As it is often being said lately-mobile, social, big data and cloud are going to be the next big thing in the sphere of technology. According to a study, conducted by Forrester and commissioned by TCS, these disruptive technologies will be the key drivers to revolutionize the retail industry status quo but retailers are not staffed or structured adequately to take full advantage.
This study, called ‘The Global Agenda of Retail CIOs’ took inputs from with senior business and IT executives of 192 global retailers, to analyse the trends and challenges in implementing the enablers of the next step of online retail.
Mobile to lead all disruptive retail innovations
Mobility is the foremost factor that is essential to drive any online retail business ahead. Having a mobile first or a mobile-ready strategy is needed to reach more potential customers, as the consumers are now making purchases on the go.
CIOs plan to rapidly implement an array of mobile technologies, with context-aware tech (32 percent), mobile payments (28 percent), digital signage (24 percent), and mobile POS (22 percent) leading the way. According to the findings, where 73% of the retail CIOs in UK have already implemented some form of mobile payments, 60% retailers in Germany have no mobile plans at all.
On a similar note, the online retailers in India, Flipkart, Zovi, Amazon India etc. have come out with mobile apps to reach more consumers, and many are following that trail.
Cloud will make IT-teams move ahead of traditional practices
Cloud technology is gradually moving up the ladder. Heavy investments in this area is driving it to new innovations. Going ahead with this will lead to freeing up of IT resources being deployed by companies.
As per the study, 41% of retail CIOs currently use Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) for back-office functions such as supply chain and product lifecycle management or ERP and 52% intend to do so over the next five years.
Big Data has a lot of untapped potential
Big Data is another much talked about concept. However, while on side many still haven’t fully understood, on the other, those who understand it haven’t been able to fully utilise its potential. The research concurs with this observation, Big Data is not yet being used to the level to drive actionable insights.
Utilisation of Social Media intelligence will guide product design
As per the study 80% of the retail CIOs extensively use social media for sales and marketing, customer service and recruitment. Product design is another area where Social Media will play a major role, as 26% of retailers link social media insights to R&D and product development, and 46% plan to do so in the coming few years.
Canadian firms are leading other countries/regions in this matter, with 67% retailers already leveraging social media for R&D.
Roadblocks in implementing innovations
Shortage of talent and lack of technical skills in professionals make up the main obstacle in attaining technological milestones. 67% of retailers believe attracting talent to be a big challenge in the coming 3-5 years. Once hiring process is complete, retention is another area retailers work hard for, as they are keen on not losing out on the acquired talent to their competition.
Additionally, as shown in the infographic above, a third of the retailers are struggling to obtain professionals in the field of mobility. Four out ten CIOs turn to SaaS solutions and are forced to leverage external partners with emerging mobile expertise to make up for the lack in expertise and talent.
Similar predictions have been made by experts earlier as well. Cloud, Big Data, Mobile and Internet of Things are growing to be giants of technology that will drive the businesses in the coming years. Consumers are more informed and better connected, thereby retailers can leverage this to their advantage, by reaching consumers at multiple touchpoints, social media and mobility can enable this. Additionally IoT devices are generating so much data, that by using the right set of analytical tools, a lot of information on consumer behaviour could be extracted and thus aid in deciding the course of a business.
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