Monday, February 9, 2015

Your Boss" Opinion Matters More Than You Think

We’re all familiar with the phrase “seeing is believing.” Witnessing an unusual or unexpected event increases your ability to regard it as valid. But is the opposite also true? Do we tend to see what we believe? Daniel Kahneman, author of Thinking Fast and Slow, has noted that his overwhelming conclusion about people’s decision-making challenges is that they tend to seek only for information that confirms what they originally believed.

Over the last several months my colleague Jack Zenger and I have been working with a multinational company to assess and coach their top three levels of management. As we completed individual coaching sessions it was apparent that some managers had a positive bias and others had a negative bias in their ratings of employees.

To understand this better we looked at a larger dataset of 360 data. In a recent Harvard Business review article we shared a study where we identified 50 positive and 31 negative rating managers. These managers rated their direct reports significantly more or less positively than the rest of their colleagues. The graph below shows the 5-point rating scale for this 360 degree feedback instrument and the percentage of time each group of managers used each point on the scale.

These ratings represent the following scores:

  1. Needs significant improvement—Poor performance

  2. Needs some improvement—Inconsistent performance

  3. Competent—Good performance

  4. Strength—Top quartile

  5. Outstanding strength—Top 10%

Note that only 18.4% of the positive managers’ ratings were “Competent” compared to 51.4% for the negative managers.

Screen Shot 2015-02-04 at 8.12.10 PMThe Impact of a Positive or Negative Rating Manager

What is the impact when managers inherently rate more positively or negatively? Is the rating an objective and accurate analysis of a subordinate’s performance, or does the rating itself influence the subordinate’s performance?

Anyone who would have joined me in the discussions with the subordinates of the “high” and “low” rating managers would have instantly seen the impact. Those people who had higher, more positive ratings felt lifted up and supported. The vote of confidence from their managers gave them optimism about additional improvement.

But the subordinates who had a negative-rating manager were confused or discouraged, and often both. They felt it was impossible to succeed. They often heard the message as “you are not valued or trusted.” What effect did that have?

We measured employee engagement data for the direct reports of positive and negative rating managers. Direct reports who worked for negative rating managers had engagement scores at the 47th percentile. Those reporting to positive rating managers had engagement scores at the 60th percentile. This difference is statistically significant.

Screen Shot 2015-02-04 at 8.12.30 PM

We acknowledge that that negative rating managers may select less engaged employees, but the far more likely explanation is that the engagement levels of these employees was roughly the same, but the diverse day to day interactions capped by very divergent performance reviews had a big impact on engagement levels.

Possible Motives of Positive or Negative Rating Managers

Negative raters would typically say something like, “I want my people to get the message that I have high expectations.” The positive rating manager’s motive and message was quite different. They too had high expectations, but the message they desired to send was that they had confidence in their people. They believed that they had selected the greatest people for those jobs and they expected them to succeed.

Impact of Manager Expectations

Did those expectations change the behavior of the subordinates of these high and low rating managers?

Having spoken with hundreds of leaders whose bosses thought they were awesome, we know the impact is real. It is our hope these findings can have a positive impact on the ratings—and the messages—leaders are sending to their current and future employees. Your ability to build their engagement is much higher than you may have believed.


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Your Boss" Opinion Matters More Than You Think

Why Cloud Databases Are In Your Future

Why Cloud Databases Are In Your Future

The cloud has gotten pretty complicated—and crowded. There are more new “as a service” offerings popping up lately than reality TV shows.

Yet, one of those offerings in particular has a great shot at becoming an enterprise staple, and a long-term platform for IT innovation—database as a service. Indeed, Larry Ellison, Executive Chairman and CTO of Oracle made this prediction recently: “Database is our largest software business and database will be our largest cloud business.”

A database cloud service, or database as a service (DBaaS), makes database capabilities available online, when and where those capabilities are needed. The user can access a slice of a database (a schema), or, more likely, a complete, dedicated database instance. Or an enterprise can offer DBaaS running in its own data center for internal customers.

Done right, DBaaS promises significant cost advantages over traditional database strategies. That, as well as the other big benefits the cloud is so often touted for: agility, scalability, speed of deployment, and a steady flow of new capabilities.

That’s why DBaaS, though a relatively new cloud category, is generating a lot of interest. One estimate has the market for cloud databases and DBaaS growing from $1 billion this year to $14 billion by 2019.

Even as that momentum builds, it’s important to understand that the corporate data center is not going away any time soon. Many businesses will take a phased approach, in which certain types of databases are moved to the cloud while others remain on premise.

“Customers today are primarily running mission-critical database systems on dedicated servers and storage in their data centers,” says Andy Mendelsohn, Oracle Executive VP for Database Server Technologies. These vital databases often support an organization’s crown jewels, such as a bank’s customer accounts system or a discount store’s merchandising system. Because of their criticality to the business, these databases “will likely remain on premise for many years to come” Mendelsohn says.

That doesn’t mean there aren’t plenty of databases that could benefit from cloud computing’s efficiencies. Large companies “have thousands of databases,” many of which may be well suited for the cloud, Mendelsohn points out. Those include databases that are used for developing new applications or testing them and less critical production systems.

And the prime directive regarding those thousands of dev/test systems at most enterprises is “lower the cost of running all those databases,” says Mendelsohn.

The cloud, in combination with virtualization, can help do that. Virtual machine (VM) technology allows a single physical server to run many virtual servers or VMs, which enables server consolidation.

That means you can take say “9,000 databases running today on 9,000 servers, and consolidate them onto 500 servers,” Mendelsohn says. The problem with that scenario, however, is that you still have 9,000 databases to manage. The solution: “What if I could consolidate those 9,000 databases down to 40 databases?” Mendelsohn asks.

That’s where Oracle’s new database architecture comes in. The most recent release of Oracle’s flagship system, Oracle Database 12c, features a fundamental new architecture called Oracle Multitenant that lets developers create “pluggable” databases—up to 252 of them—that run in one “container” database. DBAs can now do most common administration functions like patching, upgrade, and backup at the container database level. This drastically reduces the cost of managing your databases.  Plus efficiencies in the new multitenant architecture allow up to 5x more databases to be run on a given server or VM, which ups the ante considerably on the hardware savings represented by server consolidation.

Oracle Multitenant “lowers your hardware costs, but the big win is around lowering labor costs,” Mendelsohn points out.

That’s because there are now far fewer databases to manage, and Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c, the company’s advanced database administration tool, works in conjunction with Oracle Multitenant to automate the monitoring and tuning of Oracle pluggable databases. It also provides metering and chargeback capabilities that let managers monitor and report database usage. That chargeback capability is an important function in a service-oriented private cloud architecture, which is where most customers are looking to implement Oracle DBaaS technologies today.

Business Agility

Customers want the cost savings—both CapEx and OpEx—represented by DBaaS, and they’re realizing they can get them using cloud database capabilities in a private cloud architecture. As well, they want to provide the efficient and available IT resources that many LOB managers have been looking outside their organizations to get. “One of the reasons they want to do database as a service on premise is to give business units the same agility they can get in the cloud,” Mendelsohn says.

That’s why Oracle cloud database capabilities—Oracle Database 12c with Oracle Multitenant, Oracle Enterprise Manager 12c, along with tools for database security, performance, and recoverability Oracle has been honing over years—“resonate very strongly with them,” Mendelsohn says. He expects to see significant adoption of Oracle Database12c related to DBaaS.

Customers can reap the benefits of Oracle DBaaS in Oracle’s public cloud or in private clouds that they implement and manage on their own. “Oracle Database 12c Multitenant Architecture is the cornerstone of our effort to redesign the database for the cloud, whether public or private cloud,” Mendelsohn says.

Increasingly, enterprises are moving test, dev, and production applications, and the databases they run on, to the public cloud. A key requirement here is to support hybrid cloud, where some databases remain in the corporate data center and some are in the cloud. Oracle’s strategy is to make sure any database application that runs on premise can also run in the public cloud and vice versa.   At Oracle OpenWorld 2014 in San Francisco, Ellison demonstrated how customers can move an on-premise Oracle database to the Oracle Public Cloud in minutes without changing a single line of code.

As more CIOs look for that kind of flexibility, Oracle is well positioned to support those critical systems with its cloud infrastructure and its advanced cloud database technology. Customers will understand, Mendelsohn says, that Oracle is “best in the world at doing database as a service in the cloud.”

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Why Cloud Databases Are In Your Future

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

15 programming languages you need to know in 2015

If you’re a programmer, these are good times. Jobs in the segment are projected to grow 8% over the next seven years, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. If you’re a hotshot coder, you can make up to $300 an hour or more.

Those at the high end of the pay scale have mastered the languages that are most in demand. Which are those? We asked Doug Winnie, director of content for online learning platform Lynda. Here’s his assessment:

1. Java


Image: Mashable Composite/Wikimedia

Java is one of the most popular languages for building back-ends for modern enterprise-web applications. With Java and frameworks based on it, web developers can build scalable web apps for a variety of users. Java is also the main language used to develop native Android apps for smartphones and tablets.

2. JavaScript

Every modern website uses JavaScript. It’s the go-to language if you want to create interactivity for your site, or build user interfaces with one of the dozens of popular JavaScript frameworks.


C# is the primary language for developing on Microsoft platforms and services. Whether you’re building modern web applications using Azure and .NET, apps for Windows devices or powerful desktop apps for your business, C# is the quickest way to harness all that Microsoft has to offer. Want to play, as well? The popular Unity game development engine also uses C# as one of its primary languages.

4. PHP

Building a web app that needs to work with data? PHP, along with databases like MySQL, are essential tools for building modern web applications. PHP powers a majority of today’s data-driven websites, and is the foundation technology for powerful content management systems, like WordPress, which you can extend to make your site more powerful.

5. C++

Want to get a little lower level with your programming? When you need to connect directly to hardware to get the most out of your processing power, C++ is the perfect choice for developing powerful desktop software, hardware-accelerated games and memory-intensive apps on desktops, consoles and mobile devices.

6. Python

Python can almost do it all. Web apps, user interfaces, data analysis, statistics — whatever your problem, there’s likely a framework for it in Python. Most recently, Python has been used as a key tool for data scientists to sift through giant data sets for any industry.

7. C


Image: Mashable Composite/Wikimedia Commons

Why is the C language still popular? Size. C is small, fast and powerful. If you’re building software for embedded systems, working with system kernels or just want to squeeze every last drop of the resources you have at hand, C is lean, mean and ready to scream.

 8. SQL

Data is massive, it’s everywhere and it’s complex. SQL gives you the ability to find the exact information you want in a fast, repeatable and reliable way. Using SQL, you can easily query and extract meaningful data from large, complex databases.


Want to kickstart your project in record time, or prototype a new idea for your next big web app? Ruby (and Ruby on Rails) can get you there quickly. The Ruby language is straightforward to learn and incredibly powerful, plus it powers tons of popular web apps around the globe.

10. Objective-C


Image: Mashable Composite/Wikmedia Commons

If you’re interested in making an app for iOS, you’ll need to know Objective-C. While last year’s hype centered on Apple’s new language Swift, Objective-C is still the foundational language if you want to build apps for the Apple ecosystem. With Objective-C and XCode, the official software development tool from Apple, you’ll be in the App Store in no time.

11. Perl

Is Perl esoteric? Yes. Is it confusing? Yes. Is it a super powerful language, and a key component of anyone’s cyber security arsenal? Also true. Perl has powered the web since its early beginnings, and is still considered a key tool for any IT professional.

12 .NET

Although not a language in itself, .NET is a key Microsoft platform for cloud, service and app development that gets more advanced and valuable with each release. Due to the recent open-sourcing efforts of Microsoft, .NET is now coming to Google and Apple platforms. As a result, you can use .NET today with a variety of programming languages to build apps that easily support multiple platforms.

13. Visual Basic

Visual Basic is the language that gets business done. A key language of the .NET platform, it enables you to build applications to support your business, and automate powerful Office applications like Excel to accomplish super-human feats of computation, as well as streamline your most common tasks.

14. R

R is powering the revolution of big data, and is a must-know language in 2015 for anyone in need of serious data analysis. From science and business to entertainment and social media, R is the language to learn for statistical analysis across nearly every field of interest.

15. Swift

Not even a year old, the Swift programming language has captured the eyes and keyboards of developers worldwide as a new, fast and easy way to develop for Apple’s Mac and iOS operating systems. Swift’s broad power and friendly syntax makes it possible for anyone with a Mac to build the next killer app for iOS or Mac OS X.

via 15 programming languages you need to know in 2015.

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15 programming languages you need to know in 2015