Secret CIO: Resist Temptation: Don't Push That Hot Button - InformationWeek

InformationWeek is part of the Informa Tech Division of Informa PLC

This site is operated by a business or businesses owned by Informa PLC and all copyright resides with them.Informa PLC's registered office is 5 Howick Place, London SW1P 1WG. Registered in England and Wales. Number 8860726.

IoT
IoT
Business & Finance
Commentary
12/29/2005
05:30 PM
50%
50%

Secret CIO: Resist Temptation: Don't Push That Hot Button

Our country's political discourse is interesting in a perverse sort of way. The dialogue is reminiscent of what happens during my company's executive committee budget-review meetings. In both processes, participants spend a huge amount of time on arguments aimed at fixing the blame for what went wrong while concurrently trying to grab the credit for what little has gone right.

Our country's political discourse is interesting in a perverse sort of way. The dialogue is reminiscent of what happens during my company's executive committee budget-review meetings. In both processes, participants spend a huge amount of time on arguments aimed at fixing the blame for what went wrong while concurrently trying to grab the credit for what little has gone right. Whether I'm watching the news or warily listening to my colleagues, I get this convoluted image of people racing away from something radioactive while simultaneously pushing to join the angels who get to dance on that rare pinhead of success. If Puccini were still alive, I wonder if he could make an opera out of it instead of obsessing about love and killing off the beautiful soprano.

This line of thought came to me because I read recently about various national policy debates, several of which touch more than lightly on information technology. Two examples: the increasing incidence of identity theft and the need for computerized medical information. In each, I get the sense that legislators are so busy trying to score political advantage they wind up rewarding the culprits.

Identity theft is big business with increasing use of the Internet for banking and buying. Thieves obtain enough personal information about a person, set up credit accounts where they buy merchandise, and then disappear, leaving an individual to fend off the bills and sometimes spend months or years restoring his or her good name and credit.

We in IT work feverishly to stop this fraud while having to be part of the arguments about trade-offs of customer convenience and security. What we don't do is ever consider that while we're busy doing so, Equifax, Experian, and TransUnion, the three major credit bureaus, merrily continue to make lots of money selling credit information to merchants who are very happy to give credit to new customers, some of whom might be these very same thieves who are using our names. Why aren't the credit bureaus required, as their default option, to refuse to release information unless they notify us at our registered address? It obviously wouldn't eliminate all identity theft, but it would decrease it.

Computerized medical records would reduce errors, expedite patient care, and lower record-keeping costs. Another benefit would be that you and I would no longer have to fill out that stupid form listing our childhood diseases every time we go to a new doctor.

There are major advantages for everyone involved--the patient, the doctor, and the insurance provider--but adoption is slow. The issues are security, who decides on a standardized format, how mandatory it is, and, most of all, who pays. Congress has a big stake in the answer since taxes fund a great deal of our health care either directly or through deductions, but it so far has avoided facilitating a comprehensive solution. No doubt, our elected representatives have concluded that spending time resolving this one, like deciding how to keep Social Security solvent, isn't going to help their re-election campaigns. In the meantime, the nation doesn't get the full benefit of its medical prowess.

Technology can go a long way toward ameliorating some of society's rough spots, but we, and the people we elect, must focus on the issues rather than personal or political hot buttons. It's to the benefit of those who don't want change to sit quietly while we miss the point. It's to our benefit to refuse to allow that to happen.

Herbert W. Lovelace shares his experiences as CIO of a multibillion-dollar international company (changing most names, including his own, to protect the guilty). Send him E-mail at [email protected]


To discuss this column with other readers, please visit Herbert Lovelace's forum.

To find out more about Herbert Lovelace, please visit his page.

We welcome your comments on this topic on our social media channels, or [contact us directly] with questions about the site.
Comment  | 
Print  | 
More Insights
2020 State of DevOps Report
2020 State of DevOps Report
Download this report today to learn more about the key tools and technologies being utilized, and how organizations deal with the cultural and process changes that DevOps brings. The report also examines the barriers organizations face, as well as the rewards from DevOps including faster application delivery, higher quality products, and quicker recovery from errors in production.
News
The State of Chatbots: Pandemic Edition
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor, Enterprise Apps,  9/10/2020
Commentary
Deloitte on Cloud, the Edge, and Enterprise Expectations
Joao-Pierre S. Ruth, Senior Writer,  9/14/2020
Slideshows
Data Science: How the Pandemic Has Affected 10 Popular Jobs
Cynthia Harvey, Freelance Journalist, InformationWeek,  9/9/2020
Register for InformationWeek Newsletters
Video
Current Issue
IT Automation Transforms Network Management
In this special report we will examine the layers of automation and orchestration in IT operations, and how they can provide high availability and greater scale for modern applications and business demands.
White Papers
Slideshows
Twitter Feed
Sponsored Live Streaming Video
Everything You've Been Told About Mobility Is Wrong
Attend this video symposium with Sean Wisdom, Global Director of Mobility Solutions, and learn about how you can harness powerful new products to mobilize your business potential.
Sponsored Video
Flash Poll