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Leasinglife - The journal for asset finance

Technology Column authored by Pochan and Voytko

 
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Leasinglife - The journal for asset finance

 

Because of our unique and lengthy experience in leasing AND technology, XeC authors the Technology column and other articles in LeasingLife magazine published in Europe.

EMERGING TECHNOLOGIES  Leasing Life Issue: 137 - February 05
Michael Pochan's review of the latest technology

Largest Hard Disk Yet
Hitachi is striving to bring massive storage to your home or office desktop. Their latest hard disk can hold 500 GB of data, or 200 hours of video. The average PC drive today holds 40 GB.

On the small side, Hitachi also introduced a 2.54 cm microdrive nicknamed 'Mikey' that can save 10GB of data. Expect to see this drive in electronics especially mobile phones. Imagine carrying the entire revenue code around on your mobile.

PDFs with Digital Rights
Adobe made its mark by allowing authors of Word documents and PowerPoint slides to create a common un-editable file that could be distributed and viewed with the free Acrobat Reader.

Adobe has now added an option for digital rights management, whereby readers must have the proper authority and security designation to open and view a document sent by the author. This will allow enterprises to circulate sensitive and confidential documents as they would with a courier.

Policy Server software manages authentication of the correct users. Permission to view or print can be changed or revoked at any time.

Gone Phishing
Identity theft, credit card fraud, bank fraud or computer fraud are illegal in the US and earn stiff penalties. But as Computerworld's Matthew Moynahan points out: "these computer-related crimes are punishable only when they actually succeed. In other words, a victim must be defrauded or robbed first."

Phishing is an attempt to gather confidential information from a web user, but making them think it is being requested by a proper institution or company. It shows up looking like legitimate email that directs the web user to a web site where the data entry is done under false pretenses.

Thus, the act of phishing is not itself a crime because no injury has occurred. A bill has been introduced to the US Congress to specifically make illegal this precursor to criminal activity.

by Michael Pochan , C E O
Published for the web: January 31 05 7:19

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Technology   Leasing Life Issue: 136 - January 05
More new technology for the asset finance industry from Michael Pochan
Unstructured Data
Have you ever tried to singularly file multiple items that could be described in as many ways? Does that question itself sound confusing? Analyzing information that is received as unstructured, open-comment text in a single data field is quite challenging. This occurs for a certain global equipment manufacturer when they receive warranty feedback via their website and email system. The customers’ and dealers’ feedback in emails, field reports, and service records can provide early insight into quality problems. Attensity Corporation has a beta test version ready for trial.

Grid Computing Update
We mentioned ‘grid computing’ in the September 2004 issue of Leasing Life. It is a distributed computing resource strategy to solve large computational problems. IBM, Harvard and MIT in America are providing this resource to cancer researchers to predict cancer growth.

Patch Management
Managing the sometimes numerous patches issued by software providers has risen on the list of critical problems in America’s government IT sector. I think we all have experienced this, at minimum if one uses Microsoft products. The American issue is driven by Homeland Security and the concern that constant patches weaken the overall systems’ infrastructure. Opportunity is knocking for someone.

Hackers’ Latest Game
It isn’t enough to hit us with spam and viruses through our email, now some insidious techno-folks have breeched the confines of the banner advertising networks (the people that bring you the personalized banner ads on websites). The hackers inserted a Trojan Horse virus into the ad server in Germany. Those who surfed the websites of Falk AG’s customers were unwittingly infected. They did not even have to click on the ad to become ill.

RFID Corner
RFID use continues to spread like wildfire. The use of Radio Frequency Identification tags continues to grow rapidly (we briefly discussed RFIDs in the September and December issues of Leasing Life). They are now a part of air-finance as Airbus will use RFIDs in the A380. The RFIDs will carry serial numbers, manufacturers’ codes, country of origin, date of installation, and maintenance histories of the parts, from seats to jet engines. As the applications mature, more data will be added. The advantage of RFIDs over current stamped plates and bar codes is that they are updateable and reusable. They are accessible in real-time using handheld scanners and can carry large amounts of detail. Is this useful? Yes. Picture a routine pre-flight check to determine if all seats have their oxygen masks and lifejackets in place. The crewmember walks the plane with a scanner or laptop and instantly receives the data. Compare this to examining and counting by hand. Boeing is planning on following suit on its Dreamliner. Leasing and finance companies can benefit from the inherent asset tracking to protect their investment.

by Michael Pochan , C E O
Published for the web: January 4 05 16:50
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Technology Leasing Life Issue: 135 - December 04
INTERSECTION: MICHAEL POCHAN

Wal-Mart, like it or not, is the world’s largest company for several good reasons. Two reasons come from their approach to IT projects.

Outsourcing is not in the Wal-Mart vocabulary. Its own people handle everything from process reengineering to programming. It also purchases little off-the-shelf software. But, as an in-house shop, it has a unique culture.

Linda Dillman, chief information officer, says that “the strength… is we are doers and do things lightning fast. We implement things faster than anyone could with a third party.” Wal-Mart’s reputation for designing applications and using new technology is unmatched.

Dillman continues, “because we develop our own code, we look for people who can think like a businessperson, and that’s a little harder to find. It requires a lot more training and development. We are now spending a lot of time on that.”

“Continuing to grow leaders…” adds Carol Mosely, vice president of information systems,“… is something we have to do for our survival. How we treat, train and mentor people is a competitive advantage.”

What can we learn from Wal-Mart? Certainly having one of the world’s largest IT budgets makes it easier to do everything in-house. The asset finance industry has few companies large enough to do this. (Even GE Capital is moving from in-house to Oracle’s lease management system). One lesson might be to keep the number of participants in a project to a minimum. Another would be aggressive project management to not just meet deadlines but shorten them.

A clearer lesson (and one I can vouch for) is the training of IT people to think like businesspeople and to learn the business processes. It can be shown among the more successful leasing software providers that their people know your business quite well. They do not have to spend as much project time writing lengthy specifications for programmers that know nothing about finance.

The business knowledge also allows multi-functional teams to work together more easily (the less time you spend explaining basics, the faster coding gets done).

Michael Pochan is chief executive of XeC, a software consultancy specializing in leasing system evaluation, analysis and leasing education mpochan@xec1.com

by Michael Pochan , C E O
Published for the web: November 29 04 21:24
 

 

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