Stories by Sue Hildreth

Data+ Awards: BI helps Quintiles speed new drugs to market

Developing a new drug can cost millions of dollars and require years of research. The quicker a pharmaceutical company gets a product to market, the less time and money it spends on R&D and the faster it can begin to earn a return on its investment.

Data+ Awards: Florida youth welfare agency pinpoints aid with BI

Five years ago, the Pinellas County Juvenile Welfare Board (JWB) was facing a budget shortfall. A meltdown in real estate values had diminished the property tax revenue that the Clearwater, Fla.-based agency depends upon for funding. So the JWB developed a BI initiative to assess the value of each program it offers.

Best of BI: Maverick Transportation centralizes data to make real-time decisions

For Maverick Transportation, a national long-haul trucking company with more than 1,200 drivers on the road, even small changes to processes can lead to swings of hundreds of thousands of dollars on the bottom line. Changes in routes, driver training, gas mileage, accident rates -- they all affect profits. Until recently, however, the company couldn't easily visualize real-time trends or accurately predict future outcomes.

Best of BI: Volunteers of America Chesapeake uses BI to boost donations

If there's a homeless shelter, drug abuse recovery program, senior center or housing services agency for the disabled in your community, there's a good chance that it's supported by the Volunteers of America, which has 36 affiliated chapters around the country. Like all VOA chapters, VOA Chesapeake relies on contributions and volunteers from a variety of corporations, charitable groups and individuals to support its programs.

HR gets a dose of science

Imagine placing an electronic order to hire an employee the same way a factory manager uses ERP software to order more parts for the assembly line. That's roughly what's happening at Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU).

Cutting the Waste

When purchasing new software, IT managers can easily get sold a lot of features and functions they don't really need, perhaps because it gets them a better discount, or just because the sales rep has made a great pitch. But software contracts can wind up being too much of a good thing. To get a low-fat deal, here are some tips for negotiating a new software license:

Application overload

Mark Lack, who's in charge of business and financial reporting at Mueller, a manufacturing firm in Texas, is only half-joking when he says the water cooler is his best source of information on what reporting software his company owns.

The common sense SOA: Necessary components

A service-oriented architecture is only as good as the components and design standards that make it. If you want a practical and usable SOA -- not just a bucket of services -- then you should pay attention to five aspects of SOA development, say integration experts.

Mastering the middleware muddle

What's the measure of a successful integration project? For Jamey Harvey, the deputy chief technology officer for the District of Columbia, it was the ability to get a map of all the abandoned cars that needed to be towed in the city.

Special delivery

As any e-mail administrator will tell you, managing the content of the constant flood of incoming and outgoing messages is only half the battle. The sheer volume of e-mail, coupled with the increasing size of files that users want to send, also puts a staggering load on the network and servers. At the same time, end users are resisting attempts to limit the size of their in-boxes, demanding the right to stash gigabytes of mail and attachments on the server. IT clearly needs a strategy to manage the e-mail flood.

How to select collaboration tools

Robb Chapman, an IT specialist at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta, discovered how complicated the choice of a collaboration tool can be when he became involved in the CDC's effort to purchase software that would let researchers work more effectively with universities and state health agencies. The options proved so numerous that the agency hired an outside consultant to sort through all the candidates -- an effort that took six months.

Controlling content chaos

In 1995, the American Hospital Association launched a Web site -- its first ever -- for one of its publications. It proved so popular that another department at the AHA decided to put up a site too. Soon others also wanted to be on the Internet, and five years later, there were a staggering 72 AHA-affiliated Web sites, all running on different hardware and software, all managed by different departments and organizations, and all totally incapable of sharing content with the others.