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Retailers ‘swamped by Big Data’, IT company research claims

14 February
10:51 2012

A report by IT company by SAP (UK) shows the UK retail sector at a crossroads, with 2012 a year of critical business decisions that will have long-term impact on future success.

The report finds customers are more demanding than ever with growing expectations for a personalised service and offers tailored directly for their needs. IT is crucial to delivering this and is firmly on the boardroom agenda, said SAP (UK).

However, the report also finds that retailers are compromising their IT investments for 2012 and failing to balance short-term customer-facing investment with essential long-term, back-office spend. In particular, retailers are failing to harness new technology to analyse and act upon customer data.

Key findings of the report include:

Over three-quarters of retailers have seen customers become more responsive to offers, 75% have also reported a rise in demand for a more personalised service

Two-thirds of retailers are under pressure to provide IT innovation that will improve customer retention and loyalty
Just under half of retailers surveyed admit to finding it difficult to turn customer data into insight

Seven out of 10 retail companies are more likely to invest in customer facing technology than back office during 2012
Just under two-thirds (64%) feel under pressure to provide IT innovation to improve customer retention loyalty.

This industry report commissioned by SAP examined plans for technology investment this year amongst 100 retail companies.

It was found that ‘Big Data’ is swamping the industry, with over half of the respondents admitting to having access to more data than they can actually act upon. In addition, 88% of companies surveyed claimed to experience problems gaining valuable insights from customer data.

Chris Osborne, retail industry principal at SAP (UK and Ireland), said, “The real choice to be made isn’t between front of house or back-office; rather it’s about your business as a whole. What retailers should be striving to achieve is consistency and transparency across their business. Retailers need to get to grips with ‘Big Data’ now in order to be able to cope with the deluge of data that is available, both on their business and their customers.”

Osborne said; “The retail industry recognises the need to analyse data whilst improving customer service, but how to achieve that in harmony is clearly where there’s cause for confusion. By investing more heavily in customer-facing technology, companies are opening themselves up even wider to receive more data which they are already struggling to utilise effectively.”

Source: SAP (UK)

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