Winn-Dixie credits IT for help with financial turnaround

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. After filing for bankruptcy, Winn-Dixie’s is back in the black, due in part to its information technology operations, according to Computerworld.

“I think it fundamentally contributed to the bankruptcy,” said Charles Weston, group vice president on information technology at Winn-Dixie, of the IT systems. The applications were fragmented, and a single job by an employee could involve logging onto five separate screens, he said.

Weston faced fundamental decisions concerning the direction of IT, including whether he should stick with the mainframe or move to a distributed environment for his core business systems. He decided to stay with the mainframe and upgrade to a System z9, by IBM, mainframe in late 2006. He rejected a decentralized approach, which would involve relying on clusters of servers to replace the mainframe, after analyzing the cost and technology involved in the two approaches.

Weston admitted that cost cutting following the bankruptcy reduced his IT staff by more than a third, but pointed out that since restructuring, his department has become an attractive as a place to work because of the effort. The company exited bankruptcy in 2006 and expects to report net income of $13 million for its latest fiscal year, which ended in June. Total sales for the year are expected to come in at nearly $7.3 billion.

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