Business & Finance
Commentary
12/12/2003
06:16 PM
John Soat
John Soat
Commentary
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IT Confidential: From Online Shopping To Information Society

Funny how politicos tend to cozy up to the technology industry come election time. John Kerry, Democratic presidential candidate and Massachusetts senator, last week addressed a group at Stanford University, in the heart of Silicon Valley, with a five-point plan for revitalizing the tech industry, which includes investment dollars for technology startups and a crackdown on trade and intellectual-property violators. "We need to bring back high-tech jobs--from Manchester to Mountain View and everywhere in between," Kerry said in his address. "The promise of the Information Age was not a bubble; it was a breakthrough from which we can never turn back."

On an even wider stage, the United Nations held its first-ever information-technology summit last week in Geneva, featuring 14,000 attendees from government, business, science, and the media. Among the goals included in the World Summit on the Information Society's Declaration of Principles and Plan of Action is for half the world's population to be within reach of information and communications technology by 2015. Hotly debated, according to reports, was control by the United States of Web addresses and Internet domain names. "Technology has given birth to the Information Age," U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan said in his keynote address kicking off the summit. "Now it is up to all of us to build an information society."

Jim Manzi, former head of Lotus Development, has been named chairman of Thermo Electron, a manufacturer of scientific instruments. Manzi engineered the sale of Lotus to IBM in 1995 for $3.5 billion, then found himself out on the street less than a year later. Since then, Manzi has been identified with some high-profile flameouts, specifically the dot-com venture Industry.net.

Ken Harris, who recently left his job as CIO of Gap, has been named to the board of directors of 360Commerce, a developer of Java-based retail-store software. Before Gap, Harris was senior VP and CIO of Nike.

Wheels, a $2 billion vehicle-fleet leasing and service provider, has named Larry Buettner as its new CIO. Buettner comes to Wheels from systems integrator Anexsys, where he was president.

Most employers don't mind if workers shop online during business hours, according to a survey released last week by SurfControl, a Web-filtering vendor. In a poll of 2,700 IT administrators in the United States and the United Kingdom, 67% said they don't block employee access to online shopping sites. On the other hand, 97% block access to sexually explicit sites, and almost half block access to Web-based E-mail services, such as Hotmail and Yahoo.

And the lesson is: You can suppress the sexual drive, but you can't stand in the way of people wanting to shop. I won't block access to an industry tip--send it to jsoat@cmp.com or phone 516-562-5326. If you want to talk about bringing back tech jobs or Web surfing at work, meet me at InformationWeek.com's Listening Post: informationweek.com/forum/johnsoat.


To discuss this column with other readers, please visit John Soat's forum on the Listening Post.

To find out more about John Soat, please visit his page on the Listening Post.

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