The Improvements from Target’s Data Breach Crisis

It hasn’t been long enough for Target’s security nightmare in 2013 to really have faded from people’s minds. Especially for 40 million customers whose credit or debit card information was stolen, the fear of having confidential data sold in the black market isn’t easily forgotten overnight. If product defects or industrial incidents are haunting ghosts, then data breach can be a real grim reaper.

But four years removed, Target is surprisingly standing so strong and firm in the market that one might think there were never any past troubles. This success is in large part due to its newly hired executive VP, CIO and CDO, Mike McNamara. The former Tesco CIO has proven himself a retail and technology veteran with his three-point approach to elevating Target’s technology operations:

  • Ruthless prioritization to stay laser focused on the things that really matter to the business
  • Develop an in-house engineering capability and culture
  • Adopt agile as the way Target works

Do Things from Scratch

Having to take over Target in such a fragile and chaotic time, McNamara sought input from his peers on the senior leadership team to prioritize technology goals and make a list for their technology agenda in the coming year. Sometimes, less is more, and all his plans were directed towards the strategic priorities of the business. After that, McNamara reversed a significant number of third-party contractors to the engineering team in-house. The engineering resource, not excluding women and minorities, is the strategic resource to him. As a result of this talent in-house, the overall workforce has been reduced and productivity is improved.

In the fast-paced technology field, innovation and an updated mindset are key. By moving to more agile development, McNamara sees his engineers rolling their work out into stores sooner. Plus, adopting the agile methodology helps him attract engineering talent to the company. McNamara’s efforts so far have yielded positive results:

Target’s online ecommerce site experienced some of its biggest trading days over the most recent holiday period with zero down time, he said. The company’s point-of-sales systems and handheld devices in stores are the most stable they have ever been. Target’s IT and development organization has achieved these results together with “hundreds of millions of dollars in savings.”

Are there parallels between Targets improvement and where your business could stand to improve? You can view the original article here:

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