New Articles

It’s Time for an Indian-U.S. Digital Alliance

It’s Time for an Indian-U.S. Digital Alliance

With two of largest economies in the world – the EU and China – developing their own digital economy frameworks and governance systems and seeking to export those to their respective spheres of influence, America and India risk being isolated. With its comprehensive digital economy regulatory regime, including limits on cross border data flows, onerous privacy rules, and aggressive antitrust enforcement directed at U.S. internet companies, the EU is seeking to export its digital governance model globally. China is doing the same.

Its strategy of a protected domestic market, coupled with a state that is a massive provider of data to Chinese IT firms, being exported through its digital silk road initiative.

If India and the United States do not want to live in an increasingly bi-polar digital world with some nations in the EU digital regulatory block and others as digital colonies of China, it is time for a high-level digital alliance between India and the United States.

Such a partnership makes eminent sense. Today, the two countries are already partners in areas ranging from trade and investment, defence and counter-terrorism, science and technology, and energy and health, among others. Goods and services trade between the two countries topped US$142bn in 2018 with a joint resolve of taking it to US$500bn by 2024.

As India is a leader in IT services, fielding global leading companies like WIPRO, TCS and Infosys, and the United States is home to the world’s leading digital economy firms, becoming partners in digital is the next logical step.

However, increasingly, economic policy in the two countries is fueled by nation-first rhetoric. Such an approach has the potential of putting both countries at loggerheads. For instance, India’s position on local storage of sensitive data of its citizens, particularly in payments, e-commerce, and social media sectors, has raised the hackles of American companies, as have a series of restrictions against U.S. firms from entering the e-commerce market.

Yet, apparent discord is no reason to weaken the resolve of deepening engagement in existing areas and expanding in others. In fact, such episodes must prompt a course correction through comprehensive review of causes, and designing of mechanisms to prevent and promptly resolve possible discords in future.

One key Indian position is primarily informed by difficulty of its law enforcement agencies to get timely access to data of potential rogue elements that may be stored outside India. Yet, rather than ban cross border data transfers to the United States, a well negotiated arrangement between the two countries which inter alia minimises restrictions on cross border data flow, maintains high levels of data protection, and does not compromise the ability of Indian government to access necessary data in genuine cases will be a win-win situation for both countries.

Resolving these kinds of existing and potential disputes through formalized mechanisms like advance notification and structured consultation could go a long way in deepening partnership between the two nations.

However, the scope of digital alliance need not be limited to dispute resolution. The emerging new IT-based innovation wave is bringing stakeholders across jurisdictions closer than ever. A range of intermediaries has emerged to increase convenience, safety, speed, and economy of digital experience, within and across borders. Regulation on accountability, dominance, grievance redress, and taxation in digital economy will need greater cooperation among governments than ever before.

India and the United States can lead the way in working towards establishing best practices by entering into early engagements at senior government levels on these issues under a broader digital alliance. The on-going 2+2 dialogue on defence and security issues between the two countries could be a good template. The digital alliance can also benefit from close partnerships between industry and civil society of the two nations.

Finally, each nation leads in certain areas, with India ahead of the United States in programs like smart cities and digital identity systems, both implemented under the Modi government. Also, India has taken important steps in fighting digital piracy, with the Delhi high court’s recent decision that provides a new tool for rights-holders to better protect the creativity that is tied up in their copyright.

The United States leads in broadband and progress to 5G and e-government. When it comes to these kinds of digital policy innovations, a formal partnership can help two-way learning and implementation with appropriate customization.

Given their past and present partnership, India and the United States are not only naturally placed to develop a shared global vision for digital economy but are also equally equipped to present an optimal alternative to the Chinese or EU approaches. The time is right for a digital alliance between India and the United States. The leadership in both countries needs to realise this and actively work towards achieving the same before it’s too late.

Mehta is Founder Secretary General of CUTS International, a global economy policy research and advocacy group headquartered in India. Atkinson is Founder and President of Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, the world’s top think tank for science and technology policy, headquartered in the United States.

IT Job Satisfaction: 6 Keys to Keeping Your Top IT Talent

Technology roles are among the most difficult to fill. Demand exceeds supply in the industry, so talented tech workers can afford to be choosy when looking for work.

For IT teams, this makes retention crucial. When you struggle to replace employees who voluntarily leave the company, there are negative impacts to productivity, customer service, information security, and profitability. Employee loyalty is essential to your success.

So what inspires loyalty? Job satisfaction. Satisfied employees are less likely to look for new work and less likely to consider other opportunities. The latter is especially important in IT because the average IT pro receives 32 job solicitations each week.

To improve retention and loyalty and avoid the struggles that come with recruiting new employees, focus on boosting job satisfaction. We reviewed more than a dozen surveys and research studies to uncover the most important factors that contribute to IT job satisfaction. Here’s what we found.

Strong coworker relationships increase job satisfaction

In a survey conducted by Spiceworks last year, IT professionals ranked how 10 different factors contributed to their happiness at work. The results: strong coworker relationships have the biggest positive impact on employee satisfaction. Survey respondents rated coworker relationships as even more important than pay, stress levels, and work hours.

Unfortunately, improving coworker relationships is much more complicated than improving pay, work hours, or vacation time. Employees evaluate their coworkers independently, forming relationships based on compatibility of personality, shared goals and interests, and many other highly individualized reasons.

You can’t simply decide for everyone to become friends, but you can create an environment that encourages employees to form friendships. A few ways to do that is to:

Hire people you can see yourself being friends with. By hiring people compatible with your own personality, you build a team of people who are more likely to share interests and values.

Change your seating arrangement. Even if employees don’t have enough in common with their coworkers to form friendships, changing desks occasionally gives them an opportunity to meet people from other departments that might be worth befriending.

Provide opportunities for interaction outside of the office. It’s hard to get to know your coworkers on a personal level when all of your interactions center around work.

Boredom increases dissatisfaction

survey conducted by TEKsystems found that only 48 percent of entry- to mid-level IT professionals feel as though they’re doing the most satisfying work of their careers. And while the numbers are trending upwards—from only 39 percent in 2014—more than half are not as satisfied as they could be with the work they’re doing in their current positions.

To prevent job dissatisfaction resulting from boredom, provide employees with plenty of opportunities to do interesting, meaningful, or challenging work:

Change things up.  If employees aren’t challenged in their current roles, consider moving them onto a team where they can do something different or learn a new technology.

Encourage them to pursue other interests. Provide professional development funds that employees can use to learn something new, give them time to focus on pet projects that are outside of the scope of their day-to-day responsibilities, or make your employment contracts more flexible so they can work on a side gig in their own time.

Give them more responsibilities. When employees outgrow their current roles and find themselves bored and unchallenged, their natural inclination is to look for a new position.

Funding and awareness play a part in IT job satisfaction

survey by Campus Technology looked at job satisfaction for IT professionals in higher education institutions and found that inadequate funding for projects and new technology and administrators not understanding what they do both created job dissatisfaction.

Lack of funding is often the direct result of poor communication between IT and the individuals who make funding decisions. If leaders don’t understand how investing in technology will benefit the entire organization, they’ll never sign off on the investment.

For many organizations, IT operates in a silo—and often with an us-versus-them mentality. This is usually the result of non-technical sponsors and leaders making unreasonable demands and failing to see issues from the perspective of those who understand the technology.

But eliminating employee dissatisfaction caused by these issues requires breaking down those silos and working as a team. Consider hiring someone to operate as a liaison between IT and non-technical departments and leadership. Choose someone who’s spent time on both sides of the fence who has the ability to present IT concerns in terms of overall business benefits.

Improving communication between technical and nontechnical divisions reduces the risk of IT employees becoming dissatisfied because they feel misunderstood and underappreciated. Additionally, it increases the chance that your department receives the funding needed to stay on top of technological advances and trends.

Salary matters, but not as much as you think

A survey conducted by TechTarget found that salary also impacts job satisfaction. However, the impact of salary on job satisfaction is much smaller than that of other, more important factors like work that’s intellectually challenging and a supportive work environment.

And while company culture and interesting projects may be more important than salary, you shouldn’t neglect the role that salary plays in keeping employees happy. Few people will stay in a job—even one that they love—if they don’t make enough to pay their bills.

If you’re concerned that employee salaries are contributing to dissatisfaction, follow the lead of other companies in the industry and take an innovative approach to setting salaries:

Pay Silicon Valley rates, even if you’re not in Silicon Valley. Basecamp’s headquarters is in Chicago, but the company employs people who live all over the world. While the company could get away with setting salaries based on cost of living where employees work—or cost of living in Chicago—all employees earn Silicon Valley rates.

Pay people to move somewhere with a lower cost of living. If you can’t afford Silicon Valley rates, consider an incentive for employees to move somewhere less expensive. Zapier offers its employees a $10,000 relocation package to move out of Silicon Valley and into an area with a lower cost of living.

Work with HR to personalize employee benefits. Even if you can’t increase salaries, there are opportunities to put more money in employees’ pockets with personalized benefits. For example, Student Loan Hero offers its employees student loan debt repayment matching. BambooHR employees get an annual $2,000 vacation stipend.

Job training is important for both employees and employers

survey by The Conference Board found that one of the areas employees are least satisfied with at work is educational and job training programs. Data from a survey from CompTIA shows that this concern is particularly important for IT professionals because one of their top concerns is that their skills quickly become obsolete.

Wish list items for IT professionals further highlight the impact that training, education, and advancement have on job satisfaction.

More than half of IT professionals choose their careers because of their “passion/interest in technology.” That interest doesn’t subside when employees master a particular technology. IT pros are hungry to continue learning, experimenting, and innovating. When their job enables them to do so, they’re much more satisfied.

At the same time, employers expect that one of the most difficult hiring challenges they’ll face this year will be “finding workers with expertise in emerging tech fields.”

Professional development opportunities, on-the-job training, and education stipends increase employee satisfaction. Plus, they limit the need for employers to seek new hires who have experience with emerging technologies; you’re able to fill new roles with existing employees.

There are a number of ways to provide IT employees with development opportunities:

-Provide funds for employees to attend industry conferences, earn certifications, take courses, or pursue additional degrees.

-Distribute a list of local mentorship opportunities, trade organizations, and community IT groups, and subsidize any membership fees.

-Hire industry leaders/experts to host an on-site seminar or training for your group once a quarter, or host monthly lunch-and-learn events.

When work is meaningful, other factors are less impactful

In both 2017 and 2018, Elon Musk’s SpaceX landed a spot on Glassdoor’s “employees’ choice” list of best places to work. The company has an overall 4.4-star rating, 96 percent of employees approve of Musk as CEO, and 90 percent of employees would recommend working for SpaceX to friends. By all accounts, SpaceX employees are satisfied with their jobs.

But a recent study from PayScale shows that SpaceX employees earn less than employees of other top tech companies and experience the highest amounts of stress.

So why are employees who are underpaid and overstressed so satisfied with their jobs? SpaceX employees feel that their work is meaningful. SpaceX earned the highest rating of all of the companies PayScale compared in the “high job meaning” category.

Of course, when your job is to build the technology needed to colonize other planets, it’s not hard to find meaning in it. But not all companies have such inspiring goals. Even so, that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to make the work your employees do meaningful.

According to Michael G. Pratt, professor of management and organization at Boston College, “Meaningfulness is about the why, not just about what.” Help employees understand the “why” behind their day-to-day responsibilities to help them find meaning in their work:

-Connect IT’s tasks to overall company goals.

-Share stories of how IT projects helped end users.

-Publicize the company’s mission, values, and contributions.

The most important factors for IT job satisfaction

Like any employee of any industry, IT professionals want to earn a reasonable living, avoid unhealthy amounts of stress, and access important benefits. But those things are just the starting point for IT job satisfaction. True satisfaction stems from filling more complex needs.

People seek careers in IT because they’re good at what they do and interested in using their skills to build innovative products and solve complex problems. They seek challenges, are motivated by learning, and thrive when collaborating with like-minded people. They don’t mind dealing with stress if they’re contributing to something meaningful.

The companies that win the talent war will be those that work to improve the more fundamental aspects of IT job satisfaction. They’ll attract and retain top talent by building a department where employees find true fulfillment with their teams, work, and future prospects with the company.

Jessica Greene is a staff writer at Spoke.

5 Outdated IT Practices That Companies Need To Eliminate

Technology changes nearly as quickly as the calendar flips. A new device or upgrade that was trending not long ago may become antiquated or obsolete before you know it.

Information technology is integral to most businesses today, but keeping up with the interrelated parts of IT and the advancements – from software to cyber security to social media platforms – isn’t always prioritized. IT experts say companies falling behind in that category could see their business slip as a result. 

“Over the last several years, many IT practices have become fixed and inflexible,” says Chris Hoose (www.choosenetworks.com), an IT consultant who works with small businesses. “While older concepts are a good springboard, some have become ineffective. There are many you can reconsider and/or eliminate.”

Hoose looks at five IT practices he thinks businesses should stop using:

Outdated software. One of the biggest security vulnerabilities a company can face is one of the simplest to address: outdated software. “There are many risks associated with using unsupported or outdated software, and hackers love to exploit these gaps,” Hoose says. “Then there are the inevitable problems of a system failure or antiquated workflows that slow a company’s productivity. Although upgrading software – including your operating systems – can be time-consuming and expensive, doing so can safeguard your organization and create more room for innovations.”

In-house server hosting. Much of today’s modern software is hosted in the cloud. “Most cloud vendors are able to provide public, private or hybrid cloud hosting based on your requirements,” Hoose says. “With such extensive cloud capability, there is no reason anymore to rely on in-house server hosting. Migrating to these versions can not only help save your business the costs of purchasing and maintaining software, but also the costs of maintenance and upkeep on servers.” Another plus of cloud computing is the added security of cloud disaster recovery, a backup and restore capability that enables companies to recover data and switch to a secondary operational mode.

Inflexible work environment. The new wave of the workforce is an IT strategy that includes video cameras and laptops for team members to facilitate remote work and remote communications. “If your firm doesn’t have that flexibility, they risk being left behind,” Hoose says. “Flexible work arrangements improve a company’s effectiveness and morale. It’s one of the best uses of today’s IT.”

Newsgroups and discussion forums. These popular mediums once served as portals where questions were raised from the team and answers were provided in a question-and-answer format. Better alternatives, Hoose says, are options like Facebook, Hangouts or Slack. “The format is far more intuitive and user-friendly with social media pages than with conventional discussion forums,” he says. “Also, multiple answers can be handled easily with social-media pages.”

Unnecessary complexity. Hoose says an overly complex structure is the core failing of legacy systems. “Rethink your architecture and prioritize for simplicity,” he says. “When modernizing your systems, less is more in terms of both architecture and functionality. You can start by implementing only the most important features. Make sure the new application will worrk well with the rest of the tools used in your business by default. Whatever applications you choose, make sure you use a solid and future-ready technology stack to deliver optimal performance.”

“Many executives are unsure, or even unaware, of the risk that obsolescence presents to their technology portfolios,” Hoose says. “Their uncertainty stems from not having the right data and dealing with conflicting points of view on priority, value, and risk.”

About Chris Hoose

Chris Hoose (www.choosenetworks.com) is the president of Choose Networks, an IT consulting firm for small businesses. Hoose started the company in 2001 to give large-scale solutions and support to businesses that can’t afford their own in-house IT department. He earned a Master of Information Systems Management from Friends University.

Transplace Appoints New Chief Technology Officer

Leading provider of transportation management services company Transplace, confirmed Jim French will take the role as Chief Technology Officer. French will lead company initiatives involving  IT infrastructure and development report to his predecessor, Mike Dieter,  who will evolve into the role of Chief Information Officer.

“I am honored to join a leading technology company such as Transplace,” said French. “Transplace has a strong reputation as a technology innovator with a customer-focused culture. I look forward to helping guide Transplace’s ongoing pursuit to deliver logistics solutions that deliver measurable value to its customers.”

French brings over 30 years of experience with information technology, inclusive of his previous role as  CTO at MoneyGram International where he oversaw all technology at the company including application development, enterprise architecture, service management, infrastructure network operations, internal financial, marketing and legal systems and end-user computing.

“Jim’s extensive experience in technology innovation and leadership make him a perfect fit for Transplace,” said Transplace CEO Frank McGuigan. “As a technology company, it is important to have dynamic leaders who are able to direct and foster our IT planning and performance. Having both Jim and Mike as part of Transplace’s leadership team will better position the company to deliver innovative technology solutions that drive supply chain efficiencies and improve financial performance and service for our customers.”

Source: Outlook Marketing Services