THE CIO AS CHIEF INNOVATION OFFICER

Chief Information Officers in retail need to deliver reliable platforms for day-to-day trading, at the same time as developing new systems that will improve financial performance. Because these objectives sometimes conflict, few retailers realize the full potential of the CIO’s role: this article describes ways a retail CIO can unlock additional value for the business.

"A CIO knows when they’ve succeeded when the organization asks 'how can IT help us solve this problem?,' not 'how can we solve the problems IT causes us?'"

The retail CIO has two goals: to ensure 100% reliability for core systems, and to use technology to create value for the business. The checkouts and the ordering system obviously need robust IT, since failure can spell disaster. But as well as keeping day-to-day operations running smoothly, the CIO has a key role to play in building capabilities which confer a real competitive advantage. Retail is a data-rich industry, and high-quality management information is vital for improving operating efficiency, negotiating more successfully with suppliers, and getting the right assortment on the shelves at the right prices. While systems reliability is vital, then, systems innovation is the key to better performance.

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