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4/30/2004
03:02 PM
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Letters To Bob Evans

Here are just a "few" letters in response to Bob Evan's column from last week (April 26, 2004), Business Technology: The Readers Speak: Career Paths, Wish Lists:


I'd recommend my children pursue a career in my field on three conditions:

  1. I figure out just what my field is.
  2. My kids then figure out what my field is.
  3. By the time I have kids and they grow up, no one's talking about RFID at cocktail parties anymore. (For the record, we better have stopped talking about Trump then, too.)

David Berkowitz
eMarketer



Can we make it "least-favorite 100 people"?

Jim Ruble
Systems Administrator
Columbus Housing Partnership



The thought that came to my mind when I heard George Tenet needed five more years to get the CIA together came directly from Lee Iacocca (or was it Ross Perot?), who, upon hearing it took five years to design a new car, stated, "We won World War II in less time than that."

Go for it.

Troy Nichols



Least-favorite person: Darl McBride. Not only is he holding the penguin hostage, but he's being a real jerk about it.

Other least-favorite person: U.S. Patent Commissioner Nicholas P. Godici, for failing to hold the line on idiotic "conceptual" patents that will strangle innovation for decades to come (until we wise up).

(Or maybe it isn't his fault, but he should be making a lot of noise about it!)

I don't think Infosys cares what the U.S. public thinks of it, and 500 consultants is a drop in the bucket. That's probably how many U.S. consultants it was planning to hire in any normal year, so hey, don't do us any favors, jerks!

If I could change one thing about my job, it would be the fact that it's ending in June.

I told my kids to major in art, or music, or philosophy. Those things may never be big money-makers, but they won't be any more out of style than they are now, either.

George Wiman
Computer Support Specialist
Illinois State University: Extended University, InfoTech
Bloomington, Ill.



Who gets your vote for your least-favorite person: (a) SCO chief ambulance-chaser Darl McBride; (b) the hacker who created the MyDoom virus; (c) Donald Trump; or (d) the juror who tanked the Tyco trial?

(e) Sen. Kerry and the DNC. Support them and watch things toilet rapidly.

What do you think of Infosys' recent announcement of its plans to hire 500 U.S. consultants over the next three years? Is it (a) a move aimed at placating an American public that feels victimized by the rise of India as a business-technology power; (b) a sudden and unexpected indication that India's rapidly growing economy has pushed incomes in that country so high that Infosys can now find qualified talent in the United States at lower wages; or (c) another example of a highly efficient global economy aligning resources and capabilities with business opportunities?

A. Getting in on the ground-floor publicity to stop overseas hemorrhage and reap tax dollars.

From which line of business does IBM generate the most revenue: (a) hardware, including all servers, PCs, mainframes, storage, etc.; (b) services; (c) software? Is that leading revenue-generator in decline and likely to be supplanted soon, or in ascendancy and likely to become the company's dominant offering? Will this affect how the company goes to market? Will this affect how other companies--whether in category a, b, c, or all of the above--position themselves and relate to you? Do you care? Should you care?

Who cares? Big Blue will be with us for some time.

If you had the power to change one thing about your job--just one thing, no matter how large or small, grand or pedestrian--what would it be?

SOX mandates by the ultra paranoid.

At cocktail parties these days (that's a bit of a fib--I can't remember the last time I was at a cocktail party, and I hope it's at least as long until I have to go to the next one), everyone's talking about RFID. Is it a world-changer or a worthless and overhyped solution in search of a problem? Is your company thinking about it, exploring it, deploying it, or ignoring it? Do you care? Should you care?

Not any more of a world changer then bar coding. Good solution for some specific problems, but no more a magic bullet than any other ID/locator solution.

As the economy picks up, would you recommend to your children that they pursue a career in your field? Why or why not?

No. The pipeline is full for sometime into the future. I push biogenetics and alternative-energy engineering.

James L. Dines
Senior Analyst/Programmer



Who gets your vote for your least-favorite person?

Darl McBride is a close second to the Idiot Gates.

What do you think of Infosys' recent announcement of its plans to hire 500 U.S. consultants over the next three years?

Well, besides being the right thing to do, it's most likely another example of a highly efficient global economy aligning resources and capabilities with business opportunities.

From which line of business does IBM generate the most revenue?

I would have to guess (b) services. I should and do care about service, since that is what it is all about on the bottom line. The old WordPerfect is an outstanding example. You didn't buy it just because it was a good word processor, you bought it because you could call and someone could and would help you! Service is a critical component, and one we need to keep local...

If you had the power to change one thing about your job--just one thing, no matter how large or small, grand or pedestrian--what would it be?

I would give myself more time to do my job and less time playing administrativia!

RFID: Is it a world-changer, or a worthless and overhyped solution in search of a problem? Is your company thinking about it, exploring it, deploying it, or ignoring it? Do you care? Should you care?

Let Wal-Mart worry about it, then let the courts decide that it's a gross violation of privacy, then let one of the government boys hype it as a way to control drugs or terrorism, and then we will all have one embedded in our skulls at birth or sooner ... George Orwell, here we come! I feel it is a total violation of my privacy, but then I resent having to prove myself innocent of shoplifting each time I leave Wal-Mart, too. Thought we did the innocent-until-proven-guilty thing here in the United States, but I guess not.

As the economy picks up, would you recommend to your children that they pursue a career in your field? Why or why not?

As a college professor, I would be happy if my son decided that he didn't need a large income and wanted to get his rewards by enlightening people. I don't think they will outsource my job anytime soon, and I really don't want RFID tags on my students, so I am a happy camper. A poor happy camper, but a happy camper. Guess I should have answered the change question that I would like a living wage for the work I do, but less BS would be a reasonable request.

Dr. Tim Gottleber
North Lake College
Irving, Texas



I may be jeopardizing the tchotchke, but my least-favorite person is George W. Bush. If I must pick one of the choices offered by you, then I'll go with (d), the twit from the Tyco trial.

Did you know that tchotchke is pronounced differently in South Africa? Try tsatske.

For the Infosys question, I'll go with (a) placating the public. No doubt (b) and (c) will happen, but when our incomes align with those in India, the Chinese better have something for their workers to do.

I thought that IBM's revenue was approaching a pretty even distribution across hardware, software, and services, although software is the smallest component right now. I think I remember hearing that services had taken the lead in the most recent announcement. Certainly it's growing faster than the other two sectors. Competitors are well aware of IBM's major role in services and don't have to do anything differently. Similarly for consumers. IBM has been growing services for a decade or more.

I don't currently have a job, which is why I'm writing your column for you. If I had one, I'd want to see a more vibrant job market, especially in New Orleans. When the workers have the upper hand, they do certainly take some advantage of that, but the employers would roll us back to Dickensian conditions if they could.

RFIS is a certainty--it has been waiting for a decade for the cost of the technology to make it feasible on a massive scale.

I would not recommend to my children that they enter any field where the bulk of the labor can be sent overseas. That, by the way, eliminates accountancy along with computing. Invent stuff, face humans in a service or sales capacity, be a plumber or mechanic.

That is not to say that computing didn't treat me kindly in terms of making a good living and being mobile. I entered computing in 1965 in South Africa, I have been working in the United States for 20 years, and before that I had two periods in the United Kingdom, totaling 6.5 years. During that period, I had the privilege of delivering consulting and troubleshooting services in France, Holland, Switzerland, and the United States.

Thanks for the fun morning.

Charles Pinsky



In response to your question about Infosys' intent to hire 500 consultants in the United States, it's my understanding that these consultants will be employed to convince American executives to outsource their IT needs to India.

I see this as evidence that Infosys is concerned about a backlash against offshoring and an attempt to sidestep issues therein by having red, white, and blue advisers making the sales.

Some may consider those who become employed as a part of this scheme as traitors to the U.S. IT labor force. First the Indians use H-1B visas, then leading developers (IBM, Microsoft, etc.) shift work to India, then Infosys sells Indian services using American suits.

Where are the cowboys when you need them?

Steve Murray



I want to provide a write-in candidate for my least-favorite person:

Bob Evans, Editorial Director for InformationWeek. Bob has brought a Rush Limbaugh style of writing and commentary to an industry that doesn't need it.

Walter Ring



From recent discussions centered on giving our intelligence agencies the ability to share information seamlessly, we've heard that such projects could take several years to complete. Now, I know we're talking about the federal government here so I'm not expecting blazing speed, and I realize that within this system such elements as security, privacy, and authentication will have to be stupendously sophisticated, but "several years"? Might I suggest that the people who are coming up with these glacial time frames see if they can chop a century or two off those estimates by looking for some best practices employed by other large, complex, multidimensional, multidivisional, and economy-critical organizations? For starters, they might pay a few visits to financial-services companies that integrate vast global acquisitions in a matter of months while also coping with Sarbanes-Oxley and warding off thousands of hackers and delivering real-time services to customers. Several years? In today's world, that's absurd. Given the nature of the project and the stakes of the effort, can't the business-technology community--from the vendor and customer sides--somehow help the federal government figure out a better and faster way?

You're being unfair. Remember someone has to write up the RFP, get it approved up the line, announce the bid, wait for them to come in. After that is completed, they must be all evaluated and the top three vendors notified that there will be oral presentations. Well, need I go on? The only hopes of a speed up--but not really noticeable--is if the government contract officer is looking for a career change to a vendor's company. The one thing that would make it take longer is to have the FAA be the responsible agency.

Who gets your vote for your least-favorite person: (a) SCO chief ambulance-chaser Darl McBride; (b) the hacker who created the MyDoom virus; (c) Donald Trump; or (d) the juror who tanked the Tyco trial?

The second of two unfair questions. No matter which one you would pick, it would still leave the other three.

What do you think of Infosys' recent announcement of its plans to hire 500 U.S. consultants over the next three years? Is it (a) a move aimed at placating an American public that feels victimized by the rise of India as a business-technology power; (b) a sudden and unexpected indication that India's rapidly growing economy has pushed incomes in that country so high that Infosys can now find qualified talent in the United States at lower wages; or (c) another example of a highly efficient global economy aligning resources and capabilities with business opportunities?

None of the above. The press release was put out by a dissatisfied customer-service employee in India who has a Ph.D. in philosophy and can't find a better job.

From which line of business does IBM generate the most revenue: (a) hardware, including all servers, PCs, mainframes, storage, etc.; (b) services; (c) software? Is that leading revenue-generator in decline and likely to be supplanted soon, or in ascendancy and likely to become the company's dominant offering? Will this affect how the company goes to market? Will this affect how other companies--whether in category a, b, c, or all of the above--position themselves and relate to you? Do you care? Should you care?

The mainframe is dead! Long live the mainframe!

If you had the power to change one thing about your job--just one thing, no matter how large or small, grand or pedestrian--what would it be?

I would have all marketing and sales people (stellionates) take truth serum before making their product or service presentations. Definition: A stellionate is someone who sells something they don't have.

At cocktail parties these days (that's a bit of a fib--I can't remember the last time I was at a cocktail party, and I hope it's at least as long until I have to go to the next one), everyone's talking about RFID. Is it a world-changer, or a worthless and overhyped solution in search of a problem? Is your company thinking about it, exploring it, deploying it, or ignoring it? Do you care? Should you care?

RFID? Is that something like Rural Free Internet Delivery?

As the economy picks up, would you recommend to your children that they pursue a career in your field? Why or why not?

Since I have just read the book How To Die Broke, I'm going to let them make their own choice.

Please send your answers to some or all of these questions, and I'll select a bunch and run them in an upcoming column. And all of those selected will receive an official InformationWeek tchotchke. Thanks for your time--I've gotta go catch a hot-air balloon.

Wait for me, but if I win, only send me a gift certificate for a hot tchotchkelate

Joe De Natale



First, I would like to thank you for what I presume is the correct spelling of tchotchke and for having the chutzpah to use it in your column. I've wondered for more than 30 years about that one (not continuously).

I am in total agreement with your criticism of the snail's pace at which our government works (unless of course they're bombing Iraq or screwing all of us out of our wilderness/wildlife/resources). Perhaps a constitutional amendment stating that they outsource all IT projects...

Least-favorite person: It's a tough call, except for the Donald (I admire him), but I think it has to be SCO, in general, and McBride, in particular.

Pass on Infosys.

I assume services has been, is, and will continue to be IBM's biggest revenue-generator. I worked for the company for 12-plus years and admire the way it continually reinvents itself. I believe some of its CEOs have been geniuses (Watson Sr., in spite of help from his father-in-law over at NCR; Watson Jr.; and Gerstner, especially).

I would change my compensation plan.

RFID will be a MONSTER. It may end up being the single-most-ubiquitous technology ever. Don't take my predictions lightly. When I saw my first desktop computer, I became very excited and predicted that everyone would have one on their desk within 10 years. My timeframe might have been a little off, but I knew it would be a MONSTER. You heard it here first, well, second maybe.

I think my field (IT) will be around for a long time to come, and I would help my kids if they wanted to pursue an IT career, but I wouldn't push them in that direction.

Roger Faucher
Computer Networks of Northern Florida



One small thing. That "ubiquitous computing" was really here so I could have something under a pound in my hands that was always connected to the fastest possible connection available in its locale that would recognize my handwriting (flawlessly) because handwriting is still the only thing faster than touch typing for me.

RFID: I was just coming up the stairs and noticed one of those old watchman clock stations, the purpose of which is to make sure they get to every watch station. I thought, there's a good use of RFID. An RFID on each station with the reader on the watchperson. When s/he gets back, Bluetooth is used to read the collection device. No human intervention. There are a million ways RFID can be used, this is just one.

Juror. But all are huge wastes of money.

Infosys: Responding to complaints that their reps don't talk American English. They have a need to fill.

Career choice: Better would be something that makes good use of these tools instead of a career in the tools. I have invested in a B.A. in CS in '95 (yeah, I know, but that is what the school had) and an M.S. in CIS in 2000. It has worked for me, but just like my previous career (26 years as enlisted in the Air Force), I can't recommend it anymore. The casualties are mounting.

Terry May
Regional Systems Manager, Central Region
HDR
San Antonio, Texas



Least Favorite:
The least-favorite person has to be Darl McBride. The others are temporary annoyances, but he is trying to change the IT landscape for the worse on a permanent basis. I hope the investment firm trying to pull its money is successful.

Infosys:
It's a recognition that it has sufficient business opportunities in the United States to establish local resources to provide needed capabilities--plus the realization that in many cases trying to provide technical services from halfway across the world is counterproductive.

IBM:
Services is almost half of IBM's total revenue. Hardware is about 30% and software about 16%. Services as a sector is in ascendancy and is really the company's dominant offering right now. IBM's greatest strength is the ability to provide complete solutions (at a price), and the strength of its services sector provides additional leverage to both the hardware and software sectors. It definitely affects both its market strategy and its "trench-level" sales approach. It's a major consideration for other companies and does affect us. We care--and other companies should care as well.

Changing One Thing:
We provide Web-based ERP services. Part of my day is spent dealing with questions and issues from users who rarely know what they're asking or the details of their questions. We estimate that 75% of these questions could be resolved if THEY JUST LOOKED AT THE DOCUMENTATION!

RFID:
We have yet to see any demand from our users for RFID capabilities. These are medium-sized companies that typically deal in multilevel supply chains, and, based on the hype in the industry, I would expect some level of demand. None yet. Right now it seems to be a solution in search of a problem and in search of revenue generation--but we're watching it closely.

My children's future direction:
I tried to get them interested in IT as a career, but they had their own opinions.

Thanks for the opportunities to express opinions.

John Byrnes



Regarding the need to be "giving our intelligence agencies the ability to share information seamlessly":

Certainly things can always be improved, but any commercial "best practices" to be applied will have to address the realities of classified data processing, red/black separation, multilevel security, Type 1 cryptography, etc.

There's more involved than you might think.

An interesting example: Land Warrior (wearable computer/radio/etc for Rangers).

Ultimately, there are a million ways to do things better, but there are a trillion ways to do the same or worse.

Mike Stebnisky
Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology
Cherry Hill, N.J.



Who gets your vote for your least-favorite person: (a) SCO chief ambulance-chaser Darl McBride; (b) the hacker who created the MyDoom virus; (c) Donald Trump; or (d) the juror who tanked the Tyco trial?

(a) Darl McBride. Bad boy. If I can't be in business, neither can you! Such a bad precedence setter. Such a litigious society we live in. Is all fair in love and war? Apparently it is in the business world, but we knew that already (can anyone say Microsoft, Enron, MCI?). Nuf on that.

What do you think of Infosys' recent announcement of its plans to hire 500 U.S. consultants over the next three years? Is it (a) a move aimed at placating an American public that feels victimized by the rise of India as a business-technology power; (b) a sudden and unexpected indication that India's rapidly growing economy has pushed incomes in that country so high that Infosys can now find qualified talent in the United States at lower wages; or (c) another example of a highly efficient global economy aligning resources and capabilities with business opportunities?

(a) Perhaps. Have always thought, no matter what company or where the job went, that outsourcing customer service is a baaaaaad idea. The state of customer service throughout the industry is, well, pathetic. When will companies learn that if you take care of your customers they will bring you profit; if you treat them like dirt, sooner or later, they will walk?

From which line of business does IBM generate the most revenue: (a) hardware, including all servers, PCs, mainframes, storage, etc.; (b) services; (c) software? Is that leading revenue-generator in decline and likely to be supplanted soon, or in ascendancy and likely to become the company's dominant offering? Will this affect how the company goes to market? Will this affect how other companies--whether in category a, b, c, or all of the above--position themselves and relate to you? Do you care? Should you care?

(b) Services, if I remember correctly. Isn't that the Linux model? Yes, it sure is, though IBM has gone its own way in the past and did very well for itself. Nobody has yet gotten fired for buying IBM. Yup, I care, and yes, you should, too!

If you had the power to change one thing about your job--just one thing, no matter how large or small, grand or pedestrian--what would it be?

What would I change? This is a fickle spot to be in. As an independent consultant, it would be nice to not care as much. I watch those who do not, they still make the money and have less work. I care about my clients, so if they need me at 3 a.m., so be it, but it sure can wear you out after a while. However, one cannot do less than one's best.

At cocktail parties these days (that's a bit of a fib--I can't remember the last time I was at a cocktail party, and I hope it's at least as long until I have to go to the next one), everyone's talking about RFID. Is it a world-changer, or a worthless and overhyped solution in search of a problem? Is your company thinking about it, exploring it, deploying it, or ignoring it? Do you care? Should you care?

RFID is looming (coming, attacking?), whether we like it or not or care or not. I have no vested interest in it (yet), so I really don't care. I should care, because sooner or later it will affect me.

As the economy picks up, would you recommend to your children that they pursue a career in your field? Why or why not?

What I would recommend to my children is different than what I would say to a junior high class trying to figure out what they want to be when they grow up.

To my children, I say, follow your heart. Your work must be a personal passion, to do otherwise is to betray yourself and accept mediocrity. If it is technology, great--there will always be a need for the passionate innovators, regardless of the economy. If it is being a janitor, great--be the best one ever.

To the junior high class, I would say the same about following the heart and personal passion but add that they should not choose it for the money, but for the contribution they can make. Choose their career carefully, not based on the current fad of the year (though security seems to have an extended life). I would also debunk the myth that it is glamorous work. It is not--it is tedious and extremely detailed, even if you are a hacker. To be able to succeed, you must be willing to fail.

Maybe I should have had a night's sleep before writing this, but it is what it is.

Chris Ridley
OnCall Solutions

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