CIO Symmetry

August 3, 2012  1:36 PM

London summer games CIO deploys piezoelectricity

Wendy Schuchart Wendy Schuchart Profile: Wendy Schuchart

TechTarget is a believer in fostering new talent in journalism. Welcome Miki Onwudinjo to the family as our new editorial assistant. 

CIOs are leaders in determining the direction of a business. When the London Organizing Committee for the Olympic Games (LOCOG) aimed to produce a zero-carbon, zero-waste event using energy-efficient technology, Gerry Pennell, CIO of the London summer games, used his IT expertise to help make the London summer games the greenest games ever.

Pennell deployed a combination of green IT technologies including piezoelectricity. Piezoelectricity occurs when pressure is applied to an object — a negative charge is produced on one side and a positive charge is produced on the other. Once pressure is relieved, electrical currents flow. Twelve 17.7″ X 23.6″ energy floor tiles lead visitors to Olympic Park. The kinetic energy harvested from over 12 million foot impressions will illuminate central LED floodlights 24 hours a day. This produces 2.1 watts of electricity per hour. The extra renewable energy is then stored in a lithium polymer battery for up to three days. It’s also sent via transmitter to power local street lights, displays and other off-grid applications.

On the surface, it sounds like one of those inventions that seems so simple in a “why didn’t I think of that?” kind of way. If someone told me I could step on a piece of rubber and generate light for three days, I never would have believed them. Now just imagine if all sidewalks, paths, corridors and floor spaces were constructed of piezoelectric tiles. This trending technology could be the key to helping CIOs run an energy-efficient and sustainable business. For example, the energy created from swivel chairs constantly rolling across piezoelectric tiles could operate low-power applications in offices. On a grand scale, a CIO could run an entire energy-savings system from the foot traffic of company employees.

These special rubber piezoelectric tiles are the handiwork of young London brainiac Laurence Kemball-Cook’s Pavegen Systems. The tiles are a great low-carbon solution. They are waterproof, last up to five years and are made from recycled trunk tires and some marine grade steel.

Kemball-Cook has installed his tiles as a dance floor at the music festival Bestival in Isle of Wright, England. Currently, he has 30 permanent installations in schools, shopping malls, city squares and now the 2012 London summer games. However, the piezoelectric device’s hybrid formula is a secret. Even the price per tile is kept a mystery. Kemball-Cook eventually wants to make his tiles practical for the real world and affordable to smaller markets.

Piezoelectricity isn’t a new concept.  The East Japan Railway Company in Japan experimented with piezoelectric flooring since 2006 at its main station. In 2010, the city of Toulouse, France, installed piezoelectric tiles in sidewalks to generate its street lamps. Israeli company Innowattech tested piezoelectricity on railroad tracks and highways.

While many of these examples come from organizations with deep pockets, smaller companies are employing piezoelectric technology today. For instance, some dance clubs capture the energy on a dance floor and use it to power LED lights.

CIOs drive an organization’s performance and end results, so it’s mission-critical for CIOs to be as engaged as possible with all aspects of the company, including the human element. Piezoelectricity might just be the green way for CIOs to involve employees in IT.

For instance, in my own work life, I’m in my own mindset at my desk. I sometimes forget that I work alongside a durable IT team. With piezoelectric flooring, I might feel more included in my company and the behind-the-scenes operations. There would no longer be an invisible shield between employees and the IT team. Transmitters connected to piezoelectric floor tiles could charge our office printers and power ceiling lights. Knowing that just walking from my desk to the break room could generate electricity would bring all the departments together. And, with that, midmarket CIOs could be one step closer to not only a more tightly knit company, but a smaller carbon footprint.

Miki Onwudinjo is a TechTarget editorial assistant and a journalism student at Northeastern University in Boston.

July 23, 2012  5:38 PM

Microsoft source code sexually harasses women in technology

Wendy Schuchart Wendy Schuchart Profile: Wendy Schuchart

Worried that you missed the latest news? Don’t be. We scour the Web and wrangle up the best and brightest from around the blogosphere. This week, we’re looking at the Cybersecurity Bill, creepy WiFi spying and women in technology.

From our latest CIO Matters column on Marissa Mayer’s new role at Yaoo: “Being a female CEO at all is kind of like being a zebra in a rodeo, but being a woman in technology leadership is like being a unicorn.”

The Cybersecurity Bill is alive and well in Congress. New regulations proposed will promise tougher protection of privacy and also authorizes the Department of Homeland Security to set “mandatory standards for critical infrastructure.”

Get your tinfoil hats out: WiFi can be used to detect human presence in a room, even if that person isn’t carrying a WiFi device. Can you say “creepy”?

Note to businesses and politicians: Don’t buy your Twitter followers. People will and do notice.

“When I was your age, portable computers weighed 55 pounds and cost more than a car! You didn’t put them on your lap unless you wanted a broken femur.”

Oh Microsoft. Thanks for making women in technology feel even more objectified.

July 2, 2012  4:44 PM

Leap second creates havoc for cloud computing services

Wendy Schuchart Wendy Schuchart Profile: Wendy Schuchart

Did the “leap second” get you down this weekend? Did the Amazon cloud computing services outage prevent you from watching old episodes of Louie on your iPad’s Netflix app? Us too. Between all of the service outages this weekend, you might have missed some prime Internet surfing time. Don’t worry: We’ve got your back. We’ve gathered up all the choicest bits of news and blog posts from around the Web so that you won’t miss a thing.

CIOs looking to harness the power of talent retention should look no further than Apple’s low-paid workers. Wait, something doesn’t sound right about that plan.

Got a BlackBerry? You’re quickly becoming an endangered user.

Did you think Dell had slowed down with the buyouts? Silly reader. Dell is acquiring Quest Software this week.

CIOs got heart, too. Check out the CIO Scholarship Fund event to help future IT leaders with tuition.

The leap second caused outages on many sites over the weekend, like Reddit, BuzzFeed, Gawker, LinkedIn and Yelp, plus scores of Linux sites. Bad news for lovers of cloud computing services. You’ll be happy to know that the TechTarget network was just fine.

And if the leap second wasn’t bad enough, real storm clouds knocked out Amazon’s data center, wiping swaths of the Internet’s cloud computing services with it, including Netflix, Instagram and Pinterest.

At this month’s SearchCIO360 dinner, we met Seth Kutty, director of IT at Tesla Motors, one of the ten companies that are changing the world. Don’t miss our upcoming dinners in Chicago and Boston!

June 26, 2012  4:57 PM

Yammer does little to boost Microsoft’s enterprise collaboration wares

Scot Petersen Scot Petersen Profile: Scot Petersen

So, with its $1.2 billion acquisition of Yammer, Microsoft confirms its desire to become a player in “enterprise social.” My question is, since when was the company not all about enterprise collaboration?

Windows has been enterprises’ de facto collaboration platform for the last 20 years. It’s had hooks into instant messaging (Windows Messenger), messaging and collaboration (Outlook and SharePoint), and even cloud services (Windows Live services) for a long time. But maybe a lot of that “old” software now is starting to hold Microsoft back.

If you listen to the rhetoric from Redmond following the Yammer acquisition, you’d think none of those legacy platforms mattered. Yammer makes a difference because, as CEO Steve Ballmer points out, it “underscores our commitment to deliver technology that businesses need and people love.”

The company shelled out $8.5 billion for Skype just about a year ago. Besides being the leader in Internet video and phone calls, Skype has a great chat feature. Now, with Yammer, that makes three chat platforms in the Microsoft arsenal.

Maybe this is about making sure that the ready-to-be-released Windows 8 operating system and Surface tablets have the most recent collaboration software, without having to rejigger existing software or develop new applications.

But let’s understand one thing: Microsoft will have a place in enterprise collaboration for a long time to come, given its install base and the remnants of enterprise computing that will remain tethered to a desktop or laptop. However, it’s no longer the king of collaboration, with Apple, Google and Facebook, among others, having claimed huge numbers of users who have changed their ways of doing things forever.

June 22, 2012  9:31 AM

Study explores Internet consumers’ new mobile device use

Sarah Blanchette Profile: Sarah Blanchette

According to a recent worldwide survey of mobile device use, 36% of global consumers said that they now own a smartphone; that’s a 15% increase since 2010. Also according to the survey, 9% of respondents will “definitely” purchase a smartphone within the next year, and 12% will “probably” purchase a smartphone in 2012 — meaning that a whopping 57% of global consumers potentially will own a smartphone within the next year.

Since 2010, there has been a marked growth in online and mobile technologies. According to the survey, 74% of respondents reported watching videos on the Internet, and 56% of consumers said they watch videos on their mobile phones at least once a month. With more users watching video on computers, online or on mobile phones, home television use dropped 7% between 2010 and 2011.

The Nielsen Co.’s Global Online Consumers and Multi-Screen Media report surveyed more than 28,000 Internet consumers in 56 countries to analyze their multi-screen media use, device ownership and purchasing intentions, as well as to gauge how they see mobile technology’s role in the future.

Using smartphones to make purchases in stores instead of cash, cards or checks also has the potential for market share. About 11% of the consumers Nielsen surveyed said they “definitely” would use their smartphones to make payments in shops and restaurants if the option was available, and 24% said that they “probably” would.

“The impact of mobile technology can be felt around the globe and touches all aspects of life, from entertainment and shopping to business and personal communication,” said Amilcar Pérez, president of telecommunications for Nielsen.

Because of the increasing popularity of smartphones and new trends in mobile device use, are tablets next? As of 2012, 31% of global consumers either own or reported they were planning to purchase a tablet device within the next year. In the United States, a similar survey among owners of tablets and digital readers has followed the same pattern, increasing from 18% in December 2010 to 29% in January 2012.

June 18, 2012  5:01 PM

Web censorship: Should you be alarmed?

Wendy Schuchart Wendy Schuchart Profile: Wendy Schuchart

Each week, we scour the Web looking for the choicest bits of blogs and news that midmarket CIOs will find appealing. This week, we’re taking a hard look at Web censorship, the Google Nexus release and how big data is fueling smartphone apps in ways you’d never imagine.

Google reports an alarming rise in Web censorship by international governments in the last six months, according to its latest reports. The surprising thing is that most of those requests are coming from democracies.

Take one guess at the most important demographic in the tech industry. Now guess again, because your first guess was probably wrong.

Most of us have SoundHound or Shazam on our smartphones to help us play the “What’s that song?” game when out and about. But most users never realize that their smartphone apps are fueled by big data.

Got employees that work the 24/7 shift? Not the best strategy for success.

If you have stock in Nokia, you probably don’t want to read Andy Blumenthal’s latest.

Big bonus for the gadget-crazed among us: It’s rumored that Google’s first Android tablet will be called the Asus Nexus 7. Kind of rolls off your tongue, doesn’t it?

Speaking of tablets, Microsoft will not be announcing a partnership with Barnes & Noble this afternoon. Sorry, Charlie.

A proposed new Web censorship status code 451 would pay homage to recently deceased science-fiction writer Ray Bradbury.

June 12, 2012  8:02 PM

The role of the CIO is changing: What is your company doing about it?

Scot Petersen Scot Petersen Profile: Scot Petersen

I am going through the data from the second annual Role of the CIO survey. So far, the data suggests more skewing toward business transformation and innovation and away from “traditional” senior IT roles, such as supporting predefined business initiatives. More on that in the next few weeks.

And as we have been writing about here in the CIO/IT Strategy Media Group for some time now, the “new” CIO is many things to many different companies. But our news director did a little digging into just exactly what kinds of skills companies are asking for in their top IT executives, and the answers are very interesting.

Here’s a sampling:

  • The vertical virtuoso
  • The enforcer
  • The protector
  • The translator
  • The negotiator

Not only do they sound like some real or potential Hollywood action flicks, these job skills show how intertwined the CIO and senior IT have become in the inner workings of the business as a whole. Non-IT executives should remember that when they are looking for ways to transform their businesses for today’s uncertain markets.

June 11, 2012  8:24 PM

The Apple Retina display: Big whoop?

Wendy Schuchart Wendy Schuchart Profile: Wendy Schuchart

Each week, we round up an executive summary of the high points around the blogosphere. This week, we’re taking a look at the legality of Internet traffic regulation and how the big Internet companies deal with change haters. For gadget lovers, we’re also looking at the new Apple Retina display, the new Google tablet and whether ultrabooks have a hope of replacing tablet devices in the BYOD landscape.

June 5, 2012  3:13 PM

Let’s not go overboard about Flame malware

Scot Petersen Scot Petersen Profile: Scot Petersen

Similar to nuclear war scenarios, the most significant damage the recently discovered Flame malware will inflict comes from its fallout rather than from the initial blast.

The seriousness of Flame is real: Flame and the Duqu and Stuxnet malware are capable of attacking national critical infrastructure. The U.S. used Stuxnet against Iran’s nuclear program, which, given the many alternatives, seems like a pretty good idea. The same virus programs, however, could be used against any system that attackers wanted to target, including those in the U.S., and put millions of people at risk.

On the other hand, experts say there isn’t anything special about Flame and that it can be easily defended against with conventional security tools and policies. Microsoft this week revoked fraudulent certificates used by the Flame malware toolkit. Some experts say there is a bigger threat to businesses from application-level exploits by individual hackers than from the Flame-category cyberespionage attacks.

Two points are emerging in the wake of the discovery of Flame. One is (needless) panic; the second is a call for international treaties banning cyberwarfare. A big push for this is coming from Eugene Kaspersky, an influential security expert and founder of Russian antivirus company Kaspersky Labs, and the Russian government. Both entities are well populated with talented malware security experts, both legitimate and criminal.

As we have learned over the past decade, the best policy for security is openness. If we start making any kind of code or use of code illegal, we are going to have more problems than the threat of cyberattack. As the saying goes, if you outlaw guns, only outlaws will have guns.

June 4, 2012  10:35 AM

Corporate innovation: Why you’re never going to win

Wendy Schuchart Wendy Schuchart Profile: Wendy Schuchart

We scoured last week’s blogs for the best and brightest blog posts and media on topics of interest to midmarket CIOs. This week we’re examining the problems that plague midsize corporations, like middle-management tar pits and stuck organizations. We also look at the challenge of constant corporate innovation, as the Chief Innovation Officer must be a problem-solver as well as a visionary. Here are the high points of the braintrust that caught our editors’ eyes last week.

With Facebook’s disappointing IPO fallout, Allen Gannett has declared that the social media bubble has officially been popped. No offense, Allen, but we’re going to hold off on last rites for a bit.

Gartner has its own Gandalf in Mark P. McDonald, and he thinks that a CIO’s main problem is too few managers and too many administrators.

Are you willing to ignore dissent in your user community? If not, you might be stuck, according to Seth Godin.

CIOs are always chasing corporate innovation, but how do you measure the speed at which you chase it? Check out the Innovation Ambition Matrix.

Why do we innovate? Because you innovate or you die, says blogger Stefano Boscutti.

There are four zones for corporate innovation: Where does your team fall on Jim Kalbach’s scale?

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