Last week’s SAP Retail Forum exceeded the /N SPRO Retail Practice’s expectations. It was very informative and productive, plus we had a great time! /N SPRO was well represented with eight industry experts and a lively Twitter feed at @NSPROweb. It was also our pleasure to be a Gold Sponsor for the event and to host the Monday evening welcome reception.

As our team recapped their key insights from the sessions and meetings, I was amazed at how much value the forum packs into less than three days. The /N SPRO Retail team was able to meet new clients, reconnect with prior clients, put our hands on SAP’s new technology and get a download of what is going on in the SAP Retail market through several presentations.

/N SPRO also participated in a presentation with a major /N SPRO client, Loblaw Companies Ltd., Canada’s largest grocery retailer. Eric Gallant (Loblaw) and Steve Hatcher (/N SPRO) outlined Loblaw’s Retail roadmap for managing a very complicated business model leveraging SAP Retail while increasing customer insight through SAP Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and Promotion Management for Retail (PMR).

While all of the presentations were excellent, the keynote presentation of author Peter Sheahan positively impacted our entire team. His theme focused on taking control of innovation and change. Peter shared stories of organizations that either failed or succeeded in grasping what in hindsight were simple and obvious opportunities to innovate their business models and products. Their success or failure led to a corresponding dramatic shift in their business’ fortunes. I don’t know how anyone could walk away from his presentation not feeling energized to reinvent their business model and product offering right away!

Peter had several quotable pieces of advice for the audience, the foremost being, “Change is slow…until it isn’t.” meaning that there is a long build-up prior to change while people and technology get ready. This slow progression of events is followed by an inflection point of rapid and revolutionary change. His stories on this point really hit home with us.

We believe that the retail industry is at an inflection point of accelerated change today. This change is requiring retailers to rethink their business model and how they ultimately engage with the consumer. Emerging technologies can now enable innovative retailers to reinvent their business models and enable true customer centricity.

Preparing our clients to capitalize on this rapid technology and business model change is our primary focus for 2013. We are positioned as the retail consulting leaders in the areas of SAP Promotion Management for Retail (PMR), SAP Planning for Retail (SP4R) and SAP Customer Relationship Management (CRM). Our skills, experience and insight provide us with the expertise to help our clients prepare today for the changes that are coming in 2013 and beyond.

Exemplifying our knowledge of leading technologies, /N SPRO’s Brian Cederborg discussed how SAP PMR can be used today for efficient and effective mass promotions in a joint presentation with Mark Ledbetter of SAP. Mark informed the audience about the Customer Activity Repository (CAR), which is data model and analytics engine for customer-relevant information. CAR and PMR will be key components of customer-centricity, driving the entire retail business from store through the supply base.

SAP’s new technologies powered by HANA will enable faster and more insightful analysis for companies that are prepared to take advantage of it. Retailers, are you prepared to become truly customer-centric? Do you want guidance from a proven team of retail experts? E-mail me at the address below.

Ralph Haffenden
Principal, Retail Practice
ralph.haffenden@n-spro.com

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