The KIT ─ Knowledge & Information Technology
No. 154 - 16 October 2015
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In This Issue
Standards in Turbulent Times
Internal IT Marketing
EU Safe Harbor Verdict
The Cost of Data Braches
Seen Recently
Claude Baudoin

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Working on Standards in Turbulent Times

A recent internal meeting of the Oil & Gas Standards Leadership Council (SLC) pointed out the difficulty of developing and adopting standards (IT or otherwise) in times of reduced revenue and cost-cutting. While there is a valid argument that standards save money in the long run (easier integration, more off-the-shelf products to choose from, elimination of custom developments), the adoption process costs money in the short term and these projects are often the first to be cut.

 

In the Oil & Gas industry, where new exploration activity has fallen precipitously, the focus is turning to the cost and inefficiency of managing expensive assets like production platforms. Several groups are working on "asset lifecycle management." It seems that the application of product lifecycle management (PLM), especially in combination with model-based systems engineering (MBSE) could bring benefits to this domain. cébé plans to work at facilitating discussions about this.

 

Speaking of Oil & Gas standards, Energistics has selected Ross Philo as its new CEO, after Jerry Hubbard's untimely death early this year. Some readers of the KIT will remember that Ross was once IT Director at Schlumberger (before there was a formal CIO job title there). Energistics created several XML-based standards for the exchange of oilfield data. 

Internal IT Marketing
The issue of "business-IT alignment" has been a constant theme for over 15 years, and not much that has been tried about it has succeeded. One idea that seems natural in retrospect, was first suggested in a CIO Magazine article in 2004, but has not been put in practice in many places, is to define an internal marketing function within the IT department. In an age where cloud providers and outsourcers directly compete with internal IT for the attention of line-of-business managers, it seems only logical that IT should use the same tools (surveys, focus groups, webinars, brochures, infographics, etc.) to find what its products should do and to promote itself to the business.

We've captured this strategy, and the practical steps recommended to enact it, into a day-long workshop, "IT Marketing: a Strategic Dialog for Business-IT Alignment." The workshop was test-driven in Mexico City on October 15. Please contact us to find out more or request a repeat event (a half-day version is possible if time is limited).
Safe Harbor Verdict: a Major Privacy Event
Since a 2000 agreement between the European Union and the US, American firms were allowed to store private information about European citizens, based on the assumption that the United States provided adequate protection of such data.

However, Edward Snowden's revelations about the extensive surveillance program by the US National Security Agency (NSA) caused an Austrian law student and privacy activist, Max Schrems, to sue Facebook for storing in the US the personal details of its European members. In a landmark decision, the European Court of Justice ruled on October 6 that the "safe harbor" provision was invalid, and that the privacy measures of each custodian of such data must be reviewed. The Court used strong language when it wrote that "that country [the US] does not afford an adequate level of protection of personal data." The ruling will affect hundreds of companies besides Facebook.
The Cost of Data Breaches
News about data breaches (the loss, accidental or malicious, of personal data of a business's customers, often including credit card numbers) is becoming so frequent that it is hard to report all of them. Financial institutions and retailers in particular should look at the resulting costs, as well as the legal or regulatory actions taken against companies whose cybersecurity measures are found to be deficient.

You can read about several such cases in the latest issue of Vince Polley''s always informative newsletter that covers the intersection of IT and legal matters, Miscellaneous IT-Related Legal News (MIRLN).
Seen Recently...
"The terminal is to be connected by the telephone system to a time-shared computer which, in turn, has access to files containing all books, magazines, newspapers, catalogs, airline schedules. Through the terminal the user can get any information he wants, can buy and sell, could communicate with persons and institutions, and process information in other useful ways."
-- John McCarthy, head of the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (SAIL), in
a 1970 paper that predicted in remarkably accurate terms the advent of the Web