A Forrester Analyst drew the analogy of a river to the upcoming onslaught of millennials. Some 100 years ago, smart companies positioned themselves near rivers, the water provided power as well as a means of transporting products. However, today, being positioned near a river doesn't ensure company success, and there are plenty of examples of companies that have existed a long time now filing for bankruptcy.
As we get out of this recession, the war for people will be intense. In the United States, as many as 76 million[Baby Boomers], born between 1946 and 1964, are retiring or approaching retirement, being replaced by 46 million [Gen X], born between 1965 and 1976. By 2010, there will be as many as 31 million [Millenials], born between 1977 and 1998, in the workforce.
To drive the point home, the Forrester analyst cited [Whirlpool] as an example, a company more than 100 years old, with 73,000 employees across 170 countries. Whirlpool manufactures kitchen, laundry and other home appliances. From 1997 to 2002, however, Whirlpool's per-ticket sales were dropping at a rate of 3.4 percent per year. To reverse this trend, they established the Whirlpool Young Professional program, assigned I-mentors, and invested in Web 2.0 collaboration tools. They realized that they needed to harness the Gen X and Millenial energy. The result?From 2002 to 2006, they had a compete turn-around, with per-ticket sales growing 5.9 percent per year.
Since I covered IBM's keynote session yesterday, I thought it would only be fair to cover HP's today.IBM and HP are the top two IT vendors in the world, and not surprisingly also the top two IT storage vendors, and are both platinum sponsors for this event.
- Phil McKinney, VP and CTO of Hewlett-Packard (HP) Personal Systems Group
Phil presented "Enabling Innovation: A Strength In Any Economy", which covered HP's approach to innovationnot just within HP itself, but also to help their customers. He presented an interesting progression forIT. In the first, IT is very technology-centric, focusing on standardizing platforms and automating tasks.In the second, IT is more process-oriented, standardizing and automating business processes measured for reliable IT outcomes. In the third, IT is business-aligned, standardizing and automating services, measured on business results. He argued that the challenge was for companies to transform their IT through this progression to improve business impact.
To help customers, HP focuses on four aspects of an Innovation Management Framework:
- Strategy, Measurement and Metrics
- Systems, Collaboration tools and knowledge management
- Culture, Education and Training
- Ecosystem, business partnerships and customer innovation
He wrapped up his talk reminding us that ideas without execution are just hobbies.
- Tom Peck, Senior VP and CIO, Levi Strauss & Co
Levi Strauss & Co. manufactures denim pants and other clothing apparel, and has been doing so for more than 150 years. Tom made a point to actually wear denim jeans and a sports coat on stage for his talk.His presentation "Dealing with Disruption" was not about disruptive technologies, but rather the disruption the economic downturn has impact the retail industry. To survive through this recession, IT leaders needto be bold about their hiring, reorganizing and rethinking of IT because disruption is everywhere.
IT is not a cost center at Levi Strauss, and represents only 3.5 percent of their total expenses. Instead, they have educated their stakeholders that IT is an investment for competitive advantage. They have focused on simplifying, which is important because their line of pants has grown incredibly complex. When you factor in the different fabrics, colors, styles, sizes, fit and finish, you end up with a large numberof different pants. This complexity came from an effort to provide exactly what every customer thought they needed. He cited a great quote:
“If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”
--- Henry Ford
This same complexity occurs in IT. To address the changes needed, Tom combined "Lean IT" principles with "Six Sigma" methodologies. Lean IT helped identify problems with the overall flow of processes and provided the tools to remove steps that did not add value. Six Sigma was applied to the remaining steps that did add value, to improve capability and effectiveness.
Companies that have been around for awhile, like IBM, Whirlpool and Levi Strauss & Co., have learned to adapt to the changing business and IT landscape, and adopt new ideas for new ways of doing things.