TotalCIO


August 21, 2008  2:29 PM

“The most geeked-out shopping experience in America”

Rachel Lebeaux Rachel Lebeaux Profile: Rachel Lebeaux

And here I thought I was ahead of the game having mastered grocery store self-checkout. But check out how far Stop & Shop‘s in-store technology has come in this “Groceries & Gadgets” report from the Boston Globe.

The Scan It personal scanner, which has been deployed in about 90 of the chain’s grocery stores, allows you to walk down the aisles, pick an item, scan the barcode, press a button and – voila! – it’s added to your total. For items that aren’t scanner-friendly, such as deli meats, you can use a touch-screen computer to place orders, and Scan It will send you a message when your turn is up.

“Scan It is also a subtle but persistent salesman,” the article reads. “Scanning the loyalty card links the device to a history of your previous purchases. Stop & Shop’s system uses this data to come up with special offers for products you might fancy. The offers are relayed to Scan It, which gently pings you about discounts. You’ll be glad to know that personal data, like names or credit card numbers, don’t travel over the wireless network – just a numerical code that identifies you as a sucker for pasta.”

It will be interesting to learn more about the technology behind what appears to be Stop & Shop’s latest success story. Has anybody else experimented with these in-store scanners? Do they live up to the hype and speed up your shopping experience?

August 19, 2008  1:49 PM

Do you telecommute?

Rachel Lebeaux Rachel Lebeaux Profile: Rachel Lebeaux

I noticed that our story on telecommuting appears to be generating a lot of visits to SearchCIO.com, so I thought I’d throw a few questions out here on the blog:

  •  Does your company have any formal policies on telecommuting? If so, what are they?
  • What are your personal telecommuting habits?
  • Has staff reporting to you broached the topic of telecommuting? What are their stated reasons for asking about it?

I’ll go first. Although my commute to the office is a not-so-bad 20 minutes, I usually telecommute on Friday. I enjoy it because I save gas and consider it a somewhat relaxing end to the workweek. I stay in touch with my colleagues through instant messenger, e-mail and cell phone when necessary. Perhaps most importantly, when I work from home, I often find myself working through lunch and later into the evening without even realizing I’m doing it. So my employer is benefiting, too.

Your experiences?


August 16, 2008  10:21 AM

CIO weekly wrap-up

Rachel Lebeaux Rachel Lebeaux Profile: Rachel Lebeaux

Heading into the weekend, here are some tidbits from SearchCIO.com to tide you over:

Have a good weekend!


August 15, 2008  7:11 AM

Will an alphabet stew of BI, EPM and GRC hit the spot?

Linda Tucci Linda Tucci Profile: Linda Tucci

When SAP’s Business Objects announced this week that it was adding a dash of enterprise performance management to its business intelligence platform, my ears perked up.

We don’t often cover product releases from the Big 4, leaving that to our knowledgeable colleagues at sites like SearchSAP.com, SearchOracle.com and SearchCRM.com. But I recently had an exchange with my editor about EPM that begged for enlightenment.

Actually the question at hand was what did I know about BPM? Well, I knew I had written about it ad nauseum a few months ago. Did she not remember the packet of stories on business process management from the Gartner conference in Vegas? No, no, not that BPM, silly prolific reporter. What did I know about BPM, as in business performance management? Ummmm, was BPM like BI? Nope, not according to the vendor/expert breathing down my editor’s neck that day. BPM, we learned, was also known as CPM, corporate performance management, or EPM or PM, for short (shortest?) and it had to do with monitoring financial data. Well, then was it akin to BAM, business activity monitoring? Or CEP, complex event processing? Or BLAH, blah blah? The alphabet soup was making me queasy. Let’s just say, we were none the wiser that day for reciting the IT alphabet.

So! when the team from SAP’s recently acquired Business Objects sent over their big  news this week –”Company Welcomes New  Era of Convergence Between Enterprise Performance Management, Business Intelligence, and Governance, Risk and Compliance Solutions” — I happily signed on for a briefing. You can read the press release yourself for details on all this New Age convergence stuff, but the point is… I was right. BI and EPM and (bonus!) GRC are related. No less than world’s largest business software company said so:

“Traditionally distinct disciplines, the combination of EPM, GRC and BI enables deeper visibility into unified information, greater context for collaborative decision making and better organizational alignment. For example, without a foundation of trustworthy and accurate business data, companies cannot effectively manage EPM processes such as financial consolidation. Similarly, the combination of GRC and EPM is critical to helping customers clearly understand potential risks to their business strategy.”

Moreover, Business Objects, the company bragged, was the only vendor to “offer both the vision and the products to unite EPM,  GRC and BI.”

Proud as I was to have any thoughts in common with those incredibly smart computer engineers at SAP/Business Objects, I wisely  took the opportunity to be schooled on EPM by Sanjay Poonen, general manager for performance optimization applications for Business Objects.

EPM, he patiently explained, is a market term used to describe a collection of technologies that help people strategize about business. EPM helps people plan and execute and understand their businesses overall. And it traditionally is used by finance departments. “It contains a set of products that allows CFOs, for instance, to start with a balanced scorecard, get a view of all their different businesses and then to do anything from budgeting and planning to consolidation  and analyzing their profitability at a fairly sophisticated level,” Poonen said.

SAP’s Business Objects likes to use the term enterprise performance management, as opposed to CPM  or BPM because “a big part of our vision is to move beyond a line of business, such as finance, and make this an enterprise wide offering,” Poonan said. Indeed, the new “spend analytics” component of the EPM suite provides visibility into purchasing-automatically aggregating, cleansing and analyzing procurement data from across the corporate systems, as well as from third part vendors.

The good news for the CIO, who is perpetually balancing the desire of  business for the best of the best-of-breed applications with the economies of standardizing around a single vendor, is that the EPM products from Business Objects now go well beyond finance, Poonan reminded, to include supply chain, procurement and now also governance, risk and compliance-all from one vendor!

Now, just to be clear about the difference between EPM and BI, I was told by Poonen to think of BI as the infrastructure tools (dashboards, Crystal Reports, master data management) to build a good house of data for the business. A financial performance management suite of products — an EPM solution– will have these BI tools embedded in it and a complete suite of applications targeted to the financial organization. “So it is not just the tools and pieces to build the house, but the fully built house itself.” So there you have it, from acronym soup to nuts to the five-star restaurant.

Let me know how you think of BI – and what this set of technologies says about the relation between IT and the business.


August 13, 2008  10:34 AM

IPhone: A tool for enterprise?

Rachel Lebeaux Rachel Lebeaux Profile: Rachel Lebeaux

As if Apple’s iPhone 3G sales weren’t already lofty enough, now comes the news that mega-retailer Best Buy will begin selling the devices Sept. 7.

Confession: I am a scant one-and-a-half weeks away from purchasing my very own iPhone 3G. I’ve been waiting patiently until my contract with my current provider expires, and the day is almost here. I’m even trying to figure out if I can purchase it a week early, given the incentive my lovely state of Massachusetts (Not Tax-achusetts, at least for this weekend!) is offering.

But enough about me; let’s talk about you. I’ve been curious about IT executives’ views on the iPhone, especially now that it’s been on the market for more than a year, the new version doubles the Internet speed, and the Apple website boasts an “iPhone in Enterprise” section devoted to business applications.

My impression is that the iPhone is still viewed by those in enterprise as a novelty, not a business tool. Maybe you own one, personally, but you’re still more likely tied to your office via your BlackBerry or other such device. And full-scale iPhone deployment to mobile staff is still a long way off as Apple continues to chip away at security and integration issues.

Is this accurate? What are your thoughts on — or experiences with – iPhone in the enterprise world?


August 11, 2008  1:18 PM

Take this, viruses!

Rachel Lebeaux Rachel Lebeaux Profile: Rachel Lebeaux

From the “tools you can use” file, CNN.com has a video report today on protecting yourself from unsavory e-mail attachments.

CNN’s computer expert Ken Colburn is a big proponent of the web site VirusTotal. If you forward an e-mail to VirusTotal and put “Scan” in the subject line (or upload a file on the site), it will run a complete check on the attachment and return it to you, usually within three to five minutes, Colburn says.

Pretty nifty. Although I like to think of myself as pretty spam-savvy, I’ve certainly gotten attachments from time to time that I’ve deleted, only to question later whether I might really have needed it. Colburn says that an airline credit-card receipt and an impending UPS shipment are two of the latest virus-laden goodies masquerading as legit attachments.

The VirusTotal service is free. Colburn warns users not to send along attachments that you expect might contain personal information, such as a social security number, or sensitive company information.

I checked through my inbox (and spam filter) and didn’t see anything worth sending along to VirusTotal at the moment. I’m wondering if anybody else has tried this service out. If so, what’s your take?


August 9, 2008  1:00 PM

CIO weekly wrap-up

Rachel Lebeaux Rachel Lebeaux Profile: Rachel Lebeaux

After several days of rain, the weather in Boston is beautiful today, and I’m heading to Cape Cod for some R&R on the beach. But first, I’ll leave you with a round-up of this week’s SearchCIO.com content:

  • First off, our Executive Guide: Data lifecycle management tips for CIOs contains case studies, news articles and trend pieces related to the strategies, execution and tools and technologies of data lifecycle management. It’s one-stop shopping for those seeking to be DLM-savvy!
  • Data lifecycle management no panacea – our latest DLM story discusses how the process should include an overarching enterprisewide information architecture that integrates storage needs and costs with business applications and processes. 
  • Make Web 2.0 tools work for you – Web 2.0 innovations are changing the way large organizations do business. Find out how to leverage social networking, blogs and wikis within your firm thanks to some of our top SearchCIO.com stories.
  • And, of course, scroll through the TotalCIO blog and make sure you didn’t miss anything you might like…and leave us your thoughts!


August 6, 2008  9:31 AM

Walk Score ranks car-free living

Rachel Lebeaux Rachel Lebeaux Profile: Rachel Lebeaux

I just stumbled upon a really cool website I thought I’d share called Walk Score. Using Google Maps, the site ranks how well one could live car-free in certain neighborhoods.

“With gas at $4 a gallon, there’s never been a better time to live in a walkable neighborhood,” the site reads. I couldn’t agree more – not to mention the obvious health benefits of walking rather than hopping in the car.

Simply type in your address to see your proximity to grocery stores, restaurants, pharmacies, libraries, schools and other amenities. The map displays their position relative to your address, and lists the names of highlights along the side.

My neighborhood of Boston scored a “somewhat walkable” rating of 65. Personally, I think that’s a bit low: While I do own a car, I walk quite a bit to my neighborhood’s “downtown” area, about a mile away, where there are dozens of shops and restaurants, and my home is practically across the street from a subway station.

Walk Score even works for some international addresses! The address of the flat in London, England, in which I lived in a few years back, scored a “walker’s paradise” rating of 96. Considering I didn’t have a car and the Tube was pricey even back then (don’t even get me started on how much it costs now), I took full advantage of the nearby restaurants, post offices, museums and parks.

And you’ve got to appreciate Walk Score’s honesty. On it’s “How it doesn’t work” page, the creators acknowledge that their algorithm doesn’t take into account crime, topography, weather and other factors that might influence one’s decision to walk vs. drive.

And my esteemed colleague Zach Church over at SearchCIO-Midmarket.com points out that it would be nice if you could customize the site to rank according to the individual services you desire – maybe you don’t care about the closest school, but the more restaurants, the merrier.

How walkable is your neighborhood? How about your office? Now, when I need a break from SearchCIO.com, I want to take a noontime stroll to explore parks and businesses I didn’t even know existed.


August 1, 2008  4:02 PM

CIO weekly wrap-up

Rachel Lebeaux Rachel Lebeaux Profile: Rachel Lebeaux

August has arrived … and with it, a wrap-up of our week’s stories. Feel free to tell us what you think by emailing us or commenting below!

  • On-demand data integration ties HD Supply to customers - In its own version of a do-it-yourself project, HD Supply Facilities Maintenance had six months to move its disparate suppliers and customers off Home Depot’s legacy systems and onto a new platform. An on-demand data integration solution from Hubspan is helping to create a network of equals.
  • Gartner: IT spending remains strong - At least one part of our economy doesn’t appear to be flagging. While homeowners are struggling to pay their mortgages and gas prices are going through the roof, IT services spending is chugging right along.
  • WAAS gives an indispensable CAD/content management system new life - From the innovation-in-action front: Jeremy Gill, CIO of civil engineering firm Michael Baker Corp., was faced with an increasingly common conundrum: how to centralize and not suffer the latency consequences. His solution: WAN acceleration technology from Cisco.


August 1, 2008  1:40 PM

Big Business’s affair with Web 2.0

Linda Tucci Linda Tucci Profile: Linda Tucci

It’s the Web corporations love to hate.

That seems to be the take-home message of a new survey from the folks at McKinsey on the use of Web 2.0 technologies — wikis, blogs, RSS feeds, podcasts, social networks and mash-ups.

On the one hand, it seems that Web 2.0 tools are becoming entrenched in the corporation. Executives told McKinsey that the tools they used experimentally last year are now “part of a broader business practice.” Use of things like Web services and blogs have moved beyond corporate walls to connect with customers and suppliers and – get this – the use of these tools is “intense.”

The unloving part? Well, for all that intensity, a lot of execs are lukewarm on the value of Web 2.0. tools: only 21% said they were satisfied with Web 2.0 tools, while 22% voiced “clear dissatisfaction.” Some of the disappointed (7%) are so turned off they have stopped using certain Web 2.0 tools altogether.

The survey, done in June, is based on answers from 1,988 executives from around the world and weighted by the gross domestic products of the countries to adjust for differences in response rates.

Some details:

  • Web services are by far the most widely adopted Web 2.0 technology, used by 58% of those surveyed.
  • Blogs come in second at 34%, followed closely by RSS (33%), wikis (32%), podcasts (29%), social networking (28%), peer-to-peer activities (18%) and mashups (10%).

The survey picked up some interesting geographical differences.

  • Developed countries in the Asia-Pacific region — that includes Australia, Hong Kong, Japan, New Zealand, the Philippines, Singapore, South Korea and Taiwan — registered the highest satisfaction with Web 2.0 tools. Latin America, the lowest. 
  • Execs in North America – the home of Facebook and MySpace, McKinsey notes – rated social networking higher than those in other parts of the globe. But North American execs also represent the largest percentage of respondents worldwide expressing overall dissatisfaction with Web 2.0 tools.
  • At companies where Web 2.0 has taken hold, more than a quarter said the tools have changed interactions with customers and suppliers, 33% say the technologies have carved out new roles and functions inside the organization, and about one-third said they feel these technologies were actually changing the structure of their organizations.

 


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