Interview With Home Depot Co-Founder Ken Langone
Ken Langone is a legendary American businessman. Mr. Langone first rose to fame as the banker who convinced Ross Perot to IPO his Electronic Data Systems by promising a 100 price-to-earnings ratio on the shares. Later in 1978, Mr. Langone co-founded global juggernaut Home Depot. With $110 Billion of trailing revenue and 400,000 employees, Home Depot’s actions set an example for the entire retail industry. We had the privilege of interviewing Mr. Langone on the technological trends at Home Depot.
RR: What has been Home Depot's relationship with technology, was there a time when the firm started to embrace tech or have you always since inception?
KL: Whatever technology was available to manage the business and identify trends and be competitive in market pricing we would use, now we are using technology to train our people. Home Depot will spend $11 Billion over the next 3 years on technology.
RR: Where do you see the impact of technology most in Home Depot’s business?
KL: Probably the front end. Our website is in a constant state of evolution, we are always making it better for the client. We are trying to make the user experience as easy as possible while helping our customers make informed decisions.
RR: We have covered the smart warehouse wars between Ocado and Amazon, please tell us about Home Depot’s warehouses?
KL: You can't imagine the supply chain management that goes into stocking each store. We are talking about 100,000 square foot boxes selling $400 a square foot worth of items. There is just tremendous physical sell-through.
RR: Tell us about managing each store’s employees?
KL: We are using technology to keep our associates better informed of new products, and what those products do, how they do. This type of continuous training of 400,000 associates can only be done with a serious commitment to technology.
RR: What would you say is one of the biggest technological changes at Home Depot?
KL: The front end where the customer checks out has always been a bottle neck, its a general problem retail has. So the advent of self-checkout has really helped to expedite the process.
RR: Where would you say Home Depot concentrates the most on technology in its business?
KL: The trio of merchandising, supply chain management and training of our associates. But, also using technology to pick people who are deserving of advancement and opportunity within the company is critical.
RR: I have to ask about Amazon?
KL: Amazon has made Home Depot better, no question. I think they are a different channel to us, if our customer wants to shop sitting in their living room, now they can, our stores are within 1 mile of 90% of the consumers in america, so we have that last mile covered. Amazon simply can’t reasonably accommodate the large products in our stores. Our customers look for a 2 by 4 or a few feet of pipe.
RR: What is your overall feeling about Amazon & Jeff Bezos?
KL: Amazon is a great company. We learn so much from them. Jeff Bezos is who you want to pay attention to, incredibly smart and humble.
RR: Has Home Depot jumped on the Cloud?
KL: We warmly and enthusiastically embrace cloud technology?
RR: What type of technology are you working on now at Home Depot?
KL: We are working on really anything that can allow us to know more about our customer. Also training our people to understand the experience of the customer and better assist them.
RR:As you are a big advocate for improving public schools, do you believe technology can help America catch up from being in the high 20's in education despite being #1 in spending?
KL: Well, we can’t do any worse. Yes, I think technology will be instrumental in more efficiently teaching our children.
Do you have an opinion on the best way to educate our children on the coming technological age?
KL: I think we need to elevate the quality of instruction, however technology can help us do that would be great.
RR: Last question, Langone Health is a global beacon of research, though and goodness, is there a technology you have seen employed at the hospital or researched that has made you excited?
KL: One thing I’m excited about is we are going paperless, everything from prescriptions to patient history. Healthcare is a sector that is being extremely impacted by technology.
Written by Alexander Fleiss & Edited by the Rebellion Team