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RFID Visionary No Longer CIO at Wal-Mart

Current Wal-Mart chief information officer Linda Dillman has been named to a new post. Dillman is one of the most recognized personalities in RFID. It was, after all, during her tenure that Wal-Mart issued the RFID mandate to its top 100 suppliers, an event that many credit with single-handedly catalyzing the RFID industry as it exists today.
Tags: Retail
Apr 05, 2006This article was originally published by RFID Update.

April 5, 2006—Amid a shuffling of five Wal-Mart executives announced this morning, current chief information officer Linda Dillman was named to a new post, executive vice president of risk management and benefits administration. Current executive vice president of logistics and supply chain, Rollin Ford, will take the reigns from Dillman. The CIO post at Wal-Mart is considered one of the most powerful and prestigious CIO positions worldwide.

Linda Dillman is one of the most recognized personalities in RFID. It was, after all, during her tenure that Wal-Mart issued the RFID mandate to its top 100 suppliers, an event that many credit with single-handedly catalyzing the RFID industry as it exists today. That was in 2003. Subsequently, Dillman became a leading figure in RFID, speaking at conferences, in interviews, and of course directly to anxious Wal-Mart suppliers at company headquarters in Bentonville, Arkansas. The industry listened carefully to everything she said about RFID, and her public comments typically made headlines in the trade press. In 2004, Dillman and her staff were awarded InformationWeek's "Team of the Year" for their work in RFID.

Dillman's job shift does not reflect poor performance. On the contrary, she was one of four other executives to be shifted into new roles, a long-standing Wal-Mart practice of exposing leadership to various aspects of the business. This philosophy of "cross-pollenization" was espoused by Wal-Mart founder Sam Walton, who himself wore many hats at the company.

It will be interesting watching to what extent Rollin Ford, the new Wal-Mart CIO, involves himself with the RFID industry. Of course, the enormity and complexity of Wal-Mart's IT operations comprise far more than RFID, so it should not be expected that Ford will necessarily be as hands-on with the RFID initiative as Dillman was. On the other hand, Ford's previous position as EVP of logistics and supply chain might mean that he takes a keen interest in one of the world's most cutting edge supply chain technology programs.

One thing is certain: Dillman will enjoy a legacy in RFID, as the industry wouldn't be where it is today were it not for the visionary decisions she made.

Read the announcement from Wal-Mart
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