2011 InfoWorld Technology Leadership Awards:Business Leadership winners
Given its requirements that technologists step out of IT and squarely into the business, this is one of the most challenging categories for which to find nominees. But we expect nominations to grow as more IT people cross the IT/business alignment divide, and as IT and business alike come to realize there should be no divide at all.
Kamel Shaath, CTO, KOM Networks: Shaath's company is in the business of selling storage appliances and services, and to help KOM stand out and do good at the same time, Shaath instigated a partnership with recycler TCG and the Feed the Children charity to take customers' old servers, wipe them, recycle them via TCG, and donate the proceeds to Feed the Children. The technology component is a natural outgrowth of what KOM already does, though it added a logistical layer to its work process. "IT is not just writing a check. It's a program that takes a great deal of effort from numerous sources," Shaath says.
But this effort was about business leadership beyond the confines of the IT role, and Shaath found a way to leverage his business operations to help clients by reducing disposal costs, stand out from competitors, and help a charity hurt by the recent recession by converting discards into donations.
2011 InfoWorld Technology Leadership Awards:Inside IT Leadership winners
Like any business unit, IT can get set in its ways, becoming just a deployment and operations shop. This year's winners broke out of this rut in big ways, taking aggressive, innovative approaches to getting IT done.
Dan Lohrmann, CTO, State of Michigan: Michigan has been hit particularly hard by the recession, leading to drastic reductions in state expenditures in numerous government areas, including IT staff, IT salaries, and product and services budgets. Lohrmann took the tough reality and tried to make lemonade out lemons by using the cuts as the catalyst to reinvent how IT did its work -- no easy feat in government.
There was no magic bullet; Lohrmann and his team had to look at everything, from how support calls were handled to how a private cloud project could increase computing capacity while lowering operational costs -- and then do something about it. The challenge Lohrmann faced is not unique among government IT leaders, but the aggressive response across a wide number of areas is exceptional.
Frank Smith, CIO, Booz Allen Hamilton: With his firm's century of experience in management and, later, technology consulting, you can imagine the irony when Smith told the firm that it needed to look for outside expertise and fresh insight to rework its financial reporting systems in preparation for its 2010 IPO. Smith hired the reporting team from outside Booz Allen's staff -- as an added advantage, the team had no a priori alliance to any department, including IT, in its decisions on what to do -- plus brought in an outside consultant for the infrastructure design.
The result was very positive: Not only was the firm able to produce the financial statements required by the government -- which the company had never had to do before as a private concern -- but its operations became less expensive due to the new reporting system, increasing Booz Allen's profits. Sometimes, you have to know your own limits to escape them.