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Industry News - April 24th 2015



Walmart is the Largest IT Investor in the World

Saying Walmart is the biggest IT investor in retail might raise a few eyebrows, but most people would likely shrug their shoulders and respond with "well that makes sense." But according to the latest research from IDC, Walmart is not only the biggest IT spender in retail, but is the biggest investor in IT across industries worldwide.
Walmart topped IDC's "The Big Guns: IDC's Worldwide Top 10 IT Spenders" report beating out heavy hitters like Citigroup, AT&T and ExxonMobil for the title of biggest IT spender. The competition for the top spot wasn't even close, with Walmart nearly doubling second place finisher Bank of America's seemingly paltry $5.33 billion investment, with a jaw-dropping $10.16 billion tally according to IDC estimates.
The $10-billion estimate for Walmart's IT expenditures includes hardware, software, IT services, telecommunication service, and internal IT spending. With revenue approaching $500 billion in 2014 the retailing giant certainly has money to spend, and although $10 billion is a massive figure it is really just a drop in the Walmart bucket.
As customers become accustomed to the personalized, immersive experience that digital shopping provides they are increasingly demanding digital-infused, in-store experiences. Walmart has already announced a large-scale investment in the integration of physical and digital and will be focusing a large portion of its IT budget over the next 18 to 24 months on this initiative.
"The big price for us in the future goes back to this integration of digital and physical," Walmart U.S. CEO Greg Foran said. "We’re excited about that. We have some good ideas in that space and we’ve got to make sure that we develop the tools and the technology to get there."

Walmart's investment in better serving customer across digital and physical is focused on four key areas: its global technology platform, a next generation fulfillment network, integrating digital and physical, and talent. The talent portion of the investment plan is particularly important. As the competition for top-level digital innovators continues to tighten across industries, companies hoping to stay on the cutting edge will need to invest heavily to attract superior talent.  

"We’ve talked about the importance of investing in talent and the fact that we are building a technology company inside the world’s largest retailer," Neil Ashe, president and CEO, global e-commerce said. "In the past year, we have been able to build up our team to the critical mass needed to be that technology company. And we did it in a very selective way, bringing in some of the best talent in Silicon Valley through organic hiring and targeted acquisitions."

Teradata Launches Software-Defined Warehouse for Enhanced Data Management, Agility, and Simplicity

Teradata has announced, the Software-Defined Warehouse, an enhancement to the Teradata Database. The Software-Defined Warehouse enables organizations to consolidate multiple data warehouses into one system without sacrificing security or service level performance.
Through the Software-Defined Warehouse, customers will enjoy the benefits of simpler data warehouse management, consistent performance, as well as the cost-savings of maintaining a single system.
In addition to the Software-Defined Warehouse, Teradata introduced an additional Teradata Database feature called Secure Zones, which separates data and groups of users for each entity, with secure boundaries between them. This enables organizations to comply with security and privacy laws that restrict the movement of personally identifiable information or co-location of data from multiple business entities or countries within a single data warehouse.
The Software-Defined Warehouse capability leverages Teradata Workload Management, Teradata Data Labs and the Secure Zones feature of the Teradata Database. These combined capabilities offer organizations agility, simplicity, and speed when managing their data warehouse, and they provide:
Multi-Tenant Deployment: Separately manage data and users from multiple business units or organizations. The Software-Defined Warehouse shields system administrators from viewing the tenants' data, if required for security or privacy purposes.
Business–to-Business Analytic Services: Simplify the hosting and managing of business–to-business analytic services for partners of Teradata customers, while providing consistent performance according to each partner's expected service level agreement.
Data Mart Consolidation: Consolidate multiple data marts into a single system, which reduces the total cost of ownership and carbon footprint. This also provides a simpler way for users to gain an enterprise view of the data, while continuing to segregate the data, users, applications, and workloads from each data mart.
Production Analytic Sandboxes: Set up user-focused, self-service data labs, enabling new levels of data-driven insights and agility, without data duplication or creation of new silos.
The Teradata Software-Defined Warehouse capability is available today. The new Secure Zones feature will be available at the end of the second quarter.

Booking.com Launches Instant Booking Travel App for Apple Watch

Booking.com has announced the launch of the Booking Now app for the Apple Watch. Booking Now, which draws from Booking.com's vast selection of over 625,000 properties in more than 75,000 unique destinations, is the first and only travel app to enable users to book a stay directly from their Watch, and in just one touch. Through the use of Apple's new pressure sensitive 'force touch' technology, spontaneous travelers are now able to choose and book the nearest relevant hotel in one simple gesture.
Through the app, travelers can also instantly manage key aspects of their reservation with the new 'glances' feature of the Apple Watch via a simple swipe. Other features include the ability for spontaneous travelers to save the location of their chosen property, as well as turn-by-turn navigation to direct them quickly to the accommodation. Travelers will never forget their hotel room number again as the watch will save this for the duration of their stay. It also allows them to rate their overall check-in experience.
The Booking Now app for the Apple Watch is designed to meet today's growing preference for on-demand and instantaneous travel while offering a simple and tailored experience on arguably the most personal computer ever made. 96% of global travelers agree that technology has made it easier to book travel, with 85% agreeing that because it makes booking on the go easier they can also be more spontaneous; however 67% would prefer to reduce their time spent online while travelling*.
Backed by Booking.com's global network with 24/7 customer support and access to the world's largest database of more than 45 million verified guest reviews, Booking Now for the Apple Watch is designed to sit alongside the existing Booking Now iPhone app. The mobile app provides travelers with on-the-go solutions to effortlessly and instantly make a reservation at the nearest property that matches their personal preferences with no hidden fees and a seamless "pay when you stay" model.
Booking Now, which is available in 15 languages, will be available for download on the Apple Watch in the Apple App Store on 24th April 2015.
* Findings from Booking.com research conducted in 2014

Network Approach Key to Success in Omnichannel Retailing

At first, omnichannel retailing sounds simple; providing the item customers want, regardless of how, where and when they want to purchase it. However, times have changed since the early era of e-commerce, when consumers researched, selected and paid for an order in a single channel.
The “uni-channel” approach is no longer enough to make a modern omnichannel retailer competitive. Blame it on Amazon, or increased consumer expectations, but items must be available quickly and competitively priced, wherever the consumer finds it. Accordingly, an in-store experience must go beyond a face-to-face interaction and complement its digital presence.
Essentially, retailers and suppliers must reinvent how they do business — from front-office functions, like merchandising, marketing, sales and customer service, to back-office endeavors, such as IT, finance and operations. Additionally, these improvements need to work in unison.
The simplicity consumers want isn’t possible without retailers looking beyond their four walls to achieve integration across in-store and digital channels (e-commerce, mobile commerce and social commerce).
By adopting a “network” approach within their trading community, retailers will reinvent their relationships with suppliers and other trading partners. Utilizing retail business networks as a form of social media allow those same key industry players to connect with each other and remove barriers separating them from true omnichannel success.
There are several ways these emerging networks are addressing the omnichannel retailer’s most pressing challenges:

  • Item sourcing scale. Consumer demand for an “endless aisle” of goods forces retailers to expand their merchandise selection. Traditional sourcing methods lack the scale necessary to provide, at times, millions of products items online. Retailers must work to vet new suppliers, vendors and items in hours or days, not months.
  • Seamless community management. Retailers manage an ever-growing network of trading partners, requiring instant integration with the involvement of significant IT resources. 
  • Robust item management. Unprecedented SKU expansion demands that retailers manage endless amounts of data and digital assets from an expanding vendor network. This shift requires a new approach to traditional business processes and technology architecture.
  • Fulfillment breadth. Managing orders, shipments, payments and returns within the retailing organization, and across trading partner relationships has become substantially more complex (buy online, pick up in store; buy in store, deliver to home, return to store, etc.), requiring an infrastructure that supports growing, changing requirements.
  • Insight-driven analytics. Consumer-centric retailers track everything, from transactional information to demographic data to brand commentary in social forums. When analyzed with the right tools and shared with the right stakeholders, this data can drive better item sell-through and increased profitability (60% improvement in operating margins, according to McKinsey).
Retail business networks are key in connecting trading partners to form communities, offering a space to exchange information in a common language and measure performance against mutual goals. Integrating existing businesses into these pre-built communities allows companies to retain their infrastructure while accessing modern, cloud-based technology capable of enhancing their trading relationships.



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