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Innovative CIOs show how to make money with IT

Diane Frank | Dec. 3, 2012
A select few CIOs are generating cold hard cash through innovation and collaboration. We rounded up examples of CIOs who generate revenue with IT, either by boosting sales or developing a product or service sold externally.

Colisto's group plans to offer those waiting customers access to Hovnanian's real-time information on homes and options, much like Style Suite, but through a touch-screen interface in the sales center. Customers will be able to do research on-site and even create their own customized brochure that can be used as a launching point when they do speak with a sales associate.

"We're not about alienating the customer from the sales associate, but this will create a more productive, happier visit," Colisto says. The company expects to see gains in sales from this tool similar to what it's already experiencing from Style Suite.

Seek Out Profitable Partnerships

Six years after online stock trading company OptionMonster Holdings was founded, the IT organization not only provides the technology foundation for the business, it is also now responsible for a significant portion of the company's revenue. And CTO Sanjib Sahoo sees that future growing brighter.

The company, which includes retail brokerage TradeMonster, has established a reputation for excellent service--earlier this year, TradeMonster received four and a half stars in the annual Barron's ranking of online brokers. Sahoo wants more.

One product IT put into the market is an API that sits on top of the company's trading platform and allows partners to integrate TradingMonster's brokerage functionality into their own sites. For example, when people are reading research or educational material from a partner firm, they can click on companies' names and trade stocks or options within that research site. These tools already represent 10 to 12 percent of the company's overall revenue, Sahoo says, and executives want to boost that figure to 50 percent within the next year.

That product is really for experienced traders, though. For newcomers, OptionMonster is working with partners to build educational services that in turn provide revenue for the company, Sahoo says.

When organizations such as the Chicago Board of Options Exchange (CBOE) offer classes and workshops, they often use a co-branded version of OptionMonster's PaperTrade platform. By getting the class participants comfortable with online trading, "people tend to move on to us and open full accounts," Sahoo says. This last year, the relationship with CBOE generated 30 to 35 percent of the new-account leads that OptionMonster converts to full accounts.

Solving the Big Problems

At Quintiles Transnational, CIO Richard Thomas and his staff are almost becoming old hands at commercializing IT. Quintiles helps its customers, biopharmaceutical companies, make the process of developing and bringing drugs to market faster, easier and more cost-efficient. So it wasn't much of a stretch to take the systems Thomas' group created for internal use and sell them to Quintiles' customers.

The Infosario suite that resulted includes cloud-based services and software for all the processes involved in developing and bringing a drug to market, including big data analytics and software for drug marketing. In the last year, Infosario directly netted over $40 million in new business, Thomas says.


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