In my previous blog, you have seen the trends and results of this year’s shopping season from Thanks Giving to Cyber Monday in U.S. This season’s shopping set new records in terms of number of sales and traffic which clearly shows that retailers were able to deliver smarter shopping experience to their customers with ease and in real-time. Providing the best shopping experience to customers is the fundamental need of retailers. To achieve this, there is a well-established IT infrastructure backing every process of the retail chain - from order taking to handling inventory to customer service to accounting. The underlying IT infrastructure is the enabling foundation of shared IT capabilities like Cloud, Big Data and Software Defined Environments upon which the business depends.
It’s often said that retailers have more data than they know what to do with, a statement that has only become true as mobile technology and social media add customer touch points and data sources to those coming from stores, call centers, kiosks and ecommerce. Many retailers would like to use more of this data to gain greater insights into customer behaviors and demand patterns, but one of the barriers has been the enormous IT investment required for turning these volumes, variety and velocity of data into insights within a reasonable time frame.
In addition to lowering costs, mitigating risk and increasing flexibility, Cloud-based solutions have started to sprinkle its benefits on the retail industry by handling the continuous expansion of data and feeding the growing hunger for insights from that data. The cloud’s combination of expanded computing resources and ability to deliver to virtually any web-connected device adds the possibility of using its solutions to conduct real-time analysis. For instance, public clouds combine multiple servers while spreading the costs among their hundreds or thousands of users. Retailers can use this computing power on an as-needed basis, gaining the benefits of deep data analysis without having to invest in technology that they might use only for days, week or a month.
One of the ideal architectures for private, public and hybrid clouds is a Software Defined Infrastructure or Environment, where retailers take advantage of virtualization not just in servers, but also in networking, storage, availability, management and automation. With flexibility and automation capabilities, Software Defined Environment (SDE) is a vital component of cloud that enables data center administrators to use a single graphical user interface to do everything from deploying virtual machines to assigning storage to configuring networks. Hence SDE allows clouds to become simplified, responsive and adaptive. SDE provides unprecedented IT and business agility that allows retailers to be more responsive to customer needs and differentiate themselves in a crowded field.
The retail IT infrastructure that relies on Cloud, Big Data and SDE, builds and maintains a seamless omni-channel experience where retailers deliver more consistent, convenient, personalized, and relevant shopping experiences to their customers. Find out how IBM is making Retail smarter and how we can work with you to apply these industry-leading practices to your business.
IBM Systems and Technology Group