2012 Visionaries

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2012 Visionaries

By Alliston Ackerman - 06/01/2012

2012 Visionaries

13 Industry Leaders Drive Business Value with Big Picture Initiatives

Being a visionary in the consumer goods (CG) industry is all about seeing passed the obstacles of today in order to achieve what could be tomorrow. The executives that CGT chose to profile this year were hand picked from a pool of more than 50 glowing reader nominations. Each of them has persevered with innovative business or technology initiatives despite the roadblocks presented by today’s still shaky, consumer-driven market. For this reason, we call them “visionary”. On the pages that follow, they reveal their biggest career accomplishments to date and explain future visions for their respective companies. But first, we shine a special spotlight on one of the industry’s true “Big Data” pioneers: The Coca-Cola Company’s Director of Business Growth Drivers, Tony van der Hoek.







Tony van der Hoek
Director, Business Growth Drivers
The Coca-Cola Company

If you’ve had the pleasure of meeting Tony van der Hoek, you know that he lives and breathes “Big Data”.

The Coca-Cola Company, as a global enterprise, relies on sophisticated analytic capabilities to harness the mass of internal information that it generates.

For the past nine years, van der Hoek has been at the forefront of this effort. He is responsible for shaping the single, cross-retailer integrated demand signal repository (DSR) solution that is being developed at the company today. In fact, his work to collect, harmonize and share global data throughout the organization, using solutions from Teradata, Vision Chain and Microstrategy, began well before the DSR became a corporate goal for most CG companies, and that makes him a true visionary in our book.

“Tony is one of the leading practitioners I know at transforming insights into real business results,” says Jerry S. Wilson, former senior vice president, chief customer and commercial officer, The Coca-Cola Company. “What makes Tony unique is not just his broad ability and deep customer analytics experience; it is also his ability to apply and execute this globally and throughout our value chain.”

For the past 12 to 18 months, van der Hoek has been hard at work taking
Coca-Cola’s data-driven journey one step further with a strategy called "Global Analytics Capabilities". When completed, this new project is expected to not only deliver best-in-class analytics functionality that is scalable to Coca-Cola's 200-plus markets, but also ideally prove the benefits of a shared service model.

Several pilots within this multi-year initiative have already delivered analytically-driven results to Coca-Cola’s business units and bottlers in key geographies. Ultimately, Coca-Cola’s findings from these pilots will help retail customers become more efficient and effective within their stores and help execute a “picture of success” designed around individual customer store clusters to improve the shopper experience and retailer results.

Here, van der Hoek speaks candidly about his accomplishments to date and previews Coca-Cola’s “Big Data” successes to come.

CGT: What is your vision for the future of The Coca-Cola Company? 

van der Hoek:
Ultimately, we are striving to become world class in our ability to create insights throughout the value chain. Not only must we build the capability to generate the right information at the right time, but we also need to develop the right business processes and expertise required to drive these insights to the point of action. This will mean developing our people, processes and technology with a mind to the future needs of all stakeholders.

CGT: Can you talk about your next big project and how it will benefit your company?

van der Hoek:
We’re actively exploring the potential use of technology solutions for managing the storage and processing of multi-sourced data, including customer scan data, to create a robust DSR in more markets. As part of this strategy, we are investigating not only cloud computing but the coordination of virtualization strategies as well as distributed and/or processing approaches, like MapReduce, to handle “Big Data”.

We will not only concentrate on how to harness internal and external data — everything from social media to syndicated data — but also on how to use it to drive insight and make actionable decisions. Again, making this a reality in the markets in which we operate will require a relentless focus on people, process and technology, as well as the requirement to work collaboratively with our retail customers.  

CGT: What will be the CG industry's greatest challenge over the next five years, and how will Coca-Cola address it?

van der Hoek:
The industry must develop an effective strategy to cleanse and align “Big Data” between information sources and incorporate it into day-to-day production and decision-making mechanisms. This will require not only the data to be shared more freely, but also the implementation of the necessary protocols to align data sources such as shopper loyalty card information with a social media account.

A further challenge will be to encourage retailers and CG companies to be more collaborative in sharing data effectively from our vast mutual sources of consumer, social and shopper data. By pooling these resources, we should be able to uncover meaningful insights that will lead to market changes in the ways our consumers and shoppers interact with our brands.    

CGT: What is your philosophy on leadership?

van der Hoek:
I always try my hardest to remove obstacles and achieve a win-win solution for all parties. To develop and inspire others, I take a mentoring approach, giving them freedom to work and learn independently whilst also giving them the opportunity to present and share learning.  

CGT: Who do you admire in business?

van der Hoek:
True leaders take the most complex subjects and turn them into understandable and meaningful visions. They inspire others to become self-motivated and accomplish great things. Neville Isdell, former chairman and CEO of The Coca-Cola Company, is one such great leader.

CGT: Is there a piece of advice that you live/work by?

van der Hoek:
The late, great Coca-Cola Chairman Robert Woodruff, who led our company for more than half of the last century, liked to say that the world belongs to the discontented. Current Coca-Cola Chairman and CEO Muhtar Kent now encourages us to remain “constructively discontent.”










Dr. Greg Allgood
Director, Children’s Safe Drinking Water Program
The Procter & Gamble Company

Vision in Action: Dr. Greg Allgood has literally lived up to his name in the position of Director for the not-for-profit P&G Children’s Safe Drinking Water (CSDW) program, started in 2004. Through CSDW, he is helping to raise awareness and address the global water crisis that kills more children than HIV/AIDS and malaria combined. “We implement programs with more than 100 partners to provide clean drinking water using P&G water purification packets that were developed in a collaboration with the CDC,” explains Dr. Allgood. The program has committed to provide four billion liters of clean water between 2007 and 2012, and it is nearing completion of that goal.

The Bigger Picture: “We are committed to scale up the P&G Children’s Safe Drinking Water Program to save one life every hour by providing 2 billion liters of clean drinking water every year by 2020,” says Dr. Allgood. In addition to helping P&G fulfill its purpose of improving lives, the effort is simultaneously connecting several for-profit brands, like Pantene and SKII in Asia, to a worthy cause. “It’s helping us learn how to better serve low income people in the developing world and thereby expand our for-profit business,” he says.

Overcoming Obstacles: “More and more people are basing their decisions on the products they choose to purchase based on the greater impact those products have in the world,” says Dr. Allgood. P&G’s CSDW program provides the perfect opportunity to connect with its consumers via new and extremely powerful marketing vehicles. For example, P&G recently launched the CSDW Facebook page and a “1 Like = 1 Day” campaign where every like on our Facebook page donates a day of clean drinking water in the developing world. It also shares tweets (@PG_CSDW) and blogs (www.csdw.org) to engage people in the program.

Source of Inspiration: “Never doubt that a small group of concerned and thoughtful citizens can change the world, indeed it’s the only thing that ever has.” - Margaret Mead







Ramon Baez
Chief Information Officer
Kimberly-Clark Corporation

Vision in Action: Ramon Baez has quite a few IT firsts under his belt as CIO of Kimberly-Clark (K-C), including a massive salesforce.com/SAP system integration across the globe. But what he is most proud of is the establishment of a leadership development and mentor program within K-C’s global IT organization. The program aims to build confidence and capabilities within the IT department so that members view themselves as part of a strategic value center that helps executives and business leaders find solutions to their IT needs. The program also comes with a succession planning process that identifies up-and-coming talent who will become the company’s future IT leaders. “Two years into the program, we have experienced tremendous successes and outcomes,” reports Baez. “Our global IT teams are included in the planning stages for some of K-C’s most critical business initiatives, and we have developed and mentored more than 16 IT professionals today with more to come.”

The Bigger Picture: “As K-C expands into new markets, we must leverage our global workforce as a competitive advantage by enabling the right skills and capabilities in the right places at the right time to support our company’s growth,” says Baez. Thus, he and his team are working on the deployment of a human capital management system through a partnership with Workday. The project will help K-C to efficiently organize and develop the skills of its global workforce.

Overcoming Obstacles: According to Baez, CG companies will be challenged to manage “Big Data” over the next five years and are realizing the importance of using analytics to drive business strategies and growth. “We have begun taking great strides in transforming ourselves into a data-driven culture,” he reports. “Doing so will help us identify the right innovation and marketing opportunities to pursue in the right geographical locations, all based on consumer and local and global market data and analytics.”

Source of Inspiration: “Knowing one’s personal core values and how they relate back to the values of one’s company or team… They must align seamlessly to enable one’s true authentic and inspirational leadership style to be realized by those they touch.”







Carol Stephany-Burns & Mark Obermeyer
Strategic Insights Team
Mars Chocolate North America

At Mars Chocolate North America, the innovative application of strategic insights within the sales organization is driving measurable change in the marketplace. These feats can be accredited to not one, but two Mars associates, Carol Stephany-Burns and Mark Obermeyer, who led the implementation effort. Here, they team up once again to share the secrets behind their success and what it takes to truly work as a team.

CGT: Working together, what do you consider your biggest win to date at Mars Chocolate NA? 

Using XP3, a data mining and presentation generation technology from Interactive Edge, we improved speed to insights and fine-tuned our analysis to quickly identify key market opportunities. The market intelligence delivered by this enabler greatly enhances Mars Chocolate NA’s analytic capability, and enables collaborative planning with internal and external stakeholders.

Obermeyer: These improvements provide an unparalleled advantage by focusing on what is important. Better market intelligence, faster analysis and collaboration are proving to be a winning combination for the Mars Chocolate NA’s Sales Team.

CGT: What is the team's next big project and how will it benefit the company?

During 2012, we will focus on further developing our methodology to cut through the clutter and identify the big opportunities. Additionally, we will build on our 2011 success by ensuring our team is fully trained on the recently launched advanced tools, data mining techniques and presentation generation. We are also looking at integrating this into alternative delivery platforms.

Obermeyer: Managing all the information available can be a challenge. Investing in the training, so that our sales associates can fully leverage the insights, is critical to our future success. The prospect of sharing these cutting-edge technologies with the rest of the business is very gratifying.

CGT: What will be the greatest industry challenge over the next five years and how do you plan to address it?

Those who learn to mine the data effectively, identify key insights and communicate that information clearly will be the big winners. I see that as the foundation for collaborative planning and focusing our efforts where they will have the greatest impact.  

Stephany-Burns: Listening to the goals and needs of our retailers and focusing our time on what is important to them will provide unique roadmaps for our retailers. Using tools such as XP3 to drive analytical agility and allow us to identify actionable retail strategies for stakeholders will ensure those big wins.  

CGT: What is the key to a successful working relationship?

Active listening during conversations with our external stakeholders and the category and sales managers allows us to focus on the broader needs of the organization. With the end result in mind, we collaborate on each project and leverage our individual strengths to deliver more insightful analysis. This reduces response time to the buyer’s questions and requests, and increases sales effectiveness.

Stephany-Burns: Mark and I challenge one another constantly. We both have a passion for excellence, and are very competitive, but when we come to the worktable, we check our egos at the door. We base our decisions on what’s best for the retailers and our business. The competitive spirit combined with a passion for excellence has proven to be an impactful combination.

CGT: Is there a piece of advice that you live/work by?

The Five Principals of Mars Inc. — Quality, Responsibility, Mutuality, Efficiency and Freedom — are the foundation of every project and the basis to our problem solving approach. We are free to explore solutions that enable delivery of actionable insights to our internal and external stakeholders that benefit us both.  

Obermeyer: Stephen R. Covey once said, “Seek first to understand, then to be understood.” When we engage our passions with understanding of the retailer, shopper and consumer, it creates a win-win result that drives solutions and trust for all stakeholders. This allows forward movement and drives productivity.







Jeff Bellairs
Senior Director of Open Innovation
General Mills

Vision in Action: Jeff Bellairs was hand-selected in 2005 to lead General Mills' new open innovation effort. Two years later, the company launched the General Mills Worldwide Innovation Network (G-WIN). Since then, he has played an instrumental role in refining and evolving the company’s open innovation practices to bring in the right outside technologies, processes and products.
“At General Mills, we consider the world to be our lab, and we have opened our eyes to a wide range of partnering possibilities that help us to more nimbly deliver meaningful product innovation to consumers around the world,” says Bellairs.

The Bigger Picture: “We consider the next evolution of open innovation to go from a 'one-to-one' model to a model that could be considered to be 'many-to-many' — groups of companies with similar needs working together to identify ‘ecosystems’ of solvers who could collaborate to build robust solutions,” explains Bellairs. As General Mills considers industry-wide needs in the areas of food safety and sustainability, the company is actively exploring models that move in this direction.  

Overcoming Obstacles: Population growth, demographic shifts, scientific discovery and invention are all brought together to create a dizzying array of opportunities and challenges. “The companies that best position themselves to address those challenges in the next five years will be the companies that thrive over the next 25 years,” says Bellairs. “Our goal is to build an outwardly focused organization that is nimble and responsive and able to identify consumer needs early and build meaningful new food solutions through effective external partnerships.”

Source of Inspiration: What's Bellairs' professional mantra? KMF  (Keep Moving Forward). “Think big, start small and take a step, even a small step, in the right direction today. Don’t get paralyzed by your company’s gravitational pull, so keep moving your feet!”







Jatinder Ronny Bindra
Vice President, Global Analytics & Marketplace Information
Kraft Foods

Vision in Action: When it comes to analytics and insights, Ronny Bindra and his team lead the industry. “We are very passionate and focused on activating analytics to deliver strategic and practical business insights to drive growth at Kraft,” says Bindra. “We partner with the business to activate new and existing analytic capabilities globally to address key issues such as marketing effectiveness, regional investments, innovative growth platforms and pricing.” Business simulations have been incorporated into planning to mitigate risk and uncover opportunity. “We match the science with the art of great marketing and sales,” he says.

The Bigger Picture: Kraft is piloting a concept that unleashes the power of its iconic brands to drive better consumer experiences. “We are attempting to look at all marketing drivers holistically to drive growth,” says Bindra. The approach fuses data from a brand’s relevant touch points to discover the most effective marketing fingerprint, assess the unique communication characteristics, optimize message content and plan integrated marketing ROI. 

Overcoming Obstacles: “Global economic volatility and fickle consumer sentiment require more analytics-driven decision support across all facets of businesses,” says Bindra. “Predictive analytics can provide information advantage and reduce uncertainty and risk. Emerging technologies and data proliferation from mobile, digital and social media will require more holistic insights. This means that we will need to assess what really matters and what does not to track and grow business.”

Source of Inspiration: Bindra has always admired Steve Jobs and has been motivated by his words, ‘Stay Hungry, Stay Foolish’, from an inspirational commencement address at Stanford University in 2005. “He extolled that we need to remind ourselves that our time is limited, so we shouldn’t waste it living someone else’s life and be trapped by dogma.”







Jeff Bradley
Director of Logistics Operations
General Mills

Vision in Action: General Mills has made tremendous strides in transportation over the past several years. With Jeff Bradley at the helm, the logistics team has developed and executed a comprehensive transportation strategy that emphasizes a centralized, coordinated approach to carrier management. “We began with a critical evaluation of our carrier base that resulted in consolidating with some of the premier carriers in the industry,” says Bradley. “We then standardized our processes and invested in technology to give our transportation professionals better tools.” For example, General Mills was the first to implement Transportation Forecasting (TF), a solution from Terra Technology, to improve transportation planning.

The Bigger Picture: Today, Bradley is focused on leveraging the capabilities of General Mill’s supply chain as a competitive advantage to develop new growth opportunities. “My team works with customer-facing resources within our organization to find the right partners and build the capabilities that are needed to meet the varied needs of our customers,” he says. “These solutions often require innovative thinking and close collaboration with our carriers and warehouse operators to build capabilities quickly and cost effectively.”

Overcoming Obstacles: Volatility in oil prices continues to pose challenges for multiple industries. General Mills is working to ensure that its supply chain is well-positioned by regionalizing production, optimizing vehicle fill and converting to more fuel efficient modes of transportation. “One area we believe has potential is the conversion to natural gas powered tractors,” says Bradley. “There is still a lot to learn about the technology... but we intend to be part of the discovery process.”

Leadership Philosophy: “The team comes first,” says Bradley. “I try to provide the strategic direction and get everyone to understand how he or she can move us toward our vision. From there, I help remove obstacles and recognize their many successes.”







Bryan D. Farnsworth
Vice President, Quality Management
Hormel Foods

Vision in Action: Product safety is vital to the overall success of any consumer goods company, and Hormel Foods continues to be a recognized industry leader in this critical area. For 31 years, Bryan D. Farnsworth has remained dedicated to his vision to make safety a company-wide initiative through the establishment, development and promotion of numerous innovative programs and technologies.

“I am most proud of the creation of our Hormel Foods Safety Council,” Farnsworth says. The council is a cross-functional team that works to assure risks associated with all ingredients, processes and manufacturing environment are identified and controlled across Hormel Foods. “It is a true team effort,” he affirms.

The Bigger Picture: Moving full steam ahead, Farnsworth is now concentrating on fine-tuning the company’s corporate-wide enterprise risk management system process. “Specifically, we are putting more controls around the selection and scrutiny of our ingredient suppliers,” he says. “This includes requiring all suppliers to meet the requirements of the Global Food Safety Initiative recognized standards.”

Overcoming Obstacles: Hormel Foods is focused on the convenience, taste and quality of its products, especially as value continues to be an enduring trend for consumers. As this trend continues to grow, food safety will remain a critical component of value because consumers have less time to prepare meals. “Thus, it is our responsibility to investigate and test science-based safety technologies that ensure every product is as safe as possible for the consumer, while still maintaining taste and quality,” Farnsworth says.

Source of Inspiration: Farnsworth advises, “Food safety is everyone’s responsibility. A company has to have a steadfast commitment to food safety from the executive level to research to operations to sales. Teamwork is the key to providing safe, nutritious and wholesome food.”







Blair Kellison
Chief Executive Officer
Traditional Medicinals

Vision in Action: Traditional Medicinals has become a leader in the medicinal, herbal tea market as a result of the personnel, business process and technology best practices implemented during Blair Kellison’s tenure as CEO. “Most small companies rely almost solely on their unique product or service as their competitive advantage,” says Kellison. “I have come to see first hand that best practices benefit smaller companies disproportionately more than larger companies.”

The Bigger Picture: Naturally, Traditional Medicinals is infusing its “go to market” sales and marketing strategy with critical best practices. This project started with a two-year consumer market research project, an intensive analysis of historical trade spending and the purchase of TradeInsight. As a result, the company is transitioning from a “push” strategy (getting product on the shelf and offering deep promotions) to a “pull” strategy (in-store and out-of-store consumer programs to build awareness of the medicinal tea category) to grow its sales.

Overcoming Obstacles: As natural food companies continue to outpace category growth, their conventional counterparts will launch natural/organic products of their own. Thus, natural/organic companies must become more competitive in terms of their cost structure and go-to-market efficiency.  
“Consumers will continue to pay a premium for better quality, natural, organic and sustainability, but they will not pay a premium for small company inefficiency,” says Kellison. “Our industry has focused almost solely on product quality and social and environmental sustainability — but that equation needs to also include financial sustainability in the form of offering competitively priced products from an efficiently run organization.”

Leadership Philosophy: “I make smart decisions, not by myself, but by surrounding myself with people who are smarter than me in their disciplines, and then I listen to them, especially when we disagree,” says Kellison.







Martin Schneider
Vice President & Chief Information Officer
VF Corporation

Vision in Action: Martin Schneider’s establishment of VF Corporation’s Global Business Technology (GBT) team has helped enable record growth through the use of technology. “We began our journey by establishing strong partnerships with leaders in our global business and, working together, ensured that our efforts aligned with the company’s strategies,” he explains. It was through this close collaboration that GBT defined its own technology strategy and roadmap, determined through a business-driven, best-practice prioritization process. “To augment this effort, we have worked to improve project delivery by focusing on developing internal GBT talent while bringing in new talent with specific skills that can help us support VF’s growth drivers,” Schneider says.  

The Bigger Picture: A number of projects are underway to support the company, including investing in technology to support business growth in Asia and Europe. This includes continuing to implement SAP as a core platform and surrounding it with best-in-class technology to drive VF’s fast-growing retail and e-commerce channels. “A major component of this effort is bringing one of our largest and most-recently acquired brands, Timberland, online in our systems,” Schneider explains.

Overcoming Obstacles: The pace of change within VF’s industry continues to accelerate. “Whether it is connecting with our consumers or using ‘Big Data’ to drive decisions, for example, our team must be able to step up and deliver,” he says. “And the skills we need for tomorrow will be different than those critical today, so we must continually focus on developing talent, securing talent, and leveraging our strategic industry and university partners.”

Leadership Philosophy: "Information technology strategy must be aligned with business objectives, and we must continually develop top talent to execute the strategy."







Francesco Tinto
Vice President, Information Services
Kraft Foods

Vision in Action: For the past three years, Francesco Tinto has worked to instill a culture marked by intimacy not only within Kraft Foods’ Information Services (IS) organization but across critical business functions and external business partners. Over the last 18 months, however, he has concentrated on putting a positive spin on a major IS cost reduction effort, wherein his team transformed services and innovation for the better rather than experience the typical reduction effects such as service level reductions or slowing/stopping new technology introduction. “I decided to take this as an opportunity to transform our application footprint completely,” says Tinto. “This benefited our technology platforms for our consumers, customers and employees.” For example, the company delivered new digital technology, bringing its products to consumers in an exciting new way.

The Bigger Picture: As Kraft Foods separates into two distinct companies, it is the responsibility of the IS organization to ensure both companies have standalone technology capabilities as of day one, covering the application landscape, hosting infrastructure, networks and workplace services. “This also requires the creation of two IS organizations with the right talent in each to ensure the success of both companies,” says Tinto.

Overcoming Obstacles: Kraft Foods has focused its efforts in the last few years on building a strong back office environment based on SAP. “Our challenge in the future is to exploit SAP's full benefits, simplifying and improving our business process while consumerizing our front office capabilities,” reports Tinto. "This includes a focus on social media interaction, insights and analytics coming from data availability, and the general consumerization of IT.”?

Leadership Philosophy: “I have a leadership stand, like a mantra, that drives my behavior every day: I am a rock, a source of power and confidence to others to be their best.”







Randy Zagorin
Director, North America Consumer Business Technology
Pfizer Consumer Healthcare

Vision in Action: Randy Zagorin redefined how Pfizer Consumer Healthcare (PCH) leverages digital technology to adapt to new ways that consumers research, shop and purchase products. In 2011, he helped launch NutritionPossible.com, a tool that allows consumers to understand their health goals, learn about supplements, and then act on the tool’s recommended and tailored supplement regime by purchasing supplements online or in store through PCH retail partners.

“While the project presents a significant financial opportunity, the non-financial benefits are equally compelling,” explains Zagorin. “By delivering this project, PCH improves its internal innovation capabilities by taking a consumer insight to an idea to a final product.”

The Bigger Picture: Under Zagorin’s direction, Pfizer’s Business Technology organization is partnering with sales and marketing to evaluate opportunities to incorporate digital into its current marketing mix. “Mobile technology is radically changing the way consumers research, shop and purchase products, with smartphones being used to search product reviews and compare prices while shopping in retail stores,” says Zagorin.

Overcoming Obstacles: Widespread availability of information will challenge retailers and manufacturers to develop new strategies and technical capabilities to build new relationships with consumers. “PCH is developing the insights, strategies and technology to better connect, build loyalty and deliver added value to retailers and consumers,” says Zagorin.

Leadership Philosophy: “My focus is on developing individuals while drawing on each team member’s expertise to achieve goals. I believe in allowing teams time for discussion so there is alignment on goals and objectives before making decisions and selecting the go-forward approach.”







Retail Stars
Spotlighting six top retail executives who are energizing their organizations






Bill Wood
CIO, Brookstone

By 2010, channel proliferation and rising customer expectations prompted Brookstone to upgrade its warehouse management system (WMS). According to CIO Bill Wood, Brookstone needed a WMS that would allow the retailer to serve its direct-to-consumer, direct-to-stores and wholesale partners with near real-time order management. With the upgrade accomplished, the retailer can ship an order taken off of Brookstone’s web site within one hour, with the system automatically flowing information that triggers pick, pack and ship, an e-mail sent to the customer, and the order itself loaded onto a truck for delivery.






Carla Moradi
Divisional CIO Enterprise Shared Services, Walgreens

Transforming a large retail drugstore chain into a health and living store of the future is no easy feat. Carla Moradi took on this project with a team of colleagues to enhance functionality while minimizing variations in the store’s technology footprint. The aim has been to “lean out” store-level technology wherever possible by streamlining in-store technologies. The goal is to create a unified communications system that allows customers to interact with Walgreens in the ways they choose, while maintaining a consistent experience for everyone.







Mike Laurenti
EVP and CIO, Belk

Belk, founded nearly 125 years ago, is in the midst of a multi-year, $150 million transformation that will make it one of the most technologically up-to-date retailers in the country. According to Belk CIO Mike Laurenti, one of the biggest reasons for the significant investment is that the retail customer has changed, and continues to do so.

“The overarching theme of the transformation is delivering new business capabilities, ones that will ultimately lead to a better shopping experience for customers,” says Laurenti.

In addition to upgrades and/or replacements of a host of its major systems, Laurenti and his team are also assessing how the traditional department store is fitting into the new omni-channel retailing environment.







Roger Underwood
SVP, E-commerce Operations & Technology, Finish Line USA

Like many retailers, Finish Line made adjustments to survive the great recession, and in the process, shifted much of its growth plan to building out its e-commerce business. Heading up the growing department is Roger Underwood, who says this omni-channel strategy requires the alignment of resources, systems and programs to deliver a seamless and consistent brand experience. Thus, Finish Line is updating merchandising systems by enhancing merchandising intelligence and flexibility. In addition, Underwood and his team are working on a new CRM system, enhanced supply chain management, piloting handhelds, and projects with Nike and Google.







Maura Hart
CIO & Group VP Information Services, Winn-Dixie

The Winn-Dixie chain of supermarkets has embarked on a full agenda of IT projects spearheaded by CIO Maura Hart and her IT team, even as the company prepares to go private in the first half of the year. This agenda includes deploying campaign management software, a fuel perks program, POS controllers, piloting electronic coupons tied to loyalty cards, computer generated ordering for the center store, talent management and recruiting, and conducting a software selection process for POS, supply chain and merchandising systems. All of these are either just completed or nearing completion.







Bill MacFarlane
CIO, Shane Co.

As a privately-held, independent jeweler, Shane Co. has to compete with large chains that can tap mega-resources to drive margins down and the cost of promotions up. Helping Shane Co. prepare for new opportunities is CIO Bill MacFarlane, who recently completed a migration of the company’s data center to a hosted/managed facility and, in the process, virtualized the server environment. Some big projects that MacFarlane and his team plan on tackling next year include upgrading CRM applications, expanding mobile commerce activities, and researching a store systems replacement.
“The thing that gets me out of bed every morning as a CIO is knowing that, in some way, albeit small or large, the efforts of my team have assisted the company in achieving success,” he says.






For more information about these Retail Stars, read “2012 RIS Influentials”,
published in the March 2012 issue of RIS News (www.risnews.com).




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