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Identifying new retail IT value

Friday February 24 2012

Horizons, Retail Technology’s annual look at the vendors that are likely to be at the forefront of industry specific IT trends, puts store systems integration and support, as well as mobile printing and networked video security.  

Horizons, Retail Technology’s annual look at the vendors that are likely to be at the forefront of industry specific IT trends, puts store systems integration and support, as well as mobile printing and networked video security.

 

UK analyst firm Martec International set the backdrop for the development of these retail IT trends last year when it published its 2011-12 IT in Retail report of the UK’s leading 100 retailers, in conjunction with BT Expedite. The report concluded that, many retailers were struggling to keep pace with the rapidly changing requirements of multichannel operations with legacy systems slowing them down.

 

In publishing the report Brian Hume, Martec International managing director, stated: “Replacing these systems is vital for gaining competitive advantage. Consumers expect a seamless experience across all channels and retailers need to offer a single stock pool that can be accessed from all customer touchpoints, such as smartphones to check stock availability, pricing and product information.”

 

Changing IT priorities

 

For the first time ever, the report that top retailers’ priority for IT investment was e-commerce and mobile, suggesting that getting the balance right between innovation for competitive gain and cost cutting and productivity efficiencies would be key requirements for any new IT investments.

 

Richard Lowe, BT Expedite chief executive, added: “There’s a positive indication of an increase of retailers planning to upgrade key business systems to keep pace with the continuing shift to multichannel retailing, as well as the growth of mobile internet access and m-commerce. If this happens IT spend [in 2012] is likely to increase, but is dependent on both local, and increasingly, international economic factors.”

 

Star Micronics and Microsoft Windows Embedded – two 2012 Horizons contributors – both highlight how retailers can offer cost-effective seamless customer service and experiences instore by integrating with online and mobile channel technologies.

 

Taking a broader industry-wide perspective, Gartner recently said IT organisations will have to deliver on multiple priorities without an increase in their IT budget. Its global Executive Programmes survey of 2,335 chief information officers (CIOs) found IT budgets were under pressure in North America and Europe.

 

IT-enabled innovation

 

“The 2012 Gartner CIO Agenda survey results show that CIOs believe that the customer experience is the greatest opportunity for IT-enabled innovation,” said Dave Aron, Gartner vice president and fellow. “As business executives see the potential of technology to transform customer channels and the customer experience, their view of technology has leapfrogged conventional ideas of IT.”

 

As evidenced by Axis Communications, Genetec and Retail Response – the other 2012 Horizons contributors – Gartner endorsed the fact that the definition of IT now incorporates new combinations of traditional IT systems, consumer devices and their respective services across industries.

 

Mark McDonald, Gartner Executive Programmes group vice president and fellow, advised: “Mobility, social media, information and analytics can be used to re-imagine the customer experience, as well as sales and service channels. These technologies do more than automate or administer processes; they are the processes and the sources of value.”

 

Register to view the 2012 Retail Technology Horizons supplement in full here and receive free access to issues of Retail Technology magazine in electronic format.