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Editor's Note: Necessity Breeds Innovation

Editor's Note - June 9, 2003
To Silicon Valley titans and Wall Street financiers pitching billion-dollar deals, Milwaukee probably looked even a tad more like flyover country than usual last week.

Deals such as Oracle's bid for PeopleSoft raise the question of whether business-technology innovation will stall with fewer vendors (see story, p. 20). Discussions last week at an event called the Wisconsin IT Symposium suggest an answer.

There's Sam Valanju, CIO of Johnson Controls Inc., sketching a vision of a zero-capital budget for IT, paying for every expense as a variable. At the same time, he talks of doubling bandwidth to keep up with the volume of E-business. Bentley Curran, director of IT for Brady Corp., describes how his company is dispensing with traditional IT divisions and aligning teams to business processes, such as aligning one IT team to the order-to-cash function.

And there are worries. The IT director of a manufacturer frets over the narrowing niche of the company's products. An IT manager who urged executives to put someone in charge of IT architecture-- someone not distracted by managing a large staff--finds that he got the architecture and kept the staff. (For more on architecture, see our story on legacy technology, p. 34.)

These leaders will innovate out of necessity. And they'll do so with the tech giants, if the giants can move at their pace and price--or around them if they can't.

Chris Murphy
Executive Editor, Features
[email protected]

Stephanie Stahl is on vacation. Her column will return next week.


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