Debra Jensen, CIO, Charlotte Russe
Challenges in technology to meet enterprise needs
Business Intelligence. We’re all collecting / accessing all kinds of information both internally and externally to our company. There is a wealth of information that if used correctly could provide tremendous insight to our customer’s wants and needs and her shopping patterns and habits. I look to 2013 to being a year where we have an opportunity to get in front of this and can use the insights to make better purchasing and merchandising decisions. Cloud technology is also something we’re trying to understand where it may add value and where it fits in our roadmap.
The areas in business environment where solutions do not exist
We have critical systems that support basic parts of our business that need new and more flexible features and functions to help us be faster and more relevant. Yet it seems it always takes the next upgrade or expensive enhancements to make progress. This has been the same in our field for years and there needs to be a better way to make improvements to large critical systems faster and more economically.
Technology Trends Impacting Enterprise Business Environment
Mobile and social. Mobility in our stores is where in-store checkout is headed and how to make it a great customer experience while still handling the details when selling clothes – detagging, bagging, cash customers, and how to leverage the customer’s personal mobile interaction point. Social is moving so fast – it’s about figuring out what your customers are telling you with their interactions – both with you and with their friends. Our business partners are conducting more business on the road and need mobile access to core business applications in a mobile format.
My roles and responsibilities as a CIO
The CIO position is like many other Executive positions – we all have to adjust to the business climate and current conditions for the company you’re in. The past two years have been about the basics as we turned the company around. Stabilizing the technology environment to support current work and then getting ready to support growth and new company initiatives. As I always have in my career – I have to stay focused on providing value at the right cost, and now we’re bringing in technologies to support business growth to help us move forward faster. The pace is faster but the basic job is the same – you have to understand your business and then make sure the technology platform supports it and is aligned with what’s next.
Lessons learned as a CIO
The most important things are being part of the Executive team so that you understand what your core business drivers and initiatives are, and making sure you have the right people in IT that understands both technology and your business. Everyone has to understand why we’re here and what drives our business, as well as their role in making it happen. Third is staying on top of where technology is going and leverage your vendor relationships so you know when something is relevant and can make a difference to your business model.