#SpeakerSpotlight: Gale Blank, Vice President of IT, Holt Renfrew

Gale Blank leads IT at one of Canada’s top fashion retailers, Holt Renfrew. Her experience includes senior leadership roles with several leading retailers, including Walmart. She will share her expertise at the Wavefront 2017 IoT Summit.

In this Speaker Spotlight, find out why Gale thinks we need to approach data in a whole new way and her tech solution to “alternative truths”.

What do you think one of the greatest misconceptions is about IoT/next generation technologies?

Not that this is uniquely true for IoT but most new technologies are easier to talk and dream about than to create value with. Although IoT is relatively simple technology, it will depend on lots of infrastructure, different ways to think about computing (gpu vs cpu) standards and an ability to integrate the outcome into something that makes money.

What are the key challenges around adopting IoT technologies/ transitioning to a digital organization?

The biggest challenge is the cultural shift that is required to appreciate data as an asset.  This will demand a different way to manage, govern and think about data.  As the economy shifts to acknowledge that data is worth something (look at the valuations of some tech acquisitions), we will focus on acquiring the customer data (not necessarily the customer), the transactional data and the data and skills of the associates …not hard assets.  The assets they are willing to pay for show up in goodwill.

Are Canadians ready for the Digital Revolution?

I am not certain that any country is truly ready.  There are structural changes that this will create that our society will have to determine. Just the accounting of the data that matters is problematic. The appreciation that citizens’ data is their property and theirs to monetize is a goal that could be helpful.

If you could create a smart technology to make your job easier, what would it be?

I’d create a technology that translated context in conversations.  People have a heck of time communicating with each other, even in the same language.  How about something that takes words and creates a graphic so all could agree on what they see in real time? It might challenge the notion of “alternative truths”.


One Comment on “#SpeakerSpotlight: Gale Blank, Vice President of IT, Holt Renfrew”

  1. Some senior execs have perfected the art of avoiding risk by saying very little. Well done, Gale! (In her defense, they’re likely still trying to figure out what to do).

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