Subway launches digital unit to revamp mobile app and stores

Move over sandwich artists. Subway is hiring 150 technology, marketing and operations staff to satiate its digital cravings – and its CIO is leading the charge.

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Earlier this summer Subway CIO Carman Wenkoff added chief digital officer (CDO) to his title and took the helm of a new division governing core capabilities such as the sandwich chain's website, mobile application and payment systems, and its loyalty program.

Directing both back-office IT and customer-facing technologies should help Wenkoff gain insights as he looks to incorporate the kind of digital capabilities consumers are using to interact with competitors like Panera Bread and other quick-service eateries.

carman wenkoff Clint Boulton

Subway CIO and CDO Carman Wenkoff.

Subway won't be mistaken for Starbucks, whose mobile application and loyalty program set the gold standard, but it is hardly in the digital dark ages. Subway’s mobile app enables you to order and pay for food but the company doesn't tout its technological tricks, preferring to lean on the company's long-standing brand and catchy marketing, from "sandwich artists" to "eat fresh."

Now hiring: digital artists

Expect big changes on that front. Wenkoff, who spoke to CIO.com at a conference earlier this month, is hiring 150 people to fill technology, marketing and operations roles for the digital division. Wenkoff says unifying the positions under one unit will help avoid instances such as when the marketing team launched projects without IT's help -- or vice versa. Wenkoff says serving as CDO governing the digital division will help bring coherence to the business strategy.

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