ACM TechNews is intended as an objective news digest for busy IT Professionals. Views expressed are not necessarily those of either Gateway Inc. or ACM.

To send comments, please write to [email protected].

Volume 2, Issue 26:  Monday, March 6, 2000

  • "Seeking Solutions for Tech in Ed"
    Wired News (03/06/00); Dean, Katie

    The Association for Computing Machinery today will host a day-long presentation before the Glenn Commission intended to discuss how educators can most effectively utilize modern technology in the classroom. The presentation will be held in Washington and will include 20 demonstrations by industry representatives, teachers, and students of existing educational programs and products that successfully incorporate new technological developments. ACM believes that teachers must understand how to use new tools to improve the quality of education for students in grades K through 12 and that it is the responsibility of the government to support efforts to modernize education. The Glenn Commission was formed by Department of Education Secretary Richard Riley to recommend strategies to improve the quality of instruction in the areas of math and science.

  • "Virginia Law Standardizes Internet Contracts"
    EE Times Online (03/01/00); Leopold, George

    The Virginia General Assembly last month passed the Uniform Computer Information Transactions Act, a measure that intends to standardize commercial provisions for Internet contracts, including software licenses. The measure, the first of its kind to receive state approval, awaits only Gov. James Gilmore's signature before it becomes law. Gilmore is not expected to sign the measure until assessments on the bill's impact are completed. The passage of the measure is expected to prompt a raft of similar legislation from other states. The states of Maryland, Hawaii, Oklahoma, and Illinois are already working on measures that address standardized Internet contracts. The Virginia bill has set off a contentious debate among its supporters, including the software industry, and its detractors, composed of engineering groups, consumer groups, and a number of state attorneys general. Consumer groups argue that provisions in the bill will force consumers to adhere to hidden licensing agreements, but Jane Johansen, software-law expert at the Drinkard Biddle law firm, says warranties in the bill could also increase the likelihood that consumers will receive refunds on software returns. Mark Pullen, vice president of technology policy at the IEEE-USA, claims the legislation would prohibit software engineers from engaging in reverse engineering.

  • "Workplace E-Mail Privacy Bill Reintroduced in Calif."
    Newsbytes (03/03/00); Fridman, Sherman

    California Gov. Gray Davis last year vetoed an email privacy bill introduced by state Sen. Debra Bowen (D-Redondo Beach). Bowen's bill, which was overwhelmingly approved by the California legislature, would have allowed employers to monitor employees' emails only if employees provided written testimony that their employers' informed them about their email monitoring policies. Bowen has decided to reintroduce the bill again this session, hoping she can convince the governor that employees' use of computers at work should be guaranteed with "the same privacy protections provided to letter writers and phone users." Bowen's bill would prohibit companies from monitoring the email, Web movements, and computer files of employees, unless companies inform their employees about such policies. Bowen's bill would also give employees the ability to access the data companies are collecting, raise disputes about the data, and delete any data that is found to be erroneous.

  • "Greed Undermines Benefits of Digital Technology"
    San Jose Mercury News Online (03/04/00); Gillmor, Dan

    The entertainment industry, the information industry, and the legal system are the primary contributors to today's shift from an emphasis on the public interest to an emphasis on total copyright control of intellectual property, writes San Jose Mercury News columnist Dan Gillmor. In 1998, Congress extended the duration of a copyright term from the life of the artist plus 50 years to the life of the artist plus 70 years, and also increased the term of a corporate copyright from 75 years to 95 years. In comparison to the 1790 copyright term limit of 28 years, owners of intellectual property have certainly become greedy, Gillmor says. Also, a 1998 law known as the Digital Millennium Copyright Act prohibits technology that may ultimately be used to illegally copy digital information. Although the idea may seem reasonable at first glance, the law essentially bars a host of activities developed and used for purposes completely unrelated to piracy, including reverse engineering. This trend toward an entirely pay-per-use society may be good for business, but it is grossly unfair to individuals and hinders the freedom of intellectual development, Gillmor says.

  • "High-Tech Workers Top Pay Survey"
    Washington Post--Washington Business (03/06/00) P. 16; Behr, Peter

    High-tech workers and executives in the Washington D.C. area earn 43 percent more than the average salary in the region, according to a Labor Department survey of 2.4 million workers in 1997 and 1998. Almost 250,000 of those surveyed worked in obviously technology related fields, earning an average of $51,735, compared with an average salary of $36,136 for the D.C. area. Although high-tech workers represented 10 percent of the total workforce, they claimed 15 percent of the total wages in the survey. The entire Washington economy benefits from the high salaries that tech workers earn because every $1 in high-tech salaries generates another $1.50 in the area's economy as tech workers buy homes, cars, and other products, according to George Mason University analysts. In addition, technology companies buy items from non-tech companies that also boost the region's economy. However, the survey points to a large difference in salaries between those with technology training and those without.

  • "Software Integrators Embrace CRM"
    Computer Reseller News Online (03/02/00); Howle, Amber

    Software vendors are no longer the only companies offering CRM-related products and services. Software developers, integrators, and service providers are increasingly turning their attention toward the CRM market, creating integrated solutions to business problems that encompass a variety of functions and that are designed to overshadow the cumbersome fixes supplied by traditional ready-made individual software help packages. InteQ, originally founded as a management consulting firm, now offers clients custom help-desk interfaces that are hosted offsite because, "Most small to medium businesses and dot-com startups don't have the time and resources to set up CRM infrastructures," says Enterprise Service Management's Wallace Andrews. "The ASP model gives them instant availability...so they can look like one of the big guys." Other CRM additions include sales force automation, asset management, and change management functions.

  • "Storage Moves Into the Service Industry"
    VNUNet (03/02/00); Geralds, John

    Although companies such as Arthur Anderson, Computer Sciences, IBM Global Services, and EDS have provided data storage for years, established vendors and startups are trying to prove there is a market for managed storage services rather then simply offering it as a product. That market, valued at $21 billion in 1999, will reach $40 billion by 2003 thanks to massive corporate growth trends. "The average Fortune 1000 company's storage requirements will more than double in 2000 and grow even faster in 2001," says Enterprise Storage Group analyst Steven Duplessie. "If someone can take that burden from me, and provide availability, configuration, and the right way to do it, God love them. Let them deal with it and I can concentrate on my business." To meet the challenge major companies IBM, AT&T, Sun Microsystems, Cisco, and Hewlett-Packard have teamed up to provide efficient Web access and off-site data storage to companies that rent out software. Other companies trying to stake a claim to the market include Qwest Communications, Dell, Compaq, and such startup storage service providers (SSP) as Intira Networks and StorageNetworks, which contract services to users who pay on a monthly basis.

  • "E-Biz Server Debate"
    InternetWeek Online (03/01/00); Koller, Mike

    Moving Web applications to the IBM mainframe is becoming an attractive option for IT managers at many companies. Principal Finance Group, for example, a financial services company with $113 billion in assets, recently moved its critical Web applications from Sun Unix servers to IBM S/390 mainframes. "We wanted to avoid complex gateways in the Sun solution," said Dale Ward, assistant IT director at Principal. "We needed to be able to securely get information from the mainframe environment, and we wanted to be sure we had the most scalable application to handle a large volume of customer traffic." The company provides access to 2 million customers but felt more confident that the mainframe would scale to support a boost to 6 million additional users. "The switch points to a trend among financial institutions, which would like to use the 390 for high availability and centralized management," says IBM consultant Paul Wanish. There is some debate over whether such migrations are overkill and whether or not they will become a major trend, but some analysts see it as a logical choice. "They can put up a very robust solution in a very short period of time by leveraging the expertise they already have," says the Meta Group's Carl Greiner. Many companies are also building their Web applications on S/390s from scratch, such as CommerceQuest, a provider of e-marketplace services. IBM continues to enhance the S/390 to host Web applications, this week announcing developments to ease porting of Unix applications and accelerated SSL-encrypted transactions.

  • "Enterprise IT Spending to Rise With Windows 2000 Transition"
    Computer Reseller News (02/28/00) No. 883, P. 34; Roberts, John

    The release of Windows 2000 and the rise of e-commerce will generate a 5 percent to 20 percent increase in business IT spending during the remaining months of the year, predicts the Computer Reseller News PC Product Sales Forecaster. A CRN spot poll conducted last month revealed that 16 percent of large corporations plan to adopt Windows 2000 within three months of the system's Feb. 17 release date and that 22 percent plan to shift to Windows 2000 within three months to six months. Additionally, 40 percent plan to wait between six months and 12 months before adopting the new system. With respect to midsize companies, the poll found 19 percent intend to install Windows 2000 within six months, 33 percent plan to wait between six months and 12 months, and 16 percent plan to wait more than a year. Given this distribution, CRN forecasts a modest increase in IT spending during March, April, and May, and a much greater and more noticeable increase during the summer months. The largest increase is expected to be seen during the last months of 2000, when the highest percentages of large- and mid-sized businesses intend to shift to the Windows 2000 operating system. Also, the amount of money spent on IT products and services will decrease significantly as the size of a company decreases.

  • "Mining Everyone's Business"
    Brandweek (02/28/00) Vol. 41, No. 9, P. 32; Wasserman, Todd; Khermouch, Gerry; Green, Jeff

    Data mining is becoming increasingly popular among retailers eager to tap customer buying patterns to create more effective marketing programs. Data mining systems analyze corporate information to discover patterns and obscure relationships in the data to predict future results. A variety of companies now use data mining to cater to customer preferences in an attempt to draw in new and loyal customers. This increased use has been encouraged by a wave of new, user-friendly packaged solutions. The greater ease of use and affordability provided by these packaged solutions is quickly making data mining a standard among companies. "It's a price of entry, and becoming so inexpensive it's becoming very difficult not to use it," says Frequency Marketing's Patrick LaPointe. Yet the proliferation of data mining solutions has raised several criticisms. First, the collection of customer data has sparked privacy concerns from consumers wary of fraud. To offset such concerns, Todd Higginson, marketing manager at NCR's Teradata unit, recommends that companies post detailed privacy policies on their Web sites. Also at issue is the notion that packaged solutions offer little customization, providing marketing suggestions without describing the basis for these tips. Yet vendors maintain that data mining solutions have improved due to recent advances in visualization tools. "Before we tell you to stock more dog food, that relationship would be visualized," says IBM's Jeff Jones. "We never simply tell you, 'Do this and this, period.'"

  • "Microsoft Office to Get Overhaul"
    InfoWorld (02/28/00) Vol. 22, No. 9, P. 1; Trott, Bob; Scannell, Ed; Schwartz, Ephraim

    Microsoft plans to improve its next version of Office, code-named Office 10, by adding new collaborative features and voice technology. Office 10, slated for release later this year, aims to better serve workgroup and collaborative applications and to boost Microsoft's position in the application hosting market. The company appears to be favoring Exchange as a back-end platform for the product, sources say. In an effort to turn speech technology into a viable user interface, Microsoft will work with its speech technology partner Lernout & Hauspie to add full voice control to Office 10. Users will be able to use voice technology for Office functions such as save, file, and print. In addition, Office 10 will offer dictation as well as text-to-speech technology that will read users their email, sources say. Microsoft plans to release an updated version of its Speech Application Programming Interface (SAPI) 5.0 in about six months.

  • "The Paul Revere of the Web"
    Business Week (03/06/00) No. 3671, P. 74; Mullaney, Timothy J.; Greene, Jay

    Harvard University law professor Lawrence Lessig, an advisor in the Microsoft antitrust lawsuit, is considered the nation's most original thinker in the field of cyberlaw. His new book, "Code, and Other Laws of Cyberspace," argues that legislatures and courts must keep companies and governments from violating free speech, privacy, and open markets on the Internet; Lessig fears that companies such as Microsoft are rigging Web technology to smother competition. He suggests basic rules for the use of technology to keep the Web free, saying a correct architecture will mean less need for government to intervene. Lessig graduated from Yale Law School in 1989 and clerked for Supreme Court conservative Antonin Scalia, then observed how governments and corporations clung to power as the Internet emerged and things began to change. Lessig says his goal is to deduce the basic rules for society that will keep the capitalist bureaucracies from hindering progress. He considers government oversight of the Internet a delicate balance, and favors regulation mainly when consumers cannot obviously protect their own rights. Lessig believes that Microsoft violated the Sherman Antitrust Act when it bundled Internet Explorer with Windows, discouraging the use of a competing browser. He is advising Judge Thomas Penfield Jackson to rule that only some kinds of software integration are illegal, and he agrees with Microsoft that traditional antitrust law is too inflexible for software. Lessig is writing another book to argue that customizing the Web's rules to short-term business needs is economically inefficient because too much private control can smother innovation as well.

  • "For RBOCs, B2B Is A-Ok"
    Telephony (02/28/00) Vol. 238, No. 9, P. 8; Quinton, Brian

    Experts at GartnerGroup are predicting the business-to-business e-commerce market will explode in the next four years, reaching an estimated $7.3 trillion in transactions in 2004, and RBOCs are hurrying to position themselves to ride the rising Internet tide. BellSouth announced it intends to partner with Commerce One to create an "e-market" in which telecommunications companies and suppliers can directly conduct business with one another. U S West will work with Vsource to form a service that will use the Internet to provide small- and medium-sized businesses with office supplies. But the biggest development by far is one involving an offer by SBC Communications to buy e-commerce software and services vendor Sterling Commerce for $3.9 billion. The Sterling acquisition will enable SBC to cut operating costs, increase service efficiency, and gain 50,000 accounts worldwide. SBC says the deal will also make the company more appealing to customers in the home market, fend off competitor CLECs, and increase the value of its stock. Analyst David Rappaport of Diamond Technology Partners says branching into B2B is a logical step for telcos companies because many of them are already in the ISP and Web-hosting business and will soon probably be in the ASP business as well.

  • "Data Warehousing ERP Information and B-to-B E-Commerce"
    Enterprise Systems Journal (02/00) Vol. 15, No. 2, P. 22; Auditore, Peter J.

    The Internet, through business-to-business and business-to-consumer e-commerce, is challenging and changing traditional business and governmental models and the concept of information control as it transforms into a worldwide virtual data warehouse and marketplace. E-commerce pioneer Levi Strauss & Co. recently announced that it would scale back online sales because of a perceived conflict with traditional retail stores. Although there is a definite advantage to being an Internet company from the start, established businesses may find the B2B e-commerce and the Web-enabling of ERP information, which can be the driving force behind the growth of business intelligence and data warehousing, a more suitable fit in the short term. The majority of businesses will turn to independent software vendors and systems integrators for ERP and data warehousing e-commerce technology, but will demand greater levels of scalability, performance, functionality, security, and interoperability, which will radically change the way such systems will be implemented. The relatively new field of enterprise information portals (EIPs) will allow companies to provide business partners with easy, structures and secure access to warehoused information. Many issues remain to be worked out in EIP, but the value of having access to that data will make it an hot area of activity in the near future.

  • "Sound Planning Gets Lost in E-Speed Pace"
    Executive Technology (02/00) Vol. 2, No. 2, P. 21; Power, Denise

    E-retailers need to plan their Web activities before going online. Technology investments are extremely important because they allow companies to run effectively on the Internet, and companies should consider their size prior to beginning online sales, says analyst Louis Cerny. Cerny said businesses that sell less than $50 million to $70 million worth of goods every year and want to go online should consider either leasing buildings to store their inventories or obtaining third-party logistics providers. Cerny also said that for businesses to do well on the Internet, they must have effective vendor compliance, warehouse management technology, and returns processing. Patagonia took two years to plan its e-commerce venture, and as a result the company has a 99.9 percent accuracy rate in shipping goods and has experienced a 400 percent increase in the productivity of its warehouse. Cerny says businesses must be prepared to handle returns of 7 percent to 20 percent of their merchandise. Small online retailers can get their vendors to property follow shipping requirements like bar code labeling and standardized box sizes.

  • "The Two Faces of E-Commerce"
    Manufacturing Systems (02/00) Vol. 18, No. 2, P. 34; Michel, Roberto

    Companies are finding that sell-side and buy-side e-commerce solutions offer broad advantages, including customer self-service capabilities and the ability for manufacturers to focus on strategic sales channel relationships. "Because of the self-service activity on the site, our people are able to be proactive, not simply reactive," says Pete Leonard, operations manager at Life Fitness, which relies on an Internet-based B2B solution provided by Click Commerce. The system provides order management, an online catalog, and the ability to integrate with ERP systems--sell-side core capabilities which yield broad channel management opportunities for Life Fitness. In the future, Life Fitness customers will be able to look up warranty information, and the company will be able to equip field technicians with wireless extranet connections. While some companies, such as Life Fitness, use the Internet for sell-side solutions, others are implementing buy-side e-procurement applications, which use workflow tools and user-defined buying rules to send purchase orders to suppliers or virtual marketplaces on the Web. The technology provides the ability to streamline business processes by gathering strategic sourcing information. Xerox adopted an e-procurement system in May 1998 and now expects it to yield an 80 percent reduction in processing costs. Some best-of-breed vendors have developed consulting services to help companies deploy systems similar to those adopted by Life Fitness and Xerox. Those vendors point out that maximum effectiveness can be reached only when e-commerce applications are linked to collaborative and enterprise applications. "Companies need e-commerce applications, but they also need solutions that improve the performance of the enterprise and the whole supply chain," says Jim Kirkley, chief technology officer at QAD, an ERP vendor.

[ Archives ] [ Home ]