Agents of Change: Russell Harte, a Customer-Centric CIO

VMware’s Agents of Change initiative celebrates smart CIOs who challenge the status quo. By harnessing the transformative power of technology, they are creating unlimited possibilities for their businesses. Here’s the next individual in our Agents of Change Series: Russell Harte, CIO, DFS.

Few industries have been disrupted as significantly as the retail sector. As the CIO of UK sofa giant DFS, Russell Harte has first-hand experience of steering a company through this period of fast-paced change. As a firm believer of the customer-centric CIO, his unwavering focus has been creating the best possible experience for the retailer’s customers.

Delighting Customers
“It’s important that I understand the experiences of our customer,” explained Harte. “I can create far more value to the business if I have the customer in mind when I’m making decisions. It’s my job to delight customers with our technology innovations.”

Rapid Innovation
Retail has seen the likes of Alibaba and Amazon launch innovations in rapid succession while creating new business models along the way. Many retailers have been left behind, figuring out how they too can be super agile and inventive. DFS has remained at the forefront by adopting a hybrid cloud infrastructure. This provides a platform on which new technologies can run, ultimately enabling the rollout of new business models.

“The retail industry is fiercely competitive and has become really good at adopting change,” said Harte. “That provides a real challenge from a technology point of view. We have to be both nimble and innovative to be able to meet that change. Whether it’s private cloud, public cloud or data science, CIOs need to harness the technologies that can make a real difference to their business—not only for their internal colleagues, but most importantly, for their customers. That’s how IT leaders set ourselves up to help drive the business  forward.”

Hear more insights from Harte in the video below, then read on to understand what inspires him to lead change.

Drawing Inspiration From Across the Business
When asked about his motivation to keep championing change at DFS, Harte looks to his co-workers. He said, “I draw inspiration from many areas across the business. For example, the guys in our warehouses work relentlessly hard, handling furniture that is a pretty heavy product. In our factories I see people sewing fabric together at an unbelievable pace. And they’re so proud of the work they do. I take the inspiration and energy from these incredible people and try to translate that inspiration to the technology teams.”