CIO Watercooler: Intel's drop, Wal-Mart's blush -- and weird science

Find out which CIOs got new jobs this year -- and read the latest IT headlines CIOs should know.

By now, all good CIOs are busy sticking to their 2006 resolutions: getting the CEO's attention and putting best

practices in place. If you're behind on the latest IT headlines, no worries. We've got you covered. And check out our list of CIOs who scored new jobs this year.

Weird science: A new technology uses white-light digital imaging to scan your face and predict your chances for developing skin cancer. It can tell you which percentage of your face is wrinkled, inflamed or otherwise doomed. Yes, computer diagnostics for skin care is the next big thing. (If you are a CIO with a golfer's tan, this might be the sort of data you don't want.)

The SEC makes it a formal affair: It's official. IBM is the subject of a formal Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) investigation related to IBM's Q1 earnings and expensing of stock options compensation. In June the SEC made an informal inquiry. By formalizing the process, the SEC may subpoena documents from IBM. Of course, this doesn't mean that the company has broken any laws. Inquiring minds really want to know: When it's formal, do the SEC investigators wear suits?

Slogan going, going, gone: "Intel inside" was always a pretty catchy bit of alliteration, but now the chipmaker is thinking outside the box. The new Intel corporate catchphrase? "Leap ahead." Unfortunately for Intel Corp., the company's Q4 earnings report fell short this week; earnings per share were 40 cents, down 3 cents from its own predictions.

How sweet it is: Intel's stock may have dropped, but Apple Computer's share price spiked 12% last week -- and CEO Steve Jobs was happy enough to send Apple staffers an e-mail (later leaked to the press) reminding them of Apple's success over the past 30 years -- and how wrong Michael Dell was to suggest that the ailing Apple should shut down way back when.

Quinn quits: You don't have to live in New England to know that CIO for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts Peter Quinn resigned Christmas Eve and told colleagues that his role as an advocate for the OpenDocument format had become so controversial that he wanted out. Bethann Pepoli, who was the Bay State's COO in the Information Technology Division, is serving as interim CIO until a permanent replacement is found. She's also in the running for the job.

Wal-Mart misstep: Santa's rosy red cheeks were downright pale compared to the faces of Wal-Mart execs when this news came out: Visitors who searched the company's Web site for the box set of Planet of the Apes DVDs also received a list of other movies they might be interested in. Wal-Mart suggested a movie about Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. and other films with African-American themes. The president of Walmart.com said the recommended titles were the result of human error and part of a well-meaning effort to promote a DVD about King. Web visitors could also have been linked to other box sets, including Best of Alfred Hitchcock Collection, Volume 1.

Wal-Mart's working on the problem -- when you do a search now, the "Similar Items" entry is no longer available on the site. And Wal-Mart recently told the SEC that it's establishing "objective diversity initiatives" for executives. It's probably in Wal-Mart's best interest to discount merchandise, not sensitivity.

A tale of two feds: If you try to get hold of the CIO of the FBI, forgive him if he's too busy to chat. Zalmai Azmi and his IT crew are busy developing a case-file system called Sentinel, which should help bring some of the bureau's computer systems into the 21st century. Mr. Hoover would be proud.

Meanwhile, back at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), we're wondering if CIO Scott Charbo has a seat at the executive table or he's just an alpha geek with an important-sounding title. According to a December 2005 report from the DHS inspector general, the CIO is not part of the senior-management team and therefore doesn't have the clout to do what a CIO should be doing: managing technology assets and programs (ever had that feeling?). The DHS begged to differ, claiming Charbo has the authority he needs.

And with that, we leap ahead into this month's CIO dish -- who's coming and who's going.

CIOs on the go

  • Bed Bath & Beyond Inc. promoted CIO Richard C. McMahon to the newly established position of chief strategy officer and VP of corporate operations. He will keep doing the CIO thing as well; McMahon will be Bed Bath & Beyond busy this year.

  • John Hummel resigned his CIO post at Sacramento, Calif.-based Sutter Health to take a job with Perot Systems Corp.

  • Gov. George Pataki (R- N.Y.) filled two IT leadership jobs for the state of New York this month, naming Meg Levine as director for the Office for Technology and Michael Mittleman as chief information officer for the state. Mittleman will earn a salary of $145,000.

  • David M. Bowen has been appointed to the Federal Aviation Administration as chief information officer and assistant administrator for information services. Bowen previously served as vice president and chief information officer for Blue Shield of California.

  • Fandango promoted Rick Butler to the newly created position of CIO.

  • Australian airline Qantas will be looking for a new CIO now that Fiona Balfour plans to jet. She will resign effective in March.

  • Align Technology Inc. hired Michael Henry as VP of IT and CIO.

  • Trading Technologies International Inc. named Russ Rausch as EVP of global support and CIO.

  • National Care Network announced the addition of Jack Baugh as CIO.

  • Mark Quinlan becomes CIO of Associated Banc-Corp.

  • Shelton Waggener has been appointed associate vice chancellor for information technology and campus CIO at the University of California, Berkeley.

  • Centene Corp. appointed Glendon Schuster as VP and CIO.

  • Richard Okin is the new CIO at AzoogleAds.

  • The U.S. State Department named James Vanderhoff as its new CIO.

  • Air Force Maj. Gen. Dale Meyerrose was confirmed by the Senate as the first CIO of the Office of the Director of National Intelligence.

  • South Carolina appointed Jim Bryant, a former technology executive with AT&T Inc. and EDS Corp., to serve as the state's CIO.

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