RIS CIO of the Year Winners Unveiled

The winners of the fifth annual CIO of the Year awards were announced June 17th at an awards ceremony and banquet at the Retail Executive Summit held in Laguna Beach, CA.
This year's winners faced the largest field of nominees in the award's five-year history, and were singled out by the nine person judge's panel as the most deserving among a highly competitive class of finalists.
A more in-depth look at the winners will be published in the August/September issue of RIS, but a quick look at the award recipients and their project follows.     
Strategic Impact:John Hnanicek, CIO, Charming Charlie
Hnanicek implemented a cloud-based infrastructure across Charming Charlie's rapidly-expanding enterprise, leveraging a mix of private cloud offerings and off-the-shelf solutions to reduce cost and complexity and improve efficiency and agility. The strategy has focused on ushering in real business transformation, as opposed to mere process improvements or technology refreshes. With its cloud model, the retailer is gaining extensibility, faster time to market, and support on a global scale without the need for extensive capital investments. By moving away from the traditional IT model of managing technology to leveraging the cloud to support growth and agility, the organization now has low IT cost as a percentage of revenue and a greatly reduced internal headcount.
Innovation: Steve Blackmore, CIO, Total Hockey
Blackmore led the organic development and execution of an end-to-end omnichannel workforce management solution. The new system enables real time inventory across the entire enterprise, pick and pack abilities from all store locations, and a customer relationship management solution to help manage phone and loyalty accounts. Since its implementation the solution has cut shipment times, enhanced staff productivity, and improved customer feedback.  
Customer Engagement: Eric Singleton, Former CIO Chico's FAS
Singleton implemented a suite of innovative new technologies that creates a distinctive interactive experience for Chico's customers. The technology is engineered to capture the customer’s interest by integrating shopping experiences with original content and new delivery technologies both in the store and out. The Retail Theater is based on the premise that the intersection of art and technology drives all actionable events, including transactions.

Retail Trailblazer, Greg Buzek President, IHL Group and Donor Trustee, Retail Orphan Initiative
This award is a little bit different from the rest. It does not honor a retail CIO. But rather an industry leader who is making a difference both in his organization and out — quite literally changing the lives of children around the world. Greg Buzek is the founder and president of IHL Group a global research and advisory firm for the retail and hospitality industries. While Greg has certainly done amazing work for IHL it is not his research and consulting skills that he was recognized for, but rather his philanthropic efforts.

Buzek is one of the founders and driving force of the Retail Orphan Initiative, a charitable foundation that seeks to help the 400 million orphaned and vulnerable children around the world. In six years, Retail ROI has been involved in helping an estimated 158,000 children gain access to clean water, education, computers, language training and care. Greg has spearheaded 80 projects in 17 countries.