What’s happening this week at the intersection of management and technology.
How data can help execs get a life: When I read CEO memoirs, I always keep an eye out for insights into how people in demanding positions maintain a healthy work-life balance. But when the topic is addressed at all, it’s usually in a dismal admission that life — mainly family life — got the short end of the stick. Happily, Michal Lev-Ram’s Fortune profile of Qualtrics CEO Ryan Smith suggests there might be a better way.
Smith has his hands full. The Provo, Utah-based online survey company he helped co-found in 2002 has 1,200 employees and a valuation of more than $1 billion. He and wife Ashley, who has a business of her own, have five kids ranging from 4 months to 8 years old. But he says he keeps it all together by “hacking the integration” of life and work. That means tracking both work and family time.
“Smith continually uses data to inform and guide the way he allocates his time,” explains Lev-Ram. “With the aid of an executive assistant who’s a former statistician, Smith tracks everything from the number of hours he devotes to interviews to how much one-on-one time he spends with each of his children. Ask him how many nights he spent away from home last year, and all he has to do is consult a spreadsheet.” Quarterly, the CEO reviews a colored-coded spreadsheet that summarizes how he spent his time, and then sets new goals and rules for work and life.
Who knows? If Smith keeps it up for another 20 years or so, maybe his CEO memoir won’t be quite as dismal as all the others.
Cybercrime is a function of management’s mindset: Marissa Mayer can’t win for losing. The ink is barely dry on her deal to sell Yahoo to Verizon and Recode breaks the news that the long-floundering Internet company suffered the largest data breach in history — back in 2014, no less. Knowledge@Wharton counted the cost: Congressional hearings, user lawsuits, and a buyer that probably will want to knock a couple of hundred million off the deal’s $4.8 billion valuation. Ouch.
Who’s to blame for this ongoing parade of corporate cyber incidents? A new study from Rand, published in the Journal of Cybersecurity, suggests that it might be you — that is, if you’re one of the multitude of leaders who don’t invest in cyber defenses because you feel the risk doesn’t warrant it. Rand’s researchers studied 12,000 cyber incidents, including data breaches, security incidents, privacy violations, and phishing crimes. They found that “the typical cost of a breach was about $200,000 and that most cyber events cost companies less than 0.4 percent of their annual revenues. The $200,000 cost was roughly equivalent to a typical company’s annual information security budget.”
The study concludes that for most organizations, the expected losses aren’t large enough to bother with more than a “modest amount” of data protection, even while the number and magnitude of attacks is on the upswing. And that, I guess, is that — until you find yourself in the same boat as Marissa Mayer.
Putting IoT data to work: The managerial challenge inherent to the Internet of Things (IoT) is the same as the big data conundrum — turning all those zeros and ones into actionable insights. “The adoption of IoT technology can provide companies with unprecedented opportunities to reduce operating costs, increase productivity, and tap into new markets previously inaccessible,” writes software engineer Ben Dickson in TechCrunch. “But that won’t happen when IoT data gathers dust in the cloud.”
To transform IoT into business value, Dickson turns to Guy Yehiav, CEO of analytics company Profitect, who says that companies need to look beyond the connection of products to the prescriptive analytics needed to make sense of data they will generate, and then beyond that to making analytical insight actionable. “Step one, collect the data,” Yehiav tells Dickson. “Step two, find the patterns and make recommendations for improvement. Step three, get that information to the right person, in real time, in plain English.”
Easy peasy, no?