Do You Speak Retail?

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Do You Speak Retail?

By Gaurav Pant, SVP Research & Principal Analyst, EK - 02/09/2015
Over the last few years technology solution and service providers have been trying to become increasingly industry focused. This has manifested itself in different ways, from lip-service messaging changes, expensive re-branding exercises to full-fledged organizational restructuring along industry verticals.
 
The challenge with even the most well intentioned strategic restructuring is effecting cultural change, and getting the organization to think and speak domain, or in this case, retail. For India based service providers the challenge is compounded by the fact that they add thousands of new associates every year, and building domain competency at scale, thousands of miles away from the core market is a large and complex exercise.
 
Last year, I attended Tech Mahindra’s Retail Technology Conference at their office in Hyderabad, India. The conference was meant to bookend it’s yearlong efforts in the retail vertical, and to provide its retail associates a chance to hear practitioners discuss global retail trends. The core theme of the conference was omnichannel execution and innovation, and was headlined by the CIO and technology team of Abercrombie and Fitch (A&F). The A&F team kicked things off with an overview of their omnichannel journey and shared their vision of how the coming together of the store and online/mobile channels will transform the retail business model. This was followed by various panels focused on established trends (Digital), new trends (Big Data) and India’s booming (..and possibly overvalued) online-commerce industry. To close out the conference they reaffirmed their commitment to domain training and announced a new global competency program for associates in their retail unit.  
 
With technology spending being increasingly influenced if not driven directly by the business, understanding business intricacies and speaking the retailer’s vernacular will become more of a necessity than a differentiator. Service providers have some way to go before they can be truly vertical, but initiatives like Tech Mahindra’s are a step in the right direction and I hope that more providers invest in domain-training beyond their first line of defense (sales people).