CVS to create a new IT team

CVS/Caremark (NYSE:CVS) appears to be creating a new IT team, one that will bridge the digital divide between marketing and IT as the retailer looks to strengthen its omnichannel efforts.

A series of job postings on LinkedIn offer details as to the nature of the department, one CVS describes as being similar to a startup: "As part of our CVS Caremark Digital Team you will impact our strategy of creating a seamless user experience across various platforms including web and mobile."

CVS is looking for candidates who can "deliver innovative solutions that streamline and reinvent our user experience." The new positions will focus on SEO, e-commerce, Service Oriented Architecture and UI/UX design.

"This digital strategy is a new key growth initiative where you will experience a start-up culture," states the listing. "This new team will be working in a fast paced environment with passionate leadership and the ability to make a huge impact enterprise wide. This position will be responsible for driving the successful execution of CVS/Caremark's most critical and complex IT initiatives and programs."

CVS isn't the first retailer to set about smashing silos, but it would be at the leading edge of those adding IT roles that work more closely with merchandising and marketing teams.

Neiman Marcus recently restructured executive teams for its omnichannel strategy, and last week, Aerosoles pledged to create a single streamlined inventory program by housing all inventory functions in a single group by 2015 to support omnichannel efforts.

"There is no single platform to solve," said Steve Siebel, Aerosoles VP of merchandising at the 2014 Retail Technology Conference, according to RIS News. "But how systems will talk to each other and how to optimize and reorganize to accommodate that is where retailers must set their focus. The organization needs to realign to one customer service team and one allocation team to handle the new demands."

A recent survey from Accenture and hybris software, an SAP company, pointed to silos and IT personnel gaps as big barriers to executing an omnichannel strategy. Forty percent of retailers reported difficulty integrating back-office technology across all of their channels.

Noteably, 46 percent of decision makers surveyed said although they already have a dedicated omnichannel team—one that includes members of all functions—conflicting priorities and organizational silos remain a key challenge. Two additional key barriers identified as preventing retailers from becoming an integrated omnichannel company are difficulty in sharing customer data and analytics between channels, countries or locations and a lack of in-store associate training.

Personnel problems were the next most cited barrier to omnichannel success in the Accenture survey. Only 46 percent of retailers have a dedicated omnichannel team in their home offices. 

CVS's new IT team could be the very thing that helps bridge that gap. 

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