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H&M Group Chief Technology Officer Alan Boehme in podcast interview

Last week Alan Boehme, Chief Technology Officer (CTO), was interviewed on the CIO Talk Network podcast. Together with the CTO from Guitar Center, one of the leading musical instrument retailers in the US, they discussed rearchitecting retail by harnessing data at scale.

Today’s customer behaviour, and the hyper personalised approach to the service they expect, require retailers to think differently. On a positive note: “Data has the ability to jumpstart organisations”, says Alan Boehme, Chief Technology Officer, H&M Group.

“Every time there has been an economic challenge, great innovation always comes out of it. It really creates all kinds of new businesses and new business models arrive”, Boehme explains, in the episode “Rearchitecting retail by harnessing data at scale” of the CIO Talk Network podcast, broadcasted on Thursday, October 28.

Learning from others — and applying learnings in unique ways
In the podcast, Boehme discussed this data evolution with Ravi Balwada, Chief Technology Officer at Guitar Center — a leading retailer for musical instruments, lessons, repairs and rentals based in the US.

With increased supply chain complexity, geopolitical crisis and a challenging economy, Boehme and Balwada see tech as a way for retailers to adapt to continuous change and uncertainty.

The podcast episode “Rearchitecting retail by harnessing data at scale” from CTN CIO Talk Network is available on Apple PodcastGoogle PodcastSpotifyiHeartRadioSoundCloudTuneIn, and Stitcher. Find other syndication channels here or search CIO Talk Network podcast on any other app.

Three interview highlights

1. “Data is everything. It’s all done through data”

[Time stamp: 07:40 min]

Retailers are leveraging data to improve operations and offer a more personalised experience for customers. Boehme and Balwada share examples where retail can get the most value from data, including assortment planning, inventory management and supply chain optimisation, personalisation and the responsible use of artificial intelligence (AI).

2. “Opportunities for cross industry data integration”

[Time stamp: 12:12 min]

There are exciting opportunities for cross industry data integration, in other words, how different segments of the same industry, and even entirely different industries, can learn from one another’s data. Data from a fashion company could provide insights to a music retailer to learn new things about their customer groups. “Could there be something in fashion data that could influence your music buying preferences”? asks Balwada.

3. “New avenues of possibility”

[Time stamp: 41:42 min]

Data offers new avenues of possibility and resilience for companies. For H&M Group, with 3 billion articles sold across 70 countries around the world every year, this volume of data can be used at scale.

“We can actually take advantage of the scale of the company. That is where the real benefits get through, once we get to scale”, said Boehme. He also acknowledges the challenges: “Scale can work with you because I could take the risk of going through the data mesh, but it could work against you, because it slows you down to make sure you do things right. But if you find that nice balance you can certainly accelerate at faster pace than anybody ever believed you could in the past”.