Stories by Jennifer McAdams

Whodunit? Stop these employees from leaking your corporate data

You might know how to secure your network devices and data centers to keep your corporate intelligence safe. But do you know how to teach your employees how to guard against attacks -- not generically, but based on the work they do? Experts suggest that a well-constructed security plan involves customized training by job function. You need to tell your HR people to manage personnel files that might reside in multiple locations, your facilities crew to watch out for people entering the building with fake IDs and your salespeople to guard access to the company's CRM system.

Lean projects

Often, a standout IT leader is one who champions a project and guides a team to do remarkable things with scant resources. These Computerworld Premier 100 honorees had the courage to ask tough questions and used their consensus-building skills, flexibility and detailed analysis to reap huge gains internally.

Lose unwanted gigabytes overnight

Like overstuffed closets, cluttered enterprise backup operations scream for attention. Fortunately, vendors are coming out with data de-duplication functions -- packed into storage software suites or in stand-alone appliances -- that sort through data destined for the archives and eliminate the redundancies.

Rethinking IT budgets

On par with a trip to the dentist's office, IT budgeting tends to rank fairly low on any CIO's list of favorite activities. While alternative approaches to forecasting corporate IT expenditures won't necessarily make the process any less tedious or painful, progressive new budgeting practices could make life easier in the long run.

Six advanced-technology open source projects

The open source movement is fertile ground for creating advanced tools and technologies -- all at an appealing price. We've scoured the market to find six open source projects that hold promise for your New Data Center architecture. They offer automated provisioning, intrusion detection, grid storage, network-attached storage, messaging for a service-oriented architecture (SOA) and secure telephony.

Standout skills

Golf balls run amok and ping around a warehouse in an amusing new DHL commercial. A distraught warehouse manager phones the shipping giant to reroute correspondence and packages, while a booming voice pledges that DHL has adopted a renewed focus on customer service -- a promise that will extend clear down to IT personnel manning help desks and scrambling to provide technical support.

Getting help to those in need faster

At Allstate Insurance, business intelligence technology must prove itself every time a hurricane blows through Florida or wreaks havoc elsewhere in the U.S.

Getting schedules in sync with customers

When Nick Mason of the legendary '70s rock group Pink Floyd showed up for a signing at Virgin Entertainment Group's Megastore on Sunset Strip in Los Angeles, store managers fed the famed drummer updated sales figures for his latest book every 15 minutes by extracting data from the company's business intelligence system. That's just one example of a major change at Virgin made possible by BI. Specifically, Sunset Strip employees can use instantly available BI data to make on-the-spot decisions -- for example, strategically shifting stacks of Mason's books and CDs and quickly placing orders for dwindling supplies.

Making price adjustments on the fly

Home and car keys have become more expensive to duplicate because of the soaring costs of metals. After business intelligence data gleaned from a new Web-based system showed that this added expense had reduced annual revenue tied to key-cutting equipment sales by a full 1 percent, executives at hardware wholesaler The Hillman Group scrambled to adjust prices.

Detecting a web of fraud

A band of chiropractors, with the help of insured "patients," recently bilked several insurance companies out of millions. Now they're facing US$7 million in fines and up to seven years' imprisonment. In this major case of insurance fraud, independent Blue Cross Blue Shield provider Highmark used a new business intelligence application to fight back.

Privacy predicament

The Philadelphia Stock Exchange flows 300 million stock quotes per day over an electronic trading system at rates that climb as high as 20,000 quotes per second during peak periods. The systems also churns out extremely sensitive trading reports packed with proprietary customer information that must be stringently guarded from outside attacks and unauthorized internal access.

Boomers bid farewell

Applicants over the age of 50 beating the streets in today's IT job market bear resumes that are commonly stigmatized as pricey and outdated, given recent leaps in technology and sweeping operational changes at many companies. Yet this crowd may prove to be the IT profession's salvation, especially over the next four years as baby boomers retire from the workforce in droves.

Top secret

Classification helps flag and secure sensitive data, but it can be a labour-intensive exercise.

Battle of the bulge

In a routine reminiscent of mum at dinner time, thin provisioning forces storage-hungry users to watch their habits.