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6 things retail CIOs need to keep in mind in 2017

Sharon Goldman | Jan. 5, 2017
Holiday sales grew substantially in 2016, and tech investments and plans are already in place for the 2017 shopping season. In the meantime, there are six important areas that CIOs need to keep top of mind.

4. Get serious about IoT security
IoT adoption continues to progress, but in 2017, CIOs will have to future-proof their security posture as the potential for unwanted users or cybercriminals to infiltrate retail increases, says Sam Elliott, director of security product management at Bomgar, a remote software vendor. “One of the greatest challenges for retail CIOs when it comes to IoT is determining who is responsible for securing, maintaining and patching the various technologies.”

Devices are often overlooked because they fall outside of ITs traditional purview, he adds, while retailers may be unaware the security responsibility lies with them, leading to a scenario in which the device ends up on a vulnerability database and is quickly exploited. In other instances, updates might be maintained by a vendor or another third party who has access to the company’s system. “Even if a device meets some definition of security, the question of who owns it and who has access to it remains a security nightmare,” he says.

5. Collect accurate and timely data
This holiday season, it’s crucial for retailers to collect accurate and timely data that can be analyzed to better manage store operations, as well as leveraged to improve sales and the shopper experience, says Tony D’Onofrio, chief customer officer of Tyco Retail Solutions. CIOs, he explains, must ensure that the data is delivered through the right vehicle at the right time, and targeted to the appropriate decision makers and customer-facing employees. “In today’s challenging retail environment, consumers are demanding merchandise where and when they want it, particularly with complex multichannel fulfillment options that can only be enabled through accurate and real-time inventory visibility,” he says.

The retail CIO needs to be laser-focused on ensuring the accuracy and timely delivery of the inventory and sales data to all stakeholders in the business — to empower managers and sales associates to best maximize their business, achieve the highest inventory ROI, and most importantly, fulfill their customer's’ expectations and needs while in-store and online.

6. The year of the API
APIs have revolutionized industries from music to transportation, with apps such as Uber, Google Maps and Pandora, says Jeff McCandless, CEO of Project44, a supply chain technology provider with a special focus on retailers and manufacturers. 2017, he adds, may be the year of the API for retail, which still lags behind in its understanding and implementation of APIs — but is starting to catch on.

“Retail CIOs will have to understand the impact this technology has on inventory optimization, setting – and meeting – customer delivery expectations, adhering to the demands of today’s always-on consumer and driving real-time visibility across the entire supply chain network,” he says. “Web-service APIs empower retailers to compete in the new on-demand reality by delivering goods in the shortest timeframe possible with the highest level of transparency and operational efficiency.”


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