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11/1/2002
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IT Confidential: Sorry To Disappoint You, Mr. Stone

Altman says Hollywood is learning to adapt to new technologies.

Oliver Stone is going to be disappointed. A General Accounting Office study of four government agencies--Agriculture, Education, Labor, and State--found they all generally adhere to privacy regulations. The report, Information Management: Selected Agencies' Handling Of Personal Information, issued last week, found that a wide range of government personnel have access to information such as names, phone numbers, addresses, Social Security numbers, and financial and legal data that's provided to the government by the public for specific purposes--to receive benefits, obtain services or loans, or participate in a federal program. It found the agencies, by and large, follow privacy laws. Federal agencies share personal information extensively with other agencies and with state and local governments, according to the report, increasing the risk of misuse of information and loss of privacy. Despite some violations, the report found that the four audited agencies mostly comply with existing information-management requirements. The GAO's methodology wasn't designed to find individual transgressions. Sen. Joseph Lieberman, D-Conn., who requested the study as chairman of the Senate Governmental Affairs Committee, said in a statement, "As the federal government updates its technology so that information may be compiled and accessed more readily, we must reassure the public that its privacy will be respected and protected."

Speaking of Hollywood, Tata Consultancy Services, India's largest IT-services company, is setting up an entertainment-industry practice in Los Angeles and has tapped the former CIO of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer, Edward Altman, to run it. As part of the strategy, Tata is working on a digital-asset management "lab" in the Hollywood area. As copyright issues proliferate on the Web, digital-assets and rights management is of growing concern to many companies. Tata will market that and other IT services, such as CRM and ERP, to Hollywood studios, TV networks, E-commerce sites, and cable and satellite providers, as well as to book, magazine, and newspaper publishers.

In a just-released study, Forrester Research found that IT spending doesn't necessarily correlate with high performance. The study, Linking IT Spend To Business Results, compared financial-performance metrics--revenue growth, cash-flow growth, and return on assets--of almost 300 companies with their spending on IT. On average, those companies identified as "poor" performers spent the least on IT, 2.6% of revenue. But "excellent" performers spent the second-lowest amount, with 3.3% of revenue going to IT. Those identified as "below average" spent 4.2% of revenue on IT, while "above average" companies spent the most, 4.5%.

Do those results extrapolate? Because I've been trying to tell my wife we don't have to spend the most to be the best-performing family, but she can't seem to make that add up. Send your formula, or an industry tip, to jsoat@cmp.com or phone 516-562-5326. If you want to talk about privacy, digital assets, or IT spending, 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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