Omnichannel Drives a Revolution in IT Architecture

Today, the omnichannel experience is the pinnacle of customer engagement. However, a discussion with ten different retailers about what, exactly, must be incorporated to build this mythical experience will yield ten different ideas. Retailers of all sizes are determined to offer an omnichannel approach, even if they can’t agree on what that means.

Setting the Parameters

While there may not be agreement as to what an omnichannel experience should entail, there is agreement on the general concept. Essentially, the goal is to consolidate identifying information about a customer to better serve that person. In marketing, this might mean creating a strong recommendation engine; i.e. “people who bought this widget also tended to buy that one.” In customer care/call center settings, it might mean identifying that a customer has made a purchase and will likely be calling about that particular item (and connecting the person with the customer service agent who’s best equipped to help right from the start, perhaps someone who’s best able to facilitate an exchange).

Combining these situations, it could be that a customer made a purchase online, and shows up to a retail location with a bag in hand. In an omnichannel experience, the clerk working at the retail location should be able to identify a potential return while also offering an alternative purchase/exchange.

In a perfect omnichannel setting, this would happen in real-time, and before a conversation is even had.

Finding the Right Approach

Most retailers don’t understand that the computing power in our example isn’t some futuristic ideal, and it also isn’t out of their grasp. While it’s easy to assume that they need something (or someone) like IBM’s Watson to take up the charge, the reality is that almost every retailer already has the infrastructure to support this type of omnichannel experience.

New approaches like grid-technology, which combines the computing power available across an organization’s existing technology stack, can better leverage available assets to create faster computing capabilities. Using in-memory computing (IMC) approaches, retailers can collectively weave in existing compute and storage resources from their existing infrastructure to create a scalable high-performance workload and customer-360 data integration fabric that can enable an event-driven retailer.

Omnichannel is no longer a buzzword initiative on a roadmap full of wish lists. Companies that use in-memory computing in their omnichannel approaches see a variety of benefits, including:

  • Improved real-time performance– using IMC, retailers can more easily track inventory while offering improved personalization for each customer shopping experience.
  • Reduced total cost of ownership– By leveraging the assets already available to them, retailers are able to reduce the total cost of ownership of their IT infrastructure.
  • Increased resiliency– If, at their core, omnichannel approaches aim to allow customers to resume transactions where they left off, the ability to mitigate downtime and outages is critical to ensure an omnichannel reality.
  • Improved agility–  Incorporating IMC allows retailers to develop more interesting customer experiences, more often.

For the idea of actual omnichannel to come to fruition, retailers will need to reconsider the ways they are deploying their IT infrastructure, incorporating IMC to add speed that enables split second analytics and actionable insights.

Ali Hodroj is Vice President of Product and Strategy for GigaSpaces

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