Excerpt from the Article:
Hunter Douglas is a global manufacturer of window coverings and architectural products. The company operates in more than 100 countries. The company has a reputation for developing innovative, high quality, proprietary products that can be found in millions of homes and commercial buildings. The company operates as a highly decentralized, global federation of small and medium-sized companies that manufacture and market similar products.
Rob Meilen has been North American CIO for more than four years. In this interview, he speaks with CIO Insight contributor Peter High about his strategic priorities, the decentralized nature of IT, his pursuit of mobile apps, his team’s path to innovation, and a variety of other topics.
CIO Insight: Please describe some of your strategic priorities for the foreseeable future.
Rob Meilen: Hunter Douglas North America is focused on maintaining our innovative product leadership, enhancing the experience of our customers, operating more efficiently. We are part of a recently created, executive IT steering committee to guide our project portfolio to match business and IT priorities. Our IT priorities include business process re-engineering and ERP optimization, customer-facing applications, improving master data management and partnering with product development teams on next generation window coverings.
CIO Insight: Your company is based in the Netherlands. How do you interface with the global IT team?
Meilen: Our company operates in a decentralized, federated model. I lead the HD North American IT organization. There are IT teams in other regions: Europe, Latin America, Asia and Austria. These teams operate largely independently and will periodically consult with each other. We do not have a global CIO or IT organization.
There is a periodic exchange of ideas among the CEOs and CFOs of each global region (North America, South America, Europe, Asia, and Australia). These exchanges generally focus on product and supply chain topics. When the group sees technology opportunities, they will spur discussion between regional IT teams.
CIO Insight: Your team gets involved in mobile apps and the web, and therefore, you have reason to think about user experience and customer facing technology. What perceptions do you have about the changing demands of customers? What do they expect now when they interact with digital channels like the ones you provide?