Enlisting Eyes and Ears
Two years ago, thanks to such input, Dwivedi modified an e-commerce proposal to focus it more on marketing, communications and customer servicedesigning a system to help customers get information on the status of an order, for example. With such an emphasis, Dwivedi was able to make a case that the initiative would help boost customer satisfaction and lead to repeat sales.
It also helps to think smaller. Focus IT efforts on a few critical projects at a time. Otherwise, "you're fighting the war on too many fronts," says Bob DeRodes, CIO of Atlanta-based Delta Air Lines and CEO of subsidiary Delta Technology. This is especially true during a time of uncertain resources. Says Johnson of Dynamic Information Systems: "We were seeing a trend toward 'anything goes' and almost a mystique surrounding IT investments. But now the economy has forced IT to get on their game and become more efficient."
DeRodes ought to know. Last summer, he met with virtually every senior vice president and vice president throughout the company to discuss what role IT could play in their strategies. From that, his team distilled what DeRodes calls important "big ideas"maximizing revenues, for example. Then, instead of deploying his programmers to spend most of their time modifying existing systems or making incremental improvements, he focused their efforts on those ideas, one at a time. Last fall, he won approval from Delta Technology's board of directors for the first initiative, to rework the company's ticket pricing and distribution channel, increasing revenues and lowering distribution costs as a result. Now he's trying to get the go-ahead for the next move, a system to overhaul maintenance operations. If approved, that projecta $100 million effort likely to take at least two yearswill unfold in several phases.