Making the Most of What You Already Own – Maximizing Your Existing Technology Assets
In today’s constantly evolving shopping environment, many retailers are struggling to determine the right technology investments to grow their businesses, as software vendors bombard them with promises of large ROI and business transformations from implementing their solutions. However, what those software vendors aren’t saying is that often the capabilities the retailers need may already be part of their existing toolset. Too often, retailers are quick to replace existing technology, or add new tools without first looking at their current portfolio to understand how technology can be better leveraged, or new capabilities can be embedded into existing solutions that could be enabled to support their evolving business strategies.
With the demand for technology investments at an all-time high, given the growth of digital commerce and omni-channel capabilities, it is even more critical that retailers ensure they are getting the most from their existing technology investments before throwing them away. Below are 5 key principles that retailers should fully evaluate before investing in a new technology solution:
1. Know What You Already Own
A surprising number of retailers have software that is technically enabled but not utilized, or owned but not deployed. While most commonly found in retailers with large ERP deployments, there also are point solutions purchased that were never deployed (commonly referred to as “shelfware”). Mergers or acquisitions of companies often involve the transfer of software licenses technology, and as a result, solutions can end up sitting on the shelf for years. Depending on how long ago the technology was acquired, business conditions may have changed. Therefore, those capabilities that have not been enabled may be more important, or need to be deployed differently than may have been envisioned at the time of purchase.
2. Assess Existing Capabilities
Evaluate the existing technology capabilities against your desired capabilities. Once retailers have determined what capabilities they need to effectively manage and grow their business, they are frequently surprised by how many of those capabilities can be accomplished with their existing technology. For example, support for multiple selling channels and inventory networks. Sometimes during implementation, retailers do not “turn on” or enable capabilities that were not determined to have a material or significant impact on the business at that time. However, sometimes those capabilities can be enabled (turned on) or reconfigured with low effort to better support the needs of the business today.
3. Assess Supporting Business processes
What may be initially characterized as a technology shortcoming is often a business strategy or process issue. Without properly assessing the business process issues, companies can make large technology investments only to be disappointed in the results once they realize the technology will not fix broken processes or ineffective strategies. Sometimes business process changes alone, or those coupled with simple changes to how tools are being used, can drive the desired results, and a technology investment can be avoided all together.
4. Align The Use of Tools with leading practices In Support of Your Business Strategy
Too often technology solutions are deployed with teams focused on “going live,” as opposed to being focused on the capabilities that drive ROI and needed business capability. Thus, the teams charged with deploying the technology often end up replicating the current processes with new technology. Using leading practices appropriately and then configuring the tools and addressing policies and processes as necessary is critical to gaining the value from your investment. Reconfiguring existing tools can drive a lot of value, and may require little to no technical support, as opposed to the time and investment associated with a replacement of an existing solution.
5. Train The Organization
When technology is first deployed, there typically is a training effort that accompanies the deployment. While typically focused more on “how” to use the technology than “why,” it at least provides the end users with an understanding of how the software works. Having a robust, on-going training capability — both for people new in their roles, as well as existing team members — focused on how to execute common business scenarios from a process and technology perspective is a critical component to ensuring that you maximize and sustain results. Rather than looking to new technology as the solution, first look within to ensure that your existing assets are optimized. Applying these principles will ensure that retailers have fully tapped their existing capabilities first, prior to investing in additional technology.
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