Supercomm 2004: Harnessing Networks to Improve Operations

Key note speakers say networking users must connect the dots between technology investments and business performance.

June 23, 2004

3 Min Read
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Speaking at the keynote session at SUPERCOMM yesterday, a panel of power users gave the telecom and networking industry a reality check. While it is easy to get lost in the whiz bang of new technology, if end-users can't tie functionality directly to enhanced productivity or profitability, the market is not going to buy. Having weathered an economic storm in which most companies cut way back on networking acquisitions, users are getting back into technology investment waters cautiously.

Reducing Transaction Processing Cycles

But a cautious approach does not mean it has to be a timid one. William M. Farrow III, CIO of the Chicago Board of Trade reported that the trading behemoth has gotten significant returns on its technology dollars. There is a broad consensus within the organization that improvements in network performance in recent years (transactions can now be processed in 25 one-thousandths of a second) is one reason revenue from annual memberships has reached $885,000 this year, up from $280,000 in 2001. To achieve these transaction processing gains, the trading board has undertaken a series of major technology refresh initiatives in that time frame, replacing 13 systems, eliminating of 8 networks and consolidating a half dozen others.

Enabling a Global Collaborative Enterprise

For Vaho Rebassoo, Boeing's CTO for IT services the business imperative is to continuously improve the collaborative capabilities of the global aerospace and defense company. He is tasked with building enterprise networks that make it possible for engineers and executives around the world to work interactively on new designs and manufacturing processes in a secure cost-effective manner. The networking priority, therefore, has revolved around establishing a "network-centric architecture and use that to transform the company into a collaborative global enterprise," he said.It is important for technology partners to understand this imperative, because it provides an opportunity to put new networking capabilities into a business context -- streamlining the technology decision-making process, and accelerating the time-to-value achieved by the end-user.

Managing Growth in the Insurance Industry

John Golden, executive vice president and CIO of insurance giant CNA is on a mission to harness networking technology to tie together its loose confederation of 30 operating companies and support the aggressive growth plans established by the senior leadership of the company. To that end, CNA has spent the last 5 years "simplifying applications and improving network stability," in an effort to harmonize the technology environments of the various organizations that make up the insurance conglomerate.

The next step is to harness some of the next generation networking capabilities -- including VoIP, mobility and teleworking capabilities to support future growth."We are on a growth curve, and are looking to invest heavily in the next few years," he said.

CNA looking for a national service provider that can provide voice, data, mobility services, and office and home coverage as a combined offering. "We need a national player that can integrate across the various technologiesbut it's important that we get the return we need, within 12 to 24 months. To get returns on more comprehensive solutions, there must be support for changing the business process along with introducing the technology. We need partners who can integrate with the enterprise, not just bring technology."0

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