Starbucks Spikes Its 'New' Business Strategy with a Double Shot of IT

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"When you look at our customers and what's happening in our stores, you see wireless devices, iPhones, converged networks, laptops. You see a generation of customers who are entering our stores and engaging [with us] in new ways," Gillett told me last year. "We have to understand our customers in ways that we've never had to in the past."

Core enterprise systems—the ERP, CRM and supply chain apps where valuable customer and partner data resides—must be mined in an intelligent manner right now, which Gillett has undoubtedly been working on. (Gillett did not return an e-mail seeking comment for this blog.)

For sure, Gillett knows both the intense challenges he faces and the IT-enabled opportunities there for the taking. But it seems that he now has senior management's and the board's attention. And that's some good news.

UPDATE: I received an e-mail from Gillett (who is at an annual IT summit in Europe). He pointed me to Mitch Ratcliffe's blog which noted that Gillett has added another role: General manager of Digital Ventures, a new LOB for Starbucks. Gillett's mission: to "expand Starbucks reach in the digital space in a way that is profitable in the current business climate—organizationally nimble, small and focused on creating new revenue streams for the company," according to an e-mail from CEO Schultz.

Given Gillett's track record, I'm not surprised by this latest news in the least. And in terms of the bigger business picture, Wall Street apparently likes what it's seeing from Starbucks as of late: Starbucks stock has now jumped 55 percent from the lows it experienced last fall, reported the Wall Street Journal. The WSJ blog also noted that "more than 750,000 people have signed up for Starbucks loyalty cards, triple what the company expected." Opportunity is definitely knocking for Starbucks' CIO.

Copyright © 2009 IDG Communications, Inc.

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