The transformations made by Arthur Phidd, CIO of REEDS Jewelers & Reeds.com, can be viewed by comparing the organization’s practices and capabilities pre and post transformation. In a pre-transformation state, the organizations typically have disparate technology architectures; meaning that there are inconsistencies in the types of technologies used to deliver business services. There exist a lack of discipline as it regards the depth and breadth of software and system testing prior to deploying a solution to production. In many cases there is a lack of governance and oversight in the administering of cyber security policies and procedures. “For most of the organizations that I have transformed, when you look at their IT structure, you will see that it was not structured to allow the business more flexibility to create products and services in an agile way,” he explains. “The IT organizations are typically structured and organized so as to “keep the lights on”. In a post-transformation state, the company operates at a higher level of efficiency allowing technology to enable it to make more informed decisions to mitigate risks, certainly to improve security and to be more efficient in the implementation of IT services.”
"REEDS Jewelers’s founder Bill Zimmer’s family operated retail jewelry stores; Bill learned from his brothers how to sell diamonds at a young age, just as his children would later learn from him."
The role of the CIO is beyond that of the technology leader in an organization. Since organizations are waking up to the realities of their critical dependency on information and communications technologies as the great enabler to achieving strategic objectives, then the CIO must be well versed in not only technical concepts, but must understand finance, operations, marketing, supply chain management, risk management, cyber security and project governance methodologies.
For Arthur, the CIO is an internal advisor to his peers on the leadership team and plays the role of visionary to drive change across three critical dimensions (People, Process, Technology) in an organization. In other words, the role is quite transformative. Much of his success is tied to a leadership style based on service. Service to the staff so as to create an environment in the workplace where they feel inspired to create, challenge entrenched norms, take pride in their work and avoid complacency. This requires the CIO to be the coach who focuses on change and not the status quo.
“Successful CIOs must find an area of specialization or expertise in order to maintain a somewhat hands on connection with the industry,” explains Arthur. “My area of specialization is in data management and business intelligence architectures. It is important that the CIO is viewed by his team as having a deep enough understanding of that which he is asking the staff to develop, implement or support. It builds trust between staff and leader.” Arthur adds that there are many challenges faced by a CIO when transforming an organization. “The entrenched culture of the organization can be a barrier to change. In many cases I have seen Lines Of Business (LOB) create their own IT functions. I call those ‘Stealth IT’,” he adds.” The greatest challenge is getting these pockets of internal IT teams to give up control and allow the CIO to centralize traditional IT functions back to the IT division. This requires developing the case for this realignment and including colleagues each step of the way because their buy-in is a key success criterion.
The company’s new initiatives are designed to enhance and delight their customers at each Reeds point of sale channel. They will leverage augmented reality technology to give their online customers as close to a realistic experience as possible. New search technologies have emerged in the industry and Arthur and his team will incorporate them to give the customer more control when trying find products on our web site. In the not so distant future, neural network technologies will be used to create higher quality 3D experience when interacting with a product and the latest in AI and machine learning systems will be deployed to make product recommendations with the highest degree of relevance. “Given the emotional connection between shopper and product in the jewelry industry, we see opportunities to deploy technologies to allow our customers to ‘Build My Own Ring’,” adds Arthur.IE
CIO of REEDS
Founded in 1946 by Bill and Roberta Zimmer in Wilmington NC, REEDS Jewelers is a true American success story. Reeds Jewelers is the largest family-owned retail jewelry chain in North America. REEDS Jewelers sells diamonds, watches, and a large selection of fine jewelry from top designers in over 65 retail stores across 13 states as well as online