Starbucks Appoints New Chief Digital and Information Officers

I was intrigued by the brief discussion we had in class about New York being the first city in which a mayor has hired a Chief Digital Officer and I was curious about popular companies that may be using a similar model.  On March 9th of this year, Starbucks announced that they have promoted two senior leaders, Adam Brotman and Curt Garner who will carry the titles of Chief Digital Officer and Chief Information Officer respectively.  Brotman will report directly to President and CEO, Howard Schultz.  The plan is for Brotman to expand their business though digital means including web, mobile, social media, card, loyalty, e-commerce, Wi-Fi, and the Starbucks Digital Network.
Not only is the new position of Chief Digital Officer an important business strategy for increasing consumer awareness as well as overall sales, it was very wise to utilize these two individuals who were given the promotions.  Considering the fact that marketing through use of digital tools is such an important and worthwhile strategy, I believe it makes great sense that Starbucks promoted from within the company rather than hiring people from the outside to jumpstart the initiative.  Brotman and Garner each have several years experience with the company.  By promoting from within, the chances of Brotman and Garner capturing and effectively displaying the essence of the company through digital and social media are much higher than someone without any Starbucks corporate experience.
My questions to the class are as follows:
This announcement came just a couple of weeks ago.  Is Starbucks late in creating a Chief Digital Officer position?  Can we speculate on why it took them so long to do so?
Does anyone know if Starbucks’ competitors have instituted the same strategy and when they may have done so?
How will this increase revenue for the company?  Can we expect a fast and drastic increase or will the effects of the strategy be more modest and occur over a relatively long period of time?

7 thoughts on “Starbucks Appoints New Chief Digital and Information Officers

  1. Hi, I did some research on the peer group of Starbucks on Bloomberg. The following peer companies have an executive role for marketing / people.

    YUM! Brands Inc has a Chief “People” Officer name Ann Byerlein-Hollan
    Chipotle has a Chief Marketing Offiver – Mark Crumpacker
    Domino’s has a Chief Marketing Officer – Russell Weiner
    Tim Hortons has a Chief Brand & Marketing Officer – William Moir

    None of the above or the following companies had a Cheif Marketing or “Digital” executive.

    Panera, Dunkin Brands, Mcdonalds, Cheesecake Factory, Wendy’s, Peets Coffee & Tea, Jack in the Box, Darden Restaurants.

    I think starbucks might use their social network to encourage more gatherings at their stores that can handle more people. This could potentially increase revenue.

    • This is interesting research Paul. I feel that Digital Marketing or Social Media positions are new to the business world, as are the use of social media outlets in the business world. This could be a trend that is starting to take shape but right now it looks that companies hand these “nontraditional” tools to the traditional standard marketers and companies result to hiring consultants who can hone in on the specifics of social media. As this field continues to develop I could see more and more positions come up in companies around the world because social media is something that every company should capitalize on.

  2. I think Starbuck is definitely smart, digital and social media strategy will help enhance the image of the company in long period of time. And new leaders promoted within the company know the overall marketing objective of the company. Their background will help them better understand how to make the right decisions for Starbuck.
    Also, it seems that more and more companies are building their social media departments. Using new interactive tools for expanding traditional market is becoming a new trend in the marketplace.

  3. Thank you everyone for taking the time to reply. I personally am surprised that this is still considered a bit of a novel idea. I think it’s safe to admit that social media is always going to be a part of our culture going forward and to not take complete advantage of it seems very short-sighted. If used in a controlled and constructive way, I feel it can only enhance the performance of a business.

  4. I don’t think Starbucks is necessarly late in creating a Chief Digital Officer position. These types of executive positions arise from needs that cuminate over years. Many large companies didn’t have Chief Information Officers long after they were networking their entire companies and everyone was using PC’s. Further Starbucks has been doing pretty well on the digital front by most accounts. Their iTunes relationship, in-store wi-fi, mobile app functions, etc make them one of the most digitally savvy retailers out there in my book.

    Any large customer facing retail operation is going to need to have digital stragies going forward. You can’t avoid social. It’s more often where your company/brands are being discussed and companies need to be a part of those conversations or suffer the consequences of not understanding customers perceptions.

    Keeping up with digital is keeping up with how your customers experience and communicate with the world and learning how best to utilize digital platforms to provide customer value. Keeping up with Social is keeping up with where your customers are communicating and what they’re saying and your company, your competitors, suppliers, industry, society, etc. Understanding digital and social to the best of your ability affords opportunties to help shape the conversation towards a outcomes that are favorable. This will help increase revenue much like any other brand marketing efforts.

  5. I think this is a smart idea for Starbucks. We saw the benefits of having a digital officer in the Obama case study. And it was also a good idea to promote from within as they will bring the essence of Starbucks to their new role rather than a strictly technical outlook. They are already technically advanced and have a very useful iphone app. As Starbucks become a mature company it is important for them to continue to innovate and this is a great example of them evolving.

  6. I think it’s very important for companies in the product and service industry to build and maintain good relationship with their customers. Starbucks is used to (and may be still so) be famous for its good quality coffee, outstanding service, and their comfortable and convenient place. As more and more businesses get involved with social media and take advantage of all digital innovation, it is the time to have someone particularly in charge of this area.
    Is there a chance that maybe in the future, companies will ask Chief officers who are responsible for such digital and information area also have experience of degree in psychology or social study?

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