In our last post, we talked about 5 great cloud-based applications that are not only taking the business world by storm, but that are also fundamentally changing the way businesses operate.
In this blog post, we take a step back to examine what’s driving all this change. The fact of the matter is that broader trends in IT and in the retail space are forcing businesses to adapt — or miss out.
Have you noticed the changes?
Businesses are moving more and more functionality, core applications, and even data storage into the cloud. Retail trends inspired by the increasingly influential Gen M are forcing businesses to rethink their core strategies, customer experience, and selling channels. These changes are happening now!
This blog takes these two phenomena – cloud and retail changes – and examines them in light of each other. Businesses: take note! Expect these trends to continue to put pressure on where, how, and in what manner you do business!
Two Ways The Cloud and Retail Trends are Changing Business
1. Businesses world-wide are moving online
It’s really no surprise that businesses are moving online and adopting cloud products left, right, and centre. VL has seen and anticipated the trend, too: we’ve moved our integration services into the cloud with the VL OMNI service, complete with included iOS app for customers.
But there’s much more beneath the headline in this case. Namely, different industries in different countries are adopting the cloud at different rates.
When you really think about this, this makes complete sense. If European fashion and music takes anywhere from 6 months to 2 years before we here in North America start adopting the same trends, it really comes as no surprise that there are marked differences between industries and countries when it comes to the cloud.
For example, in doing research for an infographic VL published not too long ago, we stumbled across a very interesting statistic. While approximately 72% of businesses in the US have adopted the cloud in some form – the statistic is 50% for Canadian businesses – only 19% of EU enterprises have used cloud computing in 2014. And the way each region uses cloud applications differs greatly too: in North America, we adopt cloud applications for any space. In the EU, the cloud is used mainly for hosting email and storing files.
On top of these regional trends are industy-specific adoption rates. For example, luxury goods world-wide are just starting to break into the omni-channel retail world most businesses have known for a handful of years now. In fact, only 40% of luxury retailers world-wide sell online. But the adoption rate for this industry in specific countries varies greatly (as one could reasonably expect): in this guest blog post, Mark Goodwin weighed in on how and why UK luxury retailers are lagging behind other ecommerce sectors.
The Integration Angle
How does this trend effect businesses from an integration standpoint?
It’s simple. It’s clear that many businesses are in transition, with one foot in legacy and on-premise applications, and one foot in the future of business: the cloud. The challenge for businesses transitioning between the old and the new becomes tying it all together – something that can’t easily be done with plug-and-play products when you’re dealing with a complex array of cloud and on-premise applications. IInterestingly in a study by Better Cloud found that in 2015 the average organization used 8 cloud applications and that this number was expected to rise to 17 by 2017. Businesses therefore need an integration partner that can navigate this complex transitional world and link these systems together.
Businesses also need an integration partner that isn’t an old dog in a new world. On-premise integration solutions are quickly becoming a thing of the past, and there is a rapidly growing demand for customized data integration, in other words moving beyind the one to one. The VL OMNI service meets both needs: it’s a solution designed to fit your business, and it operates completely in the cloud.
2. Retail trends are forcing businesses to change how they think – and operate
The generation everyone is talking about these days – Gen M, or Millennials – are the source of many retail trends these days that are forcing businesses to change. Especially on the customer experience side of things.
If your website doesn’t respond like it’s supposed to, if your marketplace integration isn’t updating your inventory correctly, if a package gets shipped with an incorrect address – these are all examples of customer service touch point failures where poor integration is the root cause.
The fact is, Gen M is quickly coming into prime power as a target market. In Canada, Gen M’ers number 9.5 million people in Canada (68.39 million adult Gen M’ers in the US). And they’re spending money.
But Gen M also knows a lot about the retail sphere thanks to being tied to their mobile devices, and they have high expectations of the brands they interact with. Missing out on any of their key customer expectation milestones – like not sending an auto generated email receipt after checking out online – can mean the difference between a positive customer experience and having that particular customer never shop with you again. Or better yet having them write a blog about their experiences.
As a result, Gen M is forcing businesses to bend to their wills (or shopping preferences). A poorly integrated back-end technology stack today translates into a businesses that can’t effectively compete tomorrow. Gen M’ers value personalized, authentic, and consistent customer experiences when shopping with a brand through any channel, which effects everything from your supply chain up. That means your data has to be able to flow and be transformed between multiple applications automatically. Which keeps your customer experience in tip-top shape. Are you ready for the challenge?