Your shout: Skills, security and communications

Have your say at computerweekly.com

Have your say at computerweekly.com

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Softer skills needed to cure IT's arrogance

Heather Moore, Managing director, Parity Business Solutions

Further to your coverage of skills shortages, there is a gap in IT for roles requiring skills normally deemed to be "female": project management, team leaders and those who can communicate IT issues to the business.

I do not advocate sexism about which gender can have which skills, but it is true that IT can be an arrogant industry, talking over the heads of those not from a technical background. Without a technology degree it is hard to get on, but those with technical skills are not likely to receive training in "softer" skills. This has been the case for some time, so it is also unlikely that IT staff will have a boss they can learn people skills from. Rather than spending money on trying to attract women into IT, the government should fund projects to widen IT's vision of what skills are needed.

IT has got too big for its boots: it should be there to make work easier and to improve the customer experience, not as an end in itself. If IT is to be realigned with the business, it needs confident, customer-facing managers to lead teams and bring about a service culture. It does not matter whether these people are male or female, as long as they have the confidence to put technology back in its box.

Don't overlook mobile workers' IT security

Paul Butler, Altiris

Although it is encouraging to see a rise in demand for mobile access to corporate networks (Computer Weekly, 20 April), it begs the question, do businesses realise the huge strain that remote workforces could place on their networks, particularly if the necessary security measures have not been implemented?

Protecting a network from remote workers whose laptops may be infected with viruses is an afterthought in many IT departments, by which time the damage is already done.

One way to solve this issue is to implement quarantine technology. This will alert administrators to users who have contracted a new virus and do not have the correct protection in place. Non-compliant machines will be quarantined from the network until they have been patched or the virus has been wiped, preventing infected files from affecting the rest of the PC and more importantly, the network.

If businesses ignore the potential security implications surrounding remote workforces, they risk exposing sensitive corporate data to hackers.

Uptime delivers savings that prove ROI

Stephen Stobo, The Neverfail Group

Expressing security in terms of return on investment to the board (Computer Weekly, 26 April) should not be difficult if you have confidence in the product you are implementing.

Downtime to e-mail and servers of just a few hours can result in lost business, delays to important transactions and loss of reputation. This is increasingly becoming an unacceptable business risk.

IT security has moved on. Being able to recover data after a system failure is not enough. In the event of a failure, users need to be able to continue working, oblivious to the fact that an application has gone down.

Imagine a faultless, seamless switch-over and an end to downtime. IT directors would be able to go back to the board to present a return on investment for security that is equal to the losses incurred in the previous year as a result of downtime.

Big Brother proves we're ready for SMS voting

Nicole Gruslin, Airwide Solutions

Your article, "The people's choice" (Computer Weekly, 26 April), highlights the need for a change in the voting process. The government must recognise that alternative methods, such as SMS, are vital to attract new voters.

SMS is a proven technology and a cost-effective method for voting. In the UK 47 million people have a mobile phone and an average of 78 million text messages are sent every day. Nearly three million people used SMS to vote in the last Big Brother series, proving that the public is comfortable with this method of voting - reason enough for the government to consider SMS as a voting option.

It's vital to communicate business benefits of IT

Aaron McCormack, BT

I agree that medium-sized firms should take a more strategic approach to their IT spending (Computer Weekly, 12 April), but who should be responsible for ensuring the best technology is deployed for the right reasons?

IT directors must be more effective at relaying the benefits of technology to the board. Business and technology models are not fixed; it is imperative for businesses to apply existing technologies effectively and if necessary to put the technology at the heart of what they do.

In order for this to happen however, there needs to be greater communication between the board and IT departments. IT directors need to be able to "translate" technical benefits into business benefits.

It is not a question of companies spending thousands on the latest technologies; instead, what companies need to realise is that if used effectively, IT can transform entire businesses and help them thrive and be more competitive.

Understanding how your business can work effectively in a digital networked economy is an issue that must be addressed.

Outside work is none of employer's business

Derek Coleman, Software engineer

I disagree with the Next Move answer to the question of revealing to a potential employer work you do outside normal working hours (Computer Weekly, 3 May).

I do not think Jason de Silva's advice that you should reveal the outside interest stands up. Do you ask your plumber when he turns up if he has other jobs to go to? Your main concern is how much and how long to do the job.

If an employer pays, for example, for a 37-hour week, what you do outside that time, as long as it does not conflict with your employer's core interest, is your private business.

Read more on Hackers and cybercrime prevention

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