CIO Symmetry

April 16, 2008  4:59 PM

The greatest CIO threat of all time: Women and chocolate

Roger Crawford Roger Crawford Profile: Roger Crawford

A survey by Infosecurity Europe has found that CIOs in the midmarket may have to start preparing for the greatest threat of all time: women and a love of chocolate. InfoSec recently polled 576 office workers in the U.K. and found that 45% of women are willing to give away their password to strangers offering chocolate, as opposed to 10% of men. On the whole, however, employees are less likely this year to Nestle (Tollhouse) up with information thieves, as the number of offenders dropped from 64% to 21%.

But still, of that 21%, the vast majority is women.

These clever social engineers — you might call them the Three Musketeers of data thievery — didn’t stop by simply offering chocolate for passwords. In order to make the breach more harming, these Baby Ruths of deception also asked office workers for names, dates of birth and telephone numbers. The payoff? The possibility of winning a trip to Paris which, surely, is worth a 100 Grand.

Clearly, these survey results are eliciting Snickers around the world today.

I’m amazed that so many women in the Milky Way were swayed by that sort of tomfoolery.

Just imagine the Butterfingers these people must have to let their passwords slip away.

Too much? I could keep going. I’ve got Mounds of material. Ha!

Maybe I shouldn’t be too hard on these password perps. Sometimes, at 3 p.m., with the end of the day drawing near, I’d sell my password for a delicious Toblerone.

So here’s the message to you, my midmarket CIOs: Be thankful these clever researchers didn’t offer male employees beer.

It’s also worth noting that someone actually paid money to conduct this survey. I’m not sure who the real suckers are.

April 15, 2008  5:04 PM

Top five rookie CIO mistakes

Roger Crawford Roger Crawford Profile: Roger Crawford

In an article published April 13, Todd McGregor, managing director of Forrester Middle East, laid out his “Top five CIO mistakes.”

Here’s an abbreviated list:

  1.  Conflicting culture and structure.
  2. A management style that conflicts with IT goals.
  3. Metrics that don’t support the direction of IT.
  4. Weakened strategic functions.
  5. Overly fragmented functional groups.

 (To see the full list, check out McGregor’s article with his explanations and examples.)

Far be it from me to pick a bone with a Forrester analyst — especially a managing director — but that list seems a little simplistic. It could be that he’s addressing enterprise CIOs as opposed to CIOs in the midmarket, but it seems like each of those mistakes boils down to simple management flaws.

It could be a function of being too far removed from the IT department itself, but, really? Metrics that don’t support the direction of IT? Someone who is in charge of managing and directing technology for a company doesn’t know which metrics should be pulled and what data needs to be analyzed? I’m sure that is a top mistake for a CIO — assuming they’re making that mistake at all. C-level employees reach that position for a reason, and while employees might think that most CIOs are clueless when it comes to daily operations, being that far out of touch should be grounds for firing.

Look, McGregor does make some salient points about the general strategies that CIOs should use while running their departments. They just strike me as a little obvious. Feel free to disagree.

In the meanwhile, I’d like to humbly submit my top five rookie CIO mistakes.

  1. Not wearing pants to work.
  2. Parking in the CEO’s spot –this is still IT, after all.
  3. Telling the facility manager he “missed a spot.”
  4. Ordering the tuna salad with extra pickles in the cafeteria.
  5. Contracting Rent-A-Center to redesign the data center.

April 14, 2008  9:23 PM

Skip the goo

Roger Crawford Glen Weaver Profile: The Weave

Last week I wrote something about how I hate meetings.

I also hate the dentist.

Not personally. My guy’s real nice and all. But he makes my mouth hurt. And he bears bad news. And he costs a lot of money.

My teeth are about 30 years older than the rest of my body, the legacy of a childhood addiction to Pepsi, the vilest of drugs.

So I’m well acquainted with the sinking feeling that comes with a tooth cracking off. Time for another crown.

Thanks to the Lava Chairside Oral Scanner, that whole horrible process just became a lot easier.

Briefly, your dentist can now skip the whole “bite on this goo and let it run down your throat while I watch TV for a few minutes” step of making a tooth impression. Instead, the dentist painlessly waves a small wand to create a digital scan of the offending tooth.

The data gets tossed off to Brontes Technologies, the division of 3M Co. that created the Lava, which sends it to a lab where the new crown is built.

So not only do patients skip the goo, but the crown is both a better fit and is ready sooner than it would be if the dentist had to mail a mold out and wait for the crown to come back.

The Boston Globe put together a nice, to-the-point article about the Lava. It’s worth a read. Right now the Lava is marketed as a way to map teeth to create crowns. But it appears to have a lot of potential for use in other dental procedures.

So why am I writing about this here? Why the excitement?

Two very good reasons:

1. We see so many incremental steps in technology that we sometimes miss an innovation that, though not earth-shattering, will make life both easier and more pleasant for so many people.

2. My cousin is a senior software engineer of research and development at Brontes. I got the overview of this thing a while back (actually, I was almost a guinea pig for it) and I am quite proud, by proxy, to see it hit the market.

Shifting gears here, I must confess to a sentimental moment earlier today when I reflected on the good my relatives do in their professional lives. My father makes wedding rings. My mother works with autistic children. Both teach. My aunt caters barbeque. An uncle has built his small farm into a family destination in an time when the family-owned farm is too often a sentimental memory.

And now my cousin has spared me the goo.

April 10, 2008  8:26 PM

Bullets for PowerPoint. And I’m not talking about lists.

Roger Crawford Glen Weaver Profile: The Weave

I hate meetings. 

Not the couple times each week I get together with my editors for a “what’s going on” sort of roundtable. Not that. 

I’m talking about those mandated sort of sit-downs that leave me with sunken eyes and a raging headache. And even worse, feeling like my momentum for the day has been lost, all that precious caffeine time wasted.  

Back when I was a local newspaper reporter, I had a nasty habit of stumbling upon breaking news just before these meetings, which usually involved PowerPoint presentations. Frankly, I’d rather be working. 

Man, just thinking about PowerPoint hurts my eyes. I’ll grant that the program has its benefits when used correctly, but why can’t people just talk to me?  I totally know how to take notes. 

However, I am only a lowly reporter. Paul Levy, the CEO of Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, though, he’s got clout. 

Levy today posted a blog entry entitled “Throw off the crutches of ppt!”  In it, he lists seven very good reasons to use PowerPoint less often, including “Oops, did I say ‘eye contact?’ That was already lost when the lights were dimmed for the presentation.” 

He argues that PowerPoint presentations are often cumbersome and counterproductive, with presenters focusing more on the presentation than on their audience. Or at least that’s how I interpreted it. 

Levy is the same guy who tossed his BlackBerry, for equally valiant reasons. Which is kind of funny, because his CIO, Dr. John Halamka, loves his BlackBerry. So much so that he shot an ad for RIM. I had been wondering what the story was behind that, but Halamka cleared that up in a blog entry of his own. Turns out he was paid scale, a paltry $100, and donated it to the hospital. 

OK, point is, I hate PowerPoint. It hurts my eyes. And you should be reading Levy’s blog. I’ve been a fan since last year, when he quite publicly dressed down his staff for poor hand-washing compliance. How refreshing to have a CEO writing an intelligent, insightful blog and actually be addressing issues that other executives would only broach behind closed doors. Halamka’s blog is worth seeing as well. He runs a “Cool Technology of the Week” column there. 

And I would be remiss if I didn’t admit that I came across all of this at the indispensable, which aggregates Boston-area blogs, pitching out news, photography and other bits of general interest. I give it more face time each morning than I do, The Boston Globe’s website. Live in or around Boston? Bookmark it now. 

Actually, now that I look at the comments on, I notice one addressing how a fourth-grader is being taught PowerPoint in school. I’m just going to go punch my eyes into the back of my skull. 

One last thing: The Gettysburg Address in PowerPoint.

April 10, 2008  6:22 PM

If you only knew the power of the dark (green) side…

Roger Crawford Roger Crawford Profile: Roger Crawford

Disaster? Destruction? Trailer park slums in Alabama? The flooding of a major U.S. city? While the rebuilding effort of New Orleans continues, the city’s Chief Technology Officer, Anthony Jones, is making it easier for the residents of the city to apply for and receive grants.

According to a recent press release: “Following the devastation of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, the City of New Orleans was able to streamline business processes for grant applications and contract management from 45 days to 10 days and 90 days to 10 days, respectively.”

Using business process management (BPM) — and with a small staff, some of which fled the city — Jones changed the way IT services are delivered in New Orleans after the disaster.

Want to catch a presentation of BPM and hear Jones’ account of post-Katrina New Orleans? Happen to live in the Colorado Springs area? Or maybe, like us intrepid reporters at CIO Symmetry, you own a Lear jet and feel like a jaunt to the mountains? Check out the  CIMA Spring Conference April 16-18.

Reflecting on Katrina has me thinking about other trends and issues that have been bubbling around the minds of midmarket CIOs and in the IT world for the past couple of years. Apparently, Datamonitor just got hip to green IT.

A report from Datamonitor — which, incidentally, will only set you back nearly $1,900 — is predicting that CIOs will have an upswing in interest in green IT in 2008. Well, duh. And duh. And duh again.  Not to be presumptuous, but the staff of has been big pimpin’ when it comes to green IT for a while now. If you really want to see the most comprehensive coverage of the issues that fellow midmarket CIOs are encountering with green IT, please, for everyone’s sake, check out our (free) resources.

There’s one final interesting bit of news that I thought would be worth relating here. EWeek Mid-Market is reporting that vendors are cottoning on to the power of the midmarket by listening to companies’ demands:

“As of late, these [midmarket] companies have become a major focus of the IT vendor community because collectively these types of companies now spend more on IT than companies that have over 1,000 employees.”

Oh … ok. That sounds like good news for the midmarket CIO. I’m not saying that you’ll be able to hold Big Blue over a barrel and beat lower prices out of it like dust from an old rug, but it does sound like vendors are starting to listen.

Before you know it, vendors will understand the power of the midmarket side!

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April 9, 2008  6:34 PM

Obama’s passport stolen = Data breach notification law

Roger Crawford Glen Weaver Profile: The Weave

So much for the technology candidate. Apparently, if I want to talk with Barack Obama’s people I need to use the old mojo wire. And then I’ll have to wait a week to hear if I will be granted an audience (though, to her credit, the receptionist at Obama’s senate office did seem to suggest the senator himself might have a minute).

A minute, that is, to discuss his recent support for S. 495, which is Vermont Sen. Patrick Leahy’s federal data breach law.

Obama signed on to the law, which mirrors to some extent 39 existing state laws dictating what private companies and government agencies must do in the event that they manage to lose personal data like credit card numbers and Social Security numbers.

Or passport records. I have to assume that was the impetus for Obama latching on as a cosigner to Leahy’s bill April 1. Though there is also value in saying “A law I cosponsor…”

Obama, along with Hillary Clinton and John McCain, learned that his own privacy was violated when employees at the U.S. State Department took a gander at his passport file earlier this year. Apparently political espionage has gone electronic, though it’s not clear yet if that’s a more effective route than brandishing flashlights in a
Washington hotel.

The bill was actually introduced over a year ago, at the start of the legislative session. Leahy, a Democrat, is pushing for it along with cosponsor Arlen Spector, a Pennsylvania Republican. It is one of a variety of bills that have shown up in Congress in recent years that would create a federal data breach notification law.

Should the federal government pass a data breach notification law, it would likely trump many, if not all, of the current state laws. That could be a good thing for CIOs because right now a business that has lost personal information must comply with the law for each state where each customer resides. That’s a lot of laws to deal with, given most businesses will have customers from at least a few states. We’ll have some stories soon detailing the federal legislation, as well as some of the differences in state laws.

In the meantime, figure that we might see a federal one soon. Leahy’s bill has gone through committee and is awaiting floor debate as scheduled by the majority leader. Even if it doesn’t happen this year, he could file it again next term. If it makes its way through Congress and Obama is sitting in the Oval Office, the bill has a good shot at becoming law.

Oh, that “technology candidate” mention above? Turns out Obama is the only candidate for president who has an issues tab on his website about, well, technology. Doesn’t mean he’s taking the right stand. But it does imply he’s paying attention.

That, or he thinks there are at least a handful of votes in there.

April 8, 2008  3:14 PM

VirtualNet IronApp expand partnership

Roger Crawford Roger Crawford Profile: Roger Crawford

Virtual Iron and NetApp Storevault storage are expanding their partnership. In this latest development, StoreVault has been certified for Virtual Iron’s server virtualization software.

This is actually mildly exciting news for CIOs. The partnership should free up storage space, help implement storage virtualization and improve data protection. The consolidation and virtualization will cut down on power and cooling costs, while beefed-up data protection is never anything to sneeze at. If IT flexibility is your thing, StoreVault says this partnership has it in spades.

In your mandatory take-it-for-what-it’s-worth PR quote, Sajai Krishnan, general manager of the StoreVault division, says: “Midmarket customers are looking to server and storage virtualization for the same reason as large enterprises – to reduce data center complexity and increase IT flexibility.”

And David Roden, director of technology for the law firm Goodell DeVries Leech and Dann LPP – and pleased NetApp and Virtual Iron customer – says, “The fit between Virtual Iron and StoreVault is about as close to pure plug and play as it gets.”

A quick call to Tim Walsh, director of corporate marketing with Virtual Iron, revealed that plug and play doesn’t mean channel-less. ”Both products are sold through our channel partners, and we feel there is a lot of value in buying both products together,” Walsh said. ”The packaged solution reduces complexity for midmarket businesses.”

But if the products’ plug and play-i-ness is being stressed to CIOs, will there be a lot of return business to the channel pro who sold them the solution? Or will the purchase – and possibly installation services – be the last time those chicanerous salesmen are called to the site?


April 7, 2008  7:06 PM

Symmetry, defined again, again.

Roger Crawford Roger Crawford Profile: Roger Crawford

Hi there. Welcome to the blog. Over the coming weeks and months Zach Church, CIO-Midmarket’s news writer, and I are aiming to bring you the most relevant CIO news that you’ll be able to find on these vast, expansive interwebs we call home. It can be difficult to find the news that’s hard hitting, impactful and, uh, another synonym for things that attack with force! But we’re looking to bring all that news to your email inbox, RSS feed or PDA.

But what can you expect to find on CIO Symmetry? See why other midmarket CIOs are making news and you aren’t. We’ll gather relevant news for you to peruse –  here — at your leisure. Considering attending a trade show aimed at CIOs, but you’re just not sure that effusive PR person is being totally honest with you? We’ll give you the skinny.

But most importantly, we want to hear from you, our dearly beloved midmarket CIO. What makes your job easier or harder? Is the guy who runs a data center a royal pain? Was that golf sales outing last week just not what you were expecting? Tell us. And we, in turn, will tell you about everything you might not have time to chase down on your own. After all, we both realize you’re busy, but that’s no excuse not to be up to speed on the midmarket happenings.

And while news gathering is ultimately the goal here, the two of us will also provide expert analysis and commentary with a little bit of wit, a healthy dose of sarcasm and just a touch of cynicism.

Plus videos and funny pictures. Did I mention the funny pictures yet?


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