What really goes through a WIT mind..

Recently I have been involved in several women in technology sessions and it has caused me to stop and reflect on how I am performing as a woman in technology. Its funny to me how we put so much emphasis on the fact that we are women and we are in some sort of technology field.

For me this whole process has been a hell of a journey. This year has been a big indicator of how much I still am learning about myself, how I process and how I react differently than those male counterparts to situations in my field. It is teaching me some lessons I am not sure I was entirely ready for. The real question is, okay why?

Leadership is a trait that some are born with, some are really good at doing and learned quickly, some could be natural leaders yet struggle with the jump from subordinate to leader. I know that there are millions of books, seminars and classes that all talk about leadership challenges and how to become an influential leader. I have taken quite a few in my time. Yet why do I still feel unprepared?

In our classes we learn how to theoretically handle conflict management. We learn how to give direction and set goals for our staff. We learn the fundamentals of leadership. They don’t teach you how to deal with self-doubt, uncertainty, and how to deal with shame and guilt.

Shame and guilt.. lets touch on that for a moment. You see one thing that stood out to me at all of the WIT or Women in STEM sessions is that we still see ourselves as flawed. We as women use emotional intelligence in situations to figure out how to deal with them. We can be decisive and stern, yet in the back of our minds we are always wondering if maybe just maybe that was the right thing to do. Perhaps its only me, but I do find that giving criticism or correcting a problem can cause me to reflect on whether or not I did the right thing. I feel shameful and guilty that maybe I was out of line or too harsh, or perhaps I wasn’t harsh enough and that my leadership ability will be called into question.

We as women technologists have dealt with situations that are beyond our control from time to time. Situations that make us uncomfortable as the only woman in the room and dealing with the notion that someone may dismiss your actions or advice not because it isn’t good advice, but that it rather came from an emotional viewpoint. I often wonder how the men I work with view my actions. Am I rational? Am I emotional? Am I just being ‘a girl’? I struggle with these questions whenever a situation comes up where I am asked to voice my opinion. To be honest I have no idea if men feel like that, other women feel like that or I am alone.

As for the ability to give direction. I took on the responsibility of leading a group of volunteers for a new credential. Last year we worked on the materials and getting our ducks in a row, this year is the year of growth, yet I worry that I’m not stepping up and giving clear guidance on the activities, that perhaps I am letting the responsibilities slip, therefore contributing to a failure of the adoption of the credential. Sounds pretty dramatic doesn’t it? In my mind it is. I know I am not a one woman show. I have some really great members around me, but we all have day jobs. So how is it that I should be the only one feeling like I am failing by not being readily available. For not being the one beating the pavement talking about the credential and all of its greatness. For not being able to garner more membership, more partners, more investors. Why do I feel so guilty?

Speaking of day jobs.. In my day job I find that I am contending with a new found management position in where I don’t have to put my hands on keyboard to fix a problem. I don’t have to log in everyday into the mobility system to work on an issue. I am struggling with this transition from doer to leader. There just seems to be no great article, resource or class that teaches the transition part. There is no manual. I find that I still get passionate about my teams issues and where I could just ask someone else to take the stand for me, now I am the one that has to calm down and take the stand for the team. I find that I still get hot headed over issues, and yet when I talk to my manager he is not as fired up as I am. He seems to have found the even keel as it were. I wonder if I will be able to get that even temperament, or am I doomed to be a hot head emotional woman?

I recently saw an article where a female Democratic Senator used expletives in how she explained her view on some particular issues. Her passion for the subject was lost when all the focus was on the fact she used the ‘F’ word. I saw myself in her shoes. I too get passionate and the expletives fly. Is my message getting lost because of the language? That is the question I have been asking myself. Is the message lost because I, woman, swears like the former sailor I am. I am not sure.

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Perhaps the most striking lesson I have learned is to trust that your manager has your back, when making leadership decisions. Trust is a hard thing to have in the tech world as a woman. You are not sure who really is on your side, versus just being nice to your face. Believe me I have had quite a few of them. Trust for me is a hard thing to contend with, but once its there the security of your job, your momentum and your path are suddenly attainable. This has caused me to ponder even more.. Yes I over think EVERYTHING.. Duh.. Woman…

What about getting older as a technology professional? The fact is that we are getting older. While most people look at me and question the notion that I have 3 grown children and 2 grand children, I am getting older. Instead of worrying about my technical ability, I worry about health problems and how they are perceived in the work place. I watch as some of my friends are having health crisis’s and wonder what I would do in their shoes.

I have a acquaintance I met about 2 years ago. She is a strong inspirational woman who is dealing with Cancer. I watch as she struggles to manage family, professional and personal issues. I wonder how she is working to be such an advocate for Cancer treatments and care yet starting a new job and dealing with young children at home and a husband who travels for work. I wonder how I would do it. Would I throw myself back into my job or any job to avoid the pain or stop the thoughts of what comes next? I’m not sure. I just pray that I don’t have to deal with it, yet there is always a part of us that look at it with the question, ‘Yeah, but what if it does happen?’

I honestly commend her for being so strong. While I hope to never have to go through it, I can certainly hope that I can handle that type of situation with the same grace that she seems to be able to muster. I have had a couple of female peers in my time that have taught me grace under personal fire.

The last parting bit I have is that there is a misnomer about how women band together in technology. Men this is for you, we don’t. We have a few friends we have met along the way that we cling to. When you find a true female in technology or STEM, we may get along we may not. We also will not tolerate those that pretend to be in the field. An IT project manager is not a WIT. They didn’t get the question about their mindset, their skill set or get ridiculed for the fact that they won’t wear a skirt to conform to office policy when crawling under a desk hooking up a computer or replacing a keyboard. They haven’t been questioned or talked down to by a vendor about their technical expertise. They for the most part haven’t paid their dues to be called a true WIT.

I will say this we are still women. We can be catty, mean and are our own worst enemies. Just take a look at any social media page. We try to be above that sort of behavior, yet it is hard wired. We may not say it, but we certainly think about it.

The last parting thoughts on your personal support structure.. I guess in the end one thing that really got me this week with WIT was a question about personal growth and how do we do it with all the obligations we have. The panelist replied, marry well. This statement garnered a lot of laughter in the room as you can imagine, but the panelist then stated her point. Marry a partner, someone who is willing to sacrifice as you do for a career. Someone who will support you from home or the office or where ever. We ladies, take on burdens that may or may not actually be ours, yet we carry them. We carry the kids, the home, the bills, the chores, the shopping, the planning, the list goes on and on. We cannot do it alone. We have to have a partner who helps us with our burdens and shows us that they have got it and that we can let go and do what we need to do to further our personal growth. That being said, I still find myself bowing out of staff happy hour or IT after hour activities, because I feel guilty for going and not being home to help out, to make a dinner decision, you name it. I don’t know if those sorts of thoughts plague my male counterparts, because it always seems that they have no problem dropping what they are doing and going out with the team. It does however cross my mind and always has.

Thanks for reading

-M

 

 

Social Media Access at Work

Social media has become an everyday component of our lives. We post pictures of our families, friends, activities. We like pages that agree with our views and products we use. We post our random thoughts and feelings. We also post intimate musings about our relationships, ourselves, and others. We forward that cute article/video/gif, however we also forward the articles, videos that ignite our passion for justice, religion, politics and just our own personal views.

Suffice it to say we tend to overshare and say things we would never dream of saying in public, let alone to all of our friends and family in person. Heaven forbid Grandma reads your purity score on Facebook and likes it. That brings me to my topic. Is it okay to access Social Media from your work PC?

In this day and age where employers are looking for ways to entice younger folks and ensure they are happy at their jobs, we have evolved to allowing services to be used in our everyday work environment, that were shunned not so long ago. It has also created the boom of Enterprise Social among the requests.

However, we as people are very judgmental and one picture, word, video, comment can sour even the best of a work relationship. Especially if you run out and ‘friend’ all of your co-workers when you start a new job. They find out quickly who you are when you are not at the office and anything else you wouldn’t necessarily share in work environment.

So now layer that on with immediate access at work. I have seen a far share of policies drafted and access’ allowed that would have been shut down the minute it came out of someone’s mouth, over the last couple of years. Yet the bigger question is why? Does your employee(you) not have a personal cell phone? If they(you) have a company phone do you not allow them to access these sites/apps on their work devices?

I know the answer and the answer is, unless of course you work in the dark recesses of a government building, no it’s not blocked. So why allow it on your work pc?

I believe that most people don’t ever take into account that your company has the option to monitor and track your activity when you are using company resources. You are also asked to adhere to a code of conduct when using said resources. Meaning hate speech, vulgarity, drug/alcohol use etc is a no-no. They also have the ability to check for credit card information, social security, and any other PII they deem as potentially harmful. This means that every time you shop for new shoes, Amazon, Ebay, etc. the company knows and you agreed to let them know.

So now what do you do?
1) Stop friending current co-workers – Do you really need your boss hearing about your weekend, your relationship troubles, or that you love house music and marijuana.
2) Stop using company resources and use your own device to shop, share, Instagram, etc. which includes the free WiFi the company offers you to use for company business apps.
3) Stop oversharing – We don’t care that the food you had was great, or that you were so wasted last night and post the pictures to prove it
4) If you can’t say something nice to a persons/people then don’t say it on Social Media – Lobbing a salvo in Facebook against someone who wronged you in real or virtual is what our parents would say is ‘airing your dirty laundry to the world’

What this all boils down to is the company should not have to be your babysitter and tell you what is right, wrong etc. However if you ask for it/demand it (like using these pages from work) then don’t be shocked and surprised when the company acts on your moral/immoral actions or asks you direct questions about something you did on a business trip that was recorded on Facebook.

Life doesn’t come with out consequences.

If you would like examples, simply Google: fired because of Facebook.

Mobile strategy: whats in your wallet?

When we start a mobile strategy many business, end user and technology requirements are used to form the outcome. However, the question that seems to get missed is, have you looked at the bigger picture?

As we archtects and strategists work through the current needs we often over look the point of next. Meaning yes we looked at this groups requirements and built out a solution/strategy to meet their needs. Did we stop and look around? 

Its like learning to drive, did we see the car in our blind spot? How about the dog running into the street? We are always so focused on delivery that we forget the impacts around us.

Before delivering a strategy take a moment to ask who does this impact outside of the current need? Can this strategy be used for others? What changes in the near future if we implement this today?

Strategists are like fortune tellers. Our goal is to figure out what is needed before we are asked for it. Our thinking must be agile yet calculated. Knowing whats coming in technology as well as how that technology can be applied to your companies initiatives known and unknown will allow you to have explored it before a business partner or leader reads it and asks about the new capability. It is how we stay on the top of our game and prepared to keep companies mobile first.

So what tools are in your strategy wallet?

Mobility is a crazy business and business is good

So as this year comes to a close it’s a great time to reflect on the accomplishments, heartaches, frustrations and wow moments from the year.

1) BlackBerry: Over the past year we have heard everything from its dead, being sold, going private etc. Organizations around the world have been hearing the horror stories from mass media, however they still remain strong. Wonder how they will course correct in 2014 and if they can restore corp confidence.

2) Apple vs Samsung: The war continues. Apples innovation has seemed to stall this year or lag behind other manufacturers. The corp play has been met with huge enterprise dissatisfiers. The play to make an OS to rival BlackBerry and win the enterprise crowd is less than scalable. As is Apples track record about building hype around use for work (see iPhone 3GS), the abilities are only if you use their tool and if you only deliver to a small group. All in all they have a long way to go. Samsung promised high delivered mediocre. They too went all in with a blackberry killer. Samsung KNOX, which requires more over head to implement and is only available on a couple of devices. Again great for small organizations but not yet there for corporate, but you can get a cool watch to talk to.

3) EMM: As anyone who knows me knows that I’m a huge believer in what worked for you may not work for me. This year we have seen strategic partnerships that have vendors who want to buy into the space buying small vendors and pushing technology they don’t understand. To date there is over 150 or so EMM providers. The problem is reading through the salesman and hype to find out if they even have a working product. Do your homework and always look at each product with a small bit of skepticism. If it sounds too good to be true, it is.

4) Data vs Device: Debates have raged on whether or not we as enterprises are only concerned with the data on the device or the device itself. Data is king, but how far must a device be governed to protect data?

5) Microsoft phones: What are those? Someone actually owns one? Microsoft in a strategic move purchased Nokia. So they are quickly becoming a one trick pony like their rival Apple.

6) Apps: Chicken vs Egg argument. Do we wait for business need or build it and hope the business comes? Who dictates requirements? Business or customer or IT?

All in all the mobility space is evolving rapidly. Do you have a strategy to evolve with it?

Mobility the new IT support model

So your finally moving into the new era of mobile first, but have you considered everything that it is or will become?

Years ago I wrote a paper on the smartphone as a paper for my college telecom class. I had only been working with Blackberrys for about a couple of years, but we had IPaqs and palm pilots. I thought why wouldn’t these fantastic devices make great phones and if they were inexpensive who wouldn’t buy them. I got an A on my thesis but my instructor called it a great fantasy.

Fast forward 7 years. Mobile has become the new full computing platform. Several bloggers talk about how they have been using mobile only for the past year for everything.

When you adopt mobile and expand to the total user experience: apps, on network file storage, instant messaging and virtual desktop its time to stop looking at your mobile devices as just email, contacts and calendar.

Suddenly your easy Windows end user computing staff has to be morph into ninja smartphone experts. They are now required to know what model, os, carrier, free memory, downloaded apps, and whether or not the earth is experiencing solar flares or the leaves on the trees that line the Parkway are still on the tree.

Anyone that has supported mobile phones knows exactly what the above means. In today’s support world though our help desk is asked to treat these devices as mini computers. However they are much more.

Mobile has become its own support platform. So how will you structure your support? Just because you adopt byox doesn’t mean your support ends.

Look at all of the functionality that your organization has put on a mobile device. What does it take to support these same features on a laptop? Take that level of support and triple it. The mobile ecosystem has evolved and it’s time we give it the attention and proper support that’s needed.

Mobile First. What is it, how do we get there

So I have recently taken a break from my Twitter chats. Reading sensless reposts of posts on Facebook. And dare I say it, shunned my daily digs into mobile news channels. Why might you ask? Well it’s because of the newly coined term Mobile First.

As my peers and friends might know we talk incessantly about being bleeding edge or BYO*. What I have come to embrace though is the notion of exactly how much time, effort, thought, rethought, long hours and fights with HR, Security, Operations and Legal are intrinsically entwined in being ‘Mobile First ‘.

I started this journey of change as an underground idea of what it could be if they just let me do ‘it’ the right way. The ‘it’ in this story is mobility. After a failed effort by my predecessor to bring in new devices to the enterprise, I walked into a whirl wind of old ideas and even older policies. Let me begin by telling you I preach several ideological points when I’m asked about ‘it’.
First about EMM: What worked for one company, doesn’t mean it will work here.
Two about the technology: Speak intelligently and use the correct terms and definitions.
Three about the users: Users are not unlike children, they get upset if they don’t understand it and you cannot force them to do something they don’t want to do.
Four about BYOD: It’s a personal choice, not a mandatory. It is not a cost save, but rather an enhancement to productivity. It is not BYO-iOS device, see first point.

So let’s move on and get to the point. Mobile First is the ideological notion that we, as savvy mobile users, would rather pick up our phone or tablet instead of a laptop or desktop. 

What are the requirements to actually prefer mobile to anything else?
Continue reading

What I really learned at MacIT

So this week I had the pleasure of visiting San Francisco to attend MacIT. I had some great sessions. I have attended some not so great sessions.
The biggest thing I have taken away is the need for full disclosure. I am a realist, I never take a look at a product and just take people at their word. It is becoming more and more apparent that in the Mac/iOS space, that individuals, admins, and support personal just eat up this information without a dose of skepticism. All too often, everything that is being presented is from a one sided small view.
In our business, whether we are supporting a 10 person team, a school district of 100k students, or a large corporation, to listen to someone talk about a $20 server that can manage all of your devices is disturbing. I realize that not all ideas/solutions fit every need, and given our diverse interests and backgrounds its important to ensure that material being presented is a useable solution for your situation and objectives as well as your constraints.. As an enterprise decision maker am I going to go out to my Mac base and say: “Hey use Logmein” and punch holes in my firewall. No I am not.
I have heard a couple of speakers refer to BYOD as Bring Your Own Disaster. BYOD does not need to be a disaster, but there does need to be governance. Comprehensive policy/end user agreements need to be created that protect the user and the company/organization/school. Consumer solutions may paint a lower cost, faster, simpler solution at first glance, but few have these sort of enterprise grade capabilities that are critical to these entities.

All in all remember these mantras:

  • You get what you pay for. ($20 for server and mobile device management. This solution requires hours of administration and customization. In the end it is still a small market solution that may not do everything you need. Considering you still need iTunes and the iPCU (iPhone configuration utility. More software to do one job.)
  • One size solution does not fit all. (Your organization/company/school is unique. Just because it works for one place doesn’t mean it will work for you.)
  •  A sucker is born every minute. (Listen, learn, ask questions, and research. Never take anything at face value. Most speakers are here to hawk their products and solutions. See the first mantra.)

Just remember, when you attend a conference take notes, listen, learn the methods but use it to your advantage and create your own success story. When you network (networking is what makes us stronger), talk about your methods and your practices and get feedback. Listen to a peer’s success story and take a mental note of their trials and tribulations but discard the vendor sales pitch. Listen to the criticism of other products and solutions and take into account the whys for it failing them, what they learned and what they did different a second time. By using a little ‘Sherlock Holmes’ method of deduction you can write the next great success story.