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Retail CIOs focus on data security, digital innovation

Kenneth Corbin | Feb. 23, 2015
In the wake of widely publicized breaches at firms like Target and Home Depot, retail CIOs are nearly unanimous in naming data security as one of their top priorities for 2015, according to a new survey.

Lawrie similarly warns about the perils of the CIO's team falling out of step with the business side of the enterprise. Most commonly, he says, that disconnect arises when the tech shop fails to prioritize the projects that hold the greatest potential for generating revenue for the company, or from overly long delivery cycles for products developed on specifications written without the input of the end users.

"In our experience, the critical factor is to develop a deep understanding of line-of-business objectives and to develop a shared vision of what it will take to achieve [them], and then to iteratively deliver — first a mock-up, then minimum-viable product in an agile way, checking in with the stakeholders every two weeks — at most — for feedback," he says.

Omnichannel and Digital Innovation Top Concerns for Retail CIOs

Other areas of concern identified in the survey included spending too much money on maintaining legacy systems, tapping into big datasets to glean useful business insights, integrating multiple channels of commerce, and hiring and retaining quality staff.

Looking forward, Litchford advises CIOs to develop their skillsets in business and consulting, and to position themselves as "the strategic advisor on organizational structure and business process."

Additionally, he urges retail CIOs to take a cue from the innovative and fast-paced culture of the tech startup world as they consider how to reform their own operations.

"The CIO must become much more responsive to the business and be willing to take on more risk," he adds. "[If] I had to narrow it down to one piece of advice: look for innovation everywhere, take the calls from the emerging startups, embrace rather than punish failure, just learn to fail fast and move on. The CIO who can cultivate a responsive technology culture that's free to take risks will be the CIO who is firmly seated at the executive table."


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