Target’s new CIO Brett Craig has a lot of work in store as retailers rely heavily on software to succeed

Target today announced that Brett Craig, its senior vice president of digital, will succeed as its new CIO Mike McNamara, who is one of the most prominent figures in the world of enterprise technology. McNamara, who is retiring, will assume a strategic advisory role with the company until the end of January 2023.

During his seven-year tenure at Target, Craig’s predecessor, who appeared on Forbes‘ Inaugural CIO Next List last year, completely overhauled the retailer’s technology infrastructure so it can respond much more quickly to changing market conditions and brought significant parts of the company’s technical team in-house , which had been largely outsourced. Those moves helped underpin a strategy that saw Target’s revenue grow from $74 billion in 2016 to $106 billion last year.

Craig’s promotion is part of a larger set of changes to Target’s leadership team, including the elevation of Cara Sylvester, its chief marketing and digital officer, to a new role as chief marketing officer. ‘client experience. In a press release announcing the changes, Target Chairman and CEO Brian Cornell said they “reflect the size and scale of our more than $100 billion business, while positioning the company for a future dynamic”.

In his new role, Craig will report to Sylvester, who has been with the company since 2007. Other retailers are also moving technology leaders to focus even more closely on how customers interact with their business. At Home Depot, CIO Matt Carey was recently promoted to the new position of executive vice president, customer experience, reporting to the retailer’s CEO.

“You can’t separate the technology from the customer experience and the business,” says Robert Hetu, an analyst at technology research and consulting giant Gartner, which focuses on the retail industry. Hetu predicts other companies could take similar action as retailers seek to win more customers by using the technology while using it to contain costs in an industry known for its razor-thin margins.

Looking for buyers

Fierce competition and growing economic uncertainty caused Target’s stock to fall sharply in early 2021, but it has since recovered to nearly $231, around where it started the year. A recent Barclays analyst report, based on interviews with shoppers, concluded that Target has “a very visible opportunity to increase customer frequency.”

Craig, who has held various positions within the company, including in its merchandising operations, will be key in ensuring Target makes the most of this opportunity. The company declined to make him available for an interview, but in a Q&A with him that it posted online, he pledged to continue innovating on multiple fronts and to keep things going. such as internal demo days and hackathons which McNamara has used to highlight and champion new technology-driven ideas in the company.

Craig, who learned to program while serving in the U.S. Navy, is also committed to continuing to expand Target’s reach with underrepresented students who want to develop careers in technology and to continuing to put the emphasis on professional training in the retailer’s existing technical team. Target investors hope he can lead an IT team as efficient as the captain from whom he takes over the bridge.

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