To accomplish this and create the right technology ecosystem that ultimately puts the consumer’s experience at the center of the journey, retail CIOs are (i) developing a data-driven strategy; (ii) collaborating with technology partners, (iii) selecting the appropriate tools, solutions and capabilities to support continuously evolving strategies, and (iv) presenting a clear business case to fund next-generation technology investments.
1. Strategy: Use data to drive powerful insights
Data is the lifeblood of next-generation companies across all industries, including retail. Understanding what drives consumer purchases can unlock lasting consumer loyalty to a brand. But first, a strategy for an experience-led consumer journey is needed. And creating that strategy starts with developing a process for harvesting and unifying data on consumer behavior across the retailer’s many touch points.
This requires organizations to rethink traditional data governance models. Data ownership and stewardship have long been siloed or viewed as belonging to a specific functional domain. Now, the power comes from unifying and blending externally and internally derived data to create deep, meaningful insights about the customer, their buying habits and factors such as weather and market trends. If custom-developed software and software-as-a-service (SaaS) applications are the engines of innovation, having the right data fuels those engines.
Leading companies are now embedding IT teams into every part of the business structure, regardless of which units are involved. And CIOs are layering in streaming data architecture for real-time data evaluation. Collectively, the teams use the knowledge gained to drive informed decisions and strategically get products to market or pivot amid market changes.
Each division and leader has a part in the execution of the retailer’s experience-led consumer journey. With a strong strategy, retailers can aggregate data in the cloud into powerful data lakes and enrich it. That way, they’ll know exactly what’s being bought when and from which stores. This is critical to the retailer’s ability to adjust inventory in real-time.
2. Technology partners: See the true value of collaboration
It’s highly unlikely that retailers have all the institutional knowledge, insight and creativity needed to build an effective strategy on their own. CIOs who can bring in different perspectives on things like data analytics platforms, AI and cloud infrastructure will sharpen their business’s competitive edge. But that might be difficult with emerging technology-related skills now at a premium. Add to that the pace and scale of the transformation that’s now required, and it becomes clear: There needs to be a new approach to maintaining and strengthening an ecosystem strategy.