Lowe's builds out digital capabilities with first CDO
Vikram Singh will serve as Lowe's senior vice president and first chief digital officer to "further accelerate Lowe's digital evolution and drive a holistic integrated strategy," the company announced Tuesday.
Singh joins the Lowe's team with 15 years of engineering, analytics, operations and strategy experience from an array of retail and tech companies, including eBay, PayPal, Fujitsu and, most recently, Amazon.
At the home improvement retailer, Singh will focus on refining operational effectiveness and improving integrated digital initiatives across marketing and supply chain, among other areas, according to the announcement.
Gone are the days when the most tech-heavy role at home improvement stores was the forklift operator.
Following its Q3 earnings, Lowe's began looking ahead to the new year with a focus on cybersecurity infrastructure upgrades to protect against cyberthreats, according to a company announcement.
Home improvement retailers may not seem an intuitive target for hackers, but Point of Sale systems remain an easily monetized target for criminals. And Lowe's biggest competitor, Home Depot, had to pay out at least $19.5 million last year following a 2014 breach that exposed the PII of more than 50 million customers. Home Depot also brought on a CISO as part of its security improvement efforts.
Data analytics and tech integration throughout the business model are ongoing efforts, but the two retailers are now going toe-to-toe introducing modern technologies into front- and backend operations.
This year Home Depot began heavily exploring augmented and virtual reality, gamification and automatic, mobile check-out, according to a company report. Meanwhile Lowe's rolled out or tested VR DIY clinics, an AR-based, in-store navigation app, wearable robotic suits for employees and AR apps for makeover visualization.
This summer, Lowe's laid off about 125 IT workers under efforts to revamp IT for strategic and competitive advantage. Some of these jobs were permanent cuts, but others were relocated to India. No other major layoffs to the IT department have since been announced.
But the advanced applications Home Depot and Lowe's are introducing require some serious talent. A lot of the tech has been implemented with the help of third parties, but if the retailers want to develop more in-house they will have to start shelling out even bigger bucks for their own experts.
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