Lonnies-mugshotFrom the President, Lonnie Emard

Since 2009, IT-oLogy has been based on a collaborative model whereby businesses, team up with academic institutions, economic development groups and media specialists to contribute to the non-profit organization’s mission of advancing information technology talent in this country.   While there have been many learning moments during the last six years, one element stands out as the most difficult to fully enable.  That is the role of the aggregator.

The aggregator, in this case is IT-oLogy who pulls it all together, takes on a sort of umbrella- like strategy to cover all the pieces that fall into the process of advancing IT talent.  Wow, you might say, that is a pretty bold statement.  I say it with the humble intentions that somehow the overall supply chain process needs to be captured in a meaningful way.  In my last blog, I described the supply chain concept from the sources of talent, through development of talent to the access and application of IT talent, yielding economic development advantage.

The continuum of impact that a non-profit organization can have is based on the capacity to involve collaborators who have some level of interest and role in the process.  These collaborators participate and contribute at various levels in the non-profit organization, while at the same time operate in their own enlightened self-interest.   The role of the aggregator is to fulfill the combinatorial aspects of managing, directing, involving and influencing the pieces that no one entity would ever do on their own. The various ways the aggregator may work to ensure the process are as follows:

Managing – IT-oLogy manages programs and projects that have been funded by participating organizations.  This is the most straight-forward approach and easiest to track results.  This is narrow in the overall big picture but coverage continues to expand.

Directing – IT-oLogy teams up with other organizations of common purpose and IT-oLogy handles the budget but one or many organizations are completing efforts on related programs. This works reasonably well to capture a much greater of results and begins to provide better analysis of progress.

Involving – Joint efforts exist when IT-oLogy collaborators are involved or IT-oLogy represents them in programs, projects and advocacy efforts where some other organization has the budget and is the lead.  The key part to this is the level of involvement and the request for the summary information that can be aggregated together with other similar data to provide more comprehensive findings.

Influencing – IT-oLogy speaks, on behalf of a collective voice, and tries to influence related efforts to create a consistent message and deal with the environment that advances IT talent impacts.  This is clearly the toughest piece and requires time and attention.  The part that requires focus here is the discretionary funds required to enable resources to act on behalf of the coalition of organizations that support the non-profit.

The role of the aggregator is to ensure that all four things happen in a balanced and cohesive way because there are numerous overlapping activities happening at the same time which are controlled by numerous organizations, which may or may not be part of the collaborative activities.  Finding ways to track and aggregate the positive effects on the advancement of IT talent is the key to repeating success and cost effectively addressing this issue.

For example, IT-oLogy offers three initiatives called Promote IT focused on K-12, Teach IT focused on higher-ed and workforce development and Grow IT focused on existing professionals.  Within the Teach IT initiative is the connection between talent and job opportunities using a process and tool called the IT-Gateway.  All of the students and internships and entry level jobs can be tracked there.  That doesn’t capture the magnitude of all students and opportunities in a city, region, state or the country because not everyone uses a single system.  It would be great to add to the totals by including other company, university and organization data and aggregating the totals to get a more complete picture.

I would encourage more dialog on this topic, so please contact me or any of the IT-oLogy team.

You can also follow me @lonnieemard


We need YOU!  Because You Are IT!

On May 5th, we are asking our advocates, friends, supporters and collaborators to help us with a very special program.

You Are IT is a fund that will assist in ways our current budget doesn’t allow.  We have many requests for assistance for individuals in the community who have very specific IT needs.  We have students who can’t afford an IT-oLogy summer camp.  We have students who do not have access to a computer at home.   We have students who want to host student-run, student-led events that provide experiential learning and camaraderie among the greatest target audience we have to influence toward IT careers, high school and middle school students!

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For example, in February, we hosted a code.day event at IT-oLogy– a 24 hour code-a-thon with more than 54 teens in attendance. You can imagine how much these 54 teenagers can eat!!  This is just an example of things that are not in our budget but are VERY meaningful to the community!

We would appreciate your help in supporting these needs and will publish the results of what the funds are used for in our monthly newsletters.  Stay tuned!

So, please join us on May 5th, Midlands Gives Day, to support IT-oLogy’s You Are IT fund for these specific and truly meaningful needs that we see everyday.  It’s an easy way to make a big difference in our goals for advancing IT in the Midlands.

Click here to learn more about Midlands Gives!

For 20 years, Charlotte has recognized the best in technology at the annual Blue Diamond Awards. After an eight year hiatus, IT-oLogy led the revival of the Blue Diamond Awards celebration.


On March 3rd, more than 300 business and technology executives alongside entrepreneurial leaders and innovative development teams came together to honor the 8 category winners and finalists at the Urban Garden at 1 Bank of America Center.


The winners of the eight awards are Business Value – Small/Medium, ecomdash; Business Value – Corporate, Rubbermaid Healthcare; Business Value – Non-Profit, Charlotte Mecklenburg Schools;  Community Outreach,  Bosch Rexroth and Women Executives – WINGS program;  Cool Innovation, ecomdash;  Human Capital, Logical Advantage; IT Entrepreneur, David Jones, Peak 10 Chairman and CEO; Student Innovator, Michael Kersting, Young Engineers of Today.

The planning for the 2016 Blue Diamond Awards is underway.  To join the planning or for more information, contact Kay Read, kay.read@it-ology.org.


More than 300 business leaders, elected officials, and educators from across South Carolina gathered at IT-oLogy on March 18 for the annual Summit on IT. The event brought a broad cross section of IT professionals, decision makers, government officials and educators together to discuss what is currently being done across the state in information technology and how it impacts the growth of South Carolina.

The morning kicked off with a presentation from Ben Miller from the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation, a Washington, DC- based think tank.  Todd Lewis, IT-oLogy, presented the first State of Information Technology in South Carolina survey.

Regional snapshots and big picture items followed, laying the basis for the afternoon panels. The afternoon featured both big items and industries vertical panels.

Collaborators included SCRA, SC Department of Commerce, and South Carolina Chamber of Commerce. Sponsors included BlueCross BlueShield SC, TM Floyd, Seibels, South Carolina Council on Competitiveness and Central SC Business Alliance.

View the full report and Snapshot here: http://www.it-ology.org/research


We at TEDxYouth@ColumbiaSC love spreading ideas. Just like the TED conference, we bring speakers and performers from all over the world to share with students their experiences, stories, and passions. This year, we’re embracing surprise (our theme) everywhere. We love experimenting, so our conference will be totally different from the way attendees are invited and how we work with speakers, all the way to how the day itself will unite everyone around surprise.


We’re working with awesome, creative companies, like The Half and Half and Riggs Partners, to develop our brand, as well as other cool business who believe in us—like Pennington Law Firm and The Copy Shop—to take our attendees’ experience to the next level.


The schools from which we select students aren’t just in Columbia, either. 40 schools across South Carolina have partnered with us and assigned one teacher—the TEDx Ambassador—to work with the school’s teachers and students to inform them about the event and help select the attendees who go from that school. Those schools are from as far away as Myrtle Beach!


This year’s speakers can be found online at http://TEDxYouthColumbiaSC.com/speakers, and applications are open now for high schoolers at http://TEDxYouthColumbiaSC.com/apply.


TEDxYouth@ColumbiaSC 2015 takes place on Saturday, April 18, 2015 at the Darla Moore School of Business.

x2iNDd2TPrfLg6g0JjU4w2-TX2Mv9P_hGMfkGFiFb00According to a recent study by the National Center for Women and Information Technology (NCWIT), gender diversity benefits businesses in several ways:


Gender-balanced companies perform better financially, particularly when women occupy a significant proportion of top management positions and demonstrate superior team dynamics and productivity.


Studies report that gender-diverse technology organizations and departments produce work teams that stay on schedule and under budget and demonstrate improved employee performance.


IT-oLogy WISE (Women in Information Technology Science and Engineering) is a program dedicated to

increasing the number of women in the IT talent pipeline. Through outreach, events and networking,

WISE connects and engages the IT ecosystem promoting opportunity, creating visibility and interest in IT careers for girls, college women, and advancing women in the IT profession.


WISE initiatives span the IT-oLogy continuum:


TEACH IT (Post High School/Higher Education)

GROW IT (IT Professional).


WISE connects and engages with businesses and educational institutions to grow the pipeline of female

IT talent.

Outreach initiatives includeannual scholarships to high school females planning to

study in STEM disciplines, hosting the annual National Center for Women and Information

Technology (NCWIT) NC and SC Aspirations in Computing Awards that recognizes girls in grades 9 – 12 for their outstanding accomplishments in IT, provides mentorship opportunities for middle school, high school and college females, and works closely with women’s groups in colleges/universities.


WISE engages, informs and connects the business community and provides professional development and networking opportunities through LeadHERship Events, and NCWIT Aspirations in Computing Awards.


WISE engages with leaders, influencers and innovators, providing relationship building and peer connection opportunities.


WISE currently has groups in Charlotte, NC and Columbia, SC. To get involved or for more information, contact Heather Bauer (heather.bauer@it-ology.org or Kay Read (kay.read@it-ology.org).


March 5th, 2015 | Posted by Elizabeth Nottingham in IT-oLogy Defined - (0 Comments)

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Why The Best Technologists Will Be Attending POSSCON 2015

In the 7 years we’ve been hosting POSSCON, we’ve noticed something – that the most professional and serious technologists, and those aspiring to be, generally attend the event. While it might seem counterintuitive on the surface – why would someone already considered a “professional” and good at what they do take the time to attend a conference? – it makes sense if you think about it.


Nearly every single “professional” technologist, as well as every top technology student we know, understands that continued education is key to remaining really good at what they do. While access to quality education can be a challenge, those aspiring to stay good, or become good, find a way to get it. POSSCON is a world-class event, and most importantly, a quality educational opportunity. The professionals, and those aspiring to be, will once again be there in great numbers.


Believe it or not, technology IQ is a real thing – and it makes you more valuable as an individual or as a company as it increases. What is it? It can be defined as understanding the intangibles, the same as it can be in football or any endeavor that is considered an occupation. In technology, it can mean the way people communicate with one another in a specific sector, like DevOps, the acronyms they use, the way people dress, the technologies they use, and even understanding pertinent issues and what’s really ‘important’. By understanding these things, your personal and organizational credibility increases, and there is no better place to gain this understanding than at a world-class conference.


While technology has made remote communication easier than ever before, we strongly believe it has also made face-to-face interaction and engagement more important than ever before. No matter how many times you work with a teammate via IM, chat, or some other communication tool it cannot replace time spent with another human being. Whether you’re trying to meet a new partner/someone to work with, or possibly a new service provider/consultant, nothing provides critical information and establishes trust and confidence like looking someone in the eye, reading body language, or having a casual conversation.


As our friend Jeffrey Hammond at Forrester Research clearly states, if you, as a technologist or IT decision maker, don’t recognize the impact open technology is having on your organization you’re at risk of being “consumed”. The fact is that only 1 in 5 developers HAVE NOT used open source in some way in the past 12 months and nearly 90% of all organization use open technology and open source, whether the boss realizes it or not. In addition, most of the innovation taking place in technology is being driven by the ‘open’ approach because the best technologists are drawn to it. You can see it in today’s universities in top students, and it’s not going to change anytime soon.


At the risk of stating the obvious, networking has never been more important in the technology field. Crucial relationships, ones that often lead to better solutions and innovative breakthroughs, are forged at events where thought leaders, and those aspiring to be, are in confined spaces for extended periods of time. With the world becoming smaller by the day, those relationships will only help as you move forward and attempt to grow and develop value.

If you’re available April 14 & 15, we encourage you to join us in Columbia for POSSCON 2015. Come see for yourself why there is no substitute for attending a world-class conference with true thought leaders attending and participating. Once you do, we feel strongly you’ll not only be back, but you’ll seek out other opportunities to attend.

PrintCalling all Columbia area 10th and 11th graders! Registration is now open for the Create IT Discovery Day to be held on Saturday, March 21 from 12:30 p.m. to 5 p.m. at IT-oLogy, 1301 Gervais Street, Columbia.


Create IT Discovery Day is a high energy event designed for high school students to learn about the many exciting careers in information technology (IT). The goal of the program is to encourage high school students to major in IT disciplines in college and pursue careers in IT.


Students and faculty from the University of South Carolina, along with IT professionals, will lead hands-on activities exploring the wide range of career options available in IT and the necessary skill sets required for success in those careers. Attendees will be engaged in activities designed to reinforce what is learned. Panel discussions, a tour of the University of South Carolina campus and great door prizes will round out the day.


Create IT Discovery Day is sponsored by IT-oLogy, in collaboration with its partner TM Floyd & Company, and the University of South Carolina College of Hospitality, Retail and Sport Management Integrated Information Technology program.


To register, go to https://createit.eventbrite.com.

The Growing Resources for IT (GRIT) program is a $5 million, 4-year grant awarded by the Department of Labor to Midlands Technical College.  The GRIT program provides technical training to unemployed and underemployed minorities, women, veterans and others with a background in IT.  The grant covers the cost of tuition, books, and multiple certifications and funds the GRIT On-the-Job-Training program.

As a participant in the GRIT program, Ernest Boyd quickly proved his aptitude and natural abilities in his front-end web developer classes.  Ernest had obtained an associates degree in Information Technology but had not been able to get his foot in the door in the industry.  He was also an introvert.  As the Job Readiness Coach for the GRIT participants, I could see the potential challenges he would face in getting past, or even to, the interview table.  I also could see how driven and motivated he was.

Ernest took advantage of every opportunity he could to better his chances at landing a job as a programmer.  He signed up to volunteer at IT-oLogy’s Cyber Saturday, attended every Tech After 5, and made his way around the room at the iTs/SC Careers in Insurance Mixer.  When an HR representative from SCANA mentioned that he should look into attending Toastmasters, he signed up.  He attended the WordPress workshop at IT-oLogy and made his way to the Richland County Public Library’s Business and Job Center for an interview workshop.

Initially introduced to a hiring manager from Seibels at the iTs/SC Careers in Insurance Mixer, he ran into him again as a fellow volunteer at Cyber Saturday and at Tech After 5.  Outside of the formality of an interview, Ernest was able to develop a rapport with this person.  When his class graduated and Seibels was looking over the resumes of the group, guess whose resume floated to the top?  All his efforts paid off: Ernest was offered an entry-level web developer position at Seibels.

Events hosted by IT-oLogy and its partner organizations serve to connect the IT community.  Instead of being just “another networking event”, Ernest was able to build relationships with others in the industry.  What was hard for him to show on a resume, his character and motivation, came through in the fun day he spent volunteering at Cyber Saturday and in the casual mingling at Tech After 5.  The additional skills he developed in the GRIT program gave him the capability to compete for jobs in the IT industry.

Though Ernest’s story is unique, there are other candidates in the GRIT program waiting for their opportunity to prove themselves as valuable and skilled employees.  Contact Pelham Spong at Pelham.Spong@it-ology.org for more information on the GRIT program and GRIT participants.

A hackathon in Columbia—just for high schoolers? CodeDay Columbia was a 24-hour programming marathon for students held at IT-oLogy, and was part of a network of similar events held around the country. The Columbia CodeDay was successful for the first event of its kind—with over 50 attendees, it was the 8th most-attended CodeDay out of 26 nationwide!


When everyone arrived in the morning on Saturday, most people had no idea what they would be building that night. As the participants and their families came rolling in, it was almost surreal that these people were going to be present for the next 24 hours, for the sole purpose of writing code, or even just learning how to write code.  These kids were so hyped!  After idea pitches, teams formed—mostly around friends who came to the event together—and began planning out their future game or app.


Shortly after, coding time started, and more experienced programmers began laying out the framework for their application, while beginners attended our introductory programming workshop, taught by Brendan Lee, a developer at 52inc. We were also lucky enough to have three workshops unique to Columbia: Intro to Unity, Photoshop & Photo Editing, and After Effects & Video Editing.  Most groups had their interest piqued in the game development department, so they began working with the Unity game design engine.


The teams thought big.  They were coming up with ideas for games that were really complex: One team built a maze world where the player had to defy gravity to get through the maze, another designed an adventure around a dream the player created, and another group created a strategic zombie horde game.  Most groups had to focus on one aspect of their game, because there simply wasn’t enough time to make their complete ideas a reality.


Gradually, as each one of the groups began working with the incredibly detailed and complex game design engine, they hit the inevitable wall that is to be expected when a new programmer is just starting out.  They had all the world of programming in front of them, but no idea about how to actually get it going within the toolkit.  Then, as each group was on the verge of giving up, the volunteer mentors swooped in to rescue them from their troubles.  Many groups simply had to narrow their scope down to just a bit, other groups needed a change of program, and yet still others had to change their ideas all together.  Even though each group had a different journey, one common thread was that of perseverance.  No matter how many setbacks, the participants were always ready to try another avenue or pursue a different option, they simply wanted to code!


Although most people wanted to work nonstop through the night, there were breaks and games, like a giant game of Ninja and the popular pass-the-peanut-with-a-spoon-in-your-mouth contest.


There were a dozen volunteers who assisted Kevin, the organizer, in many ways.  Some handled logistical issues, like picking up breakfast, snacks and beverages or setting up the meals.  Others took care of registration as the students arrived and kept an eye on the front door to welcome new participants, visiting parents, and the WLTX news reporters.  The judges were also critically important volunteers. Matt Thatcher, a computer science professor from USC; Matt Hooper, a software developer with VC3, and Drew Heavner, a developer with 52Inc, served as judges. They thoroughly evaluated each team’s project, meeting with them individually and attending the teams’ presentations.  They also met with the coaches and mentors to get a feel for the processes the teams went through.  After almost an hour of deliberations, the judges selected the winners.


The winner of the top overall prize was the Blue Team, for their game, Gravity Warp. The best app award went to Team Gray for their Piano App, while the best game award went to Team Apex Fantasy for their game, Escape of the Tardis.  Special awards were given to Team HRE and their game, Hotel Purgatorio, for the best game depth, and to Team Empire Animation and their game, Humans vs. Zombies, for best original art and animation.


As the judges handed out the awards, it was so heartwarming to watch these kids be genuinely proud of the things they had built, and in the end, each of them got to make something great, even if everyone didn’t win an award.


The participants weren’t the only ones who loved it: one of our mentors was overheard saying he wouldn’t have rather been anywhere else other than CodeDay!

We’re really excited about doing this again.  We’ve learned a lot from hosting this event, and plan to make the next CodeDay Columbia even better.  We’ve got big plans for next time, so we hope to see everyone—and some new faces—next time!