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Retail CIO accelerates IT service delivery

Clint Boulton | April 28, 2017
Gap CIO Paul Chapman has reorganized his technology organisation and created a new IT operating model that emphasises collaboration and faster decision-making.


Running on a LARC

Perhaps the boldest change has been Chapman's staunch refusal to embrace the traditional RACI (Responsible, Accountable, Consulted, Informed) model for IT management, in which only one person or organization is accountable for IT service delivery. In a departure to that siloed model, Chapman created LARC (Leading, Accountability, Responsible, Contribute), a hybrid model in which IT staff take on multiple responsibilities and several contributors provide input to foster an idea or solution.

It's ostensibly a more collaborative model -- though Chapman ensures that his teams follows the business process. Chapman says that while newer hires have little issues following LARC, long-time employees accustomed to the RACI matrix sometimes struggle to understand who is making the technology decisions.

Organizational matrix and decision-making challenges aside, Chapman Gap's greatest challenge is less about ecommerce and more about shifts in consumer behavior. As in, people want their clothes to fit perfectly, look great and they want it now. Yet Chapman gave, the chief architect of this instant gratification movement, the Voldemort treatment.

Although Chapman spent 40 minutes speaking on stage he did not name the online retailer once, even as he alluded to the existential threat it poses to traditional retail. "[Consumers] know they can get what they want in a  short period of time and so they are very unforgiving when traditional brick-and-mortar retailers cannot deliver," says Chapman.

To address this challenge, Gap is trying to create channel-less commerce (okay, it's the new omnichannel), in which it provides consumers the products they want regardless of whether they buy in-store or online.

But in the near future Chapman says that Gap will lean on predictive analytics to anticipate customer intent and align it with inventory planning and management, efforts Chapman describes as the "Holy Grail" for retailers.



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