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Network Rail Wins IT Project Award

Corporate IT Forum singles out members' best tech projects in annual "Real Tech" awards ceremony. Other winning projects: London's subway Wi-Fi and a plumber's app.

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What is a successful IT project? CIO group Corporate IT Forum says it has plenty of examples in the winners of its 9th annual Real IT competition for members. It announced 49 winning projects Tuesday in 12 categories including Innovation In Mobile, Rapid Response and Working Smarter.

The group came up with the award's name to help distinguish the practical experiences and views of its 320 members against both the "theoretical analyses provided by consultants" and IT supplier "hype," it said. Thus the awards reflect the real-world, practical experience organizations have with technology.

Judges of the competition were CIOs and IT leaders from a range of U.K. and international organizations such as DHL, Easyjet, McDonalds, Laing O'Rourke and Centrica, who sifted through a range of entries from major entities such as railway infrastructure body Network Rail, utility E-on, the Environment Agency, Transport for London and retail giant the Grafton Group.

Network Rail won overall Project of the Year for its Intelligent Infrastructure initiative, which saw the implementation of a national, centralized remote "condition monitoring" system to enable early identification and analysis of faults on the 30,000 critical railway "permanent way" assets. The successful delivery of the system has meant 15,000 site visits didn't need to get scheduled, and a shift in the group's maintenance process from "find and fix" to "predict and prevent." The improvement has meant a significant reduction in train delays, with an estimated reduction in compensation payments of £12 million ($19 million).

[ Are IT departments headed for a sea change? Read Will IT Departments Disappear By 2020? ]

The Mid-Counties Co-operative won best "Rapid Response" for its improved billing system, and Transport for London was recognized for best "Service Improvement" for its London Underground Wi-Fi project. The Grafton Group won the Innovation in Mobile category for its Plumb Centre mobile app designed for heating and plumbing installers. HM Revenue & Customs won the Working Smarter category for an analytics program that identifies debtors.

"The Real IT Awards provide an accurate reflection of trends in corporate IT," said John Harris, the body's chairman, also VP for global enterprise architecture at loyalty management specialist AIMIA.

The awards inspire organizations to "learn and gain inspiration from their peers," he said, something "particularly true" for IT teams working during one of the worst recessions of recent times. "It is gratifying to see that this year's projects are all about increasing the innovative delivery of solutions to businesses, with IT supporting and driving company strategies and initiatives for growth," he said.

"All of this year's entries, regardless of their winning status, are testament to the skills, innovation, dexterity and sheer capability of corporate IT in driving business forward," he added.

Both winners and runners-up will now present their projects and lessons learned through workshops that will be open to all user organizations, including non-members, said the group.

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