Wildly successful IT projects make great stories. They spin out profitable new lines of business. They help business partners whomp the competition. They send customer satisfaction skyrocketing.
Yet they can also sound like the IT version of Lake Wobegon, where all the project support is strong, all the leaders are good-looking, and all the business results are above average.
Reality is a different experience, as our cover story about this year's CIO 100 award winners makes clear. The tough work and hard-won lessons behind those IT-fueled business projects is reflected in the candid advice of CIOs from organizations as diverse as Procter & Gamble, Celestica, Eurpac, GE Capital Americas and Atlanta Public Schools.
Collectively, our CIO 100 winners spent half a billion dollars on technology projects this year, and a substantial number of them used advanced analytics to create new business lines, enter different markets or improve the customer experience. None of it came easily or quickly. They took incremental approaches. They involved users deeply in development. They used small successes to keep moving forward.
"We didn't try to get the perfect data first," says Celestica CIO Mary Gendron, who echoes other CIOs in her belief that projects should always start with looking at business outcomes. "That's where we've gotten tripped up as an IT industry, spending millions on enterprise data warehouses and data cleansing. You don't start with the fuel, you start with the outcome."
"The only way to know the value of [an] analytics [system] is to get it in front of end users as fast as possible," says Kelly Shen, business intelligence CIO at GE Capital Americas, which rolled out an iPad app that uses analytics and geospatial visualization to help companies make better use of their vehicles. "Fail fast, learn early, change strategy when it's not working."
Also in this issue, we welcome the six newest members of our CIO Hall of Fame and talk with them about watershed moments in their leadership careers. Some got their greatest insights from the candid feedback of a good boss. Others found their inner strength during a company crisis or in the sense of mission that pervades a startup.
To all our CIO 100 winners and Hall of Fame honorees: Congratulations on all you've accomplished so far. You are success in motion, and we'll keep watching.