25 Top Information Managers: 2011
For our second annual list in what is now a flagship program at Information Management, our staff, contributors, trusted analysts and past winners brought us their best examples of leadership and names to watch in information management in the coming year. Editorial director Jim Ericson, assisted by interviews and research from associate editor Justin Kern, set out on an odyssey of listening and learning from the best and brightest minds we could find, and present the impressive results on these pages. In no specific order, every one of these movers and shakers imparted additional wisdom we´ll be expanding on in a live event and online throughout the year in individual profiles at info-mgmt.com.
To see the entire list of winners, click here.
Yen's small group of five developers tackles chores across data architecture, modeling and the creation of objects and reports for all business functions at the fashion specialist, including retail, manufacturing, finance and the executive team.
Yen was selected for adapting Guess's multiple transaction systems and MicroStrategy BI investment into a consistent reusable view of retail operations for multiple user groups. From a legacy of printed spreadsheets and pasted photos of fashion items, fashion buyers and managers serving 400 stores now have mobile access to data assets and store operations through iPads and BlackBerrys.
Guess combines a home office view with distributed managers who bring unique skills to the retailer and operate autonomously. Part of the beauty of the solution is that it fit the culture and existing process (with a bit of field tweaking) and did not call for a corporate exploratory project of deep investigation and requirements gathering.
"We're a fashion company where everything is visual and has to look good. You want something that provides a lot of analysis but doesn't overwhelm the field user," says Yen. "We'll serve super users differently, but mobile users are even saying it's fun to use the apps we build, and I've never heard that before about a report."
Casey was peer nominated for her work on a huge information sharing project as the only U.S. state level chief data officer in Colorado. "Identity usually lands with security guys who protect things. Our mandate in Colorado from the assembly and the governor was to share information for important programs affecting education, health information exchange, juvenile justice, communities and citizen service areas with one common framework and common enterprise architecture infrastructure."
Casey left her position with the state early this year to head up another unification effort for the U.S. Department of Energy. She presently subcontracts to the DoE's architecture team, which is on a six-month turnaround to design a strategic approach to governance, policy and procedure, cybersecurity, privacy and confidentiality, architecture and technology. DoE offices under study include the Secretary, the Office of Science, the Office of Energy Efficiency, the National Nuclear Security Administration, and 17 research national laboratories and organizations.
"The CIO and CTO really bring a private sector mentality to this and want DoE to be a model for 21st century government. We have a set of services we need to deliver to our customers, and we're going to move forward in short order."
Cretella leads the nonmanufacturing IT side of the global family-owned candy, food, beverage and pet care business.
A key assignment came in 2008 when Cretella served as interim CIO to consolidate data centers following the acquisition of the Wrigley candy business. Before and since then, the GIS division of Mars has been on a business transformation path to unify data processing, network connectivity, email and desktop services.
"We ran up private clouds in Windows and Linux where we massively use virtual servers. We´re also deploying capabilities for communication and collaboration leveraging cloud solutions."
Mars engaged 15,000 hosted seats of email and instant messaging that will reach the whole organization and provide instant scale for any future acquisitions.
Centralized IT at Mars is geared around supply and demand where divisional CIOs are also account managers who call on technology services based on a common catalog that is now 85 percent billed by usage versus allocation. It´s an evolution that started with standardization, evolved into consolidation, virtualization, and now, end-to-end services.
"I work closely with the CEO, CFO and often with the business owners. It´s a unique experience to work with the owner of a truly vertically integrated corporation."
Lebeau was chosen by our staff for his data quality control and unification efforts in global production of vaccines. Lebeau has sought simplicity and impact within the company's pharmaceuticals operations, which has nearly doubled every three years to reach just under $7 billion in 2010 sales. That growth has meant added expectations and changes within data management, including Lebeau's "very large ERP" ventures toward a single software solution for all manufacturing, finance, procurements and human resources worldwide.
His next series of projects will create a new, company-wide GRC platform and set of tools for audit management, control monitoring, continuity and the management of deviation of pharmaceuticals. This tiered, simplified approach is unique in the highly regulated industry of vaccines, where risk, compliance and manufacturing vary across countries and markets.
"It's the series of all these projects that makes the greater impact, if you take them one-by-one, you may only find the lesser benefits," Lebeau says.
Trucks keep American business moving, and keeping on top of the data flowing from trucks is where Leonard comes in.
With a background in efficiency and innovation from experience with the U.S. Army and Dell, respectively, Leonard has cleaned up and integrated decades-old invoice data, and moved fleet managers into the future of mobile and logistics BI. Through the in-cab capabilities of U.S. Xpress´s DriverTech system, Leonard and his IT team of 100 have been able to capture near-real-time data on drivers, routes and a truck´s operational information, and integrate it into the company´s data warehouse business intelligence solution.
Parsing that information and keeping on top of savings initiatives and fuel use adds up for DriverTech´s support of about 10,000 drivers and nearly three-times as many truck trailers traveling across the U.S., Canada and Mexico. Leonard says drivers have taken to the reduction initiatives, receiving credits at truck stops and numerous prizes for paring their footprint. "We´ve lowered our fuel consumption while idling from about 78 percent to about 40 percent. If you can imagine 10,000 trucks on the road, $3 million per day to pay for fuel and you take idle out of that, we´re saving annually about $17 million right off the top."
Coots earned a nomination from one of our trusted analyst who pointed to Coots´ back-end SAP architecture and his recent development of a real-time customer data system built on an operational intelligence solution. By setting up "traffic lights" for failure points throughout the information entry process, Coots and his team of 40 can spot and address power or billing problems in customer data streaming through call centers and numerous outside service sources. The system addresses more than two million customers at TXU, the largest energy retailer in Texas.
"We really wanted to get ahead of that problem so as that train falls off the tracks, we fix it before the customer is even impacted. We want to make sure their experience with us is as seamless as possible."
A lifelong fan of artificial intelligence, Coots expects a connection from that field to the great leaps in information management systems that increasingly "do the thinking for us."
"We set up systems all the time that do what they´re told, but they don´t really do a good job of helping us think," Coots says, later adding, "In five to 10 years, if I´m seeing someone doing lookups in Excel, I´m going to be surprised."
Adame was nominated by our staff for her unique approach to create traceability between business process models, data models and service modeling to drive down costs and increase reuse at the global financial services provider.
The idea started in IT with a CIO initiative to standardize operational systems on a single platform to roll out services. "In the initial stages of doing that, we saw that getting the data right was a very big deal, and we saw over time that by keeping a tight eye on business process models, controlling and enhancing them was a very big deal."
Adame´s customers are all the application developers for the large global systems within HSBC. With 30 to 40 percent of rollout costs going to data integration, solving that problem with reusable interfaces and service modeling driven by standard metadata became the repeatable way to move forward. HSBC presently has 780 service operations that anyone in the HSBC service organization can reuse, a statistic Adame calls "a figurative master data approach to services."
Behind Daymon's in-house brands for more than 150 retailers and between the 6,000 distributors that get them on shelves, Beniwal has devised a network of product and customer information to keep data streamlined and, for the first time in many respects, accurate throughout its lifecycle. After nearly three years of development, Beniwal and his team of 55 launched Daymon's "Gold Standard" initiative in January, creating new information sources to retailers like Costco and Meijer and their suppliers, a and also brought efficient, quality information on more than one million products to Daymon's sales force.
Integrating information systems and sharing that vision with business counterparts are part of a growing wave of necessary tools and strategy for retail and brand management, Beniwal told us. That way, he says IT directors and the business side can dually ensure data projects are still relevant a few years down the road.
"It's no longer, I wish we could, or I would if I had time. We don't have a choice anymore. If you want to really make a difference in a business, you have to spend more time sharing and you have to spend more time running your information business."
Coleman is pushing ahead of federal mandates for cloud deployments, green data centers and building systems at the GSA, which manages and supports government offices, transportation and communications. Her success in a recent administration consolidation project bolstered data security, turned up thousands of unused mobile devices and enabled the "ability to operate as a single enterprise." Now, Coleman is eyeing the cloud as a dual opportunity to reduce emissions at data centers and align government with modern technology.
Under way since November, the migration entails repositioning all email and collaboration tool sets from in-house licensed servers and software to a cloud-delivered software as a service platform run by Unisys and their partner, Google.
"For government, it's kind of a big deal to take a step like this," Coleman told us. "There's a lot of interest and, of course, cloud computing is a priority of the Obama Administration and of Administrator [Martha] Johnson at GSA. We are very involved in the federal cloud computing drive, and we kind of serve as an example of what can be done by doing it ourselves."
Rifaie was selected for the construction, implementation and unification of business intelligence and ETL throughout the data systems at Canada´s largest bank. With a team of 300 in-house and contracted IT officers divided into six management groups, Rifaie led recent efforts to centralize RBC´s client data warehouse and to maintain data models with developers and departments, as well as information security in the financier´s anti-money-laundering campaign.
Behind all of those projects and implementation is what Rifaie calls his "maniacally focused" reliance on programs running on clearly defined enterprise architecture. "IT applications in technology change frequently, however, data is time enduring. I consider data the durable output of IT. So, data isn´t just the language of the business, it is principally the business," Rifaie says.
In the years ahead, Rifaie told us he expects information managers to tailor products and services around the unstructured data that accompanies customer interaction analytics, both internally and from social media outlets.
"I think the biggest thing we´re grappling with and we will be working with is what I call `interaction analytics.´ Interaction analytics is all about social media data, big data."
Kaufman was nominated to our list by a top analyst for his work with customer financial data oversight tools and internal analytics. The culmination of this was the creation and implementation of ScoreBoard, a business tool for credit transaction tracking that creates comparative vertical industry views and drilldowns. ScoreBoard follows Kaufman´s philosophy of letting the technology fit the business project rather than the other way around - "too often, we start with the technology and then we force the business needs into that."
As business analytics and social media interactions ramp the amount of data in the banking industry, Kaufman says agile development is the only way to keep IT projects successful.
"Six years ago was like ancient times in the ways businesses are interacting. We need to bring products to market quicker than ever before, and customers expect us to use technology more than ever before," Kaufman told us. "Our customers are expecting us to, quite honestly, do a better job. At U.S. Bank, we´re a big company, [but] we´re trying to act like a small company in moving products to market quickly and be as innovative as we can."
In creating a CRM enterprise warehouse for all of the customer gaming and interaction data at 18 casinos and hotels, O'Dell was Station Casino's ace in the hole. Within a year, her regular BI team of two dozen, the contracted vendors and involved corporate executives developed and implemented the project.
"Being able to calmly sit down and talk about the correct path to go down and how you resolve it and talk through it, I think that is the biggest thing," says O'Dell, a 25-year veteran of the gaming industry. "Otherwise, we could have gotten sidetracked very easily by any problem and said, 'Oh, we're just going to throw that out and try something different,' which would have set us back six months."
Together, the project team delivered real-time business intelligence on gaming and hotel transactions, with layers of new reporting and 17 years of data converted in real-time tables.
Documented returns include $1 million per month reduction in marketing and promotional expenses, $500,000 per month reduction in production expenses, 14 percent improvement in guest retention and a reduction in data error rates from 80 percent to about 1 percent. In total, O'Dell's warehouse has garnered about $1.5 million per month in increased profit for Station Casinos, returning its investment in about six months.
Acar was selected for her work with the Federal Data Architecture Subcommittee, whose ongoing mission is to engage federal agencies and advance the management of federal data as a national asset. Her group, which reports to the executive branch of federal government, has helped change the culture of agencies built on a legacy structure of silos to break down barriers of ownership with a mandate to "build to share."
To stand up and institutionalize the sharing mantra, Acar has brought together expert panels and points of contact from many areas of government. She solicits, recruits and engages with dedicated senior data architects on time donated by major agencies and subagencies from the cabinet level to independents like HUD and FDIC. Institutionalized work of the subcommittee appears on data.gov where more than 250 information brokers discover and reveal data sets of value or in demand by the public. This is supported by a subgroup that creates data vocabularies (data models, taxonomies or metadata registries) to tag and reuse. Acar has built and teaches core curriculum on the data aspects of enterprise architecture to candidates in talent demands for public data management.
Backus´s title at the well-known data and services provider rests between the role of an architect and CIO. Nominated for his MDM role in a multiyear enterprise transformation, Backus works with three groups adding up to 160 FTEs and consultants in enterprise data services, data warehousing/BI and middleware. All these initiatives leak back to governance, which Backus is applying in a mix of projects.
"The long-term thing is to get the assets into place and then put them into the business to give them some teeth. On the tactical side where the bridge really exists [you want] to put data governance into motion, put those master files into the enterprise and then link them to all the places where they necessarily need to interact." Putting data governance into motion, Backus says, is the difference between the notion of governance and actually doing it.
Working in an environment where business priorities and processes are changing at the same time, Backus says the services route was the most flexible way to serve both without prioritizing either. "We´ve taken a services approach to build a master file, build services on top of it to expose it and now go after the places in your enterprise where you need to make the impact the soonest."
Abraham was brought to our attention for his role in Dell's, enterprise architecture and governance functions. "We're also building information architecture as a discipline in Dell with reference models for data and maturity models for governance or integration or capability," he says.
A third practice is helping to morph old supply chain practices toward a kind of process centric center of excellence with far less delineation between business and IT than exists today. That strategy supports a future that will be less about selling machines, and more about selling cloud services or management with mobility and other supporting services. "Where we'd optimize a process to maximize output regardless of what happens around you, it's now more end-to-end optimization which considers what our inputs do to other inputs and outputs.
On the other side of this transformation, next generation information architecture will include multi-domain MDM that is better aligned, and carries C-level steering and ownership of big programs.
"A company this size needs a federated model that has balance. You drive some of this centrally and other parts into regions or smaller teams that are going to pay for the work and provide the resources. We're working hard at that."
Dinterman came to JetBlue to fill a new role as the delivery and support arm for the corporate strategy flowing from roadmaps and project agendas at the high-flying airline.
"One thing our CIO Joe Eng saw was that our organization's structured didn't lend itself to good interaction with the business, so that led to the front end we call business systems delivery. The delivery arm was fragmented and the expectations of the business weren't well understood so that delivery capability became part of my job."
Along with meeting ongoing business expectations for IT, Dinterman supported Eng in transitioning data center operations to managed services, which have been outsourced and colocated but remain closely overseen. That leaves residual resources to tackle development, application and field support along with special projects, Dinterman told us.
"If fuel costs rise and we have to shrink, we are pretty comfortable that we won't have a big capital albatross around our necks in IT."
A singular test came in Feb. 2010, when a complete swap out of JetBlue's reservation system (by plan) took the website dark for hours. "Everybody in the company had prepared for that event. CEOs have lost jobs over that kind of switchover, but the technology worked, the processes had been adjusted and we were proud that JetBlue really executed well."
Nominated for his work in centralizing business analytics and master data programs at the telecommunications provider, Flores has taken on special projects in the last year to build out Verizon's customer information capabilities within its data warehouse. While the obstacles were longstanding - Verizon carries dozens of billing platforms and legacy systems from the big telecom breakups and mergers of the `80s and `90s - he has updated data reporting for unsiloed access to full customer profiles as information is moved and viewed by various departments. In his top-to-bottom management approach, Flores introduced his own BI tool to support ETL and data warehousing for a holistic approach to high-quality results.
"We want to go toward a model [where] information is maintained in a common way and our processes can start to be unified and aligned in a much more transformational approach to how we provide service. That data can then be even used for more predictive and proactive types of servicing," Flores told us. "More than anything, we want to have intelligent data and analytics to drive things like profitability or customer help and use these types of information to drive intelligence when we talk to the customer and a simplified, more intelligent way of dealing with them."
Anderson has streamlined medical information retrieval networks and solidified an approach to data security between opposing entities at NCHICA, a nonprofit that supports health care technology and policy for its 230 member organizations in North Carolina. In that capacity, he helps guide the professional development and data connectivity needed in the fast-changing realm of health care information and regulation.
Anderson's management style coalesced on the lacrosse field, far from NCHICA´s nationally renowned regulatory compliance strategies and monthly task force meetings. In college at Duke, Anderson played for the school club, including annual games against despised cross-state rival UNC. After his playing days he went on to watch over those same games as a referee, positioned in the middle between competing medical service players with NCHICA.
"For 21 of the 22 years I refereed, I did the Duke/UNC game. I had to stay impartial," Anderson says with a slight laugh. "And the only criticism I got was from the Duke coach who said I was bending over too much. It´s very similar in the way you have to approach collaborations. You have to maintain the trust factor above reproach. The thing that I worry about most is losing that trust."
Gustafson's 18 years at the famed Boston teaching hospital began with a full course of general surgery training. When this ended in 1996, Gustafson took an unusual turn into quality measurement and performance management, and added a Harvard MBA to his resume. On his return to Brigham & Women's in 1999, the quality management shop would become the Center for Clinical Excellence and an extensive balanced scorecard program that has grown to 1,500 users and measurement of individual patient performance for physicians.
Gustafson now leads 35 people in five sections addressing decision support, financial analysis, performance improvement, data quality and patient safety. With 15,000 extended employees at the hospital, it's a busy team. He's also picking up direct line responsibility for pharmacy services, academic departments and clinical labs.
"If I'm interesting, it's because I'm a physician with the MBA, so I can translate very easily between the different audiences and the leadership team. That was my niche when I started out as a very effective translator, a really great place to build a career but also contribute and add value."
Smoley was cited by multiple sources for his IT savvy at an electronics manufacturing services provider with 200,000 employees at 130 sites in 30 countries. Flextronics' business model requires ongoing core and scalable IT to quickly answer demand for new and evolving electronic products with short shelf life.
Like the core business, Flextronics' IT is federated for multiple markets but has lately consolidated from six data centers to two, a single WAN and one email system.
Software as a service is central to IT strategy: CRM, HR and global ticketing for IT are all standardized on SaaS, with other platform and infrastructure services in the wings.
Smoley is known as an opportunist on his company's behalf who sees cost constraints as a way to drive creative use of resources.
"You can have both because driving low cost in some areas makes people innovative instead of wasteful by design." Services, however, rarely equate to outsourcing. "We are faster, more agile and lower cost when we bring IT pieces in house, and I have seen this through the companies we acquired that had outsourced parts of IT." The elasticity of software, platform and infrastructure providers is bringing speed and efficiency to his company, along with fewer sunken investments in enterprise software and hardware in multiple deployments.
Davis's unusual title at the home supply chain puts emphasis on economics, competitive intelligence, market sizing and the customer data domain. Nominated for his work with customer master data management, he's now turning that work around to face store customers with self-service home asset lifecycle management.
"If you can track your home improvement data, you can throw away that big binder of warranties and manuals - and know how to match the paint on your wall."
The core offer of quality data makes it easy for the customer to return to the store. "If we want to be remembered by our customer the way Apple or Amazon is, we need a great experience and an easy process that follows the customer's preferences."
There are many opportunities to build on customer-provided information in order to identify services or goods they're likely to seek. "When we bring our economies of scale on price and assortment down to your local market and know what you like and your tendencies, that starts to be a very big deal."
Page joined eBay a year ago to oversee the technical aspects of platform and custom requests flowing to 6,000 regular users at the rate of two million analytic queries per day. "We have tried to optimize the usual hourly and daily reporting but in reality that is really only about 15 percent of our analytical load," Page says. The remaining 85 percent falls to ad hoc exploratory queries that need rapid execution. eBay has invested heavily in large-scale systems and a philosophy that allows it to quickly return results or "fail fast" to get to the next business opportunity.
Page believes any large organization that hopes to be innovative needs an ability to iterate quickly, get answers quickly - and provide visibility to its best work. eBay offers users experimental and segmented data warehouse access in easy self-service "sandbox" environments that discourage personal databases and data hoarding.
"Analytical work tends to be a kind of solo activity, but a good analysis is a terrible thing to waste. You want to be able to share your results and also your procedures so that the next time you do something, it's done better, and someone else can learn from what you did." Page and eBay see this approach as a "social network for analytics" and an environment for collaborative analysis.
In three years at the IT helm of a nonprofit group that recruits teachers for two-year stints in urban and rural communities, Shepard oversees a staff of 120 tending to operational and strategic planning. Core projects include an intranet and portal extranet tied back to a new implementation of service-based CRM, human capital and financial systems. "Salesforce is CRM, but for us it's really a front-office application that runs the majority of recruiting, training and follow-through with our core members," she says.
The TFA extranet has a social and information focus for program members and alumni, two-thirds of whom remain in the classroom or become education leaders and political reformers.
In the last year, TFA's data architecture has been completely rebuilt to coordinate roles and data. "We hire very smart people but we were siloed and transacting all over the organization. Our program is executed in a very cohesive manner among many client teams who had no way to effectively share information, no way to effectively have their business processes linked. So for starters I became Darth Vader of Excel and Access databases. People know we are building what has to be a very integrated experience that is effective, efficient and cost effective as we grow."
Jeff Huckaby brought a master´s degree in IS accounting to his BI supervisory role at Pilot and Flying J, the 20,000 employee, $18 billion family owned chain of truck and traveler stops. True to that pedigree, Pilot took home a 2008 ROI award for $4.6 million in store efficiency revenue that´s closer to $35 million now, Huckaby says.
"When I told analysts with Forrester or Gartner we were doing that with three people, they were pretty blown away. Lean and agile is our calling card, how fast we can get things done."
Pilot sells fuel and owns part of a logistics company that distributes fuel. But it also sells everything a restaurant and travel retailer does, from food to truck supplies and electronics. About 2,000 end users, execs, regional divisional and store managers who once worked from high-level sales data now see store-level item productivity across inventory, sales and gross profit. Tied to an upsell program that is closely measured, 20,000 cashiers are rewarded for positive customer interactions. "The store managers have an instant coaching opportunity, and we´ll gladly pay extra to keep a good cashier around."
From his New York office at the international financial services group, Szilasi heads up an IT squad of about 70 people focused on reference data, client-coverage programs, a sales and marketing client data warehouse and data systems management for investment banking. Szilasi says there has been a positive push at financial firms for cross-departmental reference data - particularly geared toward risk management and customer experience - since the most recent economic downturn.
Szilasi drew on his business-side roles and experiences at other Wall Street firms to lay the groundwork for his master data management practices on the IT side.
"When I came to Credit Suisse, I made the jump to the IT side because we realized early on that, particularly in our industry, the line between IT and the business is blurry at best, and the blurrier we can make it in some ways, the better."
He counts the need to merge IT and business as the biggest ongoing challenge facing the industry. "The technology in and of itself is not that complicated. The complicated part is understanding the why and the what of the information so you build up the right reference data sources."
To see the entire list of winners, click here.
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