Nearly one-half of organizations now say cloud-based business intelligence (BI) is “critical” or “very important.” That’s according to the eighth-annual “Cloud Computing and Business Intelligence Market Study.”
But for retail, traditional BI – the tools and practices that enable the capture and analysis of business data – is no longer enough. Today, you need that intelligence to be built into all your applications, services and processes. You need intelligent operations.
Making Operations Smart
The intelligent-operations imperative should be no surprise to any merchant competing in today’s marketplace. It’s being driven by three change agents:
1. Customer expectations – Customers want products and experiences unique to them. They want to shop how and where they like, with consistency and ease. They want you to know everything about them, without giving up their privacy. And they want it all now.
2. Competitive pressures – New, nontraditional challengers are disrupting usual ways of doing business. Familiar, established rivals are acquiring new capabilities and partners. Powerful global players are snatching market share from big and small retailers alike.
3. Technology developments – Core systems and processes have to function across channels and lines of business. Data resources need to deliver real-time, end-to-end insights the entire business can use. Cloud, mobile and emerging capabilities like predictive analytics and AI must deliver tangible competitive advantage.
The solution for responding to these market disruptors is to achieve end-to-end intelligent operations. This is more than analyzing data function by function. Intelligent operations involve gaining a 360-degree across your core retail processes – from omnichannel commerce to payment, fulfillment, delivery and customer service.
Realizing this goal requires five key steps:
- Identify and capture information from all your digitized processes.
- Extend data capture to more manual, human-driven activities and services.
- Harmonize and analyze that data in a single location.
- Disseminate data to your people who need it, when and where they need it.
- Leverage your new insights to make data-driven decisions and take brand-differentiating actions.
Intelligent operations drive new ways of thinking about your retail business so that you can achieve:
- More effective business processes.
- Entirely new business models.
- Higher levels of customer experiences and engagement.
But intelligent operations aren’t something most merchants can achieve on their own. Instead, you’ll need to look to technology and services providers who demonstrate a clear commitment – in mindset, capabilities and services – to supporting their clients with actionable intelligence.
Look for a technology and services partner that can demonstrate how intelligence is built into all its offerings. The provider should position you to gain data insights and predictive analytics every step of the way. The goal is to gain game-changing new capabilities to:
- Enable customers to buy the products they want, when they want, however they want.
- Make customer payments friction- and fraud-free.
- Deliver products to customers quickly and cost-effectively.
- Provide consistent, superior service to keep customers coming back.
- Understand how your investments are paying off today – and where to target them tomorrow.
Finally, look for a provider that offers modular, integrated solutions. That way, you can select from a best-in-class point product to solve a specific problem, or an end-to-end solution to transform your retail operations.
In either case, the solutions should deliver digitized capabilities and deep insights to help you achieve intelligent operations. And ideally, those insights should be available through a “single pane of glass” for a unified user experience.
Ultimately, intelligent operations should tangibly help you simplify your processes, meet today’s challenges, seize tomorrow’s opportunities – and lead your business to a more successful future.
Tim Hinckley is chief commercial officer of Radial.