The InfoWorld 2013 Technology Leadership Awards

Creativity and execution are hallmarks of great leadership, as these eight technologists proved in pushing their organizations in bold new directions

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TLA 2013: Technology Deployment

Craig Brown, CEO, STEM Resource Partners

Craig Brown, STEM Resource Partners

Two big issues for IT today are the BYOD and big data phenomena -- especially in organizations that resist change. The challenge is getting the organization to recognize that change is needed and invest in the technology that will bring about a more efficient ways to collect data, manage customers (both internal and external), market to new customers, and solve communication issues.

Brown faced this challenge in trying to manage the expectations of the senior executive team around adoption of these emerging trends while maintaining business-as-usual reliability, security, and costs. He looked for low-cost technology that would let him deliver a small innovation within his budget but provide benefits in at least one area that would be noticed and revered as an accomplishment to justify the need enterprisewide for a serious investment.

Brown also had to engage in politics around misguided perceptions and ideology. "I had to first correct the perception that the business was doing fine and that change was not needed," he recalls.

He created that proof-of-concept project under the radar. It allowed the sales team to create a new customer profile via a new mobile application -- an approach that worked well in point-of-sale contexts. He was then able to enhance the mobile application so that the internal customer service could use it internally to enhance internal communication -- which became a cost savings to the business. The mobile applications were welcomed by the administrative, customer service, and sales teams.

These small successes let senior management buy in to a new approach to improving the world it had seen as already perfect. Now, teams are no longer tied to their email at their workstations. Instead, they can go out and work with both their customers and external support staff. Some competitors were already doing this, so this effort at least got STEM in the new game. "My plan only worked because I had the support of the team leads and the project managers," Brown notes.

Both the mobile applications and devices paid for themselves with just part of the new revenue they helped generate. This revenue exceeded the mobile application development costs, so fit well in the company's culture of not increasing short-term or long-term costs.

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