Lack of high-end brands and poor customer service aren't the only reasons that the Wal-Mart era is coming to a close. The retailer's once legendary information-technology department has also lost its way.
Wal-Mart rose to prominence by offering a large variety of products at rock-bottom prices. In order to sell its goods for less, Wal-Mart obsessively squeezed inefficiency out of its processes for stocking and replenishing its stores. The key was IT: Wal-Mart developed state-of-the-art systems that let it track its inventory, manage its relationships with suppliers, and find trends that could help it make better decisions about what products to stock. In its heyday, Wal-Mart churned out IT leaders the way GE produces CEOs. H-P CIO Randy Mott, Microsoft COO Kevin Turner, and Amazon.com CIO Rick Dalzell are all former Wal-Mart tech heads.
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