When you have the CTO and CIO role blended, it gives you a cross-functional view of external and internal initiatives. Joseph Lezon, Alex and Ani
Another stark difference between traditional IT shops and Alex and Ani's is that the team frequently test-drives technology and doesn't hesitate to pull the plug if something doesn't meet expectations. The company has that kind of flexibility, Lezon says, because with few enterprise systems in place, there are no integration points to create challenges.
"We have the ability to be nimble and do trial-and-error pilots," he explains. "If something works, great, if not, we move on to something else." It took multiple iterations, for example, to get the mobile point-of-sale system working to satisfaction, Lezon says. And an initiative to put video displays in stores, to help promote the brand, products and events, changed midstream to a different product when the initial implementation didn't work as expected, he says.
Without the legacy baggage and red tape that are the hallmarks of old-school enterprise IT, companies in startup mode have a lot more flexibility, allowing them to push the envelope and be far more innovative with IT.
"Corporate America is risk averse and is not encouraged to fail," Lezon says. "We, on the other hand, are moving at battle speed and are going to make mistakes. We just have to learn from them, pick up the casualties and move forward. We have a lot more leeway in what we can try in terms of innovation."
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