Tech done right: The 2014 InfoWorld Technology Leadership Awards

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

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2014 InfoWorld Technology Leadership Awards:

Technology creation/management

Jesus Unzueta, global CIO, Sirva Worldwide

Jesus Unzueta, Sirva Worldwide

In 2013, Sirva Worldwide's two moving-van lines, Allied Van Lines and North American, were using several multi-decade-old legacy systems from several -- not always supportive -- vendors to satisfy their operational needs. These legacy systems managed both the sales cycle and operational capacity, and in effect constrained their growth.

This outdated technology inhibited the entire organization: The van lines were weighed down by the significant human effort tied to the legacy systems, and the system supporting the independent agent network was inefficient in managing the volume of shipments, constraining available capacity for customers.

For the IT organization, maintaining and operating several isolated systems was cumbersome, labor-intensive, and error-prone. As a result, both van lines brought in 30 to 40 temporary employees each year to work on the operations team during the busy April-September season.

In the field, salespeople were required to access multiple systems to provide an accurate pricing quote to customers, often resulting in inaccuracies. And the automated flow of information was one-directional, requiring van line drivers and crews to call in to provide shipment updates.

This broken system provided an opportunity to create modern systems that would increase efficiencies and insight into Sirva's moving operations, resulting in the better service to customers. So Global CIO Jesus Unzueta led the effort to create two new systems using in-house developers and external consultants: Quantum Leads, Appointments, and Bookings (QLAB), and Quantum Planning & Dispatch (QPD).

QLAB provides a portal to manage the entire order lifecycle, from the lead at the first customer contact through the entire sales process until the customer accepts the order. QPD drives network-wide efficiencies by optimizing capacity management and providing insight into customer shipment status. Additionally, it integrates with QPD Mobile, a tablet-based, in-truck technology (for iOS and Android) that allows drivers and crews to receive real-time updates to a shipment, as well as provide updates on the status of a shipment to the shipping agent and the van lines.

Within Sirva's van line divisions, both network-wide systems allow for automated, multidirectional flow of information throughout the entire organization -- providing real-time, demand-based pricing and enabling insight into shipment capacity.

Although Sirva Worldwide is a single company, its two van lines operate independently and in fact compete with each other. For maximum efficiency, the new system had to be common and centralized -- but it had to keep the two businesses from seeing each other's data, so there is no overlap in operational information across the van lines.

Today, the system is 80 percent deployed and has handled tens of thousands of transactions, while significantly reducing the number of temporary workers needed during the busy season. It will be fully deployed by 2015. That's a significant uptake in Sirva's business model, where independent agents contract the moving vans and can't be forced to adopt new systems -- they have to be convinced to make the move.

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