Deloitte US launches global drone solutions offering

26 November 2018

Deloitte US has launched its Global Drone Solutions service, aiming to support public and private sector clients with drone strategy and integration (as well as drone risk and counter-drone strategy) as the sector rapidly accelerates in value and viability.

Unmanned Aerial Systems (UAS), also known as drones, have expanded beyond their military origins into a range of commercial applications. The most mature application of drone technology is as a platform for surveillance, photos, and videos – feeding businesses’ thirst for more data and derived insights. Agribusiness is already using drones to monitor crops and collect soil data, while insurance companies have started employing drones to inspect damaged assets. Perhaps the most headline-grabbing commercial drone application is Amazon’s pilot project into drone delivery – which threatens to completely upend the way packages are delivered.

According to a 2017 McKinsey report, the value of drone activity in the US has risen from $40 million in 2012 to about $1 billion in 2017. The consulting firm projects commercial drones, including corporate and consumer applications, to account for between $31 and $46 billion of US GDP by 2026.

With new software able to automate drone navigation and data analysis, drone applications – e.g. the monitoring of construction, crops, materials, traffic, crowds, and infrastructure; catastrophe response; search and rescue; and security – are becoming even more practical. Deloitte US launches global drone solutions offeringBig Four consultancy Deloitte is hoping to help clients across government, healthcare, and insurance, among other industries, deftly plan and integrate drone technology into their operations. The firm launched its Deloitte US Global Drone Solutions offering at the Unmanned Security Expo earlier this month. The service will help clients determine how to adopt, accelerate, and/or protect against the use of drones.

"The application of drones is almost limitless across numerous industries," said Peter Liu, managing director, Deloitte Consulting LLP and drone offering champion. "With so much potential, however, comes a lot of risk and we are not only helping clients figure out the best way to use drones but deploy them in a way that meets their business objective, adheres to government regulations, and gets them the data they need to make the right decisions."

The team will help public and private sector clients improve their business intelligence with data-driven insights from drone technology. Deloitte will assist with strategic plan development, flight path and data transfer questions, drone data analysis and automation, and data insights/integration in core businesses. The drone solutions team will also help clients address drone-related risks and regulations.

"As companies or government entities look to manage their drone risk, we've outlined key steps that they can take to proactively address that increasing risk," said Chris Hewlett, specialist leader, Deloitte Consulting LLP, and Deloitte US Global Drone Solutions offering leader. "Some of the biggest risks to organizations are from unintended consequences, which could seem unpredictable and difficult to prepare for, but through risk assessment, crisis management, and modeling, organizations can mitigate that risk."

The drone solutions team is already working with clients across industries in the US and the globe to incorporate drones into operations, as well as on drone risk and counter-drone strategy.


Struggling retailer Pier 1 Imports names AlixPartners advisor as interim CFO

23 April 2019

Texas-based home goods retailer Pier 1 Imports has appointed Deborah Rieger-Paganis, a managing director at AlixPartners, as its interim chief financial officer.

As the bricks-and-mortar retail sector continues to be hammered by consumer shifts to online shopping, Pier 1 Imports is one of many traditional retailers attempting to stay afloat.

The retail market has been a fairly inhospitable environment to big incumbents in the past decade, despite a strong overall economy. Payless Shoes and Gymboree filed for bankruptcy recently, and will shutter all or most of their stores. The US division of Toys R Us shut down last year, while Sears filed for chapter 11 bankruptcy. After winning a bankruptcy auction, Sears aims to forge ahead with a streamlined footprint of 400 stores.

Things aren’t projected to get better for retailers in the short or long term, however. Coresight Research expects more than 6,500 stores to close in the US this year, while UBS Securities estimates that 75,000 stores will be shuttered by 2026 if e-commerce penetration rises from its current level of 16% to 25%.

Struggling retailer Pier 1 Imports names AlixPartners advisor as interim CFO

Pier 1 Imports, meanwhile, closed 30 of its stores in the fiscal year ending in March. The firm reported that its same-store sales fell 13.7% in the quarter that included Christmas.

According to Bloomberg News, the company – which sells furniture and home décor – has been working on a comeback plan for months. In December, however, the firm canned its CEO and scrapped his turnaround plan, bringing in interim CEO Cheryl Bachelder, who previously righted the ship at Popeyes Louisiana Kitchen.

Pier 1 also brought in AlixPartners, a consulting firm known for its expertise in restructuring and turnaround, to help build a new strategy.

The company has now named AlixPartners managing director Deborah Rieger-Paganis as its interim chief financial officer, replacing outgoing CFO Nancy Walsh. Rieger-Paganis has over 30 years of experience leading and improving retail firms’ finance organization and business operations.

During her 17 years at AlixPartners, Rieger-Paganis has served as an advisor and interim CFO to numerous companies, including Aritzia, Toms Shoes, and Cirque de Soleil.

Before joining the consultancy, she was senior vice president of financial planning and analysis at MasterCard, and vice president of finance at clothing retailer Ann Taylor. Rieger-Paganis began her career at Touche Ross (now Deloitte), where she spent over a decade. She holds a BS in accounting from the State University of New York at Albany, and is a certified public accountant.

“Deb has a wealth of finance, retail industry and turnaround experience, and we are pleased to have her join the Pier 1 team,” Cheryl Bachelder, interim CEO, said. “Deb has worked closely with the leadership team in a consulting capacity in recent months, and I am confident her expertise will continue to be a valuable asset in leading our finance organization.”

According to Bachelder, the company and its advisors have built a fiscal 2020 plan to reset cost structures and build momentum. Rieger-Paganis’ expanded role will help the firm execute on its turnaround plans.

“I look forward to working closely with Cheryl and the rest of the management team as we continue to focus on Pier 1’s priorities for fiscal 2020,” Rieger-Paganis said. “Over the past four months, Pier 1 has been building more structure and rigor into the planning processes across key areas of the business and operations. I am committed to instilling financial discipline across the organization as we work to drive a successful turnaround and create value for shareholders over the long term.”

After reporting its troubling fiscal year results last week, Pier 1’s share prices fell 22%. The company’s stock risks being delisted from the NYSE if it spends much more time below $1, according to Bloomberg News.