Innovation. How do you define it? It's a question we've been asking a lot of people lately. I've gotten some very thoughtful responses from readers, many of whom believe that even a rotten economy can't stifle it. It might change it, but it can't kill it. Last week, Kevin Rollins, Dell's president and chief operating officer, said "standardization is leading to innovation, in that it lets users focus more on how they can apply IT." By standardizing much of the infrastructure that serves as the foundation for business, more time and resources can be spent on the strategic projects that increase business value (for more on this, see "Dell And Sun Offer Different Visions," Sept. 17, 2003).
For others, innovation is about optimizing existing business processes or rethinking the way you work with customers, partners, or even competitors. Call it the period when innovation is all about cutting back and doing more. But there's plenty of the "more" category out there, as we found in our annual ranking of the most innovative users of business technology. You'll find hundreds of pages of profiles and research data across 22 industries.
It's worth noting that in 2001, we found significant innovation in the technology practices of Owens & Minor, a Virginia distributor of health-care supplies that topped that year's list. We also saw the company in action as its executives put their efficient supply chain to the test one day after our list was published and helped get the right supplies to the medical community treating injuries from the Sept. 11 catastrophes. Once again, O&M is in the No. 1 spot. You can find out more about its innovative supply-chain operations and push into third-party logistics in , Top Of The List: Owens & Minor Takes Supply Chain Deeper.
Congrats to O&M and all companies continuing to push innovation in many exciting and creative ways.
The Business of Going DigitalDigital business isn't about changing code; it's about changing what legacy sales, distribution, customer service, and product groups do in the new digital age. It's about bringing big data analytics, mobile, social, marketing automation, cloud computing, and the app economy together to launch new products and services. We're seeing new titles in this digital revolution, new responsibilities, new business models, and major shifts in technology spending.