Special Report: BtoB's annual Top 25 E-Champions: Sue Unger

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It wasn't too long ago that Sue Unger, DaimlerChrysler AG's senior VP-CIO, viewed technology as little more than a necessary evil.

"In the late 80's, if the operation shut down, nothing much would happen, but today if you shut off IT we would not have a company," said Unger, who joined the manufacturer almost 30 years ago. Today, she is a full-fledged techie who harnesses the power of the Web to communicate with suppliers, dealers and employees.

Name: Sue Unger
Title: Senior VP-CIO
Company: DaimlerChrysler AG, Detroit
Mission: "To use Internet and Web technologies to improve internal processes and communication."

Prior to the Internet, DaimlerChrysler had difficulties reaching all but its first-tier suppliers during the product development process. Last year, Unger helped launch the Web-based Fast Car program, which enables the players involved in the manufacturing of a vehicle to monitor and interact with one another. With Fast Car, designers and engineers can learn what a glassmaker has to say about a particular design change during the idea phase and address it right away rather than near the end, when changes are more costly.

"It used to take three or four weeks before the message got down to our tier-four suppliers, and now we can do it in a day's time," she said.

Additionally, while many competitors squeeze dealers with the Internet, Unger's team uses it to bring them closer in to the company. Through the new Five Star dealer project, online quotes can be obtained within a day.

The company also operates the Five Star Market Center where dealers buy products and commodities—like gasoline or telephone service—at volume discount prices through an e-marketplace. Unger is also working toward fully digitizing plant building and better connecting employees to one another and the company.
—Beth Kanter

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