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Industry News - March 4, 2008



U.S. Tech Spending Lags, Retail Spending Lags Further
The U.S. is no longer on the cutting edge of IT innovation, according to a comprehensive survey by Accenture. Once early adopters, U.S. companies are now falling behind global competitors. In the retail sector, the problem is especially disturbing, since its IT investment level as a percentage of revenue is at the bottom of the spending curve.

According to Bob Suh, chief technology strategist for the Accenture study of 700 CIOs and CEOs in 22 countries, “During this second wave of innovation, newer systems simply outperform refurbished ones because they have improved substantially in the last five years making them easier to implement, integrate and change, and as a result they are driving higher levels of productivity.”

Retailing has historically invested lower percentages of revenue compared to other industries. Typically, IT spending represents 1 to 15 percent of a company’s revenue, according to Suh. The financial sector is on the high end of the spectrum, while retailing is near the bottom.

According to the last several years of the RIS/Gartner Retail Tech Trends Study, retailers allocate less than 2 percent of revenue to their IT budgets. This figure, according to Suh and other research analysts, is two or three times lower than other industries.

Key findings in the Accenture study include:

Cutting the fat from today’s already lean IT budgets cannot be done easily. The study shows that as an organization embarks on a new technology investment, it should expect spending more of its time in IT operations, as their optimized IT environment has been disturbed. While this may look like a step back to IT execution leaders, high performers view this as a necessary step toward business innovation.

Consumers expect more and are savvier than ever before - if we don’t provide it someone else will and our customers will vote with their mouse clicks. Accenture data suggests that companies are less than half way to where they think they could be or should be in terms of leveraging online interactions with customers, employees and suppliers.

Those people responsible for maintaining our legacy system are headed toward retirement. Research shows that the oldest modules of front office systems driving profitability are among the oldest in an organization.

We need to stop looking at IT investment the way the airline companies view theirs. The average age of an American airline fleet, for example, is far older than the aircraft owned by most of their European and Asian counterparts. Like some 747’s and MD-11’s of similar age, it is as if the pilots who originally flew them in the ‘70s are still the only ones who know how to work the technology.

-Joe Skorupa, Debby Garbato, Christina Zarrello



Walgreens Utilizes POS Data-Sharing
Walgreens implements the Agentrics Demand Signal Management platform, powered by Retail Solutions, for its new POS data-sharing program. Walgreens utilizes the system to improve collaborative planning and promotional execution and boost in-store sales performance. The pharmaceutical chain uses the system to target specific store issues and reduce the number of days required to move new or promoted products to the shelf. The retailer also uses the system to capture, validate and store operational supply chain data in a scalable and secure repository.

Liz Claiborne Adds IP Telephony
Liz Claiborne deploys IP Telephony from Orange Business Services. The apparel, accessories and fragrance retailer also implements associated Professional Services which include field operations and integration services, logistics, 24/7 maintenance and ongoing consultancy. The platform will serve Liz Claiborne sites in China and Hong Kong including 500 IP phone users. Liz Claiborne also gains voice conferencing and the integration of business applications and communication tools.

Haggen Supermarkets Deploys HR Analytics
Haggen supermarkets improves returns on human capital by deploying a business intelligence system, ARC, from Manthan Systems. The HR analytic system helps improves the retailer’s decision-making needs around bettering HR performance. Haggen’s new retail business intelligence software is equipped with pre-built metrics, performance indicators and an analytics framework. Haggen enables its business intelligence needs across sales and merchandise in inventory areas.

Airport Wireless Adds Retail Platform to Support Growth
Airport Wireless implements core merchandising, store operations and POS solutions from Tomax at its 32-store airport retail chain. The airport retailer uses Retail.net to improve inventory management with full perpetual inventory, sales reporting and gains a single integrated customer record and real-time visibility to sales and inventory chain-wide. Airport Wireless also plans to add Tomax Portals, Workflow and Activity Management and Retail Analysis. The retailer uses these systems to gain actionable information across its business, to enable better decision-making and ensure process optimization.

More Technology News


Fujitsu Offers New Self-Checkout Graphical User Interface
Fujitsu releases a redesigned self-checkout graphical user interface (GUI). The new interface uses water-drop style icons and buttons. The system incorporates high-contrast user screens with text, buttons, animations and sound that help customers navigate the transaction. The new GUI also includes improvements to its software functionality. Customers can scroll up and down the electronic receipt to verify items and also have the opportunity to change the volume and language at any time during the transaction.

UTC RETAIL Releases Touchscreen POS Workstation
UTC RETAIL introduces the 1870 All-In-One Touchscreen POS Workstation. The new POS system incorporates Intel Mobile technology to help increase performance and efficiency of the all-in-one workstation. In addition, an integrated Intel GML Express chipset produces clear display graphics and improves audio output from the optional speakers. The 1870 also integrates with a 15” Touchscreen LCD display, which supports a host of optional peripherals including internal DVD/CD drives, customer display, keyboards scanners, printers and cash drawers.

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