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The retail industry is one of the most competitive industries in the world. It is a constant reminder of Porter’s Competitive Force model – with all of the five forces’ buttons being pressed at the same time.

Add to that the accelerated pace of technology and social media advancement, and how that is shaping consumer behavior, and you quickly come to the conclusion that it will take a disciplined and well-focused business strategy to secure survival and profitable growth. One of the key elements in managing strategy execution successfully is tight control of operational efficiency and the supply chain.

While this stands out as a universal principle, we believe that the retail industry is more dependent on this for its future than most other industries. This has to do with a single attribute that is of fundamental importance for this industry – speed. Speed in itself can be rewarding but will also risk taking out returns – or even company survival – if there are not the basic abilities to handle operations efficiently: if you are not fit enough, an increased pace and speed of change will eventually kill off your business.

In an industry that is known for its fast-paced changes, the company graveyards are full of victims that either didn’t have the right strategic positioning or failed to execute accordingly. Out of this comes the key conclusion – another universal principle and academically well documented – that companies without sound and efficient processes are not likely to be able to survive due to lack of flexibility and lack of ability to adapt to consumer or supplier behavior, new market entrants or product and technology change. In relation to our ERP industry, there are management teams that see IT/ERP investments as a necessary evil and seldom give the CIO enough interest or attention.

Traditional IT projects take too long; by the time they are completed, the original business objectives (if there were any to start with) will have been forgotten. Most people will be happy to be able to close the project and move forward. With that fact in mind, it’s easy to understand the reluctance of management teams’ investments in IT – seeing that by the time the project has been completed, the basic conditions and rationales might have changed to something different. At IFS, we pride ourselves on speedy project completion rates. By the time our peers would still be in a pre-study-phase, we would have deployed IFS best-practice to the stores! And we will do this without requiring the non-human several-year efforts – which effectively means that our customers and prospects can focus on their business objectives and benefit realization.

There are three specific things that management teams should look for in an ecosystem that puts it in a position to drive business objectives rather than focus only on IT-related project objectives and milestones:

  1. Translate business strategies into tangible demands derived from IT/ERP investments.
  2. Find the partner with the application setup to eliminate complexity and most importantly your industry knowledge and experience.
  3. The combination of an ecosystem of stable applications deployed within a reasonable amount of time and sound industry experience are key elements and the key to operational efficiency and effectiveness ensuring realization of business objectives.

We believe the business application industry needs to change and improve its focus from technology and complex projects, to easily-deployed solutions supporting business objectives. That’s why we ourselves are changing and launching new initiatives to adapt to new realities, new opportunities and take our customers, prospects, partners and IFS to the next level. Therefore, through the IFS Center of Excellence for Retail, we promise our customers and prospects that IFS Applications will remain the business software solution for Retail with the most effective deployment time, and easy-to-change and -maintain benchmarks. All of this means that our customers will be fit to achieve best-in-class performance in their retail operations. We believe that speed and efficiency are fundamental components of business agility. And that remaining agile is remaining competitive.

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