20 Information Technology Facts that Will Amaze, Amuse and Alarm

From lost productivity from fantasy football to the SAP skills shortage to IT alignment and spending, the results from these sometimes scary or silly (and nearly always self-serving) studies may surprise you.

By Network World staff
Mon, September 15, 2008

Network World — A new report warns that the cost from lost productivity at work related to the new NFL season could add up to US$10.5 billion. And there we were, thinking the biggest waste of time at work came from fielding an endless stream of IT industry reports?

In an effort to do something productive with these sometimes insightful, sometimes scary, sometimes silly and frequently self-serving studies, we've boiled down each of about 20 that we've received over the past couple of months into one digestible story. Without further ado and in no particular order:

  • The average fantasy sports player earns about $38 per hour and based on an average of nearly 1.19 hours per week dealing with their team during work hours, companies lose about $45.22 in wages per worker each week, according to Challenger, Gray & Christmas http://www.challengergray.com/, the global outplacement and business coaching consultancy, which came up with its numbers by crunching those from a couple of fantasy sports groups.

    Perhaps playing fantasy football at work can be included in an Internet users' Bill of Rights. Two-thirds of about 200 people attending the second Internet Governance Forum in Brazil last November agreed with this statement: "A global internet users' Bill of Rights should be adopted." Only 6 percent disagreed. Such a Bill of Rights would include things such as freedom of information, freedom of expression, and the right of people to have affordable access, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project. 

    —Not that everyone is going to log on even if they are offered affordable access. Only 44 percent of Kentucky households subscribe to broadband even though most do have access to it, according to Connected Nation, which issued a report that all full-time adult students in Kentucky with broadband at home use the 'Net for educational purposes. So clever.
  • Well, more clever than a lot of organizations anyway. Just over half of organizations require only passwords for employees to access critical data, according to a survey of 150 companies by Quest Software and the Aberdeen Group. Companies play fast and loose with their password rules, too, according to the survey, with almost half allowing standard dictionary terms and more than two-thirds not specifying password length.
  • Not that that sort of thing has anything to do with the number of confirmed data breaches reported through mid-August blowing by the number reported for all of last year. According to the nonprofit Identity Theft Resource Center, last year a total of 446 breaches were reported, and as of Aug. 22 this year 449 got reported. Of course, there are many more breaches than those reported, and the ITRC says it is thankful that at least a few states are starting to make info available through their Attorney General offices.
  • You could just blame Japan for your network security troubles. Japan proved to be the Godzilla of attack traffic-generation in the second quarter as the country of origin for 30 percent of such traffic worldwide, according to content delivery network provider Akamai. The study, which was conducted by monitoring Akamai's global network of more than 30,000 servers, measured distributed denial-of-service attacks, Web site hacking attempts and DNS hijackings for 139 countries. The United States had the second-highest percentage of attack traffic for the second quarter, at 21.5 percent, while China came in third at 16.8 percent.
  • Not that top executives don't have even bigger worries. The top hurdle faced by 300 top executives (such as CEOs and CIOs) surveyed by the Society for Information Management is IT-business alignment. Building business skills in IT, IT strategic planning, attracting new IT professionals and making better use of information rounded out the top 5 concerns.
  • Of course, there's also the little matter of IT spending. The outlook is still pretty grim, with growth expected to be just 4 percent for the year (down from 6 percent last year), but not all signs are bad, according to the latest Goldman Sachs survey of 100 managers with strategic decision-making authority at Fortune 1,000 companies. On the bright side is that spending intentions on network gear is rebounding (for the next 12 months, 54 percent of respondents said they expect their network spending to grow, and that's up from 42 percent the last time they were asked). However, Goldman describes plans for discretionary IT projects as "anemic."
  • As for the other type of "green," a third of 75 organizations asked by Cutter Consortium if they have a long-term plan/strategy targeted at reducing the environmental footprint of their IT infrastructure said no, 38 percent said yes and 29 percent said they didn't know. Broken down further, 57 percent of European organizations said they had one vs. 37 percent in the United States.
  • Regardless of the tough economy, companies are having to fork over big salaries to enterprise applications experts due to a shortage of people with SAP skills, according to new research from Foote Partners. The value of some SAP skills rose between 25 percent and 30 percent over the first six months of 2008 and nearly twice that over the past 12 months. "If you're looking for SAP Web Application Server, Production Planning, Business Objects, Quality Management, Strategic Enterprise Management, Product Lifecycle Management, HCM and MDM module and skills experience, you're suddenly paying a lot more," says David Foote, CEO of the research group.
  • It might not hurt to brush up on your Ethernet skills, too. Business Ethernet services boomed in the United States during the first half of the year, with the number of installed ports rising 16 percent. AT&T led the way with 21 percent of total ports, with Verizon, TW Telecom and Cox in pursuit, according to Vertical Systems Group.
  • Who knows, maybe all that new Business Ethernet capacity is helping to stave off a massive Internet outage. Despite prognostications that the Internet is about to collapse from the weight of traffic growth—especially video—international Internet traffic grew 53 percent between mid-2007 and mid-2008, down from 61 percent the preceding year, according to a market research firm. For the second consecutive year, total international Internet capacity grew faster than total Internet traffic, leading to lower utilization levels on many Internet backbones, according to market tracker TeleGeography.
  • Nevertheless, there are at least 5 trillion reasons to stay in telecom: global telecom revenue is estimated to hit about $5 trillion by 2011, according to the latest Telecommunications Industry Association. High-volume business and consumer data applications are driving demand, according to the report.
  • Yes, Cisco rules enterprise networking, but it also is no pushover in the carrier market. Infonetics' quarterly service provider routers and switches report shows Cisco gained 15 percent in IP edge and core router revenue in the second quarter and now owns more than half the worldwide market. Though it was Fujitsu that made the biggest gain during the quarter, jumping from No. 9 to No. 6 worldwide.
  • Cisco also talks a good game in software these days, though its muckety-mucks might want to note this: Software-as-a-service has a way to go, according to a survey of 417 IT decision makers at companies with less than 500 employees. The survey by the Technology Practice of Chadwick Martin Bailey found that just 14 percent of those surveyed say they are more likely to subscribe to software-as-a-service than they are to purchase software-as-a-license and manage it internally.
  • And now, for a few words about ERM. Are you among the 8 percent who have no clue what ERM is? A survey commissioned in part by a company that sells e-mail security and content protection software, and conducted by Gilbane Group and University of Massachusetts-Dartmouth, found that the number of people who don't know what enterprise rights management is had fallen from 26 percent in 2005. The vendor promoting this survey pats itself on the back too many times in its news release to earn mention here. (Here's one company's explanation of ERM:)
  • Don't go looking to your 4th and 8th graders for any explanations of ERM, by the way. Their math and science proficiency "remains unacceptably low," according to AeA, a high-tech trade industry that recently issued a report ¬†analyzing the latest math and science scores based on Department of Education figures. Among the ugly numbers: 39 percent of 4th graders and 31 percent of 8th graders tested at or above the proficiency level in math last year, and the number of 4th graders at or above proficiency in science rose only one percentage point between 1996 and 2005.
  • Here are some numbers that almost anyone can understand, though. Investors are still putting their money into new wireless network companies even though the prospects of big IPO payoffs are not at all obvious. In the latest Rutberg & Co. wireless industry report (for August), the research outfit found $313.2 million in wireless investments vs. $233.9 a year ago, though not a single IPO (not that that's unusual in IT these days). The biggest chunks of that investment went into carrier infrastructure and technologies, though enterprise applications also earned attention. While the IPO market has dried up, the mergers&acqusitions market has not, and there was plenty of action in the wireless market in August, including HP buying Colubris and Nortel snapping up Bluesocket's Pingtel assets. —Guess who's atop the U.S. smartphone market? (It doesn't begin with "A") Research in Motion captured almost 54 percent of the market in the second quarter, according to IDC. That was a big jump—almost 10 percentage points -- from the first quarter, and the gain came at the expense of Apple, maker of the iPhone, and Palm, both of which lost share.
  • And finally....you'd think we could find a few interesting tidbits in a study about "findability," the art of being able to locate your content. Sure enough, trade group AIIM issued a report this summer (funded by a couple of content management companies) that dished up this fact: Only 10 percent of the 500 business users surveyed said as much as 76 percent to 100 percent of its company's information is searchable online. More than a third of those surveyed said 25 percent or less of the information is searchable online.

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