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Business news briefs — April 2

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LoCAL BUSINESS

Jackson group touts deal

A locally headquartered professional organization for IT “asset managers” — the people in charge of maintaining computer systems and buying software and the like at companies and institutions — on Wednesday touted a deal it has secured with international consulting firm Ernst & Young.

The International Association of IT Asset Managers (IAITAM) said under the agreement, Ernst & Young employees are using an evaluation process that was developed by IAITAM.

Workers involved with Ernst & Young’s forensic technology services will use the evaluation process to determine whether companies and organizations worldwide are following “best practices” concerning such IT functions as updating software licenses and properly disposing of computer hardware and software, according to IAITAM, which is based in Jackson Township. IT experts say sloppy disposal of computer software and hardware can lead to data breaches.

The evaluation process leads to IAITAM certification. The certification is the only IT asset management certification of its kind recognized worldwide, according to the association, which has several dozen workers at its offices on Munson Street Northwest.

“Companies, investors and consumers need to have more confidence in companies when it comes to their IT asset management,” said the founder and CEO of the IT asset managers association, Barbara Rembiesa. “Before this certification, only individual IT asset managers could be marked competent. Now entire organizations will achieve recognition for their practices. This is a big deal in establishing IT credibility on the macro level.”

Ernst & Young, which last year changed its name to EY, said that the partnership allows EY to work with an IT association that is not connected with a software company or other IT business.

Financial terms of the deal were not released.

For more information about IAITAM, go to www.iaitam.org.

— Katie Byard

AUTO INDUSTRY

Chevy Cruze sales increase

Despite a late March stop-sale order and subsequent recall of 172,000 Chevrolet Cruze vehicles, sales of the Lordstown-built compact car were up 14 percent in March, compared with the same time last year, according to General Motors figures.

GM on Friday stopped selling Cruzes from the 2013 and 2014 model years, equipped with a 1.4-liter turbo engine, offering no details on its decision. The company then announced over the weekend that it was recalling those cars for a faulty right front axle shaft that could fracture and separate from the vehicle unexpectedly.

But the possible hit to weekend sales didn’t stop GM from delivering 26,521 Cruze vehicles last month, up from 23,260 during March 2013.

MEDIA

Microsoft has new assistant

Microsoft is showcasing a new virtual assistant as part of an upcoming update for Windows phones. The assistant, named Cortana, tries to be chatty like Siri on Apple’s iPhones and iPads, while anticipating information you might want, like Google Now on Android devices.

Amazon unveils set-top box

Amazon announced it is making a $99 television set-top box, its boldest departure yet from its origins as a simple shopping site. The small, black device, called Amazon Fire TV and available now, will allow consumers to watch Amazon’s video library on their television sets, a first step in the retailer’s ambitious long-range plans to merge shopping and entertainment.

Fire TV will show a range of content from other providers, including Hulu, Netflix and ESPN. With a separate $40 controller, it can be used to play games, including a version of Minecraft.

MEDICINE

Payments to be disclosed

Medicare, the U.S. health plan for the elderly and disabled, for the first time will release data on its payments to individual physicians. The U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services informed the American Medical Association in a letter that the data would be released April 9.

It will show payments from the estimated $635 billion program to doctors for their medical services and procedures, as well as where they were performed. The AMA and other physician associations have fought the release about doctors’ Medicare payments for more than three decades.

Compiled from staff and wire reports.


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