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CIOs Explain the Benefits of Early Adoption

CIOs Explain the Benefits of Early Adoption

Within corporate IT, the pace of technology change has increased so much that leaders who don’t embrace emerging trends at some level risk ending up behind the competition.

That approach doesn’t work all the time. “It’s tricky with technologies that require you to enter at scale. You can’t phase your way into SAP,” says Pierce.

With Google Apps, however, Pierce started with 100 users and now has 1000 people using the software, at just US$50 a head. He can justify a bigger rollout based on the benefits of the calendaring system alone.

If any of the other applications show value, it’s an added bonus.

Case Study 4: Dannon – The art of modern mainstreaming

“Any organisation can play with cool new things,” says Jeff Hutchinson, CIO of food products giant the Dannon Company. “The key is figuring out which ones will actually drive business value and mainstreaming those into the organisation.”

To make the cut at Dannon, a “cool new thing” has to help the company increase sales, increase market share or improve efficiency. Once Hutchinson’s team proves an emerging technology is worthwhile, the real work begins – rolling it out to the workforce and creating new business processes to get value from it.

“Mainstreaming is when the business sees the solution or tool as something they wish to use, day in day out,” Hutchinson says. Today it can mean having to support several generations of technology for some users until the larger universe of them catches up. And it’s particularly tricky given Hutchinson’s diverse workforce.

“The workers coming out of school today have only had the internet,” Hutchinson says. “The way I hate having to write a letter and go to the post office to send it, this generation feels the same way about email. They’d rather use IM, SMS or avatars.” Meanwhile, he adds, the adoption cycle from research to roll-out, which used to take years, is down to a year or even less.

Hutchinson is figuring out the best methods for fast and effective mainstreaming of new tools with the rollout of Dannon’s massive Unified Communications and Collaboration (UC2) project. UC2 encompasses not only a leading-edge, unified communications component whereby calls and email and videoconferences can transfer from a business phone to a mobile phone to home to hotel without interruption, for example, but also the exploration of Web 2.0 tools such as wikis, blogs and technologies with capabilities similar to those provided by Facebook and Second Life.

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