Rob Hassell is retiring. Hassell, 57, is the CIO of Freightliner, the truck-manufacturing company owned by DaimlerChrysler. Hassell started working at Consolidated Freightlines, the former parent company of Freightliner, when he got out of the Army in 1968, and except for a brief hiatus at a local-government job, he's worked at the Portland, Ore., company steadily for almost 30 years. He's seen a lot of change in that time. "Everything from small, second-generation machines to mainframes to client-server PCs to Web-based apps," he says. "But the problems in managing IT don't change." The people who know IT have to commit to making it work in the business. "And it has to be done in concert with the people who run the business units," he says. "Technology for technology's sake doesn't work." Hassell has been Freightliner's technology head for 14 years, and while the company hasn't revealed his replacement, it's looking inside; if everything goes right, he'll be out by the end of April. Hassell says he wants to keep his hand in technology management, possibly as a part-time consultant. "I've probably got value for a few more years, until I get too removed from the mainstream. That comes with the territory."
Roger Behnke is being retired. Behnke is a one-man IT-network department at a paper-products manufacturing plant in Appleton, Wis. It's one of six that belongs to American Tissue, which used to be the fourth-largest paper manufacturer in the country but declared bankruptcy in September. Behnke has worked for American Tissue for two years, after a 10-year stint in the Navy and a couple of years with a consulting company. He's pretty sure he won't have a job much longer. "Unfortunately, this has been my dream job," he says. Behnke used to have an assistant, and they supported a 100-node NT network for the 300-plus workers who used to work at the plant, one of the few American Tissue properties still operating. Behnke isn't optimistic about finding another job in the Appleton area. "I've been searching the area here since September, and it looks like I'm going to have to move."
The last time I wrote about NetReality, the company was marketing its network-monitoring product as a way to manage traffic so as to let employees download MP3 music files over the Internet without clogging the corporate network. That was then. The latest version of NetReality's flagship product, WiseWan, is being marketed as a way to block all peer-to-peer file-sharing sites, such as Audiogalaxy, Gnutella, Kazaa, and Morpheus, as well as detect any new file-sharing protocols that might pop up. "It was Napster that brought peer-to-peer into the limelight last year, but a flood of more-sophisticated applications is now frustrating IT departments and clogging corporate and university networks," says Kit Waugh, NetReality's VP of marketing. "WiseWan gives the IT department the ability to protect itself as new P-to-P issues emerge."
Speaking of Napster, the renegade music Web site that set the recording industry on its ear (so to speak) recently tried to turn the tables on its enemies by accusing the record companies of exclusionary monopoly practices in setting up their online retailing sites. One analyst says that as a desperation move, it's worth a shot. "Nothing short of a miracle is going to turn Napster around and make it a profitable company anytime soon," says Jupiter Research analyst Aram Sinnreich. "But it would be very easy to mess up the record labels by delving a little too deeply into their business practices."
Linda Stone, the former grade-school teacher tapped two years ago by Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer to head a vendor-relationship effort meant to smooth the ruffled feathers of the software industry, is leaving the company. She started at Microsoft in 1993 as head of its Virtual Worlds next-generation multimedia interface division (remember Microsoft Bob?). She took the job of VP of corporate and industry initiatives in 2000. Stone intends to write a book about her experiences.
Who is Microsoft going to replace her with? Wait, don't tell me--Bill Clinton. He's unemployed, he can probably use the money, and he's good at relationship management. He's also probably good for an industry tip or two, which he can send to email@example.com or phone 516-562-5326. If you want to talk about longtime IT careers, Appleton, Wis., or the online music business, meet me at InformationWeek.com's Listening Post: informationweek.com/forum/johnsoat.
The Business of Going DigitalDigital business isn't about changing code; it's about changing what legacy sales, distribution, customer service, and product groups do in the new digital age. It's about bringing big data analytics, mobile, social, marketing automation, cloud computing, and the app economy together to launch new products and services. We're seeing new titles in this digital revolution, new responsibilities, new business models, and major shifts in technology spending.