REMOTE ACCESS WHEEL TIME CONNECTIONS By Amy Helen Johnson Scott Hasse is an angel to JustAct, a social-justice organization in San Francisco that trains youth leaders for grassroots sustainable-development movements. The former CTO and networking guru, who currently pays the bills working as a Java developer, estimates that he gave JustAct over $100,000 worth of work within six months of becoming its acting--albeit volunteer--CIO in June 1999. "I wanted to do work that makes the world a better place," he explains.
His biggest project to date has been bringing JustAct's major annual fund-raiser, a cross-country bike ride called BikeAid, to the web. Last year, he ran a pilot project that equipped one group of riders with portable devices so that they could send and receive e-mail on the road and write trip reports that were posted on a website.
Hasse had several restrictions on the installation, including novice users.
Hasse equipped the riders with the Sharp TelMail device, which is portable, runs on batteries and doesn't need a modem. Since the riders often camp out, a plug or phone line wasn't guaranteed. He signed the riders up for the PocketMail service so that they could transfer data by holding the TelMail up to the receiver of any telephone.
Back at JustAct headquarters, Hasse set up a web server (donated by Isthmus Group, a Madison, Wis.-based e-commerce consulting company) to handle the content that riders submitted. Without a lot of money to throw around, Hasse relied on open-source software to give him up-to-date capabilities for little cash. He created a simplified posting process that allows interns to receive trip reports by e-mail, do basic editing and then paste them onto a webpage.
He plans to roll out a full implementation of the BikeAid site this summer, with five groups traveling with the handhelds. Based on last year's web traffic, he's predicting 100,000 page views on the 2000 site--enough to support his hope that BikeAid will get its first corporate sponsor.
DEPARTMENT OF BIG, SCARY NUMBERS $10 billion: amount U.S. consumers will spend on health-related products online in 2004 40 million: number of workers who spend more than 20 percent of their business day in a car 84 million: number of American workers who drive to work alone 100: number of terabytes of data that will populate the world's largest single-system data warehouse once Deutsche Telecom and IBM finish building it. Sources: Jupiter Communications, IBM.
INNOVATION GET OUT THERE Got an invention that could revolutionize communications among individuals, groups, companies, performers and audiences (or maybe just between world leaders)? Run--don't walk--to your garage and blow off the dust because time is running out. May 31 is the deadline for entries for the Saatchi & Saatchi Innovation in Communication Award. But beware--the competition promises to be stiff.
In 1998, the first year of this biennial competition, judges had to choose between a hands-free computer mouse, a handheld translating pen, a seismic tornado detector for home owners and a biochip eye implant--and those were just some of the finalists. The winner, New Zealand inventor Leslie Kay, used his experience as a sonar scientist tracking Sonet submarines during the Cold War to create a device that lets the visually impaired use their hearing to see.
Winners get half of the $100,000 purse in cash and the rest in marketing and advertising expertise from Saatchi & Saatchi's worldwide network. "Our award was intended to be a stepping- stone for an inventor who may not have had the chance to see their idea showcased before," says Saatchi & Saatchi Worldwide Creative Director Bob Isherwood.
The competition is open to innovators in a wide range of disciplines, including science and technology, the arts, mass communications and education. -Heather Baukney WASHINGTON WATCH By Elana Varon TIME FOR DIGITAL GOVERNMENT Rep. Jim Turner, D-Texas, the top Democrat on a House subcommittee that oversees government management, is one public servant who is eager to help. In the hopes of persuading federal agencies to shed their paper-fueled stovepipes and offer integrated online services, Turner is asking private-sector CIOs to share the secrets of their e-commerce success with Congress. "Companies exist now that are virtually paperless. We need to have them come in and tell us how they did it," he says.
Turner backed a recent study by the Progressive Policy Institute, the research arm of the centrist Democratic Leadership Council, that admits there's not much political support for investing in electronic government right now. However, the study, "Digital Government," does suggest that government agencies can benefit by focusing on the issue. And coauthor Robert Atkinson says companies are also missing a chance to promote government efficiency and save themselves money from streamlined business-to-agency transactions. Lawmakers, who decide what IT investment agencies make, just don't know much about what needs to be done so that government develops cutting-edge services, he says.
Most agencies let you download forms, search databases or do research from the web, but ideas that would save serious money and time, such as single-point submission of import and export data, haven't gone very far. Turner, who only first started thinking about online government last fall, wants to appoint a federal technology czar--a kind of governmentwide CIO--to advocate for such projects.
Turner and Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., are both pushing legislation to advance the digital government cause (although they had not yet introduced a bill at press time, and neither lawmaker could say for sure what it would include). Lieberman is also looking for corporate advice. "We don't want to reinvent the wheel," says spokeswoman Leslie Phillips.
IBM has met with the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee on several occasions, and "anyone else who wants to listen," says Kathleen Kingscott, IBM's public policy director for science and technology in Washington, D.C.
"What we're trying to do is help political figures realize this is an issue for governance," she says.
SECURITY CHECK The denial-of-service attacks against Yahoo, eBay and other high-profile websites last winter were followed quickly and quietly by a bill from Sens. Charles Schumer, D.-N.Y., and Jon Kyl, R-Ariz., designed to make it easier to prosecute hackers. The bill would allow investigators to trace hackers across state lines under a single court order and let prosecutors charge alleged perpetrators no matter how little damage they caused. Current laws demand investigators get separate court orders for each jurisdiction through which they have to trace a suspicious data trail. Meanwhile, suspected hackers can't be charged under today's statutes unless victims can prove at least $5,000 in damages.
Both changes are supported by the Clinton administration, and Kyl, who chairs the Senate subcommittee on Technology, Terrorism and Government Information, hopes to see the measure enacted this year, according to a source who is following the bill. Steph Marr, vice president of information security with Predictive Systems, a network consulting firm in New York City, says being able to tap the internet is "critical" to enforcing computer crime laws. But he says eliminating the level of damages that trigger a prosecution is "comparatively silly" because companies that are victims don't do enough to protect their networks in the first place. "Are you really going to call the cops if you didn't lock your car and someone stole your CDs?" he asks.
NETWORKING TOP 10 TRENDS THAT WON'T HAPPEN IN 2000 Meta Group recently released a position paper stating that several technologies billed as "the next big thing" in networking will either never deliver tangible benefits or will require additional maturation before being much use for most organizations.
Here are the hyped trends and why you won't see them shine this year.
1 End-to-end IP quality of service Among other drawbacks, current end-to-end solutions will work only in a single-vendor environment.
2 IP-based PBXs These look enticingly low-cost and easy to deploy, but current voice technology is both reliable and scalable and will serve out its five- to seven-year life cycle.
3 Fiber to desktop Pricing for fiber has decreased 50 percent, but the cost of active optical components remains prohibitive 4 Interactive desktop videoconferencing Lack of quality of service guarantees, poor picture quality and relatively low business value will mean a glacial pace of adoption.
5 Broadband wireless Technological limitations, competing broadband access technologies and regulatory issues contribute to reduced carrier investment.
6 Standard LDAP schemas The standards-setting process is slow and ensuring common schema structure remains a challenge.
7 XML as a net management panacea It won't immediately replace existing frameworks because it's a language, not an application.
8 Free WAN bandwidth WAN bandwidth consumption continues to grow, keeping costs up.
9 Seamless security Scalability remains the big hurdle.
10 IP version 6 Translation requirements and limited motivation for adoption will keep this quiet.
SOURCE: META Group's Global Networking Strategies service. For more information, visit metagroup.com.
HOT TOPIC SECURITY Giving the Finger to Security By Daintry Duffy Biometric technologies like retinal scanning or fingerprint authentication still sound to a lot of people like the gadgetry of an Ian Fleming novel, but IT departments are finding that these high-tech gizmos can have a serious impact on corporate security as well as IT's bottom line.
A number of companies in the biometric technology field are vaunting the benefits of fingerprint authentication, and the recent drop in the price of individual units has technology executives listening. Identix, in Sunnyvale, Calif., is one provider of this technology. Each of its fingerprint scanning units is the size of a credit card and about an inch thick and can be attached easily to the side of a desktop monitor. The cost has shrunk to $99 per unit, which can be further reduced to about $60 when purchased in volume.
According to Grant Evans, Identix's vice president and general manager of IT security, fingerprint authentication not only eliminates password management for the network, it can also control access to documents, stipulating whether they can be forwarded, printed, copied and even how long an employee can look at them. Evans says, "security systems' weakest link has always been identifying who you are because it's been done with passwords."
The City of Oceanside, Calif., has successfully implemented a fingerprint authentication system, deploying Identix's system to its approximately 2,000 end-user workstations. "We've reduced help-desk calls by about 85 percent," says Michael Sherwood, Oceanside's IT director. Sherwood estimates that the department has saved anywhere from $25,000 to $50,000 by reducing help-desk calls and problems previously caused by employees gaining unauthorized access to other employees' systems. And the positive response has not only been from the IT group. Sherwood says that employees have praised the ease of use of the technology and that they didn't even need to be formally trained. A user simply places his or her finger on the reader and the fingerprint is authenticated in about two-tenths of a second, providing the appropriate access in a fraction of the time required by passwords.
FORECASTING MAYBE IT'S IN THE CARDS By Daintry Duffy Before the annual budget meeting with the CEO, even the most levelheaded IT executive may be tempted to glance at the horoscopes in the morning paper. But if advice like "give yourself a break today" isn't quite the revelation you were hoping for, you should check out Silicon Valley Tarot, a fortune-telling card game designed for those who work in the perpetually changing world of technology.
The vividly drawn, 70-card set (created by Thomas Scoville for Steve Jackson Games) includes the "major arcana," archetypes like The Guru, The Hacker and The Mogul, as well as momentous events like Flame War, IPO and The Layoff.
There are the "minor arcana," too, 12 cards in each of four suits (Cubicles, Disks, Hosts and Networks), with face cards including Nerd, Marketeer, Salesman and CIO. The set comes with a booklet to help you interpret the cards you draw.
Just like a fortune teller's tarot deck, the cards mean different things depending on where they fall in the "spread" and whether they are turned with the picture upright or upside down.
For example, The Hacker indicates "innovation, stealth and the ability to do much with little." But if the card is reversed, it augurs "destruction, perversity, immaturity, bad personal hygiene and profound personality deficits." Typically a spread represents past, present and future, so if you turn the reversed Hacker first, you'll be relieved to know that that's all behind you. If you pull it in the middle to represent the present, you'll be glad you had this information before going into the CEO's office. And if the card represents your future... well, we won't tell.
LOGISTICS SIT AND DELIVER In spite of the increasingly electronic and virtual cast to our lives, we cling to the ritual of dissecting the Sunday newspaper.
When it's not delivered, getting out of bed at all can seem dismal if not pointless.
Subscribers to The Arizona Republic no longer need to worry about suffering such catastrophe. The newsprint still arrives on the driveway in the time-honored way, but now the carriers are wired. There's a certain irony in it, but the daily paper's distribution is facilitated by electronic book technology. Softbook Readers from SoftBook Press assist Phoenix-area carriers to deliver more papers with fewer errors.
"The SoftBook has increased accuracy and reduced our complaints by 50 percent in some areas," says Joe Coleman, product manager of Central News Technology, the company that provides IT support to The Republic. Coleman was faced with the task of digitizing The Republic's route list almost two years ago, and he found that SoftBook was a great way to bring back-end information to the paper carriers' dashboards. "Before we had it," Coleman says, "the carriers would get a list of route changes every day. They would need 30 to 35 minutes a night just to update their master set of cards." Now they connect their SoftBooks to a phone line at night and route alterations are downloaded securely and automatically from The Republic's Circ 2000 Sybase database, telling them who wants two copies, who's away on vacation and the like. They bring the unit in the car with them and "turn pages" as they proceed through their delivery.
For carriers like Dannell Ellington, who fires up her Caravan at 4:30 a.m. to deliver more than 500 papers, the benefits are clear. "Before, I had everything memorized," she says. "But sometimes I'd have to wonder, did that customer come back yet or are they still on vacation? But I never second-guess now." Like other carriers, Ellington can now increase her revenue by also distributing copies of The New York Times, USA Today, The Wall Street Journal and Investor's Business Daily because the system lets her track multiple titles and customer sets. The SoftBook has also decreased missed or erroneous deliveries, which cost the carriers $1 a miss and The Republic $5 to $7 to correct. So carriers like it, and for subscribers, Sundays just got a little sunnier. -Heather Baukney STAFFING STILL HOT FOR Y2K The IT staffing crunch just got crunchier. A new poll by RHI Consulting in Menlo Park, Calif., shows that 25 percent of CIOs surveyed say they will be hiring additional personnel early this year. Only 3 percent expect staff reductions--a modest surprise, considering that Y2K has come and gone. These numbers come from RHI's quarterly IT Hiring Index and reflect anticipated first-quarter 2000 trends, as reported by 1,400 CIOs from a nationwide sample of companies employing 100 or more workers.
The results suggest that, while some companies indeed may be laying off IT employees who were dedicated to the Y2K problem, many more are actually staffing up to tackle the backlog of IT projects put on hold until the millennium bug was squashed. Among the hot hiring regions: Greater Chicago and New England, which expect above-average IT employment gains. Among the hot industries: retail and business, and professional services.
For more details from RHI's IT Hiring Index, see www.rhic.com/ jobsRHIC/career/trends.html. -Tom Field OFFICE SPACE EXPLORING NUKE FRONTIERS By Heather Baukney At his company's headquarters, he can ascend one of two 56-story cooling towers on a staircase that winds around the exterior. No, it's not Springfield, U.S.A., and he's not Homer Simpson. He's Bo Wandell, founder and president of SafeHarbor.com. "There's a definite amount of Homer Simpson joking that goes on here," Wandell says of SafeHarbor.com's home in a former nuclear facility in Satsop, Wash. "I just tell people that we're number one in converting nuclear power plants into technology parks."
The site, about 90 miles outside of Seattle, was owned and operated by the Washington Public Power Supply System until 1994 when construction was abandoned due to lack of funding. Now it's the world's only high-tech park with nuclear site-quality infrastructure.
Since SafeHarbor.com's business is helping companies deliver web-focused customer service, cachet is only one of the advantages of its locale. Because of its past life, the 44,000-square-foot facility boasts extensive systems, power redundancy and network communications connectivity capable of handling phone traffic for the entire United States. "There's a power substation right underneath the site," says Wandell. "We have a diesel generator, and all the telecom hardware and software and all the servers are in fireproof vaults."
Its unparalleled infrastructure wasn't the only reason SafeHarbor.com chose to develop the Satsop site. "We've set out to build world-class infrastructure in a rural community," says Wandell. "CEO Brian Sterling and Bill Miller [chairman of the board of directors] and I all grew up a hop, skip and a jump from Satsop. We're trying to give back to a community that gave us a wonderful upbringing; a community that fell on hard times."
OFF THE SHELF Edited by Carol Zarrow
ONWARD AND UPWARD The Arc of Ambition: Defining the Leadership Journey By James Champy and Nitin Nohria Perseus Books, 2000, $26 Ambition should have a higher purpose than making money, creating innovative products, capturing market share or winning wars. Ideally, the authors of The Arc of Ambition propose, ambition creates leaders who give back to the community and make the world a better place.
What drives ambition, and where can it go wrong? Leaders rich in purpose but weak in values will sink the ship. Others struggle to balance dreams and reality.
The book's chapters are divided into themes, like "seize the moment" and "temper ambition." Rather than preaching the principles, the authors demonstrate them in breezy vignettes, following business icons and social and religious leaders.
The Arc of Ambition brings few new ideas to light, and at times the profiles are more tedious than thought-provoking. Yet the book does provide a fast-paced overview of the mysteries of leadership. Its messages provide inspiration for experienced executives hoping to refresh their sense of purpose and for new execs just beginning their journey. -Polly Schneider AND... Differentiate or Die: Survival in Our Age of Killer Competition By Jack Trout John Wiley & Sons, 2000, $24.95 Michael Porter doesn't "get" competition, says Jack Trout. While Porter talks a good game about competitive advantage, he can't teach you how to achieve it.
Unlike Trout, says Trout.
First, Trout tells his readers what doesn't work. Quality doesn't work.
Everyone expects it. Customer service doesn't work. It's a given.
What does work? Being first. Owning an attribute. Having a specialty.
Possessing a magic ingredient.
In Differentiate or Die, Trout says that if you don't heed his pronouncements, you will perish. Might as well pay heed. -David Rosenbaum CIO BEST SELLER LIST 5. The Cluetrain Manifesto: The End of Business As Usual by Christopher Locke, Rick Levine, Doc Searls and David Weinberger Perseus Books, 2000 4. The Tipping Point: How Little Things Can Make a Big Difference by Malcolm Gladwell Little, Brown and Co., 2000 3. The New New Thing: A Silicon Valley Story by Michael Lewis W.W. Norton & Co., 1999 2. Leading With the Heart: Coach K's Successful Strategies for Basketball, Business and Life by Mike Krzyzewski Warner Books, 2000 1. Who Moved My Cheese: An Amazing Way to Deal With Change in Your Work and in Your Life by Spencer Johnson The Putnam Publishing Group, 1998 SOURCE: April 10, 2000, data, compiled by Borders Group Inc., Ann Arbor, Mich.
Visit the Reading Room at www.cio.com/books.
WHAT THEY'RE READING Jim Cook, vice president of IT services, Child Health Corp. of America, Shawnee Mission, Kan. 45 Effective Ways for Hiring Smart: How to Predict Winners and Losers in the Incredibly Expensive People-Reading Game, by Pierre Mornell (Ten Speed Press, 1998) "I found this one to be very insightful, an easy read, with practical applications."
He also recommends Customers.Com: How to Create a Profitable Business Strategy for the Internet and Beyond, by Patricia B. Seybold (Times Books, 1998) "It helped me look at my clients from a different perspective."
HOT TOPIC ENTERPRISE RESOURCE PLANNING Selling Subscriptions By Derek Slater Most folks don't buy a house by writing a single check upfront; monthly installments are the usual way to make major purchases affordable.
Good news: You can expect vendors of enterprise software applications to catch on to this business basic, according to those wily analysts at AMR Research in Boston. Enterprise applications include enterprise resource planning (ERP), supply chain management (SCM), customer relationship management (CRM) and e-business software (no acronym yet). AMR Vice President David Caruso says that over the next two to three years, makers of this kind of big-ticket software will move from requiring multimillion-dollar checks upfront to offering subscription-based pricing.
Customers will still have the option of installing and hosting the software on their own systems, so this pricing model is different from outsourcing to an application service provider. The subscription plan will allow customers to smooth out their expenses and also add or subtract seats without major contract renegotiations, making the software expense more variable depending on the health of their business: Close or spin off a division? The number of seats, and therefore the monthly fee, goes down. Grow like Topsy? Simply raise the fee as seats are added. "From a businessman's standpoint, spreading out payments always sounds good," Caruso says.
Unfortunately for the vendors, they may have to suffer slings and arrows on Wall Street in the transition. Caruso notes that Baan--no stellar performer on the stock market anyway-- took extra lumps at the end of last year when the company announced a move toward the subscription pricing model. The problem is the old hockey stick model: Enterprise software vendors typically record the great bulk of their revenues in deals signed right before the end of each fiscal quarter--buyers are habituated to wait until then to get discounts.
Since the vendors can't legally record revenue until they've delivered the service, the subscription model means revenue from big, new licensing deals will largely be deferred. Ultimately that will stabilize revenues for the vendors, but in the near term revenues may appear to dip somewhat.