The year was 1940. As Art Parker celebrated the Parker Appliance Company’s 23rd year and its robust support of the war effort through production of specialized couplings and valves, the United States was quietly being touched by a force more powerful than any could imagine: the electronic age.
With the U.S. Army’s use of the first high-speed, digital computer known as the ENIAC (Electronic Numerical Integrator and Computer), the digital era and future of information technology (IT) began. Many decades later, the integration of IT would become a key enabler for Parker Hannifin to become the global leader in motion and control technologies.
Elements of IT touched areas of Parker’s operations beginning in the 1980s, but it was the decision to build shared capabilities among all of the corporation’s operating divisions as the next decade began that would enable the ability to solve some of the world’s greatest engineering challenges, according to Vice President and Chief Information Officer Bill Eline.
"In the early 90s, the CEO at the time, Duane Collins, set a strategy to leverage common IT systems across the company. By building these capabilities, we were able to share solutions. Duane’s decision was transformational."
While today’s rate of change and level of disruption by modern technology is aggressive, in the early days of adoption, financial resources for IT were often seen as unnecessary. This kind of investment was particularly difficult for Parker’s "decentralized" management philosophy where costs are charged to the profit and loss entities of each division.
"Even when many wondered why we were investing in the systems, Duane kept saying it was what we had to do – to have a strategy that would be followed across the company, properly funded and executed over time. Because of Duane’s vision, we’ve been able to streamline not only Parker’s IT functions, but also transform the business to better align with the motion and control industry."
Just as IT represents advancements in the digital economy, Parker is known for creating innovative motion and fluid control system solutions. The synergetic combination was meant to be for the corporation’s future.
"We have a foundational knowledge of motion and control technologies—Parker has influenced the direction of how these systems are designed throughout history. IT has become a key enabler in driving productivity in our operations due to our ability to design innovative solutions for common business processes at Parker and share those automated solutions across our businesses. This 'design once, share many times' strategy continues to provide Parker with competitive advantages in the motion and control markets in which we compete.
The future looks very bright for any individual who wants to start, continue and conclude an IT career within Parker because it’s core to how we go to market, how we address our stakeholders and how we work on our overall vision."
This post is the tenth in a series of leadership interviews to commemorate Parker's centennial anniversary. To learn more about Parker's history, visit www.parker.com/centennial.
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Spotting Parker's Unlimited Opportunities
Leveraging Company Expertise Across Industries
Growing Leaders and Profits
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Decentralization with Global Unity
Entrepreneurial Spirit Fuels Parker's Family
Nurturing a Competitive and Compassionate Culture