How retailers can decode their data and take transformation talk to the next level

We’ve been doing a lot of work with retailers recently, supporting them as shoppers demand more from brands when it comes to understanding their needs. With new entrants giving customers increasingly personal and intimate experiences, more retailers are realising they need to decode their data to survive.

In this blog, I’m going to call on some of the conversations at a recent Rackspace/ GCP dinner for retailers and think about how retailers can shift talk around data-driven transformation from high-level visions to ‘this is what we’re going to do’. Specifically, I’ll be looking at how partnering can clear away some of the most common blockers to transforming your retail business and customer experiences using data.

One of the first things to comment on is the real thirst for education on data-driven initiatives which we saw among guests at the dinner, and we’ve seen across the sector. The overriding sentiment seems to be along the lines of: “Everything is moving so fast; how can we know how to use our data better than the disruptors.”

The challenge, shared with so many sectors where there’s fast-moving tech and innovation, is having the skills and experience to do it. It’s being able to call on credible expertise in this area that often gives transformation advocates the courage to present a data-led journey for the business to the rest of the board.

Delivering on your migration vision

In our experience, retailers’ transformation visions can sometimes be in the right space, but not always clearly defined. Perhaps you’ve decided you want ‘a complete view of every single customer and to give that customer a personal experience’. Ok, but how do you define that with an ROI you can test? How do you scope your proof of concept (PoC) so it looks like something you can credibly share with the board, something that stands up to having it’s tyres kicked?

This is about working out what the business is capable of – what could really work, what’s possible – then articulating this clearly. Successful transformations aren’t just about what you do, but how you do it and how you communicate with stakeholders and business units.

There’s a range of skill sets at play here: being able to establish a road map to achieving the transformation vision, giving this journey robust evaluation markers and articulating it in a way that brings the rest of the business with you. This is just one driver for retailers who look to expert partners to fill the gaps.

Transformation in retail isn’t just about where you want to be

Many retailers have concluded the time for technological tinkering is over. It’s total transformation or face a slow death as challengers leapfrog your organisation’s ability to provide the personalised and seamless encounters customers expect.

Getting the technological choices to successfully migrate to cloud, or optimise what you have is key, but so is understanding where your retail organisation is coming from and what your current world looks like.

Our experience tells us every retailer’s transformation project and requirement is different. But at their heart, they’re all about building the right migration project given the specifics of where you are now and where you want to get to next when it comes to using your data to drive more personal experiences.

Better personalisation through customer data insight

In collaboration with Mango and GCP we help retailers harness the power of data analytics to create better customer experiences, overcoming the skills and experience gaps so many sectors face where they require cloud and data engineering talent.

The GCP data platform bridges the gap between business and the consumer. By bringing all consumer data together, it allows retailers to really understand their customers and make quicker decisions around improving their experiences.

This is boosted by Mango’s ability to access “the Holy Grail of data science”, that is, is to turn data into wisdom, informing decision-making to create tangible and quantifiable business value and new revenue generated.

Mango has been in the board rooms of a number of FTSE 250 companies in the last year, advising on a range of topics from “how can a data science approach benefit the company”, “do we need to build a data science capability”, “how to measure success” and “how to measure data-drivenness”.

Hearing from Mango at the dinner event tells us that if you’ve ever thought, “We have all this data, how do we get value from it,” you’re not alone. Likewise if you recognise you need partners to extract every drop of potential.

Our message to retailers is this: Rackspace and GCP with Mango can provide the end-to-end service and expertise to help retailers move past incremental innovation and embed technology as the driver that keeps moving your offer forward.

The other alternative is to attempt to recruit all the skills and experience required to deliver on data-driven transformation and continuous innovation in-house. But many retailers recognise the kind of DevOps people alone required are rare finds, let alone cloud specialists who’ve overseen hundreds of transformations and data scientists and engineers able to access those ‘Holy Grail’ insights that will unlock better revenues and cost savings.

Technology is only one element of retail transformation

While the notion of technology as an add-on, rather than IT as driver, is being widely decommissioned, we also need to leave behind the idea of ‘we’re buying in some technology to transform.’

While GCP and Mango are developing tech that can help retailers disrupt and maintain a competitive advantage, we’ve seen so many instances of that not being enough.

We see a lot of PoCs fail because organisations don’t have an experienced and specialist project team to support them as they try to define, communicate and deliver on major transformation. That’s why we provide a range of solutions for retail.

Also, Mango, in collaboration with Rackspace and Google, has created a personalised workshop for organisations that want to understand pragmatic approaches to becoming data-driven.

This half-day session featuring Mango Solutions’ Chief Data Scientist Richard Pugh, is designed to provide you with a clear overview of data-driven approaches to help guide your internal initiatives.

To register your interest, please get in touch on 0203 811 4132.

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