Power Projects

High-impact systems upgrades required both top-notch leadership skills and sharp execution for success.

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The benefits are significant, Guo says. As an example, he points out that attorneys from the Legal Aid Society, who spend substantial hours in the courthouses, are now using laptops to check e-mail, perform legal research and look up case information.

As CTO, Guo is responsible for the architecture as well as for designing, planning, implementing and supporting the Wi-Fi network.

He says his most significant contribution was understanding the business case for this project. "I don't [look at] this like just a technical project. The whole point here is to understand the business requirements," he says.

Aligning the project with business needs helped him persuade upper management to invest in the plan for the long term, Guo says. It also helped that he was able to show that jurors and other constituents viewed Wi-Fi as a positive.

"Each day when I thank the jurors and ask for their comments, I hear that the Wi-Fi is great," says Nancy T. Sunshine, commissioner of jurors for Kings County.

Guo involved multiple stakeholders as soon as the project got a green light. Their input helped him determine which areas should get Wi-Fi access points first, he explains.

Guo says the Wi-Fi initiative aligned with the court system's goal of providing equal service throughout the organization, which contributed to its success. Involving local workers, such as building and IT managers, to get their buy-in and their help in navigating the court buildings — some of which are historic — was another factor in the project's success.

Moreover, Guo says he also understood how the Wi-Fi initiative could support multiple applications and future goals. For instance, court officers in some buildings couldn't use radio communications because of frequency interference with the systems of public-safety agencies. So Guo blanketed those buildings with Wi-Fi and gave voice-over-wireless-LAN phones to the court officers.

Guo's team had installed more than 700 access points by the end of September. Guo plans to continue adding access points in the years ahead to expand service so that all constituents who use the court buildings can use Wi-Fi. Approximately 1,000 people use the Wi-Fi system daily, and Guo expects that number to double in the coming months.

Jeffrey R. Vose
Production systems director, Chicago Tribune Interactive

  • Project at a glance: The project entailed replacing an existing ad-serving system used to take orders as well as to schedule, queue and launch ads — with only about six months to finish the task.

  • Signature leadership move: Assembled stakeholders and contributors to nail the specifics.

When Vose, 41, took over Chicago Tribune Interactive's ad operations team in 2005, he got a firsthand look at the limitations of the ad-serving system used by the sales and ad operations departments. He proposed upgrading the system, starting the project in early 2006 and delivering the new system six months later.

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