Guide to the '06 All-Stars

Our 40 Enterprise All-Star Award winners put a shine on innovation.

40 companies win Enterprise All-Star Award

Excellence is learned. So it stands to reason that it also must be studied. In that spirit, the 40 companies honored as winners of Network World's second-annual Enterprise All-Star Award stand as examples of excellence.

But what exactly does that mean? Nearly every enterprise today can point to technology projects that save big bucks. Or to technology projects that let corporations conduct business faster and more efficiently. What differentiates these 40 companies and their award-winning projects can be summed up in a word: innovation.

Each of the projects profiled advances the use of newer technology or uses mainstream tools in an innovative way. For instance, Papa Gino's and D'Angelo Sandwich Shops stands as a proving ground for chip-level security. Wilson & Company, Engineers and Architects, bucks conventional wisdom and uses freeware to automate configuration across dozens of makes and models of desktops. Alamance Regional Medical Center saves $1 million a year through judicious use of application virtualization.

Alamance is hardly alone with its great financial return. It almost goes without saying that All-Star companies know how to squeeze a nickel. In all, winners report saving more than $20.7 million in the first year of implementation, on expenditures of just less than $20 million. Equally impressive is that excellence has become a speedy affair: Projects took a median of eight months from planning to production, with 82% requiring less than a year.

Healthcare dominates the list with one-third of the winners, and for good reason. Healthcare companies are pressured to find cost savings for their efforts. Spending by healthcare companies ranged from $10,000 for a network access-control project to $3.2 million for an integrated wireless infrastructure (with a median of $240,000). The projects immediately paid for themselves, however, with healthcare companies reporting a mean one-year ROI of 227%.

Interestingly, education winners were the big spenders on the list, with a mean project cost of just more than $1 million (median $375,000). Even so, not all the education projects were expensive. Saugus Union School District won for its low-budget use of open source tools to build a rich collaborative portal. Financial services, manufacturing and travel/transportation also produced a notable number of winning entries (see winners by vertical industry, right).

Interesting, too, was the wide selection of vendors among winning projects. Stalwarts such as Cisco, EMC, IBM, Juniper and Nortel made a fair showing (see vendors to the All-Stars). Among vendors, Cisco scored the most wins, with its gear used in five projects, while products from the others saw use in a respectable three winning projects apiece. Creative winners also relied on products from the open source world and from start-ups, proving that killer technology can be found wherever you look for it.

All-Stars by the numbers
40Number of winners$0Smallest project budget
56Number of vendors used in award-winning projects6Number of years for longest project rollout
92Number of key products used in projects1Number of months for shortest project rollout
$839,725Mean project budget12Number of projects for security, the most popular technology category
$939,733Mean project savings10Number of winners in healthcare, the vertical industry with the most wins
$19.9 millionTotal reported expenditures5Number of projects using gear from Cisco, the vendor with the most wins
$20.7 millionTotal reported savings11,317Total number of IT workers at winning companies
$3.5 millionBiggest project budget22Median number of IT workers at winning companies

Judging an All-Star

In two rounds, multiple judges evaluated nearly 200 qualified nominations based on five criteria. Judges looked for innovative use of technology to solve a business problem. They evaluated the scope of the project in terms of size, investment, business processes and employees affected. They rated the value of the project to the company, including factors such as ROI, business efficiencies and influence on the company’s income-earning potential. They looked at the project’s ability to stand as an example to its industry and its potential as a role model for other industries. The judges scored projects on a scale of 1 to 5 for each criterion. Network World editors then selected the high-scoring entries.

Next story: An open source education >

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Copyright © 2006 IDG Communications, Inc.