“The maturity of in-memory solutions and the increasing dominance of mobile devices are pushing the pace at which requirements are developing and posing rapidly-evolving challenges for players in the retail market,” says Reinhard Oborski, managing director of bob Systemlösungen. In his view, eight trends will shape the future of retail IT:
1. Standard software will replace custom developments
Standard systems are reaching maturity: the level of maturity attained by standard industry solutions is now such that retailers are increasingly replacing their custom developments with standard retailing systems that they believe will make their businesses both more agile and more sustainable.
2. Information will dominate processes
ERP as a “data manager”: the current business process-optimization perspective of ERP solutions will be replaced by a process-based, information-dominated view. The emphasis in the future will be on making the right information available in the right place at the right time.
3. No run on in-memory just yet
In-memory approach: the shift toward an information-oriented view will be enabled and reinforced by the spread of in-memory technology, which will allow systems to manage huge volumes of data in seconds. Nevertheless, despite all the potential benefits for the retail sector, 2014 will not be the year of the big run on in-memory technology. Rather, the expectation is that the technology will materialize gradually in retail companies as part of a system switch or consolidation project. Thus, providers may well respond with database-only offerings.
4. BI and ERP will meld into one
Cannibalization of business intelligence solutions: there are uncertain times ahead for providers of BI and analytics solutions. The retail sector, in particular, needs analytics standards supplied by appropriate hardware and BI software. These will be incorporated into ERP industry solutions in the coming years, as in-memory solutions increasingly offer the requisite processing power and speed. This will open up new ways for retailers to lower their IT costs and consolidate their systems even further.
Next page: Trends 5 to 8: From new mobile payment methods to more multichannel retailing
5. Increased use of cash systems as information providers
Cash systems will assume a more central role than before in procuring information at the point of sale. The possibilities for capturing and transferring information are virtually endless. However, growing skepticism toward data capture among older generations of consumers will prevent these opportunities from being exploited in full. The younger “Facebook generation” has fewer qualms.
6. New mobile payment methods
Advance of mobile devices: The rapid spread of tablets and smartphones is paving the way for new payment methods and will open up new possibilities for retailers at the point of sale. However, retailers need intelligent concepts that will enable them to integrate this trend into their existing system landscape and garner the maximum benefit – including competitive edge.
7. Stronger focus on multichannel retailing
More and more products are being sold through online stores. The combination of sales channels and vendor relationships means that it is already possible to sell non-perishable foods over the Internet. But the required processes need to be put in place first. Large chain stores in particular are still allowing enormous potential to go to waste here.
8. RFID not set to triumph just yet
Despite increasing process automation along the supply chain, radio-frequency technology will not become established across the board this year. The obvious benefits of RFID (Radio-Frequency Identification) will not be enough to outweigh retailers’ concerns about high investment costs, technical obstacles, and the adjustment effort required in existing systems – not to mention data protection issues.