I hadn’t heard the term “bloatware” before, but it apparently refers to software that comes pre-installed on computers – Quicken, AOL, Yahoo – per agreements between the PC maker and the software provider. According to this article in the New York Times, such agreements can often make or break a profit margin for the computer manufacturer, who can earn $30 or more for each computer by reinstalling software.
But $30 is apparently a key number when it comes to “bloatware”: for that same price, consumers can have professionals, such as Best Buy’s “Geek Squad,” remove the pre-installed programs for them.
“You’d be surprised how often consumers tell us to get rid of it,” said Robert Stephens, the head of Geek Squad, the technical support division of Best Buy that removes the software. He declined to say how many people were paying for the service, but said that “it’s going to increase in popularity.”
Maybe I’m not the minimalist that some computer users are, but, come on, spend $30 so that somebody else will remove these pre-installed programs? Is it really that annoying to have them on their desktop? Or to follow some online instructions and remove them on their own?
My questions are these: Do corporate IT leaders consider “bloatware” in purchasing and deploying computers to their staff? Would you ever consider paying a service like Geek Squad to remove those programs to save your staff the time and effort of doing so? Have you seen any advantages to purchasing PCs with these pre-loaded programs?
The slowing U.S. economy has apparently encouraged Dell to reexamine its international growth model. Today, the computer giant unveiled four low-cost computer models for China, India and other emerging economies.
The two notebook and two desktop PCs are the first Dell models designed especially for emerging markets, according to Steve Felice, the U.S. computer maker’s president for the Asia-Pacific. They are meant for small-business users and are to be sold in 20 countries across Asia, Africa and Latin America, according to the AP. Prices for the new Vestro notebooks will start at 3,299 yuan ($475) and for the desktop PCs at 2,999 yuan ($440).
Now, I know the SearchCIO.com readers aren’t “small-business users,” but this statistic struck me: Dell’s first-quarter sales in China India, Russia and Brazil grew by 50%, about 10 times the U.S. rate! No wonder Dell is one of many companies turning to foreign markets!
I’m trying to find out if these are available for purchase to American companies with foreign outposts. In the meantime, read the full article and let us know what you think of Dell’s strategy. I know SearchCIO.com has some international readers, and it would be great to hear from you, too.
Thanks to all of you who have made the TotalCIO blog so lively of late! Here’s a round-up of this week’s stories on SearchCIO.com — feel free to weigh in below on any of these topics.
- In a tough economy, CIOs have few job-security concerns – Despite a weak economy, IT is seen as an asset in operational efficiency, not a money pit. So says SearchCIO’s recent survey, which indicates that many CIOs feel secure in their jobs.
- IT spending worldwide to top $3.4 trillion in 2008, an 8% uptick – A recession ain’t going to slow IT down, according to a new Gartner report on IT spending and a hot jobs list from Forrester.
- ERM: Unearthing the potential paybacks – We delved into the guts of ERM (it’s not as gross as it sounds), discussing challenges and potential paybacks, and providing some best practices for making it work.
I’ve been talking to a number of CIO headhunters recently for a story about using recruiters to land your next job. The standard line, as you might expect, is if you’re good, they’ll find you. But it turns out there are things you should–and shouldn’t do–to get on a recruiter’s radar. Visibility is important, and the story gives pointers on how to boost your public profile. Becoming a reliable source for a busy headhunter can also pay dividends. Stretching the truth–a big no, no.
To a person, the recruiters I interviewed said they remain busy, albeit listening for the proverbial shoe to drop on IT’s continued resilience amid some pretty awful economic indicators. Companies need good leadership in a strong economy, they said, and in bad times, well, one could argue they need even better leadership. At any rate, the (mostly) large companies that hire these executive search firms are still looking for CIOs.
It must be OK out there in CIO land. In our annual survey of enterprise CIOs, we were surprised to learn that 67% of you are either mostly confident (44%) or very confident (23%) about your job security. And frankly, we were flabbergasted that 43% of you said you are more likely to leave your job this year than last year for a higher-paying job! Not so the headhunters, who pointed out that the CIO role is regarded as pivotal now at companies and good IT executives should be feeling secure.
“The CIO role in general has moved to the forefront…the requirements, the performance measures and the tolerance for anything but execution and results is zero, and the expectations are high,” said Chris Patrick, a technology consultant at the Dallas offices of search firm, Egon Zehnder International.
“The good ones should be confident because frankly they are probably very solid in their role and probably being approached by a bunch of people like me and companies saying, “Hey I’ve seen what you can do; come do it for me,'” Patrick said.
Here’s Chris on the perils of not hanging around long enough to do something solid, and his inside scoop on how some of the biggest companies hire top executive talent:
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?
- 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.
Heading into the weekend, here are some tidbits from SearchCIO.com to tide you over:
- With skyrocketing gas prices, execs reconsider telecommuting – even though gas prices have dipped a bit in recent weeks, this is still a hot topic. Feel free to weigh in below if you’ve got a telecommuting experience you’d like to share.
- Risk management compliance holdouts get wake-up call – Learn more about why enterprise business and technical leaders have been warned to stop procrastinating and get their enterprise risk management, or ERM, act together.
- Angelina Jolie-inspired spam campaign signals disturbing network threats – That’s right, Jolie (of Brangelina fame) inspired the biggest celebrity spam campaign in July, making Barack Obama, Paris Hilton and Britney Spears seem like nobodies. Perhaps John McCain would like to incorporate Jolie into his next campaign ad?
- And don’t forget to check out some of the topics people are discussing below, including whether the iPhone is ready for its close-up as a business tool.
Have a good weekend!
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.
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?
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?