Leading IT With Dealers and Customers in Mind, by Peter High in CIO Insight

December 01, 2014
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Peter High


Excerpt from the Article:

Asbury Automotive is a $5.3 billion automotive retailer based in Duluth, Ga. For years, the more than a 90 dealerships that make up the company had very little interaction with IT. Part of the issue was that corporate IT was a relatively immature function at the company.

>Prior to his ascension to the CIO role, Barry Cohen worked to virtualize almost all of IT, rendering it more flexible and more agile. Freeing up talented people and resources, he was able to put IT people in the regions and, in many cases, in the dealerships themselves. That exposed tech workers where and how business was done, enabling them to glean insights from both dealers and customers.

Now as CIO, Cohen has continued to lead with dealers and customers in mind, and has worked to make IT a much broader driver of value to the enterprise.

CIO Insight: You work for a $5 billion automotive sales company. How do you use information and technology within your operation?

Barry Cohen: Technology is used in all aspect of our automotive operations, including dealership Websites, automotive ERP and CRM systems, business analytics, credit card processing, and another hundred or so applications focused on our employees, vendors and customers. There is a tremendous amount of application integration that takes place to make it all work—not to mention a robust infrastructure to support our 7,800 employees.

CIO Insight: Barry, prior to your time as CIO, you worked to introduce cloud computing to Asbury Automotive. What steps did you undertake in order to do that?

Cohen: I’m very happy to say that we have been data center free for nearly two years. We are 100 percent in public and private clouds, with partners that manage all aspects of their data center operations. The reason for doing that was because I wanted IT to spend most of our time with the rest of the business, and not worrying about technology refresh projects, patching and backups.

Getting there wasn’t too difficult, but it did take three years. We started by creating an application inventory and an integration architecture. This enabled us to move everything one piece a time without much disruption.

CIO Insight: IT did not have the best reputation when you started with Asbury. How did you change that?

To read the full article, please visit CIO Insight

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