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Cloud as a multiplier

Deloitte on Cloud Blog

For retailers, the cloud is a multiplier for business outcomes. Today, cloud providers are constantly releasing new capabilities and making them available in just a few clicks, enabling retailers to implement new solutions much faster than ever before.

January 15, 2019

A blog post by Habeeb Dihu, principal, Retail and Consumer Products Cloud Leader, Deloitte Consulting LLP

Software, and more broadly technology, is increasingly a driver of business outcomes. It has opened new channels for retailers. It can automate manual processes and cut costs across the supply chain and in-store experience domains. It can deliver insights that enable better decision-making on merchandising, pricing, and other retail functions. The cloud—especially in combination with an agile and DevOps operating model—offers a clear way for retailers to multiply the business outcomes of their technology investments due to the lower startup and run costs that it affords, and its ability to accelerate development processes.

With the cloud it is no longer necessary to buy expensive, hard-to-scale physical assets to build a new software application. Rather, the infrastructure and development environment are just a few clicks away, with costs that grow in line with consumption. For existing software applications, the cloud offers a real opportunity to shift technology resources away from running data centers and toward building capabilities that can help differentiate your business in the retail space. In both cases, as new cloud capabilities, such as machine learning and internet of things, come online through well-defined service APIs, retailers can take advantage of them as soon as they are available to further save on internal development costs and help reduce the time to deploy these capabilities to customers.

The cloud tends to take the friction out of implementing new capabilities and provides a real opportunity to multiply the value of all technology investments—legacy and modern—by freeing up resources to double down on the areas that matter most to the business. This stands in stark contrast to the conditions that have, until recently, made it more challenging for retailers to create or innovate on their technology and use it to differentiate themselves in the marketplace in unique ways.

Getting Started

You can start by prioritizing the opportunities that already exist, whether that means new applications that are planned for development (taking a cloud-first approach) or existing applications that were built using cloud-ready APIs or capabilities. With this view, apply these guide posts:

  • Start small. Identify one specific thing to achieve, then keep it simple. Do not let the scope and complexity of the cloud migration expand or get out of hand.
  • Aim for MVC. With each subsequent iteration, focus on minimum viable changes (MVCs). In other words, aim for the fewest changes you can make to increase the value you are getting from the cloud or to gain new learnings about how it may be suited to your environment.
  • Consider canary releases. Limit who can utilize cloud services, at least in the early stages of your journey. A canary release provides a subset of users with several pieces of functionality (in this case, cloud capabilities) as a testbed to gather feedback and determine viability. This approach can help ensure that any business risks of moving to the cloud are contained and manageable.

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