Posted: Thursday, February 27, 2003

DIVIDED DATA: Corporate America revels in data, tracking nearly everything imaginable related to the business. The best decisions come from complete information, right?

Maybe, but many managers are confronting a confounding issue -- mountains of information stored in unconnected databases, or data marts, and not easily integrated into a coherent picture.

In a recent survey, more than a third of executives (35 percent) said they didn't even know how many data marts their companies used, and 31 percent said they had ''11 to 100 or more'' data marts.

The executives were from companies with annual revenues of more than $500 million. The data was collected from 113 executives last fall for Teradata, a division of NCR Corp.

More than half of those in the survey agreed that inaccessible data posed a problem to corporate governance.

''It is just harder to run a company without the right data in the right place at the right time to optimize profits, customer service, supply chain management, or any other key metric,'' Teradata vice president Ron Swift said.

PALTRIER PERKS: You want a free golf club membership? Hmm. How about just a paycheck?

Reduced circumstances in the job market have had a commensurate effect on the sorts of perks employees are seeking, according to a survey.

Whereas company cars, massages and gym memberships were all the rage in the go-go 1990s, job seekers are looking for more modest perks these days, such as flex time and skills training, according to a survey last month by Lee Hecht Harrison, a career-management organization based in Woodcliff Lake, N.J.

The biggest change came in job training, with 76 percent seeking such opportunities, up from 41 percent in 1999, the last time the same survey was conducted.

The desire for training points to the transitory environment many workers feel -- a job one holds today may be gone tomorrow.

''The common goal is skill development that enhances life long employability,'' said Bernadette Kenny, executive vice president of Lee Hecht Harrison.

Also in 1999, child care and concierge services were sought by about a third of job hunters. Nowadays, when paid vacation can seem like a luxury, only 16 percent said a concierge was important, followed by 19 percent for child care.

Back then, more than half of job seekers, 53 percent, said a company car was important to them. Now only 28 percent said that mattered.

MOBILE COMPUTING: The laptop computer wars rage. Consumer Reports has a new issue on the best laptop models, with an interesting twist.

The magazine's March issue looks at models suited not for the hardened road warrior who clangs the computer through airports from Bangkok to Cairo, but for those who typically plant theirs in the house, with occasional weekend forays. Consumer Reports noted that laptops are attractive because they can be moved easily from one room to another and be stored nearly anywhere, making their premium price worth it for many consumers.

The magazine, which tested nine models, said they were well-configured and well-priced. It gave its top rating to the $2,000 Toshiba Satellite 5205.

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