Friday, January 9, 2009

Starbucks' Next-Generation CIO: Young, Fast and In Control

CIO published a good article about the Starbucks' new CIO Stephen Gillett. Here is what drew my attention:

His plan includes aligning IT's activities with those at the top of the company's transformational agenda, mainly its customer experience strategies.

Perhaps his most crucial duty is to enhance Starbucks' ability to mine its customer data to help "re-ignite our passion with our customers," Gillett says. A lot is hanging on the loyalty card data (Starbucks' Reward cards) and business intelligence (BI) reporting tools to extract meaningful customer analysis. At a financial analyst briefing in early December, Starbucks marketing executives talked up success they've had, so far, with the Starbucks Reward cards and the new Gold Card in 2008. One of the first positions Gillett opened up when he was hired was a VP of business intelligence.

"Analytics is an absolutely key driver of everything you do," Gillett says. "And generating BI demand across the business and strong analytics is something that Starbucks is going to usher in. Technology has to play an absolutely critical role in all that."

Gillett says that Starbucks is making progress but is nowhere near mastering BI. "[The business users] haven't indoctrinated it into everyday business decision-making yet," he says. "We still have a lot of decisions based on real-time data, intuition, or historical trends. I think in today's economic climate, having strong analytic and BI-based decision making can help give a new dimension to that."

As for the role that he and IT can play on the Starbucks team and in its transformation, he seems characteristically assured of himself.

"Technology and IT have a critical role in all that because we have to understand our customers with [respect to] today's economic climate and the cost pressures they face," Gillett says. "We have to understand our customers in ways that we've never had to in the past. I think BI and data warehousing, and consumer insights from a marketing perspective are going to be what gives us that view into the Starbucks customer."

According the title, Stephen Gillett is Young, Fast and In Control. I think, based in his opinions about business and IT, and mainly his focus on BI, he will be a great CIO.

No comments: