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CEO Doug McMillon Discusses Innovation and the Future of Walmart

Authored by Ryan Greene

Harvard Business Review editor in chief Adi Ignatius recently interviewed Doug McMillon, CEO of Walmart, on how the brick-and-mortar retail giant is adapting to the digital age. The Walmart board hired McMillon as CEO in 2014 to bring the company into the future without disrupting the franchise.

Walmart’s case illustrates how the biggest challenge of any organizational transformation is speed. The ActionIQ team knows that the speed is more than just a luxury for organizations, it’s a necessity. Progress towards a transformation needs to be demonstrated quickly so that the enterprise maintains momentum and executives receive buy-in from key stakeholders. Learn more about ActionIQ here.

McMillon states, “The future of retail will include more technology.” He’s absolutely right. At ActionIQ, we solve data problems and are seeing first-hand how technology, data and analysis are becoming more integral for retailers—online and in stores. We applaud McMillon’s efforts to be a change agent and propel Walmart ahead.

As an example, in the interview, McMillon shares the ups and downs of Walmart’s journey. “We wish we had been more aggressive early on, no doubt. In some ways we experienced what Clay Christensen calls the ‘innovator’s dilemma,’” said McMillon. “We hired talent, invested, and just kind of meandered along rather than hammering down, being aggressive, and making it a must-win aspect of our business. That’s partly because we had a bird in hand. We knew that if we continued to open Walmart Supercenters, they would do well. Traffic in the United States is still going up. But digital conversion for us has to be about more than just serving the customer on the front end. It’s about more than e-commerce. We need to introduce digitization across all our functions and jobs so that we can be faster and more efficient.”

McMillon is describing the biggest risk to any organization – not fully embracing change for fear of disrupting existing business. ActionIQ helps retailers innovate by creating a seamless infrastructure while breaking down silos across departments and teams in order to build a data-first culture. Based on our experience, this approach is the only way to accelerate a retailer’s digital transformation, while at the same time improving the in-store experiences.

Read the full Harvard Business Review article here.

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