Researchers at the University of Southampton have some advice for companies thinking about moving their operations or opening a second location: Stay out of China. For that matter, shy away from Japan, the United States, the United Kingdom and Italy as well. The warning has nothing to do with the business climate in those countries; it’s all about a prudent executive’s desire to mitigate risk from falling asteroids. The British university announced in March that it had developed software for modeling the impact of small asteroids (less than one kilometer, or 0.62 miles, in diameter) and assessing the potential human and economic consequences of a hit from outer space.
The NEOimpactor application is not designed to predict where an asteroid will fall but rather to forecast the damage of an impact. Early results indicate that the 10 countries most at risk overall are China, Indonesia, India, Japan, the United States, the Philippines, Italy, the United Kingdom, Brazil and Nigeria. In terms of potential loss of life, China, Indonesia, India, Japan and the United States face the greatest threat. The United States, China, Sweden, Canada and Japan are likely to suffer the most severe economic damage — mostly because of infrastructure destroyed.
Because small asteroids abound in space, the likelihood of one hitting Earth is significant, according to the researchers. About 100 years ago, an asteroid just 50 meters in diameter exploded in the air above a remote region in eastern Russia, flattening vegetation across an area the size of metropolitan London, says Nick Bailey of the University of Southampton’s School of Engineering Sciences, who was one of NEOimpactor’s developers.
Leave Your Notebook at Home
Tired of lugging your notebook computer to the airport and wondering whether it will be crushed by the “carry-on” steamer trunk a fellow passenger jams into the overhead bin?
Road warriors now have an option, and an increasing number of them are using it, according to Rentacomputer.com, a computer rental aggregator in Franklin, Ohio.
The company reports that its notebook rentals are up 77 percent this year over 2006. With USB flash memory becoming ubiquitous, travelers can load up thumb drives with applications and information and then plug the devices into notebooks rented at their destinations.
Basing results on a study of 2006 sales figures from 100 rental firms, Rentacomputer.com estimates the global market for notebook rentals is about $177 million.
The rental option does, of course, force travelers to consider the loss of productivity — or DVD viewing — on long flights.
Just Don’t “Friend” the CEO
With 75 million members of Generation Y entering the workforce, talent management software maker Mentor Scout has added on-the-job social networking to its offerings.
Mentor Scout’s new Talent Networking Edition lets workers who came of age in the era of Facebook and MySpace create profiles about their personal and professional lives. Each profile offers a way for the employee to interact with colleagues and engage with the organization, according to the Honolulu vendor, which is a division of Nobscot.
The software provides tabs for categories that include “Applause” (for praise from colleagues), “Favorites” (for preferences in Web sites, books, blogs, lunch spots and productivity tools) and “Get-Togethers” (for arranging social meetings). There’s also the more strictly work-related “Projects” for posting information on current projects along with ideas and challenges.
The tools are intended to help companies retain younger employees, who are more likely to job-hop, require more praise and demand a more comfortable work/life balance than their baby boomer colleagues, according to Mentor Scout.
Thwarting Data Loss
What are companies doing to safeguard their data? Not enough, according to an Aberdeen Group survey released in May.
To gauge the prevalence of effective data security practices, the analyst firm surveyed 150 organizations;
81 percent were small and medium-size businesses. Just 6 percent of all respondents said they protected at least 96 percent of their sensitive data from insider threats. Defenses were better against outside attacks: 22 percent reported safeguarding 96 percent of critical data.
The most common driver of increased data security comes from within, as 68 percent of all respondents indicated they felt pressure to comply with internal security policies. Compliance with external regulations drove security initiatives in 63 percent of responding companies, while demand from customers (31 percent), the ability to collaborate safely with trusted partners (25 percent) and demand from business partners (9 percent) were less important pressures.
Companies With the Best Defenses…
Use real-time notification of inappropriate data use.
Train employees in appropriate data use.
Monitor and audit data use.
View regulatory compliance as a top driver.
Source: Aberdeen Group survey, May 2007
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Ignorance Is No Excuse for Piracy — Anymore
The Small Business Administration announced in June that it is joining forces with the Business Software Alliance to fight software piracy through education. Targeting the operators of 100,000 small businesses, the SBA and BSA will work together to spread the word about proper software management and the risks associated with using unlicensed software.
According to BSA, small businesses paid more than $11.4 million in fines to settle software piracy claims in 2006. A study conducted by Interactive Data for the BSA indicates that 21 percent of the software used in the United States is unlicensed. As a result of software piracy, U.S. vendors lost $6.9 billion in 2005.