Chemical & Engineering News,
March 27, 1995

Copyright © 1995 by the American Chemical Society.

Chemical Companies Discover A Weapon For Globalization And Reengineering

Elisabeth M. Kirschner,

C&EN Northeast News Bureau

Laptop computers enable salespeople to update their knowledge of inventories and customer information overnight. Lawyers working for different firms can consolidate information for a shared chemical industry client. A dispatcher at a warehouse can electronically load trucks with a computer mouse - allowing customer service representatives to immediately tell customers when their shipments will arrive. And plastics users will soon be able to access training programs over the Internet.

Although the chemical industry computerized many processes in the 1970s, it has been slow in joining the new information revolution. Now, many companies are finding innovative ways in which information technology can serve them. Integrated computer technology is expected to be essential in the coming years as competitors gear up for the changing marketplace.

Cutting-edge companies have already reaped benefits, such as forming truly global organizations, improving customer service, and realizing other business visions "enabled" by the new technology. Business process reengineering and globalization, say many consultants, will only be possible through the use of information technology. And as major chemical companies gear up electronically, the productivity improvements and a new "one-call-does-it-all" approach to customer service could force their competitors to join the revolution.

Business as it has been known is changing: Chemical companies and their employees will have to change with it.

Computers are taking on a major role in the efforts to reengineer business processes that are rippling throughout the chemical industry. "It's not impossible to do reengineering [without computers], but to get the larger gains, you need the leverage from technology," says R. John Aalbregtse, associate partner in process industry practice for Andersen Consulting, Chicago. "If you're really going to make a step change," he says, "it's got to be enabled by technology."

Reengineering accomplished without information technology, say industry watchers, won't be sustainable. "You wind up getting a degrading aspect, or a tail-off of the value of reengineering," explains Victor Nau, Morristown, N.J.-based Gemini Consulting's account manager for the chemical industry. Instead of a process change lasting one or two years, information technology should sustain the change for five to 10 years.

"If you don't have the computers, you slip back into business as usual," he says. The most lasting process redesign comes from combining a reengineered process with software that changes the way work is performed, Nau says. "The reengineering affects the mind-set, the information technology sustains it."

In reengineering, businesses become integrated along the horizontal lines of business processes, as opposed to the "organizational stovepipes" of the past, says Cinda Hallman, DuPont's vice president of global information systems. "The underpinning of making the reengineered firm work is understanding the information. You don't move material around in a company, you move information."

A key effort over the next few years at DuPont will be to develop business tools for sales operations planning, production scheduling, and demand forecasting. Those tools and reengineering, she says, should streamline processes that are integrated in DuPont's businesses.

Reengineering often focuses on managing the supply chain and improving customer service, two areas that depend on an integrated information system. One call does it all - the new customer service goal - depends on giving the customer one contact person who has access to all of the information the customer might need. The service representative, connected to the company's network, should be able to place orders or obtain technical information or information about order status, invoices, and billing.

In a fully integrated system, the network gathers information from the plant sites and administrative processes. That data can be viewed at any facility by any authorized person in the company. One plant can look at how another plant is running. A centralized technology resource group can sit at headquarters and monitor a plant to make suggestions for improvement. And with a document management system that is cross-referenced, if a process change is made, documents are automatically updated.

At Andersen Consulting's facility in Atlanta, chemical company executives learn how the process-control system that runs equipment can also provide information to other company functions such as quality management, planning and scheduling, and environmental compliance

Only a few companies have made the leap to total business integration, says Thomas D. MacMullin, manager of strategy and corporate development at consulting firm Aurthur D. Little, Cambridge, Mass. Some of those companies have already leveraged the information technology by integrating documentation for the related requirements of Occupational Safety & Health Administration process safety rules and International Standards Organization ISO 9000 specifications.

When an engineer changes a process and the attendant database, flow diagrams are updated, the operating procedures are changed, and any new material safety data sheets are added. In the future, interactive training systems would draw on a common database, train the operators and technicians, test them, and update their personnel files.

And while reengineering requires information technology, efficient use of information technology may require reengineering. "We don't want to computerize junk," says Robert Rubin, vice president of information services at Elf Atochem. "We don't want to computerize bad processes." His information services group's primary function is not, he says, to computerize processes, but to simplify them and improve the bottom line for the company. Sometimes that means less technology, rather than more.

Elf Atochem has consolidated computers and systems, eliminating more than 75% of the existing pieces of equipment. "Where we had 26 different payroll systems, we have one. Where we had 11 different general ledger systems, we have one," Rubin says.

And when salespeople in the field were not being reimbursed for expenses quickly enough, Rubin's division was asked to put in a "big on-line computer system" to speed processing of the expense accounts. Instead, the information personnel examined the operations and found that two unwritten rules were stalling reimbursement: expenses - including airline tickets - had to be "consumed" before payment; and approval - often from inaccessible supervisors - was required for each item. By changing the rules and trusting the sales staff, Rubin says, "we found we didn't have to install a very fancy computer system at all."

"Our raison d'être is not to put in computers; we're to simplify the processes," says Rubin, "We pretty much do it through information technology, but if [the solution] doesn't require a lot of technology, we don't have to spend the money."

A critical step for companies is determining their information technology needs

Globalization an initiative

Globalization is another key business initiative throughout the chemical industry as new markets in Asia and other areas develop and customers begin to expect consistent service worldwide. Globalization is expected to rely heavily on information technology gains.

Many major chemical companies have had multinational operations for decades. Hallman says DuPont already generates nearly half of its revenues outside the U.S. But, she says, there's a difference between being multinational and being global.

For a global operation, according to Hallman, there may be parts of the business - such as sourcing - that should run as a single process. The whole company works like a single plant. A global company could build plants wherever it makes sense and ship products to customers throughout the world from those plants.

Information and access to that information are critical to operating globally, and the technology must be integrated around the world. "You have to be able to tie the information together so that if you're sitting in Singapore, you can access information on what is available in a plant located in Richmond, Va.," says Hallman.

Electronic mail and advanced communications systems have already helped many companies develop global links within their operations. "Through electronic mail and file services, we're able to share information globally a lot quicker than in the past," says David Kepler, Dow Chemical's director of global information systems services.

Once these communications are in place, Kepler explains, a company can develop consistent work processes and applications. The final step in building a globally integrated supply chain, he says, is to add information and reporting systems to allow the divisions to manage their business processes worldwide.

Over the past three years, according to Kepler, Dow has been realigning the company structure into a global business. Dow's corporate structure is based on a matrix of geography, function, and business. In the past, he says, limitations forced geography to be the primary division. With the promise of information technology, Kepler says, the company has been able to shift to a focus on the businesses.

MacMullin says one client company that is developing a global network has already identified several millions of dollars in savings even before implementing its computer system. Much of the benefits will come in transportation and distribution, simply by changing the sourcing plants for certain products for some customers. "Closer isn't necessarily better," he says, "especially if you can ship in bulk."

Information technology is expected to lead to even more savings as production capabilities and raw material sourcing are coordinated. The goal is to run the network as one plant. Only with good information tools will that be possible, MacMullin says. "All the variables you think about having to optimize for one plant increase exponentially."

Clockwise from top left: Edelmann: frontline workers will make decisions; Hallman: hone in on what's critical; Aalbregtse: information technology leverages reengineering; Rubin: don't computerize bad processes

Ashland Chemical already has developed an information technology tool for the Drew Marine Division, its marine products sales and engineering force. "It's a truly global business," says Matthew Goodby, vice president of information services for Ashland Chemical, Dublin, Ohio.

"We have engineers at ports around the world. A ship [that docks] in Rotterdam could be owned by a company in Greece and have been serviced last in Brooklyn." Calling on a ship is extremely time-consuming, he says, and knowing that a ship is a customer and has not been serviced recently is valuable information.

Ashland's computer system will update each salesperson's laptop-based database automatically every night. The company hopes that this approach will help engineers eliminate visits to ships that are not customers or don't need service, thereby doubling the number of successful service calls.

According to Andersen's Aalbregtse, chemical companies are racing to get a global order-management system in place. Companies envision a "nirvana" of a globally integrated supply chain that he says would optimize working capital and improve customer service. Although that vision may have merit in specialty chemicals - where margins are high and air freight is an option - commodity producers may reap less benefit. "Before shipping from the U.S. to Europe, you have to consider cost-to-serve [including, for example, transfer costs and exchange rates]," Aalbregtse says. While that must also be dealt with in a nonglobal system, he explains, it has less of an impact in that case if something goes awry.

Aalbregtse warns that high technology may globalize a company faster than the skills needed to go with it can be developed. There are cultural issues, communications barriers, duties, taxes, currency exchange, and different units of measure to be dealt with, he says. "Cutting across all of that, you're trying to get agreement of what the business practice should look like and how common it is going to be in France, Japan, and Brazil."

Employee training is a key component of corporate information technology change.

Information technology an aid

Other changes enabled by the computerized information technologies include opening up new business opportunities; altering the approach to sales, distribution, and billing; and further flattening the pyramid-structured organizations of the past.

Kepler says some recent decisions at Dow to flatten organizations were aided by information technology. No major decisions have yet been based on information technology, he says, but "that's what we're trying to get in position for."

The launching of a new Dow enterprise, Advanced Cleaning Systems, was also aided by information technology. Dow looked at its customer-tracking system and was able to launch the business in a matter of months, says Kepler. Information tracking was most important in finding sales leads to get customers on board and revenue rolling in.

DuPont has recently started up a small apparel business. Hallman, who is part of the nylon business team, says information technology helped to bring DuPont farther down the nylon "value chain" into consumer goods. And information technology may nudge DuPont into other new businesses.

As a company moves closer to the customer, she says, it must change the way it does business and the kind of information it gathers. Because of the changes away from the traditional chemical products that DuPont executives are familiar with, the information available via new technologies becomes more critical.

Information is essential to choosing and developing new avenues of business. "You have to figure out where you can make money down the value chain, where you have the competence. Then if you think you have the core competence, can you make money doing this? Are there any markets, is there any growth potential? Do you have the ability and the resources?" Then, once the business is up and running, information is needed on profitability and comparisons with competition.

Within Ashland Chemical's existing general polymers business, information has "changed the nature of the sales call," says Goodby. In a pilot program, sales associates in the general polymers division have been outfitted with laptop computers that contain detailed information about each client and nightly updates and alerts through a link with a main computer at headquarters. If, for example, a product's price hits a threshold level, a customer's order is put on a credit hold, or a customer has not ordered in a specified amount of time, the salesperson is alerted.

The computers are also connected into a database that includes every plastic available in the U.S., says Goodby. And that is what has provided the greatest sales advantage. The seller can enter characteristics of the plastic needed by the customer - such as tensile strength, melting point, hardness - and propose three or four appropriate products. Access to this kind of information changed the seller's position from one of bargaining with a purchasing agent. Now sellers can tell the purchasing agent which product the engineer or company president chose based on information obtained from the database and how much it costs.

"From typically selling in a price market, we have joined the process of running the business," says Goodby. Although he could not quantify sales benefits from the pilot program, Goodby says the polymers division has set earnings records.

Ashland is also automating a distribution facility in Charlotte, N.C. The system keeps track of thousands of products from hundreds of suppliers, down to each drum on a skid. Discipline and automation eliminate a lot of time once wasted in looking for products.

Because of the tight control of inventory, Ashland has been able to automate the assignment of orders to delivery trucks. In the late afternoon, the distribution manager gets a computerized list of orders and a list of available trucks. Then, using a computer mouse, the distribution manager picks up virtual orders and puts them on virtual trucks. In less than half the time of the previous method, a loading list is printed up, and customer service personnel have access to the next day's delivery schedule. Distribution is a business in which margins are very small, says Goodby, and the new system should improve efficiency and "take us to the next level of customer service."

Agricultural chemical businesses are on the forefront of some technologies. Because they are affected dramatically by seasonal purchases, agricultural chemical makers and distributors need information fast. The better a company links its distribution network and its customers, the faster it will be able to respond and the more share it will gain, Aalbregtse says. The industry, he notes, is headed toward linking networks via satellites to tractors for automatic inventory assessment.

The American Crop Protection Association (formerly the National Agricultural Chemicals Association) uses electronic mail for rapid communication with member companies. ACPA is planning to set up a "site" on the Internet's World Wide Web this spring to reach a broader audience. An ACPA spokeswoman says the site will include news items, publications, and pages accessible only to association members.

Business use of the Internet is in its infancy, according to Gemini's Nau. Many companies are using e-mail for communications. Research and development and engineering departments are accessing information through the global databases. And employees can access more and more government data as federal, state, and local offices set up Internet information sources. Chemical brokerage houses have also used the Internet as a bulletin board to match available product with buyers.

Goodby says Ashland has registered its name on the Internet, but, like many other companies, it is wary of jumping onto the information highway before security concerns are ironed out. Ashland employees who wish to search for information on the Internet must use a computer that is not connected to the company network, he says.

Nau says the Internet may someday handle transmissions to customers, electronic data interchange, and standardization of bar codes. Transmissions to salespeople and distributors and even trucks could mean that deliveries happen in a matter of hours, not days. But, Nau warns, "You're not going to see a lot of money being made until the technology becomes easier to use."

Electronic data interchange has been used for five to 10 years by many companies to speed up transactions with customers and suppliers. The systems help blur the lines between suppliers and customers. "It makes forming partnerships easier," says MacMullin, partnerships that have joint marketing and joint business development, leading to improved customer satisfaction. Supplier-managed inventories, wherein the supplier remotely monitors inventory levels and automatically ships product when needed, is another form of electronic data interchange, he says. More types of links are expected in the future.

"We're going to be doing business in the future with a lot more information, a lot less paper, and a lot fewer telephone calls," agrees John L. Gigerich, Union Carbide vice president and chief information officer.

Some newer systems are in the pilot stage, according to Hallman. DuPont is exploring systems that could tie DuPont processes more closely into its customers processes. In the future, she says, customers could have a window into DuPont's inventory levels or be apprised of production scheduling.

"A lot of places where we haven't thought of using information may well come to the surface," Gigerich predicts. For example, pricing may become information dependent, as it has in the airline industry. Once a company has a constant stream of information that tells management what the plants are producing, what the customers are ordering, and where the competition is, alternative pricing schemes can be developed.

"If you can do all that in 10 minutes, you can do a lot of stuff with your distribution costs," Gigerich says. "If it takes you 10 weeks, the shipment's gone."

There's but one guarantee: Business and technology are changing - and will continue to do so. In the past, systems were put into place by information technology teams, which then bowed and made their exit for another 10 years. Now, the business and the technology will never "freeze" in place again, says Udo C. Edelmann, director for the process manufacturing center at software firm SAP Americas, Philadelphia.

The information technology groups are becoming integrated into the business planning and staying with the business. Information technology is "absolutely strategic, a matter of survival," says Edelmann, and must now be synchronized with business strategies at a very high level in the company and must be ready for change.

Change will become such a constant way of life in information technology groups, says Gigerich, "that we will just constantly be moving. That's going to create a whole different mind-set and a whole different attitude and a way of looking at these things, and demand a whole different set of skills, disciplines, and capabilities."

Impact on employees

That move extends to employees throughout a company. "All of our folks have to change," says Hallman. Some thrive on the possibilities of the new technologies and seek new ways of doing things, she says, others are more reluctant.

Employees need to understand how to access information and how to use it. And that, Hallman says, will be the differentiator of the future for both businesses and employees: They need to understand how to use technology, understand what they need, and be effective in gathering the right information. "There's a massive amount of stuff out there," she says, "but if you can't hone in on what's critical to your market segment, then you're going to spend all of your time wading through."

Many employees are asking for information technology, says Aalbregtse. "They're frustrated because they don't have information at their fingertips." But although some employees are eager to gain new tools and responsibilities, others see their jobs being displaced. Whereas answering the phone has been a clerical function, in a one-call-does-it-all company, it will require workers with a broader range of skills.

Expect transitions in job responsibilities, says Elf Atochem's Rubin. "Some new jobs are going to show up, and some old jobs are going to change." One vulnerable group is the "information middlemen," because better computer systems will transmit data directly to the hands of the decisionmaker. Rubin says his company is planning for that transition through retraining efforts.

Edelmann agrees that the people in the middle will suffer the most. The traditional picture was that the frontline workers would come upon a problem where a decision needed to be made and they would go to their middle manager. "There was a whole level where this question ping-ponged around and ultimately came back, but that takes way too long. The new notion is we give the frontline worker the necessary information and the power of decision."

After the initial surprise, Edelmann says, people like the added responsibility and control. "But that takes the middleman out of the picture. Then we retrain if possible, but that is not always possible, and that is where the pain is."

And as costs get driven out of the system, Aalbregtse says, unskilled people in the plant operations and those who support finance and administrative areas will be affected. "Typically, the engineering arena is pretty safe, except in some of the process or project engineering areas, where you can do projects quicker," he says. Document management systems with quick updates and information at the fingertips means faster engineering with fewer surprises in implementation and less time spent gathering information.

Plant manager jobs would also change under Aalbregtse's vision, as "supply chain teams" are developed in the reengineering. The team would have a manager with beginning-to-end responsibility for a product and would control production, cost reduction, and quality improvements from plant to plant.

"We've sliced through the typical plant hierarchical structure and taken a lot of day-to-day duties away from the plant manager," says Aalbregtse, a shift of control that can be "traumatic." That, however, leaves time for the plant manager to focus on health, safety, and environment issues; relationships with the community; manufacturing competence; and "building true management."

And as the control begins to flow horizontally, the level just below the plant manager - operations managers and superintendents - can get stripped out of the organization entirely.

Attitude changes are required so that all employees see themselves as part of the one process of the business, says Edelmann. Whereas now purchasing managers may not know anything about finance, and inventory managers may know nothing about customer service, employees must come out of the framework of functional organizations and move to a new world where everything is integrated.

"Everybody has to be part of one process, and everybody has to focus on the customer," Edelmann says. "A few people will take care of a wide area of responsibilities to serve their customers' needs."

When the frontline workers are entrusted with decision-making, says Edelmann, the company will slide from a pyramid of decision-making to a circle. The people on the outside - the frontline workers - are given better and better information tools from the inside core of managers. The frontline workers "make better decisions on the spot, then they become incredibly fast. They need absolutely accurate information when they make the decision. They need to know the customer, they need to know what profit this decision would entail."

Chemical companies are designing their systems in many different ways to suit their corporate needs. An effective system must be designed from the top down, says A. D. Little's MacMullin, with teams determining strategy and building an information system to serve those goals. "You have to ask management, 'What do you really need to know to manage this company?'" he says. "Do you really need to know hourly profits for the red chemical versus the blue chemical, or is it more important to understand long-term profitability?"

Keep sight of the end goal, MacMullin warns. A. D. Little is working to clean up one overzealous attempt at system integration. The company overspecified its system, says MacMullin, and lost sight of the end goal. "The firm ended up with a supercustomized system that nobody could work with. It was just a nightmare."

Another warning: Time is of the essence. It should take no more than two to three years to make the change to a new system, says Gemini's Nau. Any longer and the new system will be obsolete by the time it's installed. He tells chemical companies to do a "concurrent transformation" so that the process won't drag out. Develop a vision for the company, develop a business strategy, look at business operations, examine the computer technology, and develop and design the new organizational structure.

Some of the difficulty comes in integrating business units that have run their information systems independently for years. There is a trade-off at many companies, because information services may wish to provide a consistent set of services, but individual requirements must be met.

"If work is similar across the businesses, we ought to solve that problem once," says Robert Foster, Rhône-Poulenc's director of information systems. "If there are unique requirements, we shouldn't try to force businesses into a common solution."

At Ashland, according to Goodby, technology transformations are a given. When new distribution centers are acquired - which happens frequently - the old system is merged into the company as soon as the phone lines can be hooked up. After an acquisition, he says, the old system lasts about 24 hours. "We trash the old one and put in our own system," says Goodby. "You cannot merge little bits and pieces."

Union Carbide is on a three-step road to developing its high-tech information system, expected to be in place within three years. The first move, says Gigerich, was to clean up the old information system. As was typical, Carbide had decentralized its information technology in the early 1980s to better serve the internal organizations. In 1993, Gigerich says, the company decided to recentralize information technology: "The power of the information technology explosion is the ability to manage and leverage technology across the entire company. And to do that, you have to have it all in one place."

Carbide is completing step two, evaluating current resources to determine whether they can support the new technologies and the rapidly changing work processes. Information technology can either enable or inhibit progress, says Gigerich. Old systems that are tightly structured and inflexible get in the way of continuous improvement. Sometimes "you've got to work around the system instead of through the system."

Systems that came into the chemical industry in the 1960s through the '80s were not built to deal with the business of the '90s, he says. "Every time you do something new or different, you have to ask yourself, 'How are we going to fool the systems to make this work?' The faster business changes, the more you have to fool the system. In the last two to four years, the rate of 'fooling' has accelerated, and it will continue to accelerate, because this industry is changing rapidly."

In step three, Union Carbide is evaluating and selecting new information software that can meet the company's present needs and be flexible enough to keep up with the unknown business changes ahead. "Because of the information explosion and the globalization of business, we have to be positioned to support constant change," Gigerich says.

Previously, Gigerich's group would examine a business and develop a way to do the current business better with technology, he explains. The new paradigm is to examine the business, find out how it's changed recently, get a sense of how things could change in the future, then develop a system that meets current needs, positions the company for the future, and is cost-effective. Says Gigerich, "It's a pretty daunting task."

There are many decisions to be made in putting together a technology system. Carbide has looked at software, hardware, and services - including networks from MCI, Sprint, and AT&T; data services; and outside databases. Gigerich is looking at workstations, local area network (LAN) servers, client servers, and major main processors. He sees client-server networks, where each user's station is a computer in its own right, as more flexible than a centralized mainframe environment. And an increase in off-the-shelf software options has decreased the need for in-house programming solutions.

Sophisticated database software is also a key to the new system, Gigerich says. "If we capture data and structure data files in a relational way, no matter what the businesses need down the road, we should be able to respond to them quickly."

A key question for many companies, says Gigerich, is whether to use the complete SAP Americas software package - which he says is the only one that claims to cover the entire information requirements for a company - or piece together the "best of the breed" software. The growing number of suppliers include Marcam, Newton, Mass.; Datalogix, Valhalla, N.Y.; and EDS of Plano, Texas. The advantage of best-of-breed approach is that capabilities for each piece of the business can be maximized, he says. "The disadvantage is that you take on the responsibility, cost, and risk of integrating different packages together."

Chemical companies will also have to decide how much they want to keep up with the rapid changes in information technology. Information-dependent businesses, such as banking and finance, are forced to accept every innovation. But technology-based competition in the chemical industry is not as fierce, and cost-effectiveness is key.

In the meantime, information technology groups must also support the current processes. And when new systems come in, they must be slipped in piece by piece. "You can't stop the car to change the tire," Gigerich says. Another analogy he uses is the building of interstate highways. "When you first build them, you just go out and build them. When you come back to rebuild them 20 years later, the first thing you've got to do is figure out where you're going to put all the traffic."

Smaller companies have to follow suit, the consultants agree, but they won't need as elaborate a system. And a cheaper, simpler solution won't necessarily be an inferior solution. For a smaller company, less data will mean they will avoid the blizzard of information that the larger companies may face. "And since many [computer] companies are eager and willing to tailor solutions for small outfits," says MacMullin, "some smaller firms will be on the cutting edge."

As in many corporate efforts, top-level involvement is important for promoting technology change. Hallman says DuPont businesses that have latched onto the technology initiative usually have a leader who takes an active role in the changeover. "In the absence of that, it doesn't mean it can't work, but it certainly works more slowly."

To aid and encourage those transformations, Hallman places information services employees into business operations to work with the business heads. Although DuPont has sent some employees to outside training seminars, Hallman says day-to-day assistance in which information services employees develop a knack for the business and a rapport with the leaders is the best way to gain successful and lasting improvements in the work processes. Training seminars have a benefit, says Hallman, but within limits. "I think the people came out of it with a feel for the technology, but not for the application. Only when you understand how it can be applied can it be of use."

At Rhône-Poulenc, Foster's information services group is responsible not only for providing hardware and software but also for making sure that the tools are used effectively throughout the company. Previously, a business unit would ask for a change in its computer system, and Foster's group would program it and pass it along. "But nobody really worried about whether the people who used the tools were able to use them effectively and whether they really did make a difference," says Foster. Now, training, documentation, and follow-up visits leverage the work done by information services.

In the future, predicts Rubin, free time for top executives will be even more limited by the widespread use of cellular phones, pagers, and laptop computers. "They'll always be able to be contacted or able to contact people.

"Decisions are going to come fast and furious," he warns. With the rapid product changes demanded by customer innovations and rapid information flow throughout a corporation, all employees will find themselves making more decisions on their own. And the decisions will need to be made faster to keep up with customer demands. "If a company comes out with a new product and it requires a new plasticizer, we have to respond immediately," Rubin says.

And companies that can't keep up with that pace, say the information technology gurus, will be quickly run over by the competition.

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