WSJ on software innovation at AAPN member Target

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It is somewhat rare to see an article about a major retailer leading the way in tech innovation, but this WSJ piece on AAPN member Target and their new approach to IT is well worth a read.

Target CIO Helped Retailer Find Its Tech Groove
Focus on speedy software development, in-house IT staff fueled company’s tech turnaround
WSJ: Jan. 22, 2020

Michael McNamara knew Target Corp. had challenges when he was hired as chief information officer in 2015. The retailer, knocked around by public failures including a December 2013 data breach, was “lacking confidence” and “down on its heels,” he recalled.

While rival Amazon.com Inc. was amassing e-commerce market share, Target’s information-technology staffers—mostly outsourced—were focused on traditional IT tasks such as managing hardware and software vendors. Technology staff spent a lot of time on noncritical work, the CIO said.

“IT projects were always late and cost too much, and they were never right,” said Mr. McNamara, who before joining Target spent about 17 years at U.K.-based grocery giant Tesco PLC.

Mr. McNamara’s answer to Target’s troubles with software was even more software—but with major changes.

The CIO began an 18-month effort to bring software development in-house and focus on technology projects that add competitive advantage or drive revenue growth, such as those related to online shopping and same-day delivery or pickup.

Today, Minneapolis-based Target has about 4,000 IT employees, more than 80% of whom are full-time software engineers and developers. Before Mr. McNamara took over, the company had about 10,000 IT workers. Read More