Disruption in the C-suite and the board

▸ Tablets boost restaurant sales productivity ▸ Augmented reality for delivery drivers ▸ Why your software project needs more dissent ▸ CxO career moves ▸

Welcome to another edition of Digital Business, a newsletter about real digital activity in corporate America, and the executives leading the way. If you think this is valuable market intelligence, please urge your network to subscribe. — Mitch Betts

Newsletter by journalist Mitch Betts © Ampersand Reports 2019, all rights reserved.
Reply to send feedback & news tips.


How digital transformation is changing C-suite relationships. The good news: Digital transformation has led to greater collaboration across the C-suite and greater trust in IT across the business, according to a study by Financial Times and Apptio Inc., including a global survey of 550 senior executives.

The bad news: Close to half of the executives surveyed (47%) said that digital transformation has made responsibilities across the C-suite less clear-cut. And the same number say that digital transformation has made strategic differences between CFOs and CIOs more, not less, pronounced. Whereas the CIO and the CEO are usually in sync on digital strategy, the CIO and the CFO are the least likely to be “deeply aligned.”

Two more highlights from the “Disruption in the C-Suite” study:

  • Nearly two-thirds of leaders overall (63%) say that the CIO needs better influencing skills, to be an evangelist for digital business.

  • 51% of the executives are concerned about their IT department’s ability to govern cloud adoption across the business (i.e., cloud governance).

▸ Related: 82% of CFOs say they collaborate with their company’s CIO more now than they did three years ago (Robert Half)

DX guidance for the board of directors. The National Association of Corporate Directors (NACD) and professional services firm Marsh & McLennan Cos. released a report offering “a practical approach to advancing board oversight of digital transformation & emerging technologies.” The report includes a survey of 200 NACD members, which found:

  • 66% of directors believe their companies will be vulnerable to the disruptive impact of emerging technologies in the next year;

  • one in three directors believe that no single technology, but rather a combination of technologies, will significantly transform their business; and

  • while 81% of boards prioritize cybersecurity discussions with management, only about half focus on long-term, strategic topics such as digital transformation initiatives.

Five recommendations. The report outlines five principles to help prepare directors for navigating the complexities of digital transformation & emerging technologies, such as artificial intelligence, blockchain, the Internet of Things, and robotics process automation.

  • Approach emerging technologies as a strategic imperative, not just as an operational issue.

  • Develop collective, continuous, technology-specific learning & development goals.

  • Align board structure and composition to reflect the growing significance of technology as a driver of both growth and risk.

  • Demand frequent & forward-looking reporting on technology-related initiatives.

  • Periodically assess the organization’s leadership, talent, and culture readiness for technological change.

Image: Ziosk website

Tabletop tablets produce restaurant ROI. A new study calculates that tabletop technology at restaurants is likely to improve sales by 1% per check and reduce meal duration by 10%. The combination increases the metric of sales per minute (i.e., sales productivity) by 11%, according to a study published in the INFORMS journal Management Science. Tabletop technology allows customers to view menu items, re-order beverages, pay for the meal, play games, and browse news content. In essence, the tablets compensate for inattentive waiters by improving transaction speed and customer satisfaction.

New group aims to instill trust in the security of AI systems. Founders of the new AI Security Alliance said the organization will develop standards & best practices for securing the development & use of artificial intelligence systems. Enterprises are seeking independent certification that AI systems are secure, officials said. Working groups will create guidelines in areas such as AI in cybersecurity operations, and securing AI in edge computing.

“All businesses need to reassure customers that AI is used to handle customer data in a transparent & secure manner. That assurance must come from a cross-industry organization,” said Jenny Menna, SVP of Business Security Solutions at U.S. Bank. [Menna is one of the alliance’s founding board members.]


Real digital activity in corporate America

Image: Amazon patent

Amazon develops augmented reality for delivery details. Amazon.com Inc. — increasingly focused on delivery of its online shopping products — recently obtained a U.S. patent for an augmented reality (AR) system that overlays critical workflow details on a driver’s mobile routing screen. For example, the AR overlay could identify the best parking space for deliveries, and the location of mail rooms, loading docks, and service elevators. The inventor is Robert Niewiadomski, a senior software development engineer at Amazon. (U.S Patent No. 10373377)

Where are those critical documents? Financial services firm TIAA launched Safe Estate, a virtual safe-deposit box, designed to help people gather, organize, and securely store critical estate planning and financial documents, including medical directives, insurance policies, wills, trusts, and financial account information. Users can digitally upload documents (or note the location of the paperwork in their home or physical safe-deposit box), and then “appoint trusted loved ones as delegates.”

How secure? The service — a free benefit for people with a TIAA online account — uses the same security & privacy measures that protect TIAA’s accounts, plus an additional layer of encryption. TIAA employees can’t see the information.

Briefly noted:

  • JPMorgan Chase & Co. is adopting an artificial intelligence tool that fine-tunes its marketing copy, such as pitches for credit cards, to make the messages more effective (i.e., higher click-through rates). (WSJ)

  • Flushing Bank, in Uniondale, N.Y., is embarking on a digital transformation project to include new websites, online account applications, and a new mobile & online banking platform. The customer-focused systems will launch in “early 2020.”

  • Ametros Financial Corp., a medical administration firm based in Wilmington, Mass., released its CareGuard Mobile App, which it calls “the first custom mobile app created specifically to help individuals in workers compensation and personal liability cases manage their medical settlement funds.”

  • Tampa, Fla.-based retailer Stein Mart Inc. has deployed Apple iPad tablets to sales associates in 283 stores for mobile checkout. “By renovating our [legacy point-of-sale system] instead of replacing it, we saved significant costs and minimized operational risk,” said CIO Sharon Hart.

  • Footwear brand Puma launched a geotargeted advertising campaign — about the opening of a flagship store in New York City — with ads delivered to screens atop taxis & ride-share vehicles. The ads show primarily around New York airports, tourist attractions, and select Zip codes. (Marketing Dive)

  • Radisson Hotel Group adopted a standardized CRM system for all of its 1,400 hotels, plus a portal for internal processes, “to easily & consistently onboard hotels, maintain brand standards, and respond to sales opportunities.”


What your software project needs: More dissent. Really? Yes, says Barry O’Reilly, an advisor at Cutter Consortium. Dissent — the act of challenging an accepted opinion — can produce more innovation, and illuminate the blind spots that could produce a catastrophic project failure.

In complex technology projects, this involves pushing back against biases, oversimplifications…. Dissent is what provides another view and forces a team to step back and consider another reality; the more often a team presents dissent, the more likely it will explore the complex interdependencies that define modern enterprise technology projects.

Research shows that a group exposed to minority dissent:

  • Utilizes more strategies in the pursuit of performance

  • Recalls more information

  • Manifests more flexibility in thought

  • Shows more originality

  • Detects solutions that would have otherwise gone undetected

The [software] architect [should] become the arbiter of dissent, as every dissenting voice potentially exposes more hidden complexity that helps harden and improve the quality of the system.


Executive appointments, promotions, and transitions in corporate America

Northwestern Mutual Life Insurance Co., based in Milwaukee, hired Neal Sample as CIO, “responsible for leading the company’s major technology systems and further developing its financial-planning digital platforms.” Sample was COO at Express Scripts Holding Co.

Ken Piddington left his position as CIO at SGR Energy Inc. in Houston to become CIO at U.S. Silica Holdings Inc., in Katy, Texas (near Houston).

Ross Stores Inc., based in Dublin, Calif., promoted Michael Kobayashi, 55, to President of Operations & Technology, reporting to the COO. He’ll be adding store-operations responsibilities to his existing IT and supply chain leadership.

Ken Athanasiou announced his new role as Global Chief Information Security Officer (CISO) at VF Corp. in Greensboro, N.C., after five years as CISO at AutoNation Inc. in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

Heitman LLC, a global real estate investment management firm based in Chicago, announced that Peeyush Shukla joined the firm as Chief Information & Technology Officer, reporting to the CEO. He was previously Managing Director of Data Strategy, Analytics & Multi-Asset Solutions Technology at Nuveen Investments.

Endeavor, a global entertainment, sports & content company (WME IMG LLC) headquartered at New York’s Madison Avenue, hired former eBay & PayPal executive Guy Schory as its first Chief Digital Officer.

Brookdale Senior Living Inc., based in Brentwood, Tenn., hired Chris Bayham as CIO, a company spokesperson said in an email. He was CIO at Change Healthcare in nearby Nashville, according to his LinkedIn profile. (As previously reported, Brookdale’s former CIO Andrew Laudato is now CTO at Vitamin Shoppe Inc.)

European Wax Center, a chain of hair-removal salons, hired Jyoti Lynch as CIO at the company’s new HQ in Plano, Texas. She had been CIO at Jamba Juice Co., also in Texas.

Tenable Inc., in Columbia Md., appointed Linda Zecher as a member of the company’s board of directors. She’s CEO of the Barkley Group, a boutique consulting firm focused on the digital transformation of enterprise organizations. She’s also a member of the Hasbro Corp. board of directors, where she serves on the audit committee and chairs the cybersecurity committee.

Huntington Ingalls Industries Inc. announced leadership changes for its Newport News (Va.) Shipbuilding division, including the transition of Brian Fields from VP of Integrated Planning & Production Control to VP of Business Transformation & Chief Transformation Officer. In this new position, Fields will lead the company’s digital shipbuilding program — and the IT division, as CIO Bharat Amin retires in early 2020.

Universal Insurance Holdings Inc., based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., named Stephen Donaghy as CEO. He had rotated through multiple C-level positions at the company, including CIO (2009 to February 2015). Kimberly Campos continues as CIO & Chief Administrative Officer.

Travelport, based in the U.K., named Greg Webb as CEO. He previously held roles at Oracle Corp., Sabre Corp., and as CIO at the former BellSouth Corp.


(link worked at time of publication)

Albertsons-Safeway Co. is seeking a Chief Data & Privacy Officer, located in Pleasanton, Calif., and reporting to the EVP & CIO.

You’ll be accountable for implementing a modern & flexible process for managing & protecting the firms data assets and leveraging those assets to support sustained growth and enable new offerings for our customers and partners. Your role will include ensuring that Albertsons establishes & adheres to appropriate standards & laws for managing data, protecting sensitive & private data, disclosing & using that data appropriately, and making that data discoverable & usable for high-impact analysis.

Why the C-suite is getting crowded

▸ What IT recruits really want ▸ Anatomy of the BB&T/SunTrust merger ▸ Blockchain projects ▸ Hyatt's new mobile app ▸ CxO career moves ▸

Welcome to another edition of Digital Business, a newsletter about real digital activity in corporate America, and the executives leading the way. If you think this is valuable market intelligence, please urge your network to subscribe. — Mitch Betts

Newsletter by journalist Mitch Betts © Ampersand Reports 2019, all rights reserved.
Reply to send feedback & news tips.


The C-suite has grown over the past six years to accommodate digital business. The size of the average Fortune 100 C-suite has increased 90% since 2013 to include new data and digital leaders, according to an analysis by Avado Learning Ltd., a professional education company. C-suite positions related to data, digital, and transformation have grown by more than 289% since 2013. More findings (for Fortune 100 companies only):

  • Chief Data Officer is the most popular newcomer, present in 18% of Fortune 100 leadership teams.

  • The industries most likely to have C-suite positions to deal with digital transformation are pharma/healthcare, insurance, retail, and financial services.

  • 76% of Fortune 100 Chief Digital Officers have been in the role for two or fewer years.

Over the past six years, the fastest growing C-suite positions included:

  • Chief Learning Officer: 900% growth

  • Chief Digital Officer: 867% growth

  • Chief Data & Analytics Officer: 500% growth

  • Chief Innovation Officer: 500% growth

  • Chief Transformation Officer: 500% growth

An academic study confirms what CIOs know: IT recruits want to work with emerging technology. They’re even willing to take a little less money to work with hot technologies, according to a study published by the National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER). The effects are most pronounced for younger workers and tighter labor markets.

Based on a study of the salary demands of IT job candidates, “companies that invest in emerging IT systems can engage workers at 2%– to 4% lower cost. The effect is larger, [about] 5% lower cost, among employers that emphasize skill development,” the NBER Digest reported.

The researchers note that “this implies that workers who make $100,000 require an additional $5,000 to leave employment where they use new technologies.”

The downside: Workers using emerging technologies are more likely to leave their firms quickly. “This suggests that workers are willing to exchange some amount of compensation in the relative short term for the chance to obtain valuable skills in the longer term,” the report said.

The flip side: At companies that use older, less-popular IT systems, employees are primarily focused on compensation, the report said.

Why BB&T and SunTrust regional banks are merging: tech perception. One of the goals for the $28.2 billion merger of regional banks BB&T and SunTrust is reshaping customer perceptions about regional banks’ ability to deliver state-of-the-art technology. Kelly King, chairman & CEO of BB&T, said that the nation’s four biggest banks — JPMorgan Chase, Citigroup, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo — have convinced people that their digital offerings are superior. According to American Banker:

“The megabanks have spent billions of dollars telling people they have all the services they need … and that perception has become reality,” King said at the BB&T shareholder meeting. “We need the capacity [i.e., a bigger tech budget] to go toe-to-toe with those banks.”

Other challenges: Executives selected Truist Financial as the brand name for the resulting company — the word trust with an i thrust in the middle of it. The name has been widely panned. Also, the newly merged company will be located at a neutral headquarters city: Charlotte, N.C. Meanwhile, rival banks are reportedly trying to lure employees away from BB&T (HQ: Winston-Salem, N.C.) and SunTrust (HQ: Atlanta).

Keeping the CIO. As previously reported, the current SunTrust EVP & CIO Scott Case has been tapped as CIO for Truist. SunTrust agreed to pay Case a $2.9 million retention bonus, if he stays through the merger’s closing, according to an April regulatory filing. Dontá Wilson (currently BB&T’s chief digital & client experience officer) will work on digital transformation at Truist.


Real digital activity in corporate America

Get to know the vendors in your supply chain. IBM and Chainyard unveiled a blockchain-based platform called Trust Your Suppliers to help procurement and supply-chain departments improve supplier qualification, validation, onboarding, and life-cycle information management. Anheuser-Busch InBev, Cisco, GlaxoSmithKline, Lenovo, Nokia, Schneider Electric, and Vodafone are founding participants in the data-sharing network.

“Traditional methods of managing suppliers often involve cumbersome manual processes, which make it difficult to verify identities and track documents like ISO certifications, bank account information, tax certifications, and certificates of insurance throughout the lifecycle of a supplier. By using a decentralized approach and an immutable audit trail built on blockchain, Trust Your Supplier is designed to eliminate manual time-consuming processes and help reduce the risk of fraud & errors, ultimately creating frictionless connectivity across supply chains.”

Image: Hyatt/Business Wire

Hyatt relaunches its mobile app with new features. Chicago-based Hyatt Hotels Corp. has redesigned the mobile app for members of its loyalty club (“World of Hyatt”), said Julia Vander Ploeg, SVP & global head of digital at Hyatt. The mobile app, featuring single-swipe navigation, adds features such as streaming content, unlocking guestrooms & public spaces, and making requests via real-time chat.

Image: HeikoAL/Pixabay

N.J. utility adds Alexa queries. Public Service Energy & Gas (PSE&G) in New Jersey built an Alexa skill allowing customers to use voice commands with the Amazon digital assistant to manage their gas & electric accounts. The idea came from an IT summer intern, and had to overcome some skepticism, but is getting robust usage. Customers who may have waited 15 to 20 minutes to get a PSE&G customer-service rep on the phone now can quickly use voice commands to make payments, ask billing questions, and get safety or savings tips. Future plans: outage reporting, scheduling appointments, chat. The Alexa skill reduces routine call-center inquiries, which cost the company about $14 each. Clint Boulton, CIO.com
▸ Also available for PSE&G Long Island customers.

Image: WikiImages/Pixabay

Persistence pays off with blockchain. Tony Costa, SVP & CIO at seafood company Bumble Bee Foods LLC, made a half-dozen trips to Indonesia to negotiate the details of a blockchain platform that traces the path of yellowfin tuna from Indonesian waters to consumers. The result: Buyers of Bumble Bee’s “Natural Blue by Anova” frozen tuna steaks can use their smartphones to scan a QR code on the package and learn about the freshness and ethical standards of the fish catch. “The blockchain technology was the least of our challenges. The key to success, and the real value, is getting disparate parties to contribute information,” Costa said. — CIO Dive


Executive appointments, promotions, and transitions in corporate America

United Airlines, based in Chicago, promoted Jason Birnbaum to SVP of Digital Technology, adding technology for loyalty, sales, network, and revenue management to his portfolio. He most recently served as United’s VP of Operations & Employee Technology, and will continue to support operations, customer & corporate technology. Birnbaum will continue to report to EVP & Chief Digital Officer Linda Jojo. The company announcement added:

Birnbaum was instrumental in the technical integrations involved in the successful cutover to United’s SCEPTRE system and in the implementation of the airline’s flight attendants’ joint collective bargaining agreement. Birnbaum also oversaw the rollout of mobile devices to 60,000 of the carrier’s front-line employees, and game-changing tools including United’s recent ConnectionSaver technology.

Kaiser Permanente, based in Oakland, Calif., named Prat Vemana as Chief Digital Officer, reporting to EVP & CIO Richard (Dick) Daniels. Vemana is currently Chief Product & Experience Officer at The Home Depot Inc., and will join Kaiser Permanente on Aug. 12.

Global investment firm KKR & Co. Inc., based in New York, appointed Emilia Sherifova as Chief Information & Innovation Officer. She was previously CTO at Northwestern Mutual.

Citizens & Northern Corp. in Wellsboro, Pa., appointed Timothy Schoener as a member of the bank’s board of directors. He is CIO at UPMC Susquehanna hospitals in Williamsport, Pa., and a certified CIO member of the College of Healthcare Information Management Executives (CHIME).

eBay Inc., in San Jose, Calif., promoted Mazen Rawashdeh to SVP & CTO, reporting to the CEO. “Rawashdeh will continue to lead platform engineering and the company’s infrastructure and platform architecture, as well as AI, research and data science, payment and risk engineering, and eBay’s third-party developer ecosystem and APIs,” the company said.

Avnet Inc., in Phoenix, Ariz., promoted Max Chan to CIO, reporting to MaryAnn Miller, Chief Administrative Officer.

Change Healthcare Inc., based in Nashville, appointed Diana McKenzie — former CIO at Workday Inc. and Amgen Inc. — to the board of directors. (She also serves on the board of directors of MetLife Inc.)

Target Corp. named former Facebook IT infrastructure manager Hari Govind as SVP of Infrastructure & Operations for the company’s technology team. Govind will oversee “cloud-and-compute capabilities, network connectivity and operations for the technology that powers Target’s stores, digital channels, distribution centers and office locations,” the company said. He reports to Mike McNamara, EVP & CIO.

Deutsche Bank hired Neal Pawar as Group CIO, effective in early September, and based in New York. He will report to Bernd Leukert, who has been designated as Management Board Member responsible for Technology, Data and Innovation. (Al Tarasiuk, the current Group CIO, will become a senior strategic advisor to Leukert.)

Rodan + Fields LLC, based in San Francisco, hired Steve Dee as CIO, reporting to the COO/CFO. Dee was previously VP of Technology at Nike Inc.

Sportsman’s Warehouse Holdings Inc., based in Midvale, Utah, hired Phil Stevens as CTO. For the past six years, he supported thousands of retail locations worldwide as EVP & CIO/CAO of the Dallas-based Army & Air Force Exchange Service. (He will be moving from Texas to Utah.)

Proto Labs Inc., based near Minneapolis, named Moonhie Chin to its board of directors. She was SVP of Digital Platform & Experience at Autodesk Inc.

Rich Products Corp., based in Buffalo, N.Y., hired Yexi Liu as CIO, succeeding long-time CIO Paul Klein (whose 2019 retirement was announced earlier this year). Liu previously served as CIO for Westinghouse Electric Corp.

More recent appointments & promotions: ▸ Eric Johnson, CIO at SurveyMonkey Inc., in San Mateo, Calif. George Hines, SVP & Chief Innovation & Technology Officer, at Lithia Motors Inc. in Medford, Ore. ▸ Andrew Arthurs, CIO at Interstate Hotels & Resorts Inc. in Arlington, Va. ▸ Alejandro “Alex” Carriles, EVP & Chief Digital Officer at Simmons Bank in Little Rock, Ark. ▸ Minh Le, CIO at Checkers & Rally’s Restaurants Inc. in Tampa, Fla.▸ Scott Terrell, CIO at Liberty Tax Inc. in Virginia Beach, Va. ▸ Christian Ward, EVP & Chief Data Officer at Yext Inc. in New York ▸ Reba Winter, CIO at QCR Holdings Inc. in Moline, Ill. ▸ Andy Crowder, Chief Information & Analytics Officer at Atrium Health in Charlotte, N.C. ▸ Chris Glodé, Chief Digital Officer at WellBiz Brands Inc. in Englewood, Colo. ▸ Kris Heineman, Chief Digital Officer at AC Business Media in Fort Atkinson, Wis. ▸ Jaime Jaramillo, CTO at Varsity Brands in Dallas ▸ Marcus Shipley, SVP of Innovation & CIO at Trinity Health in Livonia, Mich. ▸ Will Rompala, CTO at Health Union LLC in Philadelphia ▸ Marc Kidwell, CIO at Del-One Federal Credit Union in Delaware ▸ Jeff Bryner, Chief Information Security Officer at Vacasa LLC in Portland, Ore.

State of the Chief Digital Officer

▸ Digital innovation hubs ▸ Self-learning algorithms improve search results ▸ Digital customer interviews to avoid awkward sales conversations ▸ CxO career moves and job openings ▸

News, market intelligence, brevity. No spam.
By journalist Mitch Betts © Ampersand Reports 2019, all rights reserved.
Hit reply to send feedback & news tips.

Hello, and welcome to another edition of Digital Business, a newsletter about real digital activity in corporate America, and the executives leading the way. If you think this is valuable market intelligence, please subscribe — and urge your network to subscribe, too. Thanks for reading. — Mitch


The State of the CDO. Chief digital officers cite cultural change and data silos as their biggest challenges, according to a global study. Egon Zehnder International Inc., a leadership consulting firm, surveyed 107 CDOs in large companies across 20 countries. [For convenience we’ll use the CDO acronym here, not to be confused with chief data officers.]

The CDO role varies widely in definition & scope — e.g., some manage technology, some manage small creative teams — but the survey identifies these CDO pluralities:

  • They’re pioneers. 84% are the first to hold a CDO role in their organization, and 65% have been in the role for three years or less.

  • 64% are external hires (presumably those organizations needed an outsider to push digital business in ways that insiders couldn’t).

  • 64% have data scientists reporting to them.

  • 63% report directly to the CEO. And CDOs are an ambitious lot: 42% believe their next job will be a CEO role somewhere.

  • 56% said their primary job is to drive commercial impact and/or digital monetization. (Another 19% said their job is to drive long-term product strategy & innovation.)

  • 55% run their own P&Ls.

The big challenges. While only 10% of CDOs saw their primary role as evolving company culture, 54% said they spend more time on evangelizing (i.e., pushing for internal acceptance & change) than executing. (Just 25% CDOs thought their organizations were ready for digital transformation when they were first hired.) 80% of respondents found that evolving company culture was either more difficult or much more difficult than they expected; 68% also cited integration of data and breaking down silos.

Analysis of additional study results: CDOs may resent being measured by classic financial metrics and wish there were digital metrics of success. CDOs may chafe at the expectation of short-term results when digital transformation may take five to seven years. CDOs may resent the amount of time required for evangelizing when they’d rather be working on execution. (It may be the second CDO who gets to work on execution.) CDOs may wish that CEOs would be a little more forceful in mandating change throughout the business.

The report said that CDOs also questioned whether a digital-only role will become obsolete over time. Rob Barger, CDO of Georgia-Pacific LLC, said: “I should not exist in this role in five years.”


Real digital activity in corporate America

Grocery retailer opens digital hub. Texas-based supermarket chain H-E-B LP opened its Eastside Tech Hub in Austin, Texas, for its growing staff of digital-focused employees, as well as HQ for its on-demand delivery company called Favor. “Having a shared space like this is crucial to both H-E-B Digital and Favor’s rapid growth,” said Jag Bath, H-E-B’s chief digital officer & Favor CEO.

  • The two-story center is a renovated warehouse with open collaboration areas, individual work spaces, and over 50 meeting rooms of varying sizes, equipped with advanced technology & videoconferencing capabilities.

  • Amentities include a coffee bar featuring local products, a lounge area, a wellness center, a rock-climbing wall, fitness classes, bike parking, and showers.

Self-learning algorithms improve search relevancy. Zappos LLC, an online seller of shoes & apparel, said genetic algorithms are solving a perplexing search-engine issue: irrelevant results. Previously, the search engine would get tripped up by searches for brand names that include a color, such as “Red Wing boots,” and deliver red boots; and searches for “dress shirt” would include dresses. Ameen Kazerouni, the company’s lead data scientist, said his team is using three self-learning algorithms that eliminate such search mishaps. Jared Council, WSJ Pro: AI

Briefly noted:

  • Nationwide will be offering life-insurance customers the option to have a “digital customer interview” to handle awkward questions about medical history and speed up the application process.

  • Baker Hughes, a GE oil & gas services company, and C3.ai (C3 IoT Inc.), an AI & IoT software startup, announced a joint venture. Baker Hughes will use the software internally and act as a distribution channel.

  • Realtor.com added a Commute Time Filter to its iOS mobile app that enables buyers to search for homes by rush-hour and off-peak commute times.

  • Lowe’s Companies Inc. selected Charlotte, N.C., for a global technology center “serving as the epicenter for the team Lowe’s is hiring to help modernize its IT systems and build future retail experiences.” Construction of the Design Center Tower begins in August, with Lowe’s moving in by late 2021. The center could add up to 2,000 tech associates, starting with 400 hires in the next year.


Appointments, promotions, transitions

Adam Noble recently joined Veritiv Corp., a Fortune 500 company in Atlanta, as SVP & CIO, according to his LinkedIn profile. He previously was CIO for 13 years at roofing company GAF (now a unit of Standard Industries Inc.).

Nautilus Inc., based in Vancouver, Wash., named James “Jim” Barr IV as CEO. He previously led a digital transformation as Group President at Ritchie Bros., and before that was EVP & Chief Digital Officer of OfficeMax.

AccuWeather Inc., based in Sate College, Pa., promoted Steven Smith to the position of President, after holding a variety of positions including CIO (2007-2013), Chief Digital Officer (2013-2015), and mostly recently President of Digital Media (2015-2019).

Gurinder Kaur has started work as CIO for Coca-Cola North America in Atlanta, according to her LinkedIn profile. She was previously VP of Global Commercial & Analytics Solutions at Kellogg Co. Also: She recently announced that “Coca-Cola is building out a new regional development center” in Atlanta with job openings for Salesforce developers and an information architect.

Dave Peak recently joined PerkinElmer Inc. in Waltham, Mass., as Chief Information & Digital Officer, according to his LinkedIn profile. He was VP of Digital Strategy & Innovation at Humana Inc.

MedAware, an Israeli developer of AI-based patient safety systems — primarily aimed at preventing dangerous prescription errors — appointed John Halamka, MD, MS, as as a member of its scientific advisory board. Halamka currently serves as Executive Director of Beth Israel Lahey Health Technology Exploration Center.

iRobot Corp., in Bedford, Mass., added e-commerce executive Eva Manolis to its board of directors. She was VP of consumer retailing at Amazon.com Inc.; and she founded Shutterfly Inc. in 1999.

Charter Communications Inc., in Stamford, Conn., announced that James Blackley is retiring as EVP of Engineering & IT. The announcement continued: “Chief Product Officer Rich DiGeronimo will add Technology Officer to his title as he will oversee Engineering and IT,” and “Blackley will … assist on the transition until his planned retirement in 2020.”

Amala Duggirala was promoted from Enterprise CIO to EVP & Head of Operations and Technology for Regions Bank in Birmingham, Ala. (thus expanding her duties beyond IT to also include financial operations, customer service, and the call center).

GNC Holdings Inc., based in Pittsburgh, hired Ryan Ostrom as Chief Brand Officer, defined as leading “the brand, marketing, digital and e-commerce strategy for the organization.” He will report to the CEO. Ostrom most recently was Global Chief Digital Officer for KFC.

OceanFirst Financial Corp. (parent of OceanFirst Bank in Red Bank, N.J.) appointed Steven Scopellite to its board of directors. He retired from Goldman Sachs in 2013 having served as Global Chief Information Officer.

Provident Financial Services Inc. (parent of Provident Bank in Iselin, N.J.) named Ursuline Foley to its board of directors. She was Chief Corporate Operations Officer, CIO, Chief Data Officer, and Managing Director with XL Group Ltd.

8x8 Inc., a customer contact company based in San Jose, appointed Elizabeth Theophille — currently Chief Technology & Digital Officer at Novartis International AG — as a member of the board of directors.

Okta Inc., based in San Francisco, added Robert Dixon Jr.former Global CIO of PepsiCo Inc. — to its board of directors.

Memphis-based Comprehensive Pharmacy Services Inc. (CPS), the nation’s largest hospital pharmacy services provider, named Karl Bedwell as CIO. He previously spent 30 years as a technology executive at Walmart Inc., most recently in pharmacy operations.

Meredith Corp., based in Des Moines, Iowa, named Farah Zaman as Chief Privacy Officer, reporting to the Chief Development Officer & General Counsel. She previously served as Senior Global Data Privacy Counsel at Colgate Palmolive.

American International Group Inc. (AIG) in New York hired Michael O’Malley as global Chief Procurement Officerreporting to John Repko, AIG’s EVP & CIO. “O’Malley will be responsible for the strategy and performance of all sourcing & procurement services across AIG,” the company said.

Sonoco Products Co., a global packaging company based in Hartsville, S.C., hired Richard (Rick) Johnson as CIO, reporting to the CEO. He had been CIO at HNI Corp. since 2011.

NPower, a national tech training nonprofit based in New York, announced two new members to its board of directors: Dean Del Vecchio, Chief of Operations & CIO at The Guardian Life Insurance Co. of America, and Debra King, CIO at Corteva Agriscience (a division of DowDuPont Inc.).​

Digital Pharmacist Inc. in Austin, Texas named Dustin Humphreys as President. He held roles at CVS Health Corp. such as VP of Digital Pharmacy & Innovation, and GM of CVS.com.

Angie Sargent, Senior EVP & CIO at Fulton Financial Corp. in Lancaster, Pa., was re-elected to a second one-year term on the board of directors of the Pennsylvania Bankers Association, according to an assocation spokesperson.

More recent appointments & promotions: ▸ Steven Bugajski, CIO at United States Steel Corp. in Pittsburgh (reporting to the SVP of Manufacturing Support & Chief Supply Chain Officer) ▸ Trish Torizzo, SVP & CIO at Hologic Inc. in Marlborough, Mass. ▸ Jim Colson, CTO at Cubic Corp. in San Diego ▸ Shri Santhanam, EVP of Global Analytics & AI at Experian plc, in Costa Mesa, Calif. ▸ Matt Hough, CIO at Cintas Corp. in Cincinnati, Ohio, reporting to the Chief Administrative Officer ▸ Fawaz Rasheed, Chief Information Security Officer at Northwestern Mutual in Milwaukee ▸ Ashish Braganza, EVP for Data, Analytics & Innovation at LPL Financial LLC in Charlotte, N.C. ▸ Stephen Felisan, CTO at Edmunds.com Inc. in Santa Monica, Calif. ▸ Andy Roth, Chief Privacy Officer at Intuit Inc. in Mountain View, Calif. ▸ Padma Elmgart, CTO at Global Atlantic Financial Group Ltd. in New York ▸ Jimi Li, CTO at ALM Media Properties LLC in New York ▸ Robert Brous, VP of E-Commerce & Digital at New rue21 LLC (rue21, a fast-fashion retailer), near Pittsburgh ▸ Paul Acevedo, EVP & CIO at CSAA Insurance Group in Walnut Creek, Calif.; also: Marlys Rodgers, Chief Information Security Officer ▸ Chris Moloney, CMO & SVP of E-Commerce at Brinks Home Security in Dallas ▸ Petar Srejovic, CTO at GTreasury near Chicago ▸ Peter Carrara, CIO at Black Knight Inc. in Jacksonville, Fla. ▸ Michael Legg, Chief Data & Analytics Officer at UC Health in Cincinnati ▸ John Walsh III, CTO & CIO at ASRC Federal (a unit of Arctic Slope Regional Corp.) in Beltsville, Md. ▸ Kevin Lilly, SVP & CIO at JELD-WEN Inc. in Charlotte, N.C. ▸ Declan Morris (former CIO at Splunk Inc.), Technology Advisor at Loom Systems Ltd. in San Francisco ▸ John Budala, CIO at PowerPlan Inc. in Atlanta ▸ Sergey Boytsov, COO & CIO at Infinity Laboratories in Castle Rock, Colo. ▸ Pat DeFrancesco, CTO at Genesis Global Trading Inc. (a digital currency trading & lending firm) in New York ▸ Devon Valencia, CIO at CareSource, a nonprofit health plan in Dayton, Ohio ▸ Mo Dastagir, CIO at Cresco Labs Inc. (a cannabis company) in Chicago


Job descriptions reveal the latest trends in digital business (links worked at time of publication)

Utica National Insurance Group is seeking a CIO, based in New Hartford, N.Y. “Demonstrate CDDO (Committed to Delivering, Despite all Obstacles) behaviors,” on-call 24/7.

Civista Bank in Sandusky, Ohio, is seeking a CIO, reporting to the CEO/COO. “The position will be the lead innovator, operator, and guardian of all company technology-based services.”

Majestic Steel USA Inc. is seeking an EVP & CTO in Cleveland, Ohio. The job requires a “proven track record of significantly improving business performance through technology, data, analytics and market research; deep & extensive knowledge within manufacturing, supply chain and/or distribution industries; … M&A experience, including due diligence & integration experience.”

Circles, a Waltham, Mass.-based concierge service owned by Paris-based Sodexo Group, is seeking a CIO. “The CIO will manage a small internal IT team spread out over multiple countries and manage local & offshore development resources and vendor relations. The CIO is also Circles’ key liaison for digital & technology projects within the Sodexo Group.” Agile application development; GDPR; able to speak French “a plus.”

Tech talent market tightens; AI speeds up the beer line

and other news for & about digital executives, by journalist Mitch Betts ▸ Data breach settlement ▸ Insurers test blockchain ▸ 'Pepper' the bank robot ▸ More CIOs on boards ▸ CxO career moves ▸

Newsletter by Mitch Betts © Ampersand Reports 2019, all rights reserved.

Hello, and welcome to another edition of Digital Business, a newsletter about real digital activity in corporate America, and the executives making it happen. If you think this is valuable market intelligence, please urge your network to sign up here. Thanks for reading.
— Mitch


The tech talent crunch is real. The unemployment rate for technology occupations in the U.S. fell to a 20-year low of 1.3%, according to CompTIA’s analysis of U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics data. “The data confirms what employers have been saying for months and even years — the demand for tech talent has reached historic levels,” said Tim Herbert, EVP for research & market intelligence at CompTIA. Herbert added:

“There is now the very real prospect of tech worker shortages affecting industry growth. Firms seeking to expand into new areas such as the Internet of Things, robotic process automation or artificial intelligence may be inhibited by a lack of workers with these advanced skills, not to mention shortages in the complementary areas of technology infrastructure and cybersecurity.”

Walmart Inc. news:

  • Walmart is absorbing Jet.com staffers into the rest of its e-commerce operations, winding down the startup it bought for $3.3 billion three years ago, although the Jet.com website will continue. — Sarah Nassauer, Wall Street Journal

  • Walmart hired Scott Eckert to run its tech startup incubator, Store No. 8. Eckert, as SVP of Next-Generation Retail, reports to Marc Lore, who heads Walmart’s U.S. e-commerce unit. Store No. 8 specializes in working with startups developing robotics, virtual & augmented reality, machine learning, and artificial intelligence. — Ben Unglesbee, Retail Dive

Anatomy of a data breach class-action settlement. Premera Blue Cross, a nonprofit health insurance company based near Seattle, was the victim of a cyberattack in May 2014 that exposed the personal information of 10.6 million individuals, including names, dates of birth, Social Security numbers, and health information. A class-action lawsuit filed on behalf of affected consumers appears to be winding down, with a proposed settlement that includes the following provisions:

Premera has agreed to pay $32 million to resolve the litigation. Those funds will pay for an additional two years of premium credit monitoring, and identity protection services, out-of-pocket losses, and cash payments to all class members who make a claim. The fund also will pay for administrative costs related to the settlement, including attorneys’ fees.

Premera has agreed to guarantee a minimum of $42 million in funding for its information security program over the next three years, and implement and/or maintain a number of specific changes to its information security practices, including:

• Encrypting certain personal information;
• Strengthening specified data security controls;
• Increased network monitoring and logging of monitored activity;
• Annual third-party security audits;
• Stronger passwords, reduced employee access to sensitive data, and enhanced email protections; and
• Moving certain data into archived databases with strict access controls.

Mark Gregory, Premera’s EVP & CIO, said: “We are pleased to be putting this litigation behind us, and to be providing additional substantial benefits to individuals whose data was potentially accessed during the cyberattack.” He noted that Premera “recently achieved an industry-leading HITRUST certification, demonstrating its ability to identify risks, protect assets, detect attacks, and respond and restore capabilities should the need arise.”

Related: Credit monitoring company Moody’s Corp. slashed its rating outlook on Equifax Inc. from stable to negative — the first time cybersecurity issues have been cited as the reason for a downgrade. Equifax continues to suffer from a massive 2017 breach of consumer data.

Recently reported security/privacy incidents:U.S. Customs and Border ProtectionTech Data Corp. ▸ Quest Diagnostics Inc. & Laboratory Corp. of America Holdings (LabCorp), via American Medical Collection AgencyFlipboard


Real digital activity in corporate America

Algorithm matches call-center rep to caller. G6 Hospitality LLC, the parent company of Motel 6, has adopted AI technology from Afiniti Inc. that connects callers to the customer-service agent most likely to make a sale. The algorithm uses the caller’s phone number to access personal data from various data brokers and, within 50 milliseconds, matches the caller to the available agent who has had the most sales & bookings with similar callers. G6 has been using the technology since November and has seen a 4% revenue increase at its call center. — John Murawski, WSJ Pro AI

AI speeds up the ballpark’s beer line. Aramark Corp. has made paying for drinks at baseball stadium concession stands easier & faster by using AI-enhanced, self-service kiosks. Patrons place their beverages on the scanner (photo, above), which uses computer vision technology to recognize multiple items (not bar codes) for payment. The technology produces 40% faster transactions and up to 25% higher sales, says Mike Giresi, Aramark’s SVP & chief digital information officer.

Sensors galore at Universal Orlando Resort. Universal Parks & Resorts in Orlando, Fla., is deploying an enterprise Internet of Things service, called MachineQ, which uses low-power, wide-area networking (LPWAN) technology and wireless sensors to monitor assets & operations from a digital dasboard. CIO Bill McCorey said that sensors affixed to park assets can help operations teams monitor or control food refrigeration units, fleet vehicles, and utility meters. Future applications could include tracking mobile assets like golf carts, and detecting water leaks. MachineQ is a hardware & sofware product of Universal’s parent company, Comcast Corp.

Major insurers test blockchain. Insurance companies State Farm and USAA are using real claims data to test how blockchain technology could speed up the auto claims subrogation process. Subrogation is when one insurance company recovers the costs it paid to its customer for damages from the other party’s insurance company.

Automating an expensive, manual process. “Today, subrogation is a relatively manual, time-consuming process often requiring physical checks to be mailed on a claim-by-claim basis between insurers,” said Mike Fields, innovation executive at State Farm. USAA and State Farm are testing how blockchain could securely & automatically compile all subrogation payment amounts, net the balance, and facilitate a single payment on a regular basis between insurers. Blockchain would also create a permanent record of transactions and could allow consumers to receive their deductible reimbursement faster, said Ramon Lopez, VP of innovation at USAA.

Finn banking app is finished. JPMorgan Chase & Co. is killing an experiment to attract younger customers to a new digital-banking app a year after making it available nationwide. JP Morgan is shutting down Finn, a no-fee banking app, and transferring users’ funds to new Chase checking & savings accounts. — David Benoit & Peter Rudegeair, Wall Street Journal

XPO touts rapid adoption of its mobile app. XPO Logistics Inc., based in Greenwich, Conn., reports that more than 22,000 U.S. carriers are registered users of its Drive XPO carrier app, which debuted 13 months ago. Commercial truck drivers use the free app to search for loads on XPO Connect, the company’s digital freight marketplace platform. CIO Mario Harek attributed the app’s success to “high user satisfaction with the XPO digital experience and the quality of ongoing enhancements.”

Robot “Pepper” is ready to engage. HSBC Bank USA continues to deploy humanoid robots, called Pepper, as bank lobby attendants (photo, above). To date, Pepper has been installed at branches in New York, Seattle, Beverly Hills (Calif.), and Miami. HSBC said the robots can handle the following tasks:

  • Communicate directly with bank staff based on customers’ answers to qualifying questions. The goal is to reduce customer waiting time and free up the time of skilled bankers to deliver a more personalized service.

  • Provide information about ATMs, the HSBC mobile banking app, and self-service options.

  • Promote awareness of HSBC products & services, including special promotions.

Enterprise IT gives back to the open-source community. TD Ameritrade Holding Corp. has released STUMPY — a code library to identify patterns & anomalies in time-series data — to the open-source software community. CIO Vijay Sankaran said TD Ameritrade has benefited from open-source software for many years, and is pleased to have made its first contribution back to the community, with more to come.

Energy provider Phillips 66 Co. has deployed an autonomous robot that safely inspects the interior of a diesel storage tank — with the fuel still in it. The robot (colored orange in the photo above) evaluates the tank’s “bottom integrity without draining product, [which] saves significant expense and reduces the need for personnel to enter tanks. The robot also captures high-clarity visual images of the interior and provides insight into the tank’s sediment levels and coating condition.”

Briefly noted:


Appointments, promotions, transitions

Nike Inc., based in Beaverton, Ore., hired Ratnakar Lavu as the company’s first Global Chief Digital Information Officer, effective June 17, reporting to the COO. Lavu was previously Chief Technology & Information Officer at retailer Kohl’s Corp., and CTO at Redbox Automated Retail LLC.

Forescout Technologies Inc., a cybersecurity vendor based in San Jose, Calif., appointed Kathy McElligott and Elizabeth Hackenson to its board of directors. McElligott currently serves as EVP & CIO & CTO of McKesson Corp. Hackenson currently serves as CIO of Schneider Electric SE. Both were inducted to the CIO Hall of Fame (Hackenson in 2014 and McElligott in 2019).

Jacobs Engineering Group Inc., based in Dallas, elected Georgette Kiser to the company’s board of directors. She was CIO & Managing Director at The Carlyle Group LP.

Jack Levis, senior director of process management at United Parcel Service Inc. (UPS), announced on LinkedIn that he’s retiring from UPS at the end of June — after more than 42 years at the company (he started as a package loader in 1976) and numerous awards for accomplishments in IT, advanced analytics, and operations research. He’s most closely associated with the award-winning Orion route optimization system for UPS pickups & deliveries.

Wells Fargo & Co., based in San Francisco, named Debra Chrapaty as CTO, making permanent a role she held on an interim basis since May. She will continue reporting to Saul Van Beurden, Head of Technology at Wells Fargo. Chrapaty will lead software development, platform services, and enterprise architecture.

Golden Entertainment Inc., a casino & gaming company based in Las Vegas, said Ann Dozier was elected to the company’s board of directors. She currently serves as SVP & CIO at Southern Glazer’s Wine and Spirits LLC.

Retailer Lands’ End Inc., based in Dodgeville, Wis., announced that it has appointed Sarah Rasmusen, the company’s current SVP of E-commerce, to the newly created position of Chief Customer Officer (“across all selling channels”).

RTW Retailwinds Inc., a New York-based apparel retail company, appointed Traci Inglis as President, Chief Marketing & Customer Officer, reporting to the CEO. She will “oversee all aspects of the Company’s marketing and digital initiatives, including e-commerce operations, CRM and performance marketing, loyalty, strategy and customer insights, and data analytics,” the company said.

Petco Animal Supplies Inc., based in San Diego, hired Darren MacDonald as Chief Digital & Innovation Officer. He will be “overseeing all aspects of the company’s digital business, including e-commerce, the Petco app, prescription fulfillment and a growing employer wellness benefits offering, while driving a continued focus on incubating new ideas and furthering innovation across the company.”

Med One Group, in Sandy, Utah, appointed Leslie Snavely to the company’s board of directors. Snavely is the Chief Digital Officer at CHG Healthcare Services Inc.

Cloud software vendor Nutanix Inc., in San Jose, Calif., appointed Brian Stevens — most recently CTO of Google Cloud — to the Nutanix board of directors.

Blue Apron Holdings Inc., in New York, hired Irina Krechmer as CTO, starting June 17 and reporting to the CEO. She will be in charge of “all aspects of the company’s technology strategy.” Krechmer was previously VP of Engineering at XO Group Inc.

Global packaging company TricorBraun Inc., based in St. Louis, hired Brett Hecker to replace Doug Bolen as CIO, reporting to the CEO. Hecker was a divisional CIO at Honeywell International.

iHeartMedia Inc., based in New York, named Andrew Dahm as Chief Privacy Officer, working closely with global CIO Steve Mills and global CISO David Neuman.

American Woodmark Corp., in Winchester, Va., hired Bill Waszak as CIO, according to a company email. He was previously CIO at The AZEK Company LLC and at The Scotts Miracle-Gro Company.

More recent appointments & promotions: Dennis Mochal, EVP & CIO at Heartland Financial USA Inc. in Dubuque, Iowa ▸ Jeff Dirks, Chief Information & Technology Officer at TrueBlue Inc. in Tacoma, Wash., (succeeding retiring CTO Carole McCluskey) ▸ Anthony (“Tony”) Gallardy, EVP & CIO at Navy Federal Credit Union (the world’s largest credit union), in Vienna, Va. (succeeding retiring CIO Bill Hills) ▸ Ty Tastepe, SVP, Chief Information & Digital Officer at retailer fashion retailer Altar’d State, in Maryville, Tenn. ▸ Jeff Sidell, CTO at Regulatory DataCorp Inc. (RDC), in King of Prussia, Pa. ▸ Paul Vancheri, EVP of Technology at LoanLogics Inc., in Trevose, Pa. ▸ Jon Morgan, CIO at Eyecare Services Partners (ESP) in Dallas ▸ Carl Nelor, Chief Information Security Officer at Bank Leumi USA in New York ▸ Debra Goetz, Chief Brand & Digital Officer at Vyaire Medical Inc. in Chicago ▸ Hal Danziger, Head of Next-Gen Platforms at The NPD Group Inc. (reporting to Chief Data Strategy Officer Darren Person), in Port Washington, N.Y. ▸ Fred Kauber, CTO & Chief Product Officer at Business Financial Services Inc. (dba BFS Capital) in Coral Springs, Fla. ▸ Dan Iantorno, CIO at Discovery Health Partners in Itasca, Ill. ▸ Mike Dow, CIO at Tilson Technology Management in Portland, Maine ▸ Jason Myers, CIO at Medhost Inc. in Franklin, Tenn. ▸ Todd Hartline, VP of IT at ICW Group Insurance Cos. in San Diego ▸ Todd Sims, VP of IT at Silver Airways and Seaborne Airlines, in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. ▸ Douglas Penstone-Smith, VP of Retail & E-commerce at Yamaha Corp. of America, in Buena Park, Calif. ▸ Brett Lansing, SVP & CIO (reporting to CTO Dan Speicher) at Medecision, in Dallas ▸ Ian Worden, CIO at Matrix Medical Network, in Scottdale, Ariz. ▸ Srihari Hosahalli, CIO at vCom Solutions Inc., in San Ramon, Calif. ▸ Claudius Moore, VP of IT at American Family Care, in Birmingham, Ala. ▸ Ray Estevez, Chief Data Officer at True Influence LLC, in Princeton, N.J. ▸ Adam Mirkovich, CIO at True Drinks Holdings Inc. in Costa Mesa, Calif. ▸ Scott Hicks, CIO at TDn2K (Transforming Data into Knowledge) in Dallas.

In memoriam. Allan Oliver (“Al”) Baldwin died May 21 at age 71, in Oak Park, Ill. Before retirement, he was VP of IT at Loyola University Chicago. Prior to that, he was CIO at the University of Illinois Medical Center, where he was instrumental in developing & implementing one of the first electronic medical record systems.


Job descriptions reveal the latest trends in digital business (links worked at time of publication)

Cruise operator Holland America Group is seeking an SVP & CIO in Santa Clarita, Calif. Expect long hours and weekend work for a 24/7 global operation — offset by “cruise & travel privileges for you & your family.”

Sony Pictures Entertainment, in Culver City, Calif., is seeking an Executive Director for its Corporate IT Business Relationship Management (BRM) team to ensure HR projects successfully meet business needs. Must have experience with HR systems, especially Workday.

LendingClub Corp., in San Francisco, is seeking a Chief Data Officer, reporting to the Chief Risk Officer — with a heavy emphasis on “data governance policies, standards, and practices” for data consistency & quality.

Integra Partners, a “tech-enabled, healthcare benefit management company” in New York, is seeking a hands-on CTO. “Healthcare industry experience is required.”

Exactech Inc. — which “develops & produces innovative bone & joint restoration products” for surgeons — is seeking a CIO in Gainesville, Fla.

Beachbody LLC, based in Santa Monica, Calif., is seeking a VP of Technology Operations, and is also seeking a VP in charge of IT’s Program Management Office (PMO).

Walmart hires global CTO; bank chatbot Erica turns one

and other news for & about digital executives, by journalist Mitch Betts ▸ PepsiCo's digital lab ▸ CIO Hall of Fame ▸ Brownouts in Texas? ▸ More CIOs on boards ▸ CxO career moves ▸

Newsletter by Mitch Betts © Ampersand Reports 2019, all rights reserved.

Hello, and welcome to Digital Business, a newsletter about real digital activity in corporate America, and the executives making it happen. If you think this is valuable market intelligence, please urge your network to sign up here. Thanks for reading.
— Mitch


Walmart hires new CTO to do battle with Amazon. Walmart Inc. hired Suresh Kumar — a former technologist at Google, Microsoft, Amazon, and IBM — as global CTO and chief development officer, reporting to CEO Doug McMillon. “Suresh has a unique understanding of the intersection of technology and retail, including supply chain, and has deep experience in advertising, cloud, and machine learning. And, he has a track record of working in partnership with business teams to drive results,” McMillon said in the announcement.

The org chart. According to reports by The Wall Street Journal, CNBC, and Bloomberg, Walmart’s CIO Clay Johnson will report to Kumar, as will the technology chiefs at Walmart’s main operating units: U.S., international, and Sam’s Club. Kumar will also oversee Walmart’s Global Business Services division. Kumar will assume the duties of long-time Walmart CTO Jeremy King, who handled customer-facing technology (including Walmart Labs) and left recently for Pinterest. But Kumar’s “elevated” role will also include internal systems & tools for the company’s 2.2 million employees and vast supplier network. King had reported to Walmart’s head of e-commerce in the U.S., Marc Lore, whereas Kumar will now sit directly on McMillon’s leadership team. Walmart still plans to fill King’s precise role, but meanwhile, Fiona Tan, SVP of customer technology, has stepped in to cover some of King’s duties.

When & where. Kumar will start at Walmart officially on July 8, based at the company’s Sunnyvale, Calif., office (not the Arkansas HQ).

Background. Kumar, 54, was most recently at Google, serving as VP & GM of display & video ads, apps, and analytics. Prior to Google, he was corporate VP of Microsoft’s cloud infrastructure & operations. Kumar spent 15 years at Amazon in various leadership roles, including VP of technology for retail systems & operations. He holds a Ph.D. in Engineering from Princeton University.

Brownouts in Texas? The Electric Reliability Council of Texas Inc. (ERCOT) is warning that electric power capacity will be “tight” in Texas during the hot summer months, so there could be emergency alerts seeking energy conservation — or rotating power “brownouts.”


Real digital activity in corporate America

Financial advisor Erica turns one. Bank of America says that its virtual assistant Erica is helping more than 7 million clients stay on top of their finances through the bank’s mobile app. Since its nationwide rollout in June 2018, Erica has:

  • Completed over 50 million client requests — from everyday banking activities to more complex tasks — using artificial intelligence, predictive analytics, and natural language processing.

  • Communicated with an average of more than 500,000 new users per month.

  • Doubled the ways clients can ask financial questions, from 200,000 at launch to more than 400,000 today, through ongoing expansion of conversational knowledge.

Demographics. The generational breakdown of Erica’s users: 15% from Gen Z, 49% millennials, 20% Gen X, and 16% baby boomers/seniors.

The three Ps. “The personalized, proactive and predictive nature of Erica’s guidance is what will continue to make the solution unique and powerful,” said David Tyrie, head of advanced solutions and digital banking at Bank of America. “It’s been a solid first year, but we’re just beginning to scratch the surface of Erica’s full potential.”

What’s next. Bank of America will expand Erica’s capabilities to provide clients more insights & guidance on optimizing cash flow, managing debt, monitoring transactions, capitalizing on savings opportunities, and balancing competing priorities to reach critical financial goals. Next month: a Balance Watch feature will notify clients when typical spending has the potential to take their balance below $0 in the next seven days.

Custom framing goes online. The Michaels Cos. Inc., the arts & crafts retail chain, is providing a new online option for custom framing: customers can upload an image; select from various frame and mat options; use free, pre-paid shipping materials to send art to Michaels custom-framing experts; and have the finished product shipped to their home or closest store.

LPL boosts IT spending. Charlotte, N.C.-based LPL Financial LLC, a retail investment advisory firm and independent broker-dealer, said it plans to increase its technology spending by allocating an additional $15 million on top of the $135 million already planned for 2019. LPL plans to upgrade its advisory platform for the wealth management market; and expand the ClientWorks system to provide “integrated & flexible digital workflows to help advisors thrive.”

Digital lab for foodservice operators. PepsiCo Inc. opened the PepsiCo Foodservice Digital Lab, a suite of capabilities to help the restaurant & hospitality industries learn about emerging technologies and consumer trends in the digital economy. The lab will provide operators with: data about the digital habits of their target demographics; “digital playbooks” for various types of restaurants; advice about digital solutions such as online ordering & delivery platforms to increase beverage and snack sales; and testing of technologies such as voice, augmented reality, and machine learning.

Mobility as a service. Enterprise Holdings Inc. is launching the U.S. car rental industry’s first vehicle-subscription service, starting in three states: Minnesota, Missouri, and Nevada. Customers can sign up online and, with one monthly fee, select from several different vehicle classes, and can swap out their vehicle up to four times per month. The monthly cost includes up to 3,000 miles per month, vehicle maintenance, roadside assistance, damage & liability protection, and satellite radio.

Briefly noted: Lowe’s Companies Inc. acquired a retail analytics platform from Boomerang Commerce that will help the company make “data-driven pricing and merchandise assortment decisions,” according to CIO Seemantini Godbole. Unified Trust Co., in Lexington, Ky., has developed a digital platform called the Rollover Wizard, which guides clients through the 401(k) retirement plan rollover process to help them select a best option for their personal financial situation.


Appointments, promotions, transitions

Potbelly Corp., a Chicago-based chain of sandwich restaurants, appointed Adrian Butler to the company’s board of directors for his IT experience. Butler is SVP & CIO at Dine Brands Global Inc. (with restaurant chains such as IHOP and Applebee’s).

AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. appointed Adam Sussmanthe first Chief Digital Officer at Nike Inc. — as a member of AMC’s board of directors.

MIB Group Inc., in Braintree, Mass., elected Bruce Baude — EVP & Chief Operations & Technology Officer at CNO Financial Group Inc. — to a three-year term on MIB’s board of directors.

City of Hope, an independent biomedical research & treatment center in southern California, appointed Phil Fasano to its board of directors. Fasano, head of consultancy Bay Advisors LLC, is a former CIO at American International Group (AIG) and at Kaiser Permanente. He’s a member of the 2017 class of the CIO Hall of Fame.

Prudential Financial Inc., based in Newark, N.J. announced that Stacey Goodman will join the company as EVP & CIO, effective July 15, reporting to the company’s vice chair. Goodman — previously CIO at Freddie Mac and CIT Group Inc. — replaces Barbara Koster, who announced her retirement as Prudential’s CIO in December.

Duke Energy Corp., in Charlotte, N.C., hired Bonnie Titone as CIO, effective June 19. She was VP of Business Technology at Pacific Gas & Electric.

United Fire Group Inc., in Cedar Rapids, Iowa, announced that shareholders elected John-Paul E. Besongformer CIO at Rockwell Collins Inc. (now known as Collins Aerospace, a unit of United Technologies Corp.) — to serve a three-year term on the company’s board of directors.

Aflac Inc. promoted Pete Kelso to SVP & Chief Information & Technology Officer, reporting to the CFO. Kelso will chair a newly formed Global Technology Committee, and coordinate IT strategy with the CTOs of Aflac U.S. and Aflac Japan.

BBVA USA, based in Birmingham, Ala., named Kevin McMahon as U.S. Head of Engineering, responsible for IT strategy and digital transformation, reporting to the U.S. bank’s CEO.

New York-based Bain & Co. hired Ramesh Razdan as CIO. He will oversee the consulting firm’s “digital transformation, deploying tools & technologies that unleash new ways of working for the firm’s client-facing teams.” Razdan was previously CTO at rival Boston Consulting Group, according to his LinkedIn profile.

PFSweb Inc., a global e-commerce company based in Allen, Texas, appointed Mercedes De Luca to its board of directors. She is currently CIO at Pebble Beach Co., which owns & operates resorts and golf courses.

Diplomat Pharmacy Inc., based in Flint, Mich., appointed Dave Loschinskey as COO. He was previously the company’s CIO.

Wells Fargo & Co. named Gary Owen as Chief Information Security Officer (based in New York City), and Steve Hagerman as Head of Consumer Lending Technology (based in Charlotte, N.C., starting in August). Both will report to Saul Van Beurden, Head of Technology.

J.C. Penney Co. Inc., based in Plano, Texas, hired Shawn Gensch as EVP & Chief Customer Officer, effective June 3, reporting to the CEO. The announcement said: “Gensch will oversee all aspects of the company’s marketing strategies & initiatives including digital, advertising, creative design, customer research, loyalty, analytics & insights, social media, sales promotions & planning, and events marketing.” He previously had similar roles at Sprouts Farmers Market Inc. and Target Corp.

Tricolor Group LLC, based in Dallas, promoted Don Goin to President & COO — just three months after being appointed CTO. Prior to joining Tricolor, which sells used vehicles to Hispanic customers, Goin was CIO at Santander Consumer USA and at Capital One Auto Finance.

The new CEO at United Rentals Inc., in Stamford, Conn., promoted CIO Dale Asplund to COO.

Conduent Inc., in Florham Park, N.J., appointed Cliff Skelton as President & COO. He was previously President of Fiserv Output Solutions, and spent five years as EVP & CIO at Fiserv Inc.

Atlantic Union Bank in Richmond, Va., named Kelly Dakin as Chief Digital & Customer Experience Officer. She had a similar role at Santander Bank.

Lyft Inc. hired Tal Shaked — previously a Google engineer — as its first Head of Machine Learning & Artificial Intelligence.

PVH Corp. (New York-based owner of apparel brands such as Calvin Klein and Tommy Hilfinger) announced that Marie Gulin-Merle will assume the newly created role of PVH Chief Digital Officer, in addition to her current position as CMO of Calvin Klein Inc.

JetBlue Airways Corp., based in New York, promoted Michael Stromer to Chief Product Officer for Technology, reporting to Eash Sundaram, the airline’s Chief Digital & Technology Officer. Stromer “will lead the design & execution of the digital commerce web & mobile applications that support revenue initiatives; technology for airport, customer support (reservations), system operations, technical operations, flight, and inflight teams, as well as back-office products.” He will “also have primary responsibility for the modernization of JetBlue’s customer sales & service and system operations technology, across all crewmember- and customer-facing products.”

E*Trade Financial Corp. in New York named Alice Milligan as Chief Customer Officer, overseeing “retail products, the digital customer experience, and marketing.” She was previously Chief Digital Client Experience Officer at Citibank’s North America Consumer Bank.

Standard Industries Inc., a global industrial company based in New York, named Keith O’Sullivan as Chief Information Security Officer. He held similar positions at CBS Corp. and Time Inc.

The Bank of New York Mellon Corp. (BNY Mellon) appointed Subhankar Sinha as Head of Blockchain, based in New York.

Data analytics vendor Alteryx Inc., based in Irvine, Calif., hired Alan Jacobson — former director of global analytics at Ford Motor Co. and a “longtime Alteryx user” — as Chief Data & Analytics Officer.

ExpressJet Airlines — a subsidiary of ManaAir LLC that operates United Express, a regional carrier for United Airlines — re-hired Jonyt Meyer as CIO in Atlanta.

Seacoast Banking Corp. of Florida announced that CMO Jeffrey Lee has been named Chief Digital Officer, overseeing “technology, customer analytics, and digital activities.”

HawkEye 360 Inc., based in Herndon, Va., hired Chris Herndon as CIO. He previously served as Director of White House Information Technology for the Trump Administration.

Neustar Inc., in Sterling, Va., said that Venkat Achanta, SVP & Chief Data Officer, will add CTO responsibilities to his current role, with oversight of Product Engineering and Technology Operations.

Medlogix, in Hamilton, N.J., hired Chad Gross as COO. He previously held COO and CIO positions at Examination Management Services Inc. (EMSI), according to his LinkedIn profile.

More recent appointments & promotions: ▸ Vince Perfetti, Chief Transformation Officer & SVP of Technology at Nu Skin Enterprises Inc., in Provo, Utah ▸ Chris Andrews, CIO at Smoothie King Franchises Inc., in Dallas ▸ Mahesh Shah, EVP & Chief Product & Technology Officer at CDK Global Inc., in the company’s new San Jose office ▸ Matt Hough, CIO at Cintas Corp. in Cincinnati (effective June 1, reporting to the Chief Administrative Officer) ▸ Steve Miller, SVP of Strategy & Analytics at Dick’s Sporting Goods Inc. in Pittsburgh ▸ Dixon Gould, CIO at Merrill Corp. in St. Paul, Minn. ▸ Christopher McPhee, CIO at PKF O’Connor Davies LLP, in New York ▸ Tom Walsh, Chief Digital Officer at Viamedia Inc. in New York City ▸ Gene Bishop, Global CIO at IDG Communications Inc., in the media company’s New York City office ▸ Kelly Isikoff, Chief Information Security Officer at AXIS Capital Holdings Ltd. (reporting to Global CIO Keith Schlosser), in the company’s New York office ▸ Andrew Kasarskis, Chief Data Officer at Mount Sinai Health System, in New York ▸ Tina Price, SVP & Chief Information Security Officer at York Risk Services Group Inc., in Jersey City, N.J. ▸ Rod Sayegh, Head of Digital Strategy at Fiduciary Trust Co. International, in New York ▸ Greg Ryslik, Chief Data Officer at Celsius Therapeutics Inc., in Cambridge, Mass. ▸ Monique Dumais, CIO at Encore Capital Group Inc. and its U.S. unit Midland Credit Management, in San Diego ▸ Kyle Costello, VP of Emerging Technologies at Radius Bank, in Boston ▸ Amer Waheed, CTO at Neighborly Franchising LLC, in Waco, Texas (replacing former CIO Shayne Mehringer) ▸ Raj Velmurugan, SVP & CIO at Salem Five Bancorp, in Massachusetts ▸ Lee Pepper, CIO and Chief Creative Officer (leading the IT and digital marketing teams) at Meadows Behavioral Healthcare near Phoenix, Ariz.


IDG Communications Inc., owner of the editorial website CIO.com and CIO Events, named 20 new inductees to its CIO Hall of Fame. (Selections are judged by CIOs & ex-CIOs who are already in the CIO Hall of Fame.) The Class of 2019:

• Rob Alexander, CIO at Capital One Financial Corp.
• Steve Betts, SVP & CIO at Health Care Service Corp.
• Alan Cullop, CIO at DaVita Inc.
• Craig Cuyar, SVP & Global CIO at Omnicom Group Inc.
• Richard (Dick) Daniels, EVP & CIO at Kaiser Permanente
• Anuj Dhanda, EVP & CIO at Albertsons Companies LLC
• Randall Gaboriault, CIO & SVP of Innovation and Strategic Development at Christiana Care Health System
• Zack Hicks, EVP & Chief Digital Officer at Toyota Motor North America; and CEO & President of Toyota Connected North America
Ann Joyce, EVP & Chief Customer Officer, Technology, Supply Chain & Omni Operations at Chicos FAS Inc.
Vince Kellen, CIO at University of California, San Diego
• Michael Kingston, SVP & CIO at L’Oreal Americas
• Michael Mathias, EVP, Customer Experience & CIO at Blue Shield of California
• Kathy McElligott, EVP & CIO/CTO at McKesson Corp.
• Gregory Morrison, SVP & CIO at Cox Enterprises Inc.
• Steven Randich, EVP & CIO at Financial Industry Regulatory Authority (FINRA)
• Cynthia Stoddard, SVP & CIO at Adobe Inc.
• Lynden Tennison, EVP, Chief Strategy & Information Officer (retired) at Union Pacific Railroad
Patrick Thompson, CIO at Albemarle Corp.
• Stephen Warren, CIO at U.S. Office of the Comptroller of the Currency
• Walter Yosafat, SVP & CIO at Wyndham Destinations

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