The InfoWorld 2012 Technology Leadership Awards

Vision and execution are hallmarks of great leadership, as these 11 technologists proved in pushing their organizations in bold new directions

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Other elements of the new program changed the culture of IRS processing, moving from weekly cycles to daily cycles -- and introducing the notion of overnight and weekend shifts in an organization that was strictly a 9-to-5 shop. The testing methodology also changed to be more integrated across the entire system, and the IRS staff had to learn many new commercial tools brought in as part of the modernization of the base platform. The program also used a program management office for which the application delivery team became a key supplier -- a novel approach in the IRS, where pipelined delivery from one team to the next was the norm, rather than partnerships.

Faced with unusual circumstances, Miller asked her employees to embrace an unprecedented cultural transformation, motivating hundreds of employees to change their thinking and conduct business in a different way.

In January 2012, the CADE 2 program for the first time delivered daily tax-return processing for all eligible individual taxpayers and in March 2012 delivered a fully populated database for all individual taxpayers. Since go-live, systems have run flawlessly in production, experiencing 100 percent on-time performance. On March 22, the CADE 2 program achieved another significant milestone when the initialization of the relational database in the production environment was completed -- more than one week ahead of schedule -- and balanced to the penny with the Individual Master File. By April 5, the new system had processed more than 1.8 billion transactions and issued 83 million refunds totaling $229 billion.

John Schanz, Comcast Cable
John Schanz , chief network officer, Comcast Cable

At Comcast Cable, the technology approach used to rely on disparate regional networks and systems. Launching new products and features required duplicated efforts across these multiple networks due to the lack of a cohesive, companywide shared services platform. Talent in place was similarly decentralized, and skill sets were skewed toward cable-technology strengths rather than Internet Protocol expertise. As a result, upgrades to video, voice, and high-speed Internet service took many, many months to accomplish at rapidly escalating cost. Yet customers wanted those services at an advanced level.

As chief network officer, John Schanz runs the company's National Engineering & Technology Operations unit -- a 3,400-person team charged with the IP-based platforms. He "Webified" Comcast's networks, technologies, and operations, serving as the strategic architect and designer of the Comcast backbone, regional area networks, and content delivery network to enable nationwide IP connectivity. That network carries more than 4TB of traffic at peak.

Schanz created a private cloud computing network by using IP technology in Comcast's data centers and infrastructure. He also pushed the IP core to the edges of the network, for next-generation content distribution systems that store and deliver hundreds of thousands of video-on-demand titles on a series of centralized library servers that can be accessed by local servers closer to customers, as well as video streaming to iPads, iPhones, Android, and Xboxes. Comcast serves 20 billion video-on-demand downloads -- outpacing Apple's iTunes service.

Schanz's team also used IP for its voice services, resulting in a Skype service on television and readable voice mail in early 2012. The company recently launched a monitored home security service using that IP network as well.

A third element in the "Webify" strategy was to build APIs to back-office functions that had traditionally been static, proprietary, and difficult to change, to make them more flexible going forward. As the expectations of what a cable company delivers changes, Comcast believes Schanz's "Webification" transformation will let it meet those expectations.

This story, "The InfoWorld 2012 Technology Leadership Awards," was originally published at InfoWorld.com. For the latest business technology news, follow InfoWorld.com on Twitter.

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