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How to get the most out of your IT talent

Ann Bednarz | Dec. 2, 2014
For CIOs and IT leaders, the management challenge is how to help IT employees break the tactical habit and use their strategic skills more effectively.

Another Trace3 offering aims to help IT leaders stay up to date on the latest technology developments. Through its VC briefing program, Trace3 works with venture capital firms to set up a day of meetings in Silicon Valley, tailored for a CIO or CTO. "We curate and customize the entire agenda for the day, full of venture capital companies, entrepreneurs, and founders of early-stage startups," Cardenas says. "All of the content and the speakers for the session are selected based on the areas of interest and the business needs of our particular client."

This "speed dating" approach to innovation can expose IT leaders to players outside the familiar vendor landscape.

Far too often, there's little time for researching what's on the horizon amid the day-to-day requirements of IT, Cardenas says. "It's still shocking to me how, to this day, large IT organizations with thousands of people and a billion-dollar IT budget still don't have a single person — let alone a dedicated team — responsible for researching new technology and then vetting it and integrating it. It blows my mind."

Schedule time for creativity

Cambridge Consultants depends on the creativity of its engineers to solve problems for its clients.

"Clients tell us about a problem they're facing in the marketplace. That might be a competitive threat that they want to respond to, it might be some IP protection that they need to build, or they might be worrying about an expiring patent. We apply technology to solve that problem for them," says David Bradshaw, a director in the Boston office of the UK-based product development and technology consultancy firm.

One way the firm works to keep its employees energized is through its corporate development program, which allows engineers and scientists to pursue their own project ideas.

"Being a consulting company, we sell our hours to our clients. Obviously we carry a surplus of those hours, and we need to find a productive way of using them. What better way than to let the staff be creative on their own ideas? This gives them an outlet to develop in an area that interests them," Bradshaw says. "It leads to better retention, because people are working on things that they're genuinely passionate about. That's the whole idea of the program."

The parameters aren't completely open-ended; the firm tries to find some correlation to what the business is trying to achieve, he says.

"That teaches our people to take some corporate responsibility in these things as well," Bradshaw says. "So we don't just get a crazy array of things that we would never be interested in. We tend to get things that are well thought through and are strategically aligned to what we're trying to do as a business."


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