Executive Briefs: December 2003

Strong Signals: Information Polluters?
By John Parkinson

How much misinformation would it take to ruin your expensive and carefully designed customer database? Not much, as it turns out. And now that it's child's play to forge the bar codes and magnetic strips on the backs of loyalty cards, there's a potential for misuse that could lead to database problems. This sort of guerrilla information warfare is on the rise, says columnist John Parkinson, the chief technologist for the Americas at Cap Gemini Ernst & Young, and every company that depends on the reliability of its customer database should pay attention.

Leading Edge: Dare to Doubt
By Warren Bennis

The conventional wisdom is that leaders must be certain at all costs: better to be wrong than perceived as weak or wishy-washy. But if you accept the premise that the world has changed in fundamental ways, argues leadership expert Warren Bennis, it follows that leaders must be willing to embrace uncertainty. Important executive decisions should be subject to thoughtful revision, not written in stone. The leader who admits, "I don't know what to do," and invites his or her staff to work together toward a solution, has a chorus of strengths that a reflexively adamant leader lacks.

Expert Voices: C.K. Prahalad and Venkat Ramaswamy Upending CRM
By the editors of CIO Insight

Consumers have better access to more information, at greater speed and lower cost, than ever before. But the information explosion has not necessarily resulted in better consumer experiences. Now, say business professors C.K. Prahalad and Venkat Ramaswamy, globalization and ubiquitous connectivity are forcing companies to re-examine how they deliver customer value. And the new model has very little to do with today's CRM. "The problem with CRM is that it assumes that a company knows what to do to create value for customers," Prahalad says. "But this is not right. This decision cannot be unilateral. It has to be collaborative."

Case Study: Walt Disney World Resort A Better Mousetrap?
By Debra D'Agostino

Under CIO Roger Berry, Walt Disney World Resort has embarked on a next-generation CRM strategy that uses the four Disney World theme parks as a market test bed for one of corporate America's most ambitious real-world tryouts of the business use of IT convergence—the combination of GPS, smart sensors, wireless technology and mobile devices. By personalizing the customer experience and influence consumer behavior in real time, the goal is to stem customer complaints, boost profit per customer, build customer loyalty and update the parks' 75-year-old Mickey Mouse brand for the digital age. CIO Insight Reporter Debra D'Agostino analyzes the multi-tiered strategy and the company's Pal Mickey customer interface, and assesses how it could influence the bottom line.

Analysis: Card Tricks

By Margaret L. Young and Marcia Stepanek

More than 75 percent of shoppers have at least one loyalty card, but how well do they work? Freelance writer Margaret L. Young and CIO Insight Executive Editor Marcia Stepanek analyze the problems with these popular data-for-prizes schemes, tell why they don't work for many firms, and profile three companies—Dorothy Lane Market Inc., Harrah's Entertainment Inc. and eBay Inc.—that are scoring big loyalty program payoffs and using the customer data they reap as a cornerstone in re-inventing their revenue-growth strategies.

Research: Vendor Value
By the editors of CIO Insight

CIO Insight's first-ever Vendor Value Study ranks how well vendors deliver business value and reliability. Almost 1,300 IT executives rated 41 vendors on such factors as delivering ROI, solving business problems, helping companies reduce costs and meeting commitments. The five companies with the highest overall scores are Symantec, Adobe, Cisco Systems, Dell and Motorola, while Hewlett-Packard, SAP, Gartner, CSC and Storage Technology were winners in their respective product and service categories. Hardware providers tended to fare better than consultants or outsourcers in our survey.

Strategic Technology: Open Source
By Mike Perkowski

Now that the philosophical battles over open-source software are over, CIOs can finally get down to the business of considering Linux and other kinds of open-source products in terms of their strategic and economic value. While the scalability of Linux remains an issue in some contexts, technology expert Mike Perkowski says, there is widespread agreement on its reliability, cost effectiveness and the solid support available from a growing list of top vendors. And the Linux development community has become a valuable and growing resource for corporations turning to the software.

This article was originally published on 12-01-2003
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