Retail technologists are reimagining their applications to meet changing user needs and drive competitive advantage

Within the retail industry, the research finds that 78% of retail technologists are feeling under continued

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Retail technologists find themselves facing a series of headwinds which are presenting huge challenges to their operations, resources and financial performance. Against this backdrop, business and technology leaders are recognizing the need for rapid innovation to drive operational efficiency, enhance customer experience, and differentiate in an ever more competitive market. And with this, they’re asking more of their IT and app teams than ever before. 


The latest research from Cisco AppDynamics, the ‘Agents of Transformation 2022’ report, explores the challenges that technologists across the world are facing after two years of relentless pressure and soaring complexity in the IT department. It details how IT teams are battling to take a more proactive and sustainable approach to innovation, and identifies the tools, skills and support technologists need to deliver on their organisations’’ digital transformation goals.

Within the retail industry, the research finds that 78% of technologists are feeling under continued pressure to deliver innovation more quickly. Encouragingly, however, there are clear signs that retail technologists know what they need to do to succeed over the next 12 months and they’re determined to make a positive impact for the organisations. 

Embracing a more proactive approach to innovation 


In response to this mounting pressure, IT teams are urgently trying to move beyond the reactive firefighting which has been so prevalent (and necessary) during the pandemic, and to adopt a more strategic approach to innovation. Overall, the research finds that technologists in the sector are still spending the majority of their time on reactive, tactical work, as opposed to strategic activity, yet most IT departments are now making a concerted effort to reverse this situation.

At the forefront of this shift is a broad recognition that retailers will need to reimagine their applications over the next 12 months in order to meet the changing needs of customers and employees. IT and application teams will look to accelerate the shift to cloud-native applications and microservices/container based architectures in order to drive development velocity and bring ever more personalised and immersive experiences to shoppers. 

Observability is critical to reap the benefits of cloud-native technologies


While modern application stacks offer game-changing possibilities to retailers, technologists need to ensure that they have the right tools and processes in place to optimise application availability and performance to deliver flawless digital experiences for the end users. 

Monitoring performance is far more challenging in a software-defined, cloud environment, where everything is constantly changing in real-time. Traditional approaches to monitoring are based on physical infrastructure – IT departments operate a fixed number of servers and network wires - they are dealing with constants. This then provides fixed dashboards for each layer of the IT stack. But with cloud-native and container based apps, organisations are continually scaling up and down their capacity, based on real-time business needs.

Most monitoring solutions simply aren’t able to handle dynamic and highly volatile cloud-native environments. These highly distributed systems rely on thousands of containers and spawn a massive volume of metrics, events, logs and traces (MELT) every second. And currently, most technologists simply don’t have a way to cut through this crippling data noise when troubleshooting application performance problems caused by infrastructure-related issues that span across hybrid cloud environments. Nor do they have unified visibility across an increasingly sprawling and fragmented IT, application and network estate.


Understandably, there is serious concern about the levels of complexity that cloud-native technologies will bring into IT departments. Already, technologists across the industry are struggling to cope with overwhelming volumes of IT performance and user experience  data from every corner of their app estate - 87% report that they currently feel overwhelmed by data noise.

The shift to modern applications stacks will require IT departments to prioritise and invest in a wide range of areas, from application security, internet experience and availability via  to AI and hyper automation. More than their counterparts in other industries, retail technologists recognize a need to invest in solutions which will enable them to observe cloud-native applications and infrastructure and to observe hybrid ecosystems end-to-end. 78% state that they will need to generate greater visibility across the entire IT stack in the next 12 months in order to modernise and future-proof their applications.

Online and Digital experience has become mission-critical for retailers. And therefore IT teams need the right tools and data to monitor and optimise availability and performance across every corner of the IT estate. Not only that but technologists need a business lens on IT performance data to quickly identify those issues which could do real damage to financial bottom-line as well as digital experience so that those can be prioritised and dealt with as early as possible .


Retail technologists must prepare for the next era of innovation

Overall, despite the pressure and the challenges ahead, there is a general sense of optimism amongst technologists in the retail sector, and rightly so. The contribution they have made over the last two or three years has been monumental and they feel ready to utilise the skills, experiences and credibility they have built up over this time to deliver the next era of innovation, based on cloud-native and microservices/container-based technologies. 

After an extremely tough couple of years, there is now a brilliant opportunity for IT teams to switch to a more proactive and positive approach to innovation, embracing new technologies and cloud-native approaches to ramp up their organisations’ innovation programs. It really does feel as though this is the moment to take things to the next level and demonstrate the game changing impact that they can deliver.

However, as they look to reimagine applications to meet and exceed new customer and employee demands, IT teams must ensure that they have the right level of visibility and insight into highly dynamic, cloud-native environments. Only with a modern purpose-built full-stack observability platform in place, will technologists be able to deliver the scale and speed of innovation that retailers need to succeed.

The article has been written by Abhilash Purushothaman Regional Vice President & General Manager (Asia) Cisco AppDynamics