Survey: Retail CIOs prepare for IT innovation

New York – Retail CIOs are preparing to take advantage of innovative technologies such as mobile, cloud and social, although they are less involved in efforts to leverage Big Data analytics. A new study of retail CIOs from Tata Consultancy Services (TCS) and Forrester Consulting, “The Global Agenda of Retail CIOs,” retail CIOs plan to rapidly implement an array of mobile technologies, with context-aware tech (32%), mobile payments (28%), digital signage (24%), and mobile POS (22%) leading the way.

Perhaps with an eye toward further improving customer service and logistics, six out of ten (59%) retailers plan to invest in mobile-enabling their partners and vendors over the next three to five years. While 41% of retail CIOs currently use SaaS (software-as-service) for back-office functions such as supply chain and product life cycle management or ERP, more than half (52%) intend to do so in the next five years.

In addition, eight-out-of-10 (80%) retail CIOs leverage social media for sales and marketing, with customer service and recruitment the next most common functions. However, almost half (46%) of retailers plan to link social insights to R&D and product design during the next three to five years, unlocking customer-centric product designs.

Retail CIOs are less active in the area of Big Data. Almost seven-out-of-10 (68%) retail CIOs report that they collect data, but agree they are not maximizing its full value. Only 47% have invested in cross-channel analytics, and only a fourth (25%) of retailers have plans to invest in big data analytics to support customer service.

Acquiring the talent needed to support IT innovation is a challenge for retail CIOs. Almost seven-out-of-10 (67%) retailers surveyed consider attracting and retaining talent a critically important challenge during the next three-to-five years.

"Retail CIOs are uniquely positioned with an enterprise-wide perspective to overcome operational silos and become true change-agents, critical to future cross-channel customer engagements and business growth," said Pratik Pal, president of retail, CPG, travel, transportation and hospitality for TCS. "They are primed to expand their leadership role in the dynamic new world of retail by spearheading the digital and innovation agenda."

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