The list : Projects 7 - 10By Baselinemag | Posted 2006-03-02 Email Print
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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.
7. Desktop Upgrades
- AVERAGE SPENDING:$3.21M
- WHAT IT IS:Computers that let workers access corporate data.
- WHY IT'S HOT IN 2006:Faster and more reliable PCs are replacing older machines.
When Ed A. Klein joined Royal Resorts as CIO two years ago, the eight-resort company based in Cancún, Mexico, was having a few problems with its 1,000 desktop PCs. Most were running Windows 98; many were unstable. "People were losing files because their machines were freezing up on them," Klein says, noting that the humid and salty tropical air had corroded the computer circuitry in some locations.
Royal Resorts replaced all of its desktops in nine months, a project completed in the summer of 2005, with most employees using the same configuration of Dell OptiPlex GX280 machines with Windows XP.
But instead of buying them, the company opted for three-year leases for all the PCs. That not only spreads out the payments over time, but it will also let the company regularly refresh its desktop computers. As Klein explains: "This will ensure we never get into a situation where we have to do this major cleanup again."
8. Application Performance Management
- AVERAGE SPENDING:$2.98M
- WHAT IT IS:Software that monitors applications and can proactively find potential problems.
- WHY IT'S HOT IN 2006:Companies want more granular data to analyze system slowdowns and outages.
ReserveAmerica, which processes 3.5 million reservations every year for 150,000 campsites and cabins in the U.S., is using HP OpenView systems management software to automate the monitoring and management of more than 200 servers that run its Internet site and internal applications.
This spring, the company expects to roll out the OpenView Transaction Analyzer, which traces requests all the way from a customer's Web browser to the specific back-end application processes serving up the data. That will help ReserveAmerica pinpoint problems when, for example, a campground calls and says it's not getting good response times from the Web site, says systems architect Greg Collett.
Instead of just indicating whether a server is up or down or reporting statistics like process utilization, the new software will track individual transactions in detail.
For example, it could show why a specific Web browser was unsuccessful at submitting a particular Structured Query Language database request. "You can have it drill down and see that this particular machine is running this specific section of Java code slowly and that's affecting this service," Collett says. "It's very cool."
9. Business Analytics
- AVERAGE SPENDING:$2.63M
- WHAT IT IS:Software that analyzes business information to detect trends or generate forecasts.
- WHY IT'S HOT IN 2006:Tools are providing better integration with existing data sources.
Halliburton, the $21 billion energy services and construction company, is planning to upgrade its SAP R/3 version 4.6c enterprise resource planning software—which it operates in more than 100 countries—to mySAP ERP 2005, a project to be completed in 2007.
In part, Halliburton decided to upgrade because SAP is phasing out support for the older version. But the company also expects to take advantage of SAP's Business Warehouse analytics tools that are bundled into the newer version, says Mike Perroni, Halliburton's vice president of information technology. Currently, Halliburton has a 3,000-user license for Business Warehouse.
After the upgrade, all 30,000 employees will be able to access the system to analyze data in SAP. "This will make it easier for people to do their jobs," says Perroni, who adds that the new versions of SAP's reporting tools are "phenomenally better ... SAP has taken into account that their products are not that easy to use."
10. Compliance Tracking
- AVERAGE SPENDING:$2.48M
- WHAT IT IS:Software that records changes to information systems, to help show compliance with industry or government regulations.
- WHY IT'S HOT IN 2006:Companies are looking for ways to automate compliance activities.
BMO Financial Group, a Canadian financial services company whose subsidiaries include Chicago-based banking firm Harris, last year finished a four-year project to roll out Oracle Financials accounting software for 20,000 North American employees.
To comply with the Sarbanes-Oxley Act, the company must confirm that users have appropriate access privileges to minimize "segregation of duties" conflicts that create opportunities for fraud (for example, if an employee somehow had the ability to cut himself a check without authorization).
Last fall, the bank installed software from Logical Apps to automate checks for such conflicts, based on rules about which job functions are allowed to have certain change privileges.
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The software also records changes to the accounts-payable system, such as if the amount of an invoice were altered, and lets support staffers configure the system but prevents unauthorized changes. Darlene Mac Cormac, vice president of procurement and strategic sourcing at Harris, says the software should cut the time to monitor conflicts and system security from two months to about a week. "It's not glamorous," she says. "But it wasn't until last year that we decided we needed to invest in automating this."
- The list: Projects 1 - 3
- The list: Projects 4 - 6
- The list: Projects 7 - 10
- Who Controls the Project Purse Strings?