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Retail In Need Of Ultimate Integration Between Fragmented Technology

Andrea Simone, CIO, NBTY

Challenges in technology to meet enterprise needs in 2013 and expectationsToday's enterprises need technology to become a revenue generator, in addition to the more traditional role focused on driving efficiency and cost savings. From a technology partner standpoint, I believe enterprises are looking for 2 main themes:
1. Deliver superior user/customer experience wherever, whenever: It requires ultimate integration between today’s fragmented technology platform and extension of enterprise and customer-facing solutions to mobile and social platforms.
2. Enable real-time decision-making: It involves all the old and new technology platforms, from BI to big data, but it’s not just a technology issue: a major success driver here is the ability to embed the relevant insights coming from technology into the enterprise decision-making process in a timely manner.

The areas in business environment where solutions do not exist yet
There are two very tactical pain points that I’m experiencing in my current job that I think would have a very broad application. We are currently running a portfolio of programs aiming at replacing our old legacy platforms with modern solutions in the more “mundane” core enterprise processes, like ERP. In this context, I feel that technology companies could help enterprise to accelerate implementations and reduce costs in a couple of ways:
1. Tighter built-in integration: every implementation requires multiple modules, often from the same provider, but too often a lot of effort is spent to re-build integration between modules that must have been built for several customers in several previous projects.
2. Prescriptive implementation project approaches and templates: in the same spirit, technology vendors could provide specific guidance and project accelerators as part of their products, so enterprises can choose an accelerated implementation path, with lower flexibility, but also lower cost and time to market.

Technology Trends Impacting Enterprise Business Environment
As I mentioned earlier, we are paying specific attention at the confluence of mobile and social and how we can leverage them both internally for our enterprise as well as externally with our customers. In addition to that, we intend to gain significant value by improving our decision-making processes with timely and relevant analytics-driven insights, so we follow with high interest the evolutions in analytics and big data.

My roles and responsibilities as a CIO
As technology becomes more pervasive and more accessible, with lower barriers to entry, many roles in the organization are able to engage in technology decisions and at the same time, CIOs are becoming more savvy business leaders and they are more able to engage in business decisions. This allows every project to be run as a good blend of process improvement and technology implementation, and we always include the business process change management as part of our scope.

Lessons learned as a CIO
In my current CIO role I didn’t have a predecessor and while the IT organization had done a fantastic job of running the business, it had not had the strategic leadership in place to drive big transformation programs. As I entered this job, the biggest challenges I faced were (1) fight the urge to do too much and instead prioritize the opportunities, in order to drive the biggest value to the company and (2) pace the amount change with the organization capability building. The key suggestions I would offer to a new CIO are:
1. Invest time early on to learn the business and build relationships across the board
2. Invest in your people’s professional development
3. Invest in yourself

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