IT's A-listers: Recharged and ready for business growth and speed

Despite a few years of economic upheaval, these 100 men and women never stopped delivering innovation and measurable business value.

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All security projects undertaken at Kodak in the past two years have supported very specific business needs. For example, when the business needed a streamlined process for provisioning third-party contractors, Jones' team implemented a server log monitoring application for that purpose.

"I view this relationship with the business as the most important part of the job," Jones says. "In the past, IT security was one of those organizations that sat in the corner and said no. I've challenged my organization to never go in and tell a business manager no, but help them by going in and figuring out a good solution."

Indeed, taking a proactive stance and heading the innovation efforts to achieve an overarching business vision is another defining characteristic of the 2011 class of Premier 100 IT Leaders.

At St. Louis-based bioMérieux Inc., for example, Global Senior Director of R&D Information Systems Haroon Taqi and his team were out in front in analyzing how the maker of diagnosis systems could improve its diagnostic software and its competitive positioning with customers.

"In the past, the norm was for marketing to come to us and tell us what they need. But instead, we [in IT] decided to work with marketing and our customers to determine the biggest hurdles to expanding our product and our market share," Taqi says.

"We drove the change we wanted to create," he notes. "IT did the competitive analysis, and I did some of the analysis myself."

Ultimately, the IT group conceived and developed a new software architecture and system that enables bioMérieux to automatically deliver software updates to customers without having to dispatch IT personnel to do so. BioMérieux's software is embedded in instruments used to identify new and evolving types of bacterial infections.

"What we've done is make it easy for customers to do updates themselves, much like installing patches," Taqi says. "Before, it could take as much as a year for us to have all of the delivery mechanisms in place to do installations for customers."

Quick Turnaround

Accretive Health, a provider of financial management services to the healthcare industry, also has a business goal of speeding its software products, services and updates to market. Cottey's challenge as CIO is to continually work with business managers to decide which updates and services are most critical. Last year, he and his IT team designed and implemented an agile development methodology to deliver new software capabilities that match and/or stay ahead of the flood of new and changing healthcare regulations that Accretive's clients must track.

"One of the ways we get things out quickly is we plan to get things out quickly," Cottey says, adding that all work IT undertakes is rated on a scale designed to measure its business impact.

"We're in constant touch with business owners to measure what impact a certain change might yield on our efficiency," he says. "It's not the time to invest in eye candy or gee-whiz things without a good bottom-line value. We focus on that 10% to 20% of capability that is worth delivering right now."

The Seeds of Future Growth

Many of the IT projects that delivered business value in 2010 will continue to yield big dividends going forward, especially at companies like JetBlue Inc. and Scottrade Inc., where IT leaders deployed new, foundational systems that transformed the business.

JetBlue CIO Joseph Eng says a new customer service system that his team rolled out last year enables the airline to quickly establish new partnerships with other airlines, and thereby helps it expand its global network.

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