by Compiled by Lauren Capotosto

Blockbuster Appoints New CIO

Nov 01, 20013 mins

Blockbuster Looks to IT for Box-Office Success

A year ago, industry analysts predicted that video-on-demand systems would put rental chains out of business. And Hollywood film studios have made their own noise about ushering in the age of direct-to-consumer video-on-demand. To protect its turf, Dallas-based Blockbuster has appointed a new CIO to bolster corporate IT systems and prepare the video rental chain to ride the wave of emerging technologies.

With his 30 years of IT experience, Glenn Thistlethwaite, Blockbuster’s new CIO, is determined to help the $5 billion company remain the country’s largest video rental chain. Blockbuster has the technology to deliver video-on-demand and the partnerships to guarantee itself a leading position when that marketplace explodes, Thistlethwaite says (although Blockbuster’s video-on-demand projects are under the auspices of the company’s new media division, not Thistlethwaite’s IT organization).

In the meantime, Thistlethwaite is charged with improving the company’s services to customers through IT. His immediate plan is to transform the 300- person IT department from a technology-focused group to a business-focused?and customer-focused?department. “We need people to have a business perspective, and you can’t do that if all you understand is bits, bytes and networks,” Thistlethwaite says. He also plans a radically different approach to implementing business solutions. With few applications available for “rentailers,” Blockbuster has designed its own applications since 1985. But Thistlethwaite will now integrate off-the-shelf applications wherever possible. The less the company needs to customize, the better, he says. Purchasing off-the-shelf applications like warehouse management and labor scheduling apps will save money, and speed the delivery of services to customers.

Thistlethwaite was a consultant for PricewaterhouseCoopers prior to joining Blockbuster. In that role, he advised Blockbuster CFO Larry Zine, who had assumed the IT executive role when the company’s previous CIO retired in the spring. Thistlethwaite completed an organizationwide IT assessment for Blockbuster as its IT consultant.

Player’s Guide

Minster Joins Yurman Designs as CIO

David A. Minster, former vice president and CIO of the Elizabeth Arden Co., has joined New York City-based Yurman Designs as vice president and CIO of the fine jewelry company. He is responsible for management of all global information systems, including e-business. This is a newly created position at Yurman.

Gelb Named CIO at National Grange Insurance

Joel Gelb, former senior vice president and CIO at Frontier Insurance Group, has joined National Grange Insurance Co. as vice president and CIO of the Keene, N.H., enterprise. He has extensive experience in technology and insurance information systems management.

Other Moves

Tanya Dins has been appointed CIO at Kana, a Menlo Park, Calif.-based vendor of eCRM products.

Merrill E. Feldman was recently named chief enterprise information officer (CEIO) at Ion Systems, a Berkeley, Calif.-based supplier of electrostatics management solutions.

Larry Godec, former CIO of First American Real Estate Tax Service, has been named CIO of First American Title Insurance Co. in Santa Ana, Calif.

Lee-Tyler Mun, former CIO of Realnames, has joined Nuance as vice president and CIO of the Menlo Park, Calif.-based vendor of voice Web software.

Will Smith, former vice president and CIO at WRQ, has joined NetIQ as vice president of worldwide IT for the San Jose, Calif.-based vendor of e-business infrastructure management software.