Chief digital officer or CIO? If the cap fits...

Australian CIO of New Era Cap Co shares his journey to bring technology to business and why his title has been a big subject of debate

You may never have heard of New Era Cap Co, but you have probably seen its products, given they have been worn by celebrities and sporting luminaries from Jennifer Lopez to Babe Ruth.

For almost 100 years, the Buffalo, New York-based company has been making baseball caps, becoming the exclusive supplier to Major League Baseball in 1993 and subsequently expanding into other apparel. But when it came to a digital strategy, the company had been well and truly a laggard.

It has been Lorenz Gan’s job to help turn that around.

Gan doesn’t sound like your usual CIO, being just as comfortable talking to sales and marketing executives as he is to his own technology team. He even considered not taking the CIO title, and possibly joining the surging ranks of chief digital officers.

“What’s in a name?,” he asks. “It’s about the impact I’m having in an organisation. But the CIO title does put me in a box a little bit, so I’m redefining what CIO needs to be.”

Perth-born Gan joined New Era Cap in 2016 following a six-year stint in technology roles with the London-based fashion house, Burberry. Earlier in his career, he spent six years in technology roles with Telstra. Somewhere along the line, however, he began to sense the difference between what he describes as ‘version 1.0 CIOs’ and the type that he believes are needed today.

“My MO and my sweet spot is about being a modern CIO who understand the complexities of systems and infrastructure,” Gan tells CMO. “But the majority of meetings are with the front-of-office, product and brand marketing, where I’ll say ‘you’ve got great stories to tell, let me deliver the platforms that will elevate those stories’.

“The CMO/CIO relationship is so critical. I had that at Burberry, I have that at New Era. That I can deliver a digital outcome only works when you have that relationship.”

One of Gan’s first activities on joining New Era Cap was to ride along with sales reps. He spent a year deeply involved in different aspects of the business, including sales and supply chain, to see where the real challenges were in the business.

“Some of the comments that came back from customers were saying working with New Era was like going to the dentist,” he recalls. “When you hear it from a customer, not through an interpretation from a rep, you realise you have something to do.”

One of his first investments was in an ecommerce platform from SAP Hybris – something New Era Cap had been lacking throughout its history. Gan had experience with SAP from his time at Burberry, and says the decision to bring in a platform from a supplier whom many within New Era associated with ERP took some explaining. When that implementation proved successful, it gave him scope to push further in terms of building out digital capability.

“You are only as good as your last delivery,” he says.

Any remaining SAP sceptics were won over however when he was able to use SAP Hybris to create a custom cap configurator.

“People from well-known apparel and footwear brands have reached out to me and asked how we really did it,” Gan says. “They said they don’t know SAP that way. So it is about flipping the script a little bit, delivering outcomes that make them say, ‘wow, how did you do that?’.”

While Gan could have worn the chief digital officer tag, he believes ultimately the title is irrelevant. “I came through the technical tack, but I have a love and a passion for the marketing track as well,” he says.

“I always thought the perception of IT needed to change to move from the back office to the front office. And I saw success in my career when I was able to bridge the gap between IT and brand and marketing leadership - people that never gave IT much mind were all of a sudden having conversations with me.”

  • Brad Howarth travelled to the SAP CX Live conference as a guest of SAP.

Follow CMO on Twitter: @CMOAustralia, take part in the CMO conversation on LinkedIn: CMO ANZ, join us on Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/CMOAustralia, or check us out on Google+:google.com/+CmoAu

 

 

Join the newsletter!

Or

Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

Error: Please check your email address.
Show Comments

Latest Videos

Launch marketing council Episode 5: Retailer and supplier

In our fifth and final episode, we delve into the relationship between retailer and supplier and how it drives and influences launch marketing strategies and success. To do that, we’re joined by Campbell Davies, group general manager of Associated Retailers Limited, and Kristin Viccars, marketing director A/NZ, Apex Tool Group. Also featured are Five by Five Global managing director, Matt Lawton, and CMO’s Nadia Cameron.

More Videos

Hi,When online retailers establish their multi channel strategy and they are using or will to use live chatbot to support their customers...

Alice Labs Pte. Ltd.

CMO's top 8 martech stories for the week - 6 May 2021

Read more

Thanks for nice information regarding Account-based Marketing. PRO IT MELBOURNE is best SEO Agency in Melbourne have a team of profession...

PRO IT MELBOURNE

Cultivating engaging content in Account-based Marketing (ABM)

Read more

The best part: optimizing your site for SEO enables you to generate high traffic, and hence free B2B lead generation. This is done throug...

Sergiu Alexei

The top 6 content challenges facing B2B firms

Read more

Nowadays, when everything is being done online, it is good to know that someone is trying to make an improvement. As a company, you are o...

Marcus

10 lessons Telstra has learnt through its T22 transformation

Read more

Check out tiny twig for comfy and soft organic baby clothes.

Morgan mendoza

Binge and The Iconic launch Inactivewear clothing line

Read more

Blog Posts

Getting privacy right in a first-party data world

With continued advances in marketing technology, data privacy continues to play catchup in terms of regulation, safety and use. The laws that do exist are open to interpretation and potential misuse and that has led to consumer mistrust and increasing calls for a stronger regulatory framework to protect personal information.

Furqan Wasif

Head of biddable media, Tug

​Beyond greenwashing: Why brands need to get their house in order first

Environmental, Social and (Corporate) Governance is a hot topic for brands right now. But before you start thinking about doing good, Craig Flanders says you best sort out the basics.

Craig Flanders

CEO, Spinach

​The value of collaboration: how to keep it together

Through the ages, from the fields to the factories to the office towers and now to our kitchen tables, collaboration has played a pivotal role in how we live and work. Together. We find partners, live as families, socialise in groups and work as teams. Ultimately, we rely on these collaborative structures to survive and thrive.

Rich Curtis

CEO, FutureBrand A/NZ

Sign in