When Cornell arrivedat Target’s headquarters in Minneapolis, he was installed in the newly redone CEO’s corner suite on the 26th floor. Almost immediately he insisted he be moved to a smaller office down the hall that is only steps away from the company’s global data nerve center.
That’s the company’s mission-control-style monitoring room, which it calls “guest central.” There a team of 10 staffers scrutinizes live feeds from social media sites such as Pinterest, Facebook, and Twitter, along with television stations, on nine large TV screens high on the wall. They watch intently and use software to aggregate data to gauge by-the-second reactions to a product launch or news
announcement or to respond quickly to, say, a customer fulminating on Twitter.
The social command center existed before Cornell became CEO. But he has beefed up its capabilities, and he’s looking for creative ways to use the data. He drops in every morning and insists on two updates a day.
Analytics have long been a central part of Cornell’s approach. When he headed Sam’s Club, the $55-billion-a-year Wal-Mart division, from 2009 to 2012,
he improved the unit’s customer-insights system, according to Maggie Nation, a marketing executive at Sam’s under Cornell. The effort yielded such good results that Wal-Mart had all of its insights teams report directly to Cornell.