In 1993, CIO honoured six organisations for their ability to create value using IT. The honourees were a diverse group spanning multiple industries and in both public and private sectors. Yet in virtually every case the value created by the honourees' systems came in the form of dollars and cents. Several of the honoured systems included first-time applications of technology to previously manual and paper-based processes, and the rewards the organisations subsequently reaped were a testament to the benefits of business process automation.
Take the Perrier Group of America. By using IT to support its shift to regionalisation in the early 1990s, the company earned a net ROI of US$11.4 million in the first year and $15.4 million annually after that. The combination of route-management software, handheld computers, common databases, and networked links to newly regionalised data and support centres enabled Perrier to reduce its head count, cut its operating and facilities costs, and increase productivity. That's definitely nothing to sneeze at. But during the next few years, we started to honour companies for more and more strategic uses of IT. As early as 1995, we began to find organisations using a combination of technology and IT-business partnerships to effect real business transformations. Enterprise Value Award winner and parking lot operator APCOA, for example, implemented distributed technology that not only achieved an ROI of 248 percent, it also improved customer service and helped position the company to take advantage of new opportunities for expansion without having to extend its infrastructure. Meanwhile, Hyatt Hotels developed a central reservation system that was so successful, it allowed the company to enter a new line of business - selling the technology to other hotel chains. Everyone likes to save money. But it has become eminently clear that strategic applications are where IT's real value lies.
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