I attended Gartner Symposium ITXPO in Orlando, FL last week. It was my first time attending and was a conference unlike any I’d attended before. Filled with Gartner analysts and CIOs, the atmosphere was much more professional than other events. Lots of button downs shirts and sports coats – skirts, blouses and heels.
It was a serious event for serious professionals. And it delivered, as promised, big thinking and guidance on how to move your business forward using technology.
The three Gartner keynotes, on Day 1, discussed the new world we live in driven by digital business, which they define as the merging of the virtual and physical worlds. Digital business is made up of digital moments (moments that feed or are being fed by the digital world) and digital humans (those that consume or participate in digital business).
For example, many of us check our phones the minute we open our eyes in the morning, and thus are digital humans experiencing our first of hundreds of digital moments of the day.
The compelling part of the discussion, however, was how these concepts can help us better operate our businesses. Here are some key points I gleaned that can help you guide the direction of your technology decisions.
- Every business unit within your organization is a start-up and has the potential to make it big. Business units are taking problem solving into their own hands and acquiring technology to meet their specific needs. In fact, today 38% of technology spend occurs outside of IT. By 2017, it’s expected to be over 50%.
- IT investments are changing. On-premises software is losing its appeal due to long implementations and lack of flexibility. Today, 95% of spend is on on-premises software. That will drop to 21% by 2020. Cloud applications are more agile, less expensive, faster to implement, and easier to share.
- People are the new currency. Talent is king and finding the right talent is going to be critical to success. Whether it’s a new hire or a consultant, finding people who know mobile and user experience are going to be critical to a company’s success.
- IT departments should operate in two modes. The first mode consists of a solid foundation of safe, reliable, predictable technology. The second mode is fluid and allows for smart, fast and agile operations to take advantage of digital opportunities.
3 Takeaways for the Multichannel Seller
While these concepts and statistics are interesting, they are only helpful if you apply them. As I listened to these speakers, I tried to glean what this means to our customers–to the multichannel seller trying to compete in a digital world.
These were my takeaway on how to use this information to make better decisions when defining your multichannel strategy.
Choose the Right Technology
Retail is moving so rapidly that new players are entering the market with creative ideas about how to dominate their segments. Many incumbents are struggling to position their brands in a new digital environment and maintain market share.
One of the key causes for this divide is the underlying technology these companies use to run their operations. Companies that use on-premises software, built a decade or more ago, don’t have the tools to provide the shopping experience consumers expect. They can’t support those digital moments that provide customer satisfaction and build loyalty.
Every system matters, from your point-of-sale system to your financial system to your eCommerce platform. They all work together to create that customer experience that could make or break your business.
Have the Right Attitude
Another key factor influencing which sellers are going to make it in the new digital world and which aren’t are the people running the business. To succeed in a digital world, you must embrace multichannel and commit to doing it right. This requires a little risk to step out ahead of the pack and invest in selecting the right technology, the right staff and the right third-party resources. You need these to design and build an operation that transforms digital selling from a difficult necessity to a core competency.
From eCommerce to social media to mobile, retail is changing very quickly. To be a digital business, you must be agile and able to respond quickly to both major market shifts as well and minor customer whims. Not only does this mean deploying technology that is flexible and responsive, but it also means you must know your business.
You must be able to identify trends in the market and adjust to take advantage of them. Doing so requires an understanding of the market and insight into how your business is performing. Then you need the discipline to make the changes to keep your business moving forward.
Conferences like Gartner Symposium can be so inspirational. Now the challenge is following up on that inspiration. Maybe you attended the conference. Maybe our summary is all you have. The key takeaway is to acknowledge these changes that are happening and your world, and to do something about it. That might mean taking some time to learn more or it might mean transforming your business.