The Pros and Cons of Cloud Computing

May 27th, 2012

Cloud computing is a new buzzword in the world of information technology that has large and small businesses alike feeling a little – cloudy – on the whole issue. The long and short of cloud computing is that it’s a method of moving certain business functions from large on-site services to virtual servers safe and secure somewhere on the World Wide Web. It uses Internet-based services for support of the business processes. While there are plenty of reasons to consider this a major bonus for many businesses, it’s important to take a look at the big picture before making a decision about what cloud computing may or may not mean for your business.

The Pros of Cloud Computing

1)   Huge cost benefits. You know those huge, old IT servers that companies were required to scrimp and save to buy once upon a time? With cloud computing, you can kiss them goodbye (along with their hefty price tags). Businesses can also slim down their on-hand IT staff, which will reduce business expenses significantly over the course of a year – even more so over the course of several years.

2)   Easier collaboration with other computers. No matter where your employees may be scattered, the fact that all the information is stored in virtual space makes it easy to collaborate on large projects at all hours of the day and all locations throughout the world.

3)   Additional backup to protect from disaster. Disasters happen all the time. Some of them expected. Others, not so much. It wasn’t that long ago that a business could be in serious peril if their IT equipment and/or servers were taken offline due to flooding, fire, hurricanes, tornadoes, etc. That is no longer the case. With cloud computing, the information is stored offsite so there is a virtual backup of all your information available any time it’s needed.

The Cons of Cloud Computing

Of course, for every silver lining there’s a perfectly grey and drab storm cloud to steer through. You definitely need to decide how you feel about these things before you decide that cloud computing is the right move for your business to make.

1)   Privacy. This is a huge issue that’s becoming bigger by the day. Trust is hard to come by in the virtual world – with good reason. Even in a business relationship, you’re placing a lot of trust, and more importantly, information, on these cloud companies. How much of that information are they gathering and what are they doing with the information they have? We live in the information age after all, and information is one hot commodity. Be careful who you trust with yours.

2)   Reliability. This is another major issue. How reliable is one cloud company over the next? There are a lot of variables, but you can’t afford for the “cloud” to be inaccessible at critical times for your business. How much does the company guarantee to be fully functioning and operational, and what lengths do they go to in order to ensure it happens?

There are a few pretty powerful pros and cons to contend with here. Don’t rush into a decision you might regret later concerning cloud computing and what it has to offer your business.

For more information about Cloud Computing, be sure to review our earlier post:

Cloud Computing: Top IT Investment in 2012


How the iPad is Changing Learning and IT

May 20th, 2012

The winds of change are carrying the overwhelming scent of apples in the IT industry these days. The latest evolution of Apple’s popular iPad series is largely to blame for this fruity fragrance, as is the ever-increasing demand for the newest iPad device among the general population. But what does this mean for learning—especially as it concerns the IT industry?

The fact is that the industry is changing. One phrase that’s being thrown around rather liberally is “consumerization of IT.” It’s become a bit of a force of nature that’s left software and app developers scrambling to catch up to new hardware as it was hitting the marketplace, rather than having a steady supply of apps, games, and software ready to fly off the shelves along with the latest devices.

Apple’s famous iPad is leading the way and the IT industry has learned that this really is a good thing for the sake of business. It means there is a steady stream of new technology coming out, and they are going to need the sharpest, brightest minds in the business to keep up with the latest concepts Apple comes up with. Savvy IT industry leaders have grabbed this opportunity for growth, expansion, and long-term relevance by the horns, rather than seeing it as a challenge to work around.

They’ve figured out that this new trend in the field of information and technology represents one thing for them, their businesses, and their employees:  financial security. While Apple’s iPad is pushing the boundaries in an unprecedented fashion, the idea of consumerization in the IT field really isn’t anything new. In fact, many industry leaders feel that this concept has been around for at least 20 years.

Perhaps the greatest side effect of this consumerization of IT is that it is leading to better educated users of technology. People are taking an interest in how their devices work, how to better care for them, and even how to make them work better to meet their specific needs. Whether it’s in an educational setting for schools or in big corporations as an attempt to have greater efficiency in upper management, there are countless ways that IT technology can be molded to meet specific needs of individuals.

Consumers are not only beginning to figure out precisely what they want their technology to do for them, they’re also asking for it. That takes a lot of the guesswork out of the process for IT management and those who make the apps that drive these devices. The IT industry is one that remains fraught with risks and benefits. It’s the role of management to weigh the potential risks against the potential benefits to determine which new technology or developments promise the greatest rewards with the fewest risks. It’s a new way of doing business in this industry, but one that promises to pay off well for those who choose wisely.

To learn more about technology’s role in learning, you will want to review our previous post on:

e-Learning the Future of Skilled Labor Training

Learn Six Sigma- Reasons Your Organization Needs It

May 12th, 2012

Management and executive staff need to consider the benefits of Six Sigma and how it can change the way any business operates. In considering ways to reduce costs, increase productivity or enhance employee and management success, it is necessary to consider the benefits of this methodology. Doing so could make a significant impact on your business as a whole.

What Is Six Sigma?

Six Sigma is a specific approach to managing a business. The approach is data driven and disciplined. The goal of it is to eliminate any defects. Ultimately, it is the process of driving your organization to perfection in its methods. In doing so, numerous benefits occur. That is why so many businesses have moved towards using this approach. It saves time and money and creates success.

Why Should You Learn It and Implement It?

With Six Sigma, the process will reduce waste and drive speed to the highest levels possible. The process works to reduce your costs of operation, but at the same time increases the overall quality. The process creates both short and long term benefits, and ultimately creates a highly sustainable corporation. It all sounds good so far.

But, why do it? What are the key advantages to using this method instead of what you are currently doing? There’s no doubt that the changes will take time and money to implement. Why bother with it?

  • The method is applicable to various sectors in any industry. Though it was once designed only for manufacturing companies, it is now easily adaptable to virtually any industry. This means it a feasible option for any business.
  • Once you begin to implement Six Sigma into the business, you will see immediate functional improvements. This includes a reduction in production times and reduction in costs. This is due to the implementation of a key factor that encourages analysis and improved processes to occur.
  • Customers benefit, too. Improving customer perception is important, but so is delivering high quality. Tangible value improvements are created that benefit the customer. Improved product quality is critical to improving your customer base.
  • Another key advantage to using this option is that it is easy to put into place. The execution of Six Sigma does not have to be complex or too time consuming. Keep in mind that the goal is to improve your business’s success and therefore, from the start, the process is simplified to ensure that benefits happen right away. With this method, you will be able to transform your business by creating effective links between your priorities and operational improvements.

In addition to this, management and executive ownership is not left out. Six Sigma allows for management to maintain control, and even have better control over the function of the business. This drives success and keeps the business moving forward. Without this type of mentality, what business could succeed?

To learn more tips for better managing your business and personnel, be sure to read our previous post: Increasing Productivity on the Manufacturing Floor

Time to Evaluate…You! When And How To Reexamine Your Management Process

May 7th, 2012

Yearly productivity meetings and performance appraisals aren’t fun for anyone. As a manager, it’s difficult to bring yourself to face the music when the time comes. No one wants to offer criticism of the work of others – especially when raises, bonuses, and even livelihoods are at stake. The worst part is that these appraisals are often quite subjective in nature, which means that employees may feel personally slighted. It drives yet another wedge between management and staff – one that may be unnecessary.

Most managers actually feel that constantly monitoring, measuring, and making note of employees’ progress throughout the year is not an effective use of their time. They’d much rather find a different way to measure and/or define the effectiveness of employees. Once you’ve reached this line of thought concerning the performance appraisal process, perhaps it’s time to make a change for the better in the way things are done.

Return to the True Purpose of Performance Evaluations

Back in the day, these evaluations were important tools to help employees determine how well they were doing in their roles and to touch base with management on opportunities for advancement. It was also an opportunity for management to point out areas where improvements were needed. Today it feels more like an inquisition than an effective measurement and evaluation tool.

That’s why it’s so important to implement a more productive evaluation system for the sake of your business – and the happiness of your employees. You see, employees appreciate an opportunity to determine their success, especially when they are given a clearly defined set of goals to accomplish in order to be successful within the company.

Here are a few things you should keep in mind for future employee evaluations.

1)   Plan ahead. Write out a clear definition for the job, the duties of the job, and the responsibilities of the employee in his role. Define performance goals with clearly listed measurements of the outcome. Give the employee a clear priority for job responsibilities and goals. Define performance standards for each component of the job. Provide feedback along the way so that the employee knows where improvements are needed or when praise is merited. Keep records of performance throughout the appraisal period.

2)   Assess employee’s performance. Schedule a time when you can sit down with the employee and have an in-depth discussion of his performance throughout the evaluation period. Praise strengths and point out weaknesses. The goal is to show the employee where improvements can be made without devaluing the contributions the employee has made throughout the period of appraisal. Ask for feedback from the employee about what goals he would like to set for himself and about his role within the company. Is he hoping to advance within the company? What aspects and skills does he feel will make him a better candidate for advancement?

3)   Listen to employee responses and when possible, incorporate them into the goals established for the next appraisal period. Offer your own advice and experience to help steer him in the right direction.

Employees are happiest when they have a clearly defined idea of what they should be doing in order to achieve their goals. They like to be recognized for their contributions and will generally accept criticism with grace when they feel their ideas are being heard and their work is valued. A performance development plan like this sets the stage for a much happier and more productive workforce.

For a support with your staffing management needs, be sure to contact Stark Talent today.