BAL HARBOUR, Fla. -- The president of Publix Super Markets said last week that the chain wants its information systems department "involved at the highest levels to provide knowledge of systems for strategic decisions."
In a keynote address at the I/T Leadership Forum 2002 here, William E. Crenshaw, president of the 714-store chain based in Lakeland, Fla., said that "technology is too expensive and important not to have their involvement." The forum was sponsored by the Food Marketing Institute, Washington.
Crenshaw stressed that a strong alignment between business divisions and information systems "is the key to a profitable future at Publix." He outlined how the chain's IS department advises the company's business areas on making "good strategic choices" regarding technology.
The key driver of this is called the Information Technology Business Alignment Group, which is "responsible for planning the strategic use of information technology," he said. The group assigns an "IT business manager" to each of Publix's business areas who is "the account manager for providing information systems service to that business unit" and works with the unit's vice president or director to develop IS strategies and annual plans. The group reports to IS with dotted-line responsibility to company officers.
Crenshaw also cited several technology initiatives that Publix is pursuing:
The chain is developing a tool to capture all planning information across the business in order to have an "enterprise-wide" perspective rather than a departmental perspective.
Publix plans to provide employees with a human resources self-service application to review benefits and employee information. Managers will get tools to help with hiring and performance evaluation.
The IS department is working to develop tools that would enable each store to make the best use of space by offering the optimal mix of products.
Publix is building the infrastructure "to enable us to securely collaborate with trading partners," he said.
With the increase in demand on IS services, Publix is looking at different ways to meet the demand such as "more effective use of third parties," he said.
The chain is working with the WorldWide Retail Exchange "to influence its overall direction," he said.