New Target CIO: Bull's-Eye On Innovation

Target can't ease up on security after its massive data breach, but the retailer must fire up its tech innovation to compete against online rivals.

Chris Murphy, Editor, InformationWeek

February 3, 2015

3 Min Read
Target's new CIO Mike McNamara

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Target has named Mike McNamara, the former CIO of retailer Tesco, as its new CIO and executive VP. The move suggests Target is ready to turn its focus back to tech-driven innovation and ecommerce, having dealt with a disastrous breach of customer data in late 2013.

McNamara spent 15 years with the UK-based Tesco, which is known for technology innovation, including in-store scan-as-you-shop services, extensive customer-data analytics, and supply-chain optimization. McNamara launched a Tesco innovation lab last year and chaired the company's tech office in India. At Target, he'll report directly to CEO Brian Cornell with a charge to "further advance Target’s digital transformation and help Target become a leading omnichannel retailer," the company said in a prepared statement.

McNamara replaces CIO Bob DeRodes, a veteran technology leader who joined Target to batten down the hatches in the wake of the security breach. DeRodes had led technology at Delta, Home Depot, and First Data, but was out of day-to-day tech leadership before getting called in at Target. Target's statement about its new CIO highlighted DeRodes' "pivotal role in guiding Target’s information security efforts." DeRodes hired Target's first chief information security officer, Brad Maiorino, and got Target "ready for the 2014 holiday season."

[ Want more on CIO innovation strategy? Read 9 CIO Tech Priorities For 2015. ]

Target's data breach, which began in November 2013 and was revealed in mid-December, affected some 40 million credit and debit cards. The breach involved criminals installing malware on Target's point-of-sale checkout systems, and gaining network access through a phishing attack on one of Target's equipment vendors, whose network access wasn't sufficiently segregated from corporate systems. Nieman Marcus was hit by a similar attack.

Target isn't likely to let up on its security efforts, but it can't take its eye off innovation in ecommerce and multi-channel retailing. In the brick-and-mortar retail world, "omnichannel" is the word of the day, as retailers deal with the fuzzy lines across in-store, online, and mobile shopping. Big box stores for the past few years have battled the "showrooming" risk of shoppers using physical stores to look at goods they buy cheaper online. But with Amazon testing same-day shipping in 13 cities, and the stakes rising in areas such as mobile apps and analytics-powered promotions and customer loyalty programs, Target CEO Brian Cornell needs a creative force driving technology throughout the company.

McNamara declined an interview. Here's a statement from him released by Target:

I'm thrilled to join Target at a time when Brian and the leadership team are intensifying their investment in technology and prioritizing its role in Target's future success. I have long admired Target as a retailer and its legacy of putting customers first. To be part of an organization like Target and help shape the future of its technology and omnichannel strategy was a dream opportunity for me.

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About the Author(s)

Chris Murphy

Editor, InformationWeek

Chris Murphy is editor of InformationWeek and co-chair of the InformationWeek Conference. He has been covering technology leadership and CIO strategy issues for InformationWeek since 1999. Before that, he was editor of the Budapest Business Journal, a business newspaper in Hungary; and a daily newspaper reporter in Michigan, where he covered everything from crime to the car industry. Murphy studied economics and journalism at Michigan State University, has an M.B.A. from the University of Virginia, and has passed the Chartered Financial Analyst (CFA) exams.

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