is certain: Shadow IT is growing.

photo credit: PublicDomainPictures via pixabay cc
photo credit: PublicDomainPictures via pixabay cc

Why does this happen? Why are employees bypassing the IT department with greater frequency? While this article explains a few reasons why Shadow IT happens, it usually boils down to a simple problem: The demand for IT solutions outweighs the supply. When that happens, employees seek out their own solutions.

Now, why is this a problem? Since Shadow IT usually happens on the sneak, IT departments don’t know where (or how much) it’s happening. This means they can’t monitor the spread of company data, and therefore–cannot secure any data involved in Shadow IT. What risks does this create? Steven Lowe, Founder/CEO of Innovator, LLC, sums it up nicely below:

“There are two risks from shadow IT:
1. Critical company information floating around outside of managed channels risks data inaccuracy, loss, and leaks. ‘Home-grown’ data systems may produce data that is inaccurate, lacking integration with IT reference data sources. Sometimes this may not matter, but sometimes it might. Mis-sending an email with the company payroll data attached as an unprotected spreadsheet may be a big deal, and it may not. It all depends on the data and the organization.

2. Critical company information being shared only within a closed group risks missed opportunities and omissions. Data (and software) that IT doesn’t know about cannot be used to enhance organizational knowledge and processes. If IT doesn’t know the data exists, they can’t take advantage of it, and the company may miss strategic opportunities.”

All that being said, here’s the big question: How can businesses know whether or not they even have a Shadow IT problem, considering it’s practiced on the sneak? What signs and signals should IT leaders watch for to identify business users and departments practicing Shadow IT? While I’m sure there are more, I’ve rounded up 5 of the biggest signs that Shadow IT is alive and well in your company.

Weekly Recap: Data visualization is the future, how to measure mobile app ROI, and more…

EducationEvery week, I share the most interesting and useful tech articles that I’ve found over the past week. This week’s top articles focus on data visualization, measuring mobile app ROI, and more. I hope you find them useful:

Application modernization a top federal priority
Over the past five years, legacy modernization has been a hot topic in federal government IT discussions. Modernization makes application environments more efficient and responsive, and puts them in a stronger position to address new requirements and technology.

5 (more) new realities IT must learn to accept

EducationEvery new tech trend comes with varying levels of acceptance among IT departments. When the web first rolled around, some recognized its value and jumped on board. Others sat back and waited. I’ve noticed similar responses to the recent major trends, like mobile and cloud computing.

Now, I’m not going to sit here and tell you which trends to adopt and which to ignore. After all, every company has different needs.

However, I’d like to take a step beyond the recent trends, and focus instead on the new “realities” brought about by these trends. What’s the difference between a trend and a reality? While you can choose whether or not to adopt a trend, realities aren’t up for debate. They’re happening, whether you like it or not. You can’t sit back and see what others are doing. You must adapt.

So, what are these new realities? While this isn’t an exhaustive list, here are 5 realities to which IT departments must adapt:

Weekly Recap: Mobile skills IT pros must master, startling security statistics, and more…

EducationEvery week, I share the most interesting and useful tech articles that I’ve found over the past week. This week’s top articles focus on mobile skills IT pros must master, security statistics that show we need to reinvent enterprise IT, and more. I hope you find them useful:

Developing enterprise mobile applications
Mobile applications seem like a rite of passage for many enterprise development teams until they face the reality of supporting multiple devices and platforms. If your company doesn’t have one or two enterprise mobile applications, the perception is that the organization is getting left behind.

Top 10 mobile skills IT Pros must master
In a recent blog post, Gartner outlined 10 mobile technologies and skills that organizations need to master over the next two to three years. Additional training for enterprise IT staff will be especially critical during this time since mobile technology is evolving so quickly, with new risks as well as new capabilities emerging.

Security statistics show we need to reinvent enterprise IT
It seems that in a headlong race to become more agile and deliver on the innovation that the organization and the marketplace demands, enterprises are taking a fairly slack approach towards security. But perhaps this is an unavoidable reaction to the pressures organizations are under – is it feasible to deliver product more rapidly while still remaining secure?

What to consider when selecting a legacy modernization vendor
Legacy modernization isn’t an easy task, which is why in some situations an organization may opt to bring in a service provider. To achieve the maximum cost-saving benefits, it’s crucial that the relationship between a client and a vendor be solid. An organization’s laundry list of business needs and provider deliverables needs to be kept in mind when it’s hiring consultants and buying products for business transformation needs.

7 principles of modern web development

EducationWhat makes a “productive developer?”

That question came up in a recent article, and I think it’s worth exploring. Generally speaking, productivity correlates directly with speed. With developers, however, it’s different. Speed doesn’t necessarily equal productivity.

photo credit: Dmitry Baranovskiy via photopin cc
photo credit: Dmitry Baranovskiy via photopin cc

For instance, suppose a developer completes a project in half the time expected. Is that developer productive? It depends. Does the application meet the specs? Is it usable? Is it secure? Will it scale up with the company? Will it adapt to future needs? I could go on.

As you see, the term “productive developer” isn’t clear cut. A “fast” developer that creates complex, unmaintainable applications isn’t productive. Quite the opposite, in fact. I’d argue that a “productive developer” is one who builds applications the right way, in the most efficient manner possible. In other words, productivity = speed + quality.

The next logical question: What makes a “quality” application? Is it one that delivers on the specifications? I believe it goes far beyond that. A quality application is one that’s built for both the present and the future. It adapts to changing technology, solves the user’s long-term needs, grows with the business, and is easily maintainable.

So, how can developers build quality applications? It starts with an understanding of modern web development principles. These principles will help developers create successful applications–those that meet their user’s present and future needs, and adapt to the ever-changing tech trends. While this isn’t a comprehensive list by any means, here are 7 important principles of modern web application development: