The end of the “do more with less” era; these are the tech trends that emerged from the information contained in the Elite 100 submissions.
Last fall, when we were in the midst of developing the theme and some of the initial content for the 2016 InformationWeek Elite 100 Conference, we realized that the IT industry was reaching an important turning point. For several years, we’d all talked about the impact a depressed global economy was having on IT spending and resources. The conventional wisdom was that we all had to “do more with less.” It became a depressing and stultifying refrain – the expectation was that we were resigned to getting less assistance in the form of employees and that we had to rely on fewer dollars for purchasing the tools we needed to get the job done. And, oh yeah, at the same time we had to somehow pull off being more productive. The assumption was to hunker down and wait for the phase to eventually reverse as the resources started flowing back.
However, that phase didn’t go away. In fact, it became the new normal. But something occurred to us late last year as we were discussing our conference ideas with CIOs and as we read through the many incredible submissions to our annual Elite 100 list: There were companies – and, it turns out, not a small number of them – that had become sick of the “do more with less” malaise and started to do something about it. No, budget dollars didn’t magically come flowing back. Long-vacant jobs didn’t get filled, easing pressure on struggling IT departments. IT executives were still being asked to innovate and keep the company agile and successful. And innovation alone wasn’t enough. Standout CIOs needed to create world-class enterprises capable of implementing new and existing technologies in the most efficient and impactful way possible. What happened was, after years of relentless and crushing challenges, outliers began to emerge: Many companies got smarter, and learned how to more efficiently leverage the best technologies, apply them to the best ideas and best processes, and motivate the best employees. You might say that these companies learned how to “do more with best.” They didn’t let one primary obstacle – a shortage of resources – stop them from innovating, and in turn from gaining competitive advantage.
The 100 companies that will be honored at this year’s InformationWeek Elite 100 Conference in Las Vegas May 2-3 exemplify this foundational shift in how IT impacts the business. With these companies, innovation, inspiration, and perspiration didn’t take a few years off. By applying some existing technologies in new ways and by discovering some cost-effective new technologies, these companies have demonstrated profound advancements in business outcomes. They truly are building world-class IT enterprises. And so our 2016 conference theme was born: How to Build a World-Class IT Enterprise, with the underlying challenge of how to learn to “do more with best.”
What else did we discover as we read through some of these remarkable submissions to the Elite 100?
Well, first of all, we learned that there are well more than 100 companies doing some amazing things with IT. There were some terrific examples of IT and business ingenuity that didn’t make this year’s list simply because other examples were, well, extraordinary. The bigger picture discovery was that the industry is emerging from the ossifying belief that companies simply had to choke down the “do more with less” way of life; what’s taking shape now is a new and motivational way of innovating.
Some other interesting trends emerged from the information contained in the Elite 100 submissions. The stories these companies told were like a diary for the industry. We noticed that analytics of all kinds – predictive, descriptive, business intelligence, etc. – were a huge competitive advantage for many companies. Analytics was the most popular technology innovation among the 2016 submissions. For example, one company built a massively scalable analytics and forecasting engine that can now produce sales and manufacturing forecasts in minutes instead of weeks. Another company, a restaurant chain, is using advanced analytics and CRM to create customer-level targeting, a first for this industry, and helped improve reservations spurred by one of the chain’s annual promotions by 42%. Another is using predictive analytics to increase oil well output, which is key in this current energy market.
Another hot technology concept is mobility – both mobile apps and mobile devices. A health-care company created a mobile app for managing, comparing, pricing, and discontinuing prescriptions on both the consumer and provider sides. Another health-care provider created a biometric screening app for mobile.
Other insights from the submissions included one of the more interesting examples of a “technology-driven innovation.” This company developed a variable video delivery platform that combines individual media elements including full-motion video, animation, still photography, music, voiceover, and text into one delivery system so companies can quickly and easily create, in real time, customized multi-channel communications marketing campaigns. Another company combined cloud services, content management, analytics, and CRM to create a Social Media Center of Excellence and aligned all of its global brands under one platform, one common set of best practices, and one analytics engine. These are just a few of the examples that will be a part of the InformationWeek Elite 100 Conference in May.
While our coverage will be just as broad as in years past, we’re paying special attention to seven key pillars of technology that InformationWeek’s audience has said are key to building a world-class enterprise: Security, Analytics, Cloud Services, Mobile Management, DevOps, Data Center Transformation, and IoT. Within those pillars, we’ll cover many of the other associated technology areas.
As we near the opening of the InformationWeek Elite 100 Conference, we’ll be highlighting some of the stories straight from the practitioners themselves. These standout CIOs will discuss how innovation has become a way of life, and how they’ve been able to shatter the confinement of the “do more with less” era.