Retailers can meet consumer demand by using the Microsoft Azure platform

We are in the midst of a ‘Fourth Industrial Revolution’, the emergence of cloud computing both public and private has enabled businesses to be far more dynamic and flexible in the way they deliver ICT services. The ability to create platforms and infrastructure on-demand that scale to deliver the performance required in a pay as you go(burn) model have seen the procurement of these services move away from CAPEX to an OPEX model. This change is also manifesting in other areas such as software, backup & DR as well as firewalls and other appliances all being delivered as a service, soon even Windows 10 will be available ‘as-a-service’. Is this a good or bad thing? To quote Paul Getty, who was once recorded as being the world’s wealthiest private citizen, “if it appreciates, buy it, if it depreciates, lease it”, as we all know technology is out of date before we’ve even purchased it, so in this industry that quote is very relevant. My personal opinion is that this is a good thing, no more suffering the depreciation of expensive hardware assets or funding of expensive solutions. Cash-flow is improved as smaller monthly payments are made rather than large lump sums every three or however many years.

The shift from CAPEX to OPEX and the way that we consume cloud technologies is allowing companies to now deliver services and applications far quicker than ever before, having the ability to scale on-demand without the need to purchase and deploy new hardware lowers initial cost and speeds up delivery. It does however create one problem in that the amount of data being captured is growing exponentially and the need to analyse that data is also now becoming more and more of a requirement and has a high demand on compute resource. This is where the Microsoft Azure platform can allow businesses to really start to delve deep into their data and bring it to life, having the ability visualise how your business is functioning and be more proactive with that information can give you that edge, which allows you to get ahead of your competitors.

The retail industry is evolving, new technologies, new competitors and consumer demand are making this evolution even faster. Retailers need to start to take advantage of the information gained from sales and customer data to shape their KPI’s and increase profitability. The areas where retailers should focus on are; Commerce anywhere, allowing customers to purchase anywhere on any device; Targeted promotions, analysing the data to deliver better and more relevant experiences to customers; Situational awareness, using QR codes, RFID tags and beacons to inform customers and understand their behaviour. The one way that retailers can stand out from the rest of the industry is by adopting the Microsoft Azure cloud to deliver their applications, products and services faster than their competitors. To put it simply: Data + Analytics + Access = More Revenue.

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