Viewpoint -- Driving In Reverse Isn't A Best Practice

Without proper strategies, information technology can be dangerous. Setting your IT priorities will help you avoid accidents.

Setting any sort of priority is a difficult task. Much thought and soul searching is involved in trying to decide what really matters most. Asking manufacturers to set priorities for their information technology (IT) initiatives isn't any easier. It's a task that no one looks forward to. In fact, it's probably right up there with scheduling a root canal. But if you let either issue fall by the wayside, you'll inevitably wind up in excruciating pain.

When IndustryWeek set out to help manufacturers set their IT priorities, we wondered how best to present the information. We thought about an endless sea of charts and graphs depicting which vendors are doing what in myriad arenas. After much debate, we decided the best way to help you reach your IT goals was not with statistics, but with advice from folks who live and breathe IT strategies. That is when we decided to partner with AMR Research Inc. The Boston-based consulting firm makes it its business to know how manufacturers are using IT solutions to run their operations.

To illustrate AMR's message, IndustryWeek editors did their own investigations into manufacturers' IT strategies. And for good measure, we asked two blue-chip manufacturers --Sun Microsystems Inc. and VF Corp. -- to describe their own IT strategy journeys. The arenas covered in this special report are: product lifecycle management, enterprise resource planning, operations intelligence, supply chain management, and human and capital asset utilization.

See Also

Setting Your IT Priorities
What you will find on the following pages are tips, tactics, checklists and real-world examples of information technology in action.

For example, via AMR Research's story "Is PLM Right For Your Business?" we learn that GE Aircraft credits a 33% improvement in engineering cycle time to utilizing product lifecycle management and digital design. We also discover, thanks to John Teresko's "Winning With PLM" story, that Lifetime Products, a Utah-based recreational products maker, pared 12 weeks off its tooling cycle via product design software.

In addition, AMR notes in its "Operations Intelligence Augments Business Intelligence" story that "running today's global manufacturing enterprise on ERP and traditionally implemented business intelligence is like driving down the New Jersey Turnpike in reverse at 65 mph using only the rearview mirror."

While we hope you don't actually try driving in reverse at 65 mph, we do hope that you implement some of the best practices your peers have had success with. Here's to setting your IT priorities.

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