Last-mile e-commerce; media multitasking; digital-savvy boards

and other news for digital executives, by journalist Mitch Betts ▸ Analytics Hall of Fame ▸ biometrics backlash ▸ new CIOs at Workday, Subway, Jo-Ann Stores, Barnes & Noble ▸ CxO job openings ▸

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


Last-inch logistics. Valqari, a Chicago-based startup, has developed a patented Smart Drone Delivery Mailbox, a universal drone landing pad & receptacle for package delivery & pickup. The box uses two-way communication technology for navigation to provide a safe landing area for drone deliveries serving industries such as pharmaceuticals, meal delivery and grocery services, and residential e-commerce.
Related: United Parcel Service of America Inc. (UPS) has started daily, autonomous drone flights to deliver medical samples across WakeMed Health & Hospitals’ sprawling campus in the Raleigh, N.C., metropolitan area. ▸ Inc. has developed a “piston box” that provides a shock absorber for packages dropped by drones. (U.S. Patent Application No. 20190092548) ▸ 5 companies working on last-mile delivery

Board ROI. A recent MIT study of 1,233 U.S. companies earning at least $1 billion in revenue found that only 24% of the boards of directors were deemed “digital savvy.” Those companies performed consistently better than their peers on key metrics, including 38% higher revenue growth, 17% higher profit margin, 34% higher market cap growth, and 34% higher return on assets.
Related: The impact of digital transformation on companies’ boardsWhy CIOs make great board directors

CIO on board. Marriott International Inc., in Bethesda, Md., appointed Margaret McCarthy as a member of the board of directors. She had been EVP of Operations & Technology, and CIO, at Aetna Inc., before its acquisition by CVS Health Corp.

Media multitasking. Does using Twitter and other social media while watching TV distract from the advertising — or increase engagement with it? A new study in the INFORMS journal Marketing Science has found that retailer advertisements that air in television programs with more “social TV” activity see increased ad responsiveness on online shopping platforms. “We found that this pattern varied with the mood of the advertisement, with funny and emotional advertisements seeing the largest increases in online shopping activity,” said Beth Fossen of the Kelley School of Business at Indiana University.

Who’s who. The newly formed Analytics Hall of Fame named 14 honorees in its first cohort, including Tom Davenport, Bill Franks, Randy Bean, Heather Wilson (chief analytics & data officer at L Brands Inc.), Gina Papush (global chief of data & analytics officer at Cigna Corp.), and Carmel La Sala (director of consumer analytics at Citibank). The awards will be issued quarterly.


Real digital activity in corporate America

Need it now. Lowe’s Companies Inc. is testing the FedEx SameDay Bot (above) for deliveries of key parts, supplies or tools to construction sites or DIY homeowners, according to Don Frieson, Lowe’s EVP of of supply chain. Similarly, Pizza Hut is testing the robot for delivery of pizzas. Other testers: Walmart, AutoZone, and Target.

Name that car. Capital One Financial Corp. has developed an artificial intelligence & machine learning system that can identify vehicle characteristics — such as make & model “BMW X5” — from users’ smartphone photos, after the system has been trained with a data set of vehicle images. (U.S. Patent No. 10,235,602)

Two McTech deals. McDonald’s Corp. acquired machine learning startup Dynamic Yield Ltd., making it possible to personalize menus & offerings based on time of day, weather, current restaurant traffic, trending menu items — and items the customer has already selected. The fast-food chain also took a minority stake in its mobile app vendor, Plexure Ltd.

Robot seals pipe joints. Spire Inc. — a natural gas utility company serving Alabama, Mississippi, and Missouri — is using a robot that travels through large-diameter gas mains to inspect & repair pipeline joints from the inside, without interruption to natural gas service. These inspections & repairs prevent future leaks and extend the life of large-diameter pipes underground. “We will be sealing around 14,000 feet of pipeline robotically this year, with limited disruption to neighborhoods,” said Tim Goodson, VP of operations.

Shopping list helper. Walmart Inc. has developed a system (for mobile or desktop) that uses a shopper’s historical purchasing data to detect & estimate a “personal replenishment cycle” for products — and then displays a timely, personalized shopping list for the user to consider. (U.S. Patent Application 20190073708)


Threat, opportunity, inspiration?

Biometrics backlash. As more companies track their workers with fingerprint and facial scans, employees are increasingly challenging firms in court over how that biometric data gets used and stored. — Te-Ping Chen, Wall Street Journal
Related: Business In The Age Of Surveillance Capitalism

The TT Minute. Transport Topics, a news publisher for the trucking & freight transportation industries, will offer a one-minute news briefing each weekday morning via smart speaker devices (e.g., Amazon Alexa, Google Assistant).

Emotion AI. RealEyes, a London-based startup, has obtained a U.S. patent for a face-reading system that (with consent) measures viewers’ emotional & attention responses to video advertisements in real time.

Mobile tickets. Ticketmaster reports that sales of event tickets via mobile devices continue to grow rapidly — they were up 35% in 2018 — and account for over 40% of its overall ticket sales.

Food inspector. Startup AgShift has developed an AI-based food quality analyzer, which augments and speeds up the work of human food inspectors. Early uses: Inspecting strawberries and cashews.

Regaining control. A new, patented Failsafe algorithm removes one of the safety risks of quadcopter drones: If the motor or a propeller fails, the algorithm stabilizes the drone in flight so it can be navigated to safe landing spot — instead of spinning out of control and crashing.


Signposts from the digital milieu

▸ The total market share of online U.S. retail merchandise sales was (slightly) higher than general brick-and-mortar store sales in February, for the first time in history. (Commerce Dept. / Bloomberg) ▸ A record number of robots shipped in North America last year: 35,880 units were shipped, up 7% over 2017, with more non-automotive companies installing robots than ever before. Biggest growth was in these industries: food & consumer goods (up 48%); plastics & rubber; life sciences. (Robotic Industries Association) ▸ In 2019, for the first time, digital advertising spending in the U.S. will exceed traditional ad spending. Total digital ad spending in the U.S. will grow 19% to $129.34 billion this year — 54.2% of estimated total U.S. ad spending. Mobile will account for more than two-thirds of digital ad spending. (eMarketer) ▸ ROI study: Data analytics deployments deliver an average benefit of $9 per every $1 spent. (Nucleus Research)



Appointments, promotions, transitions

Walmart Inc. CTO Jeremy King left Walmart to join Pinterest Inc. as Head of Engineering, reporting to the CEO, as Pinterest prepares for an initial public offering (IPO) of stock. (Pinterest’s CTO Vanja Josifovski left to join Airbnb Inc., where he will be CTO of Airbnb Homes, the company’s largest business unit, according to VentureBeat.)

PagerDuty Inc., a “digital operations management” company based in San Francisco, said that Rathi Murthy, SVP & CTO of clothing retailer Gap Inc., has joined its board of directors.

MGM Resorts International, in Las Vegas, appointed Atif Rafiq, as President of Commercial & Growth, reporting to the CEO. “With this new role, Rafiq will develop new customer experiences, business models and revenue streams, including launching digital businesses to further differentiate MGM Resorts,” the announcement said. Rafiq was previously Chief Digital Officer & Global CIO at Volvo Cars, and was Chief Digital Officer at McDonald’s Corp.

Workday Inc. CIO Diana McKenzie “has decided to pursue some long-time personal passions,” according to a company blog post, and will replaced on April 22 by Sheri Rhodes, most recently CTO at Western Union Co.

Subway Restaurants, based in Milford, Conn., named Mike Macrie — former CIO at Land O’Lakes Inc. — as its new CIO.

Jacqueline Guichelaar was named CIO at Cisco Systems Inc., after a CIO stint at Thomson Reuters. She replaces Guillermo Diaz, who has taken on a new role at Cisco as SVP of Customer Transformation, a spokesperson said.

Panasonic Corp. of North America, based in Newark, N.J., promoted M. Faisal Pandit from Chief Digital Officer to President of the company’s Panasonic System Solutions division.

Walgreen Boots Alliance Inc. reportedly (and quietly) hired Gunjan Bhow — a former Disney and Amazon executive — as Chief Digital Officer.

Jo-Ann Stores Inc., in Hudson, Ohio, named Varadheesh Chennakrishnan as CIO. He was SVP of Applications & Enterprise Architecture at Ulta Beauty Inc.

Atlanta-based Inspire Brands — whose portfolio includes Arby’s, Buffalo Wild Wings, and Sonic restaurant brands — said Raghu Sagi will join the company as CIO on April 15, reporting to the CEO. He was Chief Engineering Officer at Sephora Americas. Meanwhile, former CIO Darla Morse leaves Inspire to become CIO at sister company CKE Restaurants Holdings Inc., parent Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s brands.

Universal Music Group, in Santa Monica, Calif., named Dan Morales as CIO, effective April 15. He was previously CIO at eBay Inc.

Barnes & Noble Inc., in New York, appointed Carlo Pochintesta as CIO, reporting to the CFO. (Former CIO William Wood became Chief Digital Officer in July.) Pochintesta was CIO at Rag & Bone Holdings LLC.

PPG Industries Inc., the paints & coatings maker based in Pittsburgh, appointed Devashish Saxena as Chief Digital Officer. He will “lead the company’s digital transformation, creating a sustainable digital organization to unlock customer value through enhancement, connectivity, automation, insights and innovation,” the company said. He previously led digital strategy at Rexel, a France-based distributor of electrical supplies.

RLH Corp. (owner of Red Lion Hotels), based in Denver, named Vinod Sankar as SVP & Chief Digital Officer.

Stuart McGuigan is the new CIO at the U.S. Department of State, after nearly seven years as CIO of Johnson & Johnson. He succeeds Karen Mummaw, who was Acting CIO at the department for 15 months and plans to retire.

Dun & Bradstreet Inc., in Short Hills, N.J., named Gil Shaked as CTO to “oversee the management of IT strategy and operations, enterprise systems, applications, security, infrastructure, automation, and digital transformation.”

Hearst Communications Inc. in New York named Mahendra Durai as CIO, reporting to the COO. He was previously Chief Information Technology Officer of CA Technologies, which was acquired by Broadcom Inc.

Perella Weinberg Partners LP, in New York, appointed Nancy Boehm as a Managing Director & CTO of the financial advisory firm.

Ilia Papas, co-founder & CTO at meal kit provider Blue Apron Holdings Inc. will be departing the company May 3 to “pursue new opportunities.”

Cott Corp., a North American office water & coffee service, named William “Jamie” Jamieson as its Global CIO, reporting to the CEO. He was CIO at GNC Holdings Inc.

New York-based American International Group Inc. (AIG) said Rich Baich will join the company as SVP & Chief Information Security Officer (CISO), effective April 22. He will report to John Repko, AIG’s CIO. Baich has been CISO at Wells Fargo & Co. since 2012.

CNO Financial Group Inc., in Carmel, Ind., promoted Ben Tesnar to VP & CISO, reporting to CIO Mike Mead.

TechPoint, a group that promotes the tech ecosystem in Indiana, named Sherry Aaholm, CIO at Cummins Inc., to chair the group’s board of directors for 2019.

The Rockefeller Foundation in New York named Steve VanRoekel as COO, overseeing IT and other departments. He was previously COO at the Federal Communications Commission, and was later appointed the nation’s second CIO by President Obama.

Michelle McKennaCIO at the National Football Leagueresigned March 7 from her additional position as a member of the ComScore Inc. board of directors, citing “health reasons.”

The Federal Reserve Bank of New York launched the Fintech Advisory Group, whose members include Lee Braine, CTO at Barclays plc; Martin Fleming, Chief Analytics Officer & Chief Economist at IBM; and Lena Mass-Cresnik, Chief Data Officer at Moelis & Co.

MTM Technologies Inc., an IT services provider based in Purchase, N.Y., announced that CIO Gregory Turner will have an expanded role as Chief Revenue Officer.

More recent appointments & promotions: ▸ Dion Rooney, CIO, GAF (a Standard Industries company) ▸ Marty Caywood, EVP & CIO, HomeTrust Bancshares Inc. ▸ Mahesh Saptharishi, CTO, Motorola Solutions Inc. ▸ Timothy Harris, SVP & Chief Digital & Information Officer, Allegheny Technologies Inc. (starting May 6) ▸ Lisa Farris, Chief Digital Officer, The Recording Academy ▸ Catherine Levene, Chief Digital Officer, Meredith Corp.’s National Media Group ▸ Sudhir Nair, EVP & CIO, LoanCare, a ServiceLink Company ▸ Stan Waddell, CIO, Carnegie Mellon University ▸ Kevin Fish, SVP, Digital, Wingstop Restaurants Inc. ▸ Stacy Peterson, CIO, Service King Collision Repair Centers Inc.


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

Tilly’s Inc., a clothing retailer based in Irvine, Calif., is seeking a Chief Digital Officer to be their e-commerce expert. “The Chief Digital Officer will help the company drive growth by converting traditional businesses to digital ones, and oversee operations in the rapidly changing digital sectors like mobile applications, social media and related applications, virtual goods, as well as web-based information management and marketing.” The company expects this executive to be “connecting digital investments to enterprise KPIs in order to achieve positive digital transformation.”

The Conference of State Bank Supervisors (CSBS), in Washington, D.C., is seeking a Chief Data Officer, reporting to the SVP of IT Digital Services. Key responsibilities include data privacy, data governance, data quality, and “the exploitation of data assets to create business value.”

The National Apartment Association, in Arlington, Va., is seeking a Chief Digital Strategy Officer. Requires experience with e-commerce, data & analytics, association management systems, and content management systems.

Coppin State University, in Baltimore, is seeking a Chief Data Officer with a master’s degree, reporting to the CIO, to create a data center of excellence and implement the university’s “data democratization” (self-service) goal.

Private Jet Services Group Inc., in Seabrook, N.H., is seeking a CIO, comfortable with selecting ERP software and working in a regulated industry. “Candidates with experience in the aviation, transportation or hospitality industries highly preferred.”