Retailers have long been constrained, rather than empowered, by technology and data. This is why I feel Software AG’s new tagline, Freedom as a Service, beautifully encapsulates what we do for retailers around the world.
I recall around 10 years ago when the term omni-channel retail was just emerging. Retailers were expressing their frustrations to me about differentiating themselves from their competition through an omni-channel proposition. This was being delayed due to the development roadmap of their key technology suppliers.
Retailers were constrained, they were not free to do what was necessary to progress their business and compete. Since then, market disruption has been dramatic – and many retailers have not survived. Now, even the disruptors who entered as “online-only natives” are under threat of being disrupted - by those old and new offering new propositions.
Whether it is subscription based retail like Birchbox, or product curation services such as Bombfell, leveraging ecosystems in order to grow the need rapidly adapt in order to compete has never been greater.
The problem is that out-of-the-box technology simply does not cut it. As I said in 2016: “The reality is that existing application software does not have in-built capability to support the latest innovations – nor will it ever while the speed of change continues at the current rate.”
To innovate and adapt to these new business models retailers need to be free to bring together data from multiple sources and make decisions on it. They need be able to break free of the data silos that have built up over so many years.
They need to be free to store and process data – but also make decisions on-premises, in the cloud or at the edge – wherever makes most sense. They need to be free to embrace partners and play their parts in retail ecosystems without B2B connectivity being an issue.
They need to be free to add in new innovative technologies like being able to leverage artificial intelligence to improve decision-making. They need to be free to use the Internet of Things to streamline operations but also be able to use it as a channel to customers – indeed many predict that IoT devices will themselves become customers.
I have long been a huge lover of Software AG’s independence; being technology and vendor agnostic is of huge benefit to retailers in terms of avoiding any form of technology or vendor lock-in. Software AG’s unique ownership structure makes it difficult for the company to be acquired by a rival – providing freedom for our customers – now and in the future.
Retailers need to be sure that they can invest progressively over time – paying for what they need by means of subscription to allow experimentation and innovation, but also to ensure rapid and appropriate return on investment.
Retailers, perhaps more so than in many other industry, have for too long been constrained by technology. I am proud of our mission help them break free to be empowered by technology and data.
“Freedom as a service” encapsulates beautifully what Software AG offers - and what we do for our customers.
Find out how Software AG is helping some of the world’s most progressive retailers break free here.