CIO Symmetry

June 25, 2008  2:15 PM

Microsoft Windows XP users need a shoulder to cry on

Glen Weaver Profile: The Weave

Apparently, customers are supposed to be happy that Microsoft is going to support its most successful OS for another six years.

If you haven’t already, you really should take a look at Microsoft Senior Vice President Bill Veghte’s letter telling customers that yes, they’re going to have to take Windows Vista sooner or later.

As a PR man, Veghte is masterful. It as if he begins by rubbing a hand on the crying customer’s back, a pat here and there, assuring him that “It’s alright, we’re going to issue Windows XP updates until April 2014.”

“So I can keep buying computers with XP?” the hopeful customer asks, lifting his reddened eyes from his palms and turning his head toward Veghte, who is crouched next to him.

“Well, no,” Veghte says. “But you can buy Vista and then maybe Dell or HP will help you downgrade to XP. When you realize we’re not exactly staying up at night working on XP updates, you can just come back to Vista.”

“Oh,” he adds. “Did you know Windows 7 will be out in about 18 months? It’s really great. And it runs on the same architecture as Vista, so even though you’ll just then finally be migrated to Vista, it won’t be as much work to get into the new OS.”

“Well, if you put it that way,” the customer says, his crying subsiding, “I guess I’ll just get on with my Vista migration now.”

Is Vista security better? Yes, probably. Does it support most critical applications? Yep.

Still, customers aren’t clamoring for it. So Microsoft will just keep forcing it on them. Last day for new XP machines is Monday.

“Windows Vista was a very ambitious release,” Veghte writes in his four-page letter.

And writing a novel is a very ambitious plan for me. But I don’t kick open my roommate’s bedroom door, point an automatic pistol at him, make him read the thing and then make him beg – nay, scream – for a sequel.

June 24, 2008  3:24 PM

Bill Gates’ not so big exit

Glen Weaver Profile: The Weave

Legacies are a funny thing.

Take Hugh Grant. Director Richard Curtis, in the DVD commentary to his film Love Actually, claims a shot of Grant bowing on stage will be the final image in the actor’s nightly news obituary someday.

Grant, also on the commentary, disagrees. He expects the big fadeout will be his 1995 mug shot.

Bill Gates has managed to avoid such an embarrassing stain, but how he’ll be recalled is still up in the air.

Increasingly, it seems Gates – who leaves his full-time job at Microsoft this week – will be remembered for his philanthropy.

Here’s the first line of Gates’ Wikipedia biography: “William Henry Gates III (born October 28, 1955), is an American business magnate, philanthropist, the world’s third richest man (as of 2008), and chairman of Microsoft, the software company he founded with Paul Allen.”

Those outside the technology world are apt to think of Gates as “The guy that dropped out of Harvard, started Microsoft and then gave away a lot of his money.”

Inside tech, he’s more often the guy that makes “love to hate, hate to love” sort of products. And somewhere in the recesses of everybody’s memory is that time he was accused of trying to make everybody buy them.

Gates has hit the interview circuit pretty hard this week. These aren’t exit interviews in the traditional sense. We certainly haven’t heard the last of Bill Gates (“I’m not a sit-on-the-beach type,” he told the Seattle Post-Intelligencer).

And even though he won’t be inside Microsoft and claims he won’t return, we’ll likely still see Gates pitch H-1B visas on Capitol Hill and acting as a tech industry bellwether.

Judging from a quick skim of the interviews, Gates seems to be pretty well in control of his legacy. Not everybody will always love the guy at the top. But barring any run-ins with Divine Brown, his obit is looking pretty clean.

June 23, 2008  1:27 PM

MSM Monday Roundup

Glen Weaver Profile: The Weave

Nicholas Carr writes in The Atlantic this month that Google – the entire Internet, really – is making us “stupid.”

Carr argues the quick-skip culture of search, Web surfing and short-form writing may actually be rewiring our brains. He believes it has happened to him and now he has trouble “immersing myself in a book or lengthy article.”

Oh yeah, Nick? Then how come for the second week in a row I’m using the mainstream media roundup to link to long magazine articles?

It’s not as if I just skimmed over John Seabrook’s fascinating look at advances in voice recognition software in The New Yorker. And our readers can’t either, because the magazine hasn’t posted it on the website.

And just Saturday I plowed through all of Ian McEwan’s Amsterdam, which has nothing to do with technology and does not mention 2001: A Space Odyssey (film or book) a single time.

That said, I’ve been having major problems sitting still to watch movies and even half-hour TV programs. If that’s Google’s fault, then I owe Google a big thank you.

June 19, 2008  12:15 AM

Notes from CIO Decisions 2008

Glen Weaver Profile: The Weave

I know this sounds like self-promotion, seeing as I work for TechTarget and all, but CIO Decisions is pretty freaking great.

For those that don’t know, the whole gist of this conference is that we get about 200 midmarket CIOs together for a three-day conference (four if you include golf as a conference activity). The presenters are almost all midmarket CIOs. There are plenty of networking opportunities. The whole thing is one big peer immersion exercise.

When you work in IT, that can be pretty refreshing. This is one of those great situations where you can complain about your boss and nobody thinks you’re whining. Everybody gets it. Everybody else deals with it.

In fact, one of the big topics of conversation at the show is how CIOs can put themselves “at the table,” as it were. Opening keynote speaker Susan Cramm argued that CIOs should delegate tasks away to business units, allowing IT to focus on truly transformational projects. I watched two great roundtable discussions about CIOs taking the lead on business continuity and disaster recovery.

Frankly, I don’t see how business continuity became a CIO’s job in the first place. It certainly isn’t just about keeping the computers running. Yet, to a man (and lets be honest, these are mostly men) the CIOs I’ve talked to aren’t just ready to revamp their business continuity plans. They’re practically demanding to. And they’re ticked that their bosses aren’t listening.

Last night was the Midmarket IT Leadership Awards dinner. My bosses had the mind to delay the awards until the end of Game 6. That worked out well because:

a) Celtics destroyed.
b) The game was shown on big screens in the ballroom at the La Costa Resort and Spa.
c) Everybody was in a good mood, unless they were Lakers fans, in which case we’re not really concerned about their mood.

Go to this page here to learn about the 10 CIOs whose vision and hard work earned them one of the awards.

And be sure to be checking over the next few weeks as we post content from the conference. I’m working on a few stories and have also filmed interviews with forward-thinking CIOs.

June 17, 2008  12:34 AM

Monday Round-up: CIO Decisions edition

Glen Weaver Profile: The Weave

Howdy from Carlsbad, Calif. We just got in for CIO Decisions today and we’re ready for a week of good tips, discussion and leadership recognition.

For those of you who don’t know, the CIO Decisions conference is an annual summit for midmarket CIOs held annually by the CIO Decisions Media Group (that’s us!) at TechTarget.

The centerpiece of the three day event is the CIO Decisions Midmarket Leadership Awards ceremony, which will be held tomorrow night. The awards are given to CIOs to recognize innovative IT projects that have shown true leadership and helped move companies forward. Be sure to check on Wednesday to read interviews and listen to podcasts held with each of the ten winners.

In the meantime, we’ve noticed the big mags turning an eye to the web recently, though it is a little consumer heavy.

Vanity Fair this month dropped an oral history of the Internet, complete with Rolling Stone Editor Jann Wenner claiming he saw the first hyperlink.

Not to be outdone, Wenner’s own mag just chimed in with a story looking at that whole “Did Mark Zuckerberg steal Facebook from someone else at Harvard?” question. Haven’t read it yet, but we will.

June 12, 2008  7:24 PM

Calling FedEx out

Glen Weaver Profile: The Weave

Sometimes you hear something and think: “Hey, that can’t be true.”

Take this statement from FedEx Corp. CIO Rob Carter at his Enterprise 2.0 Conference keynote this week.

“There’s also a cool new Facebook application. It’s the No. 1 Facebook application right now, called Launch a Package.” (Video of the keynote.)

Hold on. This is the CIO of a $35 billion revenue company. He is the opening keynote speaker at an Enterprise 2.0 conference. Does he not understand Facebook? Why would he say something so blatantly untrue?

Launch a Package is a FedEx-built Facebook toy that lets users “launch” packages of photos, videos, messages and attachments at their friends. FedEx wins here because it builds brand recognition among an age group that doesn’t feel too strongly about the FedEx vs. UPS debate.

Launch a Package has about 1,107 daily active users. Compare this with Super Wall, which has nearly 2.5 million active daily users.

I don’t know what criteria Carter is using to deem Launch a Package “the No. 1 Facebook application right now.” Perhaps he meant “No. 1 Facebook application I’m mentioning in my speech.”

June 12, 2008  7:05 PM

Weekly Wrap-up

Glen Weaver Profile: The Weave

What we did this week:

Took Google’s Rishi Chandra a little too literally and destroyed every server in the building.

Gave up on that dream job that lets us play on Facebook and blog all day.

Got us one of them new Essential Business Servers. Because, really, who needs a VAR anyway?

What we’re doing this weekend:

Not that anyone cares, but Syracuse from the air is pretty nice this time of year.

Oh, and we’re packing for CIO Decisions. Because Southern California is pretty nice, too.

June 11, 2008  8:09 PM

More (final) thoughts from Enterprise 2.0 Conference in Boston

Glen Weaver Profile: The Weave

Where are the users!?!?! No, seriously. There have been a few guys on stage presenting their companies’ Enterprise 2.0 strategies. Some are very interesting. Some, not so much. But I thought this was the big year. So how come I’ve got one vendor complaining to me that he got one lead yesterday. He needs something like five to seal the deal. I ran into a guy from Florida this morning who is looking for a social networking platform for his company. He hasn’t found one he liked, though. Everybody else is just like me, which is to say they’re here to write and talk about Enterprise 2.0, not to use it.

Speaking of, can you imagine a conference show full of vendors with no one to sell to? I’m imagining some no-rules Lord of the Flies thing, where they all pitch to each other while trying to knock their brethren off their booths. It’s madness down there.

Continued »

June 10, 2008  7:57 PM

Quick thoughts from the Enterprise 2.0 Conference in Boston

Glen Weaver Profile: The Weave

FedEx Corp. CIO Rob Carter opens with a zinger: “I think if we did this conference where I’m from [Memphis] people would still be stumbling in from Beale Street right about now.” Actually, Rob, if they did this conference in Memphis, I’d just stay on Beale Street and deal with the consequences later. It’s Memphis. It’s awesome. End of story.

Carter jets for early Sox game, moved up to accommodate one-two punch with Celtics. All of Boston expected to be stumbling.

The fact that the CIA is managing an intelligence community version of Wikipedia is so cool I can barely stand it. Intellipedia leaders Don Burke and Sean Dennehy demo the unclassified version, which began with a page collecting government acronyms. Can we get the top-secret version into the next Bourne movie? Thanks.

Enterprise 2.0 is all about collaboration, and Dennehy uses this to pull off the rare IT conference joke that is actually funny. Describing the in-agency resistance to Intellipedia, he remarks: “In the intelligence community, we still call spies collaborators.”

Actually, this whole thing doesn’t really feel like an IT conference. It feels more like an insular group of startups, marketers, press and general ‘in’ folk. That’s fine. But it speaks to the infancy of the idea of Enterprise 2.0. There are no naysayers here. Everybody’s on board with the idea, and they’re trying to make it work.

You know how else I know this isn’t an IT conference? There are women here. Not as many as there are men, but the scales are certainly tipped a bit more toward equality.

Oh, and I can’t let this one go: All morning we heard about connectivity, collaboration and the cloud. We heard about all the great things businesses can do on the Web. And the Westin hotel’s Wi-Fi was acting up. Hey, I’m all for Enterprise 2.0. But it’s no good to me without an Internet connection.

June 9, 2008  6:41 PM

A spare second for Microsoft SharePoint

Glen Weaver Profile: The Weave

Last week, I wrote for about this week’s Enterprise 2.0 conference and the possibility that 2008 may be a watershed year for the E2.0 (lingo!) thing.

Anyway, one guy wrote to me and pointed out that I neglected to mention Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007.

He’s got a point. Although the story didn’t need to bring up SharePoint, it probably should have. He referred me to a Forrester Research Inc. report that claims Sharepoint will “steamroll the market.”

Well, yes, I suppose it pretty much has and pretty much will. I went back to the notes I took when speaking with Joshua Holbrook, director of enterprise research at Yankee Group Research Inc.

Here’s Holbrook on SharePoint: “The one that certainly gets the most hype is Microsoft SharePoint.”

And: “They’re essentially giving it away for free … to large enterprises.”

I’m not convinced I was exactly derelict when I skipped over SharePoint in that story. But in the interest of mending fences, I’ll gladly mention here that Microsoft this morning announced a bunch of new SharePoint partners.

I’m a little bit 1984ed by blueKiwi Software’s promise to provide an “aggregated view of all conversations happening across the entire enterprise.” (According to Microsoft’s press release).

The other partnerships all seem reasonable and useful.

Microsoft’s other SharePoint news today is the release of the PKS (Podcasting Kit for SharePoint). This is part of Microsoft’s “commitment to bring the latest innovating trends of social networking technologies to its customers and partners.” I especially like Microsoft’s insistence that the PKS works on “[Microsoft} Zune [MP3 player] devices” and “any other devices that play podcasts.” What, there’s no major player in the MP3 game?

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