Apr 01 2005

Getting the Right IT Fit

Lee Copeland, Editor in Chief What do shoes have to do with information technology (IT)? If you're in the financial services business, the answer is a definitive nada. But if you import and sell shoes, then knowing footwear suppliers and their systems defines the IT manager's job description.

Twenty years ago, John H. Auersperg and his sons started Fortune Footwear when they began importing flip-flops and other casual footwear from Taiwan. Last year, the New York company imported 1 million handbags and 4.5 million pairs of shoes, 80 percent of them made in China.

For Fortune Footwear's IT manager, Greg Milewski, shoes and technology are intimately interrelated. Milewski supports the company's 70 employees in New York and Shenzhen, China. Yet with the company's focus on growth and expanding sourcing relationships, Milewski no longer handles every component of the technology infrastructure. Like many other growing businesses, Fortune Footwear differentiates between IT operations that need the supervision of an in-house IT manager and those best outsourced to third parties.

Deciding what to outsource is a tough call. Find more on the options and best practices for when and where to outsource in "Outgrowing Your Size?", along with advice from industry analyst Rob Enderle on how to manage outside-vendor relationships in "Strategic Sourcing".

Managing remote employees is another challenge for small businesses. Surveying businesses with between 20 and 99 employees, Yankee Group found nearly 80 percent support an average of 11 mobile workers and 54 percent support an average of eight telecommuters. For Charles Rapier, who heads IT at Ovation Research in Highland Park, Ill., enabling highly skilled employees to work remotely involves not just technology but also emotional support. Rapier and our panel of experts offer their insights on telework in "How Well Do You Telework?"

Telecommuting enables Ovation Research to attract highly qualified talent from across the country. For Next Wave Logistics, telework is the norm rather than the exception. The Web developer in Naperville, Ill., operates on a virtual basis. Telework reduces overhead costs, heightens productivity and improves the morale of workers who don't have to fight daily traffic. You'll find that story in "At Work In A Virtual World", and in "Putting a Lock on Wi-Fi" we delve into what's required to keep virtual networks secure.

On all of BizTech's pages, you'll find stories of businesses like yours that are looking for ways to leverage IT to provide strategic advantage. Our approach is to position business challenges and IT solutions as integrated, complementary elements—not as separate but related components. This is the overriding factor that differentiates BizTech from other publications.

Each article in BizTech covers both technology and business issues that senior IT leaders and business managers must tackle in evaluating and implementing technology. For the CEO, we include straightforward takeaways to aid in determining whether there's a strong case for a tech purchase. For IT, we provide a similar recap on what the CEO wants to know about their latest project.

Welcome to the premiere issue of CDW's new quarterly magazine that looks at the intersection of business strategy and technology leadership.

Lee Copeland
Editor in Chief