Executive Briefs: October 2003

By CIOinsight  |  Posted 10-01-2003

Due Diligence: Seek and Ye Shall Find
By Eric Nee

Having done a pretty good job conquering the consumer Web search business, Google is now going for the corporate search market. It's not the first company to take aim at this potentially lucrative area: Lots of specialized players are already involved. But by following the 80/80 rule for software success—meeting the needs of 80 percent of the market 80 percent of the time—Google is giving the corporate world, ever more hungry for good intelligence, exactly what it needs.

Code Breaking: Open-Source, Closed Minds
By Lawrence Lessig

In this month's column, Lessig rails against heavy lobbying by Microsoft Corp. to quash a recent meeting by the World Intellectual Property Organization to discuss the trend among world governments to consider open, nonproprietary technologies for their nations' needs. In Lessig's view, the Bush Administration's failure to insist that such a meeting be held, despite Microsoft's opposition to it, represents poor judgment that smacks of blatant pandering to the powers of Microsoft and its influence in Washington.

Expert Voices: Don Tapscott The Transparent Corporation
With Marcia Stepanek

Thanks to the digital revolution, people and institutions that interact with firms are gaining unprecedented access to all sorts of information about corporate behavior, operations and performance. Yet few companies are prepared to handle the new scrutiny from partners, suppliers, customers, employees and outside interests. This "transparency problem," says author and consultant Don Tapscott, is proving to be an increasingly costly one for many companies struggling to weather new levels of scrutiny and exposure. In an interview with Executive Editor Marcia Stepanek, Tapscott talks about what he calls "the naked corporation" and how IT executives can help their firms ease the discomfort.

Case Study: Sony Pictures Entertainment
By Janet Rae-Dupree

Just before Labor Day, Sony movie executives abruptly announced the departure of Sony Pictures Entertainment CIO Justin Yaros, and replaced him with John Stubbs, a former entertainment consultant who had been working with some of the big studios to develop antipiracy systems and digital rights management strategies—hot tickets in a business keen to avoid becoming Napsterized like the music industry. Nonetheless, Yaros' ouster surprised some IT veterans in Hollywood: Yaros had been an innovator and developed state-of-the-art, Net-powered marketing and distribution systems that continue to save millions for the company. West Coast business writer Janet Rae-Dupree takes a look at the change of guard in the IT department at Sony, and shows how it's only the latest upheaval in SPE's struggle to digitize one of the world's most rough-and-tumble businesses in an industry still seen as being big on schmooze and inimical to the rigors and promise of information technology.

Trend: Labor Pains
By Elizabeth Wasserman

Commoditization has come to information technology. More and more companies are outsourcing IT work and business processes to companies at home and abroad. Technology platforms are becoming increasingly standardized, and technologies such as utility and autonomous computing will only accelerate the outsourcing trend. That means fewer and fewer people will be required to run and maintain corporate IT systems. Indeed, says journalist Elizabeth Wasserman, the long-term outlook for IT employment in the U.S. is bleak. Smart CIOs will have to pay even more attention to how IT can serve business strategy—and make sure their lieutenants do the same. The goal: departments that can efficiently provide commodity IT while concentrating remaining resources on the cutting edge of technology strategy.

Research: IT Leadership
By the editors of CIO Insight

Most of the top IT executives we surveyed this month feel confident in the quality of their company's leadership, and say IT leaders can exert significant influence at the highest levels of their companies. The most critical experience for developing IT leaders? Acting as a liaison between IT and business units. Respondents also placed a high value on leadership-development training programs and deemed mentoring programs the most effective.

Strategic Technology: Going Wireless
By Gary A. Bolles

Enticed by low initial costs and cool features, people are buying smarter phones and more powerful PDAs to gain better access to remote applications and achieve more flexible communication. But along with such devices come major support headaches and little in the way of business infrastructure—the management policies and cost controls these devices demand. Contributing Editor Gary A. Bolles says IT must get busy creating ways for companies to allocate usage and manage billing, then focus on ways to simplify support costs. The good news: Technology can help solve some of the many thorny problems that technology creates.