Digital transformation taking off faster in retail than some brands can handle
We’ve recently touched upon how digital transformation has been making a serious impact across industries, from the previously cloud-averse financial sector down to the assembly line. Retail, however, is one industry that’s perhaps felt the burn (and the boon, ie. Amazon, WalMart, Wayfair) of digital transformation more than any other.
But while retailers have been credited with evolving in response to consumer preference for digital experiences (lest they go the way of Toys R’ Us and Sears), recent reports indicate that the teams managing new tech may actually be struggling to keep pace.
In a recent report from Tech., a collaboration between Retail Week and the World Retail Congress, 40 percent of U.S retailers are already using artificial intelligence. The same report found, however, that retail executives rated their AI knowledge at just 2.92 on a scale of 5, indicating that some brand leaders may be “drinking the AI Kool Aid” before they fully understand what such buzzwords can really mean for business.
This is only the beginning, as the report looked at six separate technologies that fall under the bucket of digital transformation and asked respondents to rate their familiarity with each. None of the categories average higher than 3.28 out of a possible 5.
"This finding alone perhaps illustrates the difficulty of digital transformation and emphasises the lack of education about new technology and the options available," the report states.
What’s even more troubling is that only 15 percent of U.S. respondents said they’d fill skills gaps for their digital transformation strategy beyond their current networking teams -- despite 75 percent of retailers acknowledging that digital transformation is more critical now than it was just three years ago.
The promise of digital transformation isn’t just about adapting to consumer tastes, either. The operational efficiencies that large, distributed retail networks could reap by employing the latest generation of networking technologies are too great to ignore. But unlocking all of that promise hinges on network and IT teams not just understanding how to manage their newly-transformed network architectures, but also how to glean visibility into environments they may not control or own outright -- especially in the face of complicated back-office and front-of-house network management on a per-location basis.
According to our recent 2019 State of Enterprise IT report, a lack of IT staff availability is one of the biggest factors hindering enterprise teams from performing their job successfully. Bridging gaps in network visibility, however, doesn’t necessarily require more staffing or an IT presence at each remote location.