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The Grill: Guess CIO Michael Relich takes on his dream job: COO

Mary K. Pratt | Dec. 17, 2013
This IT leader took the road less traveled to his dream job: chief operating officer.

You recently participated in a panel discussion about analytics. What are you doing that involves big data? There's a lot of data to harvest to figure out your customer, so I think there are huge opportunities. I can't say we've done huge things, but we've gone down the path.

You have to put in the infrastructure, and you need to figure out how to deal with structured and unstructured data. We put in Vertica, a columnar database, so we made sure we could handle large volumes of data. And we were able to increase performance by 50 to 100 times, so we were able to look at analytics.

Now we're able to run queries that used to take a day — if they even ran, if they didn't fail — now we can do these in minutes. Right now, we're doing market-basket analysis, looking in detail at what people are buying online together and in the store together, and using analytics, we actually make suggestions.

You've also talked about a generational change coming. What do you see? There's going to be a revolution in retail when the next generation comes in. They grew up with smartphones and technology. The guys running it now are in their 50s and they're not tech-savvy. But when the next generation comes in, I think you're going to have huge, huge changes. Right now, they say omnichannel: It's mobile devices, computers and in-store. I think they're all going to get merged together.

We're experimenting with some technology. We put some sensors in the store, so when I walk in, [the system] might not know that it's Mike Relich, but it knows my phone and it can see how many times I've been in the store and my path in the store.

And now it can track were you go. Do you go first to the sales rack, and how long do you spend in accessories versus denim? Right now, I know how long they stay and their browsing patterns. But if I get you to opt in on our mobile app, now I know it's you.So the next time I can pop you up on an iPad, and all the history you have, and basically know you.

Think about it: In the store, especially during a busy time, you have to allocate resources. Now I can see this is Rachel. She spent $5,000 last year, and I know she's a denim buyer and I can show her denim. And Mike buys only watches, and I can market to him that much better. I can take that same data on the Web and change the landing page and change the entire browse and dynamically generate pages tailored to you.


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