Technology--the Key to Achieve Extraordinary Visual Experience

Glenn Pinnel, VP, CIO, Benjamin Moore & Co
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Glenn Pinnel, VP, CIO, Benjamin Moore & Co

1. How would you describe the role of a CIO today?

Not all companies are in the same place but many more see the CIO role to be that of Business Transformation Officer. Business models are under pressure and are changing at a pace we have never seen before. And no business can change its business model or even processes without technology. The technology is used to help solve complex business problems and/or to exploit opportunities. These both require cross functional coherent vision and execution and it is the CIO’s job to bring the entire C-Suite together; engage in business conversations; and then oversee the application of technology to achieve the desired goals. Today, more than ever, the CIO role is more of a business partner which makes the relationships, vision, judgment and influence more critical for the CIO. It is also the CIO’s job to create a culture of innovation that is open to discover new things in this rapidly changing environment. 

2. How can the CIOs make their business counterparts think differently about the importance of IT?

To me it is a matter or storytelling and enlisting everyone’s energies. It has been quite some time that IT pivoted from supporting back office solutions to being part of customer-facing front office solutions. And today–and certainly tomorrow, it is nearly impossible to set a goal and a strategy that doesn’t intimately involve IT. Our business counterparts don’t necessarily understand IT but they understand strategy, revenue creation, costs and have good judgment. Speaking on these terms and applying technology allows for better conversations with my counterparts. Solving business problems with the help of technology builds credibility for the CIO and IT function. Building credibility takes time but it is key to having a seat at the table when discussing the strategic road ahead. IT is no longer separate from the business and technology needs to be embedded into the business strategy. More than ever technology is the key to transforming business models, creating other revenue channels and improving our customer’s experience.

 Building credibility takes time but it is key to having a seat at the table when discussing the strategic road ahead 

3. As the technology sphere evolves with each passing day, what are some of the latest trends that are gripping your mind?

At Benjamin Moore we have been dreaming in color for 134 years. Our customers expect an extraordinary visual experience. As CIO, I am committed on delivering that experience to our customers. We are a B2B company and live in a world of B2C independent retailers. There are several technologies that can digitize that chain from Virtual Reality to Artificial Intelligence to large data demographics. Saw a color you liked? Take a picture and then the contractor can render your home in the corresponding palette. Utilizing VR, we can change the colors on the walls in our prospective customer’s homes, offices, and buildings. We also can experience those colors from all angles and at all times of the day, since sunlight can have a significant impact on the shading of each room. Combining the virtual world with the physical world can dramatically improve the customer experience. Today the wearable devices might seem rather large and bulky but I would expect that over the next few years these devices will be much sleeker and eventually inconspicuous.

Another technology that is very exciting to me is Artificial Intelligence. AI is transforming our personal lives as well as the business models. At home I am becoming more and more reliant on Amazon’s Alexa. Not only does “she” play the music I request, but “she” now reorders my kitchen supplies. Clearly Amazon has changed the way I shop and has been disruptive to many retail chains. At Benjamin Moore one way we can utilize AI is to help us understand, learn and predict geographical areas for rolling out more independent retail stores. AI can help us to work smarter.

Both of these disruptive technologies can help Benjamin Moore create competitive advantage, improve the customer experience, generate increased value, and enable transformational business models. These are just two examples of technologies that can be leveraged to improve the customer experience and delight the customer.

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