Executive Briefs: July 2003

By CIOinsight  |  Posted 07-01-2003
Due Diligence: The Big Bad Wolf
By Eric Nee
A couple of serious efforts to slow the growth of Linux have emerged, with SCO Group's suit against IBM a minor speedbump compared with Microsoft's openly declared war. What, asks Eric Nee, would the world look like if Microsoft won that war? Microsoft wants more than to have Windows running on every computer—from the largest data center down to the smallest cell phone—as ambitious as that goal may be. The company's ultimate goal is to leverage its domination of the operating system into every nook and cranny of the corporate application environment.

Strong Signals: The Limits to Architecture
By John Parkinson
Is it possible to lay out a complete, enterprise-scale vision for the efficient and productive use of technology? Is it desirable? IT experts, says columnist John Parkinson, depend too much on "architects" and not enough on the "city planners" who establish, monitor and evolve our "zoning" rules. As a result, we keep creating unmanageably complex platform and application architectures more reminiscent of Jakarta than Chicago. If we can reduce complexity and put common services in place, we can improve automated provisioning and free up resources for the things we really want to do.
By Karen Southwick, Debra D'Agostino and Marcia Stepanek
Back in 1998, Amerada Hess Corp.'s oil reserves exploration arm cringed at the thought of having to spend another $1.5 million a year to get access to a second supercomputer. Strapped by some costly gambles on wells that didn't work out and stuck with the highest average cost-per-well to explore and develop reserves—nearly double the industry average—Hess needed to find a cheaper, better way to analyze geographical data and bolster its reserves. So Hess' R&D group turned to Linux clusters to give it the information power it needed. This profile of Hess' use of Linux clusters includes interviews with IT execs and geophysicists who outline the pros and cons of Linux clusters at Hess. CIO Richard Ross, in an accompanying Q&A, talks about the benefits of replacing manpower with MIPS, yet expresses caution about moving Linux to the desktop anytime soon.

Trends: Cross Purposes
By Jeffrey Rothfeder
For the past decade or so, companies have been touting the benefits of tapping old customers for new revenue. The problem is, few companies do it well; as many as 70 percent of cross-selling programs fail to increase revenue in any significant way, according to Gartner Inc. In this analysis of the state of the art, Contributing Editor Jeffrey Rothfeder analyzes a number of factors—better technology, more customer data and pressing need—that are fueling renewed interest in the strategy. Success depends on shifting from a historical perspective to a predictive focus on customers—and on developing a culture that can break down the walls separating business units.

Whiteboard: Creating the Flexible Organization
By Stephan H. Haeckel
If your customers' needs are changing faster than your company's ability to respond, it's time to become more adaptive. In this month's whiteboard, Stephan H. Haeckel, the former Director of Strategic Studies at IBM's Advanced Business Institute, provides senior executives with a roadmap for creating and leading an organization that can not only meet evolving customer needs, but anticipate changes. The whiteboard shows how to create a sense-and-respond organization, and, once created, guides you to know when and how to modify it continuously, as market conditions and the business environment change.

Research: The Real-Time Enterprise
By the editors of CIO Insight
Almost three-fourths of the top IT executives polled for this month's survey on the real-time enterprise say speed to market is critical in their industry. Are they up to the task? Many say they are, thanks to good communication with business units, strong project management and a clearly defined IT architecture, among other factors. And those same CIOs at "responsive companies" point to relational databases, e-mail and collaboration software as the top technologies for promoting faster operations. The single biggest speedbump? Budgeting practices.

Strategic Technology: Tablet PCs
By Gary A. Bolles
Computing devices that make it easy to gather data and collaborate with peers have been a long-standing goal of the high-tech industry. Are tablet PCs the answer? Maybe, says Contributing Editor Gary A. Bolles, but not yet. Contrary to the hype, most corporate sales of these devices have gone to outfits that want to replace older, proprietary versions; significant penetration into the workaday world will have to wait for lower prices and better handwriting recognition and collaboration software.