Published by Software Shelf International, Inc. since 1998
---- Microsoft Research Commits More Than $6 Million to Academic Collaborations:
More than 400 thought leaders from academia and research labs around the world convened at the Microsoft Corp. headquarters for the eighth annual Microsoft Research Faculty Summit, where the company announced it will dedicate more than $6 million (U.S.) in research grants to colleges and universities. Microsoft executives and researchers also met with summit attendees to discuss opportunities for future technological breakthroughs and in what areas technology has the greatest potential to address societal issues.
Addressing professors and researchers from a wide spectrum of disciplines, Rick Rashid, senior vice president of Microsoft Research, said, “Regardless of whether you’re a botanist or a brain surgeon, computer science increasingly impacts your work and has the power to provide better outcomes. We’re investing in programs with academia to build better technologies that can lead to better lives.”
Microsoft committed nearly $5 million to open requests for proposals (RFPs) — opportunities for academia to receive research funding from Microsoft’s External Research & Programs group, the arm of Microsoft Research that works closely with academic institutions around the globe.
Microsoft will provide funding in the following key areas, which also complement the company’s overall research agenda and goals:
* Cell phones as a platform for healthcare ($1 million). Encourages the development of new prototypes and tools that utilize cell phones to enable better healthcare services in rural and urban communities
* Biomedical computing for genome wide association studies ($700,000). Encourages researchers to develop tools that can facilitate better data usage and analysis for genomewide association studies to provide a stronger framework for enabling personalized treatment methods
* Intelligent Web 3.0 ($500,000). Encourages research to help find, discover, extract, publish, and share information, at a desk or on the go, safely, making the Web meaningful (from string manipulation to meaning computation) and enabling a human-centric, context-aware model of information access
* Mechanisms for safe and scalable multicore computing ($500,000). Encourages research in how operating systems and runtimes can evolve to enable safe and scalable concurrent programs
* Sustainable computing ($500,000). Encourages research in innovative approaches toward power-optimized system architectures, and adaptive power management solutions for maximizing the energy efficiency of computing infrastructure
* Human-robot interaction ($500,000). Encourages research to take human-robot interaction to the next level through development of tools and methods that lead to practical applications with realistic commercial potential within five to 10 years
Microsoft Research also announced the creation of the A. Richard Newton Breakthrough Research Award, which will provide $1 million in funding across several projects to encourage high-quality, breakthrough academic research in computational and multidisciplinary areas. The award honors the memory, legacy and accomplishments of the late A. Richard Newton, former dean of the College of Engineering at the University of California, Berkeley and a longtime member of Microsoft Research’s Technical Advisory Board, who died in January 2007.
In addition to funding open RFPs, again this year Microsoft Research will award $1 million to five new and rising faculty members as part of the Microsoft Research New Faculty Fellowship program. This will be the fourth consecutive year Microsoft has made the awards to stimulate and support creative research by promising researchers who have the potential to make a profound impact on the state of the art in their respective research disciplines.
Enabling Next-Generation Virtual Collaboration
As part of Microsoft’s ongoing commitment to using technology to improve education, Microsoft also announced a $750,000 donation over three years to launch the Center for Collaborative Technologies at University of Washington (UW). This is the latest of 11 centers Microsoft has helped to establish to allow university researchers to focus deeply on extending the state of the art in computing. The center will further develop ConferenceXP, a technology that allows researchers, teachers and students to benefit from real-time research collaboration, wireless-enabled classrooms and highly interactive distance-learning environments.
New Funding Summary
Requests for proposal (6 RFPs) $3,700,000
A. Richard Newton Breakthrough Research Award (across multiple projects) $1,000,000
2008 Microsoft Research New Faculty Fellowships $1,000,000
Center for Collaborative Technologies at UW $750,000
---- Gartner's 2007 IT Market Compensation Study Shows an Increasingly Competitive IT Job Market in the U.S.
As chief information officers (CIOs) put an emphasis on driving business growth, they need to have an IT workforce whose strengths lie in core areas of information and technology. This change in focus has influenced the demand for skilled IT workers and has led to increased time to fill vacant positions and difficulty in hiring high-in-demand skills, according to an annual survey by Gartner, Inc.
According to a survey of 225 U.S.-based organizations, 66 percent of survey respondents projected some level of increase in IT staff for the next 12-month period (March 1, 2007 to February 29, 2008), up from 61 percent in 2006. At the same time, the survey also showed a 1 percent increase in employee-initiated turnover rate across the board compared with last year’s survey results. This is the third year in a row that there has been an increase in the employee-initiated turnover rate. Much of this increase appears to be occurring at the professional staff (individual contributor) level.
“With the competition for IT talent increasing in the market, even a small increase in the number of people who leave that were considered critical talent can cause an immediate and negative impact on the performance of the organization,” said Lily Mok, research director for Gartner EXP’s content development group. “Although employee turnover is inevitable, it can be managed by investing in the right retention programs. This year’s survey results indicated that pay, career development opportunities, and work/life balance continued to score high as the key reasons for turnover, which point out where companies should focus to increase retention.”
While the IT job market is becoming more active, Gartner doesn’t expect it to return to the same competitive level as in the late 1990s anytime soon. A slow, steady recovery is evident when looking at the relatively consistent value of average salary increase budgets reported for the past several years and what companies are budgeting for increases for the coming year. The median salary increase rate was between 3 percent and 4 percent for the surveyed period. This year’s survey results also show that companies are spending, on average, 40 percent of their 2007 budget in paying salaries, incentives and benefits to their IT workforce.
“Successful companies know how to leverage each reward element (from cash to flexible work arrangements) to create an integrated total rewards strategy that is critical to building a long-term, healthy relationship between the employee and employer. The best total rewards programs are designed to balance and meet both the needs of an organization and its workforce,” said Diane Berry, managing vice president for Gartner EXP’s content development group. “As the market continues to grow, companies that know where to invest their dollars in what reward elements and closely align their rewards strategies with those of the business and IT will gain a competitive advantage over their peers in the marketplace in attracting and retaining desired IT talent.”
Work/life balance is cited as one of the top reasons for employee turnover in the survey. Offering programs that enable IT professionals to more-effectively manage work/life demands and to meet their personal and professional goals is a significant differentiator for employers. One of the most-powerful work/life programs is teleworking, however, only 1 percent to 18 percent of survey participants’ IT workforces have some type of telework arrangement.
“The companies that address the ‘whole person’ and recognize the multitude of conflicting demands on individuals are often those that become the employers of choice,” said Ms. Mok. “Such programs not only enhance an employee’s loyalty to a company, but also improve their productivity. A key success factor is that IT managers listen to and effectively respond to the needs of their staff as individuals.”
Gartner’s 2007 IT Market Compensation Study provides strategic and tactical benchmarking information for IT human capital management in the area of recruitment, retention, reward, recognition, work/life balance, career development and training programs. This study provides base salary, total cash compensation and short-term incentive/bonus data for 137 benchmark jobs grouped into 26 IT job families.
This study provides HR and IT leaders with a guide to help them craft a total rewards strategy to bring their IT organizations ahead of the curve in an increasingly competitive market. Additional information about this report is available on Gartner’s Web site at www.gartner.com/hcm/hcm_compensation.jsp.
---- Gartner EXP Outlines How CIOs Can Drive Enterprise Revenue Through Seven Levers of Growth:
Enterprises grow the top line through seven growth levers, and chief information officers (CIOs) must enable that growth through IT assets and the IS organization’s skills and behaviors, according to Gartner Executive Programs (EXP), a unit of Gartner, Inc. To consistently achieve top-line growth, CIOs need to adopt a growth-oriented mind-set.
In the Gartner EXP report “The Seven Levers of Growth,” analysts examine how CIOs can best contribute to the top-line growth of their enterprise. The report also details how CIOs and IS organizations must provide an enabling platform for each of the seven growth levers and focus on contributing more directly to remain relevant.
“IS organizations have traditionally been focused and resourced to provide reliable, efficient services to help run their businesses,” said Dave Aron, vice president and research director for Gartner EXP. “However, there are opportunities and, in some cases, imperatives for CIOs and their IS organizations to take a greater part in enterprise top-line growth. The CIO must focus on exploiting these opportunities just as a venture capitalist makes investments — applying scarce IT assets, IS staff and credibility resources based on value. The challenge is to understand the growth context and organize to contribute to the right growth levers.”
Enterprises grow in many ways, including improved marketing, the introduction of new products, entering new markets, acquiring or merging with other companies and even creation of completely new businesses through corporate venturing (see Table 1). “The CIO must understand where the planned and likely growth levers are, and then ensure that IT assets provide an enabling platform for each lever,” Mr. Aron said.
Seven Levers of Growth, and CIO and IS Enablement Challenges and Contribution Opportunities
Lever CIO/IS Enablement CIO/IS Direct Contribution
Improve Operations Strengthen operational systems Connect to customers
Innovate Products Provide flexibility in enterprise applications "Informate" products
Exploit Channels Architect for multiple channels Exploit electronic channels
Target Customers and Markets Build scalable infrastructure and applications Integrate external information
Acquire Companies Ensure agility to absorb targets’ business Create an M&A playbook
Connect the Ecosystem Build a plug-and-play architecture Bring the ecosystem with you
Create Blue Oceans Provide innovation and collaboration tools Innovate the business from IS
Source: Gartner Executive Programs (July 2007)
Gartner EXP said there are four recommended behaviors for CIOs to gear up for growth. They include:
* Clarify enterprise growth levers and where IS should contribute.
* Build deep business knowledge and behavioral capabilities in IS, and contribute proactively to business project definition and prioritization.
* Go beyond conventional project management, and participate in good benefits realization practices, throughout the benefits life cycle.
* Mentor the IS organization to move from a mind-set of "order taker" to a mind-set of the IT venture capitalist — "challenging the value" of IT investments
“All forms of enterprise growth require support from the IS organization — at a minimum, to make sure that IT assets aren’t in the way of growth. There are often much-more-direct opportunities for IS to contribute,” Mr. Aron said. “Although the current macroeconomic environment is the reason growth is high on the agenda, the ‘IT venture capitalist’ mind-set is always appropriate, to maximize enterprise growth. CIOs should continually reinforce this message and reward these behaviors in their IS organization.”
---- IDC Survey Reveals What Business Managers Want From IT:
According to a new IDC study, business managers spend a significant amount of time on IT support for their business operations and believe it to have an important role in company innovation.
Drawing on the results of IDC's European Vertical Market Survey, carried out in January 2007 in the top 5 Western European countries (France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the U.K.) among 413 companies with more than 20 employees, the study analyzes vertical market business managers' views on IT strategies and the role of IT in their organization.
"While business managers are quite satisfied with their IT managers, they have clear priorities in mind on how IT could better support their business and strategic objectives. These priorities are extremely different from vertical to vertical and seldom include cost-cutting among the top issues. Business managers see their internal IT capabilities as needing the highest attention, underlining that IT vendors need to further improve their communication and marketing strategies," said Angela Vacca, consulting manager, European Vertical Markets.
Focusing on the role of IT managers the study shows that:
* The majority of business managers (64%) spend a significant amount of time on IT to support business operations. Sectors where the IT component of the business is the highest are those where the collaboration between business and IT managers is the greatest. In the transport/communications/utilities sector more than half of business managers spend more than 25% of their time dealing with IT. In the manufacturing sector this increases to higher than 40%.
* IT managers have helped almost 70% of business managers in the innovation of the company. Verticals are strongly homogeneous on this assessment. The only vertical with a percentage lower than 50% is healthcare.
* Around 20% of companies consider IT managers to be initiators of new business strategies. For the majority of respondents they have a role as participants of the projects (40%) and as implementers of them (20%). Government is the sector where IDC found the highest percentage. The development of new business strategies is still a top executive's domain. However, all sectors consider the IT knowledge of business managers to be extremely important. The distinction between business and IT skills appears to be becoming increasingly blurred.
* Business managers are much more interested in the efficacy (to satisfy business requirements) of IT management than in its efficiency (increasing worker productivity). The most important criteria to assess the quality of IT management are its availability (business continuity) and user satisfaction (employees and customers).
* Almost 60% of business managers interviewed would like to see their companies investing more in in-house IT. This can be read both in the context of limited resources assigned to IT departments or as a signal of a limited intimacy of IT players with business managers.
Business managers are quite satisfied with their CIOs. The most important message that they want to impart to their IT people is a positive one. The negative message with the highest score is the issue of IT support needing improvement.
---- HP Resolves Ink Cartridge Patent Infringement Dispute:
HP today announced that it has resolved a patent infringement lawsuit against German-based InkTec GmbH Zentrale and PCE Group regarding inks used in the refilling of certain HP inkjet cartridges.
The settlement also included resolution with Korea-based InkTec Ltd., the manufacturer and distributor of the infringing products.
As part of the settlement, both InkTec entities and the PCE Group acknowledged the validity of the HP patents in suit and admitted to infringement. In addition, they agreed to pay HP an undisclosed sum, to stop selling infringing inks in Germany and other countries where such patents are held, and to withdraw infringing products from the market in those countries.
In October 2006, HP filed suit against InkTec GmbH Zentrale and the PCE Group in the District Court of Düsseldorf, Germany, after HP discovered that certain ink refill kits sold under the InkTec brand and distributed by InkTec and PCE Group contained infringing ink. HP asserted two patents relating to ink formulations and specifically accused InkTec refill kits used for refilling certain HP inkjet printer cartridges.
"HP will continue to invest in technology that benefits customers and to vigorously protect this investment," said Michael Hoffmann, senior vice president, Supplies, Imaging and Printing Group, HP. "We're pleased to have resolved this matter quickly without extensive litigation and will continue to monitor InkTec and others for possible patent infringement as part of our ongoing worldwide testing and enforcement efforts."