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IT Confidential: Business Intelligence Meets Daytime TV

Want to know what makes Oprah Winfrey giddy? Things like Godiva turtles, mac-and-cheese from Delilah's in Philly, and a fine piece of business-intelligence software. Last week, right there where the likes of Mariah Carey, Meryl Streep, and Dr. Phil espouse, was our industry's own Jim Goodnight, CEO of SAS Institute. Goodnight talked about why SAS is a great place to work as part of Oprah's "Best Of" show, where viewers also could learn the secret ingredients behind Delilah's speciality and why Oprah loves the Mini Cooper. OK, the queen of daytime didn't exactly probe how SAS IT Resource Management tools can help you, the IT manager, to "live your best life." But it sounds like there's a great cross-marketing opportunity in there somewhere.

"Anybody with cash is going to remain relevant," says Sun Microsystems CEO Scott McNealy. In an interview with InformationWeek senior writer Aaron Ricadela, McNealy stressed Sun's ability to pour money into R&D-15% of revenue in the first quarter, compared with 5% historically-as a key reason it will stay in the hunt for business customers. (Read the full interview at informationweek.com/926/mcnealy.htm). McNealy says Sun has spent $500 million on R&D for server-room platforms and plans to match that in the next 90 days in what he calls "NC '03 Q1," referring to its network computer initiative for more integrated computers, storage equipment, and middleware. He also cites Sun's strong brand, installed base, and development community. "When's the last time you saw a new computer company?" McNealy asks. "We're not going anywhere."

Martin Davis doesn't look to be going anywhere, either, having spent 18 years since college at Wachovia. Nowhere but up. Davis steps into a new corporate CIO role. The bank and brokerage company previously had a CIO for each of its four business units, and now Davis will be responsible for making sure the IT strategies for all four units are aligned. He'll report to Jean Davis, head of IT, E-commerce, and operation.

Call it a belt-and-suspenders approach to stopping terrorists. The National Institute of Standards and Technology, a research arm of the Department of Commerce, recommends that U.S. immigration officials use fingerprint and facial-recognition technology in granting visas and policing borders. The report (at nist.gov/public_affairs/releases/n03-01.htm) concedes that facial-recognition technology has spotty accuracy-47% recognition-in uncontrolled outdoor conditions, but says under more controlled conditions it improves dramatically, coming close to fingerprints for reliability.

Here's one thing you can rely on-that John Soat will be back writing his column next week, and that he'd be grateful for an industry tip. Send it to jsoat@cmp.com or phone 516-562-5326. If you want to talk more about Oprah, or anything else, meet him at InformationWeek.com's Listening Post: informationweek.com/forum/johnsoat.

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