Cloud // Software as a Service
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InformationWeek 500: 20 Great Ideas To Steal

InformationWeek 500 innovators reveal some of their top projects. Could something similar work at your company? Let the brainstorming begin.

Wet Seal Lets People Design And Rate Outfits

Teen clothing retailer Wet Seal lets customers design their own outfits online using any item the company offers, publish their outfits for other customers to rate, and purchase other customer-designed outfits. Other retailers offer outfit design capabilities, but they don't always let customers use all their products, nor offer the interactivity that comes from the rating capability. Wet Seal also makes it easy to buy customer-created outfits, including using them in up-sell and cross-sell functionality on its Web site.

A year after launch, customers have designed almost 200,000 outfits, offered 1.3 million ratings, and browsed 4.5 million detailed outfit pages. This user-generated content has provided with more than 10% in incremental sales.

Wet Seal also has launched a pilot cross-channel program to integrate social media into its physical stores. In the 2008 holiday season, it installed kiosks in several stores that let customers scan items and view the most popular user-created outfits for them. Wet Seal plans to soon make this same functionality available for mobile devices.

Baylor Health's Fresh Look At ROI

Getting more out of IT efforts may take rethinking how projects are picked. That's what Baylor Health Care System, which runs 21 hospitals in North Texas, did. Instead of going solely on conventional ROI, Baylor crafted a framework, the Value Model Realization, that includes traditional costs and benefits, but also risk management and flexibility.

People are now focused on the impacts and results of a project. Builders and users must think carefully before committing to implementation and post-implementation activities. Buy-in has changed significantly, too. The key question posed as projects are reviewed is "How, when, what, and who will change as a result of the project?" The dialogue that accompanies the answer encourages collaboration, communication, and coordination.

Auto Dealers Texting And Twittering

JM Family's 173 independent auto dealers are using various social media capabilities to survive this recession. One dealer parked a Toyota Camry outside a popular restaurant with a number that people could text for information. Another texts customers service reminders and surveys. Dealers are running sweepstakes and giveaways via texting. JM Family's dealers also are using Twitter to post deals, GPS for real-time delivery truck tracking, and offering a mobile customer service Web site.

CenterPoint Properties Goes National, Stays Close

CenterPoint Properties, a major Chicago area industrial real estate company, prides itself on being a friendly, informal place to work. When it needed to expand nationally, a key concern was how to maintain its tight-knit culture.

The solution was to add collaboration and unified communications technologies to CenterPoint's custom application platform, called CUB and originally built to integrate purchased and custom apps into single portal.

Using Microsoft SharePoint and Office Communication Server and Cisco's VOIP/Unified Communications, CenterPoint has a collaborative Web site for each of its real estate deals. CUB pulls in structured and unstructured data, and integrated presence lets team members e-mail, IM, call, or videoconference with one click.

Employees say productivity is up 25%. An unanticipated benefit is that business partners have more confidence in CenterPoint's ability to execute complex deals.

Go to the 2009 InformationWeek 500 homepage

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