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How the 2012 CIO 100 Winners Fight Risk With Innovation

What's the worst that can happen? Ever ask yourself that question?

Most of us have, at one time or another, taken a quick mental tour through the scariest scenarios we can imagine. We wonder what we would do, how we would cope. If we happen to be CIOs, we start working on a plan to head off that worst-case scenario before it unfolds.

That ability to envision risk and solve problems before they crop up was something we noticed again and again in our CIO 100 Award winners this year. "Squashing looming business risks stands out as a key theme among the winners," Senior Editor Kim S. Nash writes in our cover story. "Many of this year's winning projects demonstrate how CIOs lead the way in changing how colleagues work, thereby mitigating profound risks to the company."

In some cases, IT made a life-and-death difference on oil rigs or fire trucks or in hospital emergency rooms. In others, we saw failing business models revived, corporate reputations saved, customer loyalty restored or competitive threats vanquished.

At Boeing, for example, CIO Kim Hammonds used IT to unclog a severe order backlog and boost production by 40 percent over the next three years. It was the largest IT project in company history, taking more than 500,000 man-hours and rolling out 35 new applications across global manufacturing, engineering, quality management and supply chain operations.

Yet you don't need to be the largest aerospace company in the world to see dramatic business results from innovative IT. At Christiana Care Health System, CIO Randy Gaboriault put interactive visualization software to work in an emergency department bogged down by pen-and-paper workflow processes. "Even if it's seconds of friction out of the process," he notes, "it speeds up the time between knowledge and action."

One expert quoted in our story makes the point that CIOs are in the best position to identify serious business risks because you see your companies as a collection of processes. That unique helicopter view gives you a greater responsibility to drive change, which is where innovation always starts.

Throughout this issue, which marks the 25th anniversary of our CIO 100 Awards, you'll find many stories about innovative projects and their IT champions. How I wish we could write about each one. Instead, I invite you to check out the full array of CIO 100 honorees in our sortable database.

Read more about innovation in CIO's Innovation Drilldown.

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