Leading CIOs, CDOs and CTOs in UK retail

Retail is being transformed by technology, with the likes of robotics and AI being deployed to both digitise front and back-end services.

The birth of Amazon and eBay in the late 20th century triggered an explosion in ecommerce that made online shopping the norm, while emerging technologies such as algorithmic pricing and virtual changing rooms continue to disrupt the sector.

CIO UKlooks at some of the top IT leaders in retail changing the way that we shop.

Read next: Top UK Government CIOs, CTOs, CDOs and other IT leaders in Whitehall

Chily Fachler - Steinhoff

Chily Fachler - Steinhoff

Steinhoff UK CDIO Chily Fachler is gearing the furniture retailer towards a series of business transformation initiatives that he believes will give the organisation an edge over its competitors.

Fachler was recognised in the 2018 CIO 100 for developing a digital transformation strategy that helped the UK arm of the South African multinational to thrive. In an interview with CIO UK last year, Fachler said he was confident that Steinhoff UK remains in a strong position since securing funding and being run independently.

"We have two very well-known retail brands in Harvey's and Bensons for Beds, and my main focus has been around retail," he said.

"All retail I think is challenging at the moment. There is a lot of uncertainty in the world as there is Brexit. There's currency uncertainty. There are all kinds of things happening in all areas of the world that is making people feel nervous and the first place that people show nerves is on the retail high street. And I think for us in the furniture sector, that's even more challenging.

"However, we are standing up to the challenge and running at 100 miles per hour, but thankfully, doing very well."

Fachler again earned a spot in the CIO 100 in 2019, having successfully introduced AI in an adaptive bed application that helps customers easily select the right bed for their needs.

Read next: Steinhoff UK CIO Chily Fachler interview - Board representation and customer experience innovation

Simon Kniveton - The Original Factory Shop
IDG

Simon Kniveton - The Original Factory Shop

Simon Knivetonis Head of IT Transformation at discount department store the Original Factory Shop.

Kniveton has been responsible for heading the smart stores vision, which is designed to connect colleagues and retail outlets. Following this initiative, colleague-centric applications and terminals were set up within three months to free staff from mundane back-office tasks and keep them on the shop floor.

The team has also been equipped with tablets to digitise their working processes. The devices also act as pop-up tills for additional payment points if customer queues become busy.

Ian James - Reiss

Ian James - Reiss

Reiss CIO Ian James has transformed the fashion retailer’s underlying infrastructure by moving its in-house e-commerce platform to a third-party specialist.

James has also introduced RFID over the past 12 months, with the aim to deliver cost savings and business growth with integrated customer feedback and supply chain monitoring.

In light of this, James also helps to upgrade core network and on-premise servers to support its move to digital and omni-channel.

Fatima Zada – Harvey Nichols
IDG

Fatima Zada – Harvey Nichols

Harvey Nichols Group Technology and Innovation Director Fatima Zada is putting innovation at the heart of the 186-year-old department store.

Zada has implemented mobile and fixed point of sale including contactless and Apple Pay functionality, allowed brands to upload their products directly to the website and introduced the first digital loyalty card in the luxury market.

The computer science graduate swapped one upmarket brand for another when she joined Harvey Nichols in 2015 after eight years at fashion label Burberry. Prior to that, she spent two years as an SAP Business Analyst at French Connection.

Mark Holt - Trainline
IDG

Mark Holt - Trainline

Trainline CTO Mark Holt wants to roll out new products at the speed of a bullet train. The Chief Technology Officer and his colleagues "obsess about time to market", ensuring the development teams are in continuous delivery.

This approach allows them to quickly bring new functionality to market and run more test-and-learn cycles to improve their product. The result has been innovations including a "true e-ticket" using barcode tickets in the Apple Wallet, and BusyBot, which crowdsources busyness information to help customers find a seat on crowded trains.

Holt is now in his fourth year at Trainline and has been a member of the last three editions of the CIO 100. Before joining Trainline, he was Head of Technology and Product at Trayport. He holds an MBA from London Business School and a Bachelor;s in Computer Science from KCL.

Colin Rees - Franchise Brands

Colin Rees - Franchise Brands

Formerly the Group CIO of Domino’s Pizza, Colin Rees now heads as Group CIO of Franchise Brands.

Joining shortly after the addition of a commercial drainage company, Rees was required to move the franchises from an old tech system. Rees used this opportunity to implement a cloud-based infrastructure which has hugely improved the overall reliability and performance.

His team replaced an ageing phone system with a cloud-based call centre solution that offers better resilience and improved management of call centre teams. The rollout of voice recognition technology has allowed calls to be automatically and intelligently routed to where they can be best responded to – 25% fewer calls are now passed through to the call centre team.

Rees has also introduced robotic process automation (RPA) to integrate the Franchise Brands' internal systems with some of the larger customers.

Derek Risk - Marshall Motor Group

Derek Risk - Marshall Motor Group

Marshall Motor Group Head of IT Derek Risk harnesses technology to support customers across more than 100 car dealerships, as well as on web and B2B channels.

He helped the company fully move from a paper-based sales enquiry process to tablet-based solution across its dealerships and from a web platform that was unwieldy on mobile to a fully mobile-responsive alternative.

Risk joined the motor group in 2014, after four years as IT Director at Tragus Group, where he was responsible for the business systems at restaurants including Cafe Rouge, Bella Italia and Strada.

Copyright © 2019 IDG Communications, Inc.

Related Slideshows