Stories by Kym Gilhooly

Business on the map

Mind-mapping tools make inroads into corporate IT as they streamline problem solving and help sturcutre tasks.

Full service, the online travel service, has bet its business model on the fact that Web-savvy customers like to help themselves -- in this case, to deals on airfare, hotels, car rentals and the like. The US-based company has extended that model to its customer service operations, adopting an e-service strategy to complement its telephone-based call center. If customers run into trouble during a travel search, they're encouraged to try self-service or e-mail options -- more cost-effective ways to handle services issues -- before resorting to a phone call.

Sign and deliver

If anyone understands how complex contractual commitments can be, it's an IT professional. For example, in 1997, as part of a Y2k preparation, the CIO at Toyota Motor Sales U.S.A. decided it was time to shore up the IT organization's buy-side contract management processes. Like numerous IT organizations, Toyota's group was leaking cash through manual contract processes and wanted to see if re-engineering and automating them through contract management technologies would improve efficiencies and data visibility.

Biometrics: getting back to business

People and passwords -- in the long run, they just don't work very effectively together. At least that's what Phil Fowler, vice president of IT at Telesis Community Credit Union, a financial services provider that manages $US1.2 billion in assets, found out. His team ran a network password cracker as part of an enterprise security audit last year to see if employees were adhering to Telesis' password policies. They weren't.

CRM 2.0

When Tony LoFrumento joined Morgan Stanley in 2001, he was given a wide-ranging goal: to create a CRM and business intelligence (BI) infrastructure that would enable the financial services company to transition from a product-focused entity into a client-centric business. In developing a CRM strategy for Morgan Stanley, LoFrumento opted to put his resources into customer analytics -- building a centralized data mart, developing predictive models for such areas as client profitability and performance measurement, and bringing in BI, analytics and Web-based reporting tools to analyze and disseminate information -- rather than deploy an operational CRM platform.

The staff that never sleeps

For global companies developing business-critical applications, time to market is of the essence, particularly as they launch e-business initiatives. An approach that has worked in the past adding second and third shifts here at home doesn't play well these days, with skyrocketing salaries and a lack of IT talent defining the market. Increasingly, global companies are taking advantage of the fact that they have offices in multiple time zones and are expanding their development efforts by opening development centers around the world and staffing them with people who work in shared environments with U.S. teams.

Hazardous duty

Think you went beyond the call of duty when deploying your network globally? Then consider the experiences of Sara Lee's Lance Kull. When Kull and his networking team traveled to the Dominican Republic to install equipment and cabling in a plant in Atabo, they found themselves in the midst of a riot as they drove their minivan through the streets of Santo Domingo.

Global glamour

If you think finding qualified IT personnel to staff worldwide operations is difficult, try adding "must have sea legs" to the list of attributes you demand of prospective IT workers.