Baggit CIO Sandeep Kothari on how technology helps retail cos

baggit-cio-sandeep-kothari-with-familySandeep Kothari, chief information officer (CIO) of Baggit, a retail company, reveals how enterprises can gain from technology deployments.

Baggit has its own stores and presence in large format stores. Baggit also follows franchise model. Baggit has its own e-commerce portal and is also present on e-commerce market place.

Benefits from technology

e-commerce solutions

Improving Customer Experience:

By trusting proven ecommerce-affiliated cloud service providers, retailers can ensure that customers have the best experience when shopping for products online. With professionals steering the computing ship, consumers will never be disappointed to find that their favorite store’s website is broken or down for maintenance at peak hours. Customers will be able to engage in smooth end-to-end experiences – from login to checkout – as they browse ecommerce pages and choose products.

Keep Data Safe:

Despite many cloud detractors claiming that the cloud is insecure and vulnerable to cybercriminals, the cloud will be more secure than using a poorly maintained on-premise data center. If businesses look at the main causes of data breaches, they will find that malicious activity is only one of many reasons why organizations are digitally infiltrated. According to IBM, human error and system glitches are also popular root causes of data breaches.

With hosted ecommerce solutions, retailers are putting their cloud providers between them and the cybercriminals and IT professionals. This means that there will be a smaller chance of human error because system credentials will not be lying around or misused by former disgruntled employees. The professionals running the cloud environment will also have monitoring tools and the ability to instantly react to malicious code or intrusion attempts. Additionally, data loss will be kept to a minimum as cloud providers ensure that backups of the most important data take place on a regular basis.

Advantage over other companies:

Another great benefit of hosted services and cloud computing relates to competition. By working with a trusted cloud provider, ecommerce retailers are able to quickly establish a reputable and reliable website on which they can sell products to a larger variety of consumers compared to brick-and-mortar locations. This is important when it comes to competition, which is sure to come onto the scene at some point or another.

Mobility:

Enterprise mobility has been a very common term in the past few years, but without cloud computing, businesses will struggle to keep their staff members productive when they are out the office. Cloud and Web hosting not only ensure that employees can always stay in touch and access corporate data and resources, but it also provides consumers with the ability to access retailers websites and browse products from mobile devices and a mobile-specific website.

Big Data and Analytics:

Dialogue with consumers:

Just a small example: when any customer enters a bank, Big Data tools allow the clerk to check his/her profile in real-time and learn which relevant products or services (s)he might advise. Big Data will also have a key role to play in uniting the digital and physical shopping spheres: a retailer could suggest an offer on a mobile carrier, on the basis of a consumer indicating a certain need in the social media.

Re-develop your products:

Big Data can also help you understand how others perceive your products so that you can adapt them, or your marketing, if need be. Analysis of unstructured social media text allows you to uncover the sentiments of your customers and even segment those in different geographical locations or among different demographic groups.

Perform risk analysis:

Success not only depends on how you run your company. Social and economic factors are crucial for your accomplishments as well.  Predictive analytics, fueled by Big Data allows you to scan and analyze newspaper reports or social media feeds so that you permanently keep up to speed on the latest developments in your industry and its environment. Detailed health-tests on your suppliers and customers are another goodie that comes with Big Data. This will allow you to take action when one of them is in risk of defaulting.

Keeping your data safe

You can map the entire data landscape across your company with Big Data tools, thus allowing you to analyze the threats that you face internally. You will be able to detect potentially sensitive information that is not protected in an appropriate manner and make sure it is stored according to regulatory requirements. With real-time Big Data analytics you can, for example, flag up any situation where 16 digit numbers – potentially credit card data – are stored or emailed out and investigate accordingly.

Create new revenue streams:

The insights that you gain from analyzing your market and its consumers with Big Data are not just valuable to you. You could sell them as non-personalized trend data to large industry players operating in the same segment as you and create a whole new revenue stream.

One of the more impressive examples comes from Shazam, the song identification application. It helps record labels find out where music sub-cultures are arising by monitoring the use of its service, including the location data that mobile devices so conveniently provide. The record labels can then find and sign up promising new artists or remarket their existing ones accordingly.

Security:

The loss of sensitive data and other forms of enterprise information can lead to significant financial losses and reputational damage. While companies are now well-aware of these dangers and data protection has become a hot topic, many organizations aren’t very familiar with content-aware technologies, and don’t fully understand the business case for DLP initiatives.

DLP technology provides IT and security staff with a 360-degree view of the location, flow and usage of data across the enterprise. It checks network actions against your organization’s security policies, and allows you to protect and control sensitive data, including customer information, personally identifiable information (PII), financial data and intellectual property.

Not all data loss is the result of external, malicious attacks. The inadvertent disclosure or mishandling of confidential data by internal employees is a significant factor. DLP can detect files that contain confidential information and prevent them from leaving via the network. It can block sensitive data transfers to Universal Serial Bus (USB) drives and other removable media.

Data breaches have been making headlines with alarming frequency. They can wreak havoc on an organization’s bottom line through fines, bad publicity, loss of strategic customers and legal action.

More than 50 countries have enacted data protection laws that require organizations in both the public and private sectors to safeguard sensitive information. Penalties for noncompliance with strict privacy regulations and breach notification laws continue to grow.

Many employees are turning to social networking, instant messaging and other Web 2.0 applications to keep up with consumer trends. DLP helps to prevent the accidental exposure of confidential information across these unsecure lines of communication while at the same time keeping them open for appropriate uses. With the proliferation of mobile devices and employees working remotely, corporate data increasingly resides both in and outside of the organization.

Cloud:

Fully utilized hardware:

Cloud computing brings natural economies of scale. Your workloads will share server infrastructure with other organizations’ computing needs. This allows the cloud-computing provider to optimize the hardware needs of its data centers, ensuring lower costs for you.

Lower power costs:

Cloud computing uses less electricity. That’s an inevitable result of the economies of scale I just discussed: Better hardware utilization means more efficient power use. When you run your own data centre, your servers won’t be fully-utilized (unless yours is a very unusual organization). Idle servers waste energy. So a cloud service provider can charge you less for energy used than you’re spending in your own data centre.

Lower people costs

Whenever I analyze organizations’ computing costs, the staffing budget is usually the biggest single line item; it often makes up more than half of the total. Why so high? Good IT people are expensive; their salaries, benefits, and other employment costs usually outweigh the costs of hardware and software. And that’s even before you add in the cost of recruiting good staff with the right experience.

When you move to the cloud, some of the money you pay for the service goes to the provider’s staffing costs. But it’s typically a much smaller amount than if you did all that work in-house. Yet again, we have to thank our old friend: economies of scale.

(In case you worry that moving to the cloud means firing good workers, don’t. Many organizations that move to cloud computing find they can redeploy their scarce, valuable IT people resources to areas that make more money for the business.)

Zero capital costs

When you run your own servers, you’re looking at up-front capital costs. But in the world of cloud-computing, financing that capital investment is someone else’s problem.

Sure, if you run the servers yourself, the accounting wizards do their amortization magic which makes it appear that the cost gets spread over a server’s life. But that money still has to come from somewhere, so it’s capital that otherwise can’t be invested in the business—be it actual money or a line of credit.

Resilience without redundancy

When you run your own servers, you need to buy more hardware than you need in case of failure. In extreme cases, you need to duplicate everything. Having spare hardware lying idle, “just in case,” is an expensive way to maximize uptime.

Instead, why not let a cloud computing service deal with the redundancy requirement? Typical clouds have several locations for their data centers, and they mirror your data and applications across at least two of them. That’s a less expensive way of doing it, and another way to enjoy the cloud’s economies of scale.

Bonus benefit: climate change

Whether or not they believe in global warming, many organizations want to do something about it. This is either because their customers want to do business with green companies, or simply through a genuine desire to emit less CO2 or other gases believed to warm the planet.

Enterprise apps

The right mobile apps for field service give the workforce full access to information from back-office systems. These apps work in any environment, whether offline or online. Most times, enterprise business apps are part of a scalable mobile workforce solution that can be configured with the mobile apps. Most mobile apps in the workforce give your workers access to comprehensive data and information on demand. Many organizations give their employees the right to use their own devices, enhanced with mobile apps that enable them to view jobs, service histories, and customer information, plus send messages, capture signatures, record asset details and parts usage, view manuals, collaborate with colleagues, and much more.

Search engine visibility

SEM (Search Engine Marketing) in its simplest form is the utilization of search engines to perform some aspect of marketing for a business.  SEM evolved and continues to evolve with the expansion of the Internet and its overall importance in the world, with some 23 percent of the world population now having Internet access, and more and more business being conducting using it.  Many methods exist in SEM; some have proven more effective than others. The tools that exist to aid in SEM vary from cheap to expensive, and simplistic to complex.

Businesses of all shapes and sizes are using SEM and the percentage is continuing to grow.   The Internet has evolved so quickly as compared to previous forms of communication that it has opened up a whole host of new careers and opportunities. Small business can become huge overnight, largely with the help of SEM and the access to the world the Internet provides. It is predicted that over the next few years SEM will continue to evolve and spread its span to more and more businesses looking to use the Internet more successfully. SEM can be a low cost and effective way for any business to maximize the traffic to their web site regardless of size or history.

Social Media Visibility

Social media networks were a novelty 5 years ago, but today their importance is no longer debated. Businesses have definitely realized the power of social media and accepted that social media marketing has to be part of their marketing and PR mix. In Social Media Examiner’s 2013 End of Year Report, marketers now place very high value on social media marketing:  86 percent of marketers stated that social media is important for their business  89 percent of marketers stated that increased exposure was the number one benefit of social media marketing.

Among the definitive benefits of social media marketing we found:  increased exposure,  increased traffic, developed loyal fans, generated leads, improved search ranking, grew business partnerships, reduced marketing expenses, improved sales, provided marketplace insight. Business owners should pay attention to which social platforms help them reach their goals with relevant audiences, whether that’s generating sales or greater visibility. Of course, social media is not an end unto itself. It must be integrated and work hand-in-hand with all your other marketing and PR initiatives which should be continued to reach all your marketing touch points and your ultimate success.

Networking – storage, server for handling spike in seasons

Depending on the cloud environment, you may be able to get much more granular with your control. While the most typical example of scaling involves simply adding cloud servers to or removing cloud servers from your infrastructure, you may also be able to scale at a “component” level; in other words, you may be able to add or remove RAM, hard drive space, CPUs and even networking.

There are specific use cases for needing to scale these individual components. Operating systems and applications are often very RAM-hungry, meaning they will consume all available memory and consequently run more efficiently when more RAM is available.

By Baggit CIO Sandeep Kothari

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