Readers’ letters

Surf control

Meta Group’s Mark Bouchard (Expert advice, Information Age, January 2003) was absolutely right with his advice about controlling employees’ web surfing habits. But he doubted whether productivity went up if filtering was introduced.

Firstly, companies are probably not aware that their employees are spending 75 minutes per day surfing the Internet for their private use, according to market research from Gallup. SurfWatch estimates this to be as high as 30% of employees’ time wasted on the Internet in non-work related content, while the newspaper USA Today rated it higher still at 33%. In addition, reported that 24.3% of employees take precautionary measures to avoid detection when surfing.

Bouchard suggested that companies should implement and publicise an employee security policy, outlining what is acceptable surfing practice and what is not. After all, allowing staff to buy online may keep staff in the office rather than taking extended lunch-breaks and using company telephones to call suppliers.

I think that corporations are uncertain how to restrict their staff at the moment. Should they block or just monitor and should they configure their firewalls to do this or should they buy more hardware to reside in their already crowded computer room?

They could consider the emerging outsourced monitoring companies, such as Stellar Internet Monitoring, which provide individual line managers with real time, online reports of their team’s activity, setting alarms so that they are informed when team members go beyond the company’s guidelines. This type of service works well in conjunction with published company guidelines, distributing the responsibility of policing down the management structure and removing the overhead that an already stretched IT department has from managing yet another unit and disseminating reports periodically throughout the organisation.

Simon Clark
Katapult-IT Ltd

Orchestral manoeuvres

I read your article ‘Web Services Orchestration’ (Information Age, September 2002) with interest. I am co-founder of a software company, Orangery, which has built a web services orchestration engine.

One section of your article that particularly rang true is: “No single vendor can meet all of a company’s BPM needs… And there are many angling for a place on the shopping list.”

Many existing software vendors do web services orchestration but they do it by generating code that is then deployed into their application server (or other existing platform).

This is completely missing the huge opportunity presented by this revolutionary technology to remove a huge amount of infrastructure software baggage.

The human interaction piece your article suggests is missing is actually straightforward and handled by our tool. There is one aspect of your article that I think misses a point. I keep reading how complex web service orch-estration will be to achieve and how many gaps there are in current standards and technologies.

Orchestration is relatively simple to achieve if it is approached in an architecturally pure way, pushing XML transformations right down into the engine.

The standards are yet to be defined to handle certain aspects of web services, such as transaction integrity, security and reliability. But many business applications do not need this – many applications simply gather information from disparate systems and deliver it to the right person at the right time. These could be developed at a fraction of the current costs with web services.

Guy Farley

BPO: The bottom line

Business Process Outsourcing (‘The BPO bounce’, Information Age, January 2003) will be key this year as companies look for new ways to take costs out and rid themselves of inefficient or unproductive processes.

The bottom line of many employers is being punished by the deployment of the costly staff being used to administer non value-add processes. The management of expenses is a case in point, as finance and payroll departments are diverted from value-add activity, just so they can process the month’s expense claims.

Yet, companies such as Telenor are already saving 25% in their administration costs just by outsourcing this process. This is because they deploy BPO providers who know and understand their customers’ businesses well enough to intelligently apply the technology and take away the headache of managing non-core functions.

Simply, this leaves the organisation to concentrate on doing what it does best thriving against its competitors.

Ashley Whittaker
Founding Director

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Ben Rossi

Ben was Vitesse Media's editorial director, leading content creation and editorial strategy across all Vitesse products, including its market-leading B2B and consumer magazines, websites, research and...

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