Mar 06 2008

Dashboard: March 2008

Left Behind and Lonely

With more of their colleagues working at home, the morale of workers who are toiling away in the office is suffering, according to recent research out of Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute in Troy, N.Y.

Assistant Professor Timothy Golden of RPI’s Lally School of Management and Technology studied 240 employees at a midsize technology company and found that as the number of telecommuters in an office or department rose, those who worked onsite expressed more dissatisfaction with their jobs and were less likely to remain with the company.

The study also suggests some steps that management can take to soften the impact of telecommuting on those who come to the office:

  • manage and monitor telecommuting time closely;
  • maximize face-to-face interaction among employees when telecommuters are in the workplace;
  • increase the autonomy of employees who remain in the office.

The issues triggered by telecommuting are not likely to go away soon. The Society of Human Resource Management reports that 37 percent of U.S.-based and foreign companies offer their workers some form of teleworking, and that number is growing at a rate of 11 percent a year.

Not Just Tape

Whether your company uses a storage area network, network-attached storage or removable external disk drives, backup-to-disk has several advantages. Inexpensive, large-capacity drives accept large data sets in a single session with no media changes. B2D data-transfer speeds are faster than almost all tape devices except for the highest of the high-end tape drives. And B2D can be a cheap, intermediate stage for quickly capturing the backup set for offline transfer to tape media for archiving purposes.

Does your company maintain tape-based backup, in addition to searchable data protection systems, for quick indexing and retrieval of lost mission-critical items, such as files or e-mail?

  • 47% No, we use tape backup only.
  • 38% Yes, we maintain tape and searchable data backup.
  • 7% No, we do not use tape backup.
  • 6% No, we use another backup medium in addition to searchable data backup.
  • 2% Don’t know.

SOURCE: CDW poll of 539 BizTech readers

Survey Says 5 Percent of Companies Send IT Jobs Overseas

Despite much discussion of the potential impact of overseas outsourcing in recent years, 94 percent of U.S. companies keep IT functions in-house or close to home, according to a survey of CIOs released in January by Robert Half Technology, in Menlo Park, Calif. (One percent responded, “Don’t know.”)

The 1,400 CIOs whose responses were included in the survey worked for organizations of all sizes, with more than half coming from small to midsize companies. Eleven percent of CIOs from companies with 500 employees or more said they sent work out of the United States, compared with 8 percent of those from companies with 250 to 499 employees and just 3 percent of CIOs from firms with 249 employees or fewer.

Looking ahead two years, about 90 percent of all survey respondents indicated that their companies’ planned levels
of outsourcing would either decrease or not change.

Approximately 11 percent of CIOs surveyed said that their companies had outsourced IT work overseas but have discontinued the practice. When asked their reasons, 59 percent said outsourcing required too much oversight and management; 30 percent indicated that cost savings fell short of expectations; and 23 percent said the quality of the work was not up to their standards.

“The sample is small for those CIOs who have discontinued overseas outsourcing, but the reasons selected give a snapshot of why the trend isn’t flourishing as strongly as some predicted,” says Half spokesman Cameron Heffernan.

Dashboard: March 2008Turn IT Off

Just under 60 percent of small and midsize businesses in the world have concerns about the environment. Yet only 44 percent have put environmental policies in place, according to an IBM Global Services survey of 1,372 SMBs.

To reduce energy consumption, 66 percent of small and midsize businesses in the United States currently turn off or plan to turn off nonessential equipment during nonbusiness hours. (For more on eco-friendly IT, read "Going Green".)

Prized Printers Trump Paperless Office for SMBs

The digital workplace is becoming a reality, but it will be awhile before that tide sweeps the humble printer out of the offices of most small to midsize companies, judging by the “Future of Printing Survey” commissioned by OKI Printing Solutions in Tokyo.

Ninety percent of respondents from SMBs indicated that their business printers were indispensable or very important; 77 percent of the SMB respondents said they preferred to review printed documents rather than read them on a computer screen; and 66 percent expected to maintain or increase current levels of business printing.

When selecting a business printer, top criteria for SMB respondents were networking capabilities (cited by 49 percent), print speed (49 percent) and price (27 percent), compared with survey respondents from large enterprises who named print speed (49 percent), price (48 percent) and color quality (34 percent) as their top criteria.

Print jobs not related to work amount to 15 percent of the printing done in small and midsize businesses, as opposed to only 7 percent in large enterprises, a finding that indicates SMBs could save money by managing their printing more aggressively, says OKI. Survey data was gathered from 7,000 respondents from businesses of all sizes, with results from individual queries aggregated and broken out by business size and industry.

Goo-Proof Typing

Editor’s Pick: By Brad Sowell

Because IT shops haven’t found a way to prevent end users from dousing their keyboard with potato-chip crumbs, coffee and germs, there’s the indestructible and washable AKB-220 keyboard from Adesso. The flexible, waterproof and portable silicone keyboard is compatible with Windows Vista, XP, 2000, ME and 98.

We’re giving away a limited quantity of these keyboards to BizTech readers who best describe how they’ve used technology to keep their business “flexible” — that is, solve a sticky business problem. (Click here to read a review of the AKB-220.)