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IT a-listers: Recharged, ready for business growth and speed

Julia King | Feb. 18, 2011
Editor's note: Each year, Computerworld's Premier 100 IT Leaders awards program honors the brightest talent in the IT industry. Even through economic turmoil that for many meant budget cuts and staff downsizing, these 100 men and women continued to deliver innovative projects and measurable business value.

"One of the ways we get things out quickly is we plan to get things out quickly," Cottey says, adding that all work IT undertakes is rated on a scale designed to measure its business impact.

"We're in constant touch with business owners to measure what impact a certain change might yield on our efficiency," he says. "It's not the time to invest in eye candy or gee-whiz things without a good bottom-line value. We focus on that 10% to 20% of capability that is worth delivering right now."

The Seeds of Future Growth

Many of the IT projects that delivered business value in 2010 will continue to yield big dividends going forward, especially at companies like JetBlue Inc. and Scottrade Inc., where IT leaders deployed new, foundational systems that transformed the business.

JetBlue CIO Joseph Eng says a new customer service system that his team rolled out last year enables the airline to quickly establish new partnerships with other airlines, and thereby helps it expand its global network.

"We're able to grow the number of destinations, routes, places and people who travel via JetBlue through these partnerships," Eng explains. "It's all very technologically based because you have to connect the two airlines' systems, sharing route, inventory and network information so you can also share itineraries."

Soon after the system went live in January 2010, JetBlue announced several new partnerships, giving travelers the ability to use a single system to make plans to fly from Tel Aviv through JFK Airport in New York and on to any of JetBlue's domestic locations. Eng says the airline will announce additional partnerships this year, extending its international network to London and Johannesburg, South Africa.

"We went to work on the customer service system with the knowledge that we wanted to enable these kinds of partnerships much more quickly," Eng says.

"Our leadership team has a fundamental belief that this is actually an opportune time, which is why we continue to invest in the business from a products, services and operations perspective. The idea is, let's drive through some of these tough times but also prepare ourselves so that when we do have an uptick, we can do even more to stimulate growth," he says.

At St. Louis-based Scottrade, IT completed building a brand-new secondary data center. The financial services company is initially using the facility as a fail-over data center, but it eventually plans to use it to geographically split up the systems that serve the independent investors who make up its customer base. The goal is to offer faster response times and better service by handling customers' needs in the data center located closest to them.


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