Companies around the world are being urged to close the digital gender gap, especially after International Women’s Day. Although progress has been made, the gap remains in many countries, prompting questions about whether those in the industry are doing enough to address it.

The development of new technologies has created demand for specialized workers with specific training, but women still face more challenges than men in this field due to the persistent gender gap. As the world undergoes fundamental transformation, women’s role in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM), needs to be reassessed.

According to a PwC report titled Women in Work, Insights from Middle East and North Africa, the UAE, KSA and Egypt already have national programmes to boost the number of working women. PwC’s research shows that 66% of all respondents believe that governments should intervene in private-sector companies and set targets for gender diversity. 

In the UAE, national policies include a draft law to ensure men and women receive equal pay. Another example is in Saudi Arabia, as part of Vision 2030, Saudi Government’s goal is to increase women’s participation in the workforce.

Hoda A. Alkhzaimi, President of Emirates Digital Association for Women, says there are many positive steps being taken.

“Across various countries in the region, there are initiatives aimed at breaking the toxic cycles that perpetuate the gender gap in the tech industry. These initiatives include mentorship and active championing and endorsement programs, active networking events, scholarships, and training programs specifically designed for women in lead tech initiatives. Some companies are also implementing policies that promote work-life balance and flexible work arrangements to support women in their careers,”  says Alkhzaimi.

However, to achieve gender-equitable participation in the industry a multi-faceted approach is required. 

“While equal pay is important as it’s a lead practice granted in governmental entities in the UAE for example, it’s not the only solution,” says Alkhzaimi. “Ensuring women have equal opportunities to advance into senior and leadership tech roles and increasing the number of women in leadership positions is crucial. We need more women CEOs and Women Board members and women chairpersons.”

Unconscious biases and a lack of female role models continue to be reasons why young women do not pursue a career in technology. The industry needs to work together to remove the prejudice that technology is a gender-specific field. Outreach to women is a critical way to increase the number of women in the field. 

“We need to build a framework to address gender washing which is a term used to describe the practice of organizations using pro-women messages and branding to promote their mission, without actually implementing meaningful changes to support gender equality. This can include using pro-female participation slogans or images in advertising campaigns or claiming to support gender diversity and inclusion without taking concrete actions to address gender inequality within the company or industry”. 

Gender washing can be seen as a form of exploitation that capitalizes on gender inclusion values and aspirations without actually supporting them. This can as well be a phenomenon of rising women’s communities.  It’s essential for organizations to back up their messaging with real action to create a culture of gender equality and inclusivity.

“To prevent gender washing, it’s important for entities to take authentic actions to address gender inequality and discrimination, rather than simply using pro-women language and imagery in addition to passive initiatives for marketing purposes. It is critical to conduct a thorough audit of the company’s policies and practices to identify areas of gender inequality. As well as implementing authentic efficient policies and practices that promote gender equality, such as equal pay, equal opportunities for advancement, and a culture of inclusivity and respect. Avoid using pro-women language or inclusivity language and imagery for marketing purposes without backing it up with real action,” the President of Emirates Digital Association for Women adds.

A common misconception is that high-powered computing (HPC) and exascale supercomputing are too powerful for traditional businesses — that they’re only designed for mammoth university and government programs that seek to answer humanity’s biggest questions, like how the galaxies are formed or finding solutions for global crises like climate change and hunger.

But the reality is that HPC and exascale also have business-critical use cases across every industry, transforming operations and solving everyday business challenges.

And with the release of the world’s most powerful — and first — public exascale supercomputer, the HPE Cray Frontier, the possibilities become truly infinite.

How HPC and exascale supercomputing accelerate business transformation

Innovations in blockchain, artificial intelligence, machine learning, augmented reality, and other technologies are opening doors to new opportunities and better, faster ways of doing business. Grabbing hold of these opportunities and remaining agile in a constantly evolving world means that every industry must embrace digital transformation.

But without centralized data and insights, it can be hard to be agile and anticipate what’s next — especially for large corporations. That’s where HPC and exascale supercomputing can help. For example, at HPE, we employed HPC to centralize and consolidate multiple ERPs as well as our analytics platforms — something we couldn’t do with traditional servers. This effort transformed our business and positioned us to offer more than 80 products as a service.

And there are plenty of other use cases. Carestream Health uses HPC with AI-as-a-Service and other offerings from HPE to improve medical imaging accuracy, automate processes, and reduce cycle times. NCAR uses HPC to forecast summer rainfall and reservoir inflows for smarter water management. Oil and gas companies use HPC to analyze seismic data and determine new well locations. Healthcare organizations use HPC to accelerate vaccine development. Retailers use HPC to reduce inventory shrinkage. The list goes on.

HPE Cray Frontier: The world’s fastest supercomputer

Developed for the US Department of Energy’s Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL), HPE Cray Frontier is the world’s fastest supercomputer. Problems that once took months to solve can now be worked out in a matter of days, surfacing answers to questions humans never thought to ask.

With performance at 1.1 exaflops, the HPE Cray Frontier is faster than the world’s seven most powerful supercomputers combined. Powered by 3rd Gen AMD EPYC processors and AMD Instinct MI250x accelerators, Frontier calculates 10x quicker than the world’s top supercomputers, solving problems that are 8x as complex.

It’s also worth noting that the Frontier is a huge IT sustainability win for customers thanks to efficient AMD processing technology and sophisticated liquid-cooling capabilities. Frontier is the most power-efficient supercomputing architecture in the world, topping the Green500 list.

“This technology is going to change the world,” remarks Dr. Thomas Zacharia, ORNL Director, “from medicine to biology to materials to deep space to climate change to energy transitions.” Frontier can predict mutations to combat future pandemics, develop new medical treatments faster, and ultimately save lives.

GE is also using Frontier in their drive to design more powerful, sustainable wind turbines. Frontier allows them to look at physics and flow across an entire farm of wind turbines to study interdependencies and impacts at scale, so they can manufacture more efficient, reliable, and cost-effective turbines.

Discover if HPC supercomputing is right for your business

Are you ready to explore the superpowers of HPC and exascale supercomputing for your business? Together, GDT and HPE can lead you through a free, one-day transformation workshop where we examine your business challenges and priorities and build a digital roadmap. As a leader in space, we apply our expertise and leadership and all the lessons we’ve learned to customize a realistic roadmap that accelerates your business.

To get started with your roadmap, contact the experts at GDT.

Digital Transformation

Orla Daly joined Skillsoft, a maker of learning software, as CIO in March 2022 with a mandate to drive both operational efficiency and transformation from Day 1.

To succeed on those objectives, Daly drew up a longer list of supporting tasks she needed to quickly accomplish. Her list: Understand in detail the business dealings of her new employer and its strategy. Inventory its current technology landscape. Assess the talent on her team. And then use all that information-gathering to identify what needs to change and how to change it.

“It’s really about learning where we were at, so I could formulate a plan forward,” says Daly, who has already launched new training programs to close skill gaps, particularly around the data literacy needed to support digital transformation. She has also prioritized IT projects based on their expected impact on business priorities. Both are actions that Daly believes help her build credibility and a true partnership with her executive colleagues.

“It’s all setting up IT for success in the longer term,” Daly adds.

Like most executives, the honeymoon phase for new CIOs is pretty short. Consequently, incoming CIOs like Daly have less time to make a positive impression, build alliances, and craft plans for success.

How best to do that can vary, but here, several seasoned IT leaders share essential to-dos that new CIOs should accomplish in their first year to set the stage for future success.

1. Make time to listen

CIOs have heard for years now that they need solid communication skills to succeed, but Helen Norris, CIO of Chapman University in California, believes as CIO she must listen as much as — if not more than — she talks. That’s why she embarked on a listening tour when she started her role.

“I don’t think it’s the right thing to just jump in and say [what needs to be done],” Norris says. “You have to listen to what people across the organization are saying, hear their priorities. People really welcome it, the chance to be listened to. And you have to give people the opportunity to be really frank with you, and you have to steel yourself to hear complaints, and then build a strategic plan out of what you learn.”

2. Build relationships

When Norris started at Chapman, the IT department “was very much in the background, in that it was a utility,” she says. The university’s leaders recognized that IT wasn’t adequately supporting the school’s core mission, and they gave her a mandate to better engage the academic departments.

To do that, Norris had to reach out to department heads who had considered IT only an afterthought and establish a rapport. That kind of relationship-building is critical for any CIO who wants to be seen as an executive and equal partner in the C-suite, Norris says.

“All executive roles are about people and relationships, and it’s particularly important for a CIO to think in that way because we come from technical backgrounds and some people still think it’s a technical role,” she explains.

She adds: “We’re not doing technology for technology’s sake, or we shouldn’t be. We’re doing technology to improve the student experience, or if you work in a corporation, to increase the customer experience or the staff member experience, and that’s why it’s really about the people.”

3. Build trust

Dr. George F. Claffey Jr., CIO and interim vice president of Institutional Advancement and Strategic Partnerships at Central Connecticut State University, says he, too, focuses on listening and building relationships. He sees building trust as an essential extension of that work.

“No one is going to have confidence in your agenda if you can’t be trusted,” he says.

To build trust, Claffey acknowledges others’ challenges and works to fix them. “We find the win for them,” he says, adding that he also attends meetings held by other departments and demonstrates a genuine interest in their goals so they see “I’m interested in not just IT but everything that’s happening.”

4. Rethink (and rebrand) the IT portfolio priorities

Skillsoft’s Daly says focusing on the most impactful issues and the tech initiatives supporting the most critical business needs can quickly build credibility and demonstrate the value of IT.

That focus, however, doesn’t happen by chance, and new CIOs shouldn’t assume their inherited work portfolios have the right projects prioritized. Daly didn’t and instead reviewed the IT landscape to ensure her team is focusing on the most critical issues first.

Daniel Sanchez Reina, who as a vice president at research firm Gartner works on CIO leadership, culture, and people topics, says CIOs should see this process as an opportunity to highlight the value those projects have to the business. He advises new CIOs to position and even rename projects by their value proposition to help show they’re focused on using technology to create business results.

5. Mind the skills gap

To have a successful CIO shop from the start, Jim Hall, CEO of consultancy Hallmentum, says CIOs “need to have the right people doing the right things at the right time, and they have to have the right skills.”

To ensure they have that, CIOs should assess their teams early on to identify skill gaps in individuals and across teams, and then determine what measures are needed to get in place the right people and skills doing the right thing at the right time.

6. Craft your strategy to deliver business results

Veteran IT leaders say new CIOs can’t take too long in this get-to-know-everything stage. They must quickly take that information and use it to draft a strategy that delivers on the objectives they were hired to achieve.

“After that first 100 days, create a central theme of what you’re going to do,” Claffey says. “It’s then time to start talking about what your plan is.”

After meeting with business unit leaders, holding roundtable conversations with staffers to get a sense of their capabilities, and reviewing the IT landscape, including its project portfolio, Skillsoft’s Daly says she drafted her plan to move forward and rapidly started implementing pieces of it. So far that includes training and development around data, seeing that is a necessary component for digital transformation, as well as an initiative she named North Star, aimed at delivering capabilities for key business processes.

7. Establish your expectations for managers

CIOs often inherit a management team when joining a new company, and they thus inherit their decision-making and accountability structure.

As the new department chief, “You’ll have to figure out what decisions [managers] can make on their own, what they need to run by you, and how you’ll measure them,” says Michael Spires, principal and technology transformation practice lead with The Hackett Group, a business advisory and consulting firm.

Spires says this is a particularly important year-one step for CIOs who were promoted from within, as they have to adjust to being the boss of those who were once co-workers. He adds: “Recognize that the relationship has changed, and so be explicit about your expectations for your former peers.”

8. Name a deputy

A CIO who is successful at being a strategic partner can’t also be running interference on everyday IT operational needs, Sanchez Reina says, “because if the CIO tries to solve all the day-to-day obstacles, then they won’t be able to dedicate time to strategic activities.”

To head off that potential scenario, Sanchez Reina advises new IT chiefs to nominate a deputy to take on that tactical work. CIOs at large organizations can create and staff a specific deputy position, while CIOs at smaller companies will likely have to add such responsibilities to an existing role.

“It might not be a formal role,” Sanchez Reina adds, “but the CIO always has to have that right-hand person.”

The nominated individual should be pragmatic and decisive, he says; they can’t take a month to make a decision. They should be customer-focused rather than heads-down technical workers. And they should be generous with their time, noting “It has to be a person who never says, ‘It’s not my job.’”

9. Determine the CIO’s true place in the hierarchy

Yes, the CIO is supposed to be a C-level position but it sometimes isn’t viewed as such by other executives. Even if it is, the CIO could find that his or her authority is curtailed or undermined by others on the executive team, consultant Hall says.

“The CIO should have full authority over IT, but that might not be true in some organizations. That reality could be quite different. You might be reporting to someone who used to be in that CIO role and they’re going to take ownership over it no matter what you do. Or for historical reasons you might find someone asserting authority. And even if it the CIO has full authority, others may have influence over IT,” Hall explains. “So understand your full scope of authority.”

New CIOs should suss out whether other executives could be usurping the CIO’s power and — at least for the short term — find a pathway around that situation so they can still deliver successes despite any obstacles or obstructions others put up, Hall says.

“The ultimate goal is for the CIO to bring that authority all within the CIO role,” he says, “but in the shorter term the CIO may need to be working collaboratively with those [other leaders].”

10. Identify influencers within the C-suite

New CIOs would do well to identify those executives who have the most influence on the CEO — “influential meaning the CEO listens to these people,” Sanchez Reina says.

Identifying those individuals and understanding their visions for the organization can provide insights into what the CEO thinks and values, he says — insights that can help CIOs shape their own roadmap, strategic thinking, and priority projects. CIOs can also highlight that alignment to gain buy-in from — and even get champions among — those executives.

11. Get an ally on the board

Similarly, Rick Pastore, senior director and technology research advisor at The Hackett Group, recommends that new CIOs seek out an ally among the directors by identifying and engaging a tech-focused board member. That relationship can help the CIO better understand and, thus, align to the board’s view on the organization’s strategy and its future.

12. Figure out and fix your problem spots

“Figure out where your operational challenges are, whether it’s project delivery or outages or something else. Then determine whether the person in charge of that has a rational reason for that, do they have a plan to fix it, or are they waiting for someone to tell them what to do,” Spires says, adding that “you can’t leave a problem like that festering because it reduces your credibility.”

CIO, IT Leadership

By Clayton Donley, Vice President & General Manager, Identity Management Security, Broadcom Software

(This article was originally published in Dark Reading by Clayton Donley.)

Although analysts have predicted the death of passwords for many years, passwords are still the predominant authentication credential used for many applications and IT systems. The reason for this is simple – everyone knows how passwords work, which makes them more convenient to use.   

As a result, 80% of all company data breaches and hacking incidents result from stolen or compromised passwords. It’s not hard to see why. The average user has more than 90 online accounts – almost all requiring a password that more than half of those same users reuse. And with a record 1,862 data breaches in 2021 at an average cost of $4.24 million per breach, it’s no wonder that more than 555 million passwords are available on the Dark Web.

Passwords are proliferating across our digital world and getting stolen in record numbers every year. But it doesn’t have to be this way. 

The twin dilemma of security vs. convenience

Enterprises can address this problem today. In fact, many are already enhancing existing passwords with a second factor – for example, sending an out-of-band code via SMS or email. The technology exists for even stronger login credentials, but these will often significantly impact the user experience, which hurts adoption with internal users (employees) or retention with external users (consumers).

Organizations are faced with a balancing act: how to improve their authentication process, so the login credentials provide the needed security while being easy to use, but at the same time, difficult for hackers to steal or compromise. Oh, and let’s not forget that this enhanced authentication mechanism must be cost effective too! 

Over the years, many new types of login credentials have emerged that were effective in one or two areas but fell short in the others. But there is hope. A new approach is flipping this paradigm on its head. 

Size matters

The size and scope of the problem must also be taken into consideration. For large enterprises, these challenges are multiplied because the sheer number of applications running across their hybrid environments, from the cloud to the mainframe. You hear a lot about the cloud, but how often do you hear someone mention the mainframe? Did you know that mainframes handle 90% of all credit card transactions, or that mainframes handle 68% of the world’s production IT workloads? For many of our strategic customers, the mainframe is more mission critical than anything running in the cloud.

A truly effective identity security solution needs to cover all aspects of an organization’s infrastructure. Everything from the mainframe to distributed servers, from virtualized to multi-cloud environments, managing access across business applications, privileged accounts, and everything in between. 

The convergence of technology and standards

The missing link in efforts to improve this identity security challenge is a failure to recognize that replacing the password is not as easy as people think. But there are several trends that may help accelerate the death of the password once and for all.

The first is the smartphone. According to Ericsson, the number of smartphone users in the world today is approximately 6.6 billion, which translates to almost 84% of the world’s population. These devices are not only ubiquitous but are also responsible for teaching users how to use their fingerprint to unlock their devices and take a selfie. Biometrics is not an abstract concept anymore – it is becoming familiar even to people who struggle to use a computer. 

The second trend is one of standardization, specifically the growing support for FIDO or Open ID Connect. These new security standards help to facilitate the exchange of identity and authentication information between an identity provider and an application. These standards eliminate the need for passwords and replace them with passwordless techniques, such as biometrics (a single finger swipe on your phone). However, there are many mainframe and web applications that were never designed with support for these standards, and therefore cannot leverage passwordless authentication – that is, not without major redesign or a little help.

For newer or smaller enterprises, the modification of applications to be FIDO or OpenID Connect compatible may be relatively small, but for larger enterprises, this problem is significant as the bulk of their mission critical apps may need to be modified, and this is just not financially feasible. As a result, while newer applications are getting built with passwordless authentication mechanisms, they are only addressing a subset of enterprise applications, networks, and environments. A truly effective security system needs to cover all of an organization’s digital assets. If not, bad guys will always find the weakest link.

Something old, something new, something borrowed, something blue red.

This saying has inspired many wedding traditions and is somewhat appropriate for this topic as the solution to enterprise identity security challenges is basically the same: weaving together your existing Identity and Access Management tools with new, cloud-native tools to build a modern identity fabric, borrowing niche or point products to fill in specific gaps or address unique use cases.

Only through a holistic platform can enterprises solve the biggest pain points in identity security by replacing the need for passwords with a single password-less sign-on procedure for everything in our digital world. And similar to many couples who are inspired by this famous wedding saying, enterprises are not looking for a vendor, but a lifelong partner (something Red). 

To learn more about how Broadcom Software can help you modernize, optimize, and protect your enterprise, contact us here.

Clayton Donley, Vice President & General Manager, Identity Management Security, Broadcom Software:

Broadcom Software

Clayton Donley is Vice President and General Manager of the Identity Management Security Division at Broadcom (IMS). In this role, he is responsible for the company’s identity and access software portfolio, which protects and manages access to some of the world’s most mission-critical applications.

IT Leadership, Security

Artificial intelligence (AI) has captured the imagination of a wide variety of businesses. I have this image of CEOs in boardrooms around the globe declaring, “We must have AI! Our competitors use AI! We can’t be left behind!” There might be some table-pounding associated with this scenario. There will certainly be corporate minions scurrying around to fulfill the AI dreams of their CEO.