Innovative Retail Technologies

JUL-AUG 2017

Innovative Retail Technologies (formerly Integrated Solutions For Retailers) is the premier source for innovative yet pragmatic technology solutions in the retail industry.

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While the combination of social, mobile, analytics, and cloud has been present and disrupting IT depar tments and enterprises as a whole for over two years now, in many ways organizations have still not fully embraced them. Do you believe this to be true? Schuetz: I would tend to agree. You have to remember that it took retail- ers about 10 years to get the basics of omni-channel retailing flowing through their new and legacy systems to a point where the end-to-end business process- es were per fected. Barriers to adoption remain the same — legacy systems, new system invest- ments, switching costs, and internal labor skills. However, the organization will be forced to adopt quicker this time around as the business requirements drive the change for competitive parity and differentiation. These capabilities have all presented themselves in the past five years and are now at a point where the use cases are well-defined, as are the expected benefits. The rate of growth and techni- cal advancement has accelerated with the additive nature of the technologies creating an opportunity that is larger than its parts. IoT is a great example and one which we are working on in the big ticket appli- ance area as it relates to extended prod- uct warranties. The last thing a product warranty business wants is a customer calling with a problem — it's not the friendliest process for the consumer. But what if we were now able to gather ap- pliance performance data via connected devices and proactively communicate to the customer of an imminent failure that could be avoided — finally, value-added service in a traditionally nonfriendly business process. And the components to build this type of application are perfect for an IaaS solution. The role of the modern IT executive is complex and has evolved to include both technologist and business-focused leader. In what ways has the modern retail CIO evolved? Schuetz: The evolution of the CIO from "trusted operator/advisor" to "business co-creator" has been interesting. I come from a business background, and my bosses always instilled the "you had bet- ter understand our business before you tell me what I need" mantra. Arguably, IT is the best place to see the business in its entirety — the business can no longer run outside of IT, and there are no longer silos of automation. The applications we implement and manage, such as merchandise planning, ERP, pricing, POS, WMS, labor planning, timekeeping, etc., forced the IT depart- ment to learn the functional side of applications intimately to often act as the change champion on behalf of the business unit requiring the new function- ality. We're often the champion of system replacements on behalf of our business partners, helping them with the business case, project management, and overall coordination of training and implemen- tation. Partnering with the business at this level really helps further IT business understanding and helps the IT organiza- tion be seen as a partner in the success of the business outcome. The business is wholly enabled by IT, and, as such, IT has been forced to learn the business and move from techni- cal stewards to trusted subject matter experts to co-creators of value. When you attend a retail industry conference or event, what educational sessions do you attend and why? Schuetz: I look for customers speaking about their experience in the imple- mentation of new technologies. What worked, how long it took, cost, and les- sons learned are valuable as we consider similar solutions for our organization. Making a personal connection with these presenters who are willing to act as a sounding board as we evaluate similar technologies has been invaluable to reduce risk for my organization. In terms of true educational sessions, I try to align the business' strategic plan and projects I am being asked to de- liver with the technology platforms and solutions in the market. If a "cloud first" strategy is approved by my business, I will want to learn about companies and vendor partners that went through the same journey I am about to embark upon (e.g., what were the critical items to eval- uate, prework and sequencing of events for success, considerations, etc.). 31 Jul-Aug 2017 The business is wholly enabled by IT, and, as such, IT has been forced to learn the business and move from technical stewards to trusted subject matter experts to co-creators of value. Tom Schuetz, CIO, hhgregg

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