Recession, what recession?

Aldata Solution, a provider of software solutions for the retail industry, has released findings from the second annual Global Retail CIO Survey, jointly sponsored with IBM. 

The survey showed that IT budgets appear to be recovering after the initial downturn at the start of last years recession, with averages for all retailers at 1.3% of sales compared to 1% last year.  26% of respondents expect their IT budget to increase; the same figure as last year.  However, whilst last years survey showed that increase to relate to projects already underway, this years interviews revealed more aggressive plans to implement new systems.  The survey of 109 retail CIOs and IT Directors in both the Americas and Europe was undertaken in Q4 2009 by retail industry research specialists Martec International.

This years Global Retail CIO Survey clearly shows that optimising the product / place / promotion offer is becoming an increasingly critical element of retail IT spend.  Over 50% of retailers will be upgrading, replacing or implementing new systems in areas such as Automated Replenishment (52%), Assortment Optimisation (58%), Promotions Optimisation (56%), Promotions Management (54%), with a further 46% looking to invest in Demand Forecasting.  Master Data Management (MDM) has the highest planned implementation of all applications studied in the survey, both across the Enterprise (35%) and for Supplier Management (28%).

The top line statistics from this years survey, and indeed last years, suggest that the retail sector has survived the recession remarkably effectively, said Allan Davies, CMO, Aldata Solution.  The truth is, though, that while the downturn hasnt halted retailers IT spend, it has certainly changed the way that money is spent.  Gone are the days of end-to-end, rip and replace projects, and instead were seeing a big focus on process optimisation.  Retail CIOs are not afraid of investing in new projects, but they need to see a quick return on investment.  And by quick, Im talking about months, not years.

Systems to attract and keep customers featured prominently in this years survey.  Multi-channel CRM was ranked as the most important application by respondents, with 42% having yet to implement multi-channel CRM, but with plans to do so within the next three years.  Similarly 38% of CIOs surveyed plan to implement Loyalty systems with customer data linked to buying patterns and behaviour within the next three years.  And finally, systems that support the safety of customers were considered the most important application by 47% of respondents.

Sustainability not a priority

For the first time, attitudes to sustainability were considered as part of the research.  Respondents were asked to score the impact of sustainability on IT spend and strategy on a scale of 1 to 10 (with 10 being the highest).  The average emerged as a lukewarm 5.1.  Views appeared to be polarised, with 13% considering sustainability to have a negligible impact on IT strategy, while 6% considered it to have a major impact.  In terms of which applications retailers feel are having the greatest impact on sustainability, applications for store operations came top of the list. For the future, more retailers believe that multi-channel retailing will have the biggest impact on sustainability


The Aldata-IBM Global Retail CIO Survey was conducted by retail industry research specialists Martec International to assist retailers in benchmarking their IT strategy and use of technology against their peers. The 2010 Global Retail CIO Survey incorporates the views of retailers from 28 countries generating at least $100 million in annual revenue, whose combined sales represent $528 billion from more than 62,000 stores. This equates to 8 percent of the total retail market in the Americas and Europe by sales. A total of 109 CIOs and IT directors in category-management-style retailers were interviewed for this report. Participants included a mix of both food and non-food retailers from across North America and Europe. The survey provides insights into current retail spending plans and priorities.

The survey can be downloaded at

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