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Power of the Network in Innovation – A conversation with Tesco CIO Mike McNamara

In the world of retailing, innovation has always been part of the driving force to success.  Whether it is new store formats, new merchandise or new technologies,

Tesco, a leading global retailer, has been working with Cisco and Cisco IBSG to drive innovation in retail.  Recently Lisa Fretwell, Cisco IBSG senior director for retail wrote in her blog titled “Every Little Helps” – Cisco IBSG and Tesco about her experience working with Tesco on next generation network and collaboration.

In this video exempt from a recent Cisco roundtable titled “The Power of the Network in Innovation”, Paul Mountford, Cisco SVP Global Enterprise Markets and Mike McNamara, CIO of Tesco discusses the power of the network in innovation.

You can watch the complete roundtable with Tesco and Columbus Regional Airport Authority at the Cisco  Roundtable Replay web site.

Some of the key points from this roundtable from Tesco include:

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Learn how to control costs and innovate in retail store, data center and cloud computing

One of the delimmas that faces retailers today is the need to control costs and innovate to support new ways to providing a compelling shopping experience across all shopping channels. 

In Jon Stine’s recent blog Big Pipes and Lean Stores, Jon talked about the store evolving into a living breathing web site.  Just like a highly dynamic web site with rapidly changing content and integration to other channels, stores will need to replicate that functionality to serve the new generation of consumers.  Retailers with traditional inflexible store IT infrastructure will find it very difficult to adapt to this dynamic environment in a cost effective manner.

On July 14th, Cisco will be explaining our vision of how retailers can control costs and still innovate in a webcast, hosted by Lindsay Parker, Cisco Global Retail Director. 

Guest Brian Kilcourse, Managing Partner Retail Systems Research and Jon Stine will discuss the retailers who retailers must face this dieimma head on. 

Michael Heffler, Retail Solutions Manager and Bart McGlothin, Retail Solutions Architect will present how retailers can rely on the network to reduce costs and increase flexibility. 

In areas including Lean Store and Lean Data Center, this involves projects such as as simplifying and moving IT equipment from the store to the data center and leveraging virtualization and centralized management of IT services in the stores . 

By moving to a  network-based architecture with a belt (back-up) and suspenders (survivability) to deliver services, this strategy can help retailers evolve to a private and public cloud services platfom in the future.

Steven Ross,  Vice President of Technology, Chico’s FAS, Inc. is our special guest and he will present on his experience with dynamic architecture and working with Cisco data center technologies.

To register for this event please visit http://bit.ly/nHR79R and join us on July 14th at 10:00am PT

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In Between the Numbers: Weddings, Child-Birth, and US Retailing

July 10, 2011 at 4:52 pm PST

 I learned long ago that demography is destiny for retailers.

 Baby booms mean more diapers and formula, more home remodels, more school supplies. The aging of Baby Boomers means more traffic for drug chains and grocers with pharmacies. Growing Hispanic populations mean different assortments in grocery and different scents in soaps and personal fragrance.

 Demographic destiny for retail certainly came to mind when I read an analysis on the composition of current US households in the June 23 issue of The Economist.

 Citing recent US Census Bureau data, the article noted that married couples, for the first time, make up less than half (45%) of all households.

 But what hit me – and ought to keep mid-price merchants from Bentonville to Hoffman Estates awake at night – is a now-yawning education-marriage gap.

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“Every Little Helps” – Cisco IBSG and Tesco

After working with Tesco for more than four years, I’ve learned that the company has a proven recipe for success: combine a strategy of unrelenting focus on customers with a mantra of better, simpler, cheaper—better for customers, simpler for employees, and cheaper for Tesco. The results speak for themselves. With operations in 14 countries, Tesco has become the world’s third-largest retailer by revenue, and second when measured by profits.  

 Tesco has a saying that it uses with customers—“Every little helps.” From the beginning, the Cisco® Internet Business Solutions Group (IBSG) has embraced this phrase to guide our work. This is an important reason for our success as we team with Tesco executives and employees, in conjunction with other Cisco groups and technology partners, to develop innovative strategies that help Tesco grow internationally, improve collaboration, and, of course, operate more efficiently.

IBSG has worked in lockstep with Tesco on their journey to become the world’s most innovative retailer…..

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In between the Numbers: Fast Followers

July 1, 2011 at 1:04 pm PST

I wish I had a dollar for every time I heard a retail ICT leader describe himself as “a fast follower.”

Must admit – at least at first blush – there is a lot to admire about fast followers.

They’re risk averse. Not given to over-hyped fads (especially RFID). Careful with the budget. They’re don’t make a scene in management meetings, and accept with a nod the usual flat-to-five-percent down allocation.

And, of course, they’re certainly smart enough to catch up quickly to any big innovation the competition might bring to the industry.

Which leads us to the issue for fast followers in today’s retail climate: Who, specifically, do you follow?

Is it your traditional competition? Circuit City for Best Buy? May Co. for Macy’s? (Oops – guess not.)

Is it the new competition? Amazon for Best Buy? Amazon for Macy’s?

Is it the new tech-shaped shopper? Facebook? Twitter? Smart phones? Does a Best Buy follow Google? Macy’s follow Apple? 

In a retail world that is being completely re-shaped by digital commerce and personal technology, by product commoditization and globalization, the old rules simply don’t apply.

Fast follower?  In this day and age, that means simply being a follower. And nothing more.

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