Harley-Davidson names chief digital officer as it overhauls operating model

Motorcycle manufacturing company Harley-Davidson has appointed Jagdish Krishnan as its chief digital officer. In this newly-created role, Krishnan (pictured below) will lead the development of a new digital strategy that will enable the company to deliver desirable customer retail experience. This will be done with innovative, direct-to-consumer technology that supports eCommerce and dealer digitisation.

Krishnan will also lead the modernisation of Harley-Davidson’s global information systems that support all business operations, and is tasked to build seamless digital interfaces with products, services, commerce and Harley-Davidson’s global dealer network. Krishnan will report directly to Jochen Zeitz, chairman, president and CEO of Harley-Davidson. His appointment is part of the company's "The Rewire" strategy as it aims to overhaul of its global operating model and create a leaner, more nimble organisation.

jagdish krishnan

Krishnan has more than 20 years of experience leading digital transformation. He also brings strength in partnering with business stakeholders, leadership and customers to identify needs and deliver solutions to position organisations for advanced growth. He most recently helmed the role of vice president and chief digital officer at Bose Corporation, where he championed the transformation of the business model and the operating model leveraging digital technologies. Prior to Bose, he was with Deloitte & Touche and Patni Computer Systems, where he had a mix of experiences including P&L responsibility, information security, enterprise software deployment, programming and IT operations.

According to Zeitz, an enhanced digital experience is "absolutely critical" for Harley-Davidson to make its digital capabilities more customer-centric. "We will take a completely different approach to applying digital technology across the company to fundamentally change how we operate and create value. To deliver on our objectives, we must have an innovative and high-performance IT function," he said, adding that Krishnan will ensure the brand connects with its customers at all touch-points of their purchase journey.

In July, company said changes to its operating model include all areas of the business globally, from commercial operations to corporate functions. It is added that the streamlined structure requires approximately 700 fewer positions across the company’s global operations, and an estimated number of 500 employees are expected to exit the organisation through 2020. 

The key elements of "The Rewire" strategy launched in July include enhancing core strengths and better balance expansion into new spaces, prioritising markets that matter, resetting product launches and product line up for simplicity and maximum impact, building the parts and accessories and general merchandise businesses, as well as adjust and align the organisational structure, cost structure and operating model to reduce complexity and drive efficiency.

"Our new operating model is simpler, more focused and enables faster decisions across the entire company. We’ve taken a hard look at our entire set up, our spending, and how work is getting done, to align our operating model, structure and processes. We are building a strong foundation to drive a high-performance organisation in the future," Zeitz said. 

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