Tech Standard Addresses Web Privacy

AOL is bigger than ever, the SEC redesigns its Web site, and that memory could cost you. StaffFebruary 28, 2001

Consumer Privacy and CRM

Market research firm Meridien Research says a new technology standard, the Customer Profile Exchange Specification, CPEX Version 1.0, may be the key to both protecting customer privacy on Web sites and ensuring efficient sharing of data across companies and among business partners.

Meridien says CPEX could be crucial to the workings of customer relationship management, or CRM, systems at financial institutions.

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CPEX is based on the Extensible Markup Language, or XML, which is used for designing business-to-business Web sites. The standard includes a privacy-enabled component that Meridien says should comply with uniform, global standards for controlling and sharing customer profile information.

But Meridien also cautions that the feasibility of deploying CPEX is unproven. While a universal standard for improving the flow of information is desirable, privacy concerns may forestall its widespread adoption.

A New Look for SEC Web Site

Web surfers might have noticed a new look at the Securities and Exchange Commission’s Web site this week. The upgraded site has streamlined graphics for quicker downloads, added two search engines, and simplified its layout to speed navigation by arranging information for specific groups of users, including individual investors, brokers, accountants, attorneys, and corporate officers.

In a prepared statement, Acting SEC Chairman Laura S. Unger said, “As technology continues to revolutionize investing, it’s critical that we keep pace.”

For example, the redesigned home page prominently displays its links to its index of proposed and final rules. The site map also includes a link to Staff Accounting Bulletins. In both cases, the links are easier to reach than on the old site.

The site also includes links to the Edgar database of corporate filings that are displayed clearly in the center of the home page.

The SEC launched its Web site in September 1995 to offer access to Commission actions, corporate filings, agency rules, staff interpretations, and investor education materials. The site currently holds more than 1.7 million documents and receives about 1 million “hits” daily.

Can They Turn Web Assets into Money?

Jupiter Media Metrix reported that AOL-Time Warner’s Web sites accounted for nearly one third of all time spent online in January 2001 in the U.S. On its own, Time Warner’s online properties reached 15.7 percent of users at home, but combined with AOL, the merged entity had an at-home penetration of 72.3 percent.

The total usage minutes for AOL Time Warner’s properties amounted to 32.7 percent of all time spent online during January 2001. Except, it’s more than clear who the junior partner in this corporate marriage is. Time Warner’s share amounted to a paltry 0.3 percent. AOL glommed the rest.

According to Jupiter, this market share affords Time Warner “an unmatched opportunity to cut media marketing and promotional costs. Time Warner can present content, advertising, and services to its customer base at an unprecedented rate.”

The study, released on Tuesday, should be high on the agenda at the Jupiter Media Forum, a conference that starts Wednesday in New York. One of the keynote speakers is AOL Time Warner president and chief operating officer Bob Pittman.

Don’t Forget that Memory Prices Could Rise

Are computer memory costs about to follow the path of electricity prices in California? Executives involved in purchasing computer technology should get ready to pony up for memory components if Rambus wins its pending court cases against memory manufacturers, according to PC World.

Rambus has patents on technologies crucial to SDRAM memory and its expected replacement, DDR SDRAM memory, and it wants royalties from manufacturers that make these components. Some, like Infineon Technologies, Hyundai Electronics, and Micron Technologies are balking, and Rambus has taken them to court.

PC World says a Virginia court could rule on one of the complaints as early as March. If Rambus’ claims are upheld, it could send prices for memory chips, a key component in PC prices, up as much as 2 percent.

For its part, Rambus is downplaying the impact, and says that supply and demand issues play a greater role than patent royalties do in memory prices.

Bits and Bytes

  • Software publisher ServiceWare has added Herrick Douglass of Bellevue, Washington to its list of authorized resellers for its eService Web-based customer service system. Herrick Douglass will focus on merging customer relationship management, enterprise resource planning, and telecom applications.
  • Sun Microsystems introduced a $995 workstation on Tuesday that goes right at the heart of the PC market. The 64-bit workstation is based on Sun’s UltraSparc IIe chip, and it includes 2 gigabytes of system memory and a 2D graphics card. A 3D graphics card for engineering applications is available for an extra $995.
  • Seafood industry service firm Gofish licensed Commerce One’s E- marketplace technology to expand its B2B operations to include the buying and selling of non-seafood goods and services. In addition to trading seafood, nets, breading, and batters, buyers and sellers in the seafood industry will be able to purchase cleaning supplies, office items, and telephone services. It is expected that Gofish members will be able to use its proprietary credit information.