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If there is one fundamental flaw that pervades the technology industry, it is the failure of IT to communicate with “the business”. Even the term “the business” has taken on the new meaning. Just mentioning “the business” now conjures up immediate adversarial feelings, a red flush, dimming eyesight, rushes of blood through the ears. Despite their various backgrounds, IT engineers tend to have thee qualities in common: 1) good problem solvers 2) obsessive about efficiency and cost 3) and limited social skills, especially the ability to explain their point of view in terms non-engineers can understand.

I am just back from a trip through central west NSW, very enjoyable with highlights such as the Dish in Parkes and the Zoofari in Dubbo. Talking to many people in this area I decided to write this ‘Up to scratch’ article. What a useful phrase for a politician. It means absolutely nothing, so what we are hearing is John Howard, Helen Coonan and John Anderson promising absolutely nothing.

The recent report* published by the Institute of Chartered Accountants on the role of the CFO is of significance to all who interact with the CFO on a day to day basis. In 2001, in a comparable report, the researchers found the CFO’s focus was on ways to enhance business performance and reduce costs through vehicles such as Shared Services units and getting the benefits expected from their ERP software implementations.

In recent years, microprocessor vendors have begun designing chips with more than one processing unit, or "core," on the chip in an effort to boost performance for certain types of applications. As far as the software running on the systems is concerned, dual-core chips appear to be two separate processors, raising the question of whether or not they should require two software licences.

Are you sick of hearing this: ‘IT managers should understand their organisation’s business and business managers should better understand the potential value of IT? This is good advice but it doesn’t seem to have any effect on the relationship between business and IT leaders. In 2004 I am going to give up saying it. In 2004 I am going to focus on getting these two groups of executives to understand each other’s Key Performance Indicators (KPIs).

Changing business processes and systems to comply with legislative requirements is a major hidden cost in the public and private sector. Ironically, it is also one of the least referenced in the research literature.

SPAM is a terrible problem, from cutting productivity, threatening security, offending the morals of millions, planting doubt in the most macho man, and just irritating anyone with email. 2003 has seen many headlines about SPAM and how companies and governments are going to tackle it head on.

My manager looked up at me from his columns and rows of numbers and said in an exasperated fashion, ‘This is an exercise in futility!’ I knew what he meant as we jointly tried to estimate resources needed for systems not yet designed and forecast computing capacity needed for indeterminate transaction volumes.

Recently I facilitated an IS strategy workshop. The audience was made up of people at DIRECTOR level - some 20 of them. All were on six figure incomes. The objective of the workshop was to confirm the business strategy for a Division. I started the workshop by asking the following question: * What are the GOALS of your Division (why do you exist?) * What objectives do you want to achieve in the next 3-5 years - are these measurable * How will you achieve these objectives (what are your strategies?).

You are the only person in the elevator on the ground floor at 7.15am. Just as the doors are about to close, you see the CEO hurrying to catch the elevator and press the ‘Open Doors’ button so she can join you. She says breathlessly, “Thanks. Our meeting is timely. I read your report on our business information management dilemma last evening and raised it with the Chairman before I left. He just contacted me on the mobile phone and said he wants to talk about it when I get out on the 20th floor.

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