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InformationWeek 500 No. 1: Inside Vanguard's IT Innovation Strategy

Getting employees to volunteer to work on projects is a key piece in driving its emerging tech innovation.
What's Ahead

Vanguard's IT teams have a lot of innovation in the pipeline. One area is internal collaboration. The IT organization has been using what it calls the IT hub, SharePoint-based sites for informal collaboration. Rob Lake, who leads the five-person innovation group, says the challenges include meeting regulations such as record retention, but also getting the tools adopted. For that, he isn't wasting time trying to convince anyone they need a collaboration tool. Instead, he's looking around Vanguard to "find passionate communities where they're struggling to collaborate," Lake says. "Find the collaborative groups that need tools."

Social media is another looming challenge. While its Web site is a huge success, "the one gap we have found is the personality, the culture of Vanguard is really hard to come through on," says Amy Dobra, who leads the social media effort. Yet Vanguard's wrestling with how to meet demand for quick, personable interaction within the strict regulatory environment financial companies face.

In mobility, it has a Dig team working on a "build once" mobile strategy, so it doesn't have to build apps for every platform from iPhone to Android to BlackBerry. It's building a prototype for a rich, interactive mobile Web site. And it's experimenting with a mobile Web site in what's essentially a mobile app container, with minimal programming for each specific platform. But the retail group's Dowds thinks they face another five years of developing for multiple platforms.

For now, Vanguard thinks it has the right formula and practices for taking on these emerging technologies. But count on this: If this system doesn't deliver the tech the company needs, Vanguard will again be ready to evolve its IT innovation strategy.

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Editor's Choice
Sara Peters, Editor-in-Chief, InformationWeek / Network Computing
Jessica Davis, Senior Editor
Richard Pallardy, Freelance Writer
Carrie Pallardy, Contributing Reporter
John Edwards, Technology Journalist & Author
Carlo Massimo, Contributing Writer
Salvatore Salamone, Managing Editor, Network Computing