In This Issue:
1. Editor's Note: Researchers Measure E-Mail's Potency As Business Tool
2. Today's Top Story
- Is The Metasploit Hacking Tool Too Good?
- Q&A: Why Metasploit Publishes Hacker Tools
- Poll: MetasploitHelp Or Menace?
3. Breaking News
- Businesses Embracing Firefox As The Other Browser
- McAfee, Microsoft Trade Insults Over Vista
- YouTube Pulls Nearly 30,000 Videos
- Brief: Google Shares Surge Day After Stellar Financial Report
- Microsoft Says McAfee 'Inaccurate, Inflammatory'
- Vista Now Blocks Kernel Rootkit Attack
- Microsoft Spars With Security Analysts Over IE7 Bug
- Microsoft Re-Releases Patch For Windows 2000
- Microsoft Readies Audio-Visual Conferencing Platform
- Microsoft Expands Life Sciences Effort
- Dell's Stock Tumbles After HP Reclaims No. 1 PC Spot
- Analysis: U.S. Elections Will Shape Many Key IT Issues
4. Grab Bag
- PlayStation 3 To Miss November 17 Ship Date? (Gizmodo)
- IE7 Vs. Firefox 2: The Memory Usage Showdown (Lifehacker)
- Microsoft Zune: Doesn't Sound Sweet To Everyone (IT World)
5. In Depth
- Businesses Apply New Metrics In Measuring IT's Value
- Techniques For Measuring IT's Effectiveness
6. Voice Of Authority
- The Internet Explorer 7 Glass Is Definitely Half Empty
7. White Papers
- Secure Enclave: Security And Resiliency For The Real-Time Mobile Enterprise
8. Get More Out Of InformationWeek
9. Manage Your Newsletter Subscription
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1. Editor's Note: Researchers Measure E-Mail's Potency As Business Tool
Imagine two workers with the same jobcall them Al and Bob, recruiters at an executive headhunting firm. Both rely heavily on e-mail to conduct business. Who would have more success finding executive recruits? Al, who relies on a well-worn list of contacts, or Bob, who not only has his own heavily used contact list, but also participates in a social network? The answer seems obvious: Bob. Now, however, their performance can be measured.
MIT management professor Erik Brynjolfsson and two collaborators drafted a paper entitled "Information, Technology And Information Worker Productivity: Task Level Evidence" that measures the performance of knowledge workers at an executive recruiting firm, much akin to how researchers over the years have measured the performance of assembly line workers producing widgets.
Traditionally, IT organizations use metrics to evaluate internal operations, but the rage among leading companies today is measuring the impact of IT on the business operations. We explore this trend in today's InformationWeek.
According to the paper, in an effort to reveal individual information-worker productivity, Brynjolfsson and his colleagues analyzed project and individual performance at the recruiting firm by using data on revenues, compensation, and project completion rates for more than 1,300 projects spanning five years. In addition, they examined more than 125,000 e-mail messages sent by the knowledge workers over a 10-month span. The researchers evaluated this data with the workers' perceptions of their IT skills, along with their actual use of IT and information sharing. Until he conducted this research, Brynjolfsson didn't think it was easy to measure performance by a knowledge worker.
"For me, it was an eye-opener," he says. "Now with this data, I did a 180-degree turn. Information workers are extremely measurable because with just a little bit of effort, you can track basically all of their communicationstheir outputs and their inputsand correlate that with their performance."
Brynjolfsson says there's no correlation between the raw number of e-mails sent and productivity, such as completing a project successfully. But if knowledge workers such as Bob actively engage in a social networking site and connect with other participants within the network via e-mail, their success rate in closing deals is higher than those who don't participate in such webs.
"If A [Al] is just sending a lot of e-mail to his e-mail buddies, but doesn't really connect to other people, whereas B [Bob] has a much broader, more diverse connection, then that was a very strong indicator [of increased productivity]," Brynjolfsson says. "The broader point is that if you look at the structure of the network, it tells you a lot about which kinds of people are more productive and which people are less productive."
Do you have any unusual means of measuring productivity and performance? Leave a message on the InformationWeek Weblog and let us know.
Is The Metasploit Hacking Tool Too Good?
The open source project already offers penetration testing tools and exploit code. Now it's going further, offering eVade-o-Matic, a tool to make it harder to detect exploit code aimed at Web browsers. Has it gone too far?
Q&A: Why Metasploit Publishes Hacker Tools
H.D. Moore, head researcher of hacker organization Metasploit, talks about why it's important to publish security exploits, the organization's relationship to the cops, and more.
Microsoft Expands Life Sciences Effort
Microsoft cut deals with several life sciences and software companies for software that helps researchers visualize molecules and run tests of the efficacy of potential drug compounds.
Analysis: U.S. Elections Will Shape Many Key IT Issues
The winners of next month's congressional elections will decide the future of many important telecommunications and information technology issues, including net neutrality, data privacy, and patents. InformationWeek explains what's at stake.
A Personal Approach To The Web InformationWeek's newest service is MyInformationWeek, a personalization engine that responds to your stated preferences and also uses your click behavior to refine your profile and serve you the most relevant information on every visit. Sign up now.
Download PDFs Of InformationWeek's Top Stories
Visit InformationWeek Downloads to get all of InformationWeek's biggest and best articles all in one place. Presented in an easy-to-read PDF format, they'll help you analyze and make purchasing decisions for today's technology solutions.
Microsoft Zune: Doesn't Sound Sweet To Everyone (IT World)
Microsoft's forthcoming digital music player, dubbed Zune, may make some Hebrew speakers gasp. The name for the device--which will take on the Apple iPod when released later this yearsounds like a vulgarity, specifically the "f" word, in Hebrew.
The Internet Explorer 7 Glass Is Definitely Half Empty
The news that Microsoft has finally released a newer, perhaps less risky version of Internet Explorer should bring a song to my lips and a spring to my step. But my heart is heavy. Why? Because of the nine PCs within my reach, only two will run the newer, safer IE. The other seven run Microsoft operating systems that Microsoft has stopped supporting and won't release a version of IE7 for.
7. White Papers
Secure Enclave: Security And Resiliency For The Real-Time Mobile Enterprise
Focusing on perimeter-based network protection (i.e. firewalls and intrusion detection) is grossly inadequate, leaving networks continuously exposed to attacks from compromised devices. To confront these threats, organizations must have a reliable, end-to-end view of all the assets that interact with the network.
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