We received more than 40 applications for the 2002 Enterprise Value Awards, and it was immediately obvious how much higher the bar has been raised. Rare were the entries touting returns from simple business-process automation. Much more common were applications of technologies that have transformed the way business is done. With such an array of impressive contenders, choosing winners was tougher than ever. (See "How We Picked the Winners.") Not only has the bar for consideration for an Enterprise Value Award moved higher, making the strategic use of IT almost a given, but our definition of IT value has of necessity become broader as well. In past years our discussions of IT value focused mostly on the benefits (whether financial or, later, more strategic) gained by the individual enterprise implementing the particular application or system. Today we are extending our examination of value to an organisation's business partners, to its industry and to society as a whole.
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, one of this year's winners, is such an example. By creating top 10 lists of violations and making them available through its winning data integration system, the department has been able to reduce the runoff of sediment caused by surface mining operations - one of the state's most common environmental problems and a major threat to its streams. This newfound ability to work proactively to serve its mission is one of many benefits of the department's system. At the same time, the technology is helping to inform and serve the citizens of Pennsylvania, with state and local environmental information available online. This is IT at work for the planet we live on; it's hard to imagine an impact more critical than that. Little wonder that the technology has attracted the interest of more than a dozen other states.
This year, two public organisations won awards, and the second was the Michigan Department of Transportation (MDOT). With its FieldManager road construction software, developed through an innovative public-private partnership, the MDOT has been able to support road and bridge construction projects that have tripled in value to $1.5 billion a year - even as it downsized the department from 5,000 to 3,000 employees. The technology has also been licensed for use in several other states, thus helping to set a new standard and transform this formerly paper-laden industry.
Dow Chemical's winning Web-based training delivery system, Learn@dow.now, has helped transform the giant company from a fragmented, locally managed organisation into a streamlined global entity. By providing consistent training to all 50,000 employees worldwide, the system has helped Dow reorganize around global business units and flatten its organisational structure - not to mention it has saved the company $30 million in its first full year of operation. The value and impressive scale of the system won it the unanimous approval of the Enterprise Value Awards judges.
Customer service is at the heart of Enterprise Rent-A-Car's winning system, which has brought online the previously labour-intensive process of arranging replacement rental cars for drivers whose own cars have been damaged in accidents. By enabling insurance companies, Enterprise branches and auto-body shops to manage that entire slice of the rental cycle electronically, the Web-based system has made life so much easier for Enterprise's insurance company customers that several of them have been willing to enter preferred provider relationships with the company. SBC Communications' winning system also provides a lesson in delivering core value. In response to network shortages that were making it difficult to serve customers, the telecom company implemented a network management environment that lets engineers proactively monitor capabilities so that shortages are minimised and customer orders for new lines or services can be more consistently met. Not only that, the company estimates the system has saved it $22.3 million in direct and indirect operating costs. When fully deployed, SBC expects it to create savings of up to $10 million per year. By delivering a system to ensure the quality and consistency of its central offering - telecommunications services - SBC focused on its core business and used IT to help make it top-notch.
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