Executive Briefs

Strong Signals: Secret Agents
By John Parkinson

In theory, any rule-driven business scenario can be modeled, by defining every possible step of each business process and providing the rules that determine how to move from one to the next. Software agents offer a different way to handle business process problems, says columnist John Parkinson, chief technologist for the Americas at Capgemini. With relatively few rules, agents can check on the state of a process and decide whether to act or not. Getting the rules right can be difficult, but the rewards—improved return on assets, better decision making, and improved productivity—are significant.

Leading Edge: Leadership Paradox
By Warren Bennis

Even though we have no hard evidence that leadership development programs work, companies keep spending millions to send potential leaders to these programs, writes leadership expert Warren Bennis. Given these uncertainties, how can companies get the most value from them? Bennis's advice: Before investing in any program, take a long hard look at how your organization defines leaders and identifies executives with leadership potential. Decide what behavior you want to develop and reward in leaders. And consider an alternative: Turn the real and important problems your company is facing into learning opportunities.

Expert Voices: Bill Schlough
By Brad Wieners

In his five-year stint as the CIO of the San Francisco Giants baseball team, 34-year-old Bill Schlough has not only kept the Giants front office Web-savvy, he's demonstrated new potential for IT in professional sports. Among his accomplishments: a successful $200,000 effort to establish the Giant's SBC Park as the first ballpark to offer 802.11b Wi-Fi connectivity in every seat in the house. Last summer, former executive editor Brad Wieners visited Schlough at his office in SBC Park to chat about innovations in every area of professional sports—operations, ticketing, even coaching strategy—and what they might mean for every business.

Analysis: VoIP
By Dan Briody and Debra D'Agostino

While it's true that voice over IP will save you time and money in administering one network instead of two, it's not likely to make much of a dent in your long distance bill. And the amount of money you will spend to upgrade your network to handle the call volume makes any real return on investment a distant dream. In this contrarian analysis by Executive Editor Dan Briody and Reporter Debra D'Agostino, the true value of VoIP is identified as creative network convergence. Real-life examples of truly impressive returns from VoIP are few, but they demonstrate that VoIP may soon be able to transform how your company does business.

Case Study: Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A
By Dan Briody

Toyota's cars are known for their advanced technology, reliability and cost effectiveness. But what about the company's information technology? Ten years ago, Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A., the company's North American marketing and distribution arm, could barely network their computers, let alone share data across business units. But in 1996, after the company hired Barbra Cooper as CIO, Toyota IT began listening to its business executives, made sweeping changes in its data management technology, and now claims a 506 percent return on their efforts. Executive Editor Dan Briody traveled to Toyota Motor Sales headquarters in Torrance, Calif., for a look behind the business-intelligence hype.

Research: IT Infrastructure
By the Editors of CIO Insight

One out of every five dollars spent on IT is being spent on infrastructure, and it seems the money is being well spent. In our survey of 561 IT executives, 83 percent say their IT infrastructure provides sufficient flexibility and agility, while 80 percent report that their company's top executives see the business benefits of their recent infrastructure spending. Companies have also been simplifying their infrastructure by consolidating their networks, servers and storage infrastructure. The question now is whether these infrastructure investments will help companies meet their most sought-after infrastructure goals: improving customer satisfaction and security.

Strategic Technology: Storage
By Debra D'Agostino

Being strategic about storage management can do more than make your life easier and save your company money— It is the very foundation of strategic data management and analysis. As Reporter Debra D'Agostino illustrates, to organize, prioritize and share data throughout the enterprise, you need a centrally managed, clearly delineated storage strategy. It will also help ensure compliance with the wave of regulatory standards that are fast approaching. You may even want to think about offering storage as a service to departments, such as accounting, that take up massive amounts of your storage capacity, charging them by the terabyte.

This article was originally published on 10-01-2004
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