The employees will ultimately report to Matt Carey, the company’s chief information officer, and will focus on supporting an $11.1 billion three-year strategic investment, which includes building new software and digital solutions for areas ranging from self-checkout to supply chain and website-focused personalization.
The significant hiring push reflects the growing importance of the CIO’s strategic role within a company, said Craig Stephenson, managing director of the North American CIO practice at executive recruiter and consulting firm Korn/Ferry International.
“We’re seeing much more involvement by the CIO in terms of helping drive the business strategy as it relates to digital and customer experience,” he said.
CIOs historically have been more oriented toward maintaining the performance, applications suite and infrastructure of a business, and while they’re still in charge of those aspects, they’re also becoming more of a “peer” to business partners than ever before, Mr. Stephenson said.
“The technology leaders that can lean in and help the business partners and key stakeholders think about things differently are absolutely creating significant value for the organization,” he said.
Home Depot is hiring for positions such as software engineers, user experience designers, product managers and systems engineers that support the flexibility for cloud and on-premise platforms, said Mr. Carey, also the company’s executive vice president, who reports to Chairman and CEO Craig Menear.
They’ll work at the company’s technology centers in Atlanta, Austin and Dallas. About 90% of the software the company runs is already written by in-house engineers, he said.
Home Depot chooses to build technology in-house instead of working with third-party vendors because the business is vastly different from most brick-and-mortar retailers, he said.
Many aisles of product in store are delivered by rail and need to be lifted with heavy equipment, for example. Home Depot in many cases acts as a general contractor for customers considering such projects as kitchen remodels, he said. The technology needed to support such aspects of the business is difficult to scale with a third-party technology vendor, he said.
“Those things really don’t look like retail as most people know it,” he said. “The ability to connect our software developers with those business problems at a deep level is where we create competitive advantage.”
The retail industry has changed significantly over the past three to five years, and customers now expect to get their goods easier, with same-day delivery options and faster checkout at brick-and-mortar stores, Mr. Carey said.
Employees at Home Depot are also demanding more flexible work schedules and professional customers such as remodelers and contractors want easier digital tools to order supplies, he said. The company’s services business has also grown in recent years, fueled by customers asking Home Depot employees to complete home improvement projects for them.
“The expectations are significantly different,” Mr. Carey said.
The new employees will help build technology to support several specific initiatives.
One initiative includes outfitting self-checkout counters with customized point-of-sale software that’s intuitive for the customer. Another involves building software for a mobile app that allows employees to see their upcoming work schedule. The company is also enhancing the personalization of its website and improving user experience by using data analytics to help customers quickly find what they’re looking for.
“It’s all about connecting a person as quickly as possible to the product they’re looking for in the world of the web,” he said.
Another initiative is aimed at building out machine learning algorithms to help categorize different home furnishing styles for the company’s new decor business. That way, people could help shop for a specific room in their house based on products that fit into a specific style, such as a modern or traditional style.
The company is also building out new technology to support an expansion of its same-day delivery and two-hour delivery program, which requires software to support the supply chain. All of the initiatives were driven by customer and associate feedback, Mr. Carey said.
“The closer we listen to those customers and fulfill what they’re telling us they want and need, that’s how we can compete,” he said.
Source : https://blogs.wsj.com/cio/2018/04/19/home-depot-plans-biggest-tech-hiring-push-in-its-history-led-by-cio/