by Paul T. Cottey

Tips on how IT leaders can stay current

Jun 08, 2015
CIOIT LeadershipIT Skills

Do you want to be 'water-cooler' current with what is happening in the world? Do you want to understand what your end users and customers are talking about? Here's how you can do all of that without spending too much time.

Do you want to be “water-cooler” current with what is happening in the world? Do you want to understand what your end users and customers are talking about? Do you want to keep up-to-date on what is going on in the world? There are ways to have a high-level view of the day’s news without spending too much time. 

Here is what I do each morning and what I get from each source.

Figure out what I am going to do and with whom

Go through my to-do list

I use a to-do list app that shares information across devices and a browser. I will add follow-up to-do’s based on interesting things I find in the below sources.

Look at my calendar

If I know I am meeting with someone who has a strong point of view about something, then I’ll make sure I am up-to-date on the latest happenings (“Did you know the Chicago Cubs’ magic number is only 114?”).

See what is happening in the world at-large

AP Mobile news app[1]

This catches me up on the top five or ten items in U.S. News, Business News, World News, Technology, Politics, Oddities, and so on. It is spin neutral and fairly terse. 

BBC News app[2]

This provides an interesting contrast from outside the US. It gives me the main few items in Top Stories, US & Canada, Technology, Features & Analysis, Business, Science & Environment, Also in the News, etc. The contrast between what makes the news in the UK and what makes the news in the U.S. is often insightful in itself and goes way beyond what you think of when you read “football.” The BBC’s bias is fairly mild, but is slightly biased toward the impact events have on the UK.

CNBC app[3]

This is mostly financial news, as you would expect, and generally gives Breaking News, Top Stories, and governmental releases. It may have ten articles total, but it is quick to pick up company earnings releases, unemployment and manufacturing numbers, and so on. The bias on this app is the impact the event has on the financial world.

USA Today[4]

USA is news light. The reasons I include it are because it is most likely what people who spent the night in a hotel will have read and it reflects what was in the news yesterday or the day before. It is difficult to appear “worldly” as an IT guy if something has been on the front page of the USA Today the last two days and you have never heard about it. (“There was a snow storm in Boston? Huh. Really?”)

Cast a wide net and get a factoid or two


You’ll want to make your own list of companies and people to follow based on your industry, your company, and your customers.

On this day… app[5]

This app tells me what interesting events occurred on this date as well as famous people who were born or who died. This is much more of a “water cooler” app, but it is fun. (“Did you know the first Venus transit in modern history occurred on this date in 2004?” or “Did you know today is Duran Duran’s Nick Rhodes’ birthday?”)

Read what your users and customers are likely to read

The above sources are more current events than they are strategic thinking. You also should be in the habit of reading whatever publications/sites your key customers or your key business users read. That way you can already have a perspective on a topic when it comes to you from your CFO or CEO. (CFO: “Say, did you see the article that said we are not going to need to buy PCs any more because each person will just bring his/her own device? You can save $250,000 a year on your budget, starting now!” You: “Yes, I saw the article. I think the other point was…”)

None of the above is a substitute for truly digging into a topic, of course, and to forming your own point of view.

I’ll tackle how to stay current on broader trends in another post.

How do you keep current? What did I miss?

The opinions expressed in this Blog are those of Paul T. Cottey and do not necessarily represent those of IDG Communications, Inc., its parent, subsidiary or affiliated companies. He has no relationship with any of the companies or apps mentioned.

[1] Free.

[2] Free.

[3] Free.

[4] Free.

[5] Free.…/id317064309?mt=8