Top CIOs Use IT to Speed Up the Business

This year’s CIO 100 award winners 
understand the need for speed to deliver business agility

Thu, July 25, 2013

CIO — The need for speed underpins many of the projects we honor in our 26th annual CIO 100 awards. We recognize organizations whose IT work shows innovation and impressive business value. In 2013, it's clear that meeting those marks often requires a quicker way to get things done. External customer transactions, internal decision making, the very way IT operates to support new business ideas--it's all going faster, then faster still.

See 2013 CIO 100 Awards: Judges List and How We Chose the 2013 CIO 100 Winners here

Think of it as the business equivalent of breaking the space-time continuum: Significantly increase your speed, and you can reach new, possibly more profitable realms ahead of competitors. After coming out with a new product or service, quickly tweaking it to reflect customer feedback can push you into an even better position, says Adi Alon, a managing director in Accenture's innovation and product-development practice. "Designing your innovation process and operating model for speed," he says, "is a very critical weapon."

CIO 100 winner Stuart Kippelman, CIO of Covanta Energy, led a project to streamline a clumsy and slow customer contract process. The sooner paying clients are set up, of course, the sooner money comes in. "There's no such thing as too fast," he says.

Our honorees encompass many industries, including pharmaceuticals, insurance, and oil and gas, and they achieve speed through various means. Agile development, analytics, a portable ERP system and a homegrown search engine are among the technology tools they used. Perhaps more important is the "opportunity" mind-set, says Brian Garcia, a CTO at Aetna. An IT group focused on finding business opportunity will naturally want to move quickly to grab it, he says.

Here, some standout winners share insights about how they got smart about getting fast.

Get Your Own House in Order

Before the IT group can make a difference for colleagues, it should get its own house in order. At some companies, plans for systems to support a killer new product can disappear into a slow, convoluted development process, says Garcia, CTO of Aetna's Healthagen subsidiary, which sells health-management technology and services. Healthagen also funds startups working on mobile and online health tools, incubating the small companies so the $36 billion Aetna has the option to someday use the technology internally or sell it.

A key goal for Healthagen is to create products to help hospitals, pharmacies, doctors and patients share data and, as a result, make healthcare decisions faster. That could be a mobile app to manage diabetes or a business intelligence system to navigate the federal Affordable Care Act. "We're focused on speed because the opportunity is there to address fundamental problems in healthcare," he says.

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