SmartAdvice: Craft Vision Statement So It Motivates And Leads - InformationWeek

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1/20/2004
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SmartAdvice: Craft Vision Statement So It Motivates And Leads

Vision statements must reflect the organization and involve everyone, so make them simple and achievable, The Advisory Council says. Plus, consider your company's needs for archiving and what's already in use when choosing business-messaging systems, and staying up-to-date on security patches will help keep Windows NT-family operating systems safe.

Topic B: In the past 10 years, E-mail has become the dominant business messaging medium, but not without problems (e.g., spam). Looking forward, what technologies should we adopt for business messaging?

Our advice: Don't look now, but your staff may have already made the decision for you. Check out what your employees are using these days to communicate; you might be surprised to find that E-mail is no longer the medium of choice in many companies. The flood of E-mail has become so overwhelming that many have switched to communicating using instant messaging, integrated tools (Microsoft Exchange/Outlook, Lotus Domino/Notes) and various wireless-based systems.

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PDAs (personal digital assistants) and IM (instant messaging) have become the major communication tools of the IT staff even in small companies. IM is cheap, fast, and easy. And nobody cares if you can't spell or write well! Its disadvantages, however, are weak security, little or no control or accountability over the content, and hogging of network bandwidth. So, you need to match your industry-specific needs for accountability, traceability, and data security, with your budget and tolerance for emerging technologies. Here are a few items to think about to ensure a good match with your company's needs:

  • How much protection is needed for the data being communicated? For example, the health-care industry is struggling to reconcile the ease of using wireless PDAs, and the Health Insurance Portability & Accountability Act's requirements for the protection of sensitive patient data.
  • Do you need to track and archive communications, be they internal or external? Then E-mail, newsgroups, and other methods that automatically create archives are a better choice for you.
  • Are cost and computer resources an issue? There's no doubt that IM and Internet conferencing can be network bandwidth hogs, but as SMS (short message service) and other technologies designed for the constraints of cell and WAN (wide-area network) distribution become more popular, this will become less of an issue.
  • Since IT people are frequently early adopters of new technologies long before the rest of the business catches up, they can be a bellwether for where messaging technology is headed. Then, as the technologies mature, you'll be prepared to deploy the ones appropriate for your company.

    -- Beth Cohen

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