Pizza Hut doubles down on digital to battle Domino's

and other news for digital executives, by journalist Mitch Betts ▸ Digital initiatives at Target, Hertz, Vail Resorts ▸ CxO jobs & career moves ▸

Newsletter by Mitch Betts © Ampersand Reports 2018, all rights reserved.
Photo: marckbass8/marcos vega/Pixabay/CC0 Creative Commons

Pizza Hut turns to an acquisition to help it compete for online orders

Pizza Hut — playing catch-up to the Domino’s Pizza Inc. juggernaut in online ordering — has decided to acquire the external technology & talent. The U.S. business of Pizza Hut, a subsidiary of Yum! Brands Inc., said it will acquire QuikOrder, an online ordering software & service provider for the restaurant industry. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but it’s one of Pizza Hut’s largest acquisitions. 

“This acquisition will allow us to be more nimble and flexible from a digital and in-restaurant technology standpoint,” Carol Clements, Pizza Hut’s CTO, told Moneyish. “We’re thinking bigger than just Pizza Hut… This technology has the potential to be scaled across the entire Yum! family,” Clements said. (Yum! Brands also owns Taco Bell and KFC.)

Pizza Hut has already been using the company’s technology as a customer for nearly two decades. “In 2018, about half of Pizza Hut U.S. sales were processed through QuikOrder’s platform,” Pizza Hut said in its announcement. Meanwhile, QuikOrder “has built an expert team that fully understands and meets Pizza Hut’s specific needs.”

The acquisition will include: Pizza Hut’s current digital ordering platforms, systems & services; QuikOrder’s in-restaurant technology; and future products & programs.

“We’re doubling down on our commitment to digital and this deal positions Pizza Hut perfectly for the future,” said Artie Starrs, president of Pizza Hut U.S. “We're also gaining access to an immensely talented group of developers and digital innovators.

Who’s doing what

Photo: Target Corp. blog post shows the AR smartphone application in action.

Target Corp.’s augmented-reality (AR) shopping tool has Christmas trees selling at twice the normal rate, according to Dawn Block, SVP of digital. The retailer is offering a new feature, dubbed “See It in Your Space,” on its shopping app. It allows smartphone-toting customers to virtually place an artificial tree, or other home decor items, in their living room. — Matthew Boyle, Bloomberg News

Rental-car company Hertz Corp. is offering its Hertz Gold Plus Rewards loyalty members a faster checkout experience at the exit gate, using biometric screening technology that verifies a customer’s identity and rental reservation with facial or fingerprint recognition. The technology was launched at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, and will be rolled out to 40 more U.S. Hertz locations in 2019.

Vail Resorts Inc. plans to reduce the wait time for guests at its 17 North American ski resorts, starting with the 2019-2020 winter season. The goal is to increase express lift ticket fulfillment capacity by 40% through new handheld, mobile technology that lets skiers & snowboarders bypass the ticket window altogether, and obtain their RF-enabled lift ticket from roving ticket agents at base area lifts. Guests will then be able to move directly into the primary lift line to begin their day on the mountain.

Advance Auto Parts Inc. has completed the nationwide rollout of its MyAdvance website, which is geared to professional installers (not consumers). Automotive service shops & employees can use the portal for ordering parts, training, expert advice on troubleshooting, and interacting with Advance support staff.

Here’s an AI application that definitely produces ROI: language translation. Online marketplace eBay Inc. has rolled out the eBay Machine Translation (eMT) program for several language pairs, including Spanish-English. It quickly translates search queries and results between languages. For example, eMT translates a Spanish-speaking buyer’s search terms into English, allowing for a search of relevant English-language listings, then translates the search results into Spanish for the buyer’s review. An economic study found that eMT significantly increased international trade on the eBay platform: U.S. exports via eBay to Spanish-speaking Latin American countries increased by more than 17%. National Bureau of Economic Research (NBER) Digest, November 2018

Talent: jobs, appointments, careers

Digital executives appointed to the board:
  • Patricia (Patty) Morrison, former Cardinal Health EVP & CIO, was appointed to the board of directors of Baxter International Inc., a global medical products company based in Deerfield, Ill. Morrison will serve on the audit committee. (She also currently serves on the boards of Aramark and Splunk.)

  • Triton International Ltd. — “the world’s largest lessor of intermodal freight containers” — appointed Karen Austin to its board of directors, effective Jan. 1. She was CIO at PG&E Corp. from June 2011 to October 2018. (Austin served on the board of Verifone Systems Inc. from June 2014 through August 2018.)

  • Regions Financial Corp., based in Birmingham, Ala., appointed Zhanna Golodryga to the company’s board of directors, effective Jan. 1. She will serve on the compensation & HR committee, and on the risk committee. Golodryga is currently SVP & chief digital & administrative officer at Phillips 66, a diversified fuels & logistics company based in Houston, Texas. Before joining Phillips 66 in April 2017, Golodryga was CIO & SVP of services at Hess Corp.

Job openings:
  • Quest Diagnostics Inc. — a $7.4 billion, Fortune 500 company based in Secaucus, N.J. — is seeking an “SVP CIO & Chief Digital Officer.”

  • The County of Los Angeles (Calif.) is seeking a chief data officer. Salary range: $137,414.77 to $207,988.44.

  • Intermountain Healthcare, in Salt Lake City, is seeking a chief analytics officer, reporting to the COO.

Digital executive career moves:
  • DISH Network Corp., based in Englewood, Colo., appointed Atilla Tinic to the role of SVP & CIO. (He was SVP of IT at CenturyLink Inc.) Tinic will report to COO John Swieringa (who was DISH’s CIO in 2014-2015). DISH also named Suma Nallapati as SVP & chief digital officer (e.g., handling marketing tech and e-commerce) — reporting to the new CIO Tinic. Nallapati currently serves as the Colorado state CIO and will join DISH in mid-January when a new state administration takes office.

  • Owens & Minor Inc., based in Richmond, Va., appointed Joseph Pekala as SVP & CIO. For the previous four years, Pekala served as CIO at ACCO Brands Inc.

  • Leandro DalleMule left his position as chief data officer at insurer American International Group Inc. (AIG) to join an insurtech startup, Planck Resolution, as general manager for North America. Planck Re, founded in 2016, calls itself an “AI-based data platform for commercial insurance.”

  • Envision Healthcare Corp., in Nashville, named Kristin Darby as CIO. She was previously enterprise CIO at Cancer Treatment Centers of America.

  • Liberty Mutual Insurance, based in Boston, announced the appointment of four executives to CIO James McGlennon’s technology leadership team: Monica Caldas as CIO for Global Retail Markets; John Heveran as CIO for Global Risk Solutions; Katie Jenkins as chief information security officer (CISO); and Michael Willock as CTO for Liberty Mutual Investments.

  • Synovus Financial Corp., based in Columbus, Ga., hired Zack Bishop as EVP of technology and operations. He was previously EVP & CIO at Renasant Bank.

  • Michael Ruttledge will join Citizens Financial Group Inc. in Providence, R.I., as CIO, effective Jan. 7. He recently served as a group CIO at American Express. Ruttledge succeeds Brian O’Connell, who is retiring.

  • Roadrunner Transportation Systems Inc., based in Downers Grove, Ill., named Michael Rapken as CIO.

  • Teena Piccione was named EVP & CIO at RTI International in Research Triangle Park, N.C. She was SVP for IT and COO at Fidelity Investments.

  • Mike Brown was named CIO at Matrix Medical Network in Scottsdale, Ariz. He was previously CIO at AccentCare Inc.

  • Texas-based Producers Ag Insurance Group Inc. (ProAg) named Benji Borner as CIO.

  • Western Governors University (WGU), an online university based in Salt Lake City, named David Morales as SVP & CIO. Morales was previously senior director of engineering in Walmart’s IT department.

{Brain food} Time for ‘digital spring cleaning’

“Facing an explosion of digital clutter, resulting from two decades of rapid technology growth and innovation, people and organizations are rethinking what they really want,” says a new report by Accenture Interactive’s Fjord unit.

Years of organizational investment in innovation have left customers feeling inundated and overwhelmed, straining the demands on our time and attention. Whereas once we craved the novelty, excitement and instant gratification, we now crave more quiet and meaning in a noisy world. People and organizations are doing some soul-searching about what they really value, rejecting products and services that don’t meet their needs — in effect, changing the nature of our relationships with technology and brands.

Digital is facing a big spring cleaning: a time when we decide whether something still has value and relevance to our lives,” said Mark Curtis, Fjord’s co-founder and chief client officer. “Digital is now so widely adopted that its novelty has worn off. In their attempt to declutter, people are being more selective about which products and services they incorporate into their daily lives, choosing to disconnect, unsubscribe or opt-out if the value exchange is not mutual. Never before has the responsibility of [human-centered] design been more important.”