Executive Briefs: May 2003
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Due Diligence: The Customer Is Always Right
By Eric Nee
The history of Silicon Valley is full of companies focused on technology-driven innovation. They thrived during the boom years, even when they paid no attention to customer needs. But that model just won't cut it under the current economic conditions, which are driving corporate CIOs to do more with less. Can the tech industry adapt? Yes, says columnist Eric Nee, and he already sees evidence of change at such Silicon Valley stalwarts as Sun Microsystems Inc. and Hewlett-Packard Co.
Leading Edge: No Lone Rangers
By Warren Bennis
The American military victory in Iraq shouldn't lead business leaders to forget or minimize the Bush administration's prewar failure at coalition building, warns leadership expert Warren Bennis. Leaders may appear to stand apart from others, but in reality, successful leadership, both in business and politics, requires the careful cultivation and nurturing of alliances. Bennis considers Carly Fiorina's success in her merger fight with Walter Hewlett, and the fall of Coca-Cola Co. CEO M. Douglas Ivester.
Case Study: Land O'Lakes
By Dale D. Buss
Land O'Lakes, the dairy farmers' cooperative, is facing new competition from corporate food giants to cut costs and market its products more globally. But to be successful amid a slowdown in sales, the co-op has had to find new ways to make its logistics and delivery operations more efficient. Business writer Dale D. Buss profiles the company and its use of collaborative logistics software, which lets the company piggyback delivery routes with other companies inside and outside the industry, for transportation savings in the millions. Besides cutting the costs of hauling empty trucks, the software is helping the company cut time and waste from operations. Buss takes a look at a collaborative logistics exchange set up by Minneapolis-based Nistevo Corp., and provides a critical analysis of how successful such exchanges have been, and where they've fallen shortand why.
Trends: Water From Stone
By Debra D'Agostino
Amid increasing pressure to cut costs and carve out efficiencies from operations as never before, a growing number of companies are looking to digitize their information assetsfrom reports to videos, audio tapes and written archival materials. Reporter Debra D'Agostino looks at how CIOs at a variety of companies, from Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia Inc. to AstraZeneca PLC pharmaceuticals, are using digital asset management strategies to speed products to market and save money in the process.
Whiteboard: How to Measure the Value of IT
By Howard A. Rubin
Will that new project cut anyone's costs besides the IT department's? Will upgrading that sales system help improve margins? What's the payoff of training? CIOs have tried to find a way to link a system to a bottom-line benefit like revenues or cost-cuttingbut it's always been a struggle. This whiteboard, by Howard A. Rubin, an executive vice president of META Group Inc. and professor emeritus at Hunter College, provides a tool that CIOs can use to measure the value of any kind of IT initiative or system, be it a new project or an application currently in operation.
Research: Business Intelligence
By the editors of CIO Insight
According to the more than 570 IT executives who responded in February to our first survey on business intelligence, almost two thirds of companies are now making organized efforts to collect, analyze and distribute business intelligence. But even with the discipline so firmly entrenched in the mainstream of corporate processes, all is by no means perfect yet. As with many business technologies, our respondents are comfortable with the accuracy of the business intelligence they collect, but they report greater success at collecting and analyzing the information than at distributing the information to the right executives when they need it.
Strategic Technology: Content Management
By Gary A. Bolles
Suppose you could provide workers with an up-to-the-minute way to blend data on customer transactions with pertinent internal documents. Or link together the long chain of insurance documents associated with a complicated claim. That, says contributing editor Gary A. Bolles, is the goal of content management: to bring together structured and unstructured data in a form that saves time and money in any number of business processes, from Web site creation to customer relationship management. But user beware: It won't work unless enterprise-wide standards are combined with tightly focused efforts to support continuous change in the way people work.