Is it time to push the ‘go faster’ button on cloud computing?
Through a special arrangement, what follows is a summary of an article from Retail Paradox, RSR Research’s weekly analysis on emerging issues facing retailers, presented here for discussion.
RSR’s first-ever benchmark on the state of cloud computing in retail finds that the top expected benefits from the cloud for retailers are improving speed and agility while maintaining manageable costs.
That ran counter to our going-in presumption that the driving force behind cloud adoption was the ability to flex with sudden seasonal or promotional volume spikes. Indeed, cloud as a pure delivery mechanism falls to the bottom of the list.
There’s some interesting energy behind that finding. The two groups that are typically charged with deploying business applications — the IT organization and the e-commerce group — are the ones that retailers want to adopt a cloud strategy.
It’s fair to point out that about one-half of our survey’s respondents come from the IT discipline itself: a whopping 98 percent of IT respondents report they can make the best use of cloud. IT, however, is the top beneficiary, according to 60 percent of non-IT respondents, as well.
The inference is clear: Year-after-year of complaints about the ever-growing IT backlog has taken a toll and retailers see the cloud as a way to accelerate technology-driven improvements to the business. Cloud is retailers’ real attempt to move beyond “retail time” to consumer time.
For over-performing retail winners, the challenges cloud computing is expected to address include:
- The need for more speed and agility
- Keeping up with customer wants and needs
- Becoming a 24X7 business
- Gaining flexibility to adopt or abandon solutions faster
- Pressures to cut costs
In the full report, we warn retailers against thinking of cloud-based solutions as a “magic bullet.” Indeed, retailers seem overly optimistic about their ability to layer cloud-based solutions over legacy systems without integration challenges.
There is other evidence in the report, however, that retailers are taking a sober approach to the cloud. For example, “performance and SLA compliance” rates as a top concern, followed closely by “keeping cloud costs in check.” These issues are closely related, since poor performance will inevitably trigger additional unanticipated costs to rectify the problem.
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Have expectations around what cloud operating platforms can deliver for retailers changed over the years? What should be the primary concerns about cloud adoption at this point?