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IT advice: How to keep pace with current technology trends

As technology continues to evolve, keeping pace with current technology trends can be a challenge for IT professionals. At the Fusion CEO-CIO Symposium, SearchCIO asked four technology professionals to offer tips about how to effectively stay on top of current technology trends.

 How do you keep up with current technology trends?

Bruce Maas, former CIO at University of Wisconsin, Madison: Read, read, read and read more, and network. We subscribe to services where research is done for us, such as Gartner. We're also a member of the higher education association for IT called EDUCAUSE. We're part of consortia. All of these are very important to keeping your skills fresh, keeping your knowledge fresh about what's going on, what are the trends, staying away from what are fads, and knowing the difference between fads and trends. 

It's a lot of work to stay current and it's moving very quickly. The lifelong learning aspect of this is an absolute reality. You have to stay very engaged, very current and very networked. Every time I attend the Fusion conference, I learn something new from someone else by talking with them or hearing a presenter.

David Cagigal, CIO, state of Wisconsin: We are partnered with many providers. Bill [Nash], through innovation and creativity, has created a matrix to understand the functions and controls that we're responsible for. But who are going to provide the product and services? In that intersection between what we already have invested to address that control, we can see whether we have a gap or whether we're overinvesting. In that intersection between functions, and product and services, we can rely on our partners. Our partners have their extensive research and development resources and labs and capabilities.

As we keep track of the new developments in cybersecurity or in other areas of technology … it is that relationship where vendors can bring to the table something that might be a little bit more cost effective, or a little more efficient, or that's addressing a gap in our understanding of controls and existing investments.

Bill Nash, CISO, state of Wisconsin: The framework that we've set up was really based on NIST and a lot of the other states are following the same framework. Within that, we've laid out our security services and aligned it to what needs we have to serve functions that fall into those service categories for security. The nice thing about that is when we're talking with other states and other experts in the industry, we can relate it to that, determine what they have that's new in that area that might fulfil those needs. Or in some cases, if new things come up based on new trends and cybersecurity issues, we can adapt and base it off that framework and then also watch for areas where if a new tool becomes available that addresses maybe more functions where we have three or four tools today, we can maybe get it a cost savings and help pay for getting some new technology in as well.

Pramod Achanta, partner, financial markets and blockchain at IBM: I study application of new technologies. I read a lot of magazines and I participate in a lot of trade discussions. We also have a huge research arm within IBM that continuously looks at some of these more advanced technologies, and they do a good job of keeping me updated as well.

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