"Target Corp. is among the top three or four U.S. retailers, ...a coveted position in such a volatile industry. IT is a critical player in each move, if not a keystone."
The CIO of Target provides insight into how the giant retailer accomplished major change in the last 2-3 years. For readers from larger companies with IT responsible for helping support major change, how does their story resonate with what you've experienced with IT as an accelerator or lever?
We're making changes where [project] life cycle is a matter of days or weeks...
Target brought over Beth Jacob from an operations post, an unconventional move. Jacob was vice president of guest operations when she was tapped to lead IT as executive vice president and CIO with a budget of over $1 billion.
She oversaw Target.com's switch from Amazon.com's e-commerce platform to one that was home-grown.
At the other end of the big-project spectrum, Jacob has introduced projects that capitalize on mobile computing, such as smartphone coupons.
CIO Insight: The nature or change has changed, hasn't it? It seems that change isn't always iterative... You can't attack fires the same way because the fire's never the same.
Jacob: You're spot on. …change management is …going to be more important than ever. ...Change is something we lean into.
Because of that, the TTS team has had to change almost everything, including the way it partners [internally and externally]. And the way it approaches different organizational change initiatives.
...In the last year or so, the pace of change has significantly increased. We're making changes where the [project] life cycle is a matter of days or weeks - think about the mobile capabilities we've implemented.
CIO Insight: ...days and weeks. Can you expand on that?
Jacob: We have to be ready to bring a company offering to our guests and staff, both of whom are more tech savvy. One example would...mobile [device] coupons. Last holiday, we created a mobile-coupon program tied to our toy catalog in just a few days. ...The coupons are very easy for guests to use, very easy for our team members to work with.
[Ed. note: Target claims to be the first national retailer to offer a scanable mobile-coupon program, in 2010. Shoppers who opt in get a text-message link to a mobile Web page that can contain multiple with offers, all accessible through a single bar code. Coupons are then redeemed by a cashier scanning the bar code on the shopper's phone at checkout.]
CIO Insight: You took a big gamble ...when Target decided to abandon Amazon.com's e-commerce platform for one you built yourselves.
Jacob: It took us just over two years to get off the Amazon platform and onto our own. Overall, it went well.
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From Deb, Change Management is an engagement focus. Exert too much control, and you stifle it. Here's more about control issues within a project implementation: