Target's (NYSE:TGT) chief information officer Mike McNamara attended the Forbes CIO Summit last week and highlighted some of the biggest challenges businesses are facing in terms of technology, including the rise of mobile and shift to cloud computing.
Smartphones are only one part of the mobile proliferation, according to McNamara. Self-driving cars and even drones are mobile devices in their own unique ways, and these are still early days for mobile.
"The rapid adoption and proliferation of smartphones has been a game-changer for consumers and corporate IT teams—yet, amazingly, it's still early days for mobile," he said.
It's also still relatively early in the shift to cloud computing, as companies move from legacy software and mainframe systems to the cloud and open-source technologies, McNamara said. "These are transformative changes that are pushing Target and other companies to hire more tech talent, adopt cutting-edge, open-source tools and change the way we work so we can be faster, more efficient and more effective."
For Target, it's important to stay connected to the customer and how they use technology. To that end, McNamara's teams participates in Target's "Technology Leadership Program," which includes a one-week session where employees work all jobs inside a store. According to McNamara, "The best tech leaders and the best tech teams know their customers well."
Still, staying ahead of or even on top of trends can be challenging. "Things just move too rapidly," he said. "You stay close to your engineers and you listen to your talent—at senior and junior levels. You build a team of people who are curious and analytical, and who love learning and solving big problems.
"When you can bring together curiosity, new learning and broad thinking, you tend to keep up with things pretty well—and maybe even get ahead."
Target executives have been attending and speaking at industry events ever since the arrival of CEO Brian Cornell. It's part of the company's push to not only drive innovation from within, but better communicate its efforts to shoppers and investors.
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