The retail industry has been at the forefront of Digital Transformation for a number of years.  But what does Digital Transformation actually mean and what do retailers need to do to win the race?

A retailer who has transformed to a Digital Business model is one who can comfortably use technology to drive efficiency and competitive differentiation within their business.  In turn, this enables new business models and provides fresh revenue and value-producing opportunities.

Examples include such things as providing actionable insight across the business, the enablement of new sales channels, process streamlining and automation to improve efficiency and the enablement of new innovative customer centric service offerings.  None of these is possible without the use of technology.

The environment in which retailers operate continues to change at an incredible pace.  In addition to the impact of IoT technologies that we are starting to see, 2016 has seen selling via Pinterest and the advent of Pokémon Go  and Chatbots as a new ways to engage with customers – just some examples of this rapid change.

The reality is that application software used by retailers to run their business simply cannot support this level of change by itself - additional technology is required.  And it should be technology that does not require a wholesale “rip and replace” approach; one that is not constrained by previous IT department decisions and allows you the flexibility and independence to move forward as times change.

Software AG has undertaken extensive research across retail and other industries and determined that there are seven obstacles that a retailer’s IT strategy needs to address in order to enable a digital transformation. 

A retailer’s ability to deal with these obstacles offers an indication of how easy or difficult Digital Transformation is likely to be – or rather how ‘fit’ your business is in terms being able to Digitally Transform.  

Or, to further the analogy around fitness, here are the “Seven Disciplines of Digital Fitness”.

  1. Transformation: Consistent and streamlined processes spanning the entire retail operations that can be designed and then orchestrated across the complex array of systems that exist within every retail business.
  2. Integration: Consistent connectivity across heterogeneous technology landscapes that are synonymous with retail IT environments as they have grown in order to eliminate bottlenecks to innovation and enable new market initiatives.
  3. Data: The ability to consider and account for the multiple data models that exist associated with the different retail operational systems, with the ability to cope with future additions.
  4. Visibility: A real-time understanding of the entire business from products, supply chain, customers and orders, to retail operations will provide the opportunity to react and respond in real time to both problems and opportunities.
  5. Applications: The ability to automate and control processes that span multiple applications and systems, eliminating human involvement where needed saving time and improving productivity.
  6. Scalability: Providing the ability to leverage big data for the benefit of the business, enabling streamlined decisions and processes that are driven by massive data quantities and sophisticated analytics.
  7. Connectivity: To facilitate ease of data sharing both inside the business and externally in order to improve overall business efficiency.

To overcome these seven obstacles, Software AG has developed the world’s first Digital Business Platform enabling seamless connectivity between systems, processes, customers and suppliers in order to optimize efficiency, agility and business automation. 

The Digitally Transformed retailer is able to rapidly adapt to take advantage of new opportunities and operate new business models that are required in this new world order. 

Focused completely on these seven areas, Software AG’s Digital Business Platform is independent of existing technology investments and offers unrivalled flexibility. It eliminates the complexity of connectivity and facilitates the event driven architecture that is required for real-time business.

The Digital Business Platform provides the additional technology retailers need over and above application solutions in order to be fit enough to win in the race to Digital Transformation.

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