Executive Briefs: January 2003
Case Study: Ford Motor Co.
Paul A. Eisenstein
Ford Motor Co. bet big on Internet strategy, and lost big by misjudging where technology could help the company the most. Smarting now from red ink and a slumping auto market, Ford has launched a "back to basics" strategy that hitches its wagon to ways information technology can help drive cost-cutting and internal processes. Veteran auto writer Paul A. Eisenstein, in nearly a dozen interviews with Ford insiders and industry watchers, shows how CEO Bill Ford is counting on CIO Marv Adams to deliver a new kind of technology strategy that makes quality and cost-cutting "Job One"a challenge not unlike that facing many IT leaders across the corporate landscape.
Trends: Proving IT
By Mel Duvall
Amid increasing pressure to prove the value of IT projects, some companies are building new types of IT test labs to vet ideas and set project prioritiesand all at less risk. The payoff? Better results and improved IT-business alignmentand credibility. Calgary-based technology writer Mel Duvall takes a look at a few of these new test labs, at Bell Canada, Webcor Builders and Yellow Corp., and talks to executives about the impetus and benefits of these labs. Duvall also interviews business and technology experts about how these labs are different from traditional skunk works operations, analyzes the labs' advantages and drawbacks, and explains why they're here to stay.
Whiteboard: How to Manage a Portfolio of Projects
By Gopal K. Kapur
All CIOs start and oversee projects, but many lack the information and processes they need to manage them well. This whiteboard by Gopal K. Kapur, president of the Center for Project Management, suggests a portfolio management approach to launching and shepherding a company's IT initiatives. It offers a way to evaluate, select and track projects as they move from idea through planning, development and rolloutwhile viewing the status of all current projects under way in an enterprise. The whiteboard also includes a tool for assessing a project's complexity and the actions needed for each stage of a project, including some key questions to consider as projects move forward.
Research: IT Spending
By the editors of CIO Insight
IT spending will be down by 0.2 percent next year, according to the 300 IT executives polled for this month's survey research. Large-company CIOs expect a 0.5 percent decline in budgeted spending for 2003clearly a result of the poorer reported performance of larger firmswhile small-company executives will increase spending by 5 percent. The overall decrease means lower levels of spending on a variety of technologies and business initiatives, especially infrastructure and emerging technologies. Companies of all sizes cite "reducing operating costs" as the primary motivator of their IT projects in 2003, with "support current revenue-generating programs" a distant second. Continuous budgeting remains the most commonly used cutting-edge budgeting technique, while respondents cited collaborative forecasting as the most effective.
Strategic Technology: Advanced Networking
By Gary A. Bolles
The high-bandwidth future already exists in universities and government agencies, and it's filtering into corporations across the U.S. With advanced networking comes a variety of high-powered applications, including interactive, real-time design; the ability to gather, move around and store huge chunks of data; and that perennial favorite, desktop videoconferencing. What's the best way to get ready for this brave new world? Companies need to analyze and better manage the bandwidth they're using now, says contributing editor Gary A. Bolles, and work to update their networks to accommodate their upcoming requirements. That means concentrating on IP and Ethernet protocols and standardized, intelligent serversand making sure your partners are doing the same.
Strong Signals: How Real Is Real Time?
By John Parkinson
Corporations are moving quickly to a rapid sense-and-respond, or real-time, model for designing and automating all kinds of business processes, observes columnist John Parkinson. The result: richer customer interactions, better decision-making and greater productivity. But major challenges in software quality, system stability and cultural acceptance remain. Do we have the programming and process engineering talent to design such systems successfully?
Due Diligence: Dell and the Deep Blue Sea
By Eric Nee
The Dell Computer way of capturing ever-new technology markets brings undoubted benefits for consumers of technology. But the effect on the overall technology scene is less certain. Comparing Dell with Southwest Airlines, columnist Eric Nee envisions a world of technology vendors thrown into turmoilor worse, Chapter 11unless they can come up with better ways to compete.