What IT Can Mean To Small Business

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These articles by Kathleen McGinn Spring & Bart Jackson were prepared for the July 16, 2003 edition of U.S. 1 Newspaper. All rights reserved.

Tour of Downtown Tech

There’s been lots of palaver about the need to forge

stronger ties between commerce and academe. And all along, companies

located in the shadow of Princeton University’s gates have been doing

just that. Willing to pay the high rents of downtown, they employ

undergraduates as interns and try to tap faculty expertise.

With these goals in mind, the New Jersey Technology Council has scheduled

"Beyond the University Gates: A Walking Technology Tour of Downtown

Princeton," set for Friday, July 18, at 8:30 a.m. It starts with

breakfast at the Nassau Club and continues with visits to each of

three businesses that are a short walk away.

Todd Lincoln, vice president of Glenmede Trust Company of New

Jersey, moderates a panel that includes David Handelman of American

Android Corporation (R&D for robotics); Joe Montemarano, technology

liaison from Princeton University; Rick Weiss of Viocare Technologies

(the health and nutrition software firm); and Osbourne Shaw

of ICG Inc. Cost: Free to members, $20 for others. At least 50 people

are expected to attend. Call: 856-787-9700.

The firms to be visited include an aviation software firm, and aviation

hardware firm, and an information security company. Who would have

thought these companies would live on Nassau Street?

Internet Crimes Group

Even as companies pour money into information security,

losses due to lack of information security could grow to an estimated

$77 billion by next year. As for the people most likely to steal your

company blind — you might meet them at the water cooler. Yes,

over 75 percent of the security problems for IT departments come from

inside the company, not from an external hacker or the much-discussed

"script kiddies," says the mission statement of ICG Inc. (short

for Internet Crimes Group).

ICG Inc. bills itself as "the premier provider of information

security threat management solutions for senior leadership to Global

2500 companies." Located at Nassau and Witherspoon streets above

Hamilton Jewelers, ICG is a sister company to International Business

Research and was incorporated as a separate company in January, 2000.

With 25 full-time employees, it occupies part of two floors on Nassau

Street and has expanded to 6,500 square feet at 100 Canal Point.

"We help companies identify and understand how individuals can

use the anonymity of the Internet to damage or inflict harm on their

reputation, their financials, and their technology," says Osbourne

Shaw, vice president of investigation and litigation support solutions

(see photo, page 5).

A molecular biology major at Princeton University, Class of 1997,

Shaw started out working for International Business Research, ICG’s

parent company, doing research for IPOs, mergers & acquisitions, private

placements, asset & liability tracing, and insurance fraud. He has

managed over one thousand information security threat response investigations

and consulting projects, including investigative assessment of multi-million

dollar on-line stock manipulation schemes, on-line transaction-based

fraud, and information systems fraud vulnerabilities. Often Shaw consults

to lawyers representing companies in such industries as financial,

pharmaceutical, insurance, and E-commerce.

Traditionally focused on physical security issues, corporate security

departments often have difficulty dealing with information security

threats. It falls to IT departments to install firewalls, intrusion

detection systems and other perimeter monitoring systems. But traditionally

IT experts focus on preventing intrusion and pay little attention

to threats that employees might bring. ICG, in contrast, takes a holistic

view. Among its products:

e-Discovery does computer forensics for litigation support

— tracking erasures, concealment of an illicit act or E-mail,

or stolen corporate secrets. "We discover what transpired and

provide a better understanding of what exactly did transpire,"

says Shaw.

I-threat intelligence helps clients understand and rectify

their victimization potential in the areas of trademark law, IP theft,

piracy of proprietary software, and protection of sensitive customer

information.

iThreat-Knowledge Base identifies, anticipates, and communicates

threats to its clients — such threat vectors as hackers, virus,

malicious attack, and non malicious action.

Shaw says that one of ICG’s strengths is its cross experience.

"Companies are often faced with problems that may appear general,

but are actually very specific and do not allow for a cookie cutter

solution."

When it comes to security, it’s not just the welfare of the company

that’s at stake, it’s also the personal fortunes of the company’s

officers and directors. They can be sued.

ICG Inc., 92 Nassau Street, Princeton 08542. Also

100 Canal Pointe. Kevin E. Leininger, president. 609-683-1490; fax,

609-683-4037. Home page: www.icginc.com

Aerospace Hardware: Aereon

Founded in 1959 to develop lifting body airships, Aereon

Corporation develops innovative aircraft. It is named after "the

Aereon," flown in 1863 over New York City, and it was made famous

in John McPhee’s 1973 book "The Deltoid Pumpkin Seed."

William McElwee Miller Jr., the president, was born in Iran

to Presbyterian missionary parents. He flew carrier-based aircraft

from 1944 to 1949, then went to Princeton University, Class of 1953.

He attended what is now New York Theological Seminary, embarked on

a ministry to international students, and earned a graduate degree

at Princeton Theological Seminary. In 1967, seven years after Aereon

was founded, he joined that company and became president.

He says the company finds itself going in three directions:

The lifting body air ship . McPhee’s book told of proof-of-concept

flight tests for this. "Our patents have all expired on that,

and now the very logic that the company was propounding is recognized

to be worthy," says Miller.

During the Gulf and Iraq wars, when large cargoes needed to be transported

quickly, Miller says, the defense gurus began to look for an aircraft

that could land on water or unprepared sites. "Something that

can combine buoyant and aerodynamic lift — which is the very thing

Aereon promoted from the 1960s to the 1980s. We were 30 years ahead

of our time."

Unmanned air vehicles such as the Wide Aperture Surveillance

Platform (WASP) for anti-missile detection. A manned version of this

craft had early support from SBIR grants.

The VectoRotor hybrid vertical lift system would do the

kind of work usually assigned to heavy lift helicopters — but

would be safer, because in the event of an engine failure, it could

float down.

Aereon Corporation, 20 Nassau Street, Suite 223,

Princeton 08542. William Miller Jr., president. 609-921-2131. Www.aereon.com

Aerospace Software: PSS

Princeton Satellite Systems, an 11-year-old high tech

company that designs software for the aerospace industry, shares space

in a downtown building with Gloria Nilson Real Estate and the Moondoggie

Cafe. With six full-time employees, it has software tools for spacecraft

control and design that are used by space agencies, defense contractors,

and aerospace researchers worldwide.

Founder Michael Paluszek went to Massachusetts Institute of

Technology (Class of 1976), from which he also has a graduate degree.

At GE Astro Space in East Windsor, he designed one of the first applications

of active vibration control on a satellite, among other accomplishments.

In 1992, prior to its acquisition by Martin Marietta, he founded his

own firm and moved it downtown in 1996 (U.S. 1, October 23, 1996).

Last year it won its third Phase II SBIR contract from the Air Force

Phillips Laboratory for developing new intelligent agent-based real-time

software architecture to automate satellite systems. It has begun

to market an aviation-based software, ObjectAgent, in other industries

such as robotics. The firm’s latest spacecraft product is an autonomous

guidance, navigation, and control system.

Paluszek cites advantages of his 800 square-foot office being so close

to the university: use of the libraries, easy access to student interns,

and feedback on software (he provides end-of-term projects for some

courses). "Every once in a while we look around for another space,

but it’s hard to find spaces this small," says Paluszek. "And

we don’t need a coffee machine when we have so many coffee places

within a block."

Princeton Satellite Systems, 33 Witherspoon Street,

Princeton 08542. Michael Paluszek, president. 609-279-9605; fax, 609-279-9607.

E-mail: info@psatellite.com Home page: www.psatellite.com

American Android

American Android Corp. aims to create useful and affordable

robots that improve the quality of life for the people who use them.

Its founder, David Handelman, is a graduate of the University

of Virginia (Class of 1982) and Princeton University. He was a co-founder

of Robicon Systems (a commercial robotics firm), Katrix Inc. (robotics

technology applied to interactive entertainment such as games and

virtual reality), and Millennium Rush (the content division of Katrix).

The latter two companies closed in 1999.

"My heart has been in robotics for a long time, and that’s what

I’m finally doing," says Handelman. Since 1999 he has devoted

himself to operating systems for humanoid robots — biped walking

machines.

At the panel he will speak about the potential for collaborations

with academic institutions such as Princeton University. His office

is a half block from the engineering school library. "I hope to

find ways of leveraging those resources."

Handelman is also an evangelist for the Small Business Innovation

Research program. Last July his company won a Phase II SBIR grant

from NASA to develop ways for human operators to customize the behavior

of humanoid robots: "Our current NASA funding is to enable someone

in the field (astronauts) to customize the behavior of a robot. We

think it will also have other uses as education, entertainment, and

possibly aiding the disabled."

"While the Internet storm raged, I went into my cave and extended

our robotics technology. Now we have some funding, lots of opportunity,

and I am very excited about the way things are going," says Handelman.

Of the high downtown rent, he says, "I am willing to pay a little

more to stay where I am."

Barbara Fox

American Android Corp., 9 Charlton Street, Princeton

08542. David Handelman, president. 609-924-4490; fax, 609-924-2905.

E-mail: info@americanandroid.com Home page: www.americanandroid.com

Top Of Page
What IT Can Mean To Small Business

Cindy was a quiet little clerk who for nearly 20 years

had spent her working days encrypting legal notes into various data

formats. Then she was fired. Six months later, the University of North

Carolina awarded a $1.2 million contract to one of the nation’s major

encrypting firms — or so it thought. It wasn’t until Cindy, who

had quickly turned herself into an entrepreneur, showed up to start

work on the job that the university’s administrators realized that

they were paying a one-person expert who operated from her kitchen

table. Cindy’s website and other technological communications had

been so polished that they assumed they were hiring the biggest; instead

they got only the best.

The specific methods and tools that turn new entrepreneurs into major

players are the subject of "Technology and Small Business: Software

and Network Options," a seminar taking place on Wednesday, July

23, at 7:30 p.m. at Mercer County Community College. Cost: $45. Call

609-586-9446 to register. Leading the seminar is Anthony Baldino,

who has 30 years of experience in business, finance, and applied technology.

"I’m really an analog person," confesses Baldino, "therefore,

while I’m impressed with all the high-tech glitter, I’m always eying

things for their practical business value." Raised and still living

in the Mercer County area, Baldino earned a political science degree

from Brown University, followed by six years in the Navy studying

finance and transportation. For the following 27 years he worked at

the First National Bank of Princeton (what is now part of Fleet Bank),

where he learned exactly which business tools proved their worth,

and which were just attractive sales items. Baldino is now a consultant

for the Small Business Administration and the Small Business Development

Center.

"You see it in the under-30 generation," says Baldino. "It’s

a new way of thinking — like spokes out of a wheel."

Most of the older generations face a problem squarely, solve it, and

then move on to the next. But the younger, computer generation has

totally changed their mode of thought in light of the swifter information

access. When his son is faced with a problem, he says, he sends spokes

out to all his friends, to pieces of the ‘Net, and to a host of cross-disciplinary

sources. Each tosses his little piece of knowledge into the Mulligan-stew

solution, and the problem gets fixed at the hub.

All of these sources of information, counsel, and help mean that even

the owner of the smallest business has an impressive range of tools

right on his desktop and in his pockets to help him keep pace with

the big boys.

Intranet. Originally designed to allow larger companies

to communicate among several distant branches, the cost of such dedicated

business linking has now become practical for connecting within a

single office. Most providers now offer an intranet option with each

office computer. Very few tools today answer the quest for speed and

accessibility so well as intranet mail and download systems. Establishing

smaller, multiple websites within your firm can provide retail breakdowns

for the sales force and payroll files for the human resource folks

without the need to wade through a lot of document detritus.

Keeping hard copies in the picture, simultaneous faxes are now possible

during teleconferencing or for other time-important deliveries. Several

providers now assure instant sending and delivery of faxes to all

linked parties, allowing parties to a telephone conference to examine

and discuss the same documents at once. This has proved a godsend

for law firms trying to communicate with partners taking out-of-town

depositions.

Web power. Cindy’s name has been changed, but her story

is true. In fact, she began her web building as a student in one of

Baldino’s recent classes. While Cindy’s results may not be typical,

the website has become the great equalizer in the realm of business

presentation. Now, for a minimum investment, everyone can be a professional.

Baldino insists that small companies make this investment ample and

adequate. "These days, your website is like your regional sales

person — each is the initial view a client has of your business.

It is your firm. Because of that, every amount of training is worth

it," he says.

In addition to investing money in their websites, Baldino also advises

firms to invest the time and gray matter. The major, and all too common,

blunder made in commercial websites is failure to keep current. Changes

not only in content, but also in format, are required to convince

viewers that when they log on for a second time something new and

interesting has been added.

Second on the blunders list is over complexity. Conduct this test.

Gather two individuals from outside your field of business. Have one

make a list of items to search for, and have the other find them on

your site. How easy is the surfing in your waters?

Peer-to-peer. E-mail is fine, but compared with the new

peer-to-peer technologies, it remains both sluggish and byte costly.

E-mail frequently requires lavish formatting and an enormous amount

of memory for information transfer. Conversely, peer-to-peer is Napster-style

technology put to legal use. Swiftly and with minimal memory, your

staff can download vast amounts of text, files, and training videos

from a central cache, and can share them with co-workers.

Helping the hinterlands. As the trusted old telephone

goes cellular and wireless and gets linked with a pocket PC, it becomes

the prime tool of the traveling executive who needs to keep his ties

with the office. Options change daily, and can be expensive. Here

is one electronic tool whose prices are not likely to drop soon. "Most

companies, currently, are getting lured into becoming too fancy,"

says Baldino. In such areas as phone messaging options, it is easy

to get carried away and burden your system with a whole lot of gadgetry

you will never use.

The basic tool for the sales person or any representative dealing

with clients, Baldino says, will remain the sophisticated, lightweight

laptop PC. For presenting information to a client, accessing real

inventory, showing the client possibilities, and even assembling images

of a customized product, nothing makes so clear and flexible a presentation.

The pocket PC has the obvious advantage of size, but its presentation

capabilities remain limited, unless you can plug it into a client’s

work station. Currently, the laptops PCs also offer more power. But

don’t count on that advantage lasting very long, notes Baldino. Very

shortly in our wireless world, the two will be equal in all ways but

size.

Video conferencing. It is impossible to escape all those

ads depicting folks chatting and viewing scenery in real time. They

are clever ads showcasing a very clever technology. But an equally

impressive part of this picture is the quickly-dropping costs which

now have made video conference calling affordable for even small companies.

Baldino foresees video conferencing changing the lifestyle of business.

"Suppose your sales manager now calls in his entire crew every

week for a meeting. By gathering on video, the sales force can meet

daily and reduce the face-to-face meetings to once a month."

All these high-tech tools and toys won’t do much if you cannot find

the right expert to install, program, and maintain them. In this market,

with over 14,000 computer consulting firms listed nationwide, it is

easy to find someone who claims they can handle all your needs. To

find the right tech expert for your small business, Baldino suggests

that you first define your own needs. This does not mean a wish list

of gadgets, but rather it entails an examination of all of your daily

business processes that could use an electronic hand.

After scanning your operations for candidates for a productivity upgrade,

consider turning implementation over to an expert with deep knowledge

of your industry. What computer firms go to your trade shows or advertise

in your trade magazines?

In the past, many businesses enjoyed success with no more technology

than the quill pen and a swift horse. But all were directed by individuals

who assembled the best tools and took the effort to painstakingly

train their staffs in their use. Some rules always apply.

— Bart Jackson


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