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8 top digital transformation stories of 2016

Clint Boulton | Dec. 14, 2016 looks back at key digital transformations CIOs shepherded in 2016.


Target's digital journey has suffered through its fits and starts and a devastating data breach in 2013 didn't help matters. To help jumpstart its digital transformation, the retailer hired CIO Mike McNamara from Tesco, where he had led several digital initiatives for the U.K. grocery chain. McNamara spent much of 2016 flipping the software development model from outsourced to insourced andspearheading custom software development, including new supply chain applications to better align inventory availability with consumer demands.


Like Target, Wal-Mart has been refashioning its software stack as a custom platform, which includes a new search engine and several cloud applications. Based on OpenStack, Wal-Mart's new ecommerce platform is designed to help the retailer compete better with the OpenStack cloud platform. In fact, open source is a huge part of Wal-Mart's digital transformation. The group earlier this year launched OneOps, a platform that lets programmers test and switch among different cloud providers, a crucial benefit as companies embrace hybrid cloud models.

Capital One

Capital One has built a huge banking and credit card business thanks to solid customer service, with a major assist from digital capabilities. Its mobile banking app was among the first to support Apple's TouchID biometric software. In 2016, the bank was the first to enable voice-activated financial service transactions via's Alexa virtual assistant. Now CIO Rob Alexander is overseeing a major shift to DevOps to facilitate faster software creation. “Winners in banking are going to be the ones that recognize that technology is really going to play a central role in how consumers want to bank in the future,” Alexander tells “We’ve got to be great at building software.”


Pharmaceutical retailers are rarely mistaken for digital innovators. CVS Health is trying to change that by consolidating its websites and mobile applications. It later hired CDO Brian Tilzer to lead the company's digital strategy but rather than whine and lament what many in his position view as a threat, he welcomed the addition to the executive suite. To that end, Tilzer and Gold 2015 opened a digital innovation lab in Boston. Early projects, including digital prescription and insurance card scanning and integration with Apple Watch, have come to fruition. The company also integrated technology from startup Curbside into a mobile app that lets shoppers order and pick up products in front of a CVS store. Gold says the innovation team’s remit is to fail fast. “Part of the output of innovating is going to be things that don’t work and that’s fine as long as you discover that early in the process as opposed to late in the process,” Gold says.


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