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Business

Myer likes its IT heads to be low-tech

Department store giant Myer prefers to promote non-IT based management staff to run its in-house IT department, CEO Bernie Brooks told the Australian CIO Summit yesterday.
Written by Luke Hopewell, Contributor on

Department store giant Myer prefers to promote non-IT based management staff to run its in-house IT department, CEO Bernie Brooks told the Australian CIO Summit yesterday.

Bernie Brooks

Myer CEO, Bernie Brooks, told the Australian CIO Summit 2010 that its core IT business was run by three high performing store managers. (Credit: Luke Hopwell/ZDNet Australia)

Brooks said that Myer had brought in its three best store managers in to run its IT business. "That means that our three top IT people are not IT trained," he said.

The CEO told the summit that having non-IT trained personnel running the IT business means that those staff are able to focus on delivering systems that are of benefit to customers, staff and the business as a whole, rather than implementing costly, complex systems.

"The good news today is that technology has been demystified... Executives become more familiar with IT and at the same time, an IT manager steps out of their comfort zone ... into understanding the rest of business. That means they understand what's important to the customer, the staff and the business," he said.

The Myer management team has endeavoured to make IT projects, especially its supply chain overhauls, "sexy" within the business, in an effort to get other employees excited about upcoming projects, he said.

"Instead of starting our business presentations with financial results or with operational goals, we would open with [a demo of the] latest in our bridal registry scanners, or the latest in distribution productivity. We had our store manager meetings in a distribution centre [to draw their attention to how it works]," Brooks added.

In 2006, Myer had 34 distribution centres with a supply chain cost of approximately $50 million. As of today, it maintains only four distribution centres in Australia, with another four situated in China. By consolidating the distribution of goods and centralising stock management using Oracle software, Myer now has a distribution operating cost of approximately $23 million.

"That's a significant saving, all because of the use of a centralised distribution centre, a new tracking system, and other types of technology that have been able to give us that competitive edge," said the CEO.

Brooks also provided an update on a $108 million closed-circuit television investment. In May, Myer invested in new security monitoring equipment, with around 70-100 cameras installed per store.

Brooks said that Myer had subsequently caught and prosecuted around 3700 shoplifters in 2010 alone. By reducing stock loss as a result of theft, Myer has saved between $50 million to $70 million of stock it would otherwise written off.

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