20 Great Ideas To Steal In 2013

IT innovators turn great ideas into action. Use these winning InformationWeek 500 projects to spark your creativity and advance your plans.

This year's InformationWeek 500 winners shared inspiring stories of how technology improved customer service and employee productivity. We've picked the 20 best tales of innovation worth borrowing. (Some might call it stealing.)

Two common themes this year are the use of Web-based collaboration tools and mobile apps that take up arms against bloated software and workflow complexity. Home Depot, for example, launched MyInstall, a personalized Web portal designed to help customers keep close tabs on each phase of a home improvement project. Public relations firm Ketchum built IdeaShop, a searchable database containing great ideas that were never sold to clients but are still ripe for use.

In the healthcare realm, Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center did an extensive study on OpenNotes, a movement to allow patients to view their doctors' notes via a secure website. Well-being improvement company Healthways developed a Web-based survey that measures the financial, social and physical status of employees and uses predictive analytics to help reduce healthcare costs. Radiology practice Virtual Radiologic integrated an automated consult workflow engine to speed up and streamline how radiologists do consultations with other physicians.

In education, both the University System of Georgia and Arizona State University built Web-based tools for class registration, online courses, and attendance and grades monitoring. The results: improved student retention and performance.

Are you a mobile app advocate? Check out how the Dallas Cowboys' mobile app enhances the in-stadium experience, and how the Salvation Army embraced mobile apps to track the number and type of goods being donated and to give social workers quick access to information on people in its substance abuse program. Meanwhile, Mitsubishi and Procter & Gamble have put mobile devices and apps into employees' hands: Mitsubishi with a secure BYOD program, and P&G by replacing sales reps' paper catalogs with iPads.

The foundation for all this progress is the cloud and big data. Web portals and smartphone apps don't mean much if the data they contain isn't measured. One champion of data analytics is UPS. The package-delivery giant uses custom software it calls PFT (package flow technology) to collect package data that helps route 16 million shipments per day and accurately alert customers when packages will arrive.

Can you do something similar to make your employees and customers happier and your bottom line fatter? Take a look at these 20 great ideas that worked -- and make one work for you.

Go to the InformationWeek 500 - 2013 homepage