Canadian Retailer - Summer 2011 - (Page 36)

| TECHNOLOGY LEADERSHIP TODAY’S RETAIL CIO: THE POWER of INFLUENCE As technology becomes ever more influential in shaping the lives of consumers, retail CIOs gain greater influence within the retail hierarchy By Robert Price I n April, Sony made the wrong kind of headlines. The company’s PlayStation Network suffered a security breach that shut down service for nearly a month, affecting more than 100 million online customer accounts. Around the same time, Apple suffered PR of its own making when technophiles discovered that iPhones and iPads were equipped with the capability to track users’ locations without their consent. These issues, and others like them, perk the ears of consumers, who, as survey after survey shows, want seamless consumer experiences… without the risk. Providing customers with the experience that they’re looking for demands that retail CIOs keep pace with the rapid changes in technology, and leverage select technologies to entice customers to buy—a combination that empowers the retail CIO, increasing the influence of the role within every retail operation. PICKING THE RIGHT SPOT The central challenge facing the retail CIO has always involved keeping pace with changes in technology, says Paul Bellack, a partner and practice leader in technology strategy at IBM Global Business. What complicates this shift today, however, is that many of the new technologies are consumer-oriented and customer-facing. Despite whether retailers choose to use these customer-facing technologies, they understand that it’s in their best interest to keep up with the changes. “A large part of the challenge is being able to have meaningful and productive conversations with the business community about these technologies, particularly around the costs and benefits about them,” says Bellack. “Everybody’s going to want an iPad application, everybody’s going to want analytics, everybody’s going to want to go to the cloud, so I think it’s the responsibility of the CIO and the IT department to understand what these technologies are and understand how they could move the business forward.” Knowing how the technology can shape the customer experience is crucial to the CIO’s success in today’s technology-driven life. The CIO needs to be able to walk a management team through the costs and benefits of new technologies and “pick the spots, pick the five good ideas out of 25,” says Bellack. Picking the right spot—the right technology to develop—is a business decision, and increasingly the retail CIO must straddle the technology and business divide. “Technological change has blown away any division between technology and business, leaving only cultural division when we are stuck in an old paradigm,” says Owen Patrick, Manager of Information Services at New Brunswick Liquor Corporation. “Individual retailers will see opportunities arise if they integrate technology savvy into their core culture and leverage technology. It is the number one game changer.” A SPOT IN THE CLOUD One of the spots retailers are looking to develop is in the clouds—the computing cloud, that is. Cloud computing refers to a technology that transfers the memory and storage of a users’ desktop computer to a computer residing in a virtual space. Rather than saving documents and software to a local hard drive, users access documents and programs through their Web browser. Cloud computing allows users to access infinite computing capacity instantly on a pay-as-you-go basis. Richard Hannah, Chief Information Officer at The Brick, says that cloud computing lends itself to retail. 36 | canadian retailer | summer 2011 |

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Canadian Retailer - Summer 2011

Canadian Retailer - Summer 2011
Publisher’s Desk
Shop Talk
Mobile Retail
Leadership Series
In Your Best Interest
Sector Spotlight
Retail Innovation
LP Roundtable
LP Technology
PCI Compliance
Technology Leadership
Training and Education
Advertisers’ Index
Have Your Say

Canadian Retailer - Summer 2011