True leadership exhibits an inclination towards building a learning culture that enables disrupting the norms and setting new benchmarks. A leader who has constantly demonstrated this, in reality, is Kris Rao. Kris is a business and transformation visionary who has led digital success for enterprises through his expertise in ideating, architecting, and championing digital initiatives. He has evangelized the adoption of new and emerging technologies— including Cloud, eCommerce, Agile Methods, AI / ML, IoT, Blockchain, and AR / VR, creating IT portfolios that deliver multimillion-dollars business value at speed, increased business agility, and competitive advantage.
For over two decades, Kris has played multiple leadership roles in globally renowned companies, becoming a highly accomplished executive who has propelled both business and IT performance to the next level. Currently, he leads the establishment and execution of enterprise-wide IT & Digital strategy as the Chief Information and Digital Officer at HNI Corporation.
HNI is the leading provider of workplace furnishing and residential building products. It has entrusted Kris to ensure digital alignment with the enterprise’s business strategy and achieve business success.
A Journey of Developing Broader Perspectives
Starting his professional journey, Kris got into consulting and collaborating with professionals from the digital field. During his tenure at massive corporations like Oracle and Motorola, Kris gained various perspectives and enriched his learning curve about technology, delivering high performance at speed and building productive relationships.
During his stint at Hospira, he led a total IT transformation project, considering the scope of improvement across the organizational pillars.
Kris enhanced his knowledge of cloud, big data analytics, and IoT with each leadership position he held. This experience was applied aptly at Ricoh Americas, a 6-billion-dollar organization with operations spread across the US, Canada, and Puerto Rico. As the CIO, Kris drove digital transformation for the company, including the manufacturing operation space, visualization technologies for technical services, IoT, and Blockchain.
For his current role at HNI, he is entrusted with the responsibility of driving an expansive digital transformation portfolio again that perfectly aligns with the organization’s vision of exceeding customers’ expectations. From lead generation, demand generation, customer engagement models, digital channels, visualization technologies, ERP transformation, migration to the cloud, cyber security effectiveness while helping people get into the agile methods across both business and IT.
Emerging at the Technological Forefront
Kris firmly believes that technology assists us in:
- Understanding customer journeys, personas, profile propensities, gaining insights, and deploying HNI’s digital engagement channels to improve the top and bottom lines.
- Effectively penetrating the B2C and B2B markets while leveraging the deep understanding of customer behavior to integrate the upstream and downstream. This integration enables complete digitization for inventory optimization, ensuring availability at the right instance and reducing wastage and write-offs.
- Creating an impressive pipeline and enabling its promotion, sales forecasting, and connecting it to the supply chain and Sales and Operation Planning (S&OP).
- Facilitating end-to-end integration of product engineering to the bill of materials in manufacturing. HNI syndicates this intelligence into their digital and ecommerce partners and leverages products like Product Data Hub and Product Lifecycle Management, thus improving consistency and reducing cycle times.
- Enabling industry 4.0 platforms and predictive analytics to improve and automatically fix issues and boost HNI’s COGS and SGNA posture.
Above and Beyond
To stay aligned with HNI’s corporate goals of the top line, bottom line, and customer engagement, Kris has undertaken initiatives in collaboration with HNI’s technology partner Hexaware to explore the digital realm’s potential for deriving agility in IT superior business outcomes.
His constant endeavor to innovate and reimagine customer experiences leveraging technology has driven not one but multiple innovations and transformation projects that have enhanced engagement, transformed customer experiences, and favorably affected HNI’s business results.