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White Papers

Information Management in the Retail Sector
Practical strategies to drive business decision making
By: Freeform Dynamics
Published: March 2009

EXECUTIVE SUMMARY

Retail is the market where real-time decision making is catalysed by knowledge
If there is one industry which relies heavily on analysing and using information to drive its day-to-day activities, it's the retail industry. Numerous areas depend on the ability to act on information, and the pressures on retailers today bring the need for a range of new capabilities to the fore. Drivers such as globalisation, downwards price pressures and lower barriers to entry further catalyse the need for faster and better decision-making across the entire business.

Leaders in the Retail space differentiate themselves by how they deliver information
What really matters today is cohesion, consistency and delivery of the right information to the right people. There are a range of roles within the business which have specific requirements. One size does not fit all. A good strategy helps drive accurate information to the right people throughout the business by embedding it in processes and ensuring that everybody has timely access to the information they need.

Current IT capabilities are often constrained by historical decisions and approaches
With the relatively slow pace at which systems evolve, and the faster pace at which requirements often change, it is not uncommon for information capability today to be geared towards the needs of the past rather than the present. Furthermore, as businesses have historically addressed requirements in isolation, many are living with more fragmentation and disjoints than they would ideally want. The upshot is, when it comes to exploiting information, things are not necessarily broken, but neither are they optimised for the future.

The first step is to review the existing information management strategy
Formal or not, a strategy for information will help the business address rapidly changing market conditions. Is your information strategy founded on clear ownership and accountability, and loaded with a ‘just enough' governance structure to allow action and progress without stifling it? Furthermore, does it offer a consistent framework to deliver what really matters to the business?

Take stock to find out where you really are today
Retail organisations can assess where they are today using some simple tools to uncover gaps in their abilities to exploit the information in their business. A valuable part of this process is to consult senior management, line of business owners, business analysts, operational staff and customers as they all have different requirements and views.

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