One of the first things the new chief technology officer at Canadian Tire
did after assuming his post earlier this month was buy a flashlight, a compass and a watch.
Eugene Roman bought the items for a senior official who will oversee a new electronic retail (e-tail) innovation centre he ordered be set up ASAP.
The centre, the first of several Roman will create, will test ways of using use Web technologies to grow the business and deliver better service to customers – say, having store staff carry tablet computers to help explain to customers how to use products.
The three gifts are symbols, he explained in an interview:
“The flashlight is to light the way, a compass to point in a new direction and a Timex Explorer watch to explore new ways of working.”
Ultimately the 10 staffers working in the centre will also get their own flashlights, compasses and watches as they spread the innovation word to co-workers.
To use a cliché, Roman isn’t letting any grass grow under his feet as he settles into his new post. “I’m going to have some fun here,” he said.
His plans includes bringing in social media technologies so staff across the company can quickly share ideas, and moving the company’s data centres heavily into the cloud.
“We are going to open CTC –Canadian Tire Cloud,” he said. “Our data centres are going to be converted over time to cloud hubs.”
What he isn’t going to do is overhaul the IT operations. He’s impressed with what he’s seen. “There’s a number of things that just wowed me in terms of the ability to get stuff done digitally,” he said.
Just as important, he added, is the corporate attitude of welcoming new ideas and getting things done fast.
Which perhaps begs the question that if little is wrong, why is he needed? “Because I’m glue,” he says, answering his own question. “I see a good idea over there and I put it over here.”
A man with a degree in management studies, Roman makes sure he isn’t pegged as a chief information officer.
“Information technology as we know is quickly becoming obsolete, being replaced by Internet technologies,” he said in explaining why he wanted a CTO title. “It’s a break from the past -- it doesn’t lose the past, because it still’s got technology, but its all about the next generation of solutions. So we’ll take our legacy things and turn them on the side and drive to high performance technologies to drive the corporation.”
Roman came to Canadian Tire after four years as CTO of Waterloo-based content management software vendor OpenText Corp. He left because he was spending 60 per cent of his time on airplanes. Canadian Tire people he knew asked what his plans were at the right time.