Tag Archives: Cathy

Digital transformation process: Align business and IT, shake legacy

At the Strongbow Consulting Group, founder and managing partner Cathy Horst Forsyth and her team help large enterprises digitally transform — specifically around network and infrastructure. From her experience with Fortune 500 companies, legacy applications and systems and misalignment of technology and business strategies can cause significant setbacks in the digital transformation process.

In this SearchCIO interview from the MIT Sloan CIO Symposium, Horst Forsyth details the trends and challenges that she’s seeing in enterprises that are going through the digital transformation process and what’s needed to be successful.

Editor’s note: This transcript has been edited for clarity and length.

What parts of the enterprise are leading the charge in the digital transformation process?

Cathy Horst Forsyth: You see it all on the edges of the business where we have lines of business working directly with their customers, with their individual goals. I think where we see digital transformation being most progressive and most successful is when those lines of business — at the front end of the business — are working closely with their technology partners. What doesn’t seem to work well, or at least what can fall back and have negative consequences is when the lines of business are transforming and driving digital transformation that does not align with a corporate strategy and isn’t compliant with [an organization’s] technology strategy. So, where we see the most success, whether it’s marketing, sales or any particular functional area within the firm, is really that alignment with the business executive and the technology team to make sure the execution is both successful and compliant with the overall goals of the organization.

What parts of the enterprise are less far along in the digital transformation process?

You really can’t underestimate the [extent to which] legacy infrastructure systems and applications tether large companies down.
Cathy Horst Forsythfounder and managing partner, Strongbow Consulting Group

Horst Forsyth: Again, it’s kind of hard to generalize from my perspective. I can’t say one department or function is necessarily behind. But I would say that with organizations that are tethered to legacy applications, legacy infrastructure or legacy systems, it’s very difficult to dig themselves out of that. It’s probably not for lack of wanting to transform digitally, but you really can’t underestimate the [extent to which] legacy infrastructure systems and applications tether large companies down. Again, that’s one of the reasons [Strongbow] focuses specifically on the largest of enterprises. It is a lot easier to start ‘greenfield’ and to drive innovation when you haven’t been a classic Fortune 500 company for the past 50 or 100 years. Even though it’s about culture, leadership and many other things, the legacy infrastructure really can be an impediment. Where there are sunk costs or where it’s difficult to even understand where that infrastructure resides — which is an issue at times — we really see those organizations being hindered.

What kinds of strategies are effective in getting the entire enterprise to the same level of digital prowess?

Horst Forsyth: Once again, I go back to the top executives and the executive committee and [having the ability to] really understand and articulate business strategies. So, what are we trying to accomplish? Why are we trying to accomplish it? Anything can be framed in terms of opportunity or threat. Having everyone understand that simplistic business strategy is definitely a forerunner to then understanding how to leverage technology and achieving [digital transformation]. I think that, to some extent, technology strategy should be driven across the business — including on the front lines — but it needs to be monitored so that it’s consistent and compliant with corporate standards. And I think that the executives need to monitor and keep track of what’s going on, but allow it to go on and grow in a flexible fashion.

Enhanced debugging and faster simulation with the latest Quantum Development Kit update

This post was authored with contributions by Cathy Palmer, Program Manager, Quantum Software & Services.

Today, Microsoft released an update to the Microsoft Quantum Development Kit including an enhanced debugging experience and faster simulations, as well as several contributions from the Q# community. We’re excited about the momentum generated by the many new Q# developers joining us in building a new generation of quantum computing.

Just over six months ago, we released a preview of Q#, our new programming language for quantum development featuring rich integration with Visual Studio. The February 26 release added integration with Visual Studio Code to support Q# development on macOS and Linux as well as Python interoperability for Windows. Since then, tens of thousands of developers have begun to explore Q# and the world of quantum development.

Today’s update includes significant performance improvements for simulations, regardless of the number of qubits required, as shown in the H2 simulation below. This is a standard sample included in the Microsoft Quantum Development Kit.

Simulation comparison

This update includes new debugging functionality within Visual Studio. The probability of measuring a “1” on a qubit is now automatically shown in the Visual Studio debugging window, making it easier to check the accuracy of your code. The release also improves the display of variable properties, enhancing the readability of the quantum state.

Screen showing enhanced debugging

Adding to the new debugging improvements, you’ll find two new functions that output probability information related to the target quantum machine at a specified point in time, called DumpMachine and DumpRegister. To learn more, you can review this additional information on debugging quantum programs.

Thanks to your community contributions, the Microsoft Quantum Development Kit now includes new helper functions and operations, plus new samples to improve the onboarding and debugging experience. Check out the release notes for a full list of contributions.

Download the latest Microsoft Quantum Development Kit

We’ve been thrilled with the participation, contributions, and inspiring work of the Q# community. We can’t wait to see what you do next.

The rainbow ripple effect: how Microsoft and its LGBTQ+ employees push for change across borders

It lends support when possible through empowering employees such as Cathy Balcer, GLEAM chapter lead in Singapore, who joined with other companies to promote “freedom to love” nights all over the city; Andrea Llamas, GLEAM lead in Mexico, who helped Microsoft officially join a local network of companies that are LGBTQ+ friendly; and Nidhi Singh, Roland White, Bibaswan Dash, and Mike Emery, who helped launched the first GLEAM chapter in India, which garnered 100 employee members in its first week.

Aside from pushing for social change and increased protections, around the globe, Microsoft is also working to drive inclusion in the technology industry for all, including people who are LGBTQ+.

Women account for 24 percent of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) jobs, according to the Economics and Statistics Administration’s 2017 numbers.

Chen was initially worried that she would have be closeted to survive a corporate work environment. But when her teammates showed genuine interest in her life and weren’t at all bothered by her sexuality, she decided she was never going to hide her real self for a job again.

“If you’re LGBT and minority, you’re in a double bind. If you’re in a minority and LGBT and a woman, you’re in a triple bind,” said Rochelle Diamond, chair of the board of directors of the National Organization of Gay and Lesbian Scientists and Technical Professionals.

That’s why Microsoft supports organizations like Out Leadership, which works to fill more C-suite level jobs with LGBTQ+ talent. Microsoft employees attend events like the Lesbians Who Tech summit, which connects lesbians and helps them build a network of colleagues, associates, and friends in the industry in addition to championing the representation of out lesbian women in the field.

It was that very summit helped spark Chen’s own personal awakening.

“Shortly after I started, I was out to my immediate team and manager, but I was living as a software engineer who also happened to be gay,” said Chen. “It wasn’t a part of who I was at work, just kind of like a fun fact about me.”

Chen had heard about the Lesbians Who Tech summit and wanted to check it out. She was trepidatious when she asked her manager, unsure how taking time off work solely to understand how what it means to be gay in the workplace might be perceived. To her delight, her manager was all in.

“My being queer was seen by management as important and worth the funding to explore what that meant for me,” she said.

When Chen started at Microsoft as an intern, she initially worried that she would have be closeted to survive a corporate work environment. But when her teammates showed genuine interest in her life and weren’t at all bothered by her sexuality, Chen decided she was never going to hide her real self for a job again.

“Now, I try to include this perspective in every discussion I have. I want to be the representation that I was so sorely missing growing up.”