Fast food chain Subway is launching a new digital division that will add 150 new jobs to support the push for more digital technology within the organization and create an omnichannel strategy.

Subway, which passed McDonald’s in 2011 to become the world’s largest restaurant chain, is teaming with Accenture to help fill the available digital jobs until permanent hires can be made, said Carman Wenkoff, Subway’s CIO and chief digital officer.

“We’ll be recruiting for all these positions now. We literally have 150 positions that are open and what we’re doing is because we’re also realistic about our timeline and relocating people, we’re not going to rush it. So in the interim we’ll fill many of those seats with our partner Accenture as we recruit more,” Wenkoff said.

The digital group is based at Subway’s headquarters in Milford, Conn., and each new job will be located there as well. The job titles include diverse types of talent such as data analytics, campaign management, software development specific to digital, user design experts and graphic design, Wenkoff said.

SEE: Why Dick’s Sporting Goods decided to play its own game in e­commerce

Gartner sees a major trend towards these kinds of digital jobs that combine traditional IT and marketing functions. Digital business is taking hold around the globe. According to the Gartner 2016 CIO Agenda survey of 2,994 CIO respondents across 84 countries, the average CIO expects digital revenues to grow from 16% to 37% in the next five years.

At the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo in Orlando, Gartner Fellow and Vice President David Aron said that the world is now knee-deep in the era of digital business, with many companies reimagining their business and operating models based on digital capabilities.

Relaunching its digital app

To take advantage of and the new digital group to drive digital growth, Subway plans to likely relaunch its mobile app, which quietly debuted last year.

“We will be taking a good, hard look at our app and likely relaunching that with a new look-and-feel and more

personalized customer experience,” said Wenkoff. “We’re taking a very fresh approach with the loyalty program so we plan on completely revamping and relaunching that program and we’ve got some exciting things coming with that. And ultimately, it really is a more frictionless experience with us and we’re going to try to expand the digital channels we expand our customers in.”

The app already includes mobile ordering and payment options in the US, but there were glitches in the back-end design when it was originally created and the company has been ironing out the problems.

“Back-end design is definitely a tricky business,” he said. “If you think about what happens when a customer places a remote order, maybe they’ve chosen the wrong location, maybe they have chosen an ingredient or bread type that we may have run out of or not supplying. We’ve been working on all those subtle things. That’s why you don’t see remote ordering or payment in all of our locations yet. It’s in all US restaurants, but not yet globally. We are in the process of deploying it in Canada.”

Part of an omnichannel strategy

The reason the company decided to create a digital group was to try to improve its customer loyalty program and better market Subway through multiple channels as part of an omnichannel strategy.

“We actually started working on the strategy over a year ago. We were looking for basically a better way to organize ourselves,” said Wenkoff. “We’re always looking to improve how we deploy our solutions and raise the bar. We started looking at the future opportunities of how the world was changing with digital and how we needed to evolve to meet the demands of the world.

“We really started doing a deep analysis of the opportunity specifically around the areas of omnichannel retail solutions, what our competitors were doing, the customer trends, putting together a strategy for accepting that as well,”

Customer data will be collected on everyone who uses the app to try and better market to each person individually.

“Customers will see a more personalized experience and that will change constantly over time. Our goal is to leverage what we know about our customers, their habits and based on research, based on data, and to really offer them a personalized experience that begins in the digital arena but will certainly continue as they walk into the restaurant,” he said.

“We want to be able to make sure we understand things like customer preferences and customer habits but continue to engage them in fresh ways. If they’re always buying the same thing and we understand what other customers like who buy those sandwiches, maybe we can curate those menu offerings a little menu and how we engage and through what channels.”

The 3 big takeaways for TechRepublic readers

  1. Subway is adding 150 jobs to its newly formed digital division.
  2. Subway will likely relaunch its mobile app to better market to customers.
  3. The average CIO expects digital revenues to grow from 16% to 37% in the next five years.

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