About a year ago, John Glaser was in the hospital. Not an unusual place to find the vice president and CIO of Partners HealthCare System, a Boston-based company that manages 10 Massachusetts hospitals. But this time, Glaser was there to visit his wife. She had just undergone knee surgery and lay in the recovery room, emerging from her anesthesia fog. Suddenly one of her physicians stepped into the room and introduced himself. However, before Glaser could thank him for his work, the physician thanked the CIO for his. He recognized Glaser as one of the primary architects behind the hospital's provider order entry system (POES), an electronic check-and-balance system that warns doctors when their prescribed medications or tests might cause adverse reactions in patients (see "The Rx Files," Nov. 1, 2000). This homegrown system, first implemented at Boston's Brigham and Women's Hospital in 1993, has demonstrably improved patient care, cut health-care costs and was a 1996 Enterprise Value Awards winner. Partners is now planning to roll it out throughout their entire multihospital system. Smiling, the physician told Glaser, "I just want you to know that your system has really saved my ass a few times."
How's that for a testament to long-term value? Technologically, the Windows NT-based client/server system isn't particularly impressive -- not when compared to some of today's dazzling, state-of-the-art telemedicine systems. But strategically, as a means of improving medical care, POES has no peers. "This is one of those systems that feeds on itself," Glaser says.
Black & Veatch
Powrtrak Rolls On at Black & Veatch
This proprietary information system, built in-house by Black & Veatch's IT organization, helped the global engineering company complete projects faster, cheaper and with fewer errors than its competition, accruing an ROI of roughly $21 million from 1983 to 1997.
Black & Veatch has licensed Powrtrak to such companies as Taiwan Power (to the tune of $28 million in revenues), and the IT group that built it has been spun off into its own company, Black & Veatch Solutions Group.
POES is not alone. In taking a fresh look at some of the past award winners, we found several that continue years later to bringg noteworthy value to their host companies. Some, like POES, don't employ bleeding-edge technologies, but still deliver competitively differentiating results. Others, such as SBC Communications' Easy Access Sales Environment (EASE), a 1999 winner, have grown beyond their parent companies to become industry standards. Then there are those such as Black & Veatch's PowrTrak information system, a 1998 winner, which continues to evolve with emerging technologies and changing times.
HealthCare System Serves New Partners
With 162 servers and 4,800 clients, this proprietary information system was considered the biggest health-care client/server system in the world.
This same system now runs on roughly 400 servers and handles 30,000 clients.
Of course, as the complementary bars of emerging technologies and business-IT collaboration have been raised, some past winners don't look so remarkable today. Take SINet (which is Schlumberger's Information Network), for instance -- a 1997 Enterprise Value Awards winner. This intranet was remarkable when Schlumberger applied for the award in 1996 and unique when the global manufacturing and technology services company pioneered it in 1985. Judged on its own merits, SINet probably wouldn't win an award today -- intranets are ubiquitous in business now. Yet, the business-IT collaboration that resulted in that system has helped SINet evolve into a business backbone that has brought Schlumberger new efficiencies, cost savings and a new network services line of business. The initial SINet success and its subsequent evolution have helped cultivate a risk-taking attitude among Schlumberger's top decision makers. "We took two or three risks at the right time, like building [SINet] on TCP/IP in 1992," says Jean Chevallier, Schlumberger's vice president of IT. "And we continue to take risks today."
SBC Goes Coast to Coast with EASE
Online sales negotiation tool helped this Baby Bell's sales reps sell more products faster in an exclusively local telecommunications marketplace.
Last July, SBC became the second regional telephone company allowed into the long-distance marketplace, in part because of its success with EASE.
And what about the people who built or sponsored these award-winning systems? Some, such as former Black & Veatch CEO Jim Adam, have retired. Others, like SBC's Mark Steinmetz, have moved on to bigger roles within their companies, in part because of their connections to these high-profile projects. And there are even a few -- Glaser and State Street CIO John Fiore come to mind -- who have become award judges. Glaser, who has been a judge since 1998, says he sees one consistent thread among the winners from all the represented industries: superb management.
Black & Veatch
Partners HealthCare System Inc.
SBC Communications Inc.
"Many of these projects haven't just changed organizations, they've changed entire industries," Glaser says. "In each of these projects you've seen people who are quite willing to be bold. They have great vision, great execution, a willingness to undertake a risky endeavor -- and they pull it off." Adaptability is another common trait. The most successful award-winning systems are those that are flexible enough to meet today's needs while anticipating tomorrow's. Glaser's own POES is a good example; it was built to serve a single hospital, but it will soon serve 10 hospitals in the Partners system. This exponential scale-up wouldn't have been possible had Glaser's team built the system to serve only Brigham and Women's immediate needs in 1993.
Bottom line: The hard work doesn't end with the Enterprise Value Awards ceremony. For companies that want to achieve lasting value, the trick is to build systems that are solid enough to deliver hard results but flexible enough to adapt to technological, personnel and business changes. We caught up with three past Enterprise Value Awards winners -- SBC, Black & Veatch and Partners HealthCare -- to see how their award-winning systems have weathered the transition from then to now.
This story, "Whatever Happened to...? " was originally published by CIO.