Ten commandments for retail business and technology

Guess I was serious when I had shared that I may begin to like shopping after all. I found myself at the Manhattan Momentum conference, where the tag line was Active Solutions for the Active Enterprise. Active it was for sure, with the continuous dissemination and exchange of information across leading players in the retail industry for warehouse management, order management, transportation etc. I had the chance to interact with manufacturers, distributors, device makers, software developers, hardware vendors covering the spectrum of technologies that make the retail experience more and more innovative. However, what stood out for me was the remarkable alignment between the strategic observations made by Manhattan Associates president and CEO Eddie Capel, and the forward-thinking architectural tenets shared by Sanjeev Siotia, senior vice president and chief technology officer at Manhattan.  This is a lot more than just business and IT alignment. Both the retail industry as well as information technology are experiencing disruptions that draw out a parallel. Let me walk through the ‘Ten Commandments of the Retail Business and Technology.’

“DevOps is contorting the software delivery cycle from a discrete to a continuous process,” said Siotia in his insightful walkthrough of the modernized environment for key Manhattan application modules. Siotia walked through Manhattan’s use of these transformational processes and technologies to efficiently deliver solutions faster. Was IT taking a cue from the retail industry? Was Siotia taking Capel’s commandments to heart? Upon careful observation, it would certainly seem true.

Make everything much more frictionless. This was one of the key messages that came out of Capel’s keynote — exactly what Siotia advocated from the perspective of a seamless transition from development to operations for rapid upgrades to the applications. The traditional throw-over-the-wall approach fostered increased friction between the two segments of IT resulting in unwarranted problems that impacted the most important segment of all — the end customer.

Omnichannel enabled by one application. While the external customer is enabled by the omni-channel experience of online and in-store experiences, the internal customer — the developer — can also be enabled by multiple environments channeled through containers or virtualization.

#RIP Standalone POS. The traditional point-of-sale device is reminiscent of the monolithic mainframe application that must be broken down into logical and manageable sets of micro-services. Thus, Capel’s reference to the POS dying a slow death is the equivalent of the systemic modernization of legacy infrastructures that Siotia called out.

Gone is the differentiation between an online order and a store purchase. It does not matter where the customer is — whether the customer is the retail shopper or the internal developer.  It must not matter to the developer where the development environment is housed — on the bare metal server, in a virtualized environment or in containers in the cloud!

The future of commerce is to ship from anywhere to everywhere. Even if the customer does not find the product of choice at a store, the goods can be made available from the store where the product is in stock to a location most expedient for the customer. DevOps is also about rapid shipment of the right pieces of code from any location (physical or virtual) to the right environments to quickly take remedial measures in advance of impending problems.

Advanced automation is changing the face of distribution centers. Automation is a fundamental tenet of the modernization of distribution centers to reduce the time to ship orders. This resonates very well with Siotia’s message about rapid software upgrades that used to have much longer release cycles in more traditional, legacy environments.

Always current software upgrades. Well, this came from Capel himself.  Need I say more?

Technology of tomorrow has to contemplate both #automation and people. Culture matters both from the perspective of the business of the enterprise (Capel) as well as the business of IT (Siotia). While technology may enable and facilitate automation, the real gain is by having the people be the enthusiastic advocates of the change by giving them innovative opportunities — both from a business and IT perspective.

If you want employees to be productive, you’ve got to engage with them. Culture matters — whether it be business or IT. Continuous engagement of the workforce is vital to the continuous delivery of value-added solutions to the customers.

Thank you to our valued partners. From the perspective of a partner, I could not agree more with Capel’s assertion. Collaborations within a given ecosystem are vital to providing value-added business solutions (Capel) as well as key, enabling technology solutions (Siotia) that innovatively augment the customer experience.

There you have it. The fascinating alignment across the key takeaways from the sessions delivered by the CEO and CTO.

And why not, I ask?

Be it business or IT, the retail industry is poised for customer-driven change, both from the perspective of the shopper as well as the internal customer — the developer. And one could feed off the other, something that was very obvious from the Manhattan experience at the Momentum conference.

Which is exactly why I may begin to like shopping after all!

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.