Career Central - 4

A brief compendium of the IT workplace.

Four Feckless Business Approaches to IT

Its rare to find geeks or suits out there who cant list examples of their earnest work being thwarted by "those other guys."

Yet most people will tell you there is more to the picture than incompatibility, some noting problems as simple as a language gap.

"Sure, youre both speaking English, but the same words may mean different things to the IT and business sides of the organizations," said Jeff Bates, founder of Slashdot.org and vice president of editorial at Open Source Technology Group, in Fremont, Calif.

Bates gives a recent example of a colleague who was presented with a report that had the words "My Sequel" throughout it.

"Obviously, this report writer had a conversation with someone discussing MySQL and didnt understand it was an abbreviation. But its indicative of the language barriers that can occur when both sides make assumptions," Bates said.

Personality differences come into play, too, from differing motivations to disparate needs from their jobs.

"We did a survey of developers about their motivating factors, and the majority of them said that they felt their work was akin to writing a song or telling a story. This plays out in the corporate environment, too. IT will often think its the right thing to do to maximize the functionality of a new tool, when business just wanted a specific solution," Bates said.

—Deborah Rothberg

CAs Swainson predicts the next big things

When CA CEO John Swainson thinks about the future of IT, he does not see one giant development that will change the landscape of the profession.

Instead, Swainson sees several monumental changes that not only will fundamentally change IT but also add to the ever-evolving complexity of technology throughout the world.

"The truth is that there is no one big thing; there are many big things—all happening simultaneously," Swainson said in his keynote address at the Interop conference Sept. 20 in New York.

"Lots of emerging technologies and ways of leveraging technology have the potential to make a significant impact on the way we live and work. And all these innovations, changes and trends contribute to the direction the IT industry will take over the next few years," Swainson said.

Swainson picked several technologies that he thought would change the landscape in the next few years, including virtualization; clusters of small, replaceable processors and blades; and cheaper and faster IP-networked storage.

Yet even with the emergence of new technology, Swainson warned that the complexity associated with this new technology in the enterprise realm, such as automation of business processes, will affect the bottom line, and professionals will have to deal with a new reality.

"What we have to do is make the management of IT simple," Swainson said.

—Scott Ferguson and Wayne Rash

Managers, Workers Disagree on Performance

You might want to sit down for this one. According to a survey released Sept. 20 by New York-based Hudson Index, many bosses dont have a clue about how their employees feel about their managerial skills.

According to the results, 92 percent of managers consider themselves to be good or excellent bosses, but only 67 percent of employees agree.

In fact, 10 percent of workers think their bosses are doing an awful job.

Managers, however, were less critical of their bosses performance, with 73 percent indicating their bosses are doing an excellent job, versus 63 percent of nonmanagers.

The survey also revealed that only 26 percent of employees are given the opportunity to formally review their managers performance. Of these, 73 percent believe their feedback is taken seriously.

"Reviews cannot provide a complete picture of a managers performance if you are not looking at how they are perceived by workers reporting to them," said Robert Morgan, chief operating officer at New York-based Hudson Talent Management, in a statement.

"Not only are 360-degree reviews a good opportunity to assess an employees capabilities as a manager, but they also let workers know that their opinions are valued, regardless of where they sit in the organization," Morgan said.

—Deborah Rothberg

Number of Nonretiring Retirees Booming

The number of Americans working into their 50s, 60s, 70s and even 80s is at a record high. Heres a look at the numbers:

* 70 percent of Baby Boomers plan to stay in the workplace beyond the traditional retirement age of 65

* In August, the number of workers older than 55 reached its highest level ever recorded, 24.6 million

* Approximately 25 percent of this group (5.2 million) was 65 or older, a 45 percent increase from 10 years ago

* Employment among workers age 55 and older grew 10.5 percent between 2003 and 2005 and at the same rate for workers age 65 and older

* The median job search time for those 50 and older was virtually equal to that of younger job seekers

Source: Analysis of federal employment data by Challenger, Gray & Christmas