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Stacey Peterson
Stacey Peterson
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20 Great Ideas To Steal In 2012

Are you playing it too safe, IT leaders? Take these InformationWeek 500 projects along to rev up your next brainstorming session.
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InformationWeek 500 winners share all sorts of bright ideas with us--ones they use to solve problems, make their employees more productive, and bring in more business. We've cherry-picked the best of them for you, particularly the ideas that have applicability beyond just the company and business where they originate.

Mobile apps are big this year, and many companies are using them to make customer-facing employees more efficient. Hyatt Hotels, for instance, is stationing iPad-equipped front-desk clerks at airports to check in guests well before they set foot in the hotel. Intermountain Healthcare has put iPads on the aircraft it uses to transport critically injured patients so flight crews can enter patient data directly into the healthcare system's network rather putting it on paper first.

Commercial real estate firm Simon Property Group has swapped the stacks of paper its leasing agents used to carry to customer meetings for an iPad app that gives them access to the company's entire portfolio. Ralph Lauren has given its store staff an iPad app to more easily take down a customer's measurements for a tailored suit, replacing spreadsheets.

Other companies are using technology to directly improve their customers' experiences. AG Interactive, which makes American Greetings cards, is letting people create digital cards and then press a button to have them printed and mailed. has an app that lets customers point smartphones in any direction and discover what hotels are in the vicinity. Truck maker PACCAR is giving truckers a mobile app that lets them find out what's wrong with their trucks before they have to pull off the road and find a mechanic. Royal Caribbean Cruises is giving iPads to passengers that they can use while onboard its Splendour of the Seas ship to increase their exposure to the ship's services. The Home Depot has incorporated PayPal into its payment choices in its brick-and-mortar stores.

Is retooling tech support in your company's future? Consider these ideas: Accounting and consulting firm BDO USA has turned its help desk from a dead-end job into a place where people enjoy what they do and have a career path. Software maker Intuit set up its own version of the Apple Genius Bar that employees can just walk right up to for tech support. Procter & Gamble organized overnight PC upgrades for 60,000 employees, complete with a training fair the next day.

Now it's your turn to take these nuggets and come up with your own great idea. You might not have 60,000 employees, but is there something in the idea of scheduled, overnight PC upgrades that would be useful to your business? Rethink and recreate these 20 great ideas to fit your needs and problems.

Go to the 2012 InformationWeek 500 homepage

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Our InformationWeek Elite 100 issue -- our 26th ranking of technology innovators -- shines a spotlight on businesses that are succeeding because of their digital strategies. We take a close at look at the top five companies in this year's ranking and the eight winners of our Business Innovation awards, and offer 20 great ideas that you can use in your company. We also provide a ranked list of our Elite 100 innovators.
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