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Business Technology: What Matters Most To Readers

Last week's request for your lists of Top 10 priorities for the next few months generated, as always, some compelling and illuminating feedback. While a few people talked about cultivating more-vigorous roses or orchids and others spoke of dropping a few pounds or giving up cigarettes, most readers-turned-writers focused their thinking on business-technology strategy and its relationships to and implications for their companies and their customers. And I have to mention that one reader absolutely gushed about a great line in the column written last week by my colleague and pal, InformationWeek editor Stephanie Stahl, wherein she asked the excellent question, "And can someone tell me why the self-serve coffee place at the airport has a tip cup?"

Sept. 11, 9:38 a.m., South Tower of the World Trade Center, 97th Floor
Edmund McNally, director of technology for Fiduciary Trust, called his wife, Liz, as the floor began buckling. McNally hastily recited his life insurance policies and employee bonus programs. "He said that I meant the world to him and he loved me," Liz McNally said, and they exchanged what they thought were their last goodbyes. Then McNally's phone rang again. Her husband sheepishly reported that he had booked them on a trip to Rome for her 40th birthday. "He said, 'Liz, you have to cancel that,'" McNally said.

Sept. 11, 10:00 a.m., North Tower of the World Trade Center, 92nd Floor
"Are you OK, yes or no?" she demanded. "We're on the 92nd floor in a room we can't get out of," McGinnis said. "Who's with you?" she asked. McGinnis mentioned three old friends-Joey Holland, Brendan Dolan, and Elkin Yuen.

"I love you," McGinnis said. "Take care of Caitlin." Mrs. McGinnis was not ready to hear a farewell. "Don't lose your cool," she urged. "You guys are so tough, you're resourceful. You guys are going to get out of there." "You don't understand," McGinnis said. "There are people jumping from the floors above us." It was 10:25. The fire raged along the west side of the 92nd floor. People fell from windows. McGinnis again told her he loved her and their daughter, Caitlin. "Don't hang up," Mrs. McGinnis pleaded. "I got to get down on the floor," McGinnis said. With that, the phone connection faded out. It was 10:26, two minutes before the tower crumbled. The World Trade Center had fallen silent.

-- From a May 26 New York Times story on cell-phone conversations from the World Trade Center between the time the first plane hit and the second tower collapsed.

Can't help you with that one, Steph, but we got some great lists and perspectives on what our readers will be working on over the summer, and why. Plus, I promised last week that one name would be picked at random from those responding to our RFF (request for feedback) and that person would receive a complimentary registration to our Fall Conference, Sept. 22-25 in Tucson, Ariz., (

Margaret Rendich suggests "an area that has become IT-driven and enhanced: professional development and training. I hope this is an embedded priority because ultimately it is the human capital that enables any technology and sustains competitive advantage."

Alek Kirstein, noting that the 10 priorities presented here last week "are the 10 commandments that need to be practiced to exist and be viable," says the list needs to include "the transformation structure and ability that's designed and implemented by policy, leadership, and collective vision." This is essential, he writes, because "technology workers are agents of the CEO in designing the internal transformational growth of the business structure as well as the collective human factor."

Steve Koss focused on the human factor, too, talking about the need to improve optional-thinking skills, teamwork, cohesiveness, problem solving, and "inventiveness." Also, a managing consultant in the E-Solutions group at a major IT services and outsourcing firm sent a list heavily tilted toward enterprise-application integration, enterprise architecture, and reusable frameworks that can increase return on investment, but also included a desire to "participate in social activities like Education Outreach, etc."

David Nall stresses the need for uptime: "All of the listed items become useless if stable access doesn't exist." Juris Brants focuses heavily on what he called baseline concepts for tomorrow's business needs: establishing infrastructure and architecture, operations and data center, vendor standards, security standards, collaborative processes, and employee processes.

From our winner, Nancy Railsback: 1. Human capital: Notice, encourage, and reward; 2. Management processes: Direct from a story referencing Mike Hammer's suggestions ("Technology Nudges Managers To Do Better," May 20, p. 76); 3. Collaboration and trust: Do the right things; 4. Continuous improvement; 5. Processes: Make sure they all get continuous improvement management; 6. Training and education: Set direction for employees' personal and professional development; 7. Allocate resources properly; 8. Reduce redundancy; 9. Recycle: Throw out the old when you bring in the new; and 10. Collect on the intangibles.

Thanks for all of the great ideas. Nancy, we hope to see you in Tucson.

Bob Evans


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