Starbucks taps tech sector exec as COO

Profile picture for user gonzodaddy By Den Howlett January 22, 2015
Starbucks is undergoing a digital transformation - this is the next natural and logical step.

Kevin Johnson - COO Starbucks
Kevin Johnson - COO Starbucks

Starbucks has appointed Kevin Johnson as COO. He has been a board member since 2009 and was previously CEO at Juniper Networks following long stints at Microsoft and IBM. Why should this matter?

From the blurbs:

As president and chief operating officer, Johnson will lead the company’s global operating businesses across the Americas, EMEA (Europe Middle East and Africa), and China/Asia Pacific, as well as Starbucks supply chain, information technology, and mobile and digital platforms.

He reports directly to Howard Schultz, CEO Starbucks.

In June 2013, Stuart Lauchlan reported:

We’re not satisfied with the status quo. We want to continue to push for self renewal and reinvention.” (quoting Schultz)

A lot of that reinvention is going to come from the way the coffee giant tackles the shifting nature of its distribution channels...Or in other words, how effectively can the firm leverage key assets such as Starbucks social, digital, card loyalty and mobile platform and take them into the grocery aisle.

...Starbuck has been thinking digitally for some time, since shortly after Schultz was brought back in as CEO to turn around what at the time was a stricken brand.

In August 2014, Derek DuPreez caught up with Robert Teagle, who heads up IT in EMEA. Eagle said

It’s all about innovation – managing innovation and how it relates to us in the retail world. Really thinking about how we at Starbucks think about innovation, how we think about it internally, how we think about it in terms of our customers, bringing innovation to everything we do.

Whether that’s a product, or whether its in the technology, we try to bring innovation to the fore.

My take

  1. You can see a pattern here and one we are watching closely. Starbucks (love them or hate them) popularized the coffee shop phenomenon but when it ran into trouble, brought back its founder. Founders of successful brands are an odd breed. They are innovators. so when Schultz returned he immediately set about transforming the company's operations to be much more aligned to the new forms of commerce that are emerging.
  2. Johnson's appointment, while a surprise to many should be seen as the next step in the development of Schultz digital transformation strategy.

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