Executive Briefs: August 2004
By John Parkinson
The use of mobile systems in a variety of business settings has just about reached the mass-deployment tipping point, says columnist John Parkinson, the chief technologist for the Americas at Capgemini. And the more they gain critical mass, the more attractive they become. While data problems, security and fragility remain issues, the business case for adding mobility-based business automation to manual or under-automated processes is compelling, not only for its ability to improve productivity and customer satisfaction, but even in areas such as compliance, where mobility platforms can aid in the maintenance and documentation of any number of sensitive systems.
By Robert I. Sutton
After too many years of cutting labor costs, complying with accounting rules, executing efficiently, and other tactics for surviving tough times, innovation, or talk of it, is roaring back. That's a good thing, says columnist and management expert Robert I. Sutton, but not if we forget the lessons learned when the Internet bubble burst. Don't try to over-protect your intellectual property. Don't romanticize the innovation process. Look outside your group and company for fresh ideas you can combine with your own. And don't micromanage creativity.
By Edward Cone
When chief engineer Jim Wall first came to Hendrick Motorsports, one of the largest and most successful competitors on the NASCAR circuit, management didn't make it easy for him to champion IT. Not only did the now 41-year-old gearhead have to computerize processes pioneered by moonshiners and dirt-track racers, he also had to create a culture in which data, not just parts, was valued and applied. Today it is, because under Wall's watch, IT has helped Hendrick win racesand it has continued to do so during one of the team's hottest summers on record. Over time, Wall has not only changed Hendrick, but the industryone that includes some of the savviest users of product data management out there.
By Jeffrey Rothfeder
What's behind the hype surrounding the use of radio frequency identification in the supply chain? In his analysis of the present state of the art, Contributing Editor Jeffrey Rothfeder argues for a more realistic assessment of the technology's present and future business value. So far, few companies have gone beyond experimental projects or the "slap-and-ship" approach, and only a disciplined and targeted effort is likely to provide any real return on investment. But smaller companies should be assessing the opportunity, too, if only to get a taste of what their competitive environment will look like in five years.
With Brad Wieners
What does delivering vaccines to kids around the world, or arriving on short notice to mitigate the aftermath of war or famine have to do with running a for-profit global corporation? More than you think. In this candid interview, André Spatz, the CIO of UNICEF, lays out in striking, practical detail the strategiesand specific tacticshe used to transform the IT organization that today lies at the heart of the one of the world's most admired humanitarian relief organizations. Among his accomplishments: recentralizing the entire IT department; enforcing global tech standards; reducing the technology footprint; validating one's strategy "on the road," and developing a multicultural framework and integrated, "mosaic view" of the world.
By the editors of CIO Insight
CRM is well on its way to becoming a mainstream technology. According to this month's survey of 341 IT executives, 34 percent have deployed CRM and another 30 percent are doing so now; smaller companies are frequently spending less than $300,000 on their software packages, or $62 per seat for a hosted, Web-based system. However, more than a third of those who have deployed CRM haven't received the ROI they had hoped for. The main reasons: project delays and cost overruns, and not doing enough to get business people involved at an early stage.
By Debra D'Agostino
Cleaning up your company's data can help your firm in all kinds of ways: It can improve your CRM efforts; make your supply chain more efficient; help you comply with regulations such as Sarbanes-Oxley; and increase the success of your business intelligence and data warehousing efforts. Not to mention ensuring the success of that big data integration project. The challenge, as ever, is that data is a moving target and a never-ending battle. Reporter Debra D'Agostino explains how to win that war: Make data quality the responsibility of business leaders who use it mostand not it.