Randall Poppell, CIO, UniGroup

Randall Poppell is a classic example of an IT leader driving business opportunities. As the CIO and senior vice president of strategic planning at UniGroup Inc., parent of United Van Lines and other moving companies, Poppell has spent the past eight years developing what he calls a "game-changing technology strategy" for the $2.2 billion St. Louis-based company.

When UniGroup decided to launch a new "store and move" container service subsidiary, for instance, software development was key. Business leaders wanted to create a Web-based system "that was more modern, electronic and customer-focused than anything we've had in the past" and would allow customers to pick and choose services, get quotes online and place orders, he says.

Poppell, 52, led an aggressive project using agile software development and service-oriented architecture to build the business. His IT staff pumped out new, defined features every 30 days, enabling developers and their business counterparts to evaluate scope and adjust priorities based on changing business conditions. The effort was completed 5% under budget.

Casey Ellis, senior vice president of sales and marketing at UniGroup, says Poppell fosters an entrepreneurial spirit among the 200 IT staffers. "He knows business, not just our industry," says Ellis. "That creativity can drive huge efficiencies and benefits here."

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