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AT&T's Thaddeus Arroyo: Tech will transform customer engagement

Mary K. Pratt | Dec. 11, 2014
Thaddeus Arroyo, president of technology development at AT&T, believes IT leaders must show their organizations how technology will transform both how they do business and how they engage with customers.

Thaddeus Arroyo, president of technology development at AT&T, believes IT leaders must show their organizations how technology will transform both how they do business and how they engage with customers.

"Today's technology thought leaders," he says, "are guiding and informing business strategy, not just enabling it." That kind of thinking, along with his leadership skills and strategic vision, earned Arroyo the 2014 MIT Sloan CIO Leadership Award. Arroyo, who oversees about 15,000 IT employees and 10,000 contractors, shares his ideas on being a CIO.

Does your CIO position focus on internal as well as external users? My role definitely includes both internal and external components. I oversee systems supporting all the AT&T business segments, which includes servicing consumers and small, midsize and large businesses, and I'm responsible for global compute and services. And in addition to directing the internal information technology organization, I'm also responsible for external hosting data centers, and for all of AT&T's digital properties across all business segments.

Those digital properties are run by my team. For example, if you walk into the retail store, we develop the point-of-sale system and all the tools they're using. If you're using the AT&T app, our team does the development for that. My team does the digital experience design and works with the businesses to drive the customers into these digital properties.

You talk about the transformation of your digital perspective by 2020. Can you expand on that? It's finding a way to meet our customers in new places, and it's critically important. Customers expect to be served on their terms, and they're increasingly demanding to interact with us in ways that meet their immediate expectations.

So as we move into this era where customers and things are connected and constantly online, and I frame up our perspective by 2020, it's looking at how we evolve beyond e-commerce and self-service to create new business designs in ways that blur the digital and physical worlds. I support the technology that supports the physical side — the call centers and retail stores — and if you're engaging with us through a digital channel. So what we're striving for by 2020 is to capture, integrate and interpret data in a way that directly impacts the customer experience. They shouldn't have to tell us what we already know. We want to extend this intelligence to the physical and digital boundaries.

Tell me more about the new chief digital officer position that reports to you. We set our goal to move 80% of our customer interactions to digital channels by 2020, and we had to look at what it would take to really do that. To elevate this focus and to deliver consistent experiences, we appointed the chief digital officer and created a team. [The position's] chief action is to enable this effortless digital experience.

 

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