The IT group interviewed teams from sales, legal and other areas to help revise the business process behind getting a contract in place. Then IT built an application for managing and tracking contract documents as they wind through approvals. To keep the process moving, the system notifies individuals directly of items they must address and tracks changes and routes them to the legal department for review. Customers can access contracts and initiate changes through a secured website, decreasing the need for back-and-forth with sales people. As a result, approval times for contracts shrunk dramatically.
A related electronic billing system cut paperwork sent to customers by 75 percent and has increased the number of customers paying by credit card by 50 percent. Both of which save time, he says.
As the sales agents use the new system, IT incorporates their feedback in a continuous stream of improvements. "No one likes change, but if they can see this is built on their ideas, they will accept it," he says.
Travel Forward in Time
Fast is great, but getting ahead is better. That's true innovation, says Alon from Accenture. Too many companies fall into what he calls an innovation death spiral. That's when new ideas or processes are developed only to defend the company's current position, rather than to push the company forward. Refreshing something that already exists, he says, "is renovation, not innovation."
Analytics and search technologies, in particular, can help companies go from reacting quickly to business changes to anticipating them, Pettibone says. A CIO who can help tell the future is valuable indeed.
Amgen, a $17.3 billion pharmaceutical company, puts a premium on spotting potential trouble. The CIO 100 award winner analyzes manufacturing and laboratory data with such precision and depth that it can identify budding problems--and avert them--sometimes more than a month in advance.
In the pharmaceutical business, product shortages due to manufacturing issues can leave patients without needed medicines or scientists without research materials. Slight deviations from the precise specifications that pharmaceutical companies must follow can shut down production. Even a brief delay can cost the company a lot of money.
Amgen makes biologic medicines, made of cells and proteins. The cultures can take months to grow. One wrong move and whole manufacturing lots can be ruined.