SAP’s Edges towards An Intelligent Enterprise

On the way to an evening reception at a recently concluded SAP industry analyst event, I had a thought provoking discussion with Michael Braine, CIO at Tapestry. We spoke about critical challenges and technology prioritization requirements facing retailers and brands in prevailing times. Entrusted to lead his company’s technology game-plan, Braine discussed Tapestry’s multi-brand global technology strategy at length which includes expanding its digital capabilities, upgrading of core enterprise technology platforms and enhancement of international supply chain- all critical areas to further Tapestry’s evolution as a multi-brand luxury fashion company. Tapestry is a multinational luxury fashion company that owns Coach New York, Kate Spade and Stuart Weitzman. The conclusion we arrived at is that the challenges facing Tapestry, other luxury fashion companies, retailers and brands may be at times are unique at a country-level but at a macro-level are quite similar. Along with Braine, this SAP meet brought together several industry analysts who were given a sneak-peek into SAP’s 2018 industry solutions strategy. There were three pertinent and strategic questions that I arrived at and pondered over the most concerning the future of retail and consumer goods. These are: Has the digital enterprise trend already passed us? What is the next wave in retail and consumer goods after digital transformation- is it the Intelligent Enterprise as some companies and analysts are professing today? With stunted growth across several segments, how do consumer industry companies and other industries address growth and innovation moving forward? My own personal take on the aforementioned questions is that innovation must receive immediate and due attention within consumer industries for achieving growth. Moreover, every phase...

Innovation through Digital-First and Agile Customer Engagement

Whether it is Amazon delivery drones, Fidelity’s digital wallet, Microsoft’s AI lab or Google self-driving car or glasses, from concept to development innovations are held close by organizations till they engage in co-development with customers or launch products commercially. In retail and consumer industries innovation and collaboration always began outside of the lab. For decades, innovation in retail and consumer goods has been done through feedback from their own customers and employees, call it a type of co-development. But, today companies are taking big risks and making big investments across a variety of technologies that span beyond cloud, digital, into wearables, drones, and artificial intelligence (AI). But unlike other industries, in consumer industries process automation is perhaps more important than new technology induction. Technology is a by-product to enable better process automation. Undoubtedly, such innovation is pursued with the help of new technologies. But, these tools are applied towards bringing about new process automation and efficiency in areas such as customer engagement models, fulfillment or delivery nodes, visual merchandising props, employee empowerment, and store execution, among other areas. According to data from EnsembleIQ’s July 2018 Retail Technology Innovation Index, the top three functional areas where retailers are innovation initiatives today are: customer loyalty (56%), e-commerce (51%) and marketing (48%). In order to gain some empirical innovation lab experience, Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) Digital Software & Solutions Group (DS&S) invited us to visit their innovation lab and executive briefing center based in Mumbai, India. This is one of the seven labs located in India in major metro cities. In the United States, TCS operates two dedicated innovation labs, one each...

6 in 10 Retail CEOs are directly involved in making decisions related to innovation and disruptive technologies

Six months ago, we embarked upon an ambitious project to provide retailers with a fact-based data source that helps them gain instant access to the diverse “Innovation” capabilities of tech. companies. This innovation Benchmark Platform termed as an Index assists retailers in addressing consumer and market disruptions. Earlier this year, we had first announced it here. After a few months of rigorous and objective effort, we recently released the Retail Technology Innovation Index. Our research reveals that 6 in 10 retail CEOs take direct onus in making decisions regarding innovative or disruptive technology. 4 in 10 retailers rely on their CIOs and a third give the onus to CMOs to deliver the goods when it comes to implementing innovation programs and related technologies. Produced by our research solutions group, this Index represents an algorithm-based, 12-Innovation key performance indicators (KPIs), 0-to-100 point index of the most innovative technology companies (Enterprise, Best-of-Breed and Start-Up) that are advancing retailers’ businesses towards the most modern and inventive retail processes. The Index is a comprehensive assessment of leading retail technology providers’ innovation capabilities. The Innovation Index helps retailers decide which technology companies they should be investing their time and effort in to roll-out customer and business innovation initiatives. Updated quarterly, the Index is not a ranking but does provide innovation metrics associated with each company identified, researched and scored across several key criteria. Designed to transparently and objectively measure the performance of over 450 meticulously selected companies and provide clients with differentiated insight, the Innovation Index scores subjects according to 12 KPIs under four overarching pillars: Product, Performance, Ecosystem and Organization. Only companies with scores across all four pillars are assigned an...

Foundation for Digital Transformation

A recent survey by National Retail Federation (NRF) revealed that 67% of Generation Z shoppers patronize brick-and-mortar stores most of the time. This dual preference contradicts the notion that this generation always put digital first. Yet they realize and value the importance of the hands-on in-store experience. While these customers enjoy shopping online, they are not averse to the idea of going to the store. Undoubtedly there is some hype surrounding digital transformation in the stores and it is by no means an east task to implement the right set of digital-physical standards. Upgrading such standards is even more complex as consumer and associate behavior are swiftly evolving every day. While store digital transformation is a modern day retail pre-requisite for attaining deeper customer and associate engagement, every retail format is different and requirements (both customer-facing and back-end) will vary considerably. So, how should retail store, marketing, digital and IT executives execute a comprehensive approach? Can retailers address digital transformation in the stores to match Best-in-Class digital-physical experience that has a lasting effect on customer and associate experience in equal measure? One of the ways that a retailer can distinguish itself is by providing a pleasant customer buying journey. As modern retailing is gradually shifting towards more web-based and app-based services, a well-designed, self-explanatory and interactive user experience is the first step towards customer satisfaction. In fact, customer expectations have already been shaped by best-in-class experiences across categories like transportation (Uber) and movie recommendations (Netflix). Customers are looking for a similar kind of experience in retail. For instance, Ensemble IQ data shows that 86% of retailers agree that having...

Infor’s Wonderful Journey Continues

Modern day corporations are slowed down considerably due to legacy, capital-starved and often complicated enterprise IT architecture and application environments. In fact, line of business employees (and even end-customers) suffer everyday due to numerous complexities surrounding usage, functionality, productivity and overall application experience draining precious time, resources and process quality. To address these and other unmet enterprise software needs, it was three years ago at the headquarters in NYC that Infor executives laid out a bold vision of sprucing up and modernizing enterprise IT applications and tools that in large part still remain legacy and outdated across manufacturing, health care, retail and other industries. I had called out this vision as being noteworthy in a blog that I published in 2015. At the time when Infor made the announcement in 2015, there were plenty of skeptics in the room as industry analysts always are and so they should be as there are several software companies that lay out a big vision but fail to follow through. To an extent, I was a skeptic too as I was curious to see what becomes of the new Infor roadmap which on surface seemed fresh and customer-friendly but needed quite a bit of work. Three years hence, I attended Infor’s 2018 Innovation Summit last week and conversations with a few Infor customers ensued. It is my humble observation as an industry analyst that while there are many paths to greatness in software, in three years Infor has achieved quite a bit and is on the right path. Evidently, Infor’s team has a sense of stewardship and belief in the overall approach and...