Stories by Julia King

How to attract and retain women in IT: Q&A with Linda Beck

Statistics show that women are less attracted than men to IT careers. Why is that? When choosing a major in college, a lot of women look just at the entry-level positions [available after graduation]. They don't see past software engineering and coding and sitting at a computer all day to the more interesting IT roles, such as project manager, where you interact with people.

Revving up!

Managers at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Massachusetts used to show up at their monthly meetings armed with several pounds of paper documents -- departmental performance reports, printouts of e-mails and PowerPoint slides, and lots and lots of spreadsheets. The managers eventually agreed to lighten their load by regularly tracking a total of 45 business performance measures, which were printed out in 8-point type to fit on a single sheet of paper.

Opinion: Chat gets serious

To hear industry pundits tell it, this is the year that instant messaging will really take off in the corporate world. Now that Microsoft, Yahoo and America Online all offer enterprise IM products with integrated security and archiving tools, IM is looking less Mickey Mouse and more like a serious business tool.

Building a long-term IT architecture

Sticking to a vision has its rewards. For AXA Financial Services LLC, those rewards add up to about US$55 million, which is what IT executives figure they've saved by adhering to a blueprint for the services-based computing architecture the company first laid out in 1990.

One version of the truth

Talk about chaos. For decades, corporate executives have made strategic business decisions based on information deduced from multiple reports that IT compiled by summarizing sets of frequently conflicting data.

KeyCorp wins mirroring marathon

"Data mirroring is like teenage sex. Everybody says they're doing it, but they're not." So says Charlie Miller, head of data center engineering at KeyCorp, which learned that lesson the hard way over the past two and a half years.

On-the-fly IT

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

IT drives

In 1999, Volkswagen's top executives directed Chief Technology Officer Claus Hohmann and his IT team to design and build an IT infrastructure that would flawlessly support a unique and highly customer-centric automotive theme park. The idea was to create a spectacular and ever-changing marketing venue where visitors could experience state-of-the-art automotive technology. Buyers would pick up their new cars from one of the park's two gleaming 20-story, fully automated glass-and-steel towers.

Landing an IT Job in Today's Tough Market

"Diversify." That's James McKnight's premier piece of advice to the IT unemployed. Laid off from his year-old job as an IT contractor in late 2000 as a direct result of the AOL Time Warner Inc. merger, it took McKnight, 31, nine months to land his current position. He is now manager of systems integration and development at the Association for Supervision and Curriculum Development, an Alexandria, Va.-based designer and distributor of educational training materials. He got the job after answering an ad in The Washington Post.

Special report: Hard times

In interviews, more than 50 CIOs, high-tech hiring managers, recruiters, consultants and out-of-work IT professionals in different regions of the country told the same story: Two years of heavy corporate merger activity followed by the dot-com bust and a general downturn in the economy have brutalized the IT job market, victimizing even veteran, highly skilled IT professionals.

Back to basics

Legions of dot-coms have collapsed, companies across the U.S. are laying off workers, and the economy remains in a sinkhole. It's against that backdrop that some sanity appears to be returning to IT project management. Gone are the days of bottomless-pit project funding and caffeine-pumped software developers sequestered off-site and working around the clock to be first to market with a glitzy Web site.

User beware

Vendor-provided Web-based tools for calculating customers' returns on investment in hardware, software and other gear are all the rage in today's show-me-the-value budgeting climate.

Premier 100: Everything is infrastructure

Just as Unix did in the early 1990s, the Linux operating system is bound to take on multiple personalities and come in various vendor flavors, at least for the next few years -- something that will make systems integration and the job of the IT infrastructure manager even more of a nightmare.

Mainframe skills, pay at a premium

IT managers looking to cut labor costs during the ongoing recession might want to think twice before laying off any of their workers who have mainframe or data center skills.