Motorola's Fast Action Pays Off

Wireless and communications company gains agility by paring applications.

InformationWeek Staff, Contributor

September 23, 2002

2 Min Read

Motorola Inc. had to make some changes, and fast. Eighteen months ago, executives at the wireless and communications company realized that the telecommunications industry was rapidly changing and the competition was intensifying. Yet they were spending more money and effort in maintaining their existing technology, money that could be used for finding innovative ways to get a competitive advantage. So by March 2002, the company had launched a full overhaul of its IT infrastructure and move to Web services, all in the name of business agility.

"We had 172 data centers, we had high double-digit payroll systems, and 55 E-mail systems," says Toby Redshaw, Motorola's corporate VP of IT strategy, E-business and business development, speaking Monday at the InformationWeek Fall Conference in Tucson, Ariz. "We couldn't execute, and it continued to get worse." Redshaw and his business partner, Steve Hyska, director of global E-business at Motorola, worked together to launch a Web-services initiative to consolidate all the applications--throwing out those not being sufficiently used--and use business-process engineering tools to transform how the company adapts to and anticipates change. "The bottom line is, how do you do this without blowing up all your infrastructure legacy dollars you've already spent to get to agility?" he says.

The key step, he says, isn't just to launch Web services, but to build an "uber architecture," a component, service-based architecture that can leverage Web services by breaking down barriers between interoperable systems and bridge the communication barriers across the company when it comes to product development. With the new architecture, developing new solutions at the company transformed from business units throwing specs back and forth to using business-process engineering tools to change the process. The applications and processes built on the architecture can be easily adapted to those business-process rules set up by Motorola, allowing the company to quickly change its focus and strategy as needed. "The business rules are embedded in the way we constructed the services-based architecture," Redshaw says. "Then you connect Web services to the business rules in what looks like a business-process map."

So far, the project is ahead of schedule and under budget, Hyska says, an important factor in maintaining the support for the business case for Web services. But it also is showing that new applications and processes can be deployed within 12 hours at zero cost. Bob Rubin, CEO at Valley Management Consulting, says such cheap, quick deployments are essential in the days of shrinking IT budgets, noting that the members of the InformationWeek 500 showed an overall 25% decline in technology budgets. Says Rubin, "They've created a platform where they can innovate and adapt this infrastructure to change."

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