The agricultural sector is among the preeminent information technology users in our economy," exclaimed an August 1998 Forbes ASAP survey of the U.S. economy's best and worst users of information technology (IT). The survey designated Pioneer Hi-Bred International, Inc., the most successful user of IT in the agricultural sector. Pioneer, a leading supplier of seeds and agricultural genetics, was headquartered in the heart of North America's corn belt, Des Moines, Iowa. The information management (IM) team had successfully implemented support services for 5,000 employees and an international technical infrastructure connecting Pioneer's 93 research stations and 62 production locations around the world. In 1998, however, Tom Hanigan, vice president and director of IM, Tom Hanigan, faced the greatest challenge of his 22-year career with Pioneer. The company was engaged in a research race with major competitors. Pioneer was growing, transporting, packaging, and distributing an increasing number of seed varieties at unprecedented volumes. Its research, operations, and sales business units would have to work together in an integrated way to successfully perform large-scale ramp-ups of new products. Information management and business line professionals would have to work quickly and efficiently, and within clearly prescribed budgetary boundaries, to successfully implement new applications. In 1998, the success of the company's larger business strategy depended upon the effective implementation of major information technology projects.
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