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The 2013 Computerworld Premier 100 IT Leaders: On the fast track

Julia King | Feb. 26, 2013
It started as a research project to explore how Steelcase's customers might benefit from products with built-in collaboration technologies. What emerged is Media:Scape, a line of high-tech multimedia office equipment that is now on the sales fast track at the Grand Rapids, Mich.-based office furniture manufacturer. Steelcase's IT department was front and center in the innovation effort, developing, building and managing the first prototypes of the products, which feature high-definition videoconferencing capabilities.

Last May, Johns Hopkins opened a new 560-bed, all-digital hospital. "It's completely paperless and filmless. It was a rare opportunity for me and my team to get in on the ground floor and build a patient-centered facility focused on science and safety and to blend it with medical education," she says. "The workflows changed dramatically."

Among other things, IT needed to take into account how nurses, physicians and other staff would use various new wireless devices and an all-new communications system. It also considered how patients and patients' families would use technology.

For example, "we worked to understand the fact that the new building would have all private rooms and that the nursing staff would not be confined to sharing small spaces," Reel says.

On the revenue-generation side, Reel, who also serves as CIO for Johns Hopkins University, says there is great potential in international business.

"Johns Hopkins has a large intellectual presence in about 80 countries around the world. We provide consulting services, so we need to provide technology that promotes collaboration," she says. As Johns Hopkins goes through reform on both the healthcare and higher education fronts, "we have to look for new opportunities for revenue generation," Reel says. "Providing online content and online education and telemedicine opportunities are all opportunities possible with a robust IT infrastructure."

IT's evolving importance in creating new and differentiating products and services means recruiting and retaining the best and the brightest. This requires assiduous talent management, IT leaders say.

"It all starts with having the right talent," says Krestakos, who notes that Steelcase maintains strong ties to local universities and runs an IT internship program that has supplied IT with some of its best talent.

Krestakos also regularly rotates high-potential IT staffers into different functional areas "so they can be immersed in the business," he says. "I call it a kind of loaned executive program. We put people in different assignments and have them help the business but also help their own development. When they come back to IT, it's with a broader understanding of the business. It always pays dividends."

At Hyatt, which must work hard to distinguish itself in the crowded hotel business, "we need to make sure we have IT talent that is not your traditional IT talent that sits in the basement, but people who are customer-focused and pay attention to the value they provide guests," says Prusnick. "We want to make sure [IT staffers are] working with the hotel leadership to help find ways to use technology to engage guests. Revenue generation can happen in multiple ways. IT has become a real thought leader for [figuring out] how technology can be monetized in a way that will easily be accepted by the market."


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