Let's face it, 2008 has shaped up to be a tough year for many businesses. I won't bore you with the litany of challenges\u2014you don't need me to tell you what they are.\nBut in the face of these trials, CIOs and their teams have managed to do some extraordinary things. And we at CIO are delighted to be able to recognize and profile them in this special issue of the magazine.\n\nThe CIO 100 Award honors innovation and value. While many of this year's honorees focused on operational innovation, calling their efforts a return to basics would be like calling what Olympic swimmer Michael Phelps does "taking a dip." Indeed, what they're really doing is transforming their companies\u2014their infrastructures and business processes\u2014to enable the next level of competitive advantage.\n\nAs Senior Editor Stephanie Overby writes in "Faster, Cheaper and In Control," smart CIOs this year have focused on service excellence, doing more with less and real business process transformation. Their initiatives address a wide range of business challenges and opportunities, from data center consolidations that save millions of dollars to enabling a virtual workforce. We give you the highlights in our list of winners and projects beginning on Page 32, with more detail online in our CIO 100 honorees' database.\n\nYou may be wondering why I've titled this letter "101 Kudos" when we have 100 honorees. The final tip of the hat goes to the CIO team, who demonstrated their own resourcefulness and commitment to excellence in putting together an absolutely terrific package. Special thanks go to Executive Editor Elana Varon who led the project for her fifth year, working with an impressive group of outside experts to do the judging (see the list here), along with a virtual team of writers and editors that included Overby, Senior Editor Steff Gelston, newcomer Jarina D'Auria, colleagues from CIO.com, and one of judge Dennis Anderson's graduate students, Mishal Dholakia, who wrote many of the winning project descriptions. Thanks, too, to Design Director Terri Haas. It's not easy to take a repeating list of 100 things and make it engaging, dynamic and even beautiful, but that's exactly what she's done.\n\nWe hope you enjoy this year's CIO 100 issue and that the projects presented give you ideas to meet your own challenges more successfully in the year ahead.