As chief information officer of The Mens Wearhouse, Jeff Marshall manages the IT operations for 600 brick-and-mortar stores in the U.S. and Canada, and is also in charge of the companys Web initiatives. He spoke with Senior Writer Robert Bryce.
What is your biggest challenge these days? Our challenge right now is trying to stay attuned with the business, trying to understand whats hot for the merchandise guys, the logistics guys. We are building 500,000 square feet of warehouse space in Houston. We are adding automation to that and trying to integrate the new system with the legacy systems and the systems under development. Everything is growing at a rapid rate, and that places a greater need on the [information technology (IT)] infrastructure to be closely integrated as opposed to being just interfaced.
As a retailer, our two greatest assets are people and inventory. Controlling that, understanding what it is, where it is and how much it costs us is critical. We have systems that know the answers to those questions. But integrating the systems and making the systems work is part of the responsibility of a good IT shop.
So how do you plan to do that? Weve spent tens of millions on hardware and software and getting our IT foundation put in place. Now, over the next couple years, we will try to extract greater value and efficiency out of these fairly complicated systems. Included in the challenge of our system integration is pushing the responsibility for the system out onto the users so they can understand the system, use it efficiently and know if its working or not.
Anything else thats a concern? One other thing that keeps me up at night is ensuring the business units are in control of, and know how to operate, this complex technology that keeps the ship afloat.