The Digital Transformation

The Digital Transformation

September 7, 2016

Digital, digital, digital. We in retail have been talking digital for years and yet, the retail shopping experience still looks a lot like it did a decade ago. Retailers are still playing merchant and stores, as wellas ecommerce, are still about merchandising. Why is that? In a recent article from Nikki Baird of RSRResearch, she called out retail executives as a major problem. The article is even entitled “Retail Executives Have No Clue About Digital”. Yes, some retailers are trying to figure out how to maneuver in the digital world with their two key objectives being, enable ecommerce and deal with Big Data. However, if we dig a little deeper we often find that while retailers think they have enabled ecommerce, the data required to better understand and thus improve the shopping experience is so disparate, coming from outdated and dis-connected systems, that it can’ t effectively be used in meaningful ways or across channels. Bottom line, the data can provide little or no real value in transforming the experience. The problem of gathering the data is not insurmountable as we have discussed in previous posts however many retailers are still not ready or able to move forward. Why? Some retail executives still see digital transformation as a future goal. Not something they really need to worry about right now. Many still don’ t seem to get it.

So what is it they are missing about digital?

To put this in perspective, it is important to really understand the world we live in. Some still talk in B2B, B2C, C2C, B2E acronyms but the truth is, we live in a C2B world. Businesses, in this case retailers, are no longer telling customers when, how and where to shop or fulfill orders. No, customers are telling retailers and retailers who don’ t understand this and don’ t have a way of keeping up with the changing attitudes, wants and needs of their shoppers will be left behind. Not only because their ecommerce platforms aren’ t adequately using big data but also because, and perhaps even more so, the real-time data needed to drive business decisions is missing or lacking also. With no digital strategy in place, these retailers are missing opportunities to transform business functions required to stay ahead of their customers.

We all know that retailers have had their hands full with the complexities of operating in a multi-channel world and that has required a significant investment. For this reason, retailers must figure out the right steps to move forward and what opportunities they should pursue first. Big data is one that comes up over and over again and when coupled with the term ‘ digital core’ , can be closer than you might think.

A ‘core’ is established by looking at mission critical processes – processes focused around customers, suppliers, and employees – and then determining the real-time data needed to provide real-time insights that will drive business needs. It has been said that less than 1% of the data that exists in businesses today is analyzed and turned into business benefits. Data that should be creating business insights and opportunities is disorganized, scattered or unavailable. There’ s no real-time single source of truth. This data needs to be brought together and managed through a well thought out digital strategy.

While this may sound like a lot to bite off, a good place to start would be to identify key use cases or process changes that are essential to getting the business on the right track then, go from there. Every business is different but, getting started shouldn’t be the hardest part of the journey.

Becoming a truly digital business means more than just adopting new technology to address changes, after the fact. It’ s about taking advantage of the transformation that is happening all around us. It’ s about having a firsthand look at how changes may impact your operations. It’s about enabling agility. More important, it’s about providing an ‘ always on’ enterprise for the ‘ always on’ consumer.