Retailers must address the threat of disruption in the age of digital transformation, says Claranet

New research shows that 54 per cent of retailers expect their industry to be significantly disrupted over the next two years

Retailers must review their approach to application development practices and IT infrastructure to achieve the business agility they need to address the threat of disruption in their industry. This is according to Ian Furness, Hosting Services Director at Claranet, who states that implementing a DevOps approach is critical if retailers are to keep up with the quickening pace of their sector and achieve competitive advantage.

According to a new report by Microsoft, ‘Digital Transformation: The Age of Innocence, Inertia or Innovation?’, 54 per cent of retailers expect their industry to be significantly disrupted over the next two years. Claranet believes that in order address the threat of disruption and fend off competitors, retailers need to be able to adapt quickly.

However, just 39 per cent of European retailers have implemented a DevOps approach, leaving a significant portion still to do so, and only 38 per cent host their ecommerce applications in public cloud, according to Claranet’s 2016 research report.

For Ian Furness, those retailers that haven’t yet adopted DevOps and/or public cloud will be placed at a distinct disadvantage, unable to keep up with their more agile competitors.

He commented:

The retail sector is ripe for disruption. As a result, it’s vital for retailers to be able to adapt quickly in order to contend with the disruptive players within their industry. Consumer behaviour is constantly changing and many will not use a retailer who lacks a good website or mobile application. Ultimately, the faster an organisation can improve its applications, the better chance they have of gaining a competitive advantage. However, this puts additional pressure on the IT department who must ensure they can keep up with these changes. Not doing so can have serious repercussions on the competitive advantage of companies and ultimately their bottom line, as what businesses can really afford to wait for new applications in the digital age?”

With software now at the centre of online retail businesses, applications are a key differentiating factor from the competition. The retailers who will be best placed to gain a significant edge and overcome issues and compete with agility are those who start to implement a DevOps approach. The benefits include a more streamlined and integrated environment that is able to facilitate an accelerated application lifecycle. Public cloud is also an important part of this story here. The potential for automation that comes with hyper-scale public cloud platforms is essential for supporting DevOps, while the scalability they bring enables retailers to cope with sudden and potentially huge spikes in traffic. It’s therefore surprising that so few retailers have yet gone down that route.”

For retailers to truly win in their market and compete at the forefront of digital transformation, IT teams should be focusing their efforts on developing applications that deliver the optimal customer experience, while using a partner with deep expertise in designing, deploying and managing both public cloud and hosted platforms. By working with a trusted cloud provider with the specific skills and expertise needed to help organisations architect the best possible solution for their applications, they are able to focus their efforts where they are needed most.”