The pressure is on to drive revenue, increase collaboration, and sharpen use of analytics. Here's how this year's InformationWeek 500 have responded.
The wiki has left the building.
And the fact that it has says a whole lot about the new pressures business technology organizations are under. It's not the cut, cut, cut mind-set of a year ago, according to our exhaustive InformationWeek 500 research. Budgets have loosened a bit as companies try to thrash their way out of a moribund economy. As they do, IT organizations are having to help employees interact in entirely new ways with the outside world, particularly with customers, who themselves are figuring out what kind of social networking they want to do.
Which leads us back to those wikis. A year ago, just 42% of InformationWeek 500 companies used wikis, blogs, or social networking to reach out to customers, suppliers, and partners. This year, that figure shot up to 72%, in one of the most dramatic one-year moves we've ever seen in our InformationWeek 500 data. Back in 2008, only around one-third used wikis and blogs for external collaboration. So in just two years, this kind of collaboration outside the firewall has gone from the early adopter realm to darn near table stakes.
Analytics is another screaming IT priority. Fifty-three percent of InformationWeek 500 companies cite deploying business intelligence tools as a key initiative that improved productivity, and 36% cite getting BI to more employees more quickly as a key 2010 innovation plan, the third-most-often cited priority.
The best analytics work is happening when business units and IT teams blur, so that the work focuses on goals that move the sales or profit needle. At one hospital network, Group Health Cooperative of South Central Wisconsin, it was just this kind of effort--headed by the CIO--that led it to analyze its emergency room data to identify ER "frequent fliers." It found that just 92 patients rang up $2.2 million in costs by visiting the ER more than six times a year. Educating those patients on lower-cost options cut those costs 20%.
Mobility might seem like an obvious innovation hot spot, what with 1 billion iPhone apps already downloaded. But only 22% of InformationWeek 500 companies cite developing mobile applications as a way they've improved productivity this year (up from 15% last year). We didn't ask if they're doing mobile development for other goals--like reaching customers--but the low level for internal use suggests that mobile development isn't yet booming.
Drugmaker Merck's three highly practical iPhone apps show how mobility can change what companies do for customers. The apps, which Merck doesn't even put its name on, let patients track varying symptoms and vitals. IChemoDiary, for example, lets patients record side effects as they feel them, so that when they meet with a doctor they don't have to think "How long did the nausea last after the last treatment?" The other two apps let people track migraine and diabetes stats.