Excerpt from the Article:
Conair is a leading manufacturer and marketer of professional and consumer products. After more than 50 years in business it has grown into a multibillion dollar consumer packaged goods company with operations in more than 25 countries. The company operates in multiple product categories with 24 major brands, including Conair, Cuisinart, Waring, Rusk, Scunci and BaByliss.
Jon Harding has been CIO of Conair for more than 11 years. Over that span, he has taken a leadership role in mergers & acquisitions, partnered creatively with marketing to develop systems to serve existing customers better and acquire new ones, built an ecosystem of partners to facilitate innovation, all while managing a diverse, global team. He speaks about these challenges and more with CIO Insight contributor Peter High.
CIO Insight: Conair has grown substantially in your 11 years with the company. As it has acquired businesses, IT has been a key integrator of those businesses. How do you plan for the integration of a business?
Jon Harding: I plan for the integration of an acquisition as early as possible by getting involved in the due diligence process. During this early planning phase I work to make sure I understand the strategic (longer-term) objectives in making the acquisition as well as the tactical (short-term) objectives of quickly integrating the acquisition. To meet these business objectives, we then compare our standard set of core business applications (SAP) and global infrastructure standards to the current processes and systems of the new business unit. We assume all processes will change to the Conair standard processes enabled by our SAP solutions and focus in on any exceptions due to unique aspects of the new business, whether trade-driven, product-driven or statutory (especially important in overseas acquisitions).
CIO Insight: How much of a blueprint is there and to what degree does it vary, acquisition by acquisition?
Harding: Our blueprint is to vary our standard operating model only to meet mandatory local needs, whether trade-driven, product-driven or statutory.
CIO Insight: You have collaborated with your colleagues in marketing in the past few years to use information to serve existing customers better, and to acquire more customers. What shape has this partnership taken, and what are examples of some ideas you have introduced?
Harding: Traditionally here in Conair like in many consumer goods companies, IT focused on supply chain, finance and other “back office” processes. With the advent of many software-as-a-service solutions for all sorts of data analysis and business decision-making problems, I saw opportunities to improve the level of information availability for my colleagues in marketing and sales. Improvements, both in how quickly data can be transformed into usable analytics and in the availability of actionable information. The partnership with marketing has been built on working together on the evaluation and implementation of robust solutions for marketing’s data problems. IT has been the catalyst by providing funding and expertise in managing solution vendors. Marketing has provided subject matter expertise and all of the hands-on execution of these projects.
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