Winning by Design

opportunities for
people to go off on their own,” he says. “Just keeping track of new developments
is a challenge. You constantly have to stay in front of it, creating buy-in
as you go.” Perhaps that’s why Puglisi, who started his job in January
2000, considers his greatest accomplishment to be earning the trust and
credibility needed to push through an enterprisewide strategy. “There’s
been an almost wholesale acceptance by individual companies that we should
have a unified strategic plan,” he says. On a personal level, he says,
being “bilingual” helps. “You have to be able to communicate with executives
in plain English, but whip out your propeller head when dealing with IT

An essential element of Puglisi’s strategic plan is knowledge management,
something of an empty buzzword in the e-business arena, but a critical
component of strategy for EMCOR. “The basic issue is how do you find smart
people who know certain types of projects and then institutionalize that
knowledge?” he says. “We essentially ASP the servers of all the companies
so that we can use databases and applications such as Lotus Notes in common.”
In January, only 450 employees utilized EMCORnet, the enterprise WAN and
business initiative meant to move key operations to the Web. That number
has jumped to 1,500 employees, and Puglisi would like to see even greater
growth next year. Yet he’s confident that the initial territorial barriers
have been overcome.

Overall, Puglisi’s goals are simple: to compete effectively and better
coordinate among and also between customers and suppliers. In the next
12 to 15 months, he foresees that end-to-end supply management will become
routine, and he is constantly being courted by e-commerce providers hawking
the latest solution. Yet the construction industry is beset by limitations
that many providers tend to gloss over. “AutoCAD designers may be the
most sophisticated people in the universe, but your basic project manager
tends to fumble in this brave new world.” Also, he says, the reality of
construction is that “we’re putting up new buildings where there may not
be a phone or even a phone pole for miles in some parts of the world,
so bandwidth is an issue.”

Puglisi is examining 15 to 20 e-business vendors, a number he expects
to winnow in the next year. In the meantime, he stays focused by reminding
himself of his company’s core mission. “Our job is to get men and materials
to a location and install the highest quality materials with the least
amount of problems.”

Like many CIN members, Puglisi is betting his future on the power of
the Web and a networked economy. Yet for each CIO, the same reality will
take on a different cast, depending on corporate practices and industry
culture. This holiday season is as good a time as any to take stock and
paint the big picture for 2001.

Eva Marer is a freelance business
and technology journalist based in New York City.