CIO Digest: May 4, 2001

By David Aponovich

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1. Salary Strongholds, InformationWeek.com, April 30.

CIN Spin: IT salaries post strong gains despite economic travails.

There's good news out this week regarding the pay of IT professionals: Salaries continue to rise, despite the troubles facing the industry.

The upbeat report comes from InformationWeek, which released its annual IT salary survey covering nearly 20,000 IT staffers and managers this week. Compiled from an online poll taken in February and March, the report says median compensation for IT managers was $97,000, 10% higher than $88,000 in 2000. For staffers, median compensation hit $71,000, up 8.5% from $65,000 last year.

Who are among the best paid? InformationWeek found that wireless infrastructure and enterprise resource planning professionals are among the best paid, along with experts in Internet and intranet design, development and management.

There was a downside to the survey. Namely, worries about job security and future prospects continue to escalate. As InformationWeek notes, employees and employers know that current pay rates reflect job market conditions from a year ago, when the job pool was a bit smaller.

According to many respondents, it's taking them longer to find new jobs, and salaries tend to be lower than last year.

Even CIOs are feeling the pinch when it comes to their pay. InformationWeek cites a forthcoming survey by Janco, showing that CIO compensation has been flat over the last six months--for the first time since 1990--and fewer CIO jobs are available as more of them stay put.

Complete article here.

2. The Truth About CRM, CIO Magazine, May 1, 2001

CIN Spin: CRM implementations take money, time--and most importantly--a good plan.

It's not for a lack of good reasons that business executives are spending millions on customer-relationship management software.

Use of the customer-focused software has flourished because of its ability to help sales people, call-center operators, customer database managers and others get a better handle on customers, foster their loyalty and close more sales.

Experts are quoted here saying that up to 70% of CRM projects don't produce measurable business benefits. Still, spending on CRM is growing fast. Stats cited from Meta Group indicate that the CRM market will grow from about $20 million this year to $46 billion by 2003. Siebel is the leading vendor, chased by competitors such as Clarify, Epiphany, Onyx Software and Oracle.

But the rise of CRM hasn't been without its troubles, as this article in CIO magazine takes great lengths to point out. For every successful CRM implementation, there's a mission gone bad. Users refuse to adopt the new technology. Costs spiral out of control. Many companies end up stuck with technology that isn't being put to its best use.

And stuck in the middle--between CEOs and vendors--are CIOs, whose job it is to oversee the CRM project and make it work. They stand to take some credit or some blame, depending on how the implementation goes.

OK, so the hype hasn't lived up to the promises for every company. But how can CIOs do their best to make sure CRM adoption doesn't fail? Here, according to the article, are a few points to remember:

Full article here.

3. The Missing Link: What You Need to Know About Supply-Chain Technology, eCompany, May 2001

CIN Spin: Done right, supply-chain management may be a silver bullet for saving big money.

If you haven't tackled a CRM installation lately (see above story summary) odds are you've spent your time and the company's money on that other silver bullet for efficiency and cost savings: an Internet-based supply-chain management system.

eCompany tackles the hot topic in a lengthy overview of its benefits and provides some stories tallying success and failures. (Big failure: Nike in March said it missed quarterly estimates by a third because its supply-chain management software wasn't working properly. The lesson: Integrating your existing systems and your partners' systems is a difficult task.)

The theory of supply-chain management is simple --connect manufacturers with suppliers to save money, and make money by crunching numbers to help them coordinate production, reduce inventory levels, analyze what's selling (and what isn't), and gear up to meet sales trends.

If you're installing such a system, you're not alone. eCompany cites AMR Research statistics that show companies will spend $7.8 billion this year buying and installing the systems, a 45% jump over last year. Leading vendors include Commerce One, i2 Technologies, NextLinx and SeeCommerce. Still, just one in five Fortune 1000 companies have the latest technology in place, according to a source.

The article points out that the systems can be costly, are difficult to get working, and could be disastrous if not done right. (When Nike's troubles surfaced, vendor i2's stock dropped 22%.)

But the systems hold promise (i2 says that by 2005 its 1,000 customers will save a combined $75 billion).

The article gets at the central truth of supply-chain management systems: In the Internet economy, it's a big way companies are winning in the battle against their competitors. The other truth: Missteps can doom an implementation and reverberate far beyond your own walls.

Complete article here.

4. Optimistic Forecasts Fuel Wireless Hype
Computerworld.com, April 30

CIN Spin: CIOs beware: Rosy forecasts of technology adoption rates may put you in a difficult position.

When analysts make predictions, they're essentially trying to hit a moving target, projecting the future use and adoption of a technology or service based on current data and expected demand.

But when it comes to predicting something like 3G (or third-generation) wireless adoption, it's more like trying to hit a moving target while blindfolded with one hand tied behind your back.

As Computerworld points out, there are zero customers on 3G systems in the United States right now. But that hasn't kept analysts from making rosy predictions about its growth in the coming decade.

The predictions, as expected, are wildly divergent. Will usage hit 1.3 billion subscribers by 2010, as one analyst predicts? Will it be as low as the 744 million another estimates? The truth is, no one knows.

This all may mean nothing to CIOs, but it should, Computerworld says. A CEO reading about such predictions related to mobile commerce may be misled to pressure their IT executives to "dive into the hyped technology," as one analyst is quoted.

Just when m-commerce takes off is still open to conjecture and to numerous factors. A 3G technology standard still hasn't been determined and users of current wireless Web devices complain about costly services, difficult-to-use devices and slow service.

In the meantime, CIOs who might be faced with such a mandate from their CEOs might want to practice breaking the news to them gently.

Complete article here.