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Volume 2, Issue 29: Monday, March 13, 2000
- "Technologists Get a Warning and a Plea From One of Their Own"
New York Times (03/13/00) P. C1; Markoff, John
Sun Microsystems chief scientist Bill Joy warns scientists against pursuing technological advances that might enable widespread destruction and ultimately threaten human life, in an article for the April issue of Wired magazine. Voicing an opinion that is highly unorthodox among technologists, Joy urges scientists to back away from uncontrolled development in the digital, biological, and material sciences. "The 21st century technologies--genetics, nanotechnology, and robotics--are so powerful they can spawn whole new classes of accidents and abuses," Joy writes. "Most dangerously, for the first time, these accidents and abuses are widely within the reach of individuals or small groups." In the future, technology will be harder to control because development is now led by the commercial sector rather than by the military, says Joy, who created an early version of Unix, helped found Sun, and has recently worked on Java and Jini technologies. In the area of genetics, Joy says advances could lead to the creation of a "white plague" that could kill selectively. Meanwhile, the field of nanotechnology could unleash a submicroscopic mechanism that replicates itself, causing mass destruction, Joy says. Joy is also concerned about the field of robotics, warning that superintelligent computers could one day compete with people for resources. Technologists today face ethical issues similar to those faced by the nuclear physicists who made the atomic and hydrogen bombs, Joy says. Unlike physicists during World War II, Joy suggests that today's scientists "limit development of technologies that are too dangerous, by limiting our pursuit of certain kinds of knowledge."
- "CEOs Care, But Don't Act, About Their Firms' Net Reputation"
E-Commerce Times (03/06/00); Fridman, Sherman
Sixty-four percent of CEOs and senior managers report that their company's Web site could be doing a better job of improving the corporate reputation, according to a survey conducted by Yankelovich Partners. Only 9 percent of those surveyed feel that their company is maximizing the potential offered by the Web site. Yankelovich surveyed 600 CEOs and senior managers on behalf of Chief Executive magazine and public relations firm Hill and Knowlton. "These numbers reflect the growing interest in assessing corporate image and establishing a reputation benchmark," said Harlan Teller, executive managing director of Hill and Knowlton's U.S. Corporate Practice. Yet while many managers appear to be concerned about reputation, few are working to enhance their firm's image; less than half of the respondents said their firm has an Internet strategy related to corporate image. The survey reported that 40 percent of CEOs are worried about what unhappy customers might be saying about their company online and about 25 percent expressed concern for what ex-employees might be saying online. "We expect at some point this level of concern will translate into a higher percentage of companies developing programs to more effectively manage Internet communications," says Tom Hoog, CEO of Hill and Knowlton.
- "Are CIOs Obsolete?"
Harvard Business Review (04/00) Vol. 78, No. 2, P. 55; Maruca, Regina Fazio
Harvard Business Review recently asked six experts for their views on whether the CIO's position has become obsolete as technology pervades all areas of business, turning all executives into information officers. Dawn Lepore, CIO and vice chairman at Charles Schwab, says businesses are increasingly dependent on technology to stay competitive, and that CIOs will help lead technology expansion and assume a larger role. The CIO's role will become more similar to that of the CEO, with the two positions complementing one another. Although the CEO will be the strategy leader, CIOs will also be involved in strategy but will manage implementation in a more detailed manner, Lepore writes. Jack Rockart, MIT lecturer and director of the Center for Information Systems Research, says the CIO's role has changed as companies turn to outsourcing and line managers understand more about technology. However, Rockart says predictions of the CIO's extinction do not take into account large changes in the way businesses operate and the tremendous changes in the technology that is available. Rockart says issues such as implementation and infrastructure are now more significant than ever, and "the role of IT is, if anything, larger than ever." Michael J. Earl, professor of information management at the London Business School, notes that CIOs are being charged with a greater range of responsibilities, including strategy and change management. CIOs now need business and leadership skills, making CIOs strong candidates for future roles as CEOs, Earl says. Tom Thomas, Chairman and CEO of Vantive and former CIO of Dell, 3Com, and Kraft, notes the CIO's increasing role in strategy, and suggests that CIOs and CEOs will work closely with one another, with the CIO supporting general leadership and possibly becoming a future CEO. Finally, Giga Information Group consultant Peter McAteer and Integral consultant Jeffrey Elton say the CIO has become "a sort of heavyweight project manager," with little role in corporate strategy. The two consultants say this situation should change, with CIOs becoming "the center of operations for strategy pertaining to technology and its implementation." CIOs that focus only on technology skills will likely fail in their new roles, while those with management skills will succeed, McAteer and Elton say.
- "Ideas Into Products With the Web"
New York Times (03/13/00) P. C6; Riordan, Teresa
The Internet now enables companies to trade intellectual property, like ideas and technology, in addition to traditional retail items. The most recently launched of such tech-trader Web sites, yet2.com, allows a company, free of charge, to post its own patents, new discoveries, unpatented inventions, and various other technological knowledge and also review those posted by others. Items posted on yet2.com are anonymous and are essentially marketing documents meant to pique the interest of others. Should a viewing company desire more information about a specific site item, it must pay a $1,000 fee and yet2.com will arrange a one-on-one meeting between the viewing company and the posting company. If as a result of the meeting the two parties arrange a deal, yet2.com receives a 10 percent share not to exceed $50,000. The site's CEO Chris De Bleser claims yet2.com represents a fundamentally different approach to innovation and intellectual property because the site encourages the trading of ideas and fosters corporate relationships, as opposed to the traditional business model in which "nobody shared anything with anybody."
- "E-Business Analysis Tools Are Key for Dot-Coms"
PC Week Online (03/12/00); Hammond, Mark
Analytic intelligence, which provides precise and profitable information about customers, is becoming a mission-critical element of e-commerce, because it produces personalized content that can be used to attract business. Dot-coms are employing new tools enabling them to access, analyze, and share e-commerce data to build loyalty among customers and suppliers and build profit. "The focus has been on getting the operational systems up," said Douglas Hackney, analyst and president of the Enterprise Group. "What they haven't had is the why." Among the challenges of analytic intelligence is parsing the large amounts of data into a manageable volume, maintaining customer privacy, and, for traditional companies moving online, blending analyzed Web data with back- and front-office data to create a comprehensive view. "There are difficulties in doing this and no magic bullet to solve it," said Joe Whitehurst, analyst and president of Whitehurst Associates. "It takes a lot of hard work and a lot of attention to detail. Demand for it is large, especially for Internet-based e-commerce companies--startups in particular." Well-implemented solutions can be very valuable, as Outpost.com realized after 25 percent of customers identified as inactive through analysis responded to a direct marketing effort by returning to the Web site and making purchases. "I'm very pleased with the ROI," said Brett Lauter, Outpost's director of CRM. "It's ultraimportant to do this, to build a trusted and valued relationship with your customer." Many companies are making a name for themselves in the growing business intelligence and data warehousing industry through offerings and partnerships, including Oracle, SAS, IBM, Microsoft, Hyperion Solutions, and such startups as Accrue Software and WebTrends.
- "NY Senate Seeks Internet Privacy Laws"
The New York state senate announced the introduction of a legislative package that would increase the privacy protections of consumers, patients, and other individuals. The protections extend beyond the Internet, protecting consumers from a wide range of data-collecting organizations, including credit agencies, telemarketers, financial institutions, schools, and hospitals. The underlying theme of the privacy proposals is that individuals should know who is collecting their personal data, how the data is used, and whether the data is being used by others without their permission, says Senate Majority Leader Joseph Bruno (R). The new legislation will go through the approval process next week; the state assembly says it will host a pair of consumer-privacy hearings in March.
- "Central Europe, Too, Is Embracing the Net"
Wall Street Journal Europe (03/10/00); Chapman, Carolyn
A small but enthusiastic group of companies in Hungary, and in the rest of Central Europe, are pushing e-business development in the region. The companies, often traditional businesses using the Internet as an additional source of revenue, find that much work must be done before e-commerce is widely accepted in Hungary. Currently, most electronic transactions in Hungary are conducted on electronic data interchange (EDI) systems, which allow businesses to exchange orders, invoices, and inventory information. Although business-to-business e-commerce is growing with the proliferation of EDI systems, business-to-consumer e-commerce is virtually nonexistent. An Andersen Consulting study in August on Hungarian e-commerce reported that about 60 online retailers exist in the nation, generating just 0.02 percent of total retail sales revenue. Hungarian e-commerce is limited by many factors: a small economy, high telephone rates and Internet connection fees, consumer wariness toward credit cards, and, perhaps most importantly, a lack of interest among banks. Despite these hurdles, some remain optimistic about the growth of the Internet. "My prediction for e-commerce in the world, and in Hungary, is that it will make life something that you and I could have never anticipated," says Ference Bati, director of IBM Central/Eastern Europe and Russia. "We don't know how it's going to be because we've only just started."
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- "Identity Theft Cases Said on Rise"
Associated Press (03/08/00); Shepard, Paul
Ohio resident Maureen Mitchell and her husband had their identities stolen over the Internet, allowing the thieves to wreak havoc on the couple's financial status by making large purchases, procuring bank loans, and opening many credit accounts in the Mitchells' name. Curiously, Mitchell and her husband have never conducted financial transactions on the Web and are good about guarding their credit data, but the data was available online nonetheless. Last week, Mitchell provided testimony about the incident to the Senate Judiciary subcommittee on technology, terrorism, and government, as part of an examination into how well the 1998 Identity Theft and Assumption Deterrence law is working. Bill sponsor Sen. Jon Kyl (R-Ariz.) says the law is having a positive effect, noting that 1,350 people were charged under the law last year, and 644 sentenced.
- "Seeking the Deeper Path to E-Success"
InformationWeek (03/06/00) No. 776, P. 48; Chabrow, Eric
Companies that have the most success with e-business are those that not only invest heavily in IT, but also show a strong commitment to e-business best practices, according to a recently released InformationWeek Research study. Significant business improvements have been made by companies that have implemented at least three of the following e-business practices: implementing customer-facing information systems, moving legacy electronic processes to e-business, streamlining value or supply chains, and redefining corporate culture around e-business, the study shows. Of the companies that have adopted at least three of those four practices, 75 percent say the online efforts offer a competitive edge, boost customer satisfaction, lower operating costs, create new revenue sources, and raise profits. The survey shows no large differences between IT managers and business managers in their outlook on e-business. IT managers and business managers alike say IT managers are spearheading e-business technology decisions. In addition, 91 percent of respondents say IT's increased role in overall business is the most important aspect in changing corporate strategy. The second most important factor is using IT to increase customer value, listed by 84 percent. Other changes respondents felt were important include partnering with Internet startups, acquiring e-businesses to broaden offerings, mergers and acquisitions, spinning off e-businesses, and holding IPOs. Although companies transitioning to the Internet face many business challenges, business issues are overshadowed by the difficulties of keeping up with the pace of change in technology, respondents say.
- "A Glimpse of Cyberwarfare"
U.S. News & World Report (03/13/00) Vol. 128, No. 10, P. 32; Strobel, Warren P.
Various governments around the world are using the Internet to suppress dissent, harass their enemies, obtain trade secrets, and even prepare for war. Although computer security experts admit that some of the worst-case scenarios have yet to happen, such as rogue governments using computers to wreak havoc on financial systems, they warn that more than 12 countries, including China, Iraq, Iran, and Russia already possess fairly sophisticated information-warfare know-how. For example, China is currently debating whether to devote a fourth branch of its military solely to information warfare, and the Pentagon will consolidate its offensive cyberwarfare programs at the U.S. Space Command in Colorado later this year. Experts say cyberwars pose great ethical and legal dilemmas, as there is no clear separation point between military sites and those devoted to civilian infrastructure, as in physical wars. Military analysts admit that the U.S. may be the biggest loser if cyberwarfare becomes an accepted form of battle, as it is the country most tightly strung together by computer networks. Because of the widespread damage that cyberwarfare could lead to, some countries such as Russia have proposed treaties on the matter, similar to arms control agreements. However, experts say verifying such an agreement would be nearly impossible given the nature of computer networks. Electronic spying could also become as problematic as cyberwarfare, as many government agencies are rich with detailed, classified information that is extremely valuable to an enemy. Security professionals say not only can information be taken from a computer, but an unfriendly entity could also place bogus information into a computer, causing military leaders to make decisions about troop locations or battlefield conditions based on fictional data. Most military analysts contend that the computer has made the world an even more dangerous place.
- "Send No Evil?"
Industry Standard (03/13/00) Vol. 3, No. 9, P. 304; Groenfeldt, Tom
The growing number of businesses monitoring employee email are finding that the practice is not particularly straightforward. Although the majority of financial services firms have been monitoring employee emails since 1997--when the SEC extended its rule requiring that brokerages monitor employee communications to include email--only recently are companies in other industries considering the option, primarily due to concern over the legal ramifications of unregulated email. Accusations that email monitoring violates an employee's right to privacy are widespread, but public sentiment increasingly appears to be shifting toward the view that workplace privacy does not extend to communications conducted using company-provided equipment. Use of email has grown so quickly that laws governing email monitoring and employer liability for the content of employee email are not yet in place, which means a corporation is in relatively murky water when it comes to such issues. As a result, most businesses choose to install monitoring software only when there are indications of a problem. Of those companies using the software, most do so sparingly. Although several court rulings have given employers the right to monitor email without providing prior notification to employees, most companies elect to inform staff simply because doing so fosters greater acceptance and understanding of the monitoring policy.
- "Corporate Security Begins at Home"
Computerworld (03/06/00) Vol. 34, No. 10, P. 14; Harrison, Ann
Many companies are responding to last month's denial-of-service attacks on several Web sites by undertaking efforts to protect the security of telecommuter transactions conducted via their corporate VPNs. Zone Labs President Gregor Freund notes that "you can encrypt as much data in transit as you want, but if the PC that information originates from is not secure, then the entire system is not secure." The company's free ZoneAlarm personal firewall has been downloaded from the Zone Labs Web site more than 500,000 times in the past month alone, and California-based Network ICE says sales of its BlackICE intrusion-detection and firewall product have increased 50 percent. Several companies now require their telecommuters to use personal firewalls on their home PCs in order to decrease the possibility that hackers could invade those PCs and use them to access confidential corporate material and attack the corporate VPN.
- "Enabling a Successful e-Business Strategy Requires a Detailed Business Process Map"
InfoWorld (03/06/00) Vol. 22, No. 10, P. 64; Biggs, Maggie
A detailed business roadmap is key to a successful e-business implementation, writes InfoWorld's Maggie Biggs. Biggs predicts greater development in the business-to-business e-commerce space this year, which she says will create the need for businesses to examine their core processes to determine which are most compatible with the Internet. As companies assess their core processes, a logical business roadmap will emerge, enabling the company to determine the risks of e-business while designing a plan to manage those risks, says Biggs. In creating an e-business roadmap, Biggs suggests that companies start by mapping existing business processes using graphical tools or process modeling tools. Companies should examine how existing Web-enabled business processes are affecting the bottom line, and identify the actions rivals have taken to automate their processes, keeping an eye on how those actions have affected the market. Biggs says that next, companies should assess the long-term value of Web-enabled business processes, examining factors such as profitability, growth, time to market, and customer service. Companies should then consider their existing staff, identifying which, if any, additional skills would be necessary to run an e-business. Biggs says that after completing these analyses, a company should be able to identify which business processes are best suited for the Web. In implementing the e-business strategy, Biggs says that companies should identify any weaknesses in existing systems and processes that might complicate the end result.
- "Lawmakers Seek Better Shields Against Cyberattacks"
Washington Technology (03/06/00) Vol. 14, No. 23, P. 14; Gallagher, Anne
The Government Information Security Act, recently introduced in Congress by Sens. Joseph Lieberman (D-Conn.) and Fred Thompson (R-Tenn.), attempts to bring the IT industry and government together behind a comprehensive, long-term solution for computer security. The bill specifically relates to the federal government's information system and how to protect it from cyberattacks. It mandates that all federal agencies have their information security programs and practices audited by an outside agency annually, and it also allows the Office of Management and Budget authority to step up government-wide oversight of federal agencies. The bill is said to have wide support both within government and Silicon Valley, and it is possible that it will pass this year, according to some congressional staffers. At a recent hearing on computer security in the Senate, some experts said the Web sites that were recently hit with denial-of-service attacks should have expected such attacks and prepared for them. The experts also said that too many companies are placing their security in one solution, such as firewalls or encryption, instead of layering solutions and then constantly monitoring the situation. Those at the hearing contended that IT products must be designed with greater security protections, such as bigger firewalls. Security professionals at the hearing also said cyberattacks have increased dramatically in recent years. The Computer Emergency Response Team at Carnegie Mellon dealt with 132 computer security incidents in 1989, compared to 8,000 in 1999.
- "Clicking for Candidates"
Government Technology (02/00) Vol. 13, No. 2, P. 54; Gold, Bryan M.
San Mateo County, Calif., boasts an electronic voting system that connects remote sites via networks; meanwhile, 15 other counties in the state are in the midst of efforts to replace their old tedious and time-consuming voting systems with the new electronic one. However, Terry Medina, San Mateo's deputy assessor/clerk/recorder, and an instrumental player in the county's adoption of the electronic voting system, is not yet satisfied. He is attempting to create an InfoBus to travel throughout the county and bring the polls to the voters, all in time for California's March elections. The InfoBus will have touch screens with Internet voting capabilities, and will make scheduled stops along its route. Medina eventually plans to outfit the vehicle with equipment that will allow people who are unable to visit county administrative buildings during business hours to obtain the items they need, such as copies of birth certificates. San Mateo County is not the only locale seeking to revolutionize the voting process with modern technology. Online voting has been tested in several states and many Web sites have been launched that cater to the needs of voters and candidates.
Washington Monthly (03/00) Vol. 32, No. 3, P. 9; Thompson, Nicholas
The success of Linux indicates that people can cooperate on large projects without money as an incentive, and this type of collaboration will likely expand to other areas such as medicine and law as technology improves, says Washington Monthly writer Nicholas Thompson. Open-source development and research is becoming more realistic due to improvements in Internet technology as well as rapidly growing computing power. These advances are crucial to open-source development because physical components are not as necessary in creating a product since simulation and other technologies can be used, and because information can be exchanged much more quickly and easily. With the emphasis on physical components decreasing, open source is more effective since most of the advantages of open source involve intellectual property. Although the difficulty of profiting on an open-source model could be a drawback, Thompson suggests that people can be motivated to work by factors other than money, including recognition, enjoyment, and the feeling that one is helping the world. Volunteer Linux programmers, for example, enjoy working on the operating system and feel that they are providing the world with high quality software. Furthermore, open-source can be profitable through the sale of associated products or services. For example, Red Hat sells its own version of Linux and earns money by providing technical support to its users. In the future, the medical field might begin using an open-source model to cure diseases, Thompson suggests. Doctors can already network and share information online, and within 10 years medical professionals will likely be able to use improved technology to simulate the human immune system for experiments. Large projects could be divided among a large number of people who might be motivated by finding a cure, for example, rather than by money. Law is another field likely to benefit from open-source since law, like medicine, relies heavily on intellectual rather than physical property.