retail technology

When to Upgrade Your Retail Technology

From our ongoing discussions with both retail technology providers and users, here are some of the top considerations driving the decisions.

At some point in the past there was a significant investment in the stack componentry you’re now using, and those costs are very likely still being amortized out.  And even if they’re paid down and fully depreciated how do you know operationally when a layer is nearing the end of its functional life?

Finding that threshold is more often a case of the threshold finding you.  In other words, we often only recognize antiquated, dysfunctional, or burdensome technology in the rearview mirror.

But it’s the start of a new year and, if my perspective has any value at all, the explosion in retail technologies is right now more exciting and more compelling than at any other time in recent history. It is, therefore, also a good time to evaluate the technologies we’ve been using and try to gauge their true utility in the brave new, ai-powered world we’re entering in to.

Beware of the Stall-Zone

retail technology "stall zone"

Don’t linger in this “stall” or “dilemma” zone. It’s time to unlock the data and intelligence held in your legacy systems and include them in your digital transformation journey. In this guide, we’ll discuss how to make this happen — so you can position yourself to meet customer demands and business challenges and redefine your business. 

Top Considerations

From our ongoing discussions with both retail technology providers and users, here are some of the top considerations driving the decisions:

  • Does it play well with others? Past, present & future?
  • Does it deliver on the originally planned capabilities?
  • Does it deliver on originally planned efficiencies?
  • What are its stack dependencies & platform dependencies? And are those dependencies still supportable?
  • Is it compatible with near term stack upgrades?
  • Does your current org chart efficiently support its use?  What about in the near and medium term?
  • What level of interoperability does it provide now?  Will it provide in the near term?
  • Has downtime become a factor?
  • What are the hard & soft costs associated with upgrades, updates, and new feature adds?
  • Can it support expected security and privacy mandates?
  • What is the total cost of ownership versus newer technologies?
  • Does it fit within, and support your organization’s strategic goals & initiatives?

You Have Choices

Over time, what have become known as the ”7 R’s” offer a framework for retail technology modernization strategies.

  • Retain – A technique to retain/reuse legacy application components within a new architecture. 
  • Re-host – Redeploy or shift the application component elsewhere, i.e., to other infrastructure (virtual, physical, cloud) quickly without modifying its features, code, or functions.
  • Re-platform – Migrate or move the existing code to a new platform while reshaping the code but keeping the current features, code, and functions.
  • Refactor – Refactoring and optimizing the code and making fewer changes to the code to remove technical debt leading to legacy software issues that could be frameworks, outdated libraries, code, or inefficient features.
  • Re-architect – Rearchitecting a legacy application means significantly altering the code to shift it to a new architecture with better capabilities.
  • Rebuild – Rewriting/Redesigning the application from scratch without changing the specifications or scope.
  • Replace – Eliminate the former application component and replace it while keeping the new requirements in mind.

A Critical Look at the Next Horizon

Depending on the source, there are anywhere from ten thousand to more than twenty two thousand technology providers servicing retail right now and evaluating them has never been more difficult.  Beyond the sheet magnitude of the potential pool of candidates, is understanding and being aware of how radically this space is going to change over the next few years.  It is daunting undertaking.  

Photo by Force Majeure on Unsplash

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