Schenker IT boss jumps ship to Speciality Fashion

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Schenker IT boss jumps ship to Speciality Fashion

CIO Shah moves back to US.

Specialty Fashion will soon welcome the IT manager of logistics company DB Schenker to its ranks as its new CIO following the departure of outgoing IT boss Viren Shah.

Shah worked the last day of his two-year stint at the fashion retailer last Thursday. The group is the parent company of women’s brands including City Chic, Millers and Crossroads, and has around 900 stores across Australia, New Zealand, South Africa and the US.

Schenker's John Jessen will start with SFG in April as its new CIO, the company confirmed. He will leave a five and a half year career with Schenker spanning several IT roles.

Jessen will be replaced at Schenker by Dan Carpenter, a spokesperson confirmed.

Shah was lured out to the Australian arm of SFG from Walmart in the US in early 2012, to transform IT at Speciality Fashion.

Shah told iTnews he was currently weighing up two opportunities in the manufacturing and retail spaces for future employment and would make a decision in the coming weeks. He will move back to the US this month. 

Speciality Fashion program management office manager Glenn Ryan told iTnews Shah’s legacy was evoking technology change and providing an IT roadmap to bring SFG “out of the dark ages”.

Among Shah’s larger achievements was the long overdue swap out of SFG’s fax machines for Google’s collaboration suite and a fleet of iPads for communications between stores and head office. 

The company partnered with Cloud Sherpas for the configuration and implementation of the Google tools and mail routing, Telstra for the iPad procurement and subsequent mobile device management and security, UXC for the wireless access points and AAPT for ADSL router configuration.

The collaboration solution allows staff to take and upload photos of in-store setups, access the company intranet, browse an online visual merchandise catalogue (which was previously printed), and enter information into product markdown sheets. Shah was named a finalist for Retail CIO of the Year at this year's Benchmark Awards in recognition of the project.

Shah also moved almost all of Specialty Fashion Group’s servers out of its own data centre in Alexandria (Sydney) into Telstra’s shared facilities.

SFG’s new CIO Jessen already has his work cut out for him in his new role.

While the company uses Gmail for communication within all its stores, it plans to migrate the rest of the organisation off Outlook and Exchange over the next four months. 

Additionally, SFG plans to trial a mobile point-of-sale technology for seven of its US stores, to replace the Island Pacific PoS currently deployed.

The aim is to move towards ‘transactions as conversations,’ SFG's Ryan said, “so staff can talk to the customer with the PoS in their hand”. 

The US trial will start in June and run until the end of the year, and if successful, will be rolled out to SFG’s 900 stores worldwide. 

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