Retailers Turn to Disruptive Technologies to Reduce Costs

Retailers across the globe are embracing innovative technologies – such as mobility and Big Data – to cut costs and streamline operations, but a shortage of skilled talent …

Retailers across the globe are embracing innovative technologies – such as mobility and Big Data – to cut costs and streamline operations, but a shortage of skilled talent and resources is holding back several of them, a recent survey from Forrester Research has found.

Of 192 global retailers surveyed, nearly 65% said they believe innovative technologies help them cut costs, while 34% said they view technologies as an innovator.

The study, which was commissioned by the IT consulting firm TCS, says these “disruptive technologies” are set to fundamentally change the way retailers interact with and serve their customers.

Mobile, cloud services, Big Data, analytics, and social media rank highest among the technologies that chief information officers (CIOs) at retailing firms are seriously considering exploring in order to increase revenue, the research firm said.

IT priority, analysts say, varies from region to region. In Latin America, for an example, more than 70% of retailers turn to disruptive technologies to cut costs, while 67% of their counterparts in Europe want to use these technologies to streamline their operations.

Six out of ten (59%) retailers plan to invest in mobile technologies over the next three to five years, the survey found. Nearly half of retail CIOs expect to invest in enterprise fraud management in response to an increasingly complex global payments landscape, while 38% see cross-channel analytics as a critical part of their future data strategy.

Seven out of ten (68%) retail CIOs reported that they collect data, but agree they are not making the most of Big Data analytics. However, only 25% of retailers have plans to invest in Big Data analytics to support customer service.

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While 41% of retail CIOs currently use SaaS (software-as-service) for back-office functions such as supply chain and product life cycle management or ERP, more than half (52%) intend to do so in the next five years.

As eCommerce workloads are often unpredictable and subject to significant seasonal spikes, the ability to support volatile workloads is driving the adoption of cloud.

A large majority of retailers are combing social networks to know what their customers look for, but only 46% of retailers surveyed said they would link their R&D to social insights during the next three-to-five-years.

Acquiring the talent needed to support IT innovation is a challenge for retail CIOs, the report says. Almost seven out of ten (67%) retailers surveyed consider attracting and retaining talent a critically important challenge over the next five years.

“Retail CIOs are primed to expand their leadership role in the dynamic new world of retail by spearheading the digital and innovation agenda,” says Pratik Pal, president of retailing sector in TCS.

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