Corporate IT Done 'Lite'

CIOs are turning to cheap, lightweight tools to get the job done fast.

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Garing's IT team also visited Amazon.com Inc. to study how it provisions Internet cloud-based storage on an as-needed basis. "We studied how they were delivering that service," he says, and now, instead of waiting weeks or months to have hardware or software installed, DOD personnel can buy capacity on demand through a DISA service called RACE, for rapid-access computing environment.

Unlike the many CIOs who cite the economy as a key factor driving accelerated adoption of Web 2.0 technologies, Garing says DISA is "really aimed at getting speed and capability into the hands of people quickly."

Kutzer at Allied Building Products wants all of that, along with lower costs upfront, plus an immediate return on investment.

"We're focusing on the near term like never before," Kutzer says. "Given the new state of [economic] affairs, if you're going to buy a new technology, it's going to have to help me this year. Cash is king right now, and everyone is hunkered down over their balance sheet.

"We're trying to be creative and imaginative without overstepping capital expense restrictions," he adds. "The way to do that is to bring in smaller solutions to meet acute needs. In the past, we may have tried to kill 10 birds with one stone."

For example, Kutzer says Allied recently bought a small mapping application from a vendor he had never heard of. "We didn't overinvest. We spent less than $1,000 on something that we think is going to add value immediately in our Web services environment."

Still other companies, like $2.9 billion GAF Materials Corp. in Wayne, N.J., are tapping more deeply into the Web 2.0 capabilities of already-installed software, such as Microsoft's SharePoint, to leverage the collective knowledge of their workers.

"In my industry, it's unheard of to be thinking this way," says Adam Noble, GAF's CIO. "Historically, it has all been one-way communication. But now, engineering and product development groups are using blogs to share ideas, and what it's doing is driving product innovation."

Noble, for one, believes that having a Web 2.0 strategy is an absolute must, regardless of budgetary constraints and/or old-school processes. "If you take the position that 'we don't do social networking,' your resources are going to go for it anyway. If you don't do it internally, your corporate information will be on Facebook."

Says Noble, "We are looking at how we can use Web 2.0 with our customers. We want to expand social networking beyond our own four walls."

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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