Pharmaceutical retailers are rarely mistaken for digital innovators. CVS Health is trying to change that by consolidating its websites and mobile applications. It later hired CDO Brian Tilzer to lead the company's digital strategy but rather than whine and lament what many in his position view as a threat, CVS CIO Stephen Gold welcomed the addition to the executive suite. To that end, Tilzer and Gold opened a digital innovation lab in Boston in 2015. Early projects, including digital prescription and insurance card scanning and integration with Apple Watch, have come to fruition. The company also integrated technology from startup Curbside into a mobile app that lets shoppers order and pick up products in front of a CVS store. Gold says the innovation team’s remit is to fail fast. “Part of the output of innovating is going to be things that don’t work and that’s fine as long as you discover that early in the process as opposed to late in the process,” Gold says.
CVS’ chief rival Walgreens has been steadily transforming its business as well, with CIO Abhi Dhar assuming the reins of the company’s digital strategy in 2015. With what he describes as a “maniancal focus on customers,” Dhar has redesigned the company’s mobile app to allow consumers to manage their medication schedules from their Apple Watches and enabled Balance Rewards members to earn and redeem points using Apple Pay.
Subway’s transformation is only in its infancy but CIO Carman Wenkoff is leaving little to chance. He’s hiring more than 150 technology, marketing and operational professionals to help overhaul the company’s mobile app and redesign the sandwich chain’s stores for the future, including self-service kiosks and other capabilities. Wenkoff this summer also tacked on the title of CDO, which he says will help bring coherence to the business strategy.