and copyright by Internet World:
A Mission for Web Services
By John Zipperer
(12/01/02) Web services
have a lot of promises to keep, but they aren't enough. Assuming the
emerging picture of the Web services world gets fleshed out successfully,
it will leave room for even-more-interesting things to be done with
Chris Thomas, chief e-strategist
at Intel, jokes that he's been called a Web services expert, and he
says the good thing about that is that "nobody knows what it
is yet," so no one can say he's wrong. But the story of what
Web services can and do accomplish for tying together companies is
already being told. That's because what they're being touted as being
able to doparticularly, the machine-to-machine transfer of application
informationis still a crucial thing. They don't need a different
mission; they need an additional element in their mission. I say this
technology should be stretched to address another, more-important
matter: corporate integrity.
You know the roll call:
Enron, Global Crossing, WorldCom, and others. Recently, another company
announced a need to "restate" finances with the difference
in the billions of dollars. Another is doing the same, with the difference
of a mere couple hundred million. There will certainly be others by
the time you read this. With the regular need for the infusion of
billions of dollars in foreign investment and the ability of domestic
investors to put their money elsewhere, the topic of American corporate
integrity commands real attention. These failings of ethics therefore
don't just affect the companies on the "roll call of shame;"
they affect almost every public company, plus suppliers, partners,
investors/owners, bankers, employees, and the communities in which
We can respond by hoping
that our own businesses and the companies in which we have invested
don't turn out to have some disastrous financial secrets. That's the
bare minimum. But it's insufficient and unworthy of adults. We need
to see more corporate integritydoing right even when one doesn't
have to. For those who can't, then maybe they shouldn't be the gatekeepers
of their own disclosable information.
That brings us back to
Web services, or at least the underlying theories behind why they
will be such powerful business tools. For years, we have replaced
human-to-human interaction where desirable with computer-to-computer
interaction. My pitch is quite simple: If some folks can't be trusted
to report their finances correctly, let's develop the software and
delivery mechanisms that will pull the appropriate information out
of their systems and send it directly to the appropriate concerned
partiesshareholders, boards of directors, the Securities and
Exchange Commission, the IRSthe people who should receive the
information that is legally due them in the first place. Let's develop
the applications and algorithms that will take that information and
crunch it up into usable reports.
"What?" you ask.
"That nut is suggesting I let the government and auditors crunch
my numbers for me?"
Well, no and yes. Though
I'm no accountant, I know that bookkeeping is more complicated than
toting up the money received. But information that is given out anyway
should be given out correctly. And before you suggest people should
just trust businesses, think about the times you've been tempted to
put monitoring software on your employees' computers.
Thomas, speaking at Microsoft's
Strategies for E-Business Agility conference this past summer, echoed
Intel cofounder Gordon Moore who reportedly said in 1984 that you
never leave a recession using the same technology with which you entered
it. If you haven't heard of that law as much as you've heard of Moore's
other law concerning transistor growth, don't worry; it's largely
hooey. We've entered and left all kinds of recessions and depressions
using the same technologies as before.
But we can adapt Moore's
concept to deal with technology-related crises. We're in one, and
we are developing the technology to get us out of it and help prevent
a return to it. It will take complicated applications and algorithms,
as well as the necessary standardization in the purposefully murky
world of accounting, but hardest of all may be the mindset change.
Trust but verify? Bah.
Ensure the Integrity
By John Zipperer
the most value from your information in a distributed organization
can be anything but simple. As with any other automation challenge,
obtaining a unified and trustworthy view of your organization's financial
activity and ensuring it meets internal and, where necessary, external
standards is of increasing necessity at the same time that it is increasingly
complex, thanks to globalized enterprises, newly hawkish regulators
and analysts, and energized shareholders.
Companies face the requirement
to track and report their financial information more accurately as
well as more quickly, as a result of pressure from the government.
Others also apply increased pressure.
"Investors are demanding
even more far-reaching changes than government has prescribed,"
says Mike King, senior manager in Deloitte & Touche's Solutions
Division, in a recent seminar on the subject. Some investors look
for carte-blanche access to see how their investments are doing. "One
major energy firm in the Midwest has already moved in that direction,
giving board members access to the financial information of the company
via secure intranet," says King.
But even without the external
interest, companies look to get more-accurate and speedier financial
information to and from their various offices, divisions, and branches.
With better information comes better decision making and guidance,
The solutions available
can take different approaches to solving the problem or parts of the
For example, WiredRed Software's
e/pop Audit and Reporting Server helps companies manage and archive
their instant messaging (IM) communications, which is increasingly
important for companies, especially financial services companies trying
to meet federal requirements covering their handling of instant data
There are other, more wide-reaching
offerings, such as Cognos Finance, from Cognos Inc., which is designed
to help organizations integrate and monitor their core financial processes
in a way that meets internal controls and reporting needs. Exact Software's
e-Synergy product gives users private access through Web browser portals,
where they can access data and analysis that lets them drill down
to the division level, item level, cost center, or practically any
A look at some users of
offerings from Hyperion Solutions and Cognos shows the level of importance
they put on utilizing technology to obtain a grasp on their financial
data and reporting, regardless of the solution they choose to use.
Vignette Builds With
Quicker reporting, increased accuracy, and a single source of data,
represent an array of reasons why companies look to performance management
products for results.
Content management software
solutions company Vignette Corp. wanted to address all of these matters.
The Austin, Texas-based company had a system that was good, but not
as good as it wanted it to be. Just as the U.S. business cycle famously
took a turn south, Vignette wanted to get whatever efficiency it could
out of its financial performance.
"One of the main issues
that you have as a global company is the problem of people having
different databases or different versions of the same database, so
they come up with different numbers," says Bruce Webb, Vignette's
senior director of global finance.
That was one problem Vignette
didn't have, because it was using a financial analyzer product from
Oracle, which acted as a central data repository and let the company
perform planning. Financial analysts at Vignette would pull their
data from that database into Excel programs to handle the numbers.
But the company wanted something with more robust capabilities, so
it went looking for solutions.
"When you have a lot
of management reporting, that can be pretty tedious," says Webb.
"Did you pull the right numbers and are the sums rightthat
sort of thing."
In September 2001, Vignette
bought the Hyperion Essbase Server, and it began a two-phase implementation.
The first phase was a simple matter of duplicating the interface between
its financials applications. The second phase involved an in-house
project by Vignette to build an application that would run on top
of Essbase and allow the company to conduct global planning and networking.
The decision to build in-house
may go against the grain of the buy-it-don't-build-it credo these
days, but Webb had available to him some developers experienced in
finance and, after all, Vignette is a software company itself.
The benefits of the new
system are many for Vignette, including cost savings, better understanding
of its costs, improved reporting (and more types of reporting), improved
cycle time, and better data integrity.
"In my ROI for the
dollars I laid out for the product, where could I lower my headcount
and the cost of my organization?" explains Webb. "Over time,
what we have been able to do is manage to reduce headcount in this
business cycle while delivering significantly more. And I attribute
that to a large degree to Essbase and the application we developed.
The other thing we've been able to help do is by modeling our expenses
better, we've been able to help the rest of the company make key business
CTX Mortgage and Cognos
One part of the economy that has
performed very strongly in this economic cycle is residential real
estate. CTX Mortgage Co. provides mortgage financing for homebuyers,
which means it has had a busy year. It originated $9 billion of loans
in 2001, and it grossed almost $7 billion in just the first half of
2002. Though it is based in Dallaslike its parent company, Centex
Corp.CTX has about 200 branch offices located in 40 different
states, and it wanted to be able to push out information to those
branches more quickly and efficiently.
"What drove this whole
process was a meeting when I sat down with our president and CEO and
discussed their vision," explains Harry Hixson, CTX's senior
vice president for information technology. "We started out with
a theme called Mission Possible, where we set business objectives,
and those objectives are communicated through to the field. One of
the things we wanted to do was increase communicationhow the
company is doing, how the business is doingand communicate that
through the ranks."
The company handled this
with "tons of reports," but it wasn't a very efficient way
of getting lots of information into lots of hands on a rapid basis.
"We got into it more and more and decided what we really wanted
was to have a dashboard," says Hixson. "So when branch managers
log in, they see that set of five or 10 or 15 metrics [that pertain
to them], and see how they're doing. They might be weekly metrics,
or daily metrics, but the first thing they'll see is how they're doing."
A year ago, the company
evaluated products, eventually choosing Cognos Corp.'s Metrics Manager
(then in beta).
"From our perspective,
what we were looking at was to totally redo the way we do reporting,"
Cognos' OLAP (online analytical
processing) technology, its tools, and their simple user interface
were strong points of the product. And as a result of the new technology,
CTX could better monitor its performance metrics at multiple levels,
as well as from different angles (such as profit per loan, employee
head count, and fixed expense for each loan).
Now, the company's power users in the field can generate reports themselves,
set the parameters to their liking, and use a format they like.
On the central administration
side, the company determines the information to which those field
users will have access. The users thus get the information that directly
affects their work assignments and their measurement against company
metrics, which tie into their own compensation.
Hixson declines to put
dollar figures on CTX's return on investment in the Cognos product,
but he says it looks for return in terms of improved information distribution
and management. "We were really trying to improve information,
place the information easily and readily in the hands of those who
needed to make decisions, so we're not looking for a scorecard that
has tons of information," says Hixson.
"We're looking to
deliver the metrics that the branch manager needs to run his business."
By John Zipperer
enterprise technology strategies for the near future is likely to
take some adjustment, both from the enterprises themselves as well
as their vendors. As the U.S. moves out of recession, the expected
resumption of rapid technology spending was replaced with continued
caution on the part of businesses.
The conclusion from many observersincluding
most visibly the leadership at Oracle Corp.is, essentially,
"Get used to it." Ernie Eichenbaum, vice president of Baan
USA Inc., speaks for many when he says, "I don't expect to see
zillions of dollars of money that companies will be putting toward
projects." Businesses are instead adapting themselves to the
new reality that, though recession is not a permanent business feature,
the more-cautious pace of IT spending that they are seeing today is
likely to be the norm for the foreseeable future.
It's not a unanimous opinion. "Everyone
is trying to set expectations around the spend level, but none of
us has any idea," says Adam Klaber, global CRM leader for IBM
Business Consulting Services (formerly PwC Consulting).
Where should companies place their investments
to get immediate benefits, and also remain well-positioned for the
"How do you build for a world where
you acknowledge that you don't know what will happen instead of pretending
you do know what will happen?" asks John Jordan, a principal
with Cap Gemini Ernst & Young. He says the answer is in better
management, not technology. And though companies are not buying comprehensive
changeovers from one system technology to another, there is still
reason for them to prepare their existing systems for future technologies
and industry standards, such as those associated with Web services.
"These days where people are squeezing
budgets, many people are taking existing projects and letting them
do more," explains Baan president Laurens van der Tang.
Klaber, more bullish than many others, says companies now choose the
lowest-risk, highest-return options. "Not the things that are
super big and really hard to do, but the small to medium-size things
that can drive some value within organizations," he says.
Steady improvement is thus the key,
and it helps to have had a good foundation from the beginning. REI,
a 64-year-old outdoor goods retailer with stores in 24 states, recently
adopted the IBM WebSphere platform to improve the speed and performance
of its online store. Though already proud of its site, the retailer
had to keep investing in it. "Regardless of what we wanted to
do [with it], we knew we couldn't stay with what we had and scale
like we wanted to," says Joan Broughton, REI's vice president
for direct sales.
REI has the additional advantage of
having had a smart approach to integrating the Internet into its business
from the start. Through a combination of good corporate leadership
and the lack of extra money to burn, the company never went the route
of trying to set up a separate organization for tracking stock for
its online sales channel; instead, it always saw it as another way
of tying together its stores, catalogs, and customers.
"We intended this year to be the
year that we redid the whole site," says Broughton. Next year,
she says the new platform will be leveraged for "innovations
and more linking between the sales channels."
Jordan suggests other companies also
follow a clear-minded strategy for making technology investments.
"You can't blow up your legacy environment, but you can acknowledge
that you're never going to have a green field," he says. "You
can start standardizing some of your environment now. If you do it
for the next three or five years, then you'll find in three or five
years that you're pretty far along the way."
That approach will be particularly helpful for slowly taking on Web
services, a still-evolving field that many companies are just experimenting
with on a small scale. "Forget about having your trading partners
do it," Jordan says. "But your payroll department...."
If Jordan is correct in his approach,
then business executives can expect to get value out of their investments
without having expensive retooling and restaffing charges. He says
a lot of the work of fixing the internal programming in organizations
to make sure they're ready to handle automated interaction with outside
systems falls under the category of maintenance. The changes thus
get made at an acceptable rate without it having to become a separate,
"Yes, we are going through a cycle,"
says Klaber. "But I do believe that there is a pent-up demand
of things to do, to improve how companies operate, how they get interfaced
with their suppliers and their customers, and they know that there's
business value associated with it. I do believe it will not [remain]
at this level, because people are very cautious, and they're being
incented by their organizations to go slower, not faster."
Space Holdings Manages
By John Zipperer
a brand new Web site or publication for your business can be easier
than trying to relaunch an existing one. That's because publications
and sites quickly develop archivestheir legacies of print and
other media contentthat can make a switchover to a new format
When Space Holdings Corp. looked at a redesign and update of its Space.com
Web site, not only did it have to deal with thousands of archived
files, but also the use of those files on multiple sites and feeds.
But for this company, the challenge of the task also became an opportunity
to build in stronger revenue opportunities where it could work with
its advertisers, and to make the creation of new content an easier
and faster process.
Space Holdings is a company that produces and distributes space-related
media for business and consumer audiences. Its products include Space
News, a business-to-business aerospace newsweekly; Starry Night astronomy
software; and Space.com, a Web site that offers a steady diet of space
business news, education, and entertainment.
The company relaunched Space.com this
past summer, just in time for its third anniversary. Originally launched
by TV business newsman Lou Dobbs, who now serves as the company's
chairman, Space.com has been retooled to better present the thousands
of archived stories and images, as well as regularly updated news
feeds, andmore important to Space Holdingsto give better
placement to its advertisers, such as IBM, Intel, Absolut, and Showtime.
That's a result of the direction taken by Space Holdings president
and CEO Dan Stone, who recently joined the company from Turner Broadcasting
System, and who has said that the company is designing itself to work
better with customers and marketers.
When Space.com launched in 1999, it
used a Future Tense Inc. content management system. Open Market Inc.
bought the content system technology from Future Tense, and Open Market
in turn eventually sold it to divine inc., which named it the divine
"It's been very robust for us,"
says Jason Hoch, director of operations and business development at
Space Holdings. "The core function from the start was a content
management solution for the Space.com site. We're taking everything
we've learned and use on a daily basis on Space.com and are applying
that more and more to our other work."
The amount of content and its multiple
uses drove the need for a content management solution that can integrate
large volumes of data and use the XML language to help tag elements
of content files for multiple uses. The company has more than 25,000
articles in its archives, as well as hundreds of thousands of images,
and it needs to pick and choose images for use in different articles
and in different sizes. And that content is not only destined to appear
on Space Holdings' sites; the company also syndicates the content
to partner sites such as those run by Gannett and Yahoo!
"It's really become the heart and
soul of what we do relating to content," says Hoch. "By
content, we mean producing articles, producing images, image galleries,
managing broadband video, having lots of different looks and feels
to the pages."
Space Holdings' use of its content management
server goes back to when it was Open Market 1.0. "That tool and
other tools in the marketplace just weren't as sophisticated as they
needed to be," says Hoch. Happily, he says, the vendor listened
to what its customers wanted and added new features, such as the ability
to create and customize templates, import different types of data,
manage video and images, and more. He believes that by continually
trying new things, he takes the technology further than other customers
might, so his company has continued its relationship of close consultation
with its vendor, divine. "As a result," he says, "we're
a pretty good test case for divine because we do push the boundaries
a little more."
The original decision to go with a product,
he says, "wasn't Open Market versus another solution, as much
as ÔWe can build this in-house with our own team' instead of
ÔHere's a product we can buy from a vendor.'" The ultimate
choice three years ago to go with an outside vendor like Open Market
was a good one, he says, because it helped avoid the urge to customize
everything. "I think you get in a little over your head if you
try to do all the customization yourself," says Hoch.
The Content Server's pre-divine origins
go back to a successful gamble by the creators at Future Tense. When
they developed the product back in 1997, Java 2 Enterprise Edition
was not in everyone's lexicon as it is today. Future Tense "took
a chance and said, ÔWe think this will be a dominant platform
in the future,' and that turned out to be a pretty good bet,"
says Robert Mattson, director of ECM product marketing for divine.
With a target customer that is involved
in large-scale publishing and creating high-volume, robust sites,
the focus early on was for a strong, scalable, failover-proof product.
"Imagine what the first jeeps were in the army," Mattson
says. "Their goal was to run over anything, through anything,
and to start up at any time. But over time, they got more plush and
more comfortable. That's kind of the development of content management."
Leveraging Success into ROI
With Space Holdings' renewed emphasis on being advertiser-friendly,
the company looks at its return on content management investment partly
in terms of the greater ability to work with advertisers as a result
of the relaunched site. "The ROI that we've received from redesigning
the site has allowed us new advertising opportunities, and we're already
seeing that," says Hoch. "From a business perspective, we
are [creating] more closely integrated advertising opportunities."
For example, the site makes use of theme daysScience Tuesdays,
Spacewatch Friday, etc.to which certain ads can be targeted.
And ad placement can be changed on-the-fly as advertisers desire.
This has helped put the advertising opportunities right in front of
the viewers and has helped Space Holdings work better with major advertisers.
It has also helped Hoch keep his in-house
team lean. The relaunch of the Space.com site, including the reformatting
of those thousands of images and articles, took five weeks from start
to finish and included a programming staff of two and a half people.
"We want to extend this to all
of our multimedia capabilities, so we want to improve broadband delivery,"
Hoch continues. The company wanted to create new packages of content
for specific target-reader subsections. Space.com is only the first
step for Space Holdings, as it will be taking its successes from this
project and applying them to its other businesses, archiving their
content online. And as it expands to incorporate other print and multimedia
businesses, it'll continue to take advantage of this content management
Making use of the system throughout
the company will likely result in more helpful feedback from end users.
As with most content creation-and-management systems today, the divine
Content Server lets end users create content in the programs with
which they're already familiarsuch as Microsoft Wordand
publish directly to the end product. An unexpected result of this
has been that the end users have actually become more technically
knowledgeable, and those writers and editors have been feeding Hoch
new ideas for future capabilities. The Space Holdings relationship
with its content manager looks set to continue for some time.
Networking Technology at the Edge
By John Zipperer
is not a surprise that the economy is a determinant in the rate of
investment in Internet networking technology. But in 2003, enterprises,
their service providers, and carriers will feel the effects of the
changing ways in which companies use their networks to conduct business.
And that is likely to add up to some continued investment in networking
technology by all of them.
A relatively optimistic viewpoint from
Forrester Research expects that overall technology spending will return
to healthy growth in 2003.
However, its expectation is based on
a model where the nation's GDP growth will be above the "tipping
point" for technology spending, which is an arguable point. But
enterprises will feel the need to upgrade their networking technology
because of pressure from the traffic they put on their networks, in
no small part because enterprise applications are converging on their
IP (Internet protocol) networks.
"We see a wide range of enterprise
applications that are now Internet-enabledCRM, databasesthese
are all converging on IP, so they are requiring more IP resources,"
says Mark Bieberich, senior analyst at the Yankee Group. In
addition, he points to the continued adoption of wireless data services,
which add to the IP traffic on a network.
"But, while you can get more bandwidth
for the money, you can't necessarily use the bandwidth in new and
innovative ways, because the rate of service introduction on the part
of carriers is very, very slow," says Bieberich.
He says prices have dropped on hardware,
but the general economic situation may still hold back some companies
from aggressively taking advantage of the price cuts.
In general, he sees the investments
being made in network-edge products, not in the core, and spending
will be for solutions that increase manageability and flexibility.
By that, he means service providers will look for technology that
allows them to offer multiple features in one solution.
An ongoing upgrade in the Internet protocol
itselffrom IPv4 to IPv6could drive some further investments
in routing technology. IPv6 has a number of improvements over version
4, but the main one may be the expansion in the Internet's ability
to create addressessomething that is an acute problem in countries
that were allocated a small number of addresses.
"In 2003, we think it will be the
pivotal year for IPv6," says Uri Rahamim, vice president of worldwide
sales and marketing for Hitachi Internetworking.
He notes that the switch to IPv6 will
affect many pieces of enterprise IT investment, including operating
systems, applications, and infrastructure and equipment.
Major computer operating systems already include IPv6 capabilities.
Application creators are making their next versions IPv6-friendly,
and infrastructure (such as routers) is already rolling out with IPv6
Hitachi Internetworking recently announced
the availability of two new models in its GR2000 offering of routers.
The new items are specifically aimed at the enterprise market.
IPv6 capability is probably not the
top priority of enterprise router purchases. Cost and features such
as size and ability to provide end-to-end quality of service are equally
"Clearly, everybody is watching
their cost," says Rahamim. But IPv6 is a capability he sees companies
using as a "checklist" item that any investments they make
in routers have to meet. "The vision of the migration from IPv4
to IPv6 is not going to happen overnight," he says. "It
will be a fairly long process of moving from one to the other."
Standards, Safe Buying to Drive Server Market in 2003
By John Zipperer
investments that enterprises make in their server infrastructure will
benefit from developments in form and the adoption of standards, but
those benefits will build over time due to today's sober buying trends.
Perhaps the most significant
factor in spending on server hardware will remain the economy; not
many companies are willing to get out ahead of revenue growth. Forrester's
August 2002 "Benchmark North America Business Technographics
Data Overview" reinforces this view. The overview found that
most firms are sticking to existing technology budgets for the tail
end of 2002, with continued demand for hardware such as servers. But
many seem ready to cut or increase their budgets dramatically if the
Gartner Dataquest also
says that companies won't have the confidence to make big investments
in servers until they are more confident about future revenues.
Though companies may be reluctant to make those investments, there
is more evidence to suggest that they will still make them. A survey
of IT spending plans in the Microsoft customer base by Windows &
.NET magazine (a sister publication of Internet World) found that
75 percent of the respondents plan to upgrade their desktop operating
systems in 2003, and 46 percent of those noted that such upgrades
also lead to new server systems.
Server investments made
in 2003 are likely to follow some clear trendstoward Intel-based
servers, blade servers, and a safety-in-numbers adoption of operating
systems on those servers that are standards based or at least easier
to run. (That means more Windows and Linux and fewer proprietary Unix
Companies thus are accepting
standards. "More and more customers are saying that it may not
be their entire facility today, but it's not an 'if it will happen'
but 'when it will happen,'" says Dell Computer spokesman Bruce
Anderson. "We're seeing a lot of interest in Oracle running on
Standards give enterprises
advantages in cost, performance, and ease of use. Anderson says enterprises
are also interested in investments in blade servers, a trend that
has started slowly but is expected to pick up significant momentum
in coming years.
That is good news for IBM,
which is also hoisting the blade servers banner. "Customer surveys
we've seen show that the open-source movement, autonomic computing
capabilities, grids, and pervasive computing are among the key technology
trends that will drive infrastructure and services in the coming years,"
says Mark Shearer, IBM's vice president for eServer products.
Organizations want systems
that give them security, resilience, ability to grow, as well as the
ability to use power-on-demand and not have to pay for features they
don't need. Dell, for example, responded with a modular blade server
approach that will let companies buy their servers only with the elements
they wantthe next step in the build-your-own-computer approach.
Organizations will have
plenty to gain from their server investments in the coming year, but
it is less a revolution in their infrastructure and more the foundation
for more dramatic change in years to come.
Element 5 AG's Solution for Outsourcing Software Distribution
By John Zipperer
(08/26/02) When Taiwan-based
software maker Ulead looked for a new e-commerce partner for its U.S.
distribution, it turned to the company that already provided its e-commerce
infrastructure. The fact that element 5 AG was located a stone's throw
from Ulead's European headquarters didn't hurt, either--in fact, it
helped accommodate a close working relationship when the two added
customized features for Ulead. After only three months of using element
5 to outsource the distribution of its products, Ulead already reports
increased sales as well as increased happiness with its online e-commerce
Ulead, founded in 1989
in Taipei, Taiwan (where it is still headquartered) and with offices
in China, Europe, Japan, and the United States, develops and sells
imaging and digital content products ranging from server-based image
and Web-content solutions for enterprises to consumer digital-imaging
software. It has been selling via the Internet for about five years;
two years ago, the company's European branch began using element 5,
but the U.S. branch used several e-commerce partners until it made
a change to element 5 this past May.
Conall McCarthy, e-commerce
manager for Ulead's U.S. operations, praises the element 5 solution,
in particular its tools for cross-selling at the shopping-cart level,
coupon codes (to help track ROI from marketing campaigns), e-mail
marketing, reporting, reseller controls, multiple language and currencies
support, and its management interface. "We can see the sales
of each of our products by country, by time period, [and] we can get
gross sales reports," he says.
That control panel is one
of the solution's selling points, says Gerrit Schumann, CEO and cofounder
of element 5 AG. He says the intention of it is to give software publishers
the ability to use it as if it's an in-house solution. They can monitor
sales, set up new products, run marketing campaigns, send out e-mail
and marketing newsletters, manage reseller relationships, and more,
all in a Web-based interface. "We can do that for them,"
Schumann says, "but this way they have instant access to sales
reports and customer data and all that. In addition, we feed them
data via e-mail, XML format or plain text. We can give them monthly
summaries or weekly summaries."
The Cologne, Germany-based
element 5 was founded in 1996 with a shareware solution that was developed
to serve any potential software company that wanted to use the Internet
as a sales channel. Element 5 now offers a range of outsourced services,
from catalog, delivery, ordering, fulfillment, reseller management,
and multi-lingual customer service.
Schumann says he expects
to see a lot of growth from U.S.-based software companies trying to
sell into the European market, and he believes he's well-situated
to benefit from offering them a service that is cheaper and better-established
than a go-it-alone approach. "Even if the [European] economy
is relatively slow, you still have a higher penetration of Internet
access, and more and more people are using credit cards for purchases
online," he says. "The advantage is if you deliver products
electronically, you don't necessarily have to fulfill locally with
a warehouse. There's no investment required to set this up. If publishers
only have an English-language product but they sell outside the U.S.,
they can increase the likelihood of that selling by 10-15 percent.
I don't think it would be as attractive if they had to [physically]
go to Europe to make the sale."
But visiting Europe has
only cemented the opinion of Ulead's McCarthy that element 5 will
go the extra mile to meet his needs. "I've been in their European
office," he says, "and I've met many of their developers.
Whenever I've had an issue, they've always tried to work with me,"
a response he says he didn't always get from his previous e-commerce
His ultimate confirmation,
though, comes from the multiple ways he's measuring return on investment
for the project. In the first three months of using element 5's solution,
he says sales have increased 36 percent over the same period a year
earlier. And he adds that he also has less downtime than before, as
well as increased control and functionality.
No Quick Fix for Enterprise Security
By John Zipperer
(11/01/02) In a report
released this fall by the White House on the topic of National Strategy
to Secure Cyberspace, the President's cyber-security advisors put
forth their case for weaving security concerns throughout public and
private Internet usage. When President Bush's special advisor for
cyberspace security, Richard Clarke, said a year ago that he was interested
in a public-private partnership to tackle cyber-security issues, listeners
could have been forgiven about being skeptical about the government's
commitment to carrying through on its end. But by now, with the federal
government clearly approaching information security as a critical
issue; private enterprises may have a lot to do yet on their end.
Security has been steadily
climbing the priority ladder in enterprises for a couple years now.
It began for some with a wave of increasingly damaging (and publicized)
virus and trojan horse attacks, and it became even more of a corporate
priority in the vulnerability self-assessments that occurred after
the terrorist attacks of September 11. In both cases, organizations
wanted to find ways in which people internally or externally
could threaten the security of their data and business processes.
Today, as a result of those
assessments, their concomitant security appliance and application
purchases, and a push from the U.S. government, enterprises are facing
a large and growing need for making their companies secure. As confusing
as the entire security issue can get it does, after all, include
everything from e-mail anti-virus programs to encrypting enterprise
data from internal crooks the federal government and American
industry clearly have moved past the point where the issue can be
approached as a series of limited and unrelated projects.
Companies are beginning
to see security as something that has to be "baked in" to
the company's basic business processes rather than addressed at the
outskirts or even at the end-point of product development. Making
that vision a reality will require another wave of "best practices"
to be popularized in organizations.
The Human Firewall Council,
a Houston-based consortium dedicated to highlighting the human, non-technical
aspects of information security, has even put together an online survey
for company leaders to take to benchmark their organization's security
efforts against industry best practices. Its Security Management Index
survey is based on standards for 10 security areas, including access,
policy, privacy, business continuity, and more. (See the survey at
Interested companies are
also being urged to raise security as an issue when they do business
with other companies. "Companies have not made security a purchasing
priority," says Mary Ann Davidson, chief security officer at
software giant Oracle Corp. "If you don't make security a purchasing
criterion, you can't cry about it afterward. The industry has for
a while been irresponsible." And though she says she doesn't
want to "blame the victim," she says, "The customer
has been, too."
Udi Levin, director of
product management at Allot Communications, maker of the NetEnforcer
information policy enforcement solution, thinks companies are coming
up to speed on security. "I think the companies' CEOs really
know the danger is there," he says, suggesting that business
performed over the Internet is a cause of unease by executives. "The
top management is really concerned about the waste of resources in
terms of money and time and so on."
But the software industry
is not alone in having room to improve its security dedication. If
Richard Clarke and his staff are on the vanguard of the new, comprehensive
approach to enterprise (and national) security for Internet-enabled
data and business, then many organizations will be looking at themselves
to see where actions or inactions affect the security of their organizations,
products, and services.
Jim Howard, CEO of content
management system outsourcer CrownPeak Technology, says his company
does pay attention to security throughout its production process.
The company's head of security and the CTO are in every product-development
meeting, "and we have a lot of discussions about what we can
do and what we can't do," says Howard. "We feel that it's
our responsibility with security as with things like backups and disaster
recovery and hardware management and storage management--as a hosted
software product to do this better than almost any IT organization
would do it themselves, because we're professionals."
Davidson's role at Oracle
is similarly involved, giving her regular contact with employees (as
well as the ability to go to the top of the company to make her point
if need be), so she can make sure security receives attention at every
"The only way to do
that is process, education; it's people internalizing it," Davidson
says. By educating their staffs on the cost of security failures in
the companies and their products offerings, employees can be motivated
out of self-interest.
Davidson also suggests
another thing companies can do, this time something that directly
addresses their making security a priority in purchasing. She suggests
they do more research into solutions they are considering buying;
that would include checking with your organization's insurance company
to see what it charges for security coverage on a specific product.
There may also be information
available on the actual costs of securing a specific product, and
Davidson says people are starting to do some research on it, but there
are not a lot of data points yet. But if customers demand it, that