Global CIO: Godiva CIO Leading Strategic Customer-Engagement Program - InformationWeek

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10/13/2009
06:44 PM
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Global CIO: Godiva CIO Leading Strategic Customer-Engagement Program

Aligning IT with the customer, CIO Mike Giresi has responsibility for the Godiva Chocolate Rewards Club: "Now we'll have much greater transparency into what the consumer desires and needs."

To hear Mike Giresi, Chief Information Officer and Senior Vice President of IT for New York City-based Godiva Chocolatier, tell it, his company first embraced enterprise loyalty when the Campbell Soup Company, which had owned the Godiva brand for 44 years, sold it to Istanbul-based Yildiz Holding for $850 million in late 2007.

"We've always had a CRM core, but it was constrained by how our previous parents wanted us to operate," says Giresi. "Campbell's is a CPG company, and CPG companies don't speak to their consumer directly from a brand experience. They certainly market to them, but they sell their products to wholesalers, brokers and distributors. Our customer, on the other hand, is our real-life end user. Now we'll have much greater transparency into what the consumer desires and needs. Just like Campbell's would spend a great deal of time with Wal-mart on collaborative forecasting, we now have the same opportunity on the customer level. It's just a different methodology and a different behavior."

When it came time to design and launch the Godiva Chocolate Rewards Club, which launched in May 2009, the company made one other important organizational decision that might appear mildly unorthodox to outside observers--placing responsibility for program design and execution not with the CMO, the Chief Customer Officer or even the Chief Chocolate Addiction Engineer, but rather with Giresi, the company's CIO.

But that's not to say that Godiva considered the program an IT-only function. On the contrary--in the three-year development of the Chocolate Club, Giresi led a cross-functional team of key leadership associates from throughout the company that included the heads of marketing, retail operations and customer relationship management. It's a team that Godiva is proud of.

"Many different functional departments within Godiva contributed to the launch of the Chocolate Rewards program," says Kim Land, Vice President for Godiva Direct. "We wanted all involved parties to provide input in their area of expertise. For example, this meant collaborating with our IT team to determine the most logical, feasible and cost-effective method to enroll consumers, both in-store and online. Likewise, the marketing group led the development of communication materials and collateral around the program, including brochures, POP, email content and more."

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Even the designs for the program's logo and member card garnered enterprise attention. "In the past, that type of thing would have been managed by only one or two functions," says Giresi.

As team lead, Giresi was able to draw on a dual background in sales and information technology. "Frankly, the role of the CIO has changed so much over the years," says Giresi. "In fact, I was in sales and marketing for the first 15 years if my career. As we think about the company of the future, it's critical to capitalize on people skills regardless of the official function. I had the benefit of not necessarily being subjective about any particular function, and in my role, I get to step back to evaluate what makes the most sense from both a Godiva and a customer perspective. I was given the opportunity to facilitate the discussion and move it forward in such a way that we could produce something meaningful for the consumer that we could support operationally."

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