IT's top tier: Strong and steady leadership

These 100 IT visionaries are seizing this rare moment to produce measured growth, embark on innovative pilots and build loyalty in their most valued workers

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Taking the Long View

"Keep calm and carry on." As it did throughout Britain during World War II, that phrase seems to epitomize the success strategies of Computerworld's 2010 Premier 100 IT Leaders. Rather than slowing projects that were in progress, they consistently moved forward to innovate, sometimes ahead of schedule and below budget. To cut costs, they came up with transformative new systems or processes for doing business and streamlining operations. In doing so, they also created new sources of business value and even new revenue streams.

They simplified and standardized IT, all the while staying focused on keeping anxious IT staffers' fears at bay. The one thing they did not do is stand still or even break stride, which means they're well positioned as the economy begins to show signs of improvement.

Amy Berkowitz, CIO at New York-based CBS Corp., had an additional challenge: As the traditional broadcast business model dies away and CBS looks to become a digital content distribution company, her task has been nothing short of reinventing IT.

"Large broadcasters are in the middle of a paradigm shift from both a technology and business perspective," Berkowitz explains. "Technically, there is a migration from what would be typically broadcast-type, linear-based appliances to spinning disks, servers and software. With more advertising options, advertisers are willing to commit less money to the traditional broadcast model."

Yet the content remains the same. This means the innovative use of new technologies is what will enable the transition, Berkowitz says.

Over the past year, IT has been front and center in CBS's development of a new content digitization and distribution facility on the West Coast, with a second facility planned for the East Coast in 2010. The facilities enable broadcast divisions to digitize and distribute their content to new media outlets under a pay-as-you-go model. So far, customers include the soap opera The Bold and the Beautiful, which is using the media asset management system and international distribution services. Another customer is health and fitness enterprise Jack LaLanne Entertainment.

"What's attractive for the customer is zero risk because they have no upfront costs," Berkowitz says. At the same time, the new infrastructure has provided CBS with a foundation for new revenue from external customers.

An added benefit is that CBS can leverage this new service model as a potential talent pipeline.

"As content comes streaming through for distribution, we can take a look, and if we find something of interest, it can be taken out of the pipeline and developed into a full-fledged show, movie or channel," Berkowitz explains. "Who knows what the next Seinfeld might be?"

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