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IT Confidential

It's becoming a mantra in the industry: "We're going to leverage a lot of our existing infrastructure," says First American CIO Hull.

Starbucks is thinking globally when it comes to expansion-and the same is apparently true with recruiting. The company will announce this week that Brian Crynes is its new CIO and senior VP, joining the Seattle coffee king after more than three years with Coca-Cola Amatil in Sydney, Australia. Coca-Cola Amatil co-owns bottling businesses in more than 20 European and Asian countries, and Starbucks has big global ambitions of its own-nearly one-fifth of its stores are located out-side the United States. Crynes is already on the job at Starbucks, leading an IT team of more than 300.

That's the good news in Seattle. The bad news is one of its largest employers, Boeing, lost to Lockheed Martin in the bidding to design and build the Joint Strike Fighter X-35 project, which at about $200 billion is the biggest Department of Defense deal in history. In topping Boeing, Lockheed Martin showcased cutting-edge collaboration, inventory, supply chain, and high-tech manufacturing systems. Just two years ago, the company deployed lean manufacturing systems at the Fort Worth, Texas, factory where the fighter will be built. Lockheed was an early adopter of collaborative design and engineering software. Team members, including staff from other manufacturers, now collaborate in a proprietary, Virtual Product Development (VPD) network that links shared databases and computer systems, supports audio and video, and allows the exchange and markup of computerized images for design and manufacturing. But the company's collaboration challenges might be getting stickier. Boeing supporters-particularly the Congressional delegation from Missouri, where Boeing would have manufactured the plane-are still pushing to have some work done by Boeing. They argue that the United States needs to keep more than one company in the military jet business. That creates the challenge: Are Lockheed Martin's collaborative systems so good they'll make it easy to collaborate with an archrival? History suggests that no one should bet against it.

If you want business units to cooperate on IT initiatives, put one person in charge of IT across the company. First American promoted Roger Hull to CIO from his post as CIO of the company's title insurance group. First American sells business information to banks and other financial institutions. Consolidation among banks is forcing changes on suppliers such as First American-to provide national services and present a bank with one access point for all its interactions. That means Hull must lead the integration of the four main business units, starting with their IT infrastructure. Did we mention that the industry also is moving from its paper-based, labor-intensive roots to digitally delivered information? You get the picture. Then again, Hull is used to high-flying IT work. In the early 1980s, he used to do data processing for the Air Force-aboard AWACS surveillance planes.


Got an industry tale of determination-or termination, or promotion? Send it to jsoat@cmp.com or phone 516-562-5326. Or meet me at InformationWeek.com's Listening Post: informationweek.com/forum/johnsoat.

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