Subway, the global restaurant chain, has announced plans to create a new digital group. The CIO of the food retailer has revealed why the firm is looking to expand into digital technology through a new division to be based at its headquarters in Connecticut.

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Subway is no stranger to innovation. The firm was set up in 1965 in Bridgeport Connecticut as the brainchild of a 17 year-old high school graduate, Fred DeLuca. With just a $1,000 loan from a family friend, Peter Buck, the two partnered to launch the first sandwich shop specialising in submarine rolls.

From these humble beginnings, Subway went on to achieve unparalleled commercial success, franchising out to become the largest global restaurant chain. In 2011, Subway eclipsed McDonald’s in terms of retail revenue, consistently delivering a service which meets ever-changing consumer demand.

While technology is not intuitively associated with sandwiches, it seems that current CIO and Chief Digital Officer Carman Wenkoff has identified an opportunity to launch a new digital division which will result in the creation of an additional 150 new positions. The objective is the delivery of an omnichannel strategy. This will streamline the consumer experience, unifying Subway’s brand and working across multiple platforms and functions to provide a seamless customer interface.

Subway has partnered with Accenture to fill the roles (no pun intended) required to achieve the technical improvements in the short-term, until it is able to recruit permanent internal candidates for the positions. The firm has suggested that this will enable it to fill the 150 positions with employees who are perfectly suited to driving forward its digital strategy.

All of the new positions will be based in the Milford, Connecticut headquarters, requiring that ideal candidates relocate. Specialisms will include data analytics, user design expertise, graphics production, digital software development and campaign management.

Subway launched its first digital app last year, and the firm plans to revise and enhance the app to further develop its digital functionality for customers. Plans for the app include a revised ‘look and feel’, plus some additional features.

According to Wenkoff, the Subway loyalty programme will be re-developed, creating a simple yet streamlined consumer experience which will be available across a range of digital channels. While customers may currently order and pay on smartphones or the web across the USA, a number of initial glitches in the app and its back-end design meant that the consumer’s digital experiences was, in some ways, less than ideal.

Wenkoff believes that the firm’s commitment to digital technology will address all aspects of the customer journey, ironing out any issues and optimising the overall process. The firm is currently launching the app in Canada.

While Subway is by no means a late adopter, it seems that the firm is harnessing the global trend towards digital employment, bringing together IT and marketing functions. The altered climate of consumer habits shows that customers now expect full digital functionality within all industries.

This acceptance and demand for social media, streamlined functionality and immediate access to digital apps means that more and more organisations are choosing to redevelop their operating models and strategy to embrace omnichannel marketing.

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