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Running tech for IBM means more than the usual amount of pressure: pressure from being under the watchful eye of other techies inside Big Blue who reckon they know just as much about your job as you do, and how to do it right.There's also pressure from customers and IBM's product people, both eager to see you use the latest IBM hardware and software. And then there's pressure from management, as IBM is the kind of business that sees technology as an integral part of strategy rather than some supporting character.The latter means Horan’s on the front line of the battle to get IBM to hit management’s target of earnings per share by 2015 under its latest five-year plan issued in 2010. In 2010, its EPS was .44.As if more pressure were needed, the revenue-generation side of IBM that would normally help it hit that EPS number is sliding. There have also been job cuts - up to 3,000. In its second quarter, IBM recorded its second revenue drop of the year - down 3.3 per cent to .82bn. Net income was muddied by the job cuts - down 16.9 per cent to .23bn to include the layoff charge.
If you add it all up, it means the CIO needs to give extra attention to automation and efficiencies to help sales and fatten up the margins. As the person responsible for IBM’s tech infrastructure, applications and web presence, that means more work for Horan.In terms of IBM's recent business performance and that 2005 roadmap, it also means she must give IBMers the right tools to work more effectively with customers; integrate any companies IBM buys into the rest of the IBM structure over the next few years; and put in place IT systems and processes that deliver smoother workflows, faster decisions and enable quicker action – in other words, help improve sales and customer satisfaction.“It definitely does provide focus,” Horan told The Reg during an interview on a brief stop at IBM’s South Bank HQ in London before the Q2 results.But the CIO eats this kind of challenge for breakfast, and she is turning it to her advantage. This is Horan's second round of IBM transformation. As the former enterprise business transformation lead, she was tasked with kicking into shape the systems and workflows running IBM’s huge SAP system to simplify finance, opportunity to cash, and booking and billing systems.
Of the five-year plan, she says: “It’s been a good way to align the company behind a set of strategic objectives. “One of the things that’s true for any IT shop is the demand from the business is more than our capability to deliver – that’s standard. So it has provided us a way to help in our prioritisation and focus on projects that are aligned to that roadmap.”One of the biggest projects Horan is working on is a joint effort between the CIO team and IBM's marketing and communications bods: the IBM Expertise application. It is being put togther using IBM Connections Profiles and Expertise Assessment together with the Expertise Locator and Answer Network (ELAN), acquired when IBM bought Kenexa in December 2012. The idea is to help IBMers quickly find experts in a field using simple keyword searches. The app’s considered important in a company with more than 400,000 staff.
It’s typical of the kind of work Horan says she’s doing more and more of these days: building front-office apps instead of back-office systems. The CIO said her devs are now working more with sales and marketing types than with sysadmins or other fellow techies in the server room.The CIO said app development reached an important milestone in 2012: that’s when 51 per cent of her IT spend on new projects went on front-office – and new back-office software officially became the minority. Horan expects the trend will grow as sales and customer-facing IBMers want what the tech head describes as more social in their apps and transactional processes.“We are looking at how to build more social integration capabilities between us and our clients – not just the broad push of messages, but a more collaborative working environment with our clients, that’s another thing I’m hearing about,” Horan said.

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“We have a number of integrated accounts – big accounts – that IBM has with very big relationships, and we have dedicated account teams that work day and day out with those clients. We have a lot of pull from those account teams who say: 'We want to be able to interact with our client in a different way and to share more information. Why can’t we just use Dropbox?’I can give them the reasons they can't, but I need to give them an alternative, and bring them something that brings more value than just using a third-party service,” she said.Six months after the suicide of internet activist Aaron Swartz, MIT has released a 182-page report into the university's involvement in his arrest and prosecution, and has determined that it did nothing wrong.
Swartz, who at 14 coauthored the RSS standard, subsequently cofounded Creative Commons and the Reddit online community, and is a recent inductee to the Internet Hall of Fame, was found hanging in his New York apartment in January, weeks before he was due for court hearings on 13 felony charges relating to his use of MIT's network to download 4.8 million papers from the JSTOR academic database.MIT did not 'target' Aaron Swartz, we did not seek federal prosecution, punishment or jail time, and we did not oppose a plea bargain, said MIT president Rafael Reif in a statement, although he did add the university would be reviewing its policies.The report, prepared by MIT computer science professor Hal Abelson, economics professor and Institute professor emeritus Peter Diamond, and Washington attorney Andrew Grosso, has taken so long because it's based on the detailed examination of over 10,000 documents and many personal interviews, the authors said.
They found that the university had maintained a policy of strict neutrality, and did not attempt to influence the prosecution of Swartz by federal authorities. It also notes that Swartz was neither a member of the MIT staff, nor an enrolled student nor alumnus, nor a member of the faculty.But the report has angered Swartz's father, himself a member of MIT's Media Lab. In a statement to The Register, he said the report showed that MIT handed over information to the prosecution without subpoena warrant (a courtesy not extended to Swartz's defense team), and withheld information and witness lists that were handed to government investigators.Having now read Abelson's report, it is clear that MIT in fact played a central role in Aaron's suicide, Robert Swartz said. MIT made numerous mistakes that warrant further examination and significant changes. MIT was not neutral in the legal case against Aaron. Whether MIT was neutral or not is a red herring: the university had a moral obligation to advocate on Aaron's behalf.
The report details how MIT was initially contacted by research archive JSTOR because of a server-crashing number of downloads being requested by MIT's network. The requests appeared to stop after a while, but JSOTR got back in touch when it became apparent that the request frequency had been slowed and 4.8 million articles had been copied.Trying to trace the source, the university's IT staff found a laptop in a cardboard box in one of their network rooms and called MIT police, who determined they didn't have the skills to handle it. They called the local Cambridge police, and a local detective arrived with a Secret Service and an officer from the Boston Police Department in tow.The Secret Service agent tried and failed to copy the hard drive, so the laptop was fingerprinted and a camera was installed to monitor it. Just half an hour later someone did come in and swap out the laptop hard drive, but then left before MIT police could arrive.

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A second visit was noted two days later, and this time an off-duty MIT police officer was in an unmarked police car that just happened to be near the building. He had a still image of the laptop's visitor, saw a cyclist matching the picture, and stopped him for questioning.The report says the cyclist was Swartz, who ran away when questioned but was later apprehended by the policeman and a colleague. He refused to answer questions, so the local police were called and he was taken away to be charged. MIT did not ask for charges to be brought, the report states, and JSTOR didn't wish to either. But the US Department of Justice had other ideas.US attorney Carmen Ortiz and her assistant Stephen Heymann used the provisions of the Computer Fraud and Abuse Act to rack up 13 felony charges against Swartz that would have seen him behind bars for a maximum of 35 years and facing m in fines. Swartz, 26, committed suicide shortly before hearings began.
Two charges of misconduct have since been filed against Heymann, but Ortiz has defended her handling of the case, saying that her office's conduct was appropriate in bringing and handling this case. She said that the prosecution was only planning to ask for six months in prison, and had no intention of asking for a maximum sentence, particularly as it was clear Swartz wasn't harvesting the JSTOR archives for personal gain.You can't be neutral on a moving train
Harvard law professor Lawrence Lessig, who was a close friend of Swartz, said that MIT's report showed the emptiness in the concept of 'neutrality', and in fact shows the extent to which the university's lack of action doomed Swartz to prosecution.'Neutrality' is one of those empty words that somehow has achieved sacred and context-free acceptance – like 'transparency', but don't get me started on that again, he writes. But there are obviously plenty of contexts in which to be 'neutral' is simply to be wrong.
The lynchpin of the government's case against Swartz was that he had unauthorized access to MIT's network. But, he says, the report states that MIT never told police of federal prosecutors if Swartz wasn't authorized to use the network, and apparently didn't even bother to decide this itself.The report does note that had Swartz asked for access in the usual way he would have been granted it under the terms of MIT's open guest policy for network use and, it might be argued that Aaron Swartz accessed the MIT network with authorization. The university neglected to mention this to the either prosecution or defense teams, however.If indeed MIT recognized this, and didn't explicitly say either privately or publicly that Aaron was likely not guilty of the crime charged, then that failure to speak can't be defended by the concept of 'neutrality', Lessig concludes. Analysis From the reaction to Google's latest contribution to TV technology, you'd think the Chromecast dongle was as revolutionary as a new method of nuclear fusion.

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