Stories by Stewart Deck

CRM Crunch Time at Mail Boxes Etc.

Raymond S. Causey started dreaming about this Christmas during the summer of 1999. Causey isn't a 10-year-old boy with a burning desire for a model train or a pony. In fact, he's the father of three young boys who themselves probably won't even start thinking about Christmas until Thanksgiving.

A Help Session on Leadership

As a high-school kid in the early 1980s, Mintu Bachann wanted to find afterschool work that was a little more exotic than flipping burgers. He was intrigued by his uncle's computer consulting business, so he went to work there changing tapes, looking over cards and codes, learning Cobol and entering data. Last winter Bachann made a similar decision to pursue something more colorful, this time leaving the Fortune 500 environment for the cio position at He got all the color he bargained for and more. In the face of exponential growth, he must draw a rational road map for technology and site development while ensuring 24/7 site availability. It may sound like a perpetual Maalox Moment, but there are strategies that can pull a startup CIO through these most interesting times. Bachann got together recently with Bob Quinn, former CIO of eBay Inc. and now CIO at 2-year-old dotcom Portera, to discuss leadership.

Free to Be

Tim Wright knows acquisitions. As the head of technology at CD-ROM publisher SoftKey (which later became The Learning Co.), he helped oversee more than 20 of them. Wright was also a central observer when toy maker Mattel Co. made its ill-fated purchase of The Learning Co., which was completed in May 1999. Wright's short stint at Mattel proved very practical; it taught him how not to handle an acquisition.

Marketing 101: Inside Sales

Lori Thompson is frustrated with contact management software. It's not that Thompson, the senior vice president of sales at the Keds division of Stride Rite Corp., doesn't recognize the importance of organizing sales calls and client data. It's just this: The fact that her IT department made it available shows its lack of understanding about what salespeople and marketers really need to do their jobs.

Career Paths: Wheel of Misfortune

Everyone's looking for a chance to strike it rich by jumping to an internet startup. But knowing which opportunity is the right one is not easy. When faced with such a choice, there are certain questions you should ask about the company and about yourself.

IT Staffing: Six Degrees of Hire Learning

Ryan Burnsides spent the summer of 1998 immersed in video games and got paid for it. He got to live in sunny California, took in a couple of ball games and participated in video game tournaments. One might think that Ryan was getting a free ride from Electronic Arts Inc., the company that foot the bill for his summer adventure, but the company was actually the one that reaped the benefits.

Enterprise Value Award Fine Line

The world changed for Dell Computer Corp. in April 1997. Sure, Dell had been a very successful computer system maker before that. Its direct sales model was successful enough up to that point to have helped it inch ahead of rival IBM Corp. into third place in U.S. PC sales behind Packard Bell-NEC Inc. and juggernaut leader Compaq Computer Corp. Dell had also just counted profits of $518 million for its most recent fiscal year and its forecasts were absolutely rosy.

Angry IBM workers may unionise

Some North Carolina-based IBM employees are so fed up with a recently instituted change in pension programs that they're considering taking on the company by unionising.

Interview: Sybase CEO: New database 'e-business-ready'

Nine months after taking over as full-time solo chief executive officer at database maker Sybase, John Chen still has an uphill climb.
Although profits are up, quarterly revenues slipped from last year's $US217.8 million to $210 million this quarter, while Sybase lost database server market share.

IBM Unveils Electronic Catalog Tool

IBM Corp. today announced Catalog Architect, a content management tool for designing and building online electronic catalogs.
Catalog Architect costs US$3,000 and was designed for users of IBM's Net.Commerce merchant server software. It lets users speed up content updates and maintain complex online catalogs, while checking for data completeness and consistency.

Brio Warehousing Eases Y2K Stress

With many information technology staffs not just shorthanded but working more and more feverishly on year 2000 troubles, one of the last things they want to do is put everything down and spend hours running voluminous database queries. Yet their end users still need that data.

Format of Data Slows Migration of Records

What's the oldest data record you have? Ten years of canceled checks? Yellowed love letters? A family Bible?
The U.S. Department of the Interior's Bureau of Land Management has some data that stretches back more than 100 years. The bureau keeps track of oil and gas leases, rights of way, mining claims and land patents for 300 million publicly owned acres across the U.S.
This 1 billion-record storehouse sits in four databases on a 15-year-old, year 2000-noncompliant, Honeywell-based mainframe system. But the bureau wants to bring the whole thing up to date to make it accessible to the public.