How Aaron's CIO boosted the 'clock speed' of IT

Aaron’s CIO John Trainor has embraced a product approach to IT service delivery and is supporting the effort with an SD-WAN, machine learning and other modern technologies.

How Aaron's CIO boosted the 'clock speed' of IT
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As retail IT organizations go, Aaron's is punching above its weight. With an IT staff of 250, the Atlanta-based retailer, which makes furniture, consumer electronics and appliances available for sale or lease to own, doesn't have the thousands of technologists employed by retailers such as Walmart or Target.

But it does have what it hopes to be a recipe for business success: a digital strategy designed to bolster the user experience for both employees and customers. To bring the strategy to fruition, CIO John Trainor is embracing agile development, design thinking and other modern practices as he helps his staff evolve from delivering IT as a series of projects to building products that generate “value streams” with tangible business benefits.

The philosophy of managing IT as a product has taken hold in many enterprises, which are creating new digital products to disrupt competitors or stave off disruption. Projects tend to be siloed by business unit, where they compete with other company projects for IT resources, according to Gartner. Conversely, product-centric models leverage quick, agile iterations to achieve quicker business outcomes and better customer experiences. Such collaborations lend themselves well to tighter alignment between the business and IT.

Fifty-five percent of businesses said they were migrating from project to product delivery, according to Gartner's 2019 CIO Agenda report. Trainor has embraced the product model, but to do that he had to change the culture of the company’s IT department, which supports more than 10,000 store associates working in 1,600 locations spanning 47 U.S. states and Canada.

Modernizing IT paves way for product management

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