Our January Issue, In Brief

By CIOinsight  |  Posted 01-06-2006
Opinion: The Legal Jungle
Why Johnny Can't Stop Sharing Files
By Larry Downes
Given that 72 percent of young adults in the U.S. who use the Internet say "they do not care whether the music they download onto their computers is copyrighted or not," the concept of copyright, in the view of columnist Larry Downes, is dead. After all, any law that is ignored by nearly every young adult in the country is no law at all. Does it matter? Yes, says Downes, for two reasons. Those same young adults will enter the workforce with a very different paradigm of how information should be valued and exchanged. And what's happened in entertainment could easily spread to the software industry—with dire consequences.

Expert Voices: Geoffrey Moore
Core Values
With Ellen Pearlman and Edward Baker
Innovation means little if all those wonderful new products and services never see the light of day. In the view of consultant, venture capitalist and author Geoffrey Moore, whose new book, Dealing with Darwin, has just been published, getting a real return on innovation requires an investment strategy that can fund your innovation efforts consistently, moving resources from commodity production to core innovation as needed, and developing a people strategy that aligns those investment efforts with the best skills of all your employees. Says Moore: "It's time for a new set of rules. What Darwinism says is either evolve or get marginalized."

Case Study: Avnet Inc.
By the Book
By Edward Cone
Avnet Inc. became the world's largest distributor of electronic components by purchasing dozens of companies. Along the way, it compiled a formidable knowledge management tool, known as the "Cookbook," that covers in great detail how best to integrate all those purchases, from sales, governance and IT issues to risk-management strategies to matters of culture and people. Documenting such procedures has allowed Avnet executives not just to save time and money when buying companies, but also to focus on the big picture: how best to move into Asia, the last frontier for consolidation in the global components industry.

Trend: Microcommerce
Pennies from Heaven
By Debra D'Agostino
There's big money in small transactions. But the preferred method of payment for microcommerce—all those small-ticket items that cost less than $5—has always been cash, a cumbersome and increasingly rare commodity. But a combination of lower credit card processing fees, and new methods of aggregating small payments, has spawned a new age of micropayments, where cash is no longer king. The affect on retailers and consumers will be significant, says Senior Reporter Debra D'Agostino, increasing the frequency and dollar amount of these small sales, while generating a host of new business models.

Strategic Technology: Virtualization
A Virtue in Simplicity
By Karen S. Henrie
No company should put up with the levels of overcapacity and inefficiency that exist in the typical corporate IT department. Among the many strategies for mitigating the problem is virtualization—of servers, storage and other IT assets. The concept is simple: Use software to create "virtual" assets that can be used to run applications efficiently or manage data storage flexibly. Business journalist Karen S. Henrie reports that virtualization's early promise has pretty much come true. But problems remain: Integrating and managing virtual assets, and then measuring the benefits, has by no means been perfected.

Research: Leadership
Are You the Leader You Think You Are?
By Allan Alter
Almost all CIOs who responded to this month's survey think of themselves as strong leaders, and most other respondents agree—in general. But the devil is in the details: Other executives and IT personnel give significantly lower leadership scores than CIOs give themselves, especially in such areas as anticipating and preventing problems, sensitivity to others, and dealing directly with difficult people issues. CIOs must improve their leadership skills, and to do so they need to work hard on those people skills. Creating and supporting more rigorous leadership development programs, the study suggests, would help.