Success StoriesOctober 14, 2020

Fashion Starts with Digital Transformation: Being a Change Agent with Nordstrom CTO

Fashion Starts with Digital Transformation: Being a Change Agent with Nordstrom CTO

Inspired Execution: Nordstrom CTO Edmond Mesrobian talks about the important role context plays in delivering an unrivaled customer experience for retailers.

The latest episode of the Inspired Execution podcast features a conversation with DataStax Chairman and CEO Chet Kapoor and Nordstrom CTO Edmond Mesrobian. 

Join Chet and Edmond as they discuss:

  • What’s come easiest to Edmond over the course of his career at Expedia and Tesco, and what’s been particularly challenging
  • Why it’s hard being a change agent and what you need to do to successfully enact change at your organization
  • How all computer science problems have already been solved, and how the only thing that changes is the context around the problems
  • Examples of customer journeys where Europe was ahead of the U.S. and how COVID-19 has forced the U.S. to play catch up, quickly
  • The technologies that Edmond finds most interesting today

According to Edmond’s friend Alan Kay, the majority of computer science problems have already been solved, and there’s very little new.

“What's new is the context and the journey that it takes to get to the other end. And so the problems are very similar. I mean, most people think that there's so much uniqueness, but at its core in retail, it's about supply and demand, it's about trying to figure out how to bring the most relevant product to your customers in a meaningful way to enable rich discovery experiences.”

Edmond also makes the case for COVID-19 being the most influential change agent at most organizations today.

“I think what COVID has done is focus of attention. It just narrowed the aperture to the moment, the now, and actually for the entire executive team and the company. It's a lightning rod that has created a focused opportunity. If you then use that focused opportunity, then you could figure out, "Okay, how do I use this to accelerate my transformation? How do I use this moment as an inflection point for positive, to turn a negative into a positive?" That's the journey we're on.”

From a technological standpoint, Edmond is impressed at how infrastructure has changed over the last several years.

“Probably the biggest transformation is that the infrastructure required to really build something wonderful and world-class no longer requires you to be the infrastructure provider in every sense of it. You don't have to invent at that layer and you can put more of your fuel at inventing at the customer edge.”

One interesting development in recent years is how businesses have moved from using KPIs to measure their success to predictions.

 “KPIs were about reporting the news of the past or giving you some signal of the present. But every AI-driven or machine learning-driven enterprise is very much about leveraging predictions, generating predictions, actuating those predictions, measuring the feedback, and then always operating in a continuous learning mode.” 

Edmond also touches upon the power of context and how contextual experiences are becoming a key differentiator.

If you think about it, it's being relevant in the moment. I need to be able to the sense what you're doing now but I need to be able to go and marry that with what you've done in the past and then formulate a prediction of what is the next best action to try to get in front of you.

Listen to this episode of Inspired Execution to learn more about how Edmond believes organizations can successfully enact digital transformation, the importance of context in today’s business environment, and how it’s becoming easier than ever for enterprises to build data-driven applications that deliver personalized experiences to users.

The story behind “Inspired Execution”

Interested in learning more about the genesis of the Inspired Execution podcast?

Remember to listen to previous episodes of Inspired Execution with:

Also, check out Episode 0 to hear DataStax Chairman and CEO Chet Kapoor speak to what inspired the series and what listeners can expect from his interviews with CIOs and tech leaders from the world’s top enterprises.

The podcast series is available on, Apple Podcasts, Google Podcasts, and Spotify.


One-stop Data API for Production GenAI

Astra DB gives JavaScript developers a complete data API and out-of-the-box integrations that make it easier to build production RAG apps with high relevancy and low latency.