CIO Profiles: Eric Williams Of Catalina Marketing

Important lesson learned along the way: If you enjoy your work and strive to add value, you'll be successful.
Career Track

Eric Williams Executive VP and CIO, Catalina Marketing

Eric Williams
Executive VP and CIO, Catalina Marketing
How long at company: 19 years at Catalina, which handles loyalty cards and coupons for retailers

Career accomplishment I'm most proud of: Our multipetabyte data warehouse. This has transformed us into one of the leaders in information management.

Most important career influencer: John King, the CIO for a large Los Angeles retailer. He helped me realize that money isn't the most important component in your career. As he said, if you enjoy your work and the people you work with, and you always strive to add value to your company, you'll be successful--and money always follows success.

On The Job

IT budget: $35 million

Size of IT team: 250 people

Top initiatives:

  • Business process management implementation. We're on the final year of a three-year project to replace all legacy front-end tools with Web tools written on a BPM and SOA infrastructure.
  • Catalina Real-Time. This project takes all of the Catalina stores and connects them to a central system, allowing all loyalty decisions to be made in real time as consumers shop. When completed, it will have more than 30,000 stores connected to one decision support system.
  • Campaign management project. It combines SAS functionality and custom-built technology and will let us deliver more than 5 billion unique offers to more than 200 million people on an annual basis.
How I measure IT effectiveness: The bottom line: overall company sales. IT develops and operates the company's production systems, so everyone in IT watches our sales.


Next big thing for my industry: Understanding the type of technology a consumer wants to use to receive marketing information. Some consumers will want paper for some time, others will desire email, while others will want a smartphone app, and so on.

One thing I'm looking to change: Develop a Center of Excellence for our SOA development.

The federal government's top tech priority should be ... to help industry in developing standards for information exchange. Instead of the government trying to dictate standards, it should fund a business association for companies and let them develop the standards.


Leisure activities: Hiking, fishing, nature photography

Favorite pro sports coach: Tony Dungy, who proves you don't have to scream and curse to lead teams to greatness

Business-related pet peeve: The use of empty phrases to drive strategic thinking: Think outside the box ... push the envelope ... one and one is three ...

If I weren't a CIO, I'd be ... a forest ranger, teaching people about nature photography

Ranked No. 5 in the 2011 InformationWeek 500

Download the Sept. 26, 2011 issue of InformationWeek