Walmart is a tremendous, international conglomerate with nearly $500 billion in net sales each year. This includes e-commerce revenues of $11.5B for FYE 2018, with nearly half a billion visitors to Walmart’s website each month. Given this, it’s understandable that bold leadership is needed to drive Walmart’s ongoing success with effective information technologies. That bold leader is Clay Johnson Walmart CIO and EVP of Global Business Services.
While ensuring effective IT processes are in place for customers is a major responsibility, this is not Clay Johnson’s primary concern. He sees his internal IT commitments as a priority in creating strong global business services. From store and department integrations to information access for employees, Clay Johnson shows what a bold CIO leader looks like. However, his actual leadership influences extend well beyond the sphere of IT.
Bold Leader Clay Johnson’s “People First” Mentality
Some of the most important attributes of a bold leader involve their relational skills and commitment to others. Not only does a bold leader have confidence in others, but they feel comfortable delegating responsibility and engaging their participation. Clay Johnson demonstrates these bold leader features well as he has repeatedly identified this as a professional priority. But it just so happens that Clay Johnson views Walmart employees as important as he does Walmart’s customers.
Clay Johnson acquired his commitment to teamwork after receiving his MBA from the University of Texas. Unclear about his immediate future, Clay Johnson joined the U.S. Coast Guard where he served five years and learned the value of teamwork and collaboration.
Encouraging others to participate and contribute to the goal of fostered success while getting the most out of others’ talents. This has remained a foundation of his bold leadership approach ever since.
Transparency and Openness as Bold Leadership Tools of Empowerment
In Clay Johnson’s current leadership role at Walmart, he has been responsible for Walmart’s digital transformation. Likewise, he continues to combine IT and shared services through broad integrations and innovations. In doing so, he has noted that a bold leader must be transparent to be successful.
In order to get everyone on board and focused on a shared vision, transparency is vital. Openness naturally creates a level of comfort for everyone in the company, and it promotes a culture of trust and commitment.
Openness and transparency also offer additional advantages for a bold leader. Specifically, they serve to empower others to do their best and to work together. Clay Johnson has stated that a positive workplace culture requires open debates and a high level of participation. This invites dynamic innovation and overcomes resistance to change. As a foundation, however, a bold leader must be transparent to achieve these critical components of a positive workplace environment.
Clay Johnson Walmart – Continually Advancing Innovation and Positive Change
Clay Johnson strongly believes in the need to take risks and leverage failure for future success. He learned the importance of this bold leader mentality while serving as CIO at GE Power. For businesses to compete in dynamic and competitive industries, an attitude that constantly challenges the status quo is necessary. This is exactly the type of environment Clay Johnson has brought to Walmart today.
Recent developments at Walmart offer an example of Clay Johnson’s bold leader mindset in this regard. Recently, Walmart announced a joint partnership venture with Microsoft pursuing innovative cloud-based strategies. Utilizing Microsoft’s cloud services (Azure), internal apps and chatbots are being advanced to improve internal information access. These types of major shifts in company practices showcase a culture that embraces change — and Clay Johnson is a major reason for its presence.
Cultivating Bold Leaders of Tomorrow
As a bold leader, Clay Johnson takes his responsibility in cultivating future leaders seriously. Certainly, he serves as a tremendous role model for others, and he constantly mentors Walmart associates in their progress and advancement.
As Vice President of IT at Boeing, Clay Johnson was the executive leader of their accelerated leadership program.
Throughout his career, Clay Johnson has recognized the importance of leadership in realizing ongoing success. He appreciates how such leadership ultimately makes all of society a better place. By demonstrating bold leadership in every setting that he has faced, Clay Johnson has been a catalyst for positive change. Indeed, this change has benefitted Walmart, as well as make a positive impact on the hundreds of lives Clay Johnson has touched along the way.
To read more about Walmart and how they are driving innovation and digital transformation, read our accompanying article.
Walmart has long been the undisputed leader in the brick-and-mortar retail space. In fact, as of October 2018, it operated 5,352 stores and clubs in the US and over 11,200 stores under 55 banners in 27 countries. The retailer is also the world’s largest company, with more than $500 billion in revenue. But a few years ago, as the traditional retail landscape shifted to digital, Walmart faced threats. Disruptions brought the rapid success of e-commerce pioneers. Online advancements tested the retail giant’s ability to compete. Embracing the challenge to evolve, Walmart has been making strides in modernization. Now, the company’s ongoing digital transformation continues to reinvent the shopping experience. With technology as the main driving force, the Walmart innovation strategy is set to push boundaries in retail.
Adapting to the Shifting Retail Landscape
Aside from low prices, the use of data built the Walmart competitive advantage over the years as well. Information gathered in stores led to better insights on consumer preferences. But as technological advancements emerged, many of those preferences changed. Digital retail channels and online shopping rose in popularity. E-commerce companies like Amazon took market shares. Walmart, therefore, had to innovate to keep its store network ahead of the curve.
CEO Doug McMillon shared how the retailer became aware of the importance of technology.
Walmart put digital transformation on top of its agenda. It built an internal cloud network that houses massive data. This is useful for better customization of offers. Part of the Walmart innovation strategy, such data also improves internal operations.
To represent seamless service, the name Wal-Mart Stores, Inc. changed to Walmart Inc. This was a key move in the Walmart innovation strategy. The company streamlined its e-commerce unit and assigned new executive positions.
Moreover, the Walmart technology strategy involves notable acquisitions and partnerships. The retail giant teamed up with Microsoft to leverage the latter’s tech expertise. Enterprise CIO and Executive Vice President Clay Johnson noted the importance of the alliance.
Elevating E-Commerce to Compete Effectively
Walmart made a number of investments to boost its e-commerce capabilities. In 2016, the retailer acquired Jet.com for $3 billion. Also notable is the acquisition of Flipkart for $16 billion. These ventures are part of the Walmart innovation strategy to acquire, rather than build, digital competence.
The click-and-collect service is another key tactic in the Walmart innovation strategy. Customers can order online and pick their groceries up in person. The retail leader was ahead of Amazon in offering this option.
Other efforts include website redesign and diversification of product categories. In 2017, a partnership with Google enabled voice shopping. To further push the Walmart technology strategy, more e-commerce innovations are underway.
The Walmart Innovation Strategy – Transforming the In-store Experience
Walmart spares no expense to modernize. Stores are getting major upgrades. Environmental enhancements respond to the needs of consumers with digitally-driven lifestyles. Moreover, the Walmart innovation strategy increases efficiency.
In-store Walmart.com kiosks make shopping more convenient. Customers can use the kiosks to purchase online if an item is sold out. Likewise, the Walmart app has time-saving features. It allows customers to build shopping lists. Integrated store maps are available as well. Shoppers can also initiate returns within the app through a code-scanning function. These developments help push the Walmart innovation strategy.
The upgrades are helping associates to serve shoppers better. They can access to-do lists on mobile devices. They get exact details on items they need to move or restock. A scheduling app also allows employees to swap shifts easily. In addition, associates can choose to access the workplace app suite in their personal smartphones. Another option is to use the handheld device at the stores.
The Walmart innovation strategy includes better training programs as well. Walmart has set up nearly 200 Academies nationwide and has trained more than 500,000 frontline supervisors, department managers, and assistant managers.
In some stores, there are robots that facilitate certain tasks to support the Walmart technology strategy. These include restocking shelves, tracking overstock items and ensuring updated prices. The robots operate with AI and machine learning. This Walmart technology strategy improves inventory accuracy.
A Stronger Position Through Omnichannel Mastery
Seventy-three percent of consumers use multiple channels for shopping. Therefore, it means that for the Walmart innovation strategy to succeed, integration is a must. There should be seamless engagement with consumers across all online and offline channels.
Many compare Walmart to Amazon as the former continues to go digital. But the Walmart competitive advantage lies in the retailer’s physical stores. As McMillon puts it, “Customers want to save money and time and have the broadest assortment of items, and we think that by bringing e-commerce and digital capabilities together with the stores, we can do things that a pure e-commerce player can’t.”
Indeed, the Walmart innovation strategy and the Walmart technology strategy can strengthen the company’s position as the world’s leading retailer. More than that, Walmart has the potential to be a distinguished tech company in the years ahead.
To read more about the Bold Leadership of Clay Johnson, Walmart’s CIO and EVP Global Business Services, read our Bold Leader Spotlight.