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CIO Review >> Magazine >> August - 2013 issue

New Technologies & Agile Components help Respond to Changing Business Needs


Adidas AG (FWB: ADS, OTCQX: ADDYY) is a multinational corporation that designs and manufactures sports clothing and accessories. Founded in 1924 the company has a market cap of 16.48 billion Euros.

Trends Facilitating Change
The consumerization of IT is one of the most fundamental changes in the history of IT. It is something we need to acknowledge and accept. The face of IT is changing dramatically and the function is moving from being considered 'just' a technological integrator and now shifting to the center stage of many business models. Through social media, interactivity, virtualization, e commerce and digital marketing, IT has a stronger, more direct impact on the consumer today.

Cloud Computing is on its way to becoming a key commodity because of its novelty on the IT horizon. Today, cloud computing increasingly enables organizational efficiency and speed. It also provides a technological answer to the IT requirements of our fast moving, digital world. Also, Big Data will be a game changer, revolutionizing decision making processes across all industries.

However the usability of applications still does not get enough attention from both the solution vendors, as well as the internal IT organization. The IT industry tends to believe that functionality is key for a productive use of applications, while I think usability can be more impactful in many cases.

Requisites for Successful Business Operations

Our IT function is truly global, covering more than fifty markets and a great variety of brands under the one roof of the adidas Group. While this offers diversity, it also brings the challenge to foster standardization globally and at the same time speed up conversion.

It goes without saying that a stable infrastructure and standardized IT backbone are crucial for successful business operations. However, in addition to that, todays' commercial landscape requires novel ways of engaging consumers. New technologies and agile components are necessary to anticipate and respond to changing business needs in a seamless approach in areas such as social media and mobile computing. Matching and harmonizing the solid backbone with flexible solutions is a challenging principle which we call"IT of two Speeds". Besides the technical element, this guiding principle has an organizational side, too.

With enhanced complexities coupled with IT's gradual move into the role of direct business enabler, "new" IT skills have moved into the spotlight across almost all industries, be it in the automotive, electronic or sporting goods sector. Therefore, different businesses around the globe are targeting the same IT talent and experts- presenting CIOs with significant organizational challenges.

At the adidas Group, we have put a very strong focus on developing the respective skills and core competencies of our IT employees worldwide. A "10 Point Future Skill Action Plan" supports the transformation process, ensures we meet the changing requirements of the business and offers new career opportunities.

Driving Innovation in the Team
Innovation is part of the adidas Group DNA, be it in IT solutions and sales channels or pioneering high-quality IT-enabled products, such as "miCoach". The responsibility to drive innovation is not restricted to within our dedicated IT Innovation Department; we actually invite all employees to contribute to the huge bucket of ideas. An innovative culture is our key for success.

By creating an innovative and seamless experience through technological solutions, our teams at Global IT allow our company to connect with our consumers, who increasingly choose to buy through digital channels and are influenced by social networks and communities. Recent examples include the 'NEO Social Mirror', 'Window Shopping' or the 'Virtual Wall' which is currently set up in selected stores globally. The concept of the "Next Generation Fashion Store" (including an interactive changing room and body scanner) has even been awarded with this years' CeBIT Innovation Award.

It is very interesting and rewarding to play a key role in this digital and fast-moving world, where our impact on the consumer increases daily. We are happy to implement the consumer-facing and innovative business models that will enable the adidas Group to grow into the future.