Linda Dillman had plenty of credentials to be on SN's Power 50 list last year, but her resume got even stronger since then.
Any chief information officer at Wal-Mart is by definition a power player in food retailing, given the company's status as the standard-bearer for technology in the retail industry. Its commitment to standards-based, leading-edge technology not only causes other retailers to invest in similar applications, but, probably more significant, forces suppliers to adopt systems mandated by the Bentonville, Ark.-based retailing giant. Wal-Mart plays a key role in the development of global standards supporting these technologies.
Following in this tradition, Dillman, 47, hit the ground running after being promoted to CIO in 2002, issuing directives to suppliers to adopt Web-based EDI and electronic communication of item data (preferably through UCCnet). Michael Hopkins, manager of EDI for Associated Wholesale Grocers, Kansas City, Kan., which recently began deploying Web-based EDI, told SN that "Wal-Mart benefited us by moving [suppliers]."
In June of last year, Dillman etched her name forever in the annals of RFID (radio frequency identification) technology when she announced, at the Retail Systems conference in Chicago, that Wal-Mart wanted its top 100 suppliers to begin using RFID tags with EPC (electronic product code) chips on pallets and cases by January 2005 (37 more suppliers have willingly followed suit).
Since then, Dillman has been driving the RFID bandwagon, as she and her IT staff have met with suppliers and described their plans and objectives at myriad conferences.
In late April, Wal-Mart made the industry's first major foray into actual RFID implementation, receiving RFID-tagged cases and pallets of 21 products from eight suppliers at its Sanger, Texas, distribution center, with subsequent shipments to seven supercenters. By the initial January deadline, three DCs and about 100 stores in North Texas will be participating in RFID-based tracking. That's just the beginning of the rollout. Wal-Mart's biggest objective with all this: better in-stock conditions at its stores.
One observer close to the Wal-Mart RFID program described Dillman as "persuasive and helpful" when it comes to dealing with suppliers on RFID compliance. "Many manufacturers regard Wal-Mart as dictatorial, but others see them as collaborative and helpful," he said. Dillman declined to comment for this article.
In a little more than a year, Miguel-Angel Lopera has gone from being a division general manager for Procter & Gamble Iberia (Spain and Portugal) to heading up the two major consumer product standards groups in the world, the Uniform Code Council and EAN International.
After 24 years at P&G, he became chief executive officer of EAN International in April 2003. He then was picked to succeed Tom Rittenhouse as CEO of UCC in January.
Lopera, 47, is not only in charge of both organizations, but he is also leading a merger of the two into a single global entity that will be officially known as GS1 in January, though the new name is already being used. Under this umbrella organization, individual country organizations will be known by GS1 (name of country); thus, UCC will be called GSI U.S.
A single leadership for UCC and EAN is "extremely important because there has been a lot of misalignment and rework as a result of [having separate organizations]," Lopera said in a keynote presentation at the Retail Systems Conference in Chicago in May. He promised the unified organization would have a "different culture" intended to drive activity at the local level. In the United States, the renamed GS1 U.S. organization would be more focused on aligning all of its divisions with the parent group.
In addition to overseeing this reorganization, Lopera is driving the development of two major new technology standards: one for the Electronic Product Code (EPC), through EPCglobal, jointly run by UCC and EAN; the other for the Global Data Synchronization Network (GDSN). Indeed, the reorganization is thought to be a key factor behind the development of those standards on a global level.
With all of this on his watch, Lopera, commuting between Brussels and Lawrenceville, N.J., has in short order become one of the most powerful and important players in the global consumer product goods market.
"There are many inefficiencies in the supply chain, and we have a responsibility to eliminate this," Lopera said at Retail Systems. "We cannot charge the consumer for those inefficiencies."
Tim Smucker, chairman and co-CEO, The J.M. Smucker Co., and president of EAN International, chaired the search committee that hired Lopera last year. "He is a global thinker who is very sensitive to different cultures around the world," said Smucker. That's critical, he noted, given that EAN International oversees local standard bodies in 101 countries.
Smucker acknowledged that he and Danny Wegman, president of Wegmans Food Markets and chairman of UCC, were initially concerned whether one person could carry both CEO positions. However, Lopera has risen to the challenge, Smucker said, adding that "his respective teams in Brussels and [Lawrenceville] would confirm that."
Smucker also commended Lopera for the way he has interfaced with the major industry associations, such as Food Marketing Institute, Grocery Manufacturers of America, CIES and Global Commerce Initiative.