Analytics-driven schedules are making workers miserable

and other news for digital executives, by journalist Mitch Betts ▸ Yum! seeks a digital SVP ▸ Allstate's telematics platform ▸ Predicting retail shrinkage ▸ CxO career moves ▸

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

On-demand scheduling technology leads to unpredictable work hours, unhappy retail employees, and legislation

Unpredictable work schedules are harmful to the health of hourly retail workers, according to a study by researchers at the University of California-Berkeley and University of California-San Francisco.

“Routine instability in work schedules is associated with psychological distress, poor sleep quality, and unhappiness,” the study said. Workers like regular schedules to accommodate school attendance, second jobs, or family obligations.

One reason for irregular schedules: “In recent years, more companies have begun implementing on-demand scheduling technology that uses data analytics on everything from customer behavior to the weather to determine how many workers are needed to operate a retail location at any given time,” a MarketWatch article about the study noted.

In response, “Lawmakers in cities like New York, San Francisco, and Seattle, and in the state of Oregon, have passed legislation requiring more predictable scheduling for workers,” the article said.


Real digital activity in corporate America

Data science spin-off. Allstate Corp. CEO Tom Wilson, in a Feb. 6 earnings call, took a deep dive into the insurance company’s nine years of experience with telematics — the use of dashboard devices or smartphones to gauge actual driver behavior and set insurance prices. Other insurance companies (such as Progressive) have gone down the same telematics road, but one move that sets Allstate apart is its 2016 spin-off of Arity LLC. It’s essentially a data science platform that collects enormous volumes of data on drivers, produces driver scores (not unlike a credit score), and sells analytics products to other companies, even Allstate’s competitors. Wilson likened Arity to platform businesses such as Facebook and Amazon’s Marketplace. He continued:

Companies that control strategic platforms generate high economic returns. These returns reflect the benefits of reduced friction and cost between participants and … increased knowledge and analytics. Platforms are also rapidly scalable. The transportation system [e.g., connected cars, smart cities, and ride-sharing companies such as Uber] can benefit from such a platform.

It also lowers the cost of collecting information. So just like with credit scoring data, it’s inefficient to have many companies collecting the same information. We decided to build Arity as a telematics platform to capture important economic benefits. [There] is little downside to us since we need to build these services for ourselves… Today, Arity has 12.5 million active connections of which more than 1.5 million are through the Allstate entities. They analyze over 300 [driving] trips per second, and create a proprietary driving score that can be used by insurers or shared mobility companies.

Arity’s scale continues to grow and it’s now adding 10 billion miles of driving data per month. Arity generates substantial advantages for Allstate’s insurance operations today, and we’re actively working with other insurers to help them utilize telematics in auto insurance. We’ll keep their information confidential, but all parties benefit from the network effect of a consistent and large data set. It’s Arity’s growth that will also provide us with new sources of revenue from the transformation of the personal transportation system.

▸ Related: How Arity fine-tunes its algorithms (for identifying risky drivers) — using roller-coasters & ski slopes.

iLab dissolved. A Neiman Marcus Group retail innovation lab started in 2012 by then-CIO Michael Kingston, and led by Scott Emmons, gradually lost funding support and has been discontinued by a new CEO and new digital executives. The new C-suite plans to manage innovation from the top. — Samantha Ann Schwartz, CIO Dive

Manufacturers can serve online consumers directly. Ryder System Inc., a transportation & logistics company based in Miami, Fla., announced an e-commerce fulfillment service that aims to “transform the way many manufacturers do business online, offering an alternative to third-party marketplaces by fulfilling orders of manufacturer products direct to consumers.” The service includes:

  • Two new multi-client facilities — located in Perris, Calif., and Fort Worth, Texas — that are carrier-agnostic and designed specifically for high-volume e-commerce fulfillment. The facilities are flexible & scalable, in terms of space & labor, to handle peak & slack seasons.

  • A streamlined on-boarding process to get customers operational quickly.

  • Specially trained teams that provide HR, call center, and IT capabilities.

  • Warehouse order & management systems, and reverse logistics for returns.

  • Services such as private labeling, bagging, gift wrapping, hand-written notes, and engraving.


Threat, opportunity, or inspiration?

Shrinkage predictor. Walmart Stores Inc. has developed a system for “predicting and identifying retail shrinkage activity” (e.g., theft). The system includes multiple sensors (including cameras) throughout the store, a database of historic shrinkage data at the store, local crime reports, an analytics engine, and machine learning. The system alerts asset-protection personnel of high-risk situations. (U.S. Patent Application No. 20190027003.)

Sensor security. Mitsubishi Electric Corp., in Tokyo, said it has developed a new algorithm that detects malicious attacks on the sensors used for controlling drones, in-vehicle devices, and production equipment.

Class is full. A surge in student demand for college courses in computer science is far outstripping the supply of professors, as the tech industry snaps up talent. The number of undergraduates majoring in the subject more than doubled from 2013 to 2017, to over 106,000, while tenure-track faculty ranks rose about 17%. — Natasha Singer, The New York Times

Power grid security. A Vermont Law School study made several recommendations for improving the security of the nation’s electric power system:

  • Ensure cost recovery for electric utilities’ cybersecurity investments.

  • Increase the flow of confidential information regarding vulnerabilities and best practices.

  • Develop resilience metrics to gauge the industry’s security progress.


Talent, jobs, appointments, careers, transitions

Sears resurrected. ESL Investments Inc. and its affiliate Transform Holdco LLC completed the $5.2 billion acquisition of Sears Holdings Corp. as the retailer emerged from Chapter 11 bankruptcy. The new Sears — with 223 Sears and 202 Kmart stores — will be led by a C-suite that includes Leena Munjal, who has been chief digital officer at Sears Holdings since January 2018 (and before that SVP of customer experience & integrated retail).

Merger results. Regional banks SunTrust Banks Inc. and BB&T Corp. announced a $66 billion “merger of equals” — with a new name to be determined later. “A new corporate headquarters will be established in Charlotte, N.C., including an Innovation and Technology Center to drive digital transformation,” the announcement said. The new C-suite — “comprised equally from SunTrust and BB&T” — will include Dontá Wilson (currently BB&T’s chief digital & client experience officer) and Scott Case (currently CIO at SunTrust). Not on the published list: Barbara Duck, CIO at BB&T. If the merger gets government approvals, the first order of business will be achieving cost savings in “facilities, information technology/systems, shared services, retail banking and third-party vendors,” the companies said.

Stay tuned. Yum! Brands Inc. — the Louisville, Ky.-based parent of Taco Bell, KFC, and Pizza Hut restaurants — plans to hire a new senior digital executive, according to CEO Greg Creed, speaking at a Feb. 7 quarterly earnings call. After a board-level review of the C-suite, Creed said, the company is promoting the current CFO to COO; seeking a replacement CFO; and “hiring a new senior leader, reporting to me, who is focused on global digital and technology strategy. This new role will lead to a coordinated, cross-brand, global effort to better leverage technology, to drive sales and better economics for our franchisees.”

CIO transition. Plano, Texas-based Rent-A-Center Inc. (RAC) named Mike Santimaw as CIO, replacing current CIO Fred Herman, a company spokesperson confirmed. Santimaw was previously VP of Information Security, Innovation Labs & Corporate Solutions at RAC.

C-suite shuffle. SmileDirectClub LLC, based in Nashville, rearranged its C-suite and moved John Sheldon from Chief Digital Officer to Chief Marketing Officer. (He replaces a CMO who takes a new title: Chief Global Brand Officer.)

Banking CTO. Dime Community Bancshares Inc., based in Brooklyn, N.Y., named Michael Fegan as CTO. He previously was Chief Information & Operations Officer of Investors Bank in Short Hills, N.J.

Privacy matters. New York-based Zeta Interactive Corp. (dba Zeta Global), a data-driven marketing technology company, named Ben Hayes as its first Chief Privacy Officer. He spent over four years as Chief Privacy Officer at The Nielsen Co.

Fintech CIO. AvidXchange Inc., a financial software company in Charlotte, N.C., named Angelic Gibson as CIO.

Commencement speaker. Steve Van Wyk, EVP & Head of Technology & Innovation at The PNC Financial Services Group Inc., will speak at the May 18, 2019, commencement at his alma mater, Central College in Pella, Iowa. (He earned a bachelor’s degree in business management & accounting from Central in 1981.)

Regional CIO network. Bill Blausey, SVP & CIO of Eaton Corp., and Doug Wenger, former CIO at Omnova Solutions Inc., are organizing a Northeast Ohio regional forum for CIOs to discuss common issues and the talent pipeline, according to Crain’s Cleveland Business.

Job opening. The Capital Metropolitan Transportation Authority, in Austin Texas, is seeking a CIO/CTO. Salary range: $127,826 to $166,174.

Retiring. Howard Sellinger, EVP & CIO at HomeTrust Bancshares Inc. in Asheville, N.C., plans to retire from the company, effective April 1, according to a public filing. He joined the bank in 1975 as a management trainee and rose to CIO in July 1997.

In memoriam. Carol Elaine Peters Reed, 57, died unexpectedly on Feb. 9. She was CIO at Hollins University near Roanoke, Va.