The retail market is undergoing a seismic shift. The lines between marketing and IT are blurring as in-store, mobile, and other technologies for consumer insight are becoming more prevalent as companies strive to keep up with heightening consumer expectation.

The changes in consumer and retail business behaviors could fill an entire conference’s agenda. That’s one reason why we featured an extended amount of sessions and presentations devoted to this shift in retail at this year’s SAPPHIRE NOW.

These sessions provided deep insight into how technology is changing the retail industry. From more simplified IT architectures to smarter and faster data analytics, companies now have a tremendous opportunity to quickly turn insight into action and deliver retail experiences that are able to cross all channels simultaneously.

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Here are some session highlights:

Simplifying IT for Retail Advantage

The growth of data in retail hasn’t come without some inherent challenges. As explained in the session “Streamline Operations by Moving to the Cloud, ” traditionally, organically grown business intelligence (BI) was stacked on top of itself as data amounts grew with organizational growth. Today, however, those systems and lines of thinking have become outdated and are unable to keep up with the growing demands of the current retail environment.

Through cloud technologies, more efficient data warehouses, and consolidated technology stacks, retailers are building the business case for more simplified IT operations, resulting in streamlined business processes. This change is paving the way for expanded usability and is leading to a great shift in what defines a marketer or IT professional in retail.

The Rise of the Marketing Technologist

“Harvesting real-time data to gain insight into consumer behavior is a core value proposition.” Do you think a marketer or an IT pro said this? Can you tell?

The fact that the distinction between these two departments has become more indistinguishable reveals just how far IT in retail has come. As discussed in the session “Transform Marketing with Real-Time Customer Segmentation,” marketers are building a culture of customer centricity, and eventually customer obsession, using detailed and varied analytics to craft better retail experiences, while IT pros are learning to spot trends in consumer behavior for reporting and eventual use as a selling tool. Decisions made on instinct are a thing of the past. Data and analytics are providing far more clarity into where to invest resources to ensure customer centricity is achieved.

Collaboration Is Key

In building a culture of customer centricity, collaboration between solutions provider and the retail organization is critical. According to Andrew O’Flaherty, vice president of retail service sales at SAP, new software implementation is the easy part when building a successful services partnership. Change is the hard part.

As discussed in the session “Improve High-Fashion Retail and Wholesale Operations for World-Class Brands, ” putting the right analytical foot forward in retail requires an effective partnership that can take strategic business issues such as solutions assessments and systems performance review and prioritize them and then build them into a roadmap toward better retail operations.

The Opportunity to Change

It’s a very exciting time for retail. Leveraging new technology that can provide deeper insight into consumers’ needs and wants, companies have the ability to build more meaningful relationships and ensure the right products are delivered to the right people at the right time and place.

Watch all of the retail sessions from SAPPHIRE NOW here.

SAP Retail Forum Event

Interested in learning more about Retail trends and innovative business solutions? Register here to attend the SAP Retail Forum, October 7-8, 2014 in New York. Inspiring speakers include Stephen Dubner, co-author of the bestselling “Freakonomics” and “Think Like a Freak” books, as well as leading Retailers. Register today!

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