Lost Packets

When you are an international rock star, keeping on top of business operations sounds like a job for your manager. But if you’re Rod Stewart, you take technology into your own hands. Last month the singer announced he had opted for converged voice, video and data communications from Basking Ridge, N.J.-based Avaya Inc. The Avaya IP Office is designed for small and medium businesses and enables Stewart’s business team to be automatically notified of voice messages while on tour, access e-mail and Internet functions and remain in direct contact with merchandising and touring contacts from virtually anywhere. According to Stewart, he and his team are on the road 60 per cent of the time “and yet we still have a business to keep running. This can’t be done if we can’t keep in touch online and via phone, and access information that we need to make decisions.”

The Microsoft user who never was

Redmond, Wash.-based Microsoft found itself a little red-faced last month when its new advertising campaign featuring a “real-life” Macintosh-turned-Windows user was nothing but a figment of a public relations imagination. The ad depicted an unidentified female freelance writer who switched to Windows software from its rival Macintosh after eight years as a loyal Mac user. However, some viewers noticed the photograph of the woman was a stock image available for purchase on the Internet. Valerie Mallinson, a rep with the PR firm hired by Microsoft, later admitted she was the company’s secret admirer. Microsoft has since pulled the fictitious ad.

Ready, set, recharge?

Cell phone users in England soon may not have to worry about their mobile batteries. Brighton, U.K.-based Nearplay Systems has announced it will unveil public recharging points for cell phones this month. According to Nearplay, its public Charge Me kiosks can recharge up to 12 PDAs and cell phones, while charging users a nominal fee for usage. The launch model can recharge Nokia, Ericsson, Motorola, Siemens, Samsung, Sony and Palm devices, and will be strategically placed around London in areas including Heathrow Airport, and Victoria and Paddington train stations. No word whether Canadians will see Charge Me any time soon. For details visit www.charge-me.co.uk.

CFOs still schmooze auditors

One would think that after witnessing the demise of the likes of WorldCom and Enron, balancing the books properly would be no-brainer. Still, it appears that despite pressure on auditors to question financial statements, businesses can still negotiate during the audit process, according to a CFO magazine survey. According to the survey, 57 per cent of companies that were challenged did not alter their statements, despite suggestions from auditors and 25 per cent of companies surveyed actually convinced the auditor to agree to the practice in question. A surprising 32 per cent also convinced the auditor that the results were immaterial. The survey was based on 170 CFOs, 51 of whom work for public companies.