Walgreens finishes its trip to the cloud and its retail journey is just beginning
Many retailers made plans to move their information technology systems to the cloud prior to the start of the novel coronavirus pandemic last year. But, as with many other elements of their business, this too was accelerated when they found themselves having to deal with changing consumer behavior and other developments that quickly arose as a direct result of COVID-19. Walgreens Boots Alliance (WBA) is a case in point. The drugstore giant announced that it completed moving 122 enterprise resource planning (ERP) apps to the cloud in May, according to a Wall Street Journal article.
Francesco Tinto, global chief information officer at WBA, who joined the company in 2019 from Kraft Heinz, said that the move to the cloud will speed processes across Walgreens’s business, including inventory management, point-of-sale transactions, accounting and more. The company’s migration to the cloud concluded a five-year effort to overhaul the drugstore’s tech systems, specifically related to its retail operations.
The need for speed became particularly apparent in the early months of the pandemic and Walgreens, according to the Journal’s reporting, sees migration to the cloud as a key element in its move. The article provided an example of how setting up a server to run on the cloud now takes a few hours compared to up to a week before.
The new system will integrate functions across the Walgreens organization, giving associates the ability to check store inventory with handheld devices. Employees can now act more quickly than ever before on pandemic-specific challenges, such as access to real-time sales and inventory data on such items as masks and sanitizers.
A forecast from International Data Corp., sourced in the Journal piece, estimates public cloud spending will reach $385.3 billion this year, up from $312.4 billion in 2020, the previous record year for cloud migration.
A KPMG report published last year identified the speed with which many companies were moving their systems to the cloud. Fifty-six percent of technology executives surveyed said that full migration had become an “absolute necessity” for their businesses and that previous “piecemeal migrations” were being abandoned in direct response to facts on the ground resulting from the pandemic.
- Walgreens Brings 122 Apps to the Cloud – The Wall Street Journal
- Walgreens Boots Alliance puts customers first in its digital transformation journey – Microsoft
- Cloud tech becomes a retailing priority amid COVID-19 – RetailWire
DISCUSSION QUESTIONS: Has moving enterprise resource planning to the cloud become a business necessity for retailers and consumer-direct brands? What do you see as the associated upside and downside for companies as they begin moving systems to the cloud and once they are established on it?