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!

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 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, 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.


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.

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