CIO at Waste Management Wears Many Hats

Puneet Bhasin is CIO and senior vice president of technology, logistics, customer service and strategic accounts -- a portfolio that keeps him focused on business matters.

My role is somewhat atypical for a CIO. In addition to managing IT,I also run our WM Logistics subsidiary and manage our Strategic Accounts business unit, and I'm responsible for customer service across our 20 call centers.

When I joined Waste Management three years ago, two things appealed to me: It was a large, Fortune 200 company with tremendous potential to use technology to drive efficiency and increase revenue through an enhanced product portfolio, and it's a green company that considers itself a steward of our environment.

Shortly after I joined, I realized that, fundamentally, this wasn't a garbage company but a logistics company. Like FedEx or UPS, we are in the business of picking up and dropping off packages--it just so happens that our package is garbage and recyclables. From my previous work at American Airlines and Ryder, I realized we could use logistics capabilities in many parts of our business. So one of the first things we did was set up a decision sciences group, which has three charters: routing, scheduling and operations research; industrial engineering; and sophisticated data analytics.

One of our strategic imperatives is to get to know our customers and serve them better than anyone else. While we provided good customer service, I felt we could significantly improve our service through improved interdepartmental communication and more efficient processes enabled by technology.

We have invested significantly in process improvements, self-service tools and e-commerce, and have seen some very positive results. We are also consolidating our call centers into a couple of mega-facilities.

In our Strategic Accounts division, we provide customized solutions to about 1,000 of our largest customers, including helping them reach sustainability goals like not putting anything into a landfill, an achievement referred to as "zero waste."

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