Earlier this week our Chief Information Officer, Jason Pratts, was featured in IDG Connect’s CIO Spotlight series highlighting CIOs from Fortune 500 companies to the next unicorn startup. As the co-founder and CIO of Appetize, Jason oversees the strategic direction of the platform, product team, and innovation as the company continues to expand into new verticals. With Jason at the helm, he’s helped the company achieve over 100% annual growth, yearly, since inception.
What was your first job?
My first job was at a local frozen yogurt shop in high school, and I ended up working there for three years and became the store manager. It was my first introduction to a point of sale system, complete with reporting and analytics, and I became hooked!
Did you always want to work in IT?
Not necessarily, but I always tried to leverage IT to drive change and innovation. I started out in a variety of industries, most recently in international distribution. It wasn’t until Appetize that it all came together and I realized how much I really enjoyed working in IT, solving problems for clients, and being a leader in innovation.
What was your education?
Do you hold any certifications? What are they? I have my Bachelor’s degree from Cal State Northridge, but have never been a big believer in certifications other than the school of real life lessons and building businesses.
Explain your career path. Did you take any detours? If so, discuss.
I’m a big believer in taking risks with your ideas. I’ve thrown a lot of mud up against the wall to see what will stick. That’s created lots of learning experiences and a pretty interesting LinkedIn page leading up to co-founding Appetize – an eyeglass distribution company, an equipment rental company, a receipt roll distribution company…
What business or technology initiatives will be most significant in driving IT investments in your organization in the coming year?
Appetize’s mission is to revolutionize the POS industry with a modern, omnichannel approach that delivers valuable data for businesses and a frictionless payment experience for customers. All of our initiatives are focused on our enterprise customers and the guest experience.
In the coming year, we’ll roll out enhancements to our online ordering solution and our newest, and very successful, self-service kiosk platform. We’re also going to launch a scalable architecture for partners and other third parties to better integrate to our platform, as well as some data strategy and warehouse initiatives. Those enhancements will help us deepen the footprints we have across the restaurant, retail, and quick serve industries.
What are the CEO’s top priorities for you in the coming year? How do you plan to support the business with IT?
We’re laser focused on staying ahead of the competition, and in our world, this means different things to each of our core industries. My top priority from Max (our CEO) is to develop a comprehensive plan that leverages existing and future technology to satisfy each of our core industries while continuing to deliver features that advance our product. It’s no easy feat to take a holistic step back and look at how the product architecture for an amusement park can be leveraged for a restaurant chain with 700 locations.
Does the conventional CIO role include responsibilities it should not hold? Should the role have additional responsibilities it does not currently include?
To me, it’s about blending some of the best parts of the traditional CIO role and modernizing it to include new and unexpected responsibilities. Today’s CIO is less siloed than ever before. They have a stake in technology development, product management, security, and more. Our skillset is changing and we are really becoming a core part of overall company strategy conversations. In my role at Appetize, we’re aligning technology efforts and product management. We look at what our clients are asking for and what the market is shifting towards and internalize that into actionable roadmap initiatives with scope and defined parameters from our technology organization.
Are you leading a digital transformation? If so, does it emphasize customer experience and revenue growth or operational efficiency? If both, how do you balance the two?
Yes. 100%. Helping enterprises transform their digital landscape is in our DNA. We founded Appetize because the industry needed a partner that really thought about the future of ordering and payments. Our digital transformation emphasizes all three components: customer experience, revenue growth, and operational efficiency. We focus on improving the way our clients interact with their guests. By changing the customer ordering experience, whether that’s empowering staff with easier to use software or adding self-service options (such as kiosks, online, mobile, etc.), data shows that revenue increases and turnaround time decreases.
Read the entire blog here.