Although companies have been urged to adopt <a href="http://www.infoworld.com/d/adventures-in-it/making-business-case-social-media-548">"Web 2.0" and social technologies for years</a> now, the truth is that relatively few have done so internally in any serious way -- and use inside the business is where the most value can be gained. Instead, the corporate focus on social technologies has been in marketing organizations that use it to monitor what customers are saying about the company and to try to influence customer views -- what's called reputation management -- by adding Twitter, Facebook, and so on to the traditional advertising and marketing channels. (And individual employees use social networking technology to build business relationships for their own benefit, of course.)
Stories by Robert L. Scheier
Here's good news for CIOs looking to do more with less. Business-process management (BPM) software can pay for itself within a year or two by linking expensive legacy applications to new, more streamlined workflows, customers say.
With BPM, "you can get to the point where you can see, on a second-by-second basis, what's happening in your business and where in the business are the holdups and where process improvement [is needed]," says Dean Pipes, an integration architect at The Toro Co. in Bloomington, Minn. The yard equipment manufacturer uses a BPM system based on Vitria Technology Inc.'s BusinessWare to pool its purchases from vendors to negotiate volume discounts.
It was a calculated risk, upgrading a 1,200-user PeopleSoft system from HP 9000s to less expensive servers from Dell Computer Corp. and from a Sybase Inc. database to Microsoft Corp.'s SQL Server.
But Damien Bean, vice president of corporate systems at Hilton Hotels Corp. in Beverly Hills, Calif., came out on top, getting the lower cost and higher performance he wanted. To do it, Bean says he had to convince his end users and vendors that "they could not afford to let a global brand name like ours fail."