Next-gen tech: Where’s the competitive advantage?

The Cloud, the Internet of Things, artificial intelligence. These are just the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the new technologies that retailers are investing in.

In fact, many retailers have already dipped their toes into the steady stream of new technology and services available to them in order to gain competitive advantage over their competitors.

Retail Systems has reported that 68% of retailers reported having already invested in AI to some extent, while 94% use IoT and a whopping 97% use the cloud.

Despite these initial investments, spending is expected to continue with AI to increase by 53% over the next three years compared to the previous three and the amount of budget given to cloud expected to increase by 24%.

Unsurprisingly, the biggest growth area will be IoT. Retailers have splurged on average £224,000 on IoT over the last three years, but these figures are expected to rocket up to £605,000 over the coming three – an increase of 169%.

Investing in new technology is a brilliant way to capture more data and help to improve the customer experience, as well as helping managers to better organise their staff and gain insights into their operation.

But to turn data into a true competitive advantage, you have to be able to draw out those golden facts that will help you to make decisions to benefit your business.

Unfortunately, many retailers have told us that they feel overwhelmed by the flood of data that they capture through various data points. When you consider the number of IoT-enabled devices that could be harvesting data for example, it’s clear that an awful lot of data needs to be crunched.

Having to use a number of reporting tools makes the process even more frustrating. Progress is often so slow that managers feel they have become slaves to reporting rather than empowered to act on the facts they discover.

That’s why as well as investing in new tech, retailers need to also consider how the latest analytics software can help them get the best from their investment.

For example, new solutions can display data in a visually engaging way that helps retailers spot trends and opportunities. Reports can be accessed on the go and shared with the team. Data can be reviewed in real-time and insights can rapidly be involved in practical decision making.

It’s an exciting time to be involved with the latest technology, but don’t lose sight of the real prize – insight that will improve your business and your customers’ experience. Consider how you will deal with the valuable data you collect. If your reporting tools are not up to the task, a new analytics solution will be just as important as the new tech you are splashing out on.

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