- Inspire Brands, parent company of Arby's, Buffalo Wild Wings and Sonic, named Raghu Sagi CIO effective April 15, according to a company announcement. Sagi will report directly to CEO Paul Brown.
- Sagi served as chief engineering officer at makeup retailer Sephora and oversaw its omnichannel, retail, personalization and CRM and data insights platforms. He comes from technology roles at Walmart, Best Buy and Accenture.
- Former CIO Darla Morse left Inspire Brands for another restaurant company, CKE Restaurants, owner of Carl's Jr. and Hardee's, according to a company announcement. She was formerly CIO of Arby's and SeaWorld and Walt Disney World in various technology roles.
A CIO has to shepherd ideas that make room for digital transformation while keeping the lights on. Inspire brands is expecting Sagi to use technology to "enhance the experience" for its 1.7 billion guest interactions yearly, according to the announcement.
CKE Restaurants and Inspire Brands are the latest restaurant parent companies to undergo technology leadership changes.
More parent companies have onboarded or are looking to onboard CIOs to oversee IT operations of brands within their portfolios. In February, Yum Brands, owner of Taco Bell, Pizza Hut and KFC, said it's looking for a senior tech leader.
The cohesion of IT across brands creates a unified business strategy with one overarching leader. When technology is done right, it serves as a driver of growth, which is why Inspire Brands and Yum Brands are having their technology heads report directly to their CEO, as opposed to the CFO.
Some newly appointed CIOs will have close ties to the CMO. Shake Shack named its first CIO in February as it gears up to streamline customer experiences and marketing. The company had to roll back a failed kiosk experiment in 2017.
Carl's Jr. is also relying on an infusion of technology and marketing. The fast food chain is facing customer deficits and adopted data platform provider Quantifind to dissect and analyze what customers and interest groups engage most with the brand. Other Quantifind customers include Hardee's, Yum Brands' Taco Bell and Chipotle.