Home Depot hasn't announced any specific IT hiring plans, but the company has more than 100 IT jobs listed on its careers page. The company is working on both internal and external IT capabilities. It recently rolled out, for instance, new handheld devices across its stores that can provide everything from business intelligence capabilities to customer receipts.
At a quarterly meeting with financial analysts this month, Home Depot Chairman Frank Blake said the company has an "entire focus" around what it calls "interconnected retail" that involves more than selling online and providing research help. "They get project knowledge online, so there's a lot of ways in which our bricks connect with our online presence and we want to make sure we have the best experience in all of retail for that," he said.
Home Depot said it is "always looking for good IT talent," said Steve Holmes, a spokesman. "We've been working diligently to transform our IT on many levels, so we're certainly in search for talent to help us with this mission," he said.
Jimit Arora, a research director in Everest Group's service provider intelligence group, said retailers are working to respond to mobile computing, social media and other technology changes.
"A lot of the new consumer demand is being driven to a great extent by some of these new technology paradigms," said Arora.
A robust online presence is particularly critical to a businesses like Best Buy that sell to the technology-aware millennial generation, said Arora. These firms can't necessarily rely on service providers, who might not be able to respond as readily.
Sucharita Mulpuru, an analyst at Forrester Research, said it will be a challenge for large retailers to build this capability, "because often the best development talent gravitates not to a retail environment but to start-ups and trendy places like Twitter."
"I think more than anything, this speaks to the complex environments that will be needed to make changes in the future -- any single change to any digital aspect of a business reverberates through so many channels and touch points, and all of that needs to be changed at the same time," said Mulpuru.
Heise believes that the company will be an attractive employer to IT professionals.
"This is a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to build an IT organization, or rebuild an IT organization, for a Fortune 100 company," said Heise.
Patrick Thibodeau covers cloud computing and enterprise applications, outsourcing, government IT policies, data centers and IT workforce issues for Computerworld. Follow Patrick on Twitter at @DCgov or subscribe to Patrick's RSS feed. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.
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