Stories by Steve Ulfelder

How top employers keep IT staffers happy

"In some form, our IT group has been around for 50 years," says Jean Delaney Nelson, vice president and CIO at Securian Financial Group. "And we've never laid off an employee."

Risk formula

The latest approach to security is to put money where damage from a breach would be greatest.

The fine art of saying 'no'

Fred Held was CIO at Mattel Toys Inc. for most of the 1970s. He recalls the day a gung-ho marketing executive, apparently having just read Popular Science, asked, "Can we put a chip in every product, hook up to spy satellites and track where everyone goes, so we can really see who buys our toys? We could check which stores have too much inventory and transfer product accordingly."

Beating the budget blues

Getting project funding is an ever-challenging process. Steve Ulfelder looks at the strategies that deliver.

CIOs on the board

A seat on a board of directors is one of corporate life's marks of distinction. In the tight-knit world of senior executives, boards function as both serious governing bodies and can-you-top-this status symbols, and either way, inclusion is a notable achievement.

The Elastic IT Staff

Smart CIOs are applying the lessons of just-in-time inventory and portfolio management to IT staffing. The result: maximum flexibility and minimal trauma.

Bridging the data divide

Introduced in 2003, Honda's so-ugly-it's-almost-cute Element was intended to attract young, hip consumers. In its first full year of production, the Element found more than 67,400 buyers, exceeding expectations. But alas, the SUV has gone over like a lead surfboard with the coveted Gen Y crowd; R.L. Polk & Co. shows that buyers are more likely to have attended Woodstock than the X Games.

Plain English

The lingo, complexity and sheer scale of on-demand computing often seem so vast as to be paralyzing. But when you peel away the marketing spin and the many terms used to describe this phenomenon, you can reduce it to two phrases that everybody understands: "waste not, want not" and "pay as you go".

S-t-r-e-t-c-h Your Talent

Challenging your IT staff with growth-oriented assignments can be a win for everyone -- if you do it right.

B2B survivors

Pop-culture experts say the nostalgia cycle is growing shorter and shorter -- that someday we may all yearn for those lazy, hazy, carefree days of six weeks ago. So it doesn't seem out of line to look back with amusement at 2000. Back then, James Glassman and Kevin Hassett's Dow 36,000: The New Strategy for Profiting from the Coming Rise in the Stock Market (Three Rivers Press, 2000) was selling briskly, and experts were predicting that enterprises were set to junk a hundred years' worth of purchasing practices and instead buy everything -- from manila envelopes to sheet steel -- through online exchanges, or e-marketplaces.

Catering to the wealthy

When a high roller steps into a Harrah's casino, the host -- whose job is specifically to look after such top players -- is likely to ask about his wife by name, tell him his suite has been stocked with his favorite brand of cigars and slip him tickets to that week's PGA golf tournament.

The consultants' offerings

With it budgets tight, CIOs are being asked to tally up ROI figures for every sizeable project these days. Not surprisingly, consulting firms ranging from Gartner to two-man start-ups — often founded by Gartner alumni — have stepped in with a full complement of ROI metrics, methodologies, guidelines and benchmarking services to cash in on the opportunity. We’ve sifted through some of the offerings.

Feature: Wading into IP telephony

David Stever, manager of communication technology services at PPL, knows that IP telephony is the future. He also knows that his company (formerly known as Pennsylvania Power & Light) has a massive investment in a traditional voice network. With 3,000 lines and a wiring infrastructure at its Allentown headquarters that Stever describes as "challenging," the utility selected an IP-enabled private branch exchange (PBX) telephone system from Nortel Networks when it decided to upgrade its network.

The right skills for SAN projects

If your company has recently built or is planning to build a SAN, getting assigned to the project could be a nice career boost. According to Gartner Inc. analyst Robert Passmore, the skills that companies find toughest to acquire for these projects revolve around storage management.