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Embedding Information Technology into the Heart of Your Business

Steve Zoltick, EVP & CIO, Hasbro
Steve Zoltick, EVP & CIO, Hasbro

Steve Zoltick, EVP & CIO, Hasbro

Could you give a brief overview of the current scenario of the IT industry space?

One reality that we all share, across industries, is the ever-increasing pace of change. I think it is both exciting and challenging for those of us in IT, to balance running the day-to-day, remain future-focused, and help our employees adapt to a culture of change.

For example, with technologies such as cloud and varieties of SaaS applications emerging in the market, we need to focus on remaining at the forefront of these capabilities while continuing to support everything that runs in the background for these applications to run effortlessly.

At the same time, as new and exciting technologies become available, we want our business partners to fully realize the benefits these can provide. At Hasbro, we have created a team called ‘adoption of technology,’ or AoT, which is a subset of my team. This team is dedicated to helping the business leverage these advancements. This initiative has been very successful and is a differentiator for us right now. It’s all about helping our employees work smarter and better with these tools -- so they can focus on the value-add.

Can you tell us about the latest project that you have been working on and about some of the technological and process elements that you leveraged to make the project successful?

We approach all of our strategic projects as partnerships with the business. These initiatives have an ROI associated with them, which we track very closely.  The ROI could be true cost savings, cost avoidance or deliver a capability we require to allow us to scale and be more competitive. I believe that IT has made significant strides over the past 5 to 6 years updating, implementing and leveraging technology to create true efficiencies that have not only returned a positive ROI, but positioned the company for future growth.

We have also implemented a DevOps model where we partner with our design team on the support and development of connected toys, which includes embedded code and mobile applications. We are leveraging the unique expertise we have within IT to bring value to the business in a new way, building in-house skills and reusable assets. This has not only reduced the total cost to create these products, but through automation, allows creative resources to spend more time developing innovative new products.

Another example that’s been incredibly successful is I’ll lend out some of my strategic thinkers to different teams within the business. They’ll help in a variety of ways, whether it’s driving a project, thinking differently about a solution, or helping map out processes within an organization.

What keeps you up at night when it comes to some of the major predicaments in the ITspace?

Again it comes back to the pace of technology change, to ensure that we are evaluating and choosing long-term solutions that allow us to stay competitive and cost-effective. Also, cybersecurity is always top-of-mind, when we are developing products or implementing projects, to ensure that we are compliant and secure.

Which are some of the technological trends which excite you for the future of the IT space?

Leveraging insights and behaviors through advanced analytics is helping to drive data-based decisions. I believe this will only get better, enhancing our capabilities through technology and having a positive impact on customer experience.

  Leverage the unique expertise you have within IT to bring value to the business in a new way  

Also, if I go back to fundamentals, productivity tools like Office 365 come to mind. We are focused on helping employees leverage this suite in ways that will help them be more productive. We have offices all over the world, and these tools are definitely helping us to be more collaborative.

There are additional technologies such as RPA that we are using to automate repetitive tasks and allow more focus on performing high-value work. We are also looking at technologies such as IoT, AR and 5G to name a few. We have a team of architects dedicated to assessing new technologies and building out our roadmap so that we can readily leverage these technologies when the time is right.

 Would you like to give a piece of advice for the CIO community?

I’m hopeful that, by now, all IT shops have the goal of getting out of the back room to be more of a revenue driver. We’re seeing this happen in several different ways across industries and practices, but the goal is the same.  No matter which industry you are in, embedding yourselves in the business and providing an understanding of the technology available will help maximize effectiveness in the organization.

My last piece of advice is that people have to have fun at work and enjoy what they are doing. That might seem easy when you’re surrounded by Nerf and Mr. Potato Head, but I think that it’s a key ingredient to success no matter what industry you’re in.

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