The retail market has never been so challenging; customers are less brand loyal and increasingly want improved services that are available on the latest technology. Retailers are working hard to ensure the customer experience is seamless at every touchpoint and to deliver a more personalised service.

CIOs and IT managers need to provide technology solutions that will improve internal and external services and differentiate their brand from the competition.  It’s an ongoing challenge for IT managers when it comes to keeping up-to-pace with technology and the ever-changing IT industry, so they need to ensure they are working with ‘best of breed’ solution providers who can provide both strategic and tactical advice.

Streamlined ecosystem

Long gone are the days where you would work with a single vendor or solutions provider. Solutions are now more complex and consist of multiple vendor technology, resulting in more skills required to manage the solution. Previously at Monsoon Accessorize, we worked with several third parties which, was not only proving to be costly, but increasingly difficult to manage. In light of this our current strategy is to try and create a more streamlined ecosystem of solution providers to work with on a deeper and more strategic level.

Critical to the success of this is finding a trusted and ‘best of breed’ provider that can deliver consultancy and work with you on your strategy and technology roadmap. At Monsoon Accessorize we view solution providers as an extension of our team. They are strategic business partners who work with us to understand our business, and help us achieve our objectives.

It’s about drawing on each of your partners at the right time when you require their services and achieving the right level of quality and expertise. As solutions are becoming ever more complex, keeping up with rapid changes and finding the right skills in house can be costly and time consuming. The managed services route is cost-effective and enables us to have access to the latest technology on the market.

Back to basics

It sounds obvious but it really is imperative to work closely with a solutions provider so they understand your business, its objectives and strategy. Without this investment, the margin for error is much higher. Technology must be aligned with the business’s objectives and strategy to result in a success. Helping it keep abreast of the market and providing solutions to improve business processes and customer service.

Top-down approach

Fortunately, Monsoon Accessorize is a very forward thinking company and IT is recognised at board level as a vital strategic function, which is fundamental to the company's overall success. The IT team reports directly to the CEO and the culture of the company is open and innovative; we all work as a team with no silos to hinder progress.

Working together

Our solution providers are very much a key part of our business working with the different departments and different brands to understand the business, our culture and how we operate. It’s not just about the technology, it’s about understanding how people work across the business and use technology and how it can improve their roles and the services we provide.

We also benefit hugely from an open and innovative culture. We encourage employees to help us select technology by providing feedback on what would improve their working lives and enhance customer service. By involving employees in the decision-making process, we are assured that we are providing the technology they need, that will really make a difference, both to them and our customers. Far too often, technology is imposed on the business and people within it and as a result, it simply doesn’t get used.

Innovation

Due to the consumerisation of IT, both customers and employees are more aware than ever of new technologies. To remain competitive, retailers need to keep one step ahead of the curve, delivering a steady stream of innovative products and solutions.

With this in mind, we recently partnered on a new ‘single customer view’ innovation project with systems integrator and data analytics consultancy. This data insight solution enables us to have a single view of our customer data across Monsoon Accessorize, providing invaluable business intelligence.

By working in partnership with KETL we were able to access the expertise and skills required to manage and lead the project rather than try to develop or source them in-house.

Strategic collaboration

Retailers that invest in creating an ecosystem of ‘best of breed’ partners will reap the dividends of having a seamless and effective technology provision. A planned, strategic ecosystem of managed services partners will also free up internal IT teams from tactical work so they can focus on more strategic projects.

If properly considered and carefully implemented, the eco-system approach can be a win, win strategic collaboration for both retailer and provider.

To apply for one of the limited places at an exclusive event with Monsoon Accessorize on 16 March 2017, hosted by Andy Tudor, please apply here. The event is suitable for senior IT professionals with significant industry experience and C-level responsibility.