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Target CIO adds custom apps, fresh talent to fortify supply chain

Clint Boulton | March 21, 2016
At a time when consumers expect rapid fulfillment as they shop online and from mobile devices, Target is writing custom software to improve its supply chain operations.

The in-sourcing and custom development is a painstaking process, but one McNamara says is necessary before the retailer can begin analyzing its supply chain for sales and customer trends and better allocate resources across the enterprise. "The world of packaged software just doesn't serve big businesses well," he says. "We're recruiting engineering talent as fast as we can and replacing third parties," he says.

McNamara isn't opposed to working with vendors -- Target still relies heavily on several -- but he says it's vital that Target build smarter software, including forecasting engines and allocation algorithms, to leverage insights from its store and logistics operations. But he needs help. McNamara is recruiting a mix of seasoned software engineers, as well as recent college graduates.

"I absolutely believe that we need to be able to plot and create our own technology future," says McNamara.

Target continues to recover from a major cybersecurity breach in which hackers stole credit card numbers from millions of the retailer's customers in 2013. The company has spent the last few years bolstering its digital defenses and shoring up leaky IT systems.

For his part, McNamara says he hopes to build technology capabilities and a flexible architecture that "will be there long after I'm gone."


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