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12/14/2001
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IT Confidential

Brokerage firm Wells Fargo Van Kasper put out a research report late last week on Nike that lowered its rating of the sneaker maker, in part based on what author John Shanley perceives to be a problem with Nike's implementation of SAP software. "We're concerned that the installation of a new SAP software system in the company's core U.S. business segment has likely encountered difficulties that may impede the flow of Nike's spring 2002 merchandise line," the report says. Shanley wouldn't elaborate but, the report says, Wells Fargo interviewed several retail executives who say the system isn't operational despite the fact that "we believe this should have been completed during Thanksgiving week." A spokeswoman for Nike says the "go live" date for the system was always Dec. 3, and "it is up and running." Nike won't comment further because it's in a quiet period pending release of second-quarter 2002 results on Dec. 20. An SAP spokeswoman says "we don't speak on behalf of our clients," but "we're confident that everything with our product is on schedule and happening as planned." Nike was involved in a very public spat earlier this year with its supply-chain software vendor, i2, claiming bugs in its software caused order-management problems that cost Nike $80 million to $100 million in sales for its fiscal third quarter of 2001; i2 claimed Nike had implemented the software improperly.

Ron Griffin, high-profile CIO of Home Depot, has found a new home at Fleming, the Lewisville, Texas, wholesale food distributor. Griffin will join Fleming as executive VP and CIO "upon completion of his current responsibilities in early 2002," according to a statement. "I wanted a place where there are great leaders, great talent, and a chance to redefine an industry again," says Griffin, who joined Home Depot in 1989 as director of application development and was promoted to senior VP and CIO in 1995.

Best Buy last week recruited Tony Hart as VP of enterprise customer-relationship management. In the new position, Hart will drive the consumer electronics retailer's CRM strategy across all business units. He's got the chops: Prior to joining Best Buy, Hart was a strategist in Accenture's CRM service. "We believe this development of a world-class CRM competency throughout the enterprise is core to our goal of consumer centricity," Best Buy executive VP of strategic planning George Lopuch says.

Did you notice that Rhode Island last week became the first state to deploy the wireless-tracking technology called E911 (for Enhanced 911)? The controversial service lets operators pinpoint the location of calls that come in to the 911 emergency number from cell phones. That would help people unable to provide their location during an emergency. It's controversial because privacy advocates question whether the service will be used to track the whereabouts of individuals by law-enforcement agencies. For now, the Rhode Island service works only with Sprint PCS cell phones that incorporate the SignalSoft global positioning system. The FCC had mandated that all emergency services be E911-capable by October but backed off that deadline.

Oracle CEO Larry Ellison is known for his passionate partisanship, but his keynote speech at last week's InternetWorld in New York was a one-sided diatribe. Ellison dissed IBM's DB2 database running on the vendor's high-end clustered server system as "a marketing scam," called IBM's and Microsoft's clustering technology, which uses an approach known as "shared nothing" architecture, "good for nothing," and claimed Oracle's database product has 14 security certifications while Microsoft's has only one and IBM's none. He also said that since Oracle started its "Unbreakable" marketing campaign, which claims Oracle's database and app server won't crash and can't be broken into, the company has had no system break-ins despite 30,000 attempts by hackers--every day.

Talk about walking around with a bull's-eye on your back! Or maybe it's just a little "kick me" sign. Either way, hackers won't help but see a red flag, a thrown gauntlet, and a line in the sand. I'm not asking for trouble, only an industry tip, to jsoat@cmp.com or phone 516-562-5326. If you want to talk with me about software, privacy, or taunting hackers, meet me at InformationWeek.com's Listening post: informationweek.com/forum/johnsoat.

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