By Joe Skorupa
Technology pros are never satisfied with their current systems, and they shouldn't be. Their job is to know the best IT options and align them with business processes to help their organizations improve results or solve problems.
So, it is interesting to see that 57% of respondents believe their IT architecture is best described using the word "Basic" as opposed to "Advanced," according to the 2009 RIS Retail Technology Trends Study. That's a big number and not where organizations want to be in a time when efficiency and customer satisfaction have never been more critical.
Partly confirming this point is the delta between integrated solutions suites and best-of-breed when selecting software deployment philosophy. When RIs first began tracking this datapoint and learned (to our surprise) that integrated solutions beat out best-of-breed by roughly 10 points, we have been expecting the delta to grow. But it held steady until this year when it widened to 16 points.
We know CIOs don't want to be over-committed to a monolithic platform, especially as software maintenance fees continue to rise. But as retail-specific software apps mature a growing number of retailers are beginning to leverage the benefits of one-throat to choke, or should we say one partner to rely on, as they transform from "Basic" to "Advanced."
There will always be a role for best-of-breed applications (and also third-party and in-house developed apps, especially for highly targeted solutions). But we are starting to see packaged application suites pull away as the most frequently taken road when CIOs upgrade enterprise functionalities and services.
We find a confirming point to this takeaway in a question asked about IT outsourcing trends in 2009. Here we see the largest bloc of respondents planning a decrease in IT outsourcing say they are targeting custom application development at 27%. And correspondingly, we see the largest bloc planning an increase in IT outsourcing target packaged application implementation/integration at 29%.
Looking three years out is an exercise in clairvoyance, something no one has yet perfected. But our respondents can easily see that PCI Compliance isn't going away any time soon. Last year, when most retailers were thought to be fully compliant due to deadlines set by the credit card industry, PCI Compliance was fourth on our concerns/challenges list. This year it is number one by a wide margin, selected by 74%. The cumulative effect of data breaches, attacks by sophisticated organized gangs and costly damages are enough to justify this level of concern.
What is equally interesting is that Multi-Channel/Cross-Channel Strategy jumps up from fifth to second, with 51%. With e-commerce being one of the few bright spots last year and consumers now expecting retailers to have deep cross-channel functionality it's not surprising that CIOs are stepping up to the plate with long-term cross-channel plans.
What a difference a year makes. Virtually every concern/challenge has jumped several spots up or down the list. In today's economy, sticking with old strategies today is simply not an option.
To view all the charts for this story and get a complete version of the 2009 studyclick here.
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