Jim Kerr is a tech entrepreneur that specializes in transforming organizations from startup to Fortune-50 by creating game-changing technology solutions. He is a thought-leader that has decades of experience establishing technology vision, developing market strategy, and driving innovation in all areas of an organization.
Jim is also a musician and Berklee College of Music trained Recording Engineer and Record Producer. He is an active supporter of Artist Rights and serves as the President and Chief Executive Officer of the Foundation for Musicians and Songwriters who is a 501c3 Public Charity that focuses on developing careers for emerging musicians and songwriters.
Jim is a motivated and visionary leader that has decades of experience forming high performing teams. At Orbitz, he helped build an IT organization that transformed how the world travels. At Walgreens, he formed a Gartner recognized world-class IT team that transformed Customer Experience for over a 100 million consumers.
Jim is passionate about technology and has devoted his career to strategically implementing IT solutions that make our world a better place while helping the firms he represent quickly generate revenue and ROI. Jim’s unique background across wide-ranging industries including Healthcare, Internet, Retail, Banking, Insurance, Real Estate, Private Equity, and Aerospace in both public and private companies has afforded him the opportunity to experience firsthand how technologies that benefit one industry can be strategically applied to another achieving phenomenal results.
Jim the Entrepreneur
Jim has been an Entrepreneur his entire life. Jim started his career at 9 years old as a Paper Boy in Columbus, Ohio and he has held continuous employment ever since. Jim has founded numerous business throughout this career.
Jim’s Experience at Orbitz
Jim was one of the original startup team members of Orbitz where he helped build a team that has been widely recognized as changing how the world travels. Jim was a thought-leader, innovator and game-changer for Orbitz. He is best known for creating their Customer Experience systems that helped the Company navigate through the tragic events of September 11, 2001. The systems pioneered during that time were revolutionary and often referenced in the mainstream press including the Wall Street Journal, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, and USA Today.
Jim helped Orbitz navigate through several major transformations from startup through two IPO’s (NASDAQ: ORBZ; NYSE: OWW), acquisitions, mergers, private equity ownership and divestitures as well (see brief Orbitz history). Jim assisted with the expansion of the Company into Europe and Asia supporting multiple languages, regulations and currencies.
Jim’s Experience at Walgreens
After leaving Orbitz, Jim Joined Walgreens where he was brought in to assist with transforming their Customer Experience systems. Walgreens at the time was a 110 year old Company. Technology and customer relations had taken a back seat to their nationwide expansion — Walgreens took 100 years to grow to 1,000 locations then opened 7,300 additional locations in 10 years. Walgreens needed an innovation expert that had the technical expertise and business acumen to help them rapidly transform the business. Jim’s background was a perfect fit for the role.
Jim led the end-to-end transformation of the Walgreens customer experience systems across all brands and divisions. He started the journey by developing the telecommunications strategy that led to establishing one of the world’s largest private phone companies — centralizing connectivity to all 8,300 retail locations, 24 contact centers and 300+ corporate facilities connecting millions of customers and 250,000 employees. The telecom ttransformation enabled instantaneous disaster recovery, provided nationwide consistency, and provided the foundation for the world class voice-driven customer experience systems that followed.
The telecommunications transformation was not an easy task. Jim had to foster partnerships with the leaders in the telecommunications industry including Cisco, Avaya, Nuance, Genesys, AT&T, Verizon, NICE, Oracle, and Acme bringing the competitors together to jointly build the first-of-its-kind infrastructure using the best offerings from each of the vendors.
The telecommunications strategy was core to the second phase of the strategy to network all locations with high-availability MPLS circuits. The nationwide always-on connections enabled the Company to deploy 49,000 centralized point of sale systems (POS) across the chain in 14 months. The new POS terminals enabled the company to start tracking sales from all corners of the store (Pharmacy, Photo, Retail and Cosmetics) and maintain pricing/inventory consistency nationwide. Accordingly, although not known at the time, the upgraded point of sale systems helped the company avoid the credit card security issues that plagued Target, Home Depot and other large nationwide retail chains.
Phase three of the Walgreens Customer Experience transformation was to establish a Customer Loyalty Program called Balance Rewards. The loyalty rewards program was central to providing a seamless customer experience across the company as well as establish a standardized database that can track and predict customer behavior. The rewards program is the key differentiator for Walgreens that enabled the Company to provide relevant and timely communications and marketing to consumers. The program utilizes emerging Internet of Things (IoT) technologies that quickly mines data and unearths otherwise undetectable trends. The Balance Rewards program took about 12 months to build and grew to over 100 million members in less than 10 months. Industry analyst estimated that the Balance Rewards program was the largest customer loyalty program launch in history.
Phase four of the strategy was to modernize the Company’s digital assets. This was a multi-pronged program that included
- establishing a modern eCommerce presence for walgreens.com,
- acquiring Drugstore.com,
- implementing social media strategies and engaging with twitter, facebook, pintrest, FourSquare, and most crowd sourced services,
- creating the Android, Windows and iOS mobile platform applications, and
- consolidating a multitude of legacy customer support systems into Salesforce.com.
The development and integration of the digital assets took about 3 years and earned countless industry accolades and technology awards.
Jim the World Traveler
Jim not only works hard he plays hard. He has spent time working or vacationing on nearly every continent. He loves to meet people and live like the locals. Some of his trips include Africa, India, Vietnam, Cambodia, Roatan, Mauritius, and Cuba.
Jim the Pilot
Jim is a Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) licensed pilot and aircraft mechanic. Jim has been piloting aircraft since 1986 and has owned and operated numerous complex single-engine and multi-engined aircraft.
Jim is an Aviation Enthusiast and has piloted classics, warbirds, C17’s, homebuilts, business jets and aircraft of all types and configurations.
Video of Jim flying with the Aeroshell Acrobatic team
Jim the Musician
Jim is currently enrolled in Berklee Music School in Boston, MA where he is studying Guitar, Music Production and the Music Business. Jim has been influenced by many great musicians including Buddy Guy, BB King, The Beatles and Rolling Stones.
Jim’s passion for music and artist rights led him to joining a nonprofit 501c3 public charity focused on helping emerging musicians and songwriters develop their careers in the music industry. Jim said, “I am tired of seeing everyone take advantage of musicians and feel it is everyones responsibility to do something about it before it is too late. Talented artist cannot survive on $0.0006 per stream of their music, touring expenses are at record levels while profits are at an all-time low and Record Labels are forcing artist into unfavorable 360 degree contracts tying up every aspect of an artist career.” The Foundation for Musicians and Songwriters sole mission is to help artist develop a meaningful career in the music industry without taking one penny from the artist they serve.