Hitachi report reveals 20 retailers’ 20 top technology challenges

Hitachi Consulting UK, part of the global electronics giant, has released a report ranking 20 top UK retailers’ 20 top technology challenges.

The Retail Vision Report: 20 Technology Challenges from 20 Leading Retailers, shows managing multi-channel e-commerce, internationalisation and tailoring brands to different customers are the top areas of focus for 2011.

However, despite many retailers having several leading business intelligence tools in place, the report highlights a gap between intelligence capabilities and requirements. This is a result of a lack of alignment to the business process, gaps in the data, and inadequate reporting from the retailers’ existing systems, Hitachi Consulting UK said.

Hitachi Consulting conducted qualitative interviews with 20 of the UK’s leading retailers, including Debenhams, Waitrose, River Island, Halfords, Shop Direct Group, Thorntons Plc, TK Maxx, BHS, Argos, Signet Trading and ATS Euromaster among others.

The report identified 20 areas of IT focus (and frustration) for UK retailers in 2011:

1. Double-edged sword of managing multichannel e-commerce and increasing customer complexity

2. Managing business expansion into new markets, including through joint ventures and franchises

3. Tailoring brands, ranges and promotions to multiple or new channels and markets

4. Significant uplift in operational complexity arising from strategic business initiatives

5. Reporting capabilities not keeping pace with business demands

6. Lack of business clarity from existing systems

7. Customer data locked in source systems and not available in corporate information systems

8. Difficulty in extracting and manipulating meaningful data from corporate information systems

9. Reliance on IT information across almost every job function and business area

10. Almost every job function is less than very satisfied with their business intelligence provision, including the executives who sign off the cheques!

11. Those in online are significantly more satisfied with their business intelligence services than those in multichannel

12. Business intelligence is not closely enough integrated to the business process

13. There’s a strong appetite to get closer to real time information

14. Information requires significant rework before it can be presented

15. ‘Spreadsheet Spaghetti’ is still prevalent

16. Desire to improve data reporting capabilities, including dashboards and complex analysis

17. Mobile is still not central to business intelligence plans

18. Patchy success rates even with multiple business intelligence systems deployed

19. Concerns over customer, product, supplier and finance data

20. Inability to mine data around specific issues to validate and support business plans

“Every one of the retail organisations we spoke to has already deployed market leading business intelligence systems, and some are running four or five different systems simultaneously in an attempt to keep pace,” said Chris Gates, director of retail solutions at Hitachi Consulting UK.

“The problem isn’t the tools, but rather the way they’re being deployed. Given success or failure depends on how quickly retailers respond to rapidly changing conditions, retailers need to re-examine their strategy, and tailor their systems to their unique requirements. Being able to effectively address business intelligence challenges – such as increasing levels of customer complexity in multichannel eCommerce and the need for fast, accurate, in-depth analysis and reporting – are core to achieving the agility that retailers need to succeed.”

As part of its retail business intelligence best practice, Hitachi Consulting UK has outlined the golden rules of profitable business Intelligence to help retailers maximise their technology investments and provide the insight required to help facilitate growth and profitability.

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