Executive Insights by Avanade

“Retailers must become intelligent Enterprises”Suarez Marcos 19 Digital Fashion Summit Frankfurt

This year’s Digital Fashion Summit welcomes Marcos Suárez,
Avanade’s Director Retail Strategy & Sales Europe. In a short
interview he shares his view on the challenges fashion retailers
face today and possible solutions. During the event on May 22nd
in Frankfurt, Suárez will host a workshop and give companies
the opportunity to test their level of digital maturity.

Mr. Suárez, what does it take to become an intelligent enterprise?
And why is it of such importance according to you?

Marcos Suárez: In Avanade we understand that fashion retailers need to evolve from efficient enterprises to intelligent organizations. We define “intelligent retailer” as an aspirational stage – as we are all now learning companies. To be more precise, the organization requires abilities to sense and predict, to act rapidly or change course quickly and to amplify the valuable power of their human capital.

So how would you define the “intelligent fashion retailer”?

Suárez: We understand that fashion companies that are winning in terms of growing, scaling, adapting and thriving in the sector are defined by a set of foundational capabilities. They are seen as innovators, like the GAFA and the new digital disruptors like Netflix and Uber. The use of innovation helps them achieving better financial performance than their competitors. And they are serious about technology, by using state-of-the-art scenarios, for example voice-activated processes, analytics, AI/ML, AR/VR, everything adapted to their needs and brand positioning.

Which technical aspects are of importance?

Usually this is based on uniform and consistent platforms that are open to almost everyone through APIs and cloud services. Another typical feature is extensive use of data. Information and learning are inextricably linked, so such companies use technology and data as key learning inputs. Analyzing and notably drawing actionable insights from data will be a required literacy in the 4th industrial era.

How important is the “human factor” in this scenario?

Suárez: Very important. These companies encourage an ecosystem-based working environment, where suppliers, employees, customers and external companies – consultants, start-ups and service providers – are willing to collaborate, share ideas and improvements in a partnership environment. Usually, they have a very high level of self-awareness of the part you play in their customers’ lives and are in tune with their life rhythms. Second, they are “people-first”-organizations. They have lower staff churn rates, can keep best performers longer and avoid the cost of replacing key leaders and roles. This dimension applies both to headquarters’ staff and, more important, to store-based employees. In our workshop at Digital Fashion Summit 2019 in Frankfurt we propose to deep dive on the previous aspects, as a way to test and measure your level of maturity against the previous criteria.

Interview: Bettina Maurer