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David Smoley, Flextronics
Global manufacturer Flextronics has operations in 30 countries, a staff topping 200,000, and a massive supply chain. This makes for a challenging IT infrastructure, but that doesn't hold CIO David Smoley from testing new models. His large-scale adoption of software as a service for managing human resources and the implementation of a service-oriented architecture to improve collaboration with partners and keep the company growing puts him at the forefront of IT innovation.
Flextronics raised some eyebrows when it picked SaaS startup Workday for its implementation, but Smoley makes it sound like an easy call. "HR should be simple," he says. SaaS trumped offerings from traditional vendors that are "incredibly complex" to implement and change.
HR gets complex when a company's employees speak dozens of languages and live in as many countries, each with their own laws, holidays, and cultures. Flextronics, which designs and manufacturers parts for automotive, cell phone, and computer companies and grossed $31 billion in sales last year, tapped Workday to replace some 80 HR systems. Smoley liked SaaS's flexibility and central hosted management, and Workday's object-oriented platform makes it easy to quickly change the interface to suit the needs of staff in different countries.
With SOA, Flextronics has been able to more tightly integrate with customers' supply chains and manufacturing processes. For example, when integrating a new customer's ordering system with its own systems, SOA lets Flextronics create generic objects within its WebMethods Enterprise Service Bus that can be put together 40% faster than before. SOA also has improved operational efficiency and accelerated supply chain turnaround for Flextronics' customers.
An added benefit from its SOA experience: Flextronics was able to quickly integrate the people and systems in its $3.6 billion acquisition of Solectron, which also provided electronics manufacturing services, in late 2007. Integrating more than 24,000 e-mail users and 60 Solectron IT systems could easily have compromised customer service, but Flextronics did it in four months without missing a beat when it came to engineering the complex electronic devices it manufactures and services.