CIOs debate security, privacy, Linux and outsourcing issues

Tuesday, 25 February 2003, 12:13 PM EST

CIOs from some of the nation's largest companies outlined their fears and hopes about their jobs and the direction of technology in the year ahead. But few at the Computerworld Premier 100 conference here raised warning flags as directly as Doug Lewis, executive vice president and CIO at Six Continents Hotels Inc., and David Guzman, vice president and CIO at Owens & Minor Inc., a medical systems distributor.

"I think the single biggest threat to my environment, and probably to my job as well, is the dual threat of data security and data privacy -- and knowing what the laws are in the 100 countries that we operate in," Lewis said during one of the freewheeling panel discussions at the conference. "That is a significant threat."

Guzman backed up Lewis' comments, urging that more be done on the security front. "I don't think all of us collectively have paid enough attention to the threats that now face our work with regard to security," said Guzman.

An equally difficult problem for IT managers is maintaining credibility with a company's top executives in the post-dot-com meltdown. Asked about the credibility issue, Susan Unger, vice president and CIO at DaimlerChrysler AG, talked hopefully about how IT managers can thrive in bad times. "I've always been focused on return on investment," she said. "Even back with the dot-com hype, we were very careful what we invested in. It had to have a significant business return, so our credibility in the company has been very high because of that."

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