Business & Finance
Commentary
10/15/2004
03:28 PM
Bob Evans
Bob Evans
Commentary
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Business Technology: Looking Ahead: Getting To Know You, Faster

As we look back at the world InformationWeek has covered for the past 25 years, it's also worth a glance into the future to see what the next quarter-century might bring.

Please let me open by thanking all of you--the 1 million people who use InformationWeek each week--for having given us the chance to reach the quarter-century milestone commemorated in the special report inside this issue. For me, it's a great honor and privilege to be a part of InformationWeek here in our 25th year because it reflects the trust and confidence you have afforded us over those years. You have not only our gratitude but also our promise that we will continue to do everything to re-earn that trust and confidence each hour, each day, and each week.

And as I thought about the theme of this issue--what the future holds--I kept returning to two themes: customer intimacy and speed. In this customer economy, the buyer rules--and that buyer, armed with high-bandwidth connections that span the globe and never put out a "Closed" sign, has more knowledge, more leverage, more choices, and more fickleness than ever before. So the challenge is substantial, but hardly insurmountable. Here are some examples from individuals and companies that have found better ways.

OTHER VOICES

"The Food and Drug Administration on Wednesday approved an implantable computer chip that can pass a patient's medical details to doctors, speeding care. VeriChips, radio frequency [#RFID] microchips the size of a grain of rice, have already been used to identify wayward pets and livestock. And nearly 200 people working in Mexico's attorney general's office have been implanted with chips to access secure areas containing sensitive documents."

-- The Associated Press, Oct. 13


From C.K. Prahalad and M.S. Krishnan of the University of Michigan School of Business in last month's Optimize: "Fulfilling consumer experiences in the anticipate-and-lead world requires organizational capabilities for seamlessly connecting the demand and supply infrastructures with no latency. The demand for unique consumer solutions and experience fulfillment suggests that companies have to cope with more complexity. Consumers will no longer accept poor quality or unnecessary costs. They want to be involved and manage their own experience."

From former Procter & Gamble CIO Steve David on the need for speed: "If you can get to market one year faster than you used to, that's one year less of investments you have to make and one year more of revenue that will come in from that business process or product," David says. "Speed is an important consideration that is often just not thought of as much as it probably should be."

From Vanguard Group CEO John Brennan, whose company manages $600 billion in assets and spends 37% of its operating budget on IT: Brennan considers IT development too strategic for outsourcing and plans to keep technology development at just two locations: the Valley Forge, Pa., main campus and a Charlotte, N.C., development center. "Physical proximity matters," he says. "It makes us more efficient."

From FedEx CEO Fred Smith: Since IT has "become such a strategic issue, you have to think quicker and act more efficiently in a manner that affects the business more profoundly than in the past."

From E.&J. Gallo Winery CIO Kent Kushar, whose company ranked No. 1 on this year's InformationWeek 500 list: "A child using a hammer and chisel doesn't make nice sculptures. But look at what Michelangelo did. The tools may be commodities, but how you use them is not."

From Dell CIO Randy Mott, who meets with hundreds of customers each year and is leading a transparency initiative to make Dell's data accessible to all of its customers next year: The new focus of "alignment" has moved outside to customers. "This allows us to align with customers and share the same information. We're taking the customer relationship to a whole different level."

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