Your shout: NHS patient data, business intelligence software, IT project success

Computer Weekly readers' have their say


Computer Weekly readers' have their say

Patient data more widely visible than we are told

Having read your front page lead on NHS smartcard access to patient data (Computer Weekly, 7 February), I was very surprised by the comments from the Connecting for Health spokesman, "Only staff with the right role allocated to them can access the Patient Demographic Service (PDS) with a smartcard and their own unique password".

This is not the case. I know a finance manager who has access to the PDS. He does not want or need access to the PDS - the access is given by virtue of his role as manager. You cannot turn this access off.

Registration authority manager, NHS trust  


Business intelligence software is no cure-all

"Business intelligence software drives surge in retailers' sales" heralds your front page (Computer Weekly, 24 January).

I am worried that such a headline reinforces the much held view that business intelligence software can be some sort of silver bullet for business. It is such attitudes that cause businesses to make large-scale datawarehousing investments, only to be severely disappointed by the returns.

The retail industry is a classic case in point where there has been years of large-scale investment for minimal return. Many of these investments have been driven by the now legendary quest for the next "beer and nappies" revelation.

The headline would have been much more appropriate if it had read "Retailers drive returns from embedding business intelligence in core processes". For at the heart of your article lay the real story. That is in all businesses, the power of business intelligence lies in understanding how it can contribute to core operational processes. In the case of your story, this was in the vital area of merchandising and stock replenishment.

Until such time as this is more widely understood, business intelligence investment will continue to be misdirected and businesses will continue to be disappointed.

Mark Douglas, director in consulting, Deloitte


Simplicity is the Kiss of life for IT projects

I am writing regarding the story "IT programmes risk failure when the focus is on technology, not end-users, says report" (Computer Weekly, 31 January).

Does this have anything to do with that other story, "Pope Catholic - shock finding"?

The problem is that managers spend so much time and money on management consultants, instead of relying on in-house staff (who know the business and what the users want).

System analysis is not rocket science; it just needs someone to listen to what the users need. Change management is the same. There is no point in creating lovely programmes that do not function. Using the Kiss system has always worked for me, and the users appreciate it, because they understand what you are trying to do for them.

If managers spent less time downsizing, rightsizing, offshoring and outsourcing, then we might get somewhere.

Oh, and they should also learn to speak English, not Management English. The difference between the two is quite simple. When you speak English you are attempting to communicate ideas and motivate your staff.

When you speak Management English you are attempting to obfuscate issues, tell lies, and generally use 20 long words when two would be enough. Those two words would be "You're redundant".

Bob Browett, HP3000 systems manager


Payment for bulk e-mail delivery won't stop spam

While recent attempts by ISPs to reduce spam should be applauded, news that AOL and Yahoo will soon charge senders of bulk e-mail a fee for guaranteed delivery (, 6 February) badly misses the mark.

Firstly, it guarantees delivery based on the sender paying (not based on users' preferences), ultimately allowing more unwanted e-mail through to users.

Secondly, only legitimate companies will be asked to pay. While legitimate senders sometimes send email to people who do not want it, the amount of spam that falls into this category is negligibly small.

Most spam does not come from legitimate business entities. It comes from the margins of the business world - people with neither the money nor the inclination to pay for delivery of spam. Instead, they continue to make spam more deliverable, modifying message content to defeat older filters and sending ever more spam to vulnerable e-mail addresses, keeping response rates as high as possible.

In short, the plans do not actually prevent spam; they ask legitimate senders to pay for the sins of the real spammers.

Andrew Lochart , Postini

Lack of warranty not confined to open source

In his article on open source licensing (Computer Weekly, 7 February), Matthew Harris says, "Another disadvantage of open source software is that it is provided without warranty protection," leaving the user to assume the risk of problems.

This is unfair: you could remove the words "open source" from that sentence and it would still be true for the majority of cases.

In general, the manufacturer will accept liability to the extent of giving you back the money you spent on buying the software. I have never heard of a supplier of packaged software who would pay you compensation for any software failure.

How rich would Bill Gates be if paid users every time Windows crashed, to compensate them for the work they lost as a result?

Lyndon Hills


Firms must wake up to IM security threat

Your article "Firms warned of instant messaging worm threat" (Computer Weekly, 7 February) highlights the growing threat from instant messaging services.

This should be a big worry to most UK firms, not least because most have no idea how many of their employees use instant messaging; nor do they have any policies covering its use.

In most cases, instant messaging is the unprotected back door to damaging companies' systems. Aside from the entry of malicious code, it is likely that no one is policing whether confidential company data is exiting via this gateway. Losing information via IM due to human negligence is one excuse, but companies without a policy for using this technology are as much at fault.

Organisations should be aware that existing content security is ill-equipped to manage instant messaging. Instead, companies should appraise the very specific threats of this now widely used (and abused) application.

Ed Macnair, Marshal

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