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Thursday, February 24, 2005

Retail CIOs Have The Hardest Job In The World

IT & telecom were the buzz words in the 80s & 90s.The begining of 21st century belongs to the retail industry. The supermarkets are getting bigger, malls are getting huge. Even the groccer around the corner is finding ways of storing more than just the veggies. Technology, experience economy and consumer spending is transforming the retail industry.Some believe that increasingly retail stores are beginning to look like electronic emporiums!.
(Via Silicon.com) The advent of new technology from RFID to revamped voice and data networks could see their roles changed beyond all recognition forcing retail CIOs with the hardest job in the world. Ian Hannah, COO of BT Expedite, said that being the head of IT in a retail organization means facing up to a series of unique hardware and financial challenges. "The retail environment is one of the toughest for IT.. they don't upgrade their till for at least 10 years while we change our PCs every three years; you've got no capital expenditure budget; and you have legacy systems that are disparate and they've come from mergers and acquisitions anyway. "It's probably one of the toughest IT jobs on the planet." The job is set to change beyond recognition,as the high street aims to upgrade consumers to more and more high tech systems. Connectivity will be one of the key drivers for retail, with converged voice and data networks revamping retail IT in the same way as the advent of broadband has in the past, with mobile consumers expanding retail's remit ever further into the home. “The high street will have to change.- the current design our [geography] around cabling and infrastructure," he said. Soon pure voice networks would be a thing of the past for retailers. "By 2010,only data networks would exist - No more voice networks”.
Already organizations are experimenting with a few retail technologies that it predicts will become the norm in the retail environment, including RFID smart shelves, shop kiosks with facial recognition, shop doors with Wi-Fi speakers and biometric log-ins for consumers to verify their identity when home shopping.RFID smart shelves and smart trolleys - which can act as a checkout or analyse and upsell from chipped items a consumer picks up - are gaining credence with retailers. Retailers ought to be factoring these developments into their roadmap.Some retailers have proved themselves willing to experiment with high-tech shopping. German retailer Metro Group is already trialling a smart shelf project in its Future Store, while one US supermarket now allows customers to pay by fingerprint. The expectations moving forward are that,"RFID technology will become so routine... this will come to the consumer en masse" and the reservation in mass adoption of RFID could be due to customers reluctance to submit to "Big Brother" technology holding back retail's high-tech rollover- but this situation is all set to change. Retail like telecom is massively embracing technology changes reaching the masses in large numbers.

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"All views expressed are my personal views are not related in any way to my employer"