Retail CIO For President

Written by Todd L. Michaud
July 6th, 2010

Franchisee Columnist Todd Michaud has spent the last 16 years trying to fight IT issues, with the last six years focused on franchisee IT issues. He is currently responsible for IT at Focus Brands (Cinnabon, Carvel, Schlotzsky’s and Moe’s Southwestern Grill).

I can think of no other public sector position that is more qualified to run for public office than the CIO of a large, franchised retail chain. Most CIOs are hired under the “It’s time for a change” campaign platform. They then spend the rest of their time trying to undo what their predecessor did, working to make changes within a broken system that doesn’t want to change and doing so within a budget that’s not big enough, all while hoping their popularity stays above 50 percent so they can make it a full four years in office. Sounds like a natural fit to me.

The similarities don’t stop there. Let’s take a look at what it means to be successful as a Franchise Retail CIO:

  • They need to know how to remain popular while trying to implement complex standards (laws) the average person doesn’t understand. (If you can pass a PCI Level 1 Audit, you can easily pass Healthcare Reform; it’s a piece of cake).
  • They need to know how to debate openly with people who are not technically trained (but did stay in a Holiday Inn Express last night).
  • They must know how to take a beating from upset constituents.
  • They have to figure out how to tell people “no” and make them feel happy about it.
  • Most importantly, they need to know how to sell a little bit of their soul each day to make their business partners (special interest groups) happy while still delivering on campaign (interview) promises.
  • And let’s not forget “Strategery”–my all time favorite Saturday Night Live quote.

Hey, I Could Do That! Michaud for Senate in 2012!

When I was in high school, I was selected to attend an educational program where a handful of kids from various high schools were sent to a camp to learn about politics. It was a real eye-opener for me. I had no idea how complex government was or how it worked. I learned that the majority party can pretty much do whatever it wants and that being in the minority party really sucks.

I also learned that social engineering is the key to success. It turns out that no one in our “town” had decided to run for the House of Representatives (whoops!). Our counselor was not happy with us. I came up with a plan. I ordered three large pizzas from the campus restaurant and walked around handing out slices with a list of write-ins for the ballot that night.

Ten people from our county (consisting of two towns) were elected to the House. The other town had nine names on the ballot; we had none. However, our “Pizza for Votes” campaign strategy worked out much better than expected. We took 9 out of 10 seats.

I tell you this story because the lessons I learned at this camp are still relevant. It seems like every day I am doing some sort of horse trading to get things done. If I have any hope of standardizing on a single smartphone platform, I’m going to have to buy a lot of pizza.


Comments are closed.


StorefrontBacktalk delivers the latest retail technology news & analysis. Join more than 60,000 retail IT leaders who subscribe to our free weekly email. Sign up today!

Most Recent Comments

Why Did Gonzales Hackers Like European Cards So Much Better?

I am still unclear about the core point here-- why higher value of European cards. Supply and demand, yes, makes sense. But the fact that the cards were chip and pin (EMV) should make them less valuable because that demonstrably reduces the ability to use them fraudulently. Did the author mean that the chip and pin cards could be used in a country where EMV is not implemented--the US--and this mis-match make it easier to us them since the issuing banks may not have as robust anti-fraud controls as non-EMV banks because they assumed EMV would do the fraud prevention for them Read more...
Two possible reasons that I can think of and have seen in the past - 1) Cards issued by European banks when used online cross border don't usually support AVS checks. So, when a European card is used with a billing address that's in the US, an ecom merchant wouldn't necessarily know that the shipping zip code doesn't match the billing code. 2) Also, in offline chip countries the card determines whether or not a transaction is approved, not the issuer. In my experience, European issuers haven't developed the same checks on authorization requests as US issuers. So, these cards might be more valuable because they are more likely to get approved. Read more...
A smart card slot in terminals doesn't mean there is a reader or that the reader is activated. Then, activated reader or not, the U.S. processors don't have apps certified or ready to load into those terminals to accept and process smart card transactions just yet. Don't get your card(t) before the terminal (horse). Read more...
The marketplace does speak. More fraud capacity translates to higher value for the stolen data. Because nearly 100% of all US transactions are authorized online in real time, we have less fraud regardless of whether the card is Magstripe only or chip and PIn. Hence, $10 prices for US cards vs $25 for the European counterparts. Read more...
@David True. The European cards have both an EMV chip AND a mag stripe. Europeans may generally use the chip for their transactions, but the insecure stripe remains vulnerable to skimming, whether it be from a false front on an ATM or a dishonest waiter with a handheld skimmer. If their stripe is skimmed, the track data can still be cloned and used fraudulently in the United States. If European banks only detect fraud from 9-5 GMT, that might explain why American criminals prefer them over American bank issued cards, who have fraud detection in place 24x7. Read more...

Our apologies. Due to legal and security copyright issues, we can't facilitate the printing of Premium Content. If you absolutely need a hard copy, please contact customer service.