The list : Projects 4 - 7

By Baselinemag  |  Posted 2006-03-02 Print this article Print

The Baseline Top 10 Projects in 2006 reader survey reveals that the three largest areas of spending on IT projects this year will be on infrastructure: Voice-over-IP, outsourcing and data networking.

4. Customer Relationship Management

  • WHAT IT IS:Software for tracking sales and customer interactions.
  • WHY IT'S HOT IN 2006:Companies want to get more value out of their data to better predict sales trends.

    So, how's Spam selling in California? This spring Hormel Foods, the $5.4 billion producer of the famous canned ham and other meats, is rolling out software from Siebel Systems, now part of Oracle, to more quickly and accurately analyze sales data and trends.

    Chris Boever, Hormel's director of category sales management for consumer products, says that until recently, CRM packages lacked the ability to provide "robust" analysis of sales data. Using Siebel Business Analytics, Hormel will be able to link data in its transactional sales system with external sources of data, such as competitive market share figures from ACNielsen. "Now we can bring it all into a single source," Boever says. That should help Hormel's 500 sales professionals get more timely insights into trends, and improve accuracy since the data will be aggregated. "We want to become more efficient providers to our employees," Boever says.

    5. Collaboration

  • WHAT IT IS:Software to let people share files and other information.
  • WHY IT'S HOT IN 2006:Electronic collaboration is faster and less expensive than the alternatives.

    When the Texas-New Mexico Power Co. was in the process of being acquired by PNM Resources last year, it used Web-based collaboration software to share thousands of documents with outside law firms, regulatory agencies and consultants.

    Carl Seider, head of business technology services at the former Texas-New Mexico Power, estimates the company shared 6,000 documents related to the acquisition. Printing and delivering those to the 20 parties involved in the deal would have cost at least $300,000, he says.

    Seider's team used Hummingbird's Enterprise Collaboration software for the project, which cost $40,000 and didn't require I.T. staffers to manage because it tied directly into the company's existing Hummingbird document management system. That way, for example, the legal department set up access rights itself. "It was easily a 90-day return on investment," Seider says.

    6. Supply Chain Management

  • WHAT IT IS:Software to track and optimize interactions with suppliers.
  • WHY IT'S HOT IN 2006:Companies want to contain spending by better managing supplier relations.

    Delta Air Lines last year launched a project to analyze $9 billion in annual spending with 6,000 suppliers in a consistent way, using hosted services from Verticalnet. The system, brought online last summer, lets the airline's 115 supply-chain professionals easily find out exactly what Delta spent with a given vendor over a certain period.

    While the company's SAP accounting system includes all that data, it was laborious to extract, says Bob Currey, Delta's general manager for sourcing innovation and supplier management. "We had to do analytical gymnastics to aggregate spending," he says. For example, contracts with IBM might be entered with different invoice codes in different countries.

    Getting a global view of spending is even more important since Delta filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection in September. As part of the restructuring process, Delta needs to provide spending data to multiple consulting firms. "One of the first things they want to know is, 'Who are you spending money on?'" Currey says.

    Click here to download a PDF of the print versionof this story, including more details and charts of spending priorities and who's making the spending decisions.

    The spend-analysis system will make that easier to answer. When Delta had to pull together a complete set of spending data in 2004, it took a team of four consultants a week. With the new software, Currey says, the same process recently took a day and a half.


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