Companies are getting more business value by integrating social networks into their IT strategies—both Baseline and its sister publication CIO Insight have covered this trend in recent months. But no networking service is without its kinks. Just ask Christopher Elliott. The travel writer signed up for StumbleUpon, a service for sharing Web sites, according to the Consumerist.com blog. He unchecked a box that offered to invite everyone in his Gmail address book to join, but due to a glitch, every one of his e-mail contacts received the invitation. Elliott said most of his friends laughed it off, but then he worried that the site might share those e-mail addresses with third parties or marketing partners.
Elliott isn't an IT executive, and anyway, glitches happen. Still, the lesson is clear: Before adding a social network to their IT operations, CIOs had better check the fine print to find out what the service plans to do with the company's user information.
Also in Out of Scope:
The New Japanese Massuer
Businesses are using robots in all kinds of capacities today, from assembly-line production to—as Out of Scope documented a few months back—weed removal. Researchers at Waseda University in Tokyo have a new idea: putting droids to work as masseurs. The WAO-1 robot, which researchers hope to sell to hospitals and spas, comes equipped with ceramic balls on its "hands" designed to deliver soothing facial massages for patients with jaw-related maladies. Clinical trials begin this month, according to a New York Times report.
In early October, the city of Mesa, Ariz., suffered a hardware glitch that erased municipal documents and hindered access to e-mail. A city spokeswoman said Mesa's storage platform malfunctioned, and the vendor, Hewlett- Packard, corrected the problem at no cost, according to the East Valley Tribune. Files saved after Sept. 25 were lost, but that loss was limited, the spokeswoman said. The e-mail problems proved more troublesome: It took several days for city officials to be able to access e-mail via the Web, and the computer that provides public access to top officials' e-mail remained down.
Because it was unclear what caused the hardware malfunction, it's tough to lay specific blame. Still, whether it's corporations, municipalities or academic institutions, all data is crucial, and losing it can pose a risk to both operations and security. Organizations must work closely with their hardware and software vendors to do regular diagnostics and troubleshooting, ensuring that any problems or potential malfunctions are pinpointed and addressed swiftly.
Good news, Bad News
The stats from the Society for Information Management's 2007 member survey are in, and they're not all pretty. On the upside: IT budget allocations are staying almost identical to 2006, and companies plan to hire more in the coming year. But on the downside: The number of companies planning to boost IT budgets in 2008 is decreasing sharply from this year. And IT spending has gone up one year and down the next since 2004, SIM reports, so the pattern is holding true.
What could explain the impending slip-slide? Continued cost cutting and worries about the economy may be playing in.
Overall, 2008 could be a downer for some CIOs, but for others, it looks like an opportunity to prove their financial mettle.