CIS 427

IS Plan/Mgmt | DSU Spr’09

Twitter: Must-Have Tech for CIOs?

I’m on Twitter, but I’m still not sold on Twitter.

But I’m not a CIO. I’m also not InformationWeek‘s Bob Evans, who says to CIOs, basically, tweet or die:

Twitter is helping corporations of all stripes engage with customers candidly, productively, globally, and inexpensively. In this age of experience-driven marketing, in which customers not only want but expect to be involved in product co-creation and enhancements, Twitter gives businesses the unprecedented ability to tap into customer-driven feedback loops, which just on their own are highly valuable, and turn them into marketing labs, message amplifiers, focus groups, sales tests, and possibly even goodwill ambassadors.

Now, does that sound like the type of trend you want to make sure you’re out in front of and leading, or one you think you’ll ignore and hope like hell that your competitors, customers, partners, and prospects do the same? [Bob Evans, “Why CIOs Need the Transformative Power of Twitter,” InformationWeek: Global CIO, 2009.08.03]

So is the point that you need Twitter, or is the point that you need to be in tune with your customers? Sure, there a whole whack of people using Twitter… but be careful with your stats there: Nielsen data says nearly 11% of the world’s Internet users are on Twitter, but a majority of the 4.5 million Twitter accounts have never tweeted, and another majority have never followed any other tweeters. And even if you can identify a big cross section of your customers who are on Twitter, is Twitter the only place you can reach them? How many of them can you reach just as well through Facebook or a lively company blog? Will you focus on just one tool, or will you try to master them all?

The best fishermen aren’t the best because they put the most poles in the water. They are the best because they pick the best pole, the best bait, and the best fishing holes. Maybe Twitter is your best tool for staying in touch with your customers. Maybe it’s Facebook. Maybe it’s still the local newspaper, or your own salespeople.

Evans makes a reasonable case for Twitter, but if you’ve already established a good system for connecting with your customers, you as CIO need to make the call as to how much more you want to do online.


2009.08.08 Posted by | business | , , | 2 Comments

MBA Oath: Hippocrates for Biz Managers?

Friday’s NYTimes points us toward the MBA Oath, a pledge created by a group of second-year Harvard Business School students to codify some ethical sense among business managers. The preamble:

As a manager, my purpose is to serve the greater good by bringing people and resources together to create value that no single individual can create alone. Therefore I will seek a course that enhances the value my enterprise can create for society over the long term. I recognize my decisions can have far-reaching consequences that affect the well-being of individuals inside and outside my enterprise, today and in the future. As I reconcile the interests of different constituencies, I will face choices that are not easy for me and others.

Read the full oath here, and see the specific promises it includes.

I think Adam Smith might like this pledge. Of course, he might be surprised we would even need such a pledge. So how do you feel about “serving the greater good”? Does this oath fit with your understanding of your role in business, or the philsophical underpinnings of the great capitalist machine of which you will likely become a part?

2009.05.31 Posted by | business | | Leave a comment

Data in the Cloud: AT&T Offers Synaptic Storage

When we discussed cloud computing in class, one major concern discussed was security. Can you really keep your data secure if it’s not on machines in your building, under your immediate control? Can cloud storage satisfying the security audits some firms must pass under Sarbanes-Oxley and other regulations?

Enough businesses are voting affirmative on those questions to motivate AT&T to offer Synaptic Storage, an expansion of its cloud computing efforts. Lance Whitney at CNet News says business users will be able to save and access data from laptops, smartphones, and other Web-enabled devices. Instead of setting up and maintaining your own in-house server, you just pay a monthly fee, and AT&T handles all the hard tech stuff.

Now think about that cost-benefit analysis. You don’t have to shop around for servers. You don’t have to think about running more power and data lines. You don’t have to plan ahead for upgrading the equipment. You might not even have to hire extra IT personnel to manage the system.

Hmm… will cloud computing bring cloud IT departments — i.e., IT people working for AT&T, Google, et al. just like utilities, and small companies not having separate IT departments of their own?

2009.05.18 Posted by | business, tech | , | Leave a comment

Westlaw: Profiting on Public Records

A friend forwards this City Pages article on Westlaw, the legal publishing giant that is now part of Reuters-Thomson. A very profitable part, we should note: the St. Paul company drew $3.5B in revenue in 2008, and its operating profit margin was 32.1% (Carlyle tells us eBay makes 20.8% profit, Google 19.4%, and Amazon 3.4%). And note that Westlaw is making money on publishing while newspapers go under. What gives?

Westlaw’s keys to success:

  1. Find a niche with growth potential. Alas, there will always be more laws… and more lawyers. And lawyers can afford to pay good money for publications they need for work.
  2. Organize information to make it useful.
  3. The Internet is a distribution channel, not a product.
  4. Turn words into math. Remember, the computer doesn’t have to understand language to recognize useful patterns in it.
  5. Separate the signal from the noise. Make search work!
  6. Computers can’t do everything. Westlaw derives huge advantage from a staff of 800 attorney-editors constantly checking each other’s work. This is law: innocent people can be put in prison (and scumbuckets can go free) is you screw up a case law report!
  7. Treat content like patented material. This is the part that bugs me: In the 1980s, West sued LexisNexis for referring to its page numbers. Westlaw claimed it owned the arrangement of information on the pages it published, even though the information itself was public record. LexisNexis caved, finding it cheaper to pay West $50K a year to use the page numbers than pay the lawyers to knock West down a peg in court. Grrr.
  8. Print’s not dead; it just needs online help. Both print and online can generate revenue; play in both!

2009.05.11 Posted by | business | , , , , | Leave a comment

A backup ISP for Dakota State University

Researching for  my final projfect I came across several IT solutions for providing schools with the internet.  A popular choice for smaller private schools would be a business line.

Also the popularity of redundant ISP lines is on the rise both in the education and business sectors.  A web site like Amazon going offline would cost the company over  $100,000’s every hour it is offline.   The effect on a school like DSU would not be so great, but I think we can all remember when our school internet has crawled to a halt and how dramatic that effect had on us.  Perhaps DSU should look into getting alternet ISP lines.  We continually as especially as most of us are savvy and heavy internet users we use our link for everything from music to video entertainment.  Our appetite for bandwidth has grown extremely large, so maybe a backup line would be unrealistic.  It is food for thought for the future, when you open your own business, instead of one big tube, think about getting several smaller ones in case some ISP connections are unreliable.  There is something to be said for redundancy in telecommunications.

2009.05.04 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Joe Bartmann, Online Tools, CafePress, and ImageKind

Thanks to Joe Bartmann for providing a really good list of online tools that could be useful to any entrepreneur, in business or the non-profit world. The slideshow (with links!) is available at Slideshare, one of the tools Joe highlighted. (Alas, WordPress seems disinclined to let us embed. Bad WordPress! Good Joe! He shows me the WordPress embed code button! Yahoo!)

We also mentioned CafePress and ImageKind at the beginning of class as examples of entrepreneurs using IT to shake up the value chain. Both services free up idea people to be creative and maybe make some money off their ideas and images while leaving the work of production, logistics, and marketing to other professionals. Pretty cool!

And I forgot to mention: CafePress is a lot more than t-shirts. You can produce mugs, aprons, doggie bowls, even books and CDs! The power of mass production — and just-in-time production! — placed in the hands of the masses. I wonder what Smith and Marx would think of that. I also wonder what you think of that!

2009.04.29 Posted by | business, Class Meetings, Web 2.0 | , , , | 2 Comments

Web spreads throughout developing countries profitless

According to the New York Times the web is rapidly growing in many developing countries. And while this sounds good, if you are a fan of globalization, the problem is that it is profitless, or nearly profitless. The cost to broadcast to these areas is high and there are very low results from advertisements and other sales attempts. Web companies are contemplating what to do and some have even blocked traffic to these areas. The Internet has always been thought of this wonder that connects the world but now even the idealists are seeing that this is tougher than originally thought. It seems like someone is going to have to develop some infrastructure in this country almost as a charity so that the ideas of these countries can be seen. I highly doubt these countries will just be isolated from the rest of the world.


2009.04.27 Posted by | Uncategorized | 2 Comments


The green revolution is hitting our monitors with the new Eizo monitors with “EcoView Sense”.  These new monitors bring a few nice green features that I think could also be used in home televisions. 

The monitors have a motion detector that automatically shut off the monitor  if there is no movement in front of it for over 40 seconds.  I’m hoping that is an adjustable timeframe.  Eizo also offers ambient light sensors that adjust the displays brightness according to the lighting in the room.  They finish off a trio of energy savings by including a power switch that actually turns off the monitor completely, stopping all power from being drawn to it. 

I’m not usually a ‘green’ seeker, but I like these enhancements because I feel they could be used in many of our other appliances such as Televisions, radios, DVD players, and many others. 



2009.04.27 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

E-Health’s Heavy Burden

President Bush dictated that by 2014 all health systems would require electronic medical records.  A three-physician practice might have to spend $50,000 to $80,000, and then still have to pay for back-office support and IT. Unfortunately, years ago the standards were not set out for the healthcare industry. CCHIT (the Certification Commission for Healthcare Information Technology) was formed to certifiy electronic medical record systems. With the standards being set, more companies will be able to join in the healthcare industry creating medical record systems.

2009.04.27 Posted by | Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Verizon iPhone Could be Here Next Year

This little ditty caught my attention right away and the weeks posts just aren’t complete without an iPhone post now is it?

Continue reading

2009.04.27 Posted by | Uncategorized | 3 Comments