Our August Issue, in Brief:

By CIOinsight  |  Posted 08-05-2005
Strong Signals: Bit by Bit
By John Parkinson
At the present rate of innovation, by 2020 or so, technologists should be able to store one bit of information in one atom. But demand for storage space is growing at least as quickly; in fact, even if every atom of the earth were able to store one bit, notes columnist John Parkinson, we still wouldn't have enough atoms to meet the demand projected by 2020. That means both enterprises and people are going to have to develop better long-term strategies for information lifecycle management. Among them: keeping less, compressing more, and automating the whole process.

Synchronicity: Learning from Experience
By Marianne Broadbent
Why, asks columnist Marianne Broadbent, is it so hard for executives at many U.S. companies to integrate what they learn from their people around the world into their IT strategies? Broadbent believes there is much to be learned by drawing on the rich experiences of employees overseas—about how to innovate and to improve customer offerings in every country in which they operate. The goal is to learn to look around at the everyday use of technology worldwide, think about how those ideas might be applied at home, and then work to turn those ideas into greater business value.

Expert Voices: Thomas Davenport
With Allan Alter
Knowledge workers—people who create, distribute or apply knowledge—are performing well below their potential, says Thomas Davenport, professor of information technology and management at Babson College. That's in part because while companies work hard at assessing knowledge workers before hiring them, they do little to help them improve their performance or use the IT resources given to them. In this interview with Executive Editor Allan Alter, Davenport suggests creating job-specific information systems that provide the information knowledge workers need while they do their jobs, and finding ways to measure the performance of knowledge workers that are actually helpful, not annoying.

Trends: Web Marketing
By Edward Cone
The well-hyped promise of one-to-one marketing through detailed personalization of Web sites is but a distant memory now. But clever marketers haven't given up on the Web's promise. The latest innovation involves creating "personas": imaginary demographic and psychological portraits of a variety of segments of a company's customer base that allows marketers and Web designers to target customer-oriented Web sites to those segments. The results? Companies report greater use of their Web sites and greater use of the tools available to customers. Meanwhile, companies can collect even more detailed information on their Web site visitors.

Case Study: Blockbuster Inc.
By Janet Rae-Dupree
Under attack from competitors and shareholders alike, Blockbuster is betting big on a series of initiatives intended to breathe life into its dying rental business. A new online subscription service, designed to go up against Netflix, is the lynchpin of a four-pronged strategy that also includes a DVD trade-in program, video game rentals, and the ever-controversial "No More Late Fees" campaign. All of which means that it's been a whirlwind first year for newly named CIO John Polizzi, who has had to keep up with the IT demands of this rapidly changing market, says business writer Janet Rae-Dupree.

Research: Mobility
By Allan Alter
Mobile and wireless technologies are no longer just a convenience; for 72 percent of the companies that support mobile technology, they have become a strategic necessity. According to the 357 IT executives who responded to this month's survey, improving business processes, not personal productivity, is the most important business goal of mobile devices. IT executives at companies where mobility is essential to business strategy are now using wireless devices and services to capture and analyze data more effectively, reduce cycle times and improve analytics, invoicing and inventory management. Unfortunately, over 40 percent of IT executives say mobile technologies have also made their company less secure than it was a year ago.

Strategic Technology: Compliance
By Debra D'Agostino
As painful as it has been for virtually every public company to comply with Sarbanes-Oxley, there are some early indications that the widely reviled reform legislation is actually working. Companies are tightening up their financial controls and even weeding out fraud. The problem is that it costs too darn much. In year two of the SOX saga, the focus is on reducing the costs of compliance and accepting the process as just another cost of doing business. Companies have two less-than-compelling choices when it comes to easing the pain, notes reporter Debra D'Agostino: auditors or software vendors.