Qurate Retail Group, owner of brands such as QVC and HSN, is shifting away from a model where "business is throwing requirements over the fence to IT," said Mike George, president and CEO of Qurate Retail, Inc, speaking Monday at NRF Retail Converge 2021. "It's one team, focused on business outcomes," said George.
While rethinking how IT and business interface, "the culture of the organization has been one of the toughest to change," said CIO Karen Etzkorn, speaking on the same panel. Part of the challenge is shifting away from old paradigms and processes of the IT-business relationship.
"We're not sitting back on our heels waiting for someone to bring something to us or bring a new idea to us — we're working to collaborate with the business," said Etzkorn.
CIOs added more business dimension to their role as companies leaned more heavily on technology. Where a few decades ago the executive was mostly tasked with platform upgrades or systems maintenance, companies now see IT as a potential revenue stream generator.
If business and IT are disjointed, companies can miss on the advantages of having tech-savvy leadership. For the retail group, transformation starts with embracing a one-team concept and a product versus project mentality.
One way to solidify strategies is by "trying to bring everyone together early in the strategic dialogue," said George. This allows technology, commerce and operations to collaborate and understand technology's role in the company's overall direction.
Much like the rest of the retail world, Qurate Retail Group faced strained operations in 2020. Alongside supply chain disruptions, the company's home shopping brands needed to rethink their broadcasting operations. They used tech-enabled platforms such as livestreaming, as well as its website and mobile app.
Responding to disruption calls for a particular kind of business-IT rapport, and Qurate Retail Group takes a holistic approach to that connection.
"I think it's about making sure you have a deep understanding of the business," said George. To better collaborate with business, "changing the mindset from 'my job is to deliver a certain set of IT requirements on a certain timetable' to 'my job is to get to the best business outcome with the least amount of time and waste possible.'"