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The 2013 Computerworld Premier 100 IT Leaders: On the fast track

Julia King | Feb. 26, 2013
It started as a research project to explore how Steelcase's customers might benefit from products with built-in collaboration technologies. What emerged is Media:Scape, a line of high-tech multimedia office equipment that is now on the sales fast track at the Grand Rapids, Mich.-based office furniture manufacturer. Steelcase's IT department was front and center in the innovation effort, developing, building and managing the first prototypes of the products, which feature high-definition videoconferencing capabilities.

"At first, it caused people to really scratch their heads," Krestakos concedes. But it makes perfect sense if the goal is to learn what opportunities there might be to leverage technology in a manufacturing operation, he says. "You get technology people closer and closer to that part of the business."

In his expanded role, Krestakos is closely examining data flows at the plants. "A big part of our organization is around managing data. As product data flows through the life cycle, it's a huge process-oriented task," he explains. "We're looking at how well we understand incoming demand and how we leverage existing technologies. We're looking for new and interesting use cases," he explains.

Stay tuned.

Julia King

"You can reroute a package, you can authorize packages for drop-off somewhere else if you're away, you can indicate when you will be home and get alerts on the status of your package," says Juan Perez, vice president of information services for the Atlanta-based company.

"What we've done is take a new approach to managing personal supply chains. Having that level of connectivity with our customers is going to change our business now and in years to come. The integration with consumers is what is enabling revenue growth," he says. In MyChoice's first year, more than 2 million customers signed up for the service, which delivered more than 25 million packages.

A second prime area of tech investment for UPS is data analytics -- an effort whose goal is to drive better business processes, Perez says.

Over the past several months, the company has deployed smart scanning technology that works to proactively identify potential errors in loading packages onto trucks. UPS is also making extensive use of sensors and telematics in all of its vehicles.

"We have sensors that capture information about the vehicle and the driver's behaviors. We marry that information to delivery and acquisition information, and we can get a complete picture of how a driver is completing his work, day in and day out," Perez says. "That has incredible consequences for the way we manage the business across the board."

Horan and her team at IBM also are keenly focused on data analytics, working closely with the company's Data Analytics Center of Excellence to help business people determine what questions they need the data to answer, she says.

The goal, she says, is a perfect marriage of business understanding with analytical methods, which can yield significant revenue. One recent project, which involved optimizing sales coverage in the 170 countries in which IBM operates, yielded a 10% performance improvement in territories where the models were applied.

A Perfect Role for IT

At Johns Hopkins Health System, CIO Stephanie Reel says IT is adept at innovating business processes because it is the one and only function with full visibility into the entire enterprise. "That's why process and technology innovations go hand in hand," she says.


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