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Volume 2, Issue 14:  Friday, February 4, 2000

  • "Software Makers Aim to Dilute Buyers' Rights"
    Los Angeles Times (02/04/00) P. A1; Menn, Joseph

    Several major software companies are advocating state legislation based on the Uniform Computer Transactions Act (UCITA) that many experts say would significantly detract from software buyers' rights. The software industry is leveraging its favored status among lawmakers to push legislation that cuts consumer and business customer rights, says former Maine attorney general James Tierney. The proposed bills would allow software firms to remotely turn off programs in customers' systems if the customer was late on lease payments or other fees. In addition, the bills would give email the weight of a formal legal notice without proof that the customer received the message. Software makers would be allowed to use nondisclosure clauses in software packages to prevent the publication of product reviews. Furthermore, software sales would be considered licensing agreements, which would enable vendors to prohibit the future sale or donation of their products. The UCITA bills were developed by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws, which aims to simplify interstate commerce. California is expected to soon pass one of the UCITA bills, and Maryland, Virginia, and Illinois are also considering the legislation. Powerful vendors such as Microsoft, Intuit, Novell, and IBM's Lotus support the measures, although some software firms such as Sun are against the bills. Meanwhile, many law experts, consumer groups, state attorneys general, and corporate software buyers oppose UCITA and forming a campaign to fight the bills.

  • "U.S. Government Officials: Y2K Billions Well Spent"
    InfoWorld Electric (02/01/00); Johnston, Margret

    Deputy Secretary of Defense John Hamre and Sen. Bob Bennett (R-Utah) on Tuesday emphasized their view that U.S. resources were well spent on Y2K remediation. The two officials, both key leaders in the nation's Y2K campaign, spoke at a meeting sponsored by the Center for Strategic and International Studies. Although critics believe the government devoted excessive time and money to Y2K, Bennett believes widespread failures would have occurred without industry and government efforts. Some Y2K problems have been reported, such as bugs in Pakistan's stock market systems, but concerns about problems spreading among interconnected systems appear to be unfounded, since efforts were made to ensure that bugs would be limited. Bennett and Hamre say Y2K preparations were a learning experience for the U.S. government, noting that the Department of Defense had no inventory of mission-critical systems before Y2K. Bennett says more problems might arise with software that does not recognize 2000 as a leap year, and adds that temporary date-change patches will need to become permanent fixes.

  • "Thumbs Down on Net Wiretaps"
    Wired News (02/03/00); McCullagh, Declan

    The Internet Engineering Task Force, the committee that creates Internet standards, recently announced that it was against online wiretapping. The decision came after months of debate, spurred by an FBI request to allow wiretapping on the Web in certain cases. The task force's decision will become an Internet standard unless there is major opposition to it; however, analysts say that the high-tech community is relatively unanimous in its opposition to building wiretapping protocols into the Internet.

  • "Computer Language Consensus Sought"
    Associated Press (02/01/00); Kalish, David E.

    Industry members are working to develop Extensible Markup Language (XML) on the grounds that it could be the piece of Internet infrastructure needed to enable widespread exchange of data across different computing platforms and software. There remain concerns regarding privacy and whether the many different companies seeking a competitive edge will leave the XML market fragmented, limiting the technology's potential as a universal data exchange standard. However, the potential benefits include the enabling of automated business networks that constantly exchange information, wireless Internet services such as the airline reservation system being developed by IBM and Nokia, wireless banking, and much more efficient Internet searches. XML applies tags that describe the content of data being transferred; unlike HTML code, XML allows companies to exchange information freely without concern for software programs.
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  • "Obsessed With Customer Service and Experience"
    Financial Times--Information Technology (02/02/00) P. 15; Price, Christopher

    Amazon.com CEO Jeff Bezos says the company's long-term goal is to be the entry point for all online shopping. Although some argue Amazon is trying to be all things to all people, Bezos counters that Amazon is trying to be only one thing--"Earth's most customer-centric company." A truly customer-centric company, he says, listens to the demands of its customers and meets them, constantly innovates on behalf of its customers, and strives to provide the most individually personalized online shopping experience possible. Customers care only about four things, according to Bezos--selection, ease of use, price, and service. An effective brand will be created only if a company addresses all four customer concerns. Founded five years ago, Amazon shipped over 20 million books, CDs, and other items during the fourth quarter of 1999, en route to sales of $650 million, more than all of 1998. Bezos says the book division will be profitable in 1999 while analysts project overall profitability by 2001.

  • "Ford's Computer Deal Gives a Windfall to HP"
    San Jose Mercury News Online (02/03/00); Quinlan, Tom

    Ford's move to provide all of its 350,000 workers with Hewlett-Packard computers will significantly boost HP's PC sales and might help HP establish itself as an Internet company. All Ford employees will be able to buy an HP Pavilion PC with a 500 MHz Celeron processor, an ink-jet printer, and Internet access for $5 a month. In addition, Ford workers will receive a membership in PeoplePC, which serves as a clearinghouse for PC purchases to provide individuals with group discounts similar to those given to corporations. The employees will also get 24-hour service and support as well as discounted service from firms such as Yahoo!. HP expects to sell at least 300,000 PCs and printers with a retail value of $1,000, and although Ford is likely to receive a large discount, HP still expects to profit. For its part, PeoplePC will supply computers, printers, software, service, and Internet access, beginning in the U.S. in April and in other countries within 12 months.

  • "IBM: Not By Databases Alone"
    ZDNet (02/03/00); Taschek, James

    IBM aims to revolutionize the structure of databases by replacing the single, giant database that is standard today with several small data sources that can be managed from a single location. The concept, dubbed heterogeneous integration, will be featured in the latest edition of IBM's DB2 Universal Database (UDB), due for release this summer. As part of its new database strategy, IBM plans to market the database as part of a total solution. "Database companies are gone--I don't mean they're going belly-up, but a platform in which services can be built upon is the selling point and IBM can provide that," says IBM's Janet Perna. IBM's platform is a combination of WebSphere and DB2 UDB that will enable business logic to be built into an application server and database. IBM's modifications to DB2 are intended to increase performance among disparate databases--an important quality because many companies operate on several databases.

  • "Scramble to Cope With the Demands of E-Commerce"
    Financial Times--Information Technology (02/02/00) P. 27; Manchester, Philip

    Customer relationship management (CRM) software and services, including necessary front- and back-office integration services, promise to be of crucial importance over the next few years. Sales of CRM products will reach $16.8 billion worldwide by 2003, up from $3.7 billion in 1999, according to AMR Research. E-commerce will be the chief driving force behind CRM's growth; successful e-commerce operations require extensive integration of enterprise systems and a consistent, personalized online presentation to the customer. CRM efforts often deliver a significant return on investment as well, according to a recent survey of the CRM Market by Granville Equity Research. The study cites Novell's CRM deployment, which sparked an increase in quarterly revenues by $20 million to a total of $30 million. The CRM market is particularly strong in Europe, where International Data projects CRM spending will grow 47 percent every year through 2003.

  • "Smart Homes Aren't Too Far Into Future"
    Detroit News (01/30/00) P. B6; Despeignes, Peronet

    Many computer companies are working to develop, refine, and market home networking technology for use in the typical American middle class home. Home networking possibilities include systems to de-ice the driveway and sidewalk, televisions that project images of who or what may be at the front door, refrigerators that order food online when items run out, and various home-occupant health monitoring technologies. Earlier this month Sunbeam unveiled its Thalia line of networked home appliances, including an alarm clock that can direct a coffee maker to turn itself on. Other firms are working to deliver personalized, digitized music, video, and data to private homes, although more homes will need to be equipped with high-speed Internet access before the technology is common. Currently, home networking systems cost around $15,000 to $25,000, although that price range is expected to fall as the technology becomes more popular with the typical middle class homeowner.

  • "Mobile World Readies for IP-Based Future"
    Network World Online (02/03/00); Uimonen, Terho

    At the 2000 GSM World Congress today, a group of top computer, networking, and telecommunications firms announced an alliance designed to expedite the adoption of open, mobile Internet standards. The consortium, called the Mobile Wireless Internet Forum (MWIF), boasts 45 members, including IBM, Ericsson, Motorola, and Vodafone AirTouch. The group plans to collaborate on issues involving standards development, as well as work to facilitate early implementation of IP-based wireless networks. Also this week, MWIF members Ericsson, Motorola, and Nokia separately announced new offerings intended to ease upgrades to IP-based networks among service providers. The products will help service providers handle the dramatic increase in traffic loads expected as Internet and mobile voice communications merge.

  • "Managing the Web Only a Phase of Enterprise Management"
    ZDNet (01/31/00); Babcock, Charles

    Web site management is only one phase of implementing enterprise system management. The only difference about Web servers is that they operate outside of the firewall, but is just another set of servers included in the scope of management programs like IBM's Tivoli, HP's OpenView, or the host of options available. "The challenge today," said Earnest & Young consultant Wim Verhoeven, "is to apply methodologies and tools that are truly enterprise wide." To effectuate this, the suite must cover security, asset management, performance monitoring, and problem assessment. System management evolved from platforms such as the IBM mainframe, which sent alerts to a management console based on what was happening in the system. Later, standards such as SNMP were developed followed by separate scheduler products that monitored batch schedules and file availability. The ability to monitor applications and finally the ability to manage problems detected completed the equation. Only when all of these developments are integrated across the IBM mainframe, Unix platform, or Windows will a user achieve optimal system management.

  • "Ergonomics Efforts Work"
    Business Insurance (01/31/00) Vol. 34, No. 5, P. 1; Fletcher, Meg

    Intel, 3M, and the City of San Jose all have successful ergonomics programs, and they say that the effective ergonomics programs proposed by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) are in the long-term best interest of both companies and their employees. Over 90 case studies by the General Accounting Office and others indicate that successful programs reduce injury rates by an average of 70 percent; at the same time they lower costs and raise morale and productivity. OSHA says that its proposed regulations would prevent 300,000 injuries and save $9 billion each year. Opponents of the proposal have contended that the standard interferes too much with employers' operations and with state workers' compensation systems. Intel started its ergonomics program in 1992--the program complies with OSHA's proposed regulations--and it won the 1999 national Outstanding Office Ergonomics award from the Center for Office Technology. It has a database of worker-specific workstation requirements and stresses the immediate treatment of musculoskeletal cases before they become more serious. Intel's lost-day severity rate has fallen from 37.2 in 1993 to 1.4 in 1999, and its rate of recordable cumulative trauma disorders has fallen 93 percent. Fraudulent claims have not been a problem. San Jose's program won the award in 1998 and has been in place since 1994. It includes workstation or worksite evaluation and design, product evaluation, informational lectures, and self-assessment classes. The city has saved some $6 million in incurred claim costs since fiscal year 1995-1996 with a program that combines ergonomics, return to work, safety, and wellness. 3M's 15-year-old program is considered an essential smart business practice, improving worker efficiency, health, and productivity.

  • "Revving the E-Commerce Engine"
    Network World (01/31/00) Vol. 17, No. 5, P. 1; Caruso, Jeff

    Network professionals intend to focus on e-commerce, convergence, and VPNs over the next two years, according to the Network World 500 survey. Within two years respondents plan to obtain an average of 41 percent of total revenue from e-commerce, and devote a yearly average of $83 million to e-commerce. Many companies also plan to focus on the convergence of voice and video on data networks. Roughly 57 percent of those surveyed say convergence in LANs and WANs is practical, while 17 percent say convergence makes sense for WANs only, and 11 percent say the same for LANs. IP was chosen as the best protocol for voice traffic by 42 percent of respondents, while 35 percent chose ATM, and 9 percent chose frame relay. Another indication of the confidence in IP is that 42 percent of respondents already use VPNs, and an additional 36 percent believe they will use VPNs within two years. In general, respondents were positive about Windows NT and Active Directory, with 70 percent saying they do use or will use NT for e-commerce servers. Ninety-three percent of respondents say they use NT as a network operating system, although Unix closely matches NT in terms of user confidence. Meanwhile, 36 percent of respondents plan to deploy Active Directory within 12 months, while 20 percent will implement Novell Directory Services. The network management capability that respondents consider most important is troubleshooting and event notification, with storage management and comparison of performance against service-level agreements also ranking high. Handheld devices will become more common in offices, with 51 percent of respondents saying they will buy handhelds for employees in the next 12 months.

  • "IT Plots Aggressive Upgrades"
    InternetWeek (01/31/00) No. 798, P. 1; Wagner, Mitch

    Many IT organizations plan to run critical e-business applications on Windows 2000, according to a recent InternetWeek survey. Almost half of the IT managers responding to the survey intend to use Windows 2000 for e-business, with top applications including Web serving, email, business-to-business e-commerce, transaction processing, and data mining. Furthermore, many companies will merge internal business systems with Internet applications since Windows 2000 is expected to offer increased stability and security. Active Directory, the main reason many companies decided to upgrade to Windows 2000, is expected to solve the problem of multiple domain structures in Windows NT. In addition, Active Directory will let administrators record user rights and information just once, making the data available to other applications. Gartner Group analyst Michael Gartenberg predicts that all NT users will eventually migrate to Windows 2000, although some companies will wait longer than others. Seventy-three percent of companies not planning to upgrade say they are satisfied with their existing platform, while 38 percent of the same group say they are concerned about stability, and 24 percent plan to wait because they are unimpressed with Microsoft's customer support.

  • "Bye-Bye, Middleman"
    Barron's (01/24/00) Vol. 80, No. 4, P. 17; Doherty, Jacqueline

    Internet sales and B2B e-commerce allows auto manufacturers and other industry manufacturers to save money. General Motors and Ford Motor have both set up e-commerce sites, called TradeXchange and AutoXchange, respectively. GM Chairman John Smith Jr. expects the TradeXchange Internet site to generate $50 billion in business in 2000. By procuring parts from suppliers online, automakers could save roughly $3,000 on a car with an average sticker price of $22,000, notes Dresdner Kleinwort Benson global auto research coordinator David Garrity. Garrity points out that auto companies using e-commerce optimally could save between 5 percent to 10 percent on the costs of goods purchased, which could translate to at least $6.25 per share for GM and $3.30 per share for Ford. The savings are likely to be passed on to customers, though GM plans to generate additional earnings by charging as much as 1 percent for those doing business on its site. Believing heavy volume will increase the chances of success, Ford is trying to recruit such auto manufacturers as Nissan and Renault, while GM is pursuing Toyota and Honda. Garrity says the industry's "Holy Grail"--that of offering cars on demand--could be reached in the next five years. Companies in other industries are pursuing the benefits of going online. General Electric is integrating the Internet throughout its operations, and Norwegian state-owned Statoil recently announced it is developing a worldwide online marketplace.

  • "The Dawn of Electronic States"
    Government Technology (01/00) Vol. 13, No. 1, P. 20; Towns, Steve

    Two states, Georgia and Kansas, are leading the nation in government e-commerce development, according to the first edition of "The Digital State" report, a year-long study by the Center for Digital Government and the Progress & Freedom Foundation of government e-commerce efforts. Georgia, which scored 91 points out of a total 100, earned its first place ranking by offering a user-friendly Web site that enables citizens and businesses to download permit and license forms, apply for permits and licenses online, contact agency staff online, and access help through a public online mailbox. Meanwhile, Kansas earned a perfect score of 100 points in the taxation/revenue category by providing downloadable business and personal tax forms, allowing constituents to file tax returns online, providing email-based help services, and storing tax records digitally. The states that earned the highest ratings from the Digital State survey often used Y2K spending as an opportunity to upgrade systems, says Cathilea Robinett, executive director of the Center for Digital Government. "We did have an aging architecture that needed to be upgraded, and we wanted to take advantage of Y2K to do that," says Georgia CIO Mike Hale. The Digital Survey found that e-commerce development among states has been significant. Among all states, the average score in the e-commerce segment was above 70 percent, up from an average of 59 percent in 1998. The leading states in the survey tend to have shifted their Internet initiatives from offering purely informational Web sites to developing e-business applications, says Jeffrey Eisenach, president of the Progress & Freedom Foundation. Eisenach predicts even greater e-commerce development among states this year, as Y2K efforts cease to drain IT resources. "I think that next phase is going to be pretty explosive," says Eisenach.

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