Stories by Thomas Hoffman

Your help desk career: Dead end or launching pad?

When Anthony McCloud graduated from Graceland University in 2000, he didn't have a smidgen of business experience. He didn't know the first thing about business processes, customer service, or the quirks and habits of business workers.

Book author Don Tapscott says corporate inertia prevents mass collaboration

In 2006, author and technology think-tank head Don Tapscott teamed up with Anthony D. Williams to write Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything (Penguin Group), a book about the Web 2.0 economy that is still among the top-selling titles on in categories such as telecommunications, the Internet and communication skills. Now Tapscott and Williams have written two new chapters that offer business executives tips on how to embark upon mass collaboration efforts; the additions are included in a new version of the book that was released last Thursday. Tapscott, who is CEO of Toronto-based New Paradigm, spoke recently with Computerworld about the challenges of executing upon mass collaboration strategies in the corporate world.

Building an IT project pipeline

When Jeff Steinhorn joined Hess Corporation as CIO of its marketing and refining division in the summer of 2006, he discovered within the first two months of his tenure that the IT organization had historically taken a short-term approach to project planning.

Ex-Google CIO says firm moving to cut energy costs

In an interview last month, Douglas Merrill, Google's CIO until he was hired Thursday as president of EMI's digital business division, talked about how the Internet search pioneer's IT organization is configured (not structured), how CIOs need to evolve and the most exasperating question that people ask him at cocktail parties.

Getting employees clued in to disaster recovery plans

Last November, a fire broke out in one of the buildings on ISTA Pharmaceuticals' main campus, forcing about 50 employees to move to another location on the property. After the building's sprinklers kicked in, the entire network had to be shut down because the water threatened the equipment carrying the company's inbound data traffic.

BT adopts agile programming

In 2005, BT Group began replacing an aging Unix-based phone-traffic monitoring system with a Web-centric architecture. The intent: allow traffic managers to make quicker changes to switches and other physical devices to handle shifts in network loads -- on any point in the company's vast telecommunications network -- without risking system overloads.

Recession revisited: Will this time be different for IT?

When CompuCredit began feeling the sting of the subprime mortgage mess and resulting credit crunch toward the end of last year, CIO Guido Sacchi's IT organization was forced to absorb a 20 per cent year-over-year hit to its annual IT budget.

Online reputation management is hot -- but is it ethical?

It's no secret that blogs, forums and other online chatter can make or break a company's reputation. Just ask Kryponite, which makes high-end locks for bicycles and other sporting equipment. The company's worst nightmare came true in 2004 when a post on an online bicycling forum revealed that an expensive Kryptonite lock could be opened in seconds with a ballpoint pen.

How to keep anxious IT workers in the fold

Over the past decade, thousands of IT professionals lost their jobs to layoffs and outsourcing, so it's little wonder that many of those who chose to remain in the IT field have grown distrustful of their current employers. But for IT managers, there are steps they can take to build trusting relationships with workers who may be eyeing the door -- and other opportunities, according to Judith M. Bardwick, a management consultant in California. Bardwick, the author of One Foot Out the Door: How to Combat the Psychological Recession That's Alienating Employees and Hurting American Business, talked with Computerworld about how to reassure nervous workers.

Jumbo projects

When it comes to leaders, no two are alike. But while there are distinct leadership styles, there are also common traits among those who influence.

Eight signs it's time to look for a new job

Short of being handed your walking papers, there are often telltale signs that it's time to look for a new job. You haven't been promoted since the Clinton administration. The most exciting assignments are routinely handed to your peers or underlings. Your desk keeps moving farther and farther from where the action is.

Eyeing IT spin-offs through an R&D lens

Venture capitalists hail from all different backgrounds. Many are investment bankers or entrepreneurs; some are even former journalists. David Tennenhouse, a recent entrant into the venture capital world, hails from the research and development trenches. Tennenhouse is a former vice president and director of R&D at Intel Corp. He also previously worked as director of the Information Technology Office at the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency and as DARPA's chief scientist. In addition, he has taught at MIT.

Speeding up the IT hiring process

Why is it taking longer than ever to find -- and land -- IT professionals with the right stuff? In Computerworld's most recent hiring survey, more than two-thirds of the respondents said they expect their companies to be bringing on new IT staffers within the next 12 months, and 88 percent said their employers were experiencing a skills shortage.

9 non-techie skills managers wish you had

When it comes to technical skills, you either have them or you get them. This year's salary survey shows that there's demand for a broad range of skills, many of which have been hot for several years.

Computerworld's 2007 Jobs Report: Back from the brink

As an assistant information systems analyst at the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation in Corcoran, Kent splits his time between providing help desk support to 400 to 500 end users and handling IT procurement activities.