Did You Know?  Seven People Hold The Keys To The Internet? from Curiosity.com

I learned something cool on the @curiositydotcom app: Why Do Seven People Hold The Keys To The Internet?



Why Go Anywhere? Great Salaries, More Perks, Great Companies, in South Florida!

Recently, Marcia Pounds from the Sun Sentinel interviewed some of the panelists at our most recent SFTA event about the employment environment here in South Florida (the full article can be found here). in conjunction with data from an annual survey released Friday by longtime SFTA sponsor ProTech Staffing the panelists confirmed what I have been seeing for quite some time.  South Florida is a hot place to find a job!

I’m not just saying this from the perspective of temperature (although it’s only the third day of spring and temperatures are already in the high 80’s), but from the perspective that there are a lot of jobs here and competition for qualified employees is at a  high.  However, outside of the pay and perks, there is another thing that is making this area attractive to companies.  We have great companies here.

In my travels around the area as the SFTA President, I have noticed this is fairly common around our area.  We have a ton of great companies with great corporate cultures and happy employees.  These companies range from large, established companies such as Citrix Systems, to upstart entrepreneurial companies such as Yellow Pepper, MDLive, and Modernizing Medicine that have been growing tremendously over the past few years.

We at the SFTA are working to spread the word about this “well kept secret” about our tech economy.  Not just to the tech professionals, recent graduates, and students currently residing in South Florida, but to everyone around the nation and the world.  If you’re looking for a high paying career with great pay and benefits that just happens to be located in paradise, South Florida is the place for you!!

ITPalooza 2014!

For those of you that read this blog, you may have come across a recent post that encouraged people in the South FL technology community to participate in the event known as ITPalooza.  This year’s event happened on December 4th and was bigger and better than ever!  The event hosted more than 2,000 attendees representing all aspects of technology and featured hackathons, a hiring fair, speaker sessions on tracks from Bitcoin to startups, and a great holiday party at the end with live music from  the ITPalooza house band.


The Expo Floor was hopping with tech companies and user groups of all kinds!


The Hiring Fair boasted more than 25 companies looking for IT Talent.

The ITPalooza Band rocked into the night!

In fact, the event has grown so large that the organizers went to a social voting process to select speakers and I was honored to be chosen as one.  The topic of my presentation was “The 5 Tech Trends that will Impact Business” and in it I covered some trends that in my opinion will alter how businesses perform and how work is done.  I was delighted to see that the talk was well attended and that the audience seemed to be engaged and interactive.  In fact, a portion of my talk was even featured in a Miami Herald article on ITPalooza by Nancy Dahlberg.  You can read it here: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/business/article4286090.html

ITP3ITP4Our newly formed AIS Student Chapter even participated by having a table in the expo and the online members provided a “Twitter Help Desk” to answer questions about presentation times and locations.

ITP7All in all, it was a great event that highlights the vitality of the technology ecosystem in South Florida and allows us to give back to our community.  I am looking forward to it being even better next year!

Brief Thoughts on Computerworld’s Hottest IT Skills for 2015

As an educator and general technology enthusiast, I am always interested in what skills are in demand in the tech market.  I have always seen them as a barometer of where technology is now and, perhaps more importantly, where it might possibly be headed.  So when I saw that Computerworld’s tweet on the “Hottest IT Skills for 2015,” I had to stop what I was doing and give it a read.

Overall, there wasn’t much in the article that I saw as particularly surprising.  Application development was tops on the list and the usual suspects of business intelligence/analytics, security, and mobile were all represented.  However, while the composition of the list was uneventful (for the most part), the movement of the skills on the list did cause an eyebrow raise or two.  For example, project management skills moved from #5 on the list to #2.  The lead researcher for SIM’s Tech Trends study (just released at their conference in Denver) seems to believe that this is attributable to the fact that many organizations are “catching up” after IT spending hiatuses.  I partially agree that this is the case, but I believe that other factors are coming into play as well.

If you look at the Computerworld ranking as a whole, you can see that networking skills took the biggest plunge falling 6 spots from the #3 position on the list to #9, mobile development fell 4 spots from #4 to #8, and web development was the biggest jumper moving from not being on the list to the #5 spot.  It was also noteworthy to see that database, BI, and Big Data remained relatively unchanged.  To me, the drop in demand for infrastructure or device specific skills is indicative of companies moving away from developing for devices (mobile or otherwise) and in-house infrastructure and towards using the cloud as a delivery platform for applications.

In fact, I see the movement to the cloud as almost inevitable for most companies where computing is not their core competency.   In my opinion, this will have a profound impact on what the front line “IT” worker will look like in the next 5-10 years and the skills that will be required.  No longer will deep applied technical knowledge be the skills that are needed, but rather an ability to leverage cloud based resources that are maintained by other organizations to create innovative solutions to complex business problems.  In other words, the front line IT worker will look a lot like a systems analyst, someone that knows enough about the organization to diagnose what the problems are and enough about the technology to provide a solution.

I’m curious to know what you think the skills of the front line IT worker will be in the next 5-10 years.  Feel free to leave me a comment and share your thoughts!


ITPalooza – An Incredible Opportunity

ITPalooza – An Incredible Opportunity for South Florida Technology

By: James Parrish, Lenny Chesal, and Joe Monaco

The ITPalooza event is scheduled for December 4, 2014 at Nova Southeastern University’s Graduate School of Computer and Information Sciences.   In just its third year of existence, the annual gathering of technology groups has become one of the largest technology events in the region. This year, the organizers are anticipating more than 2,000 registrants who will attend daytime presentations and training from over 60 speakers on a wide variety of technology related topics, learn about the 50 plus technology groups representing themselves at the event, enhance their career options at the ITPalooza hiring fair, and enjoy the evening holiday celebration featuring a live band comprised of local IT Professionals.

On the surface, the event seems to be all about the local technology community getting together for a day of education and fun. However, we at the South Florida Technology Alliance (SFTA) believe it to be much more. We feel large technology events such as ITPalooza and the eMerge Americas Conference to be held in April 2015 are opportunities to demonstrate and enhance the strength of the tech ecosystem in South Florida, which is central to the SFTA mission to enable the present and shape the future of technology in the community that we love.

ITPalooza, perhaps more than any other event, is representative of this community. Everything about the event, from the planning, to the selection of topics and speakers, to the event operations and entertainment is carried out by a group of dedicated volunteers from the technology community who share a passionate belief that South Florida can become a technology hub comparable to California and the Northeast. Yes, the event might be for attendees and technology groups in South Florida, but the audience who will be paying attention to ITPalooza is much greater as evidenced by the number of media outlets that covered the recent press release from October 28th entitled “Today, Analytics is King.”

The attention  ITPalooza has received presents an incredible opportunity for all of us involved with technology in South Florida. As was the case with the first eMerge Americas conference, a well-sponsored and well-attended ITPalooza will send a signal to the rest of the nation that South Florida has a strong technology ecosystem where business, education, and government have all aligned to create an environment attractive enough to entice investment from outside our area, but also to retain the talent  we are producing within. However, whether or not the South Florida technology community can capitalize on this opportunity is the question. Unlike the ITPalooza event, this opportunity can’t be carried out by a small group of dedicated volunteers. It is going to take involvement from the entire community.

Therefore, we at the SFTA are putting out a call to action. We need the support of everyone that loves technology, the technology community, or the community in general in order to make ITPalooza a success. Your support could come in many forms from becoming a sponsor, to giving your time as a volunteer, to simply registering for and attending the event. Every bit of support will help ensure the message  we want ITPalooza to send will be heard loud and clear (like the rock and roll band). The South Florida technology community is our community and ITPalooza is our event. Please help us to leverage the opportunity we have to strengthen both for all of our benefit.

James Parrish is an associate professor of information systems at Nova Southeastern University’s Graduate School of Computer and Information Sciences, Lenny Chesal is the CMO of Host.NET, and Joe Monaco is the Director of Florida/Gulf States sales for Earthlink. All serve on the Executive Committee of the South Florida Technology Alliance (www.southfloridatech.org).

SFTA January Event: Innovation from the Trenches

Hey everyone.  I thought I would share the info about the SFTA event happening next Thursday.  I think it is going to be very interesting, so please attend!  Thanks!
1st SFTA Meeting for 2014
Thursday, January 23rd
INNOVATION : Perspectives From the Trenches
From start-ups to established tech firms, everyone is talking about innovation. Whether it is introducing an innovative product or encouraging others to use existing products in an innovative way, innovation seems to be a central driver to the tech economy.
This panel, moderated by Dr. James L. Parrish, Assistant Professor of Management Information Systems at Nova Southeastern University, will examine innovation from a national, regional, and local perspectives and brings together experts in innovation to give us their perspectives on what innovation means to them and to discuss what innovative activities that they are seeing “from the trenches.”




Dr Bradley Jensen, Principal Academic Relationship Manager with Microsoft Corporation.



Chris Pyle, President and CEO of Champion Solutions Group.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

5:30 to 8:30 p.m.

5:30 pm : Registration opens
6:00 – 7:00 pm : Networking
7:00 – 8:00 pm : Panel Discussion
8:00 – 8:30 pm : Meet the Speakers
8:30 – Conclusion


SFTA January Meeting

We just set the agenda for the upcoming SFTA (southfloridatech.org) meeting and I have to say that it is going to be a great event at a great venue!  The topic of the event will be innovation and I have the pleasure of moderating a panel discussion of some great entrepreneurs and innovators including my good friend Dr. Bradley Jensen at Citrix Systems headquarters in Ft. Lauderdale.

I first met Brad during my tenure at the University of Arkansas – Little Rock.  He is a very interesting guy that has significant national and international business experience.  Currently, he is the Principal Academic Evangelist for Microsoft, but he has held positions in both industry and academia including a faculty position at the University of North Texas and as an executive with Xerox PARC.  He is an extremely interesting guy with an incredible perspective on what’s going on in the tech space.  Much of this comes from his experience, but it is also because his role with Microsoft has him traveling across the country to see what is going on first hand.

Anyway, I hope that you will consider joining us for this event and all of our SFTA events.  The SFTA is a incredible organization comprised of technophiles of all types.  However we all share the same belief in our mission of advancing the business of thechnology in South Florida.  If you love this community, I strongly encourage you to consider joining us.

Information Systems Rated as the #1 Degree for Job Prospects Now

In Forbes today, I was extremely excited to see that Forbes lists information systems as the #1 career for job prospects.  The data used to obtain this conclusion was obtained from Payscale.com and the Bureau of Labor Statistics.  As a long time proponent of the value of an information systems education in organizations, this is great news. According to the article:

“People with a master’s in information systems are generally trained to be managers for IT workers,” says Katie Bardaro, Payscale’s lead economist. “Therefore, when you combine management with a growing industry you experience top pay and employment prospects. We live in a technological world where our technology footprint will continue to grow. Therefore, job opportunities in this field are predicted to grow faster than average by the BLS. Additionally, high demand for tech workers combined with relatively low supply (relative to all other workers out there) drive up the pay for these positions.”

Organizations have long said that they want to hire people that have both technical skills and business acumen.  However, that talk always seemed like lip service to me because it never really translated into large scale hiring of IS graduates.  Sure, graduates were getting jobs, but not at the rate one would expect given their desire for the IS skillset.  Instead the same old standard of looking for people with niche technical skills or certifications seemed to be getting the lion’s share of the jobs.   Now, however, it seems that they are (finally) coming around to see the light…and boy are they….to the tune of a 30% increase in job openings in the coming years!

This is certainly good news for all of us in IS and for those of us in higher ed.  Now it is up to us (educators) to work with industry to find the correct mix and type of business and technical skills so that we can provide graduates that will thrive in these positions.  We cannot afford to stay in the ivory towers of academia and assume that they way that we are doing things is aligned with what industry needs.  If we don’t organizations will turn elsewhere to fill these needs.

One thing is certain, however, the future is bright for IS graduates. 

Finding Your Why

I was recently part of a strategic planning group for a community organization where I serve on the Executive Committee.  Before we starting formulating our mission, the facilitator showed us a video to set the context for the work that would follow.  The video was a TED Talk from a man named Simon Sinek speaking about a concept called “The Golden Circle.”   Having been through a few strategic planning sessions as well as being the author of a few academic and professional publications on the issue of strategy, I have to admit that I found his last name to be ironic because it perfectly expressed my attitude at the time.  Yes, I was being a cynic.

“Not another silver-bullet model to fix all your strategic woes,” I said to myself immediately after seeing the title of the talk on YouTube.  However, what transpired during that 15 minute video challenged me to rethink a lot of things.  Check out the video below:

This talk really resonated with me in a powerful way.  I found that you could not only apply this concept to strategy, but also to other areas of business as well as to other areas of your life.  Really, think about it.  The questions can range from the professional  (Why are you in the career you are in? /Why do you work for your employer?) to the personal (Why do you live where you do?/Why do you get up in the morning?/Why are you who you are?).

Personally, I believe that if we applied this concept to ourselves, if we found our own”why”,  it could lead to the development of personal mission statements.  These mission statements, grounded in what we believe, could then inspire and guide all that we do in our professional and personal lives.  Certainly I am not saying that doing this will guarantee that you will be successful in your life and career.  In fact, it just might scare the hell out of you.  However, wouldn’t it be nice to know what you are doing is consistent with what you believe?

So, I ask you…what’s your why?

Top Reasons To Attend ITPalooza

Hello Everyone!

I’m writing today to tell you all about a great event that we are hosting here at the Graduate School of Computer and Information Sciences called ITPalooza.  This is the second iteration of the annual technology education/holiday party fusion event and it promises to eclipse last year in all respects!

If you aren’t familiar with the event, you might be saying to yourself, “That’s great and all, but I wasn’t there last year so I can’t put any value in the fact that it will be better than last year.  What if last year’s event was attended by four people and had three slices of cold pizza for refreshments?”  Well, folks, I am writing this post to dispel that notion by giving you a glimpse of the awesomeness that was last year’s event and the top reasons to attend this year!

First a little history…..The event started as an crazy idea at a tech leaders dinner where someone said (and I paraphrase with much poetic license), “Wouldn’t it be cool to have an event where  all of the various tech groups would come together and have their annual holiday parties at the same place? ”  Well, Alex Funkhouser and Lenny Chesal then took this idea and (with the tireless efforts of a band of merry volunteers, the staff of Nova Southeastern University’s Graduate School of Computer and Information Sciences, a bevy of talented local musicians, and countless others) pulled off the seemingly impossible task of making ITPalooza a reality in just a few months!

While the inaugural IT Palooza was unprecedented in the South Florida technology community, it was also an unprecedented success!  We had around 1,000 attendees, raised over $30,000 for local charities, and everyone had a great time!

So, how do we top that?  Easy!  We make it BIGGER and BETTER!  So, without further ado…Here are my top reasons for attending ITPalooza!

  1. You get to make a difference in your community.  What other tech event can you attend that puts a smile on a little girl’s face like this!
    ScreenHunter_111 Dec. 03 16.40
    Not to mention all of the smiles that you will help to put on kids faces this holiday season because of ITPalooza’s support for Toys For Tots!
    ScreenHunter_114 Dec. 03 16.44
  2. With over 1,500 of South Florida’s most influential IT Professionals in attendance, there are bound to be a few networking opportunities.
    ScreenHunter_115 Dec. 03 16.47
  3. The ITPalooza Band Rocks!!


  4. The chance to learn for FREE from the top IT Pros in South Florida!
    ScreenHunter_116 Dec. 03 16.48
  5. In addition to being a great networking and education opportunity, ITPalooza also offers a job fair featuring some of South Florida’s best employers!

Well, that’s my top reasons for you to attend ITPalooza this year.  I certainly hope to see you at the event at Nova Southeastern University on 12/12/13!