695: Mike speaks about how the IT organization has stayed ahead of the company’s growth both organically and through acquisition. He describes the role that technology plays at a company as tactile as Crocs and how that technology has facilitated agility and scalability. Mike also covers how relationships with vendors have allowed the company to grow internationally at an impressive rate. He also discusses the processes of integrating the HEYDUDE acquisition, leveraging the perspective of a consumer to enhance the customer experience within IT, and maturing the data strategy behind Crocs. Finally, Mike looks ahead at the trends in automation and gives advice on the keys to his continued career success.

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This episode is sponsored by Cisco.

677: Teddy and Ryan discuss how innovation ecosystems act as a source of growth for their respective companies. Teddy describes what Land O’Lakes’s innovation ecosystem looks like, IT’s role within it, and how those ecosystems interact. Ryan then talks about how he connects the dots across the business and influences innovation and why he believes single-instance tech applications are the right move for Thermo Fisher instead of firm-wide consolidation. Finally, Teddy and Ryan speak about how they interact with C-suite peers to work with these ecosystems and drive broader innovation across the company.

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660: Chris discusses the many facets of the company’s digital transformation. He begins with how he harnesses trends in digital innovation to create a competitive advantage and how he creates a curriculum that aims to upskill talent in both business and technology. Chris also shares the strategic imperatives LS & Co. is focused on in the years ahead, how the company’s data strategy has evolved, and the role the Eureka Innovation Lab plays in driving digital innovation. Finally, Chris shares how his role as CIO has been informed by his experiences in supply chain roles and the military.

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This episode is sponsored by Cisco and Zoho.

         

658: Teddy covers the digital transformation undergoing in the farm-to-fork agriculture supply chain. He begins with an overview of the cooperative and the two sides to his purview in traditional IT and digital transformation. Teddy discusses the process his team uses to foster innovation, bring actionable insights to farmers, and bridging the digital divide in agriculture. Finally, Teddy recounts his experience as a technologist as a part of the American Connection Project and BCBS of Minnesota board position, recalls the keys to his success, and looks ahead at the tech trends on his radar.

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This episode is sponsored by Cisco.

613: In a panel from our recent Metis Strategy Digital Symposium in September, Vagesh and Danielle speak with Metis Strategy’s Michael Bertha in a conversation about combining AI and IoT to drive digital processes. Danielle shares how IoT and AI fit into Whirlpool’s four strategic imperatives and each technology’s role in enabling partnerships and product innovations. Vagesh details what opportunities McDermott sees with IoT and AI in its business model and the company’s use of digital twins. Finally, both executives share how digital twins can produce business value, unique customer insights, and product learnings.

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This episode is sponsored by Transmit Security.

610: In this interview, Atul Bhardwaj, Executive Vice President and Chief Digital and Technology Officer of LEGO, speaks with Peter High about the digital transformation of the iconic and well-known toy company. Atul provides an overview of his post as Chief Digital and Technology Officer for LEGO and explains how LEGO is integrating digital into its product offerings. He describes the various ways digital experiences differ between adult and children customers, how LEGO works together and keeps pace with the digital transformation of partners within its ecosystem, and how LEGO is digitizing the internal organization overall. He also discusses the process of building his team at LEGO including what role passion for the product plays, how the common language of code unites a global effort of digital transformation, and how LEGO fosters diversity and inclusion at the company. Finally, Atul looks ahead at the tech trends that his team is keeping an eye on.

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This episode is sponsored by Transmit Security.

 

604: In this interview, Amir Kazmi, Chief Information and Digital Officer of WestRock, focuses on the role of digital in creating sustainable packaging solutions for supply chains. Amir provides an overview of WestRock’s business as a sustainable packaging solutions company and the purview of the two sides to his role as Chief Information and Digital Officer. He gives a few examples of how WestRock has grown its digital channels, what role digital plays in the supply chain, and how he builds greater digital dexterity and acumen across the company. Additionally, he discusses how his experience as a CEO of a startup informed his current role as a tech executive, how he continues to work with and leverage the capabilities of startups through ecosystems, and why providing leadership on a board of directors can make a real impact on the company and society. Finally, Amir shares with us a few tech trends he is looking forward to in the future.

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This episode is sponsored by Zoho.

593: In this interview, Jack Clare, Chief Information Officer of United Natural Foods Incorporated (UNFI), focuses on the expansion of eCommerce channels and modernizing IT systems. Jack provides an overview of UNFI’s business and his role as CIO at the company. He explains how the pandemic accelerated UNFI’s digital transformation by expanding its eCommerce model and how Jack is managing the company’s modernization efforts and capability integration following the multiple historical acquisitions. Jack speaks on his experience being onboarded remotely and how he sees it as an opportunity for flexibility in recruiting greater talent. Finally, he discusses the evolution of the CIO role, future tech trends, and how partnering with technologically sophisticated distributors like Amazon presents learning opportunities for the company.

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This episode is sponsored by Quickbase.

Barbara Lavernos has had a storied 30-year career at L’Oreal. She has had multiple promotions in recent months going from Chief Technology and Operations Officer of the company to President of Research, Innovation, and Technology in February 2021 to Deputy Chief Executive Officer in charge of Research, Innovation and Technology in May 2021. She indicated that her background and passion for tech-enabled innovation aligns with the company’s focus on science and innovation, which she noted: “have been at the foundation of our pioneering spirit and the success with our consumers as the L’Oréal DNA.”

Lavernos’ has driven a remarkable digital transformation at the company at the intersection of science and technology to create a powerful platform to develop advanced, personalized, innovative beauty products, services, and devices. “The science; agronomy and biotechnology allow us to renew completely our portfolio of raw materials,” noted Lavernos. “Green sciences are at the heart of the exploration of our innovation when it comes to product. Then with the exponential advance of tech, we think we are unlocking new breakthrough algorithm-based services and products. That is the idea of combining research and innovation—our roots, our DNA—with this revolution of technology. We look forward to developing innovation that pushes the boundaries of science and reinvents beauty rituals thanks to technology.”

Lavernos is passionate about what she refers to as BeautyTech. She defined the term as, “exponentially augmenting L’Oréal’s science that we have rooted [in] cutting-edge technology at scale.” She added that the company has the advantage of 112 years of knowledge and data about beauty rituals related to skin and hair. One of the biggest changes in recent years has been the focus on personalization. “In the past, most of the companies provided global products that [were believed to] suit everyone,” Lavernos said. “Today, we [have the capacity to know consumers] in real-time, to know their expectations, to know their environment, to know their skin because with virtual reality, with virtual try-on, we can have this dialogue with our consumers.”

By way of example, Lavernos highlighted an offering that was introduced at CES 2021 with the company’s Yves Saint Laurent brand. It is called Rouge Sur Measure, and it is a smart at-home method for consumers to create their own personalized lipstick, choosing from thousands of shades with one single touch. It is done through an app that can be installed on a smartphone or on a tablet. The app leverages artificial intelligence to allow the consumer to explore and try the color or the looks they want. Also, a consumer can take a picture of a pair of shoes or a handbag and match a lipstick color to them.

A second example that Lavernos offered is Lancôme Custom Made Foundation, which offers Le Teint Particulier, meaning a unique tint. It is a patented technology that creates a foundation that matches the skin tone of each individual. “The experience starts with taking a scan of the consumer’s skin, and it is done at the point-of-sale with three different places to have the perfect skin tone,” Lavernos explained. “Then this data is interpreted by the highly sophisticated algorithm, which predicts the ideal color using those three measurements taken from your skin. The algorithm goes on to determine the correct amount of each ingredient required. Then you have the mix of those ingredients. 20 minutes after, you have the perfect foundation you are dreaming of!”

Lavernos also highlighted that consumers today are much more interested that in the past about the ingredients in the products they use but also where they come from and how they are sourced and manufactured. L’Oreal now provides QR codes that provide product origin, production, manufacturing conditions, sourcing, supplier details, and the like.

Customers are also more interested in the environmental impact of the products they use. L’Oreal has established a partnership with Gjosa, a Swiss innovation and environmental company that integrates technology into everyday products to make them more environmentally friendly. The partnership has developed a multi-channel showerhead that integrates Gjosa patented In-Flow technology, that will make it possible for beauty salons to use 80% less water when washing customers’ hair. Lavernos indicated that a version for consumers to use at home is in the offing, as well.

The pandemic has pushed some consumers who had little or no experience with virtual try-ons for make-up, for example, to use the latest technology to do so. Many have enjoyed the experience so much that Lavernos believes many will continue to interact with the company virtually for try-ons even when the health crisis subsides. In 2020, more than 25% of L’Oreal’s revenue was derived via digitally via e-commerce. That represented an increase of 70% over the prior year. “Here again, there will be no way back,” said Lavernos. “Not to say that people will not come back to physical shops, but they will go to physical shops for other experiences [than in the past]. Here again, technology will play a key role for entertainment, for precision advice, for our professionals taking care of them [personally].” She believes that e-commerce sales will eventually behalf of the company’s overall sales.

Lavernos believes that her ascent to the Deputy Chief Executive Officer role at L’Oreal was aided by her background in technology. “Technology is business today,” she underscored. “My appointment in this position is really only the translation of this belief…. [technology] became fully, completely strategic, let’s say, eight years ago when we transformed into Industry 4.0, when we entered this digital shift and more and more IT came into everything. When you speak about advertising…it is tech-based today. When it comes to innovation…it is about technology. When it comes to supply chain e-commerce, it is about technology. Finance? If you are not real-time, at scale, capable [of leveraging] AI, how can you properly manage your Finance [function]?”

Therefore, Lavernos believes that her journey will be replicated many times over, as technology and digital leaders increasingly are seen as ideal candidates for the top ranks within companies. She provides a remarkable case-in-point for others to ponder and emulate.

Peter High is President of  Metis Strategy, a business and IT advisory firm. He has written two bestselling books, and his third, Getting to Nimble, was recently released. He also moderates the Technovation podcast series and speaks at conferences around the world. Follow him on Twitter @PeterAHigh.

577: In this interview, Janet Sherlock, Chief Information Officer of Ralph Lauren, explains her purview as CIO and how the company’s Flexible Work Arrangement and virtual stores put the company in a stronger position going into the COVID-19 Pandemic. Janet debriefs some of the learnings and silver linings from the pandemic, specifically on how it accelerated a streamlining of processes; why those changes won’t go away any time soon; and how ingenuity, innovation, architecture, and agility are key to Ralph Lauren’s continued success. She emphasizes Ralph Lauren’s strategic focus on experience, data, and automation. Finally, we discuss lessons on recruiting for board-level positions, balancing her doctoral candidacy with career and family, and trends that she is looking forward to.

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This episode is sponsored by Tanium.