What Does It Take To Be The CIO At Walmart?

Walmart is in the process of making changes, what will their CIO have to do?
Walmart is in the process of making changes, what will their CIO have to do?
Image Credit: Mike Mozart

There are a lot of high profile CIO jobs out there. However, one of the ones that has the most attention being directed towards it is being the CIO at the gigantic retailer Walmart. Think about it – there is a Walmart in just about every town and we all go to Walmart every so often to get things. The IT side of Walmart has to operate smoothly or else there will be trouble for everyone. What is it going to take to do this job well?

The Challenges Facing The Walmart CIO

One of the things that makes being in the CIO position at a company like Walmart a bit unusual is that the person in this role will have to oversee both the consumer-facing and the internal technology efforts of the company. Walmart has been a bricks and mortar operation for a very long time. They realize that the world is changing and they are trying to change with it. Their CIO will be tasked with helping Walmart speed up their digital transformation. Walmart understands that they have very long way to go in order to accomplish this.

The good news for the person with the Walmart CIO job is that the company understands that they have to become more technology savvy in order to compete with firms like Amazon. In order to make this happen, the company is in the process of attempting to streamline their technical operations by buying up e-commerce startups while at the same time investing heavily in the systems that are needed in order to power their online sales. At the same time the company is investing heavily in its grocery-delivery options and is in the process of trying to grow its digital ad revenue.

Right now, most of the money that Walmart makes comes from its 4,800 U.S. stores. The good news for Walmart is that their quarterly sales have been rising for the past four years. The way that they have been able to make this happen is by offering lower prices and making online investments. All of this has allowed the company to grab market share from their weaker retail rivals even as their online sales have risen.

What’s Next For Walmart?

Having their quarterly sales rise has been a good thing for Walmart. However, the efforts that they have had to go through to make this happen has caused them to take a hit on their profits. As a result, Walmart has been forced to find ways to cut their costs in other parts of the company. The company is placing a great deal of hope that their CIO is the person who can help them to boost their e-commerce activities. At this point in time, e-commerce is only a small part of Walmart’s overall sales coming in at US$15.7B as of last year.

Walmart has decided that their CIO can be based in California at their Sunnyvale location instead of Walmart’s corporate home office which is located in Bentonville, Arkansas. Walmart expects their CIO to be able to set out the company’s technical strategy. The CIO will be expected to find ways to combine advances in computing with Walmart’s expertise in customer service.

Walmart is fully committed to finding ways to help their CIO be successful. They have reorganized the company so that all of the IT unit CTO’s will be reporting in to the CIO. However, their U.S. head of e-commerce will still be reporting to Walmart’s CEO. Even as Walmart realizes that they have a lot work to do, their competition is not standing still. As Amazon continues to innovate and offer their customers more and more services, the Walmart CIO is going to have to get good at finding ways to make Walmart more nimble and quicker to respond to their customer’s needs.

What All Of This Means For You

There are a lot of CIO jobs out there One of the most demanding of these jobs would be to take on the task of being the CIO at Walmart. Walmart is a massive operation and it has its roots firmly in the thousands of retail stores that it currently operates. Being a CIO for an organization like this would be a real challenge for anyone.

The Walmart CIO is going to have to oversee both customer-facing and internal technology operations. Walmart understands that they need to change and become more tech savvy. Walmart’s sales have been rising over the past few years, but they’ve made this happen by cutting costs The Walmart CIO will be based in California and will have all of the heads of IT reporting in to him. Amazon is not slowing down and so the Walmart CIO is going to have to make changes in order to keep up.

The job of CIO is a challenging one. Being the CIO of Walmart is one of the toughest CIO jobs out there. The Walmart CIO is going to have to find ways to keep the stores running smoothly even as ways of generating new e-commerce business are implemented. We’re going to have to watch how Walmart changes and grows in order to see how successful the Walmart CIO can be.

– Dr. Jim Anderson Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World IT Department Leadership Skills™

Question For You: Do you think that Walmart should have two CIOs – one for the stores and one for e-commerce?

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What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

Welcome to the 21st Century. For some reason everyone seems to be talking about artificial intelligence as of late. What’s the big deal? This stuff used to only exist in science fiction movies and now it sure seems like it is in the process of taking over the world. The person with the CIO job is going to be affected by the arrival of artificial intelligence and so it sure looks like we are going to have to make sure that we fully understand what is going on here.