Oliver Guy

Global Industry Director - Retail, Software AG

Specializing in industry strategy, digital transformation and omni-channel technology strategy, Oliver advises companies across the globe on their technology strategy and decisions.

Oliver is an industry strategy specialist with 20 years’ experience driving value for leading technology vendors and their customers across supply chain, operations, channels and digital transformation across all types of retail.
He is an innovative thought leader with a track record of collaboratively defining strategic go-to-market approaches and aligning solution capabilities to market needs to ensure solution relevance.

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Oliver Guy is Global Industry Director at Software AG, specialising in Digital Transformation and unified commerce technology strategy, Oliver advises retailers across the globe on their technology strategy and decisions. With more than 20 years focused in technology, Oliver has worked with major names in global retail helping them improve their business through the use of innovative technology. Prior to joining Software AG, Oliver was part of the European Management team at Oracle Retail – his team being responsible for Retail focused Solution Consulting across Europe. Oliver started his career in technology implementing Supply Chain Planning and Optimisation solutions for customers across multiple industries in both Europe and Asia Pacific with Manugistics (JDA).
  • Posted on: 10/17/2019

    Is e-grocery less convenient than shopping in stores?

    As a consumer, one of the most frustrating things about online grocery ordering (our family has been doing groceries online every week for over eight years) is finding product. Entering a search term can of bring up some bizarre options. This only adds to the length of time it takes. Improving this has to be one of the first steps, but what surprises me is that despite advances in search technology and AI the improvements have been slow in coming.
  • Posted on: 10/08/2019

    Are legacy CPG brands just naturally digitally-challenged?

    Any business that has been around 100 years largely unchanged is going to struggle with digital business models. We see this in retail and CPG but many other businesses too. Infrastructure, culture, processes and IT are quite literally "hard coded" into the business. We have seen companies attempt to become digital through acquisition (Unilever buying Dollar Shave Club and Walmart buying Bonobos, for example) but few organizations have managed to take the overall "package of intellectual property and cultural approach" and successfully apply it to other elements of their business. This remains a challenge for companies going forward. There are no silver bullets.
  • Posted on: 10/07/2019

    Best Buy makes a big bet on health tech

    It is going to be an interesting area, one where we potentially have a number of different players who could be considering moves into that area -- Apple, the pharmacy chains, and healthcare companies. But this is an area that also illustrates merging and convergence of industries - retail, healthcare, insurance and more. The question is, is Best Buy well-placed to do this? For example, would CVS/Walgreens be better positioned in terms of being healthcare focused?
  • Posted on: 10/07/2019

    Should Amazon rent out its Just Walk Out tech?

    In many respects it is a little bit like AWS. Amazon work out how to do something well and they offer it to the market for others to use. We have seen some concern by retailers saying they will not use it because they are "feeding their competition." There have been rumors around Amazon doing this with the Amazon Go model since it first started, however it is entirely possible that as we move to a world of platforms we have brand owners who simply do that - own and manage a brand - and they outsource the operational side to someone else, be it Amazon, Ocado or someone else. We are already seeing Ocado selling their know-how around the world. For a CPG company looking to sell direct to consumers it could well be a huge accelerator. There could be an argument that this is no different to a company outsourcing their manufacturing - in the way that Apple do. The tricky thing is that Amazon will want to collect the data associated with it and monetize it somehow. Understanding how that might work could help persuade - or dissuade - companies potentially looking to outsource.
  • Posted on: 09/27/2019

    Why do IT service outages keep happening at retail?

    Two words:technical debt. Retailers have spent years not spending enough on technology and building a robust future-proof architecture. A presentation I saw by an independent analyst a couple of years ago stated: "If you averaged spending 2 percent or less of revenue on IT during any of the last 20 years, you have been under-investing in IT and it is probably the largest threat to your business today." (Contact me if you want a copy of the presentation.) But they are not alone, about eight years ago I was talking to a retired friend who had spent her working life in banking. I told her about a retailer I had been working with and how all their systems were badly connected and overall very shaky due to unsupported hardware and software. (The retailer in question had bought multiple hardware spares on eBay to minimize future issues from outdated hardware). She told me that retail was not alone - she had seen evidence of the same for years in banking, even though she was not in an IT role. At first I did not believe her, then two days later one of the major banks had a major outage that made headlines across the country...
  • Posted on: 09/25/2019

    Retailers must turn stores into ‘anything engines’

    I absolutely agree. Stores need to become centers for experience, customer service, interaction, order pickup, return -- everything. We are seeing other retailers move into this arena by stretching things but not doing "everything." This needs to be about driving traffic. For example Sweaty Betty, a U.K. fitness wear brand, runs yoga classes in some of their stores. Many believe that Toys "R" Us should have become play centers for kids and some DIY retailers are running DIY classes in-store. But to be able to do everything requires a LOT of change and a lot of effort. A lot of the focus is about the people -- they first have to be versatile enough to make the change.
  • Posted on: 09/24/2019

    Do retailers need better business intelligence tools or a better analytic strategy?

    Excel is still the lowest common denominator when it comes to reporting or indeed any more advanced form of analytics. The ability to easily bring multiple pieces of data from disparate systems together in one place still eludes most businesses - no matter what the industry. The reality is that the analytical approach thus adopted is always retrospective - even if you are attempting to use Excel to build out predictive models (which in itself is not a good idea). The retrospective approach means organizations are missing out on opportunities. A vast majority of insights from data are perishable - in that you can do something useful with it, but only if you can capture it, combine it with other data and act on the insight it gives you immediately. The biggest barrier to this is data silos that exist within organizations - which only seem to increase. Organizations need to be able to connect multiple data streams and sources together - irrespective of technology, heritage or vendor and be able to monitor them in real-time for data events - or non-events - that have significance. Being able to use predictive models within this approach is also important but ultimately it leads to the ability to automate response to specific events - increasing efficiency and improving customer experience.
  • Posted on: 09/19/2019

    Retailers approach tech’s cutting edge with caution

    My perspective is that much of the issue here is that organisations very often evaluate these sort of initiatives in isolation of one another. Very often the business case is unlikely to stack up like this or there are huge obstacles in terms of connecting to the existing infrastructure to make it actually work efficiently (for example a store robot adds real value for on-shelf availability when it knows what stock is available in the back-room so it can send an instruction to store teams to replenish the shelf.) This ability to connect systems -- existing and new -- is what I see time and time again as the biggest obstacle to these innovations being used.
  • Posted on: 09/12/2019

    What keeps online shoppers from creating user accounts?

    Fascinating results from the survey. What surprised me was the whole thing around remembering passwords was missing from top responses. I have come across numerous examples where people are reluctant to set something up because it is yet another password to remember. We are told not to have the same password for everything or write them down but I must have 50+ passwords of this type to remember - and the answer is "I don't remember them" so I go through hassle of changing my password each time - which is the same amount of effort as entering my details again each time!
  • Posted on: 09/11/2019

    WRT #digitaltransformation success

    I keep hearing "data is the new oil" — something I fundamentally disagree with. Data is not like oil because oil is a finite resource, whereas data is continually increasing in volume. Extracting value is key to this — but you need the right tools, people and processes in place to do this. Data is the new soil may well be more appropriate! Sifting through the soil is the challenge. There is a shortage of data scientists as we all know. There is also the challenge of taking a predictive model and using it operationally to make it useful in real-time. Full disclosure: Software AG is in the business of helping customers with both self-service analytics to help business users build models, but we have also invested heavily in allowing predictive models to be useful with real-time streaming data from IoT devices and operational systems to allow a real-time response to a specific problem or opportunity.
  • Posted on: 09/10/2019

    Will a loyalty program give Americans more reasons to shop at Target?

    I feel like starting a loyalty program now is being late to the game. However the data attainable can be very valuable if it is used properly. Consumers must however feel that they are getting something of value back for sharing their data. There are so many stories of customer-specific actions by retailers feeling "creepy" - avoiding this is key. The big question is: Is 1 percent back enough? Setting this up in the run up to the holiday period makes sense for this reason... it could well pull in new wallet share!
  • Posted on: 09/09/2019

    Ace Hardware builds through acquisition in the do-it-for-me market

    In many respects this seems similar to IKEA buying Task Rabbit. It makes sense but can it scale? It struck me that competitors can undertake similar approach using ecosystem partners - independent contractors who are "certified" by the retailer and whose services can be sold through the retailer's website by means of an API. The benefit of this approach is that it avoids the need to make a financial acquisition.
  • Posted on: 08/28/2019

    Innovation: Are retailers trying to do too much?

    Interesting one. For me there is not enough innovation. It seems that too frequently clever ideas come from new "upstarts." I worry if part of the problem is the perception of failure - you have to fail fast and recognize the learnings, but often this is perceived as BAD both for the individual team members personally and for those looking in. Avoiding this demands cultural change - admitting that not everything is going to be a success.
  • Posted on: 08/27/2019

    Will a rental subscription program lift Banana Republic’s results?

    This is great to see. Access models are becoming more and more relevant. Launching themselves differentiates but also offers some protection against a new entrant doing something similar. The difficulty with subscription models is that the systems and processes don't exist out of the box to support it. Retailers that I speak to express concern that they want to do innovative things like this but they are restricted because their merchandising system does not support it. Being able to orchestrate logic and data across multiple systems becomes necessary to support such innovations.
  • Posted on: 08/27/2019

    Direct-to-consumer brands aren’t so direct anymore

    The trick is making things scale. What might work for one brand (e.g. subscription razors) may not work for other brands in the portfolio of the CPG company. When it does work from a product perspective it may be that the technology/approach will not scale or adapt to other products. I have seen examples of acquisitions where the acquired company was bought specifically for its "know-how" only for the acquiring company to find out that the approach used could never work in the desired geography or that the acquired company's model was based on a single warehouse and could not be scaled. Caveat emptor is always relevant so due diligence is key.

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