More than computer geeks

Descartes Systems Group ( signed a definitive agreement to acquire certain assets of Cube Route Inc., a provider of logistics management solutions that include routing and sequencing of delivery routes, and real-time driver and vehicle tracking.

Prophesy Transportation Solutions re-launched its trucking website with new features. In addition to free commercial online mileage, now has tiered levels of mileage offerings such as fuel and route optimization. In February, the company plans to add Prophesy TL Post, a feature to post and search for loads or equipment.

Transportation Costing Group ( said Kingston, Ontario-based SLH Transport, which ranks among the top five Canadian truckload carriers, has implemented its Truckload Cost Information System (TL/CIS), an activity-based cost analysis tool.

Sprint ( announced the release of the ic502, a rugged “hybrid” phone that combines the best of Sprint and Nextel services. The GPS-based Java-enabled phone uses the Digital Dual Band network: iDEN 800 Mhz for Nextel walkie-talkie; and CDMA 1900 Mhz for Sprint PCS interconnect and data services.

@Road ( announced an agreement with Alltel Wireless to resell Alltel wireless data services bundled with @Road’s mobile resource management solutions. The agreement also provides wireless access to @Road subscribers who roam into areas covered by Alltel’s nationwide agreements with other wireless carriers.

Information technology jobs have changed dramatically in the past decade. In the late 1990s, many businesses grew their IT staffs to support new investments in technology and maintain bulky security and infrastructure needs. During this period, many IT staffers became confined to specific tasks assigned by management, such as software or hardware maintenance, building reports and providing help-desk assistance. The problem was that these duties left little time to initiate innovation – or even support it.

During the past five years, businesses cut back on strategic IT spending to focus on technology as a means to become more efficient. Additionally, globalization led companies to outsource many technologies and IT functions, says Kavin Moody, executive director of Babson College’s Center for Information Management Studies in Wellesley, Mass.

“The focus on IT was really on cost savings and efficiency, and consolidation of IT resources across an enterprise,” Moody says.

More recently, company executives once again have begun making significant investments in technology to help expand their business and market opportunities, Moody says. But this time around, most IT professionals are not prepared for the challenge, he argues.

Moody believes the next generation of IT leaders must be trained with business and consulting skills to influence and negotiate with executives and others within their company. They also must be able to coach their own people to work with their network of vendors and outsource providers, he says.

For IT professionals to transition into this new role, Moody contends that they must leave their comfort zone, which typically has been to speak and think in terms of definitions and requirements. In the past, for example, an IT professional might see his role as asking executives what they want or need and then translating the answer into technical directions and requirements.

“That’s great if you are doing lower-level systems,” Moody says. But in today’s market, IT professionals must learn how to talk with businesspeople to facilitate thinking. For example, an IT leader must know how to discuss the marketplace with a senior sales executive and truly understand his challenges.

Moody has been a firsthand witness to this recent transformation in IT management. With a business background, Moody became the first chief information officer at Gillette to emerge from a non-IT background.

“I was the first to not write a program,” Moody says. “I became the head of IT because of my business orientation and market planning background. That related well to helping sales and marketing to get resources and capabilities.”

At Babson College, Moody led the development of a “transformation course” to help companies train the next generation of IT leaders. The program combines three days of coursework to teach individuals what it means to be innovative and risk-taking, and how to build a business case for something with metrics and process management.

The coursework is followed by three months of “action” learning with faculty mentoring to identify and work on a project at the students’ companies. Students then return to the classroom for another three days of leadership skills, role-playing exercises and roundtable discussions with successful executives. The project culminates with a presentation of projects back to their companies.

As trucking operations continue to embrace technology, executives increasingly will appreciate the value of an IT professional who is more than a computer geek. The ability to translate specific objectives into technical requirements is really just the minimum. IT professionals who also can think like and communicate with the enterprise’s top executives and sales team will have job security for years to come.

Axonn launches updated global tracking device
Axonn (, a provider of asset-tracking hardware for the Globalstar Simplex asset-tracking service, has announced the commercial availability of the AXTracker MMT. The latest offering in Axonn’s line of asset-tracking devices, the AXTracker MMT updates the company’s AXTracker T3 product with additional features such as 2.4 GHz radio capabilities for wireless programming; a smaller, low-profile design; and increased battery life.

Utilizing the Globalstar low-Earth orbit (LEO) mobile satellite system, Axonn specializes in developing technology for wireless global one-way communication and tracking of mobile assets. Its one-way communication is designed to greatly extend battery life for tracking items such as cargo containers, refrigerated and dry van trailers, railcars, heavy equipment, and construction and service vehicles; and fixed assets like government and military equipment, generators, pipelines, and propane and fuel storage tanks.

Symbol’s hands-free computer
Symbol Technologies ( recently introduced a wearable mobile computer and scanner system designed for high-performance computing in extreme environments. Suited for warehouse and distribution customers that require hands-free operation, the WT4000 series delivers increased productivity to industrial applications, including distribution center order picking, receiving, replenishment, loading, maintenance and repair, the company says.
Worn on either the wrist or hip, Symbol’s WT4000 series is designed to allow users to move freely and scan data, access business-critical information and perform real-time data entry. The wearable computer also offers headset support for voice picking.

Intermec selects Broadcom Wi-Fi
Intermec ( has selected semiconductor manufacturer Broadcom to supply advanced Wi-Fi technology for Intermec’s latest wireless mobile computers, including the new CN3 and CV30.

Broadcom’s AirForce One single-chip Wi-Fi radio is among the most compact 802.11 chipsets for high-quality wireless LAN connectivity in small electronic devices, the company says.