DE-CODER bits & bytes

Blog readership in the U.S. rocketed 58 percent in 2004 to an estimated 32 million, close to 11 percent of the population, according to a November survey of nearly 1,900 Internet users by the Pew Research Center's Internet & American Life Project. As the use of blogs becomes more widespread, more corporations may broaden their use of them, says Michael Schrage of the MIT Media Lab.

“Blogs and wikis, if they're done with craft and care, will supersede FAQs and traditional documentation” that have often held back effective application deployment, Scharge says.

Will IT tune into RFID this year? Two research firms think so, citing increased spending to scale up and integrate the supply-chain technology. ABI Research of Oyster Bay, N.Y., says most of the 137 companies that sought to meet buyers’ RFID mandates last year at least made the effort but spent less than the $2 million to $3 million some analysts had predicted. This year looks to be different, ABI says. “We are seeing companies increase their RFID budgets three to five times,” ABI’s Erik Michielsen says.

Increased spending may not translate into many opportunities for IT, however. IDC says two-thirds of organizations that considered RFID solutions last year said they would prefer using external help in implementing them. As a result, services firms are investing more in personnel, marketing and partnerships because they foresee increasing demand for services through 2008, the research firm says.

Brush away wireless gaps Worried about the security of your wireless laptops, routers and other devices? Force Field Wireless manufactures an additive for standard interior wall paint that it says will block the transmission of data over devices using 802.11a/b/c and Bluetooth.

DefendAir Radio Shield Paint Additive helps block wireless network interference and shields wireless data from escaping through walls, ceilings, and other surfaces. When the additive is mixed into paint and applied, the painted surface dries to a tightly packed layer that reflects up to 90 percent of a radio transmission, the company claims. A container of DefendAir Radio Shield Paint Additive, which the company sells through its Web site for about $34, treats up to one gallon of paint.

Of course, ADT should mention that if you really care about the confidentiality of data that travels over your wireless networks, find some other way to transmit it, but you already knew that. For more information, go to .

WiFi hits the links

The next time you play golf, you may be toting a GPS device with your clubs. A partnership between GPS Industries and Jencess Software & Technologies aims to enable golf courses to integrate GPS devices with back-office and facility-management software. The goal is to create a single system for managing a golf course’s business needs.

Mill Run Golf and Country Club in Toronto recently deployed the new system, which combines GPSI’s Inforemer Differential, a GPS-enabled multimedia display and communications unit for golfers, with Jencess’s Connect Suite golf course management system, which covers tee sheet and online reservations, point-of-sale functions, food and beverage management, and financial and accounting applications. GPSI’s WiFi backbone connects the devices with the back-end software.

Mill Run will equip 60 golf carts with Inforeme’s Windows CE-based display devices. It will also provide 15 handheld units for golfers who prefer to walk the course. Club officials say the technology will “enhance the golfing experience” and improve core business functions such as managing tournaments, speeding up play, assisting food and beverage sales and providing a promotions and advertising platform.

The Data Warehousing Institute has published a booklet in which writer Maureen Clarry (a TWDI faculty member) lists “10 mistakes to avoid when attempting business performance improvement.” Here’s a quick rundown of the 10 mistakes. If you want more details, contact [email protected]:

1. Assuming training is the silver bullet. It’s a common misconception among managers that enough training can solve any problem.
2. Focusing on tasks instead of results. To put it another way, don’t micromanage.
3. Ignoring the impact of organizational culture.
4. Minimizing the importance of business alignment. When senior management can’t clearly articulate its vision, IT attempts to align with the business anyway.
5. Replacing component parts. Remember the boxes on your org chart represent people.
6. Looking exclusively outside for answers. Relying too much on consultants and best practices can sometimes cause more problems than it solves.
7. Missing motivation. Successful companies instill in employees the initiative, authority and ability to manage their own work.
8. Settling for soft results. The business result of an initiative needs to be quantified to be appreciated.
9. Assuming team members are the same. Everyone has unique strengths; training alone won’t make the difference (see Mistake 1).
10. Focusing on poor performance. If you spend too much time trying to plug an employee’s 'skill gaps' with training, it’s damage control and not development.

Want to know what may be on your CIO’s mind? Or even the CFO or CEO’s? In Ivory Tower, we’ll publish tidbits of data we’ve picked up recently that apply to your higher-ups, and we’ll toss in our advice on what you can do to impress the suits in the executive suite.

When you put together that next internal technical manual, think “leaner is better.” A study by New York technology firm Data Conversion Laboratory claims that more than half of the data in corporate and technical manuals and other documents are “wasted words,” meaning that enterprises are spending twice as much as they should on twice as much content as they need. The study examined documents from a range of industries–including aerospace, pharmaceutical and defense–and found much of the content was duplicated.

Electronic communication compliance will top the list of concerns for businesses in 2005A, according to the newly formed Electronic Communications Compliance Council. The industry group, comprised of experts in electronic communications, compliance and law, aspires to provide best practices and resources to companies grappling with e-mail and instant messaging policies and compliance. Go to to find more information about the council and its members.

We at ADT are always interested in what you have to say about what you’re reading in the magazine, especially how well it may be helping you in your work. If you have a suggestion regarding a topic we should cover, or a comment regarding something you read, please send an e-mail to Michael Alexander, editor-in-chief, at [email protected]