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GUEST COMMENT Adapt a ‘customer first’ approach

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Retailers today are facing a magnitude of issues and challenges in the digital landscape where accelerating pace of change is the only constant. There needs to be an evolution in the business approach to stay relevant. The time has come for businesses to switch to a ‘customer first’ approach and one of the key drivers to a successful transition is a well-orchestrated IT operation, which focuses on customer brand expectations, from stability to responsiveness.

Retailers need to optimise delivery speeds and get to market faster than ever before, however this is only half of the equation. They need to become better listeners and communicate better with their customers. A structure which fuses application and information will enable organisations to stay better connected and keep their lights on.

To further this transition, businesses are becoming more ‘application-centric.’ They increasingly understand the applications that are running on the platforms they provide and are quickly realising that they share responsibility for making sure the applications are available for their customers. The introduction of digital supply chains will allow for complex interdependencies both internally and externally to businesses and ensure the availability of the applications that are designed to meet the needs of their customers, safely, securely and cost-effectively. A slow, frustrating user experience will decrease sales as well as any customer data that you might have gathered.

Retail IT organisations need a unified approach for managing applications, business processes and the underlying infrastructure. We call this holistic approach ‘applistructure’ and it means viewing traditional and cloud applications and infrastructure environments as one completely unified entity. From our perspective, it shouldn’t matter where the problems occur. What matters is getting the problems resolved quickly thereby ensuring customer experience is seamless. Achieving this holistic approach requires integrating infrastructure, cloud, applications and their business processes on a single platform to deliver visibility across your entire IT environment.

A unified approach:

• Enables applications including business processes and underlying infrastructure to be tuned from a common interface.

• Enhances hybrid cloud performance and availability.

• Identifies and resolves issues more quickly, boosting user productivity.

• Refocuses IT efforts on core business goals to reduce time to-market and control costs.

• Integrates analysis of historic and real-time data to drive even greater IT efficiencies.

To accomplish this unified approach, IT organisations should look at developing or sourcing a service delivery platform to deliver a single point of reference regardless of the underlying cause. At Mindtree we have developed an integrated service management platform with monitoring tools to provide a consolidated view of applications, business process and the underlying infrastructure thereby providing the availability of the business application and enabling IT organisations to be more business-centric. We leveraged ISO, ITIL and ISM process leadership and made our platform technology-neutral, so our experts only recommend the tools and technologies that fit your organisation’s unique requirements.

In the age of cloud computing, applications, processes and underlying infrastructure are now completely interdependent. As these IT environments become increasingly complex, it’s difficult to determine if the source of problems originate in applications, infrastructure or cloud environments. Without an integrated platform, information and applications reside in different siloes that hinder availability, and performance thereby denying your customer the seamless experience. The applistructure approach lets you tackle these types of IT challenges from a unified, holistic viewpoint.

To achieve this applistructure approach from a datacenter perspective, all service groups will be delivered on hybrid infrastructure spanning the enterprise data center and cloud. IT management will be driven by big-data–based smart management systems that resolve numerous issues. Application-defined data centers will include maximum automation and orchestration. And each agile data center will leverage pervasive virtualisation, better capacity management, and best resource sharing. Horizontal scaling (across data centers) and vertical scaling (within), delivering exceptional application performance and availability when needed, will ensure an elevated experience for consumers.

All of these data centers will be secured and highly compliant with the requisite standards and statutory needs. Workloads will transform from application-based silos to hybrid cloud. The metrics will be bi-directional between applications and infrastructure, and the maturity curve will move up from service-based to real-time which will enable real time engagement with the consumers.

Recently we designed a digital IT operations solution for a leading retail and CPG company based on the customer-first approach where applistructure model was at the core. We are also migrating the service groups to a hybrid infrastructure. This approach ensures we would be providing real time engagement for the consumers with their favorite brands with focus on the goal to take the company to the next level of speed, efficiency and customer engagement. We have used our integrated service management platform to ensure uptime of all their consumer facing properties globally.

The hugely competitive retail market can be won or lost based on understanding and responding to customers. Customers have high demands and expect a fast and seamless experience irrespective of where and how they are shopping. Rapidly evolving retail industry needs to adapt the customer first approach and a well-orchestrated IT operations ensuring application availability is a key stepping stone to this approach.

Venkatesh KBS is a solution architect, IMTS, at Mindtree

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