Walgreens CIO starts with the customer and works backward

Having already produced a successful mobile application, Walgreens CIO Abhi Dhar is implementing Hadoop to lower the cost of storing and processing the large amounts of data that app is generating.

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Many CIOs talk enthusiastically about aligning IT with the business strategy, a challenge that shifts with market demands and the CEO's priorities. The objective, however, is much clearer for Walgreens CIO Abhi Dhar, who in December added digital product management and innovation to his responsibilities.

Dhar’s approach is to start the customer and work backwards. Having produced a mobile app used by 1 million consumers daily, he’s now testing Hadoop data processing software to more efficiently manage, and, ultimately, analyze data generated by the company’s myriad software services.

abhi dhar

Walgreens CIO Abhi Dhar.

“Hadoop is a persistent architecture that allows us to use commodity hardware to store information,” Dhar tells CIO.com. “When we get good at it, we will store more information than we can currently afford to store. If we can do that, we start driving more value for customers.”

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The customer-focused obsession has served Dhar well as he's worked his way up the drugstore retailer’s corporate ladder. Dhar joined Walgreens in 2009 as CTO of digital and head of mobile solutions before his promotion to senior vice president and CIO after the company merged with Alliance Boots in late 2014. Dhar assumed command of Walgreens’ digital strategy in December, after the departure of Sona Chawla, CMO and president of digital.

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