Is more data always better?  Are companies collecting an unnecessary amount of consumer data?

Top Answer : The core of a CSO role is effective risk management and risk tolerance: business empowerment and risk tolerance alongside it. And I think if the perception around data is simply “more is better, more is more, the end,” it becomes difficult to have an informed risk tolerance around the acquisition of data. If there's no liability and there's a touring test kind of analog that has to happen in the courts for AI and ultimately the company behind it to be rendered liable, I look at this and I think, "What is legal's responsibility here for the implementation of AI?" And then we as cyber practitioners, if there is no liability behind certain algorithmic implications what then, for the larger status? And how do you form risk tolerance atop that.

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Pulse Flash Read: Morale-as-a-Service?

There’s a lot of talk about IT leaders transitioning into business leaders, especially as the remote workforce situation gets dragged on into what’s starting to feel like forever. Classical representations of IT leaders tell us that emotional intelligence has perhaps not often been identified as their standout ability. While CIOs have been (hopefully) busy working on their emotional intelligence (by watching
TEDTalks, presumably), IT has increasingly turned to SaaS and outsourcing for many of the processes that used to be handled internally. A savvy CIO might be tempted to ask, could there be a SaaS that can help with the well-being of my remote team? It turns out that there are, and yet no one seems to have coined this obvious new marketable tool category: welcome to ‘Morale-as-a-Service’.  There’s an old adage that too often goes overlooked: customer service begins with employees. A motivated and enthusiastic team, driven by a positive mindset, translates to every customer interaction; it’s company culture personified into touch points. This feeling has recently morphed into the idea of ‘employee experience’, and, indeed, even the ‘Chief Employee Experience Officer’. But how do we know what the employee experience truly is?  We’ve become better at measuring the conversions of touch points and engagements into sales through click-throughs and open rates. Can we also measure morale? Some vendors think so. Culture Amp basically offers a continuous deployment platform for overseeing employee engagement and development, offering internal ‘Pulse’ (ahem) surveys that dive deep into employee psychology. Officevibe offers something called ‘Conversation Engine’, which saves managers time by outsourcing talking points, plus a suite of other features designed to engineer interaction into ‘actionables’—and they also offer ‘Pulse’ surveys (what is going on here?). There’s also TINYPulse (seriously?) that comes right out and promises that you’ll be able to “read employee thoughts and feedback in real time” (which we can only hope isn't actually true, but give the tech a few more years). Meanwhile, Achievers has trademarked something called ‘Culture Continuity’ as part of a three-pronged platform that assists teams to build a culture, ‘activate employee engagement in real-time’ and apply ‘data science’ to improve performance.  These vendors all promise metrics that sound desirable to team leaders, such as the ability to measure ‘happiness’ along trend lines. Who wouldn’t want that? The thing is, all the testimonials advocating for the software come from the team leads. It'd be interesting to hear more about the employee experience. Regardless, capturing employee morale should pique the CFO’s interest... When wellbeing metrics can be lined up against conversions and performance, they can be used to convince the CFO and the board to invest in measures that keep morale on the up; if there’s a demonstrable upswing on ROI, the checkbook may stay open. But there’s some murky potential here. If morale comes to be viewed solely as a metric of performance and ROI, the classic capitalist switch can be flipped to demand growth of that metric. Morale must be optimized. Morale-boosting factors must be iterated on. Those employees whose morale is lacking must be… let go? It’s logical to see a 1984 situation playing out with this. If employees can smile through physical/Zoom meetings they’d rather not be in, they can keep up that facade when they know the company wants to ‘measure’ their happiness. If morale can be accurately measured, that’s awesome. But the focus of those measurements should remain on the employees’ genuine well-being. If the business becomes obsessed with optimizing and rewarding morale for business gains, employees may learn what the stakes are and game the system—to the detriment of themselves and the organization: keep smiling through the grimace of another sleepless night hitting those KPIs until companies start wondering why morale scores are so high but the employee churn rate keeps spiralling upwards.  If metrics are what it takes to land some investment for improving employee experience, so be it. And if it actually helps identify employee pain points and improve on them, fantastic. But at the end of the day, the biggest factor that keeps morale up might be remembering that employees are humans—and humans need to feel crappy sometimes. They need to rest. They need to spend time making and eating nourishing food. That can be acknowledged in-house, at zero cost. Technology might be able to augment our understanding of morale, and even provide a framework for how leaders can manage it. But making morale-building an entirely tech-led process might end up missing the simple human requirements of what ‘employee experience’ is aiming for. Keep watching those Ted Talks. 

Have you invested in any ‘Morale-as-a-Service’ tools? Share your morale-boosting success stories, tech or otherwise, in the comments.

Top Answer :

What are your company values and what’s your favorite one?

Top Answer : Integrity, compassion, relationships, innovation, and performance. Favorite is compassion.

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Pulse Flash Read: Categories, choice and change Sometimes the SaaS market can feel like a sea of never ending acronyms and shorthands that everyone pretends to know the meaning of. It’s reached the point where hierarchies have broken down, and you probably aren’t alone in wondering where exactly TOTP fits into your CIAMs and your PAMS, while AWS is covering your SSO but someone called URI is injecting SQL in your what now..? Humans like categories, but, just as we like watching one more episode of The Sopranos at 2:30am, our need for quick satisfaction doesn’t help us achieve our goals. How often do your Google searches begin with the word ‘best’? And how often has this given you what you were looking for quickly, rather than turned into an entire evening of listicles and more questions than answers? Wasted time searching through what may well be paid features for something that might not even suit your goals. Megan Heuer, of SiriusDecisions, had this to say on the problem of categorization in B2B buying choices:  “Because we’re trained to begin with the category, we enter a buying process completely without critical business need context. The result is technology investment set up for failure from the start.” Think about when someone wants to buy a home. That process probably doesn’t begin with a ‘best home’ search (although the way the Toronto skyline is filling with identikit condos, this might be changing). Individuals define their goals for the lifestyle they desire and then begin looking for houses in an area that brings them closer to those goals, then further define that by house features. Why shouldn’t business decisions be made the same way? Sheena Iyengar (who describes herself brilliantly as a ‘psycho-economist’) has spent decades researching how too much choice leads to analysis paralysis and no action (which, incidentally, is why I end up watching The Sopranos again after spending an hour trying to choose between the infinite other streamable TV shows). Iyengar’s research shows that choice overload reduces engagement, decision quality and satisfaction. Think about that in the context of your budgeting decisions as you deepen your digital offerings.  The key to subverting choice overload, as Megan Heuer outlines, is to define your goals first, setting a clear agenda of what you’re looking for from a business perspective. While this reduces the number of categories you’ll have to choose from, there’s probably still many, many options to hit those goals. At Pulse, we’re addressing the choice overload problem by giving tech execs real-time access to what their peers think. Our Product IQ Reports compare the most-used software offerings in a particular space, such as RPA, based on the experience of the tech execs using them. But the reports aren’t the end of the process: execs can just straight up ask the community what they think of ‘Zero-Trust’ and who does it best? You can find what works for your business needs by speaking directly with your peers about how they defined and achieved their goals, and what software helped or hindered that process. Being open and sharing that information cuts out the whirr categorization creates in the B2B space.  We simple humans might always need to categorize things to some extent, that’s just a limit of language. So, until Elon Musk perfects his brain computer interface and Google figures out how to truly match our intent with the perfect tool, let’s help each other find the tech that will deliver what we need. Do you feel overwhelmed by categories when making purchasing decisions?

Top Answer : would love your thoughts on this!

Do CIOs ever purposefully hinder innovation in order to prevent risk of failure and protect their own career should things go awry?

Top Answer : I had a CIO say to me recently, when talking about a modernization project, "How can you guarantee me that I'm not going to end up in some trade journal as the next grand failure?" So they agree with the objectives of the project, but there's personal risk in not wanting to be the next magazine article about a huge failure. And the flip side of that, that I run into all the time: CIO comes in, they're there for two years, make some decisions, get a project started, and then they leave. And there isn't enough continuity of leadership in order to see this stuff through. Because it starts getting a little dicey and it's the squishy middle that nobody wants to hang around for.

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Is ageism a worry in IT departments?

Top Answer : It is worry I’m every department. Balance of new thinking with proven track record will continue to be a challenge. The key is diversity!

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Where are CIOs wasting their time?

Top Answer : On too many aspects that don't create value. You need to stick to those things that you identify as being strategically of importance. Manage upwards and build relationships at a strategic level. Aside from that, prioritise projects which might display intangible value initially and with a small effort say a sub-project like O365 for instance, a tangible value model could be developed. Do not fall into the predictability trap. Value is found in the least likely of places or projects. Hunt these down. Key day-to-day tasks are important however be disciplined to focus time on the highest ROI challenges and be wary of the unpredictable. Business after all is about constant change.

What skills are CIOs underinvesting in?

Top Answer : Politics and the ability to manage fallout, to some degree, in the organization is a very important value trait. More than 80% of my time is spent dealing with people and relationship building. You need to be really good at empathizing with and managing people - and not just going through the motions but honestly and authentically mentoring and coaching. Being able to articulate your strategic intentions well is a must. It might sound odd, but being humble as a CIO is an important trait. We don't have the luxury of losing our minds, in a sense. We're the people that have to be very focused and cognizant of that all the time. It's really important to be mindful. Know who you are, where you are and the context in which you're playing the game because it is after all a game. Gaming the corporate in a good sense. The moment your pride or ego levels rise, bang, you get taken out. Ideally the CIO should draw on multicultural multi-skilled DevOps teams globally. My belief is that diversity is not an idea but an imperative. I surround myself with really well represented genders which deepens my problem solving and delivery capability significantly. Today, if I have a project that is very short term (difficult, demanding, stressful, etc.) I would always choose a woman CIO or PM to deliver on that. This could be construed as contentious but quite honestly my experience has shown that they're just better at cutting through the crap and delivering. Although this might seem a generalisation, men on the other hand tend to spend an inordinate amount of time on trying to figure out what’s in it for them and their egos collide constantly. They are good scribes though, innovative in creating workable structures and more importantly listening to their female colleagues to provide a different viewpoint. And maybe it's just that having multiple viewpoints and avoiding a group mentality that thinks the same is beneficial when it comes to project delivery. Furthermore women take into account the emotions that are prevalent in a project team. They take into account who can drive what. They're very intuitive in many respects. We've got to wear multiple hats, many, many hats.