Executive Briefs: December 2001

By CIOinsight  |  Posted 12-01-2001

Expert Voices: Privacy, Reconsidered
By Jeffrey Rosen

The second in CIO Insight's Rethinking Risk series on security and business planning in a changed world features Jeffrey Rosen, one of the top lawyers specializing in technology privacy and security law. Rosen, the legal affairs editor of The New Republic and an assistant law professor at The George Washington University, says the nation's new antiterrorist law will—and likely should—lead to increased monitoring of workers, but could, if handled too abruptly, hurt corporate culture, contribute to worker anxiety and erode productivity. Rosen also talks about our changing notions about privacy and cites the U.K., where surveillance cameras are ubiquitous, warning that Americans might not want to follow that path in the wake of Sept. 11.

Management: Modus Operandi
By Ritu Agarwal and V. Sambamurthy

Corporate IT departments must shape their firms' agility in managing customer relationships, business partner networks, and the introduction of innovative products, services and distribution channels. What's the best way to restructure to meet all these new demands? In this article, the result of a two-year study of 30 corporations, Ritu Agarwal and V. Sambamurthy, both professors at the Robert H. Smith School of Business at the University of Maryland, advocate the development of the modular IT organization, which involves disaggregating the IT function into modular units around value-creating activities, or value streams, on the one hand, and capabilities on the other, and incorporating them into an integration architecture optimized for the task at hand.

Technology: Collective Brainpower
By Bill Roberts

Imagine if millions of PCs were focused on solving your company's latest business problem. GlaxoSmithKline, Boeing, Unilever and others are already thinking in such terms, experimenting with in-house computing "grids" that tap idle computing power and redirect it into problem solving. But that's just the beginning. In recent months, various companies have begun the early spadework needed to build a commercialized, global computing grid that would allow such excess power to be bought and sold across companies, borders and industries, much like electricity is traded today—but over the Internet. West Coast writer Bill Roberts talks about this next "Next Thing" in computing and tells why IBM's push to help develop the open-source grid is energizing corporate involvement. A sidebar Q&A features University of Chicago grid pioneer Ian Foster.

Case Study: Johnson & Johnson
By Robert Scheier

New economy philosophers envision a world where a Web-enabled corporate intelligentsia, armed with real-time data, better connectivity with customers, and data-mined analyses and insight, could rid companies of market distortions through central planning. A Utopian fantasy? Perhaps. But companies like Johnson & Johnson have been working on it—with one important exception. Rather than use technology to create an e-version of old-fashioned notions of centralized planning, the giant corporation has been figuring out a way—through "federalized planning"—to use IT to tie together its 195 autonomous business units and their cultures without sacrificing their ability to rule for themselves on key business issues. A sidebar with CIO JoAnn Heisen reveals the balancing act required to pull it all off.

Research: e-Business
By Gary A. Bolles and Terry A. Kirkpatrick

Despite the lackluster economy, this month's CIO Insight survey shows e-business projects are still moving forward—but are coming under increasing scrutiny. Of the 403 IT executives surveyed, 37 percent now have an e-business offering in place and another 37 percent are, or will be, installing one. Customer service improvements are the goal of 81 percent of these projects, and larger companies are finding that their e-CRM investments are paying off. But e-business is no rainmaker yet: Only 20 percent of the executives say they expect to earn 30 percent or more of their revenues this year from doing business online.

Legal: War's New Front
By Michael D. Scott

The newly enacted USA Patriot Act of 2001 changes the rules under which companies have run their networks and communication systems. It permits law enforcement officials to wiretap information transmitted over the Internet and in-house networks, and companies to disclose customer information and the content of e-mail messages to the government during an investigation. Legal columnist Michael D. Scott of Perkins Coie LLP examines the new law point by point, explaining how it will affect CIOs and their companies.