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GUEST OPINION It’s time to make the mainframe go mobile

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In the personalisation era, you need the power of your data on any device – you need to make the mainframe mobile. Here Guy Tweedale, Regional VP, Rocket Software explains how to make that a reality in 2018

The power of the mainframe and its operating systems is undeniable: that’s why 23 out of the top 25 US retailers rely on IBM Z. But the current challenge for retail businesses is how to apply this power to more modern technologies, such as mobile devices, web applications and cloud-based software.

The retail sector is facing a rough ride in the years leading up to Brexit thanks to the fluctuating value of the pound, wavering consumer confidence and an uncertain import/export landscape. This means that it’s more important than ever for technology solutions to make the most of their existing computing capacity to create new efficiencies and deliver fresh revenue opportunities for the UK’s big brands.

With the mainframe providing an invaluable foundation when it comes to data management, storage and processing, being able to extend this across new devices is key to delivering better processes both on the shop floor and in back-end warehouses. Most importantly, tapping into the mainframe using modern technologies is key to unlocking the potential for even better customer service.

Making the old world new again

Retail companies have spent years and extensive resources developing IT tools to improve their business and, ultimately, entice more customers to buy their product or service. However, in the face of digital transformation and the introduction of new technology, these existing tools are often hamstrung by the platform on which they run.

For example, when it comes to accessing mainframes from PC or desktop-based solutions, staff – whether they are in-store or behind the scenes in a warehouse – are tethered to their computers. In a warehouse environment, this can mean that workers are required to go back and forth to a computer terminal station to access information about logistics, products and deliveries. This information can include anything from understanding what’s about to arrive at the warehouse to performing stock checks, running damage reports and determining whether extra warehouse staff are needed.

For employees on the shop floor, having to tap into a PC to find out product or delivery information for a customer is impractical and can be time-consuming. Putting a tablet or device in their hands instead can provide all the data they need, in a clear and easy-to-understand format, without requiring them to physically move away from the customer to access the information.

Make it your aim to modernise mainframe access

The era of platform-specific solutions is well and truly over, with today’s users expecting effortless integration with IT systems, no matter where they are and what device they’re using. What’s more, companies require all the information being accessed across these devices to be secured to the highest standard. Mainframe and midrange systems can still provide the robust back-end processes and security, while newer software tools can be used to pull out the necessary data and build a web-based, user-friendly application.

The retailers who will lead the way in customer satisfaction and business performance will be those who empower their teams with the ability to access information from across their mainframe and mid-range system, on any web browser or tablet and at any time. Providing easy access to the same up-to-date, accurate information will mean your staff can benefit from a seamless IT experience, while your customers will benefit from better service. To remain competitive in this demanding retail landscape, it’s time to do more with your mainframe.

Image credit: IBM

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