Retailers must now focus on integration control and coordination now to remain successful and more importantly to survive.  Over the past couple fo years we have seen that retailers have been forced to  incorporate new capabilities more through acquisition than organic development and this will not change going forward, in fact this practice will only increase and expand. This means that retailers must focus their internal efforts on building an integration control tower framework to allow them to quickly and efficiently integrate new capabilities and features.  This control tower can also provide the framework to support collaboration requirements across partners and functional operations to break down silos and improve the collaboration capabilities.  I see these two aspects as critical for the ongoing success of retailers and must be viewed as a cost of entry for retailers to grow in this omni market.

 

The control tower integration framework must provide a rules based engine that allows many different actions based on messages and rules defined for processing the messages.  This framework will allow and encourage the quick and efficient integration of partners, processes, functionality and new technology while controlling the impact of the changes across the enterprise.  This is a critical aspect of this integration framework and will require a great deal of thought in analysis and design to define the framework to support the variety of demands.  This is no small task and will require a continuous process of review, validation and redesign to add new features and flexibility.  The lack of a control tower integration framework would drive an unreasonable level of analysis and development to continuously redesign functionality for each change in partners or addition of tools.  Focus the development in one area to speed the delivery and reduce the overall complexity of the environment.

 

As with most tools that are highly functional and simple to use this tool will also be highly complex in order to provide the ability to support a wide variety of integration in a straightforward manner.  The point of this tool is to focus the complexity into one tool in order to eliminate the complexity across the environment as a whole.  A focus on configuration is the key to success for this tool, remember to always view features and functionality from a viewpoint of supporting change and revisions in the future.  In other words the mantra should focus on reusability and configurability!  This will increase the level of complexity in the tool, however it will dramatically reduce the complexity of adding new partners, features and functionality. 

 

Retailers must view their environment and develop a strategy that is focused on transient functionality and capabilities; just because a feature or function is a core requirement today does not mean it will be a core requirement a year from now.  Retailers must develop a framework that supports and encourages obsolescence in technology and functionality to succeed and this requires a robust control tower integration framework.

 

And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

ECommerce will have wide ranging impacts on both the retail and manufacturing sectors.  How can you focus these abilities to improve the consumer's experience?  Improving the consumer’s experience will require a re-evaluation of the sales channels, the manufacturing channels and practices and the supply chain channels and practices from the raw materials to the consumers’ homes.  In order to ensure and maintain success in this new reality you must harness the tools and capabilities in many new areas.  How can you support these continuously changing requirements?