In the latest issue of Integrated Solutions For Retailers, there is a nice article by Tomax CEO, Eric Olafson. The article is about how Retail Enterprises silos, the "us vs them" mentality, exists as a friction against efforts to connect strategy with in-store execution. Technology while being a solution to this issue becomes a problem too.
In search of the elusive ‘best of breed,’ retailers implement point solutions within narrowly defined process and procedural boundaries. Meanwhile, software vendors spin out new, denser versions of these applications, resulting in a cottage industry called application integration.
Worse still, each point solution requires nearly the same data, a cancer that exists across all retail IT – the burgeoning complexity of disparate solutions and underlying data integration issues that more or less brings IT progress to a coagulated halt.
Retailers are taking these issues in their stride and embracing technologies like SOA, workflows, open standards which help bridge the divide.
Happily, we are observing an industry trend to embrace technology to transcend silos. The emergence of SOA (service-oriented architecture), workflow, open standards, and source technologies are enabling new solutions and approaches that are process-driven, lightweight, faster to implement, and flexible. These same technologies drive new delivery mechanisms, giving rise, for example, to the adoption of software as a service (SaaS), where the solutions providers deliver and manage solutions faster and more economically than the retailer could on their own.
Another important trend is data centralization. The cost of dividing and duplicating data in support of multiple applications occupies a great percentage of IT budgets. Now, a single version of the retailer’s information can support multiple applications, reporting instruments, and real-time event-driving workflow management. The cost reductions associated are massive.
On a related note, read this more elaborate article on the same topic by Tomax CEO, Eric Olafson.