This content is part of the Essential Guide: The 2013 IT Leadership Awards: Honoring effective leadership styles
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CIO shows competitive advantage, value of ERP and VDI all under budget

IT Leadership Awards finalist CIO John Bowden showcased the value of ERP and VDI, with projects that saved money and workers' time.

John BowdenJohn Bowden

Our SearchCIO 2013 IT Leadership Awards recognize the contributions and innovations of IT professionals at enterprise companies. We put out a call for nominations of individuals who have excelled in six categories: cultural innovation, technological advancement, business value, green IT, IT engagement and customer experience.

With all the emphasis on cloud computing and new technologies, the value of ERP -- IT's humble workhorse -- is often overlooked. But in the hands of finalist John Bowden, CIO of Lifetime Products Inc., it has been elevated to rock star status. Lifetime Products is one of the largest producers of recreational consumer goods made from plastic or metal -- including outdoor picnic tables, chairs, swing sets and the like. With operations in the U.S., China and Mexico, the Layton, Utah-based company is Walmart's largest supplier of such products.

How did ERP help? Bowden and his team deployed Microsoft Dynamics AX ERP solution worldwide, integrated with product lifecycle management (PLM), and that resulted in some pretty impressive numbers: The ERP deployment increased employee productivity by an average of one hour per day; total cost of ownership was lowered 50% and the ERP/PLM integration provided for a 30% increase in order throughput for Walmart. And the project was all delivered on time and under budget.

As if that showcase of the value of ERP weren't enough, Bowden earned additional kudos from the CEO and CFO with his company-wide VDI deployment that cut IT infrastructure operating costs by 40%, streamlined maintenance, increased user satisfaction, centralized user controls and increased security. Making business and finance happy? Now that's the kind of win-win every CIO dreams of.

Get to know IT Leadership finalist Bowden in this SearchCIO Q&A.

Judge's comment

"Good to see that strong IT leadership is still recognized across the C-suite as an enterprise asset that provides business value well beyond streamlining processes and reducing costs. ERP at this scale on time and on budget? There should be a separate category of award for this alone."

Number of years in IT: 21 years

Company:  Lifetime Products Inc.

Number of employees in the company: 2,500

Number of employees in IT: 42

Educational background:  Bachelor's degree in computer science with a minor in mathematics

First job: Computer lab admin


Twitter Handle: @LTPBOWDEN

What's the best advice you've ever received? It's all about the people, not just the technology.

In the movie of your life, who would play your character? Pierce Brosnan

If you could have just one superpower, what would it be and why? Predicting the future, because it would create a very extreme focus and would be fun!

What's your favorite app on your Smartphone or tablet device? Tapatalk for iPhone/iPad.

From the nomination

"John possesses a keen understanding of Lifetime's operational DNA. This enables him to deliver targeted systems/solutions that both support Lifetime's standard operations as well as enhance competitive advantage."  

Where do you fall in the iPhone versus Android debate? I appreciate what Apple has done for the world -- I even have a Foxconn production-line jacket from their China factory in Shenzhen. But Samsung (Android) is catching up!

Describe the best technology decision you ever made: Lowering TCO [total cost of ownership] over ten years ago by centralizing and standardizing on virtual desktops.

Which current technology is a gimmick or overly-hyped? Windows 8

What's the biggest challenge you face in IT today? Continuous business transformation and alignment with new technologies.

Which role/internal partner do you rely upon the most? Chief Operations Officer(COO)/CFO

What's your prediction for the next big technology? Pinpointing "people movements" without GPS; applying this technology to social media and marketing efforts.

What's your favorite nonmonetary benefit or perk of your job? My wonderful executive assistant in China, Yimi Zheng.

What is the biggest problem you see with corporate cultures today? Lack of alignment across divisions or departments and proper communication with people.

What are "rookie mistakes" that you see in up-and-coming IT leaders? A major mistake from IT rookies is focusing too much on technology (break/fix) and not on the business itself.

Describe your leadership style: Soft-spoken but firm, compassionate, caring, courageous; enjoy leading, coaching and experiencing my team as they grow. They are really great!

Let us know what you think about the story; email Karen Goulart, features writer.

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Is the value of ERP being taken advantage of at your company?