InformationWeek 500: Magnificent Seven - InformationWeek

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Software // Enterprise Applications
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9/12/2007
06:00 PM
John Soat
John Soat
Features
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InformationWeek 500: Magnificent Seven

These hard-charging companies--the seven top scorers over the last five years in the InformationWeek 500--know the meaning of the words 'consistent' and 'innovation.'

PROVEN TRACK RECORDS

FedEx, another member of the Magnificent Seven, has demonstrated its business technology chops year after year. One of FedEx's most ambitious IT initiatives over the last few years was a project known as 6x6, the brainchild of CIO Rob Carter. The 6x6 objectives speak to the company's pragmatic approach to technology: Establish global IT infrastructure standards and processes; deliver IT solutions more quickly; target IT spending to help customer satisfaction; partner with FedEx's business units; rotate IT workers to different positions regularly; and simplify information access through a company-wide data integration project.

Unlike FedEx, General Motors isn't known as a tech innovator--except by those who know Ralph Szygenda. GM's CIO inherited a suffocating outsourcing deal with EDS and inefficient and inconsistent processes. Szygenda streamlined the automaker's IT systems and rebid the outsourcing work to be shared among multiple IT service providers with the requirement that they employ standard processes. The result: GM cut $800 million in IT spending and reduced the time it takes to get from concept car to finished product, formerly four years, to 18 months.

Wyeth, sixth on our list of overachievers, has used IT to cut costs and improve service to its distribution partners. In 2003, Wyeth became one of the first domestic pharmaceutical companies to outsource management of its clinical trial data offshore, to an Accenture facility in Bangalore, India, a risky--and controversial--move. In 2004, Wyeth introduced a supply chain feature it calls "customer-specific scorecards" that measures logistics performance from receipt of purchase orders through delivery of products, and then shares that information with its distributors to help root out problems.

Consistency is the watchword at Equifax, No. 7 on our list. One of three major credit-data reporting companies in the United States, Equifax ranked third on the InformationWeek 500 in 2005. "We're all about delivering the transactions every day," CIO Rob Webb says.

The company is all about using IT to create new products for its customers, both consumers and commercial institutions, including 30 of the top banks in the United States. The company does that through a series of "Growth Council" meetings and new product reviews that include business and IT execs. Over the past year, Equifax has introduced more than 50 new products around the world, built using its core proprietary data. "Our technology strategies and business strategies are one in the same," Webb says.

For these seven companies, consistent innovation doesn't mean dabbling with bleeding-edge technology; it means delivering results. The most important thing about being innovative, says Bank of New York Mellon's Johnson, "is that it's relevant to customers and products."

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