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Meaningful innovation: Going digital, staying relevant

Jasmeet Singh, EVP and Global Head of Manufacturing, Infosys, talks to Rhonda O. Gass, VP & CIO, Stanley Black & Decker, about what brings about meaningful innovation and how can organizations keep their talent relevant in these digital times.

Highlights

  • “Not only do we have a strong purpose that unites our organization and our company, but we also have a very strong goal,” says Rhonda O. Gass, VP & CIO, Stanley Black & Decker
  • The IT function at Stanley Black and Decker has also changed substantially over the past several decades, says Gass, speaking about a system that was traditionally vertically integrated with each of the businesses
  • "… we've created a North Star that says, ‘For the IT role in the company, it is all about democratizing IT.’ Technology permeates every corner and crevice of the organization," says Gass

A hinge and bolt company, started over a 175 years ago, is one of the biggest manufacturers of industrial tools and household hardware today. Alongside that, it is also a prime example of how the drive to consistently innovate helps it set up greater, and more meaningful targets for the future.

In a conversation with Jasmeet Singh, EVP and Global Head of Manufacturing, Infosys, Rhonda O. Gass, VP & CIO, Stanley Black & Decker, spoke candidly about how innovating with a purpose is central to the company’s operations.

“Not only do we have a strong purpose that unites our organization and our company, but we also have a very strong goal,” says Gass speaking about the company’s 22/22 Vision, under which the company aspires to have a revenue of $22 billion, by the year 2022. And to be able to achieve this, says Gass, the company is implementing a multi-pronged approach related to performance and innovation, both of which are strongly related to its Corporate Social Responsibility. She also adds that the company is enhancing its Stanley Fulfillment System (SFS), which has a long history at the company, by adding elements such as digital excellence, commercial excellence, and breakthrough innovation, among other things.

Just like the company itself, the IT function at Stanley Black and Decker, Gass says, has also changed substantially over the past several decades, speaking about a system that was traditionally vertically integrated with each of the businesses. “As we came in and started thinking about data at the center, connectivity throughout the enterprise… we brought that all together. I call that the centralized and leverage,” says Gass, calling it phase one. In the next phase - the reliability and security phase – the organization began to focus on cyber security and reliability. “We've quickly moved into now a phase where we really want to scale and innovate,” she says.

“It's the next wave of journey, we think about innovation and where we want to be and we've created a North Star that says, ‘For the IT role in the company, it is all about democratizing IT.’ Technology permeates every corner and crevice of the organization… And there are partner ecosystems out there, as well, that we want to be able to take advantage of,” she says talking about the role that partners such as Infosys play in the process. Gass considers data to be at the center of their strategy, and IT needs to ensure that the data is reliable, consistent, organized, and people have access to it. “And then our second most important role is the interconnection of all of these ecosystems in a reliable and secure way,” she says.

A challenge, however, is to keep up with the pace of technology change, and ensure that the employees, and partners are equipped. While on the one hand it is essential to leverage technology, on the other, it is essential to think about employees, according to Gass. It is essential to learn, forget, relearn, so that one can keep enhancing skills. Gass calls this lifelong learning, for which the organization is focused on the entire employee base.

“It's a huge commitment for us and for our leadership team to ensure that that kind of focus in lifelong learning is not only expected but fully supported from the top down,” notes Gass.

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