At midmarket companies, outstanding IT leadership gets noticed. It creates noise, stirs things up, gets people talking. It's the commotion of change -- the energy that surrounds innovative IT leaders taking charge at growing companies.
"When you're at a midmarket company like mine -- at a time when it's ready to make a change and really move toward technology -- you can feel that change under your feet," says CIO Maria Anzilotti of Houston's Camden Property Trust, a $635-million real estate firm. "You can feel every movement. That's very rewarding."
Before arriving at Camden, Anzilotti spent a good chunk of her IT career at Houston's $2-billion Dynegy Inc. "In large companies, it takes a long time before you feel you make a difference," she explains. Anzilotti recently tackled a prevalent problem for midmarket CIOs: rising utility costs. The Camden IT group designed and implemented a Web-based, centralized utility billing system for about $130,000, resulting in
Our 25 CIO Decisions Midmarket IT Leadership Award winners all use technology to deliver tangible, bottom-line benefits. Despite the reality of limited resources, these CIOs are creating the workforces and implementing the technologies necessary to compete in a global marketplace against larger, more powerful competitors. They were hired to re-engineer legacy systems or rescue key projects; to build new bridges between IT and the business; and, ultimately, to manage the sort of wild growth that happens only in the midmarket these days.
As a group, our 2007 award winners embody the vast diversity of midsized companies. They work in vertical industries ranging from health care, financial services and manufacturing to higher education and even a midsized division of the U.S. Army, where deputy CIO and Lt. Col. Zelma Anderson is rolling out the Web-based Advanced Collaborative Environment (ACE) for the Army's Future Combat Systems project. "Think of ACE as AOL on steroids," says Anderson -- extremely secure steroids, which are boosting this Army unit's ability to store and view documents and email.
Geographically, this year's winners are spread out across the U.S. and Canada, stretching from the North Shore Credit Union in Vancouver, British Columbia, to Multiquip Inc., a construction equipment company in Carson, Calif., and then to Lewiston, Maine, where V.I.P. Inc. Vice President of Information Systems Dan Grosz is in the midst of an enterprise-wide re-engineering project. He's leading the charge to enable New England's largest privately held auto parts company to grow beyond its 53 retail outlets.
"This is a company that's small enough to get things done quickly but big enough to roll out heavy-duty stuff, like a best-of-breed [supply chain] replenishment system from JDA Software, a SOA [service-oriented architecture] project and a new financial system," says Grosz. "This is an interesting place to be if you like corporate restructuring."
Like Anzilotti and several other winners, Grosz has career roots in a much larger company. Again and again, these CIOs say they were drawn to midmarket companies where they could make a difference. "Smaller companies are more agile, and they need to be more responsive to changes in the marketplace. Is that exciting for me? Sure," says Grosz, borrowing a well-worn phrase: "What doesn't kill you makes you stronger."
This was first published in July 2007