Getting a Glimpse, Through Numbers, of Who’s Using Technology Well

How good companies are at using information technology is one of those things that’s hard to know—at least if you’re outside a company. From outside, you can’t know how easy it is to get data, whether the systems were designed with customers in mind, how fast the internal support is.

From the inside, these things are usually clear. Very few of us are in the dark about the quality of I.T. management at the companies where we work. Just by what happens when we log onto our systems each morning, we know where and whether money is being spent, and often, how well it’s being spent.

The Baseline 500, our annual list of the enterprises most skilled at using technology, is our attempt to shed some light on companies’ skill at using technology without the benefit of inside information.

It is a top-down look, based strictly on publicly available numbers, with all the limitations that entails. Foremost among the limitations is that the formula favors companies in up parts of their economic cycles. For the last few years, the energy sector in particular has benefited from high levels of profitability. Half the top 10 companies on our main list this year are in the energy business. That’s been a nice place to be lately. (To access the full list of companies, click here.)

To make the comparison more apples to apples, this year we’ve isolated Information Productivity (our metric) by industry sector, to let you see how similar companies stack up. So if what you’d really like to know is which companies in your own industry are the best at using technology, see our top industry performers, which we’ve laid out this year in a set of interactive maps.

While numbers were the heart of our survey, we also talked to the CIOs of some of the companies that came out best in our analysis. The CIO for the No. 1 company, Southern Copper, told Baseline senior writer Brian Watson that his company has benefited from deploying business intelligence software and Internet telephony. You can see that story and two others on our profiles page.

Do let us know if you’re inside one of these companies and we’ve missed anything (good or bad) about its use of technology. We’re all ears: [email protected].