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  • 3 Apr

What does the IT Team of the Future look like?

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Last month, we had the pleasure of speaking at Monsoon Accessorize’s “Future of IT” Panel Event, hosted with KETL, as IT strategists from a range of sectors converged on Westfield London to debate some of the current issues facing decision-makers in technology.

What role does technology play in a transforming retail business?

Retail Assist was lucky enough to kick-start the session, as our Chairman, Alan Morris, explained the background to the company, and how it is still solving the same business problems today.

Alan explained that having worked in retail IT for 30+ years he has seen a lot of changes, and noted that IT and retail have not always been aligned. Retail Assist was therefore founded to close the gap that he had witnessed, when retailers were not sufficiently involved in technology and the benefits it can bring. A common theme in both retail and technology is change, which means that one of the biggest challenges for technology strategists is often around managing transition, transformation and dynamic change.

How do you get to a position where you have a team of people who are all pulling together in the same direction so that the management team and the Board see IT and technologists as a core competency of the business? In essence this is largely a cultural change, where technology and IT is recognised as a core function, and where technology reports into the CEO.

CEOs believe that technology will transform their business more than any other global trend.

CEO Technology Trends

In today’s digital age, technology underpins everything retailers do. Companies like Ocado, Air Bnb, and ASOS – who we support with Merret – wouldn’t exist without technology. Retail technologists need to shake things up, challenge their Boards and have a respected voice, especially in areas such as product lifecycle, customer service and project implementation. Because having the people with that unique mix of skills is a challenge, getting the right balance of in-house and outsourced functions is critical. 

The Skills Debate

Further statistics from PwC’s CEO Survey show that although CEOs understand the need for talent with 83% saying that digital skills are important to their organisation, 2/3 think recruiting staff with these skills is difficult. And 77% of CEOs are concerned that a shortage of key skills could impair their company’s growth. CEOs know they can’t innovate using technology alone.

NashTech also shared some interesting research on what should be included in the next generation of IT, including a mind-set that encourages inter functional collaboration and coordination, flattened hierarchies, and an environment that encourages the generation of new ideas. The importance lies in applying technological skills to real business problems.

Some of the main reasons to outsource were cited as:

Freeing up resource to focus on core business
Provides access to skills not available in-house
Saves money
Improves flexibility in use of resources
Improves ability to innovate

These were just a handful of topics debated at the event. Want to know what else was discussed? Special thanks to KETL for organising this event. Read their full report here.

Monsoon KETL IT event

Panel Speakers included:

Andy Tudor, Technology Director Monsoon Accessorize
Tris Nelson, Technology Manager, Just Eat
Alan Morris, Chairman Retail Assist
Stacey Anklam, COO autoGraph.me
Alistair Johnston, Director Programme Management NashTech
Mark Lewis, Deputy CEO Practicology

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