Top 5: Risk takers and shakers

12 Mar 2009

John Chambers - Telecommuting

Mr. Chambers has not said exactly how often he works from home, but he has raved about the TelePresence system he installed there, citing that it lets him spend more time with his wife, handle meetings late at night, get more sleep and do better at his job. His employees must agree. Cisco just slotted in at #6 on Fortune magazine's "100 best Companies to Work For," in large part because of their vanguard position on telecommuting. Some 70% of Cisco employees work from home at least 20% of the time.

Remote working brings a range of benefits; including happier, more productive employees, decreased travel time, a positive impact on the environment, and sizeable cost savings. Of course, there are also risks; security risks that many smaller companies are unequipped to deal with. A recent study by Cisco, and they should know, shows the complexity of securing a remote working force. 'While working at home, people tend to let their guard down more than they do at the office," says John Stewart, Cisco's chief security officer.

Some of the behavior that remote workers engage in that poses a risk includes opening e-mails and attachments from unknown sources; using work computers and devices for personal use; allowing non-employees to borrow work computers and devices; hijacking wireless Internet connections from neighbors; and accessing work files with personal, non-IT-protected devices. If it sounds scary, it is, but the rewards are vast and flexible working is here to stay.

» John Chambers at Cisco

» Telecommuting at Wikipedia

Sony - Blue-ray

When Toshiba, the main force behind HD DVD, announced it would no longer develop, manufacture and market HD DVD players and recorders, many industry analysts wondered how the latest format war had ended so suddenly. Then they looked across the room to their compatriots in the games division and it all became clear. The PlayStation 3, which had been widely lambasted on a number of fronts, had also put Blue-ray players into approximately 10 million homes. Game over.

But the victory comes at a price, and an even greater risk. It's not uncommon for console makers to sell hardware at a loss, hoping to make up the difference in software sales and over the long-term. With the PS3 however, Sony took this to a new level. Reports from iSuppli put the subsidy of each unit sold at approximately $300, which means Sony has taken a loss of well over $3 billion on the sale of hardware. And there's also the still uncertain future of the PS3 itself, which has been greatly outsold by the less expensive Nintendo Wii and Microsoft Xbox 360.

Blue-ray has come out on top for Sony, which must feel great after its historic Betamax fiasco and more recent inability to compete with Apple's iPod and iTunes. But one question still remains: was it worth it‾

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