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.


July 31, 2008  3:07 PM

Driving while surfing?

Rachel Lebeaux Rachel Lebeaux Profile: Rachel Lebeaux

As if having a computer at the office and at home – with a BlackBerry to tide you over when you’re not at either of those places – weren’t enough, now comes the AutoNet Mobile, which transforms your car into a roving Wi-Fi hotspot.

Perfect for those who feel a long commute and/or traffic tie-ups are cutting into their workplace productivity! Just kidding. As the article states, “of course, this connectivity is to be used by passengers sharing your commute, family members who want to stay connected on long car trips or as an access point once you’ve reached your destination. WiFi connectivity while driving is a bad idea — keep your attention on the road.”

And I’m sure everyone will heed that advice — just as they did when told that talking on a cell phone while driving is a bad idea, or that texting while driving is dangerous. Or, er, not. Will “driving under the influence of Wi-Fi” be the latest in this lineup?

July 28, 2008  2:17 PM

Cuil challenges Google’s supremacy

Rachel Lebeaux Rachel Lebeaux Profile: Rachel Lebeaux

Will the best Internet search engine please stand up? In the eyes of many, that would be industry giant Google (like you even need a link). But there’s a new challenger today: Cuil, courtesy of Anna Patterson, a former Google employee who sold her Internet search engine technology to the industry giant in 2004 to upgrade its own system.

Now, Patterson intends to upstage Google (which she quit in 2006) with her new search engine, Cuil – pronounced “cool” (it’s an old Irish word for knowledge.)

According to the article, “rather than trying to mimic Google’s method of ranking the quantity and quality of links to websites, Patterson says Cuil’s technology drills into the actual content of a page. And Cuil’s results will be presented in a more magazine-like format instead of just a vertical stack of web links. Cuil’s results are displayed with more photos spread horizontally across the page and include sidebars that can be clicked on to learn more about topics related to the original search request.”

Of course, I had to check this out. The first thing I noticed is that the new site’s still very much under construction. I got error messages and/or broken image links when I clicked across several of the tabs at the top of the page. But I’m sure those boo-boos will be ironed out quickly.

I introduced myself to Cuil in the most narcissistic way possible: by searching my own name. I was notified that there were 144,900 results (I had no idea I was so popular) but, as I waited more than a minute for them to load, I nearly gave up … but then there they were.

Initial impressions? Maybe I’m just too used to the traditional “vertical stack” of results, but the “magazine-like format” didn’t really do it for me. There were images alongside some of the links, but most had little or nothing to do with the context of my name within the linked page.

What I did like was that some of the results were actually more relevant to me (i.e., links to actual articles I have written) than I often get with Google.

Here’s another thing I liked: when I typed CIO into Cuil, it returned 10.6 million results. But it also had them filtered by different topic tabs at the top of the page, including “Chief Information Officer” (which had 131,766 links), “AFL-CIO” and others. And the images were better matched to the result than in my previous search.

Google returned 19.2 million results on CIO. But how many of those relate to the chief information officer? As far as I can see, there’s no one-click way to tell you.

Still, at least on Day One, I have to agree with Gartner Inc. analyst Allen Weiner, who told that Google has become so synonymous with the Internet search that it may no longer matter how good Cuil or any other challenger is. “Search has become as much about branding as anything else,” he said. “I doubt [Cuil] will be keeping anyone at Google awake at night.”

I’d be curious to hear what CIOs find when they Google and Cuil their own names. Which search engine gives you a better face? Are you cool with Cuil, or will you continue to be gaga over Google?

July 25, 2008  3:52 PM

CIO weekly wrap-up

Rachel Lebeaux Rachel Lebeaux Profile: Rachel Lebeaux

As you ponder the philosophical underpinnings of The Dark Knight, be sure to also check out what we’ve been working on at this week:

  • Iowa floods put Mercy Medical IT backup plan to test – Timely case study. CIO Jeff Cash has been preparing for the equivalent of a flood since arriving at Mercy Medical Center three years ago. This spring, the Cedar River put him to the test.

Have a good weekend!

July 24, 2008  1:12 PM

Maybe I should just keep my money under a mattress?

Rachel Lebeaux Rachel Lebeaux Profile: Rachel Lebeaux

There have been a lot of scary bank-related headlines the past couple of weeks, but I have to say that this one frightened me more than most: “Security flaws in online banking sites found to be widespread.”

According to a study by the University of Michigan, more than three-fourths of bank websites surveyed have flaws that can allow hackers to easily gain access to customers’ personal information.

“To our surprise, design flaws that could compromise security were widespread and included some of the largest banks in the country,” said Atul Prakash, a professor in the university’s Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. “Our focus was on users who try to be careful, but unfortunately some bank sites make it hard for customers to make the right security decisions when doing online banking.”

Some of the most common banking website flaws, the study finds, include:

  • Placing secure login boxes on insecure pages.
  • Putting contact information and security advice on insecure pages.
  • Having a breach in the chain of trust.
  • Allowing inadequate user IDs and passwords.
  • E-mailing security-sensitive information insecurely.


I was very proud of myself a few years ago when I set up centralized online access to all of my checking, saving and money market accounts. It made me feel more in control of my own money. And – in part because I don’t want to overdraw, and in part because I worry that a cyberthief who gains access to one could potentially access them all – I check their status almost every day.

Now, after seeing this study, I’m thinking twice a day.

July 23, 2008  3:24 PM

Does it matter who CIOs report to?

Linda Tucci Linda Tucci Profile: Linda Tucci

Gather the typical left-brain, articulate, umm-less group of CIOs around a conference lunch table and, guaranteed, the talk will eventually turn to reporting relationships. You answer to whom? Since when? How is that working out?

CIOs, as I take the editorial liberty of saying in my story today on, tend to scrutinize reporting lines like entrails or tea leaves- a portent of how well they’re doing and where they’re headed.

Any CIO I’ve queried on the topic thinks it’s best to have a direct line to the CEO. Makes sense. Sure, you’re turning somersaults to please the business, and likely with a polite smile on your face — who can you escalate to, if the CEO is telling you what to do? But better to have the ear of the head honcho than not.

The Forrester study of 503 IT execs by analyst Bobby Cameron pretty much bears this out.

CIOs who report to CEOs have the largest budgets, as measured in terms of percentage of total company revenue. Your job comes with a centralized planning function and so you are more likely to manage IT through centralized offices — PMOs, vendor management. But – and maybe this is a function of playing in the big leagues by big-league organizational rules – you’re a little down on IT’s ability to be a game changer for your business, unlike your counterpart who reports to the COO.

Woe to you who report to the CFO. I feel your pain, right through the measured tones of Cameron’s data-filled summary of the survey.

By the way, the CIO-to-CEO reporting relationship now constitutes the largest cohort, while the number of CIOs reporting to the CFO has shrunk over the past three years. As business becomes more appreciative – and, yes, knowledgeable – about the impact IT can have on the company, Cameron says he expects to see another shift of CIOs reporting to operations officers.

Check out the story for more details.

When I caught up with Cameron on his cell phone last night, he told me a couple of interesting anecdotes about CIOs expanding their reach. (Like most Southerners, he’s a natural story teller.) At Jet Blue, for example, the CIO owns marketing. Hewlett-Packard, for a time anyway, put the CIO in charge of supply chain. He sees the trend continuing as IT makes the transition that Forrester has been pushing for years – to BT, business technology.

Let us know to whom you report, and the plusses and minuses of that reporting relationship.

July 21, 2008  1:36 PM

TomorrowNow is so yesterday

Linda Tucci Linda Tucci Profile: Linda Tucci

SAP AG sends word today that it’s putting subsidiary TomorrowNow, which provides third-party support for Oracle and other applications, out of its misery.

The German software maker said it will wind down the operations of TomorrowNow, ushering the firm’s current 225 customers back to the Oracle fold for maintenance by Oct. 31.

For non-SAP/Oracle aficionados, the Bryan, Texas-based subsidiary is the target of a high-stakes lawsuit filed nearly 18 months ago by Oracle Corp., accusing the third-party maintenance provider of practicing “corporate theft on grand scale.” The alleged crime: using passwords of former Oracle customers to download information “outside the purview of what the customer had licensed.”

SAP admitted that some of its TomorrowNow employees inappropriately downloaded Oracle materials. For an excellent chronicle of the legal battle, skirmish by skirmish, go to SAP’s website.

The TomorrowNow closing marks the end of a three-year boondoggle for SAP, which bought the firm in 2005 following Oracle’s $11 billion or so acquisition of PeopleSoft Inc. Started by former PeopleSoft engineers, the firm promised cheaper third-party maintenance for all those disgruntled PeopleSoft customers. SAP said in November that it was putting the subsidiary up for sale but determined that a sale would have been “an extremely complicated transaction for both the seller and the buyer.”

Our gloss for CIOs

When the suit was filed, we thought the 43-page complaint carried a message for TomorrowNot CIOs as well, namely to exercise all due care when moving from one maintenance provider to another. To read more about why the topic of third-party maintenance is so sensitive, go here.

For a provocative take on the trials, tribulations and merits of third-party maintenance, go to my interview with Seth Ravin, co-founder of TomorrowNow.  Ravin sold TomorrowNow to SAP before moving on to start Rimini Street and recently passed up the opportunity to buy the company back.

July 21, 2008  10:39 AM

CIO weekly wrap-up

Rachel Lebeaux Rachel Lebeaux Profile: Rachel Lebeaux

Last week was a busy one on, and that’s why I’m here to help you zero in on any of the stories, videos or podcasts you might have missed!

  • E-records management moves up the state CIO agenda – E-gads, there are a lot of e-records to keep track of! As the business of running a state government moves increasingly to electronic form, e-records management moves up the CIO agenda. NASCIO offers help as well as firsthand accounts from state CIOs.
  • Vendor management advice for CIOs - Who hasn’t hit a snafu with a vendor at one time or another? In this expert video, learn from Forrester Research Inc.’s Christine Ferrusi Ross.
  • Compliance and offshoring best practices for the CIO – This expert podcast, courtesy of Forrester Research Inc.’s Khalid Kark, offers tips on how to offshore and still be in compliance.
  • Outsourcing uptick result of slow economy - Economic uncertainty apparently has companies rushing to outsource, pushing the volume and dollar amounts to record highs in the first half of the year, according to advisory firm TPI.

July 16, 2008  3:37 PM

Who wants to be a CIO Millionaire?

Rachel Lebeaux Rachel Lebeaux Profile: Rachel Lebeaux

How’s this for a headline: “Meet the Millionaire CIOs.” In a study of the filings of the 1,000 biggest U.S. companies and their compensation, 47 top technology executives were listed at the top 1,000 companies. According to the latest SEC filings, these 47 earned $112,651,463, with an average salary (excluding bonuses and other compensation) of $435,200.

Excuse me for a moment as I sit here and mourn my comparatively meager journalist-sized paycheck. … OK, I’m back. I’m reminding myself that these are the very highest-tier CIOs. According to our salary survey last year, which polled nearly 1,000 IT professionals, the average salary of senior-level IT executives at companies with more than $1 billion in revenue was $144,440 in 2007

Want to let us know how you rank, and how the current economic climate is affecting CIO salaries? You can start by filling out CIO Decisions Media’s 2008 Salary and Career Survey!

Also, I need an excuse to direct you to my colleague Zach Church’s excellent post on the CIO Symmetry blog about the San Francisco IT chief who is being held on $5 million bail after locking the city out of its own computer system and refusing to yield the password. The IT chief in question, Terry Childs, reportedly made a base pay of $126,735 last year. He also had another $22,534 tacked on because – get this – he’s on call for emergency situations. Oh, the irony. … I guess being paid comparable to your peers doesn’t necessarily buy job satisfaction.

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