Tech Spotlight: Target CIO talks digital priorities

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Target CIO Mike McNamara has a long list of critical projects – and following disappointing second quarter results, getting digital right is more critical than ever.

McNamara oversees an IT department that looks dramatically different today than when he joined the company a little more than a year ago.

Since his arrival, McNamara has reduced the number of technology projects the company was working on from nearly 800 to just 100.

"We weighed each proposal vs. priorities and the realities of time and resources," McNamara said on the company blog. "After about two hours, we reached consensus on how to allocate the majority of our technology resources for the upcoming year.

"What remained was more reflective of Target’s most important, strategic business objectives – things like enhancing Target’s digital and in-store shopping experience, supporting small-format stores, modernizing our supply chain and improving in-stocks," he said. "That focus – which stemmed directly from our strategic priorities – has been good for Target’s business and great for my team of engineers. It provides them with more clarity and certainty, making it easier for them to do what they love: writing great code, working with leading edge technologies and solving meaningful problems."

The results have led to stronger systems less vulnerable to outages and a reduced reliance on third-party vendors, thus saving "hundreds of millions of dollars that Target’s been able to invest in other areas of the business," he said.

Going forward, the IT team is focused on recruiting and shifting to a DevOps product model, increasing the use of open source technology in an environment more like a startup than a 50-year-old retailer.

E-commerce and in-store technology remain a focus in terms of digital marketing, supply chain and order fulfillment – priorities echoed by the Target executive team at conferences and to analysts.

"To me, there’s no question that technology and supply chain are the new battlegrounds for retail," said McNamara. "The retailers with the strongest technology and supply chain will have the best chance of winning. And with the team Target is building, I’m excited about our prospects."

For more:
- see this Target blog post

Related Articles:
Target's Cornell on the importance of tech
Target CIO: It's still early days for mobile
Target posts second quarter sales decline

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