by Peter High, published on Forbes
Jenny Craig and Curves came together as part of a private equity buy-out in late 2013. The businesses complement each other in that one (Jenny Craig) focuses on nutrition and diet, and the other (Curves) focuses on exercise. Tying the value proposition together requires leaders who develop enterprise-wide perspectives on customers and how to serve them better.
From his post as chief information officer, Abe Lietz has proven to be one such leader. He joined Jenny Craig three years ago. As he explains in my interview with him, as an IT leader, he has pushed to be more customer-facing and cognizant of customer experience than the average CIO. By thinking about business and customer outcomes first, he has pursued technology investments always in support of those needs. In so doing, IT (along with Operations and Marketing) has become a primary driver of customer experience.
By demonstrating that he is an executive who can apply glue across this diverse enterprise, Lietz’s responsibilities have grown. He was asked to take on Service Operations, which provides service to customers and to colleagues. In so doing, Lietz and his team are delivering higher value to the combined company and its customers.
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Peter High: Jenny Craig and Curves are two organizations that came together under your watch while you have been in the organization. Could you take a minute to describe those two businesses and the synergies they have drawn from coming together? What are your thoughts on IT’s role in these organizations.
Abe Lietz: The thesis behind bringing these two companies together is that they both serve very similar customer demographics. They both ultimately have one goal of driving a healthy lifestyle and getting our customers fitter and healthier. They do it in different ways, but a truly healthy lifestyle is a mixture of diet and fitness. Jenny Craig is a 30 plus year old business, historically with a distributed retail model. We have over 500 locations throughout the US and Australia and we are a food based diet program. Curves has a different model of a 100% franchised business throughout the world. We have Curves locations in Asia, Australia, Europe, and North America.
The goal of bringing those two businesses together was first to synergize the back-end and the administrative components of the business like finance. The second goal was to drive some of that synergy around a healthy lifestyle and to bring both the diet and weight-loss component of a healthy lifestyle and fitness together.
High: What role does IT play in an organization like this one?