There has been a flood of articles on the future of retail – exciting, albeit occasionally intimidating news about developments such as artificial intelligence, omnichannel commerce, and platform ecosystems. All of this is driving the ever-increasing pace of how retailers are defining what it means to innovate in a rapidly changing world. It is no longer a conversation about bricks and mortar vs. eCommerce, or simply surviving in the wake of the online giants. There is a sense of optimism about new markets, and opportunities to be realized through the adoption of the correct technology, and fresh perspectives.
“The tools, strategies and technologies required to be successful in this new world are available. The toolbox for success is here, and it’s up to retailers to choose the right tools from the toolbox in order to grow their business.” – KPMG – Global Retail Trends 2018, March 2018[
Technology as a key enabler for retail
A recent report by KPMG suggests that three of the top five global trends in retail are shaped, transformed, and enabled by technology. This imposes a heavy burden on retailers, as they must stay on top of the latest trends and shifts in the market. However, without a solid technological foundation that ensures seamless day-to-day operations, it becomes difficult, if not impossible, for retailers to focus on new technology innovations.
So what does a solid foundation mean? I think of it as keeping your hardware and software up to date and supported, allocating appropriate storage, and keeping network systems secure. All of this works together to handle high volumes of traffic, and a high velocity of demand, while delivering an excellent customer experience that doesn’t risk security, or ease of use.
Here’s what IT has to say
Before moving forward, and chasing the latest trends, we need to hear from the front lines. The people who work and live this every day. I spoke to a number of retail-based IT professionals to understand where they spend the majority of their time and resources in an effort to keep their organizations competitive. Approximately two-thirds of an IT department’s time is spent on lifecycle support and risk mitigation. The remaining time continues to shrink in the face of the growing logistical demands that have arisen as a result of the proliferation of IoT devices, mobile computing, subsequent data growth, and cyber security needs. This type of strain on time and resources hinders the organization’s ability to innovate. It’s becoming more challenging today to focus strategic goals of enhancing the customer experience, attracting new talent, or increasing employee retention through technology.
So where do you start?
As my organization continues to support the IT infrastructure of our customers, our mantra has always been about getting back to basics. How successful an organization will be, in their march to the future of retail, will depend on the simplicity, scalability, and resiliency of the core foundations. Let’s address this first, and then move on to the business of innovation.
As your network is a critical foundation for your retail operations, we can help you to ensure your existing network infrastructure is on track for the modern retail experience by leveraging our network optimization assessment.
If you’d like to have a conversation about this, and explore these ideas further, don’t hesitate to contact me and let’s have a chat.