Boeing Takes Off on the Information Runway

With $58 million in total company revenues last year, and nearly 80,000 employees in Washington State, the Boeing Corporation has always played a major role in the Northwest’s economy. As Seattle increasingly becomes known for its Internet industry, Boeing wants to let people know that they are not only an aviation company, but a major player in IT. caught up with Bill Barker, manager of Boeing’s Partners Network, to see what the big “B” is doing online.

The Partners Network, was established in 1996 as a secure portal to support the spare parts page.

Since then the site has grown to include over 2,500 companies using more than 200 applications.
And it’s growing.

According to Barker, the site currently has 15,000 registered users, and is expected to reach 50,000 users by the end of the year, and 100,000 by next year.

One of the applications that has garnered the attention of press recently is, an application which has rapidly expanded to include a mammoth amount of data, approximately 1.5 terabytes.

Barker, however, reminds people that is just one of the applications available on the site. “While it’s significant in the quantity of data, you have to think of it as one of over 200 entities.”

In addition, new applications are being added all the time.

“I am bringing on a new application every three days, including weekends, and have been doing that for over a year,” says the manager. “It’s absolutely straight-line growth.”

The site provides specific applications and databases online for specific customer sets. These include airlines, manufacturers, military, government, and even non-profits that have aligned themselves with Boeing.

“It can be used for anything to help ease and aid in the conduct of business for the Boeing company,” says Barker.

The site is allowing suppliers to have information that they never had before and to get feedback substantially quicker than they have before. According to Barker, it’s a two-part revolution, shortening the time quotient and allowing the targeting of information to specific people.

“It’s not just the delivery time, it’s the actual availability to the right person, at the right place, at the right time.”

Barker believes this network is part of an information revolution we have entered, but feels that we have just begun to scratch its surface.

“While there’s been dramatic changes in the last couple of years, the big changes are yet to come. I think that will be exhibited by the fact that the numerics are continuing to increase substantially daily, almost hourly.”

With this kind of growth, Barker explains that Boeing is becoming not only an aviation company, but an IT company as well. Almost all of the applications available on the network have been developed in-house.

“Boeing is not just an engineering company anymore, we’re an information company,” says Barker.

With the move into the IT market, Boeing is experiencing some similar growing pains as many local Internet companies.

“We are shoulder deep in the information revolution and it’s going to make changes throughout the company, starting first with the mix of skills and job qualifications.”

According to Barker, “Seattle will see more people with computing backgrounds find Boeing as an attractive company.”

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