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."
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.