Super A-Mart chief information officer, Angela Ryan, has only been in the CIO role for five months but she has already overseen a refresh of the Brisbane-based furniture retailer's website and signed a $3.6 million managed services contract with Brennan IT which includes servers, a private IP network linking 40 sites and managed print services (MPS).
Ryan spoke to CIO Australia about competing in the cut-throat retail industry, how the company is improving its online customer services and the difficulty of attracting IT staff due to the resources sector.
What does an average work day involve for you at Super A-Mart?
Because I stretch across digital marketing, retail strategy and IT, I am amongst a lot of different teams every day and interact with every part of the business. It’s a hands-on role and I have to spend a lot of time thinking about the future because we’re a low cost retailer. We have to get stuck in and get the work done.
What are some of the challenges you face in the role of CIO?
One challenge I face is how to priotise projects the business want to do against the time and budget allocated. We have a steering committee which helps us with that and a clear company strategy which means only projects that support our growth strategy get green lit. Still, there are always so many things to do as a CIO that you can’t get to everything. The challenge is working out the right things to do at the right time and using the steering committee to help me do that.
What are some of the major projects you are working on?
We are looking at putting a delivery module developed by Temando into our website so customers can calculate how much delivery will be to their postcode. Customer feedback indicates that it is difficult to work out delivery costs with large items such as lounge furniture. We plan to roll this module out during April this year.
What are the three biggest issues facing CIOs today?
One of the big issues in Brisbane is attracting high performing IT staff to the retail industry because there is a lot of competition from the resources sector. We have a small team and everyone needs to be a high performer.
The second issue is not having enough hours in the day for all the projects we want to do. IT people are very solution focused and they want to keep solving problems.
The third issue is keeping relevant in relation to your competitors, especially in the digital world. We need to make sure we’re performing as good as, or better, than our competitors online.
What is your favourite gadget?
It would have to be my iPad. That’s a product I never thought I needed but now I can’t live without it.
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