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Shane O'Neill
Shane O'Neill
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20 Great Ideas To Steal In 2014

We've singled out 20 InformationWeek Elite 100 winners whose IT projects have transformed their businesses. Use them to inspire creativity and advance your plans.

This is InformationWeek's 26th year ranking US companies that use technology in innovative ways. This time the recognition is even more special because we've narrowed the number of honorees from 500 to 100; we now call our ranking the InformationWeek Elite 100. The creativity represented by this year's 100 organizations has not narrowed, though. An overriding theme in their accomplishments: innovative use of big data. Out of this elite 100 we've chosen 20 of the best ideas to present in this slideshow.

Our list shows companies putting data analytics into action across a wide variety of industries. If these companies are any indication, in 2014 and in the years that follow business decisions will be more data-driven, data will be more visual and more mobile, more medical data will be made accessible to help save lives, and more equipment and other "things" will be wirelessly connected to the Internet.

In the aviation sector, Boeing's IT and engineering teams collaborated to roll out data visualization tools that let production employees find and view aircraft parts via interactive 3D images. In healthcare, Atlantic Health System built a warning system that presents patients' lab and vitals data to doctors for early signs of sepsis and gives alerts if the patient is at risk.

Like Boeing, Spirit AeroSystems is using data analytics to improve aircraft production. The company tapped SAP's HANA in-memory database and BusinessObjects analytics tools to scour airplane construction data to find the source of manufacturing delays.

John Deere is taking wireless data collection to a new level in its John Deere tractors and combines. The company has added Internet- and GPS-connected sensors and display screens that feed into the website, where farm managers can quickly access important field data.

As in previous years, companies are pushing the boundaries of mobile app development. Yet it's more apparent this year that IT teams must integrate data analytics with a mobile strategy to make it truly effective.

Construction and design company Skanska, for instance, created its own iOS app to help construction experts and hospital clients estimate building costs for a new medical facility. What sets the app apart is its ability to analyze energy usage, square foot efficiency, and ROI data.

Similarly, the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center (UPMC) developed Convergence, a Windows 8 tablet app that pulls data from multiple electronic health record systems and presents a unified view to clinicians. Insurance Auto Auctions (IAA) created a mobile app that simulcasts car auctions, allowing users to search car information and photos, view multiple auctions at once, and get alerts if they win or are outbid.

Wearable technologies in the workplace are still in the fledgling phase, but Boston hospital Beth Israel Deaconess might signal the shape of things to come by testing Google Glass in various physician and nursing scenarios. Ultimately, Beth Israel's Google Glass experiment shares the same goal as the other companies on this list: to provide fast access to the most important data, in a form and place that employees can put it directly to use.

These 20 great ideas are working. Make one work for you.

Shane O'Neill is Managing Editor for InformationWeek. Prior to joining InformationWeek, he served in various roles at, most notably as assistant managing editor and senior writer covering Microsoft. He has also been an editor and writer at eWeek and TechTarget. ... View Full Bio

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