Executive Briefs: November 2003

Strong Signals: The Ultranet
By John Parkinson

Three trends—RFID tags, wireless mesh networks and ultracompact PCs—are
converging and will soon transform the way people use computers, says columnist
John Parkinson, who’s also the chief technologist for the Americas at Cap Gemini
Ernst & Young. The result: a pocket-size personal computer that will perform secure
transactions over the Internet, allow for peer-to-peer collaboration, act as a
personal Web site, and store immense amounts of personal data, from credit-card
records to movies and music.

Organizational Behavior: The Enemy Next Door
By Robert I. Sutton

Can too much in-house rivalry among coworkers be a good thing? Not if your management
style demands teamwork yet pits one employee against another, says columnist Robert
I. Sutton, codirector for the Center for Work, Technology and Organization at
Stanford University. One remedy: Reward people for supporting, not undermining,

Case Study: Amazon.com
By Mary E. Behr

In October, for the first time in its eight-year history, Amazon.com Inc. reported
a profitable quarter that wasn’t driven by holiday shopping, and its shares are
up 200 percent since the beginning of the year. Yet the online retailer is by
no means home free, says technology journalist Mary E. Behr. Sales growth appears
to be slowing, so going forward the company must make good on its promise of technological
prowess—offering its back-end online capabilities to other retailers. Can
Amazon pull it off? So far, Amazon appears to be much better at selling books
than, say, apparel. The jury is still out on this trial, but the story holds lessons
for every company eager to profit from IT.

Trend: Midsize Matters
By Jeffrey Rothfeder

Until recently, small and medium-size companies have lagged in the strategic use
of IT. But now they’re spending more money than their bigger brethren to catch
up, despite the economic slowdown of the past three years. Companies that do this
well, says Contributing Editor Jeffrey Rothfeder, carefully choose technologies
for their ability to differentiate the adopter from rivals and then make sure
they provide the business value they were designed to provide, measuring results
every step of the way.

Research: Outsourcing
By the editors of CIO Insight

Outsourcing has become a mainstream practice, with 70 percent of companies sending
their IT work outside the company. Even offshore outsourcing is now a fact of
life for 25 percent of companies. But is the information technology work that’s
outsourced being done well? This month’s survey indicates that all too often,
it’s not. Of the 663 IT executives we surveyed, about one-third are very satisfied,
while more than 45 percent say they are, to some degree, satisfied with the performance
of their vendors. Where is there room for improvement? Many respondents cite quality
problems, missed deadlines and higher-than-expected costs. In fact, one out of
20 firms has sued an outsourcing vendor. Meanwhile, IT executives at large companies
report disruptions among employees who fear that outsourcing will lead to fewer

Strategic Technology: Combating Spam
By Gary A. Bolles

It’s unlikely that the plague of spam will ever go away completely. Sadly, there’s
no single technological cure. Software is available that will stem the flow of
spam, but if the screws are turned too tightly, the risk of blocking out legitimate
e-mails rises. Companies need to devise a comprehensive antispam strategy to make
significant headway in the spam war, says Contributing Editor Gary A. Bolles.
First, review your e-mail policies to keep company e-mails out of the hands of
spammers and to stem the tide of internal spam. Then put together a security plan
that not only addresses spam, but includes shields against viruses, worms and
other network threats.

CIO Insight Staff
CIO Insight Staff
CIO Insight offers thought leadership and best practices in the IT security and management industry while providing expert recommendations on software solutions for IT leaders. It is the trusted resource for security professionals who need network monitoring technology and solutions to maintain regulatory compliance for their teams and organizations.

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