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.\n\n\nSee 2013 CIO 100 Awards: Judges List and How We Chose the 2013 CIO 100 Winners here\n\n\nThink 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."\n\n\nCIO 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.\n\n\nOur 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.\n\n\nHere, some standout winners share insights about how they got smart about getting fast.\n\nGet Your Own House in Order\n\nBefore 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.\n\n\nA 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.\n\n\nWhen he joined Healthagen from Aetna's core IT group, Garcia set about replacing traditional development methods with agile and lean ones. The project has cut six months or more from the process of building software, he says. One new revenue-generating app built using agile methods was launched as a business recently: InvolveCare helps families coordinate care of elderly relatives with dementia.\n\n\nBut even as the company moved at top speed, Garcia didn't want to lose sight of good design. Agile teams can sometimes ignore human-centered design principles in a bid to pump out prototypes, he says. His team's watchword is "invisibility."\n\n\nThat is, a key test for a new system or application is whether the user has to spend much time fiddling with it to do anything useful. Technology shouldn't distract anyone, but hum in the background as the doctor and patient talk, decide and act, Garcia says. "Let the tech enrich that relationship."\n\n\nTechnology should also work the way a customer thinks, he says. Healthagen developers sometimes write code with a user persona in mind, such as a 35-year-old woman who lives in San Francisco and has a specific health condition. Doing so helps developers avoid wasted time building features that will be omitted later. "The speed theme permeates everything we do," he says.\n\nWork Faster Than the Sales Team\n\nAs world economies suffer through recession, not many companies have to contend with explosive growth in sales, employee count and geographic territories. But that's exactly what confronts Christopher Barron, global CIO of Valerus.\n\n\nValerus installs and services equipment for the natural gas industry and started life focused on the Texas market. But a large investor decided to step up its game in 2009, pursuing business outside the United States. Valerus quickly expanded to Jakarta, Iraq, and many other countries--five continents in all. The privately held company doesn't disclose financial data, but says sales total $1 billion and have grown a whopping 39 percent per year between 2010 and 2012.\n\n\nDuring this aggressive expansion, IT struggled at times to keep up, Barron says. Valerus' legacy IT was not designed to be picked up and plopped down in other countries and, as a result, was starting to impede corporate expansion, he says. For example, the company bought all its computer equipment in the U.S. and shipped it to new offices in other countries. But that was slow and expensive, leaving Valerus vulnerable to losing business to rivals, he says.\n\n\nAlthough Valerus could see where it needed to improve, some companies can't, says Tom Pettibone, a partner at consulting company Transition Partners. For them, diagramming a business process can highlight the black holes. A hospitality company he recently worked with, for example, used a diagram to find that the finance department wasn't acting quickly enough on proposals. Projects with the potential to improve sales and service languished. Reforming that department's processes helped cut the project development cycle almost in half, Pettibone says. "You want to strip out the fat."\n\n\nAt Valerus, Barron's team had to move as quickly as the sales team or risk becoming an obstacle to company growth. He launched a project in 2011 to create a quick-ramp version of Valerus' SAP enterprise systems using cloud computing and virtualized desktops. The company can now build a fully functioning office to support new business in less than 72 hours. Deploying a standard SAP "experience" to each region has cut software implementation time in half, Barron says.\n\n\nValerus now buys computers locally, rather than shipping machines from its Houston headquarters. That's quicker, less expensive and avoids the vagaries of customs in each country, he says. IT's newfound speed lets the company set up equipment for new customer projects in less than a week, which is faster than competitors and has helped Valerus win deals, Barron says.\n\nLook for Slow Spots\n\nWhen it isn't clear where to apply IT to speed things up, try analyzing how external customers interact with the company digitally, advises Kippelman, the CIO of Covanta, a $1.6 billion company that converts waste into energy.\n\n\nWhen Kippelman did that last year, he saw immediately that the contracting process took too long--weeks or months. It was largely manual and every deal was quite different from the one before. It seems no two municipalities create exactly the same kind and amount of garbage and, therefore, the process of converting that waste into energy differs, too.\n\n\nThe IT group interviewed teams from sales, legal and other areas to help revise the business process behind getting a contract in place. Then IT built an application for managing and tracking contract documents as they wind through approvals. To keep the process moving, the system notifies individuals directly of items they must address and tracks changes and routes them to the legal department for review. Customers can access contracts and initiate changes through a secured website, decreasing the need for back-and-forth with sales people. As a result, approval times for contracts shrunk dramatically.\n\n\nA related electronic billing system cut paperwork sent to customers by 75 percent and has increased the number of customers paying by credit card by 50 percent. Both of which save time, he says.\n\n\nAs the sales agents use the new system, IT incorporates their feedback in a continuous stream of improvements. "No one likes change, but if they can see this is built on their ideas, they will accept it," he says.\n\nTravel Forward in Time\n\nFast is great, but getting ahead is better. That's true innovation, says Alon from Accenture. Too many companies fall into what he calls an innovation death spiral. That's when new ideas or processes are developed only to defend the company's current position, rather than to push the company forward. Refreshing something that already exists, he says, "is renovation, not innovation."\n\n\nAnalytics and search technologies, in particular, can help companies go from reacting quickly to business changes to anticipating them, Pettibone says. A CIO who can help tell the future is valuable indeed.\n\n\nAmgen, a $17.3 billion pharmaceutical company, puts a premium on spotting potential trouble. The CIO 100 award winner analyzes manufacturing and laboratory data with such precision and depth that it can identify budding problems--and avert them--sometimes more than a month in advance.\n\n\nIn the pharmaceutical business, product shortages due to manufacturing issues can leave patients without needed medicines or scientists without research materials. Slight deviations from the precise specifications that pharmaceutical companies must follow can shut down production. Even a brief delay can cost the company a lot of money.\n\n\nAmgen makes biologic medicines, made of cells and proteins. The cultures can take months to grow. One wrong move and whole manufacturing lots can be ruined.\n\n\nUsing statistical analysis of data points collected in real time during the process, Amgen identifies "weak signals" that could indicate brewing problems in the manufacturing cycle. Scientists then delve deeper, taking corrective steps if necessary. The analytics system includes virtualized data warehousing tools from Denodo, multivariate analysis tools from Umetrics and various software modules from SAP.\n\n\nBy modeling multiple potential variations that could be indicated by the weak signals, Amgen can draw conclusions much faster than in the past, says CIO Diana McKenzie.\n\n\nIn one recent example, Amgen identified the cause of a cell culture problem about a month earlier than it otherwise might have. For that biologic product, making the fix early--and not losing that month--saved $2.4 million, she says. Depending on the product, manufacturing a lot can cost more than $1 million, she says. "This is Amgen's taming of big data."\n\n\nSteve Randich, CIO of the Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA), is slaying a data analytics monster of his own. The primary mission of FINRA is to protect investors from Wall Street crime. But investigating alleged Wall Street criminals, even with politics aside, is immensely complex.\n\n\nFINRA keeps a few dozen structured and unstructured databases and other electronic collections of information on about 4,250 brokerages and 630,000 brokers and other registered financial advisers. Employees can search all these sources for material related to an individual or company under review, developing multi-stage queries that weight data sources depending on the kind of information they're after. They can also set up alerts so they are notified when new pertinent data is available. But it didn't used to be that way.\n\n\nUntil 2011, some FINRA employees didn't have immediate access to some sources. Other critical files were still paper, stored in boxes and cabinets. It could take weeks to complete a basic background search. FINRA decided to digitize most data sources and build its own search capabilities. The Enterprise Search engine, built on Solr open-source software, does full-text searching like Google, but is tailored to FINRA's need for "intelligent" filtering and weighting of information, Randich says.\n\n\nNow a typical search takes less than a minute, allowing more time for more investigations. FINRA suspended or barred 843 individuals last year, compared to 684 in 2008, a year when it logged 94 percent more complaints.\n\n\n"If you're getting information faster and easier, the cost of doing so is going to be less," he says. "Investigating a case is easier, cheaper, quicker and more likely to result in catching the bad guy."\n\nFocus Beyond IT\n\nSome IT groups hesitate to move too quickly, worried that if they get too far in front of business plans, they will eventually discover that they have wasted energy and money on the wrong projects.\n\n\nThat's a legitimate concern, Pettibone says. But it's easily addressed, in part by placing staff members with hybrid business and technology expertise in key spots in various departments, he says. Randich and Barron, for example, are big fans of that tactic.\n\n\nMoving fast doesn't necessarily mean making risky moves, Alon says. In fact, quick experiments with prototyping new marketing campaigns or product ideas, for example, can decrease risk by revealing tactics for breaking into new business segments, finding ways to make better use customer data, or providing other valuable insights.\n\n\nEven an internal back-end process like Amgen's manufacturing analytics system can affect the company's overall speed with measurable financial results. With in-depth manufacturing knowledge, "we react more quickly and it allows us to produce a higher-quality product and have more manufacturing throughput," McKenzie says.\n\n\nAs Kippelman puts it, "Speed is a game-changer."\n\n\n\t\t\t\t\n\t\n\n\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\tHow We Chose the 2013 CIO 100 Winners\n\nBeginning last November, we solicited applications for the 2013 CIO 100 Awards through ads in CIOand our online newsletters, and through electronic mailings to our print subscribers, event attendees and publicists who sign up to receive our editorial announcements\n\n\nEntrants filled out an online application between November 2012 and late February 2013. Although most applications came from companies headquartered in North America, the pool included entries from multiple continents.\n\n\nEach application was read by two of the 42 CIO 100 judges--a list that included former CIOs, academic experts and independent consultants. The judges evaluated the applications according to two criteria: innovation and business value. Applications that received a score of 16 or higher (out of a possible 20) were selected for a second round of scrutiny by CIO editors.\n\n\nWe examined how each company stacked up against the others in the pool, putting emphasis on submissions that told the best stories about generating business value through creative and cutting-edge uses of technology. We sought to pull the most exciting initiatives from the pack and reward them with the CIO 100 honor.\n\n\nThe companies we selected for this year's CIO 100 Awards range from nonprofits to multibillion-dollar global powerhouses, and they come from every industry. Companies had to demonstrate not only that they were able to create new value using IT and to execute their project well, but also that they did so in uncommon, innovative ways: pioneering a new technology, applying a familiar technology to a new purpose, setting the bar higher for their competitors. We also emphasized projects that, due to their scope and impact, are helping propel companies to a more profitable future. In short, these organizations are technology leaders.\n\n\nThe list of award winners was published in the July 1 issue of CIO magazine, and award plaques will be handed out at the 2013 CIO 100 Symposium and Awards Ceremony, August 11-13, in Colorado Springs, Colo.\n\n\n\t\t\t\t\n\t\n\n\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t2013 CIO 100 Awards: Judges List\n\nDennis Anderson\n\n\nProfessor & Chairman of the Department of Management & IT\n\n\nSt. Francis College\nStephen Andriole, Ph.D. \n\n\nThomas G. Labrecque Professor of Business Technology\n\n\nVillanova University School of Business\nRobert D. Austin\n\n\nProfessor of Management of Creativity and Innovation\n\n\nCopenhagen Business School\nDoug Barker\n\n\nPresident\n\n\nBarker & Scott Consulting\nPaul Bergamo\n\n\nPartner & Practice Lead\n\n\nNewVantage Partners\nJack Bergstrand\n\n\nCEO\n\n\nBrand Velocity\nHans Brechbuhl\n\n\nExecutive Director, Center for Digital Strategies\n\n\nAdjunct Associate Professor, Tuck School of Business, Dartmouth College\nBob Bruce\n\n\nPresident & CEO\n\n\nBlueCod Technologies\nHoward Dresner\n\n\nChief Research Officer\n\n\nDresner Advisory Services\nLes Duncan\n\n\nCIO (ret.)\n\n\nAtmos Energy\nCharlie Feld\n\n\nFounder\n\n\nThe Feld Group Institute\nMartha Heller\n\n\nPresident\n\n\nHeller Search Associates\nPeter High\n\n\nPresident of Metis Strategy\n\n\nAuthor of World Class IT: Why Businesses Succeed When IT Triumphs\nDion Hinchcliffe\n\n\nEVP of Strategy\n\n\nDachis Group\nD. Kevin Horner\n\n\nPresident & CEO\n\n\nMastech\nCathy Hotka\n\n\nPrincipal\n\n\nCathy Hotka & Associates\nMike Hugos\n\n\nCIO at Large\n\n\nCenter for Systems Innovation\nM. Eric Johnson\n\n\nDean and Bruce D. Henderson Professor of Strategy\n\n\nOwen School of Management, Vanderbilt University\nMatt Karlyn\n\n\nPartner\n\n\nCooley LLP\nMichael Krigsman\n\n\nCEO\n\n\nAsuret\nKristen Lamoreaux\n\n\nPresident & CEO\n\n\nLamoreaux Search\nMichael E. Lawson\n\n\nProfessor of Economics & Associate Dean of Executive Education\n\n\nBoston University School of Management\nJerry Luftman\n\n\nProfessor & Managing Director\n\n\nGlobal Institute for IT Management\nAbbie Lundberg\n\n\nPresident\n\n\nLundberg Media\nThornton May\n\n\nFuturist, Executive Director & Dean\n\n\nIT Leadership Academy\nJerry McElhatton\n\n\nPresident\n\n\nVirtual Resources\nKavin Moody\n\n\nExecutive Director of the Center for Information Management Studies (ret.)\n\n\nBabson College\nDavid Moschella\n\n\nResearch Director\n\n\nLeading Edge Forum\nHonorio J. Padron III\n\n\nManaging Director & Global Business Services Practice Leader\n\n\nThe Hackett Group\nBart Perkins\n\n\nManaging Partner\n\n\nLeverage Partners, Inc.\nTom Pettibone\n\n\nPartner\n\n\nTransition Partners\nRon Ponder\n\n\nFounder & CEO\n\n\nThe Ponder Group\nChris Potts\n\n\nCIO Mentor\n\n\nAuthor of the FruITion trilogy: FruITion, RecrEAtion & DefrICtion\nDr. Howard Rubin\n\n\nFounder & President\n\n\nRubin Worldwide\nPhil Schneidermeyer\n\n\nPartner\n\n\nHeidrick & Struggles\nEric Sigurdson\n\n\nCIO Practice Leader\n\n\nRussell Reynolds Associates\nSheila Smith\n\n\nPresident\n\n\nOmega Point Consulting\nJim Spitze\n\n\nExecutive Director of the Fisher CIO Leadership Program at the Haas School of Business\n\n\nUC Berkeley\nJim Sutter\n\n\nSenior Partner\n\n\nPeer Consulting Group\nRick Swanborg\n\n\nPresident\n\n\nICEX\nMadeline Weiss\n\n\nPresident\n\n\nWeiss Associates\nGeorge Westerman\n\n\nResearch Scientist\n\n\nMIT Center for Digital Business\n\n\n\t\t\t\t\n\t\n\n\t\t\t\n\t\t\t\t\n\nFollow everything from CIO.com on Twitter @CIOonline, Facebook, Google + and LinkedIn.