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20 Great Ideas For You To Steal

Go ahead and follow the lead of these innovative companies, which came up with ideas involving green technology, voice over IP, security, and more.

Green Computing


Waste Management Thinks Green
As part of its Think Green effort, Waste Management automated its weigh stations in the United States and Canada. An unattended RFID scale system recognizes vehicles as they approach, completes the appropriate transactions, and provides the necessary paperwork to customers. That cut operating costs by 80% because the system requires little administration.

The green piece? Reducing vehicle idle times eliminates the unnecessary burning of thousands of gallons of diesel fuel every day. And it improves customer service, because weigh station automation allows for extended operating hours without an increase in labor costs.

IT Workplace


Wells Fargo Uses Market To Filter Innovative Ideas
Wells Fargo encourages its technologists to submit creative, actionable technology ideas that stand to add value to the business. They also help decide which get implemented, using a mock exchange where team members trade ideas as if they were stocks. Ideas are reviewed by a committee, and the top 40 to 50 are placed in an exchange for trading on opening day.

New ideas are added periodically, and low-performing ideas are removed. At the end of three months on the exchange, ideas are ranked highest to lowest by their market price. The five highest-priced ideas are presented to the Wells Fargo Technology Information Group Management Committee, which picks one to implement.

Wells Fargo received more than 300 unique ideas in the program's current cycle, up 11% from 2007's inaugural cycle. Of those, more than 200 were traded. The winner: an idea to improve systems availability.

Collaboration


Newmark Closes Deals With Web Tracking System
Real estate company Newmark Knight Frank wants nothing to stand in the way of its brokers closing deals. Its Web-based Prospect Tracking system lets brokers collaborate across geographically diverse teams by combining the power of CRM and knowledge management. For example, if two teams are chasing a business opportunity, the system restructures the groups to ensure that a best-fit team is created to pursue it.

The system also uses workflow to ensure due diligence throughout the life cycle of a business opportunity. It applies certain business logic that mandates timely involvement of appropriate departments, helping Newmark Knight Frank to improve operations. For example, when a broker signs an exclusive agreement with a client, the legal department is automatically notified and asked to review the terms and conditions of the agreement and follow up with the brokers as necessary.

VoIP


PricewaterhouseCoopers' VoIP Project Pays Off
PricewaterhouseCoopers is poised to start reaping the benefits of its Convergence project, a voice-over-IP implementation that supports all of its nearly 32,000 U.S. partners and staff. By the end of its fiscal year, the company will have achieved cost avoidance of 1% of this year's IT budget, with 2% in fiscal year 2009, and 2.1% in fiscal 2010. Factoring in VoIP system costs, the company expects to achieve its return on investment in fiscal 2009, with cumulative cost savings of 0.6% of its IT budget, rising to 1.7% savings in fiscal 2010.

Convergence replaced PricewaterhouseCoopers' existing phone system with one integrated with the data network infrastructure. Calls now travel over LANs and WANs instead of a separate voice-only network. Features include a Web interface that lets incoming calls ring simultaneously on employees' desk and cell phones and enables them to switch calls between the two without losing the connection; the ability to receive voice-mail notifications via e-mail; and call logging where all received, missed, and dialed numbers are kept on the users' systems for reuse.

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Web 2.0
Wiki And VoIP Streamline Business For BearingPoint

BearingPoint built a wiki to help its employees better manage projects, update documents in real time, and facilitate communications. The wiki provides three significant benefits: It reduces time spent on e-mail by allowing group editing that saves employees from sending hundreds of back-and-forth e-mails; it creates an environment for real-time collaboration among employees; and it has become a de facto knowledge base for market intelligence data and other critical business information. The company also deployed instant messaging, resulting in faster decision making, particularly among remote team members, and installed an enterprise-wide VoIP system across 23 countries that's fully Microsoft Active Directory-enabled.

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