August 27, 2008  4:21 PM

Dude, the world is getting a Dell

Rachel Lebeaux Rachel Lebeaux Profile: Rachel Lebeaux

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 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 has some international readers, and it would be great to hear from you, too.

August 22, 2008  3:05 PM

CIO weekly wrap-up

Rachel Lebeaux Rachel Lebeaux Profile: Rachel Lebeaux

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 — feel free to weigh in below on any of these topics.

  • 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.

August 21, 2008  5:23 PM

All Ears: “Bigger than the role,” how big companies hire top talent

Linda Tucci Linda Tucci Profile: Linda Tucci

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: 


Be sure to check out our recruiting story, complete with pointers, on at

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, 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 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, and 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, 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 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 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!

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