In fact, technology-related issues were among executives’ top concerns in the 2019 BoF-McKinsey State of Fashion Survey. Not surprisingly, “mobile obsessed” consumers were at the top of the list, followed by “platforms first” and “start-up thinking.” The report attributes these findings to companies proactively handling digital disruption in the fashion system.
But it’s not just fashion that’s being impacted by digital disruption. The need for quick adoption of technology across all sectors – and the investment that goes into it – is being attributed to aging infrastructure, an accelerated shift to the cloud or improving the internal customer experience, according to the 2019 State of IT Budgets report. Nearly 90 percent of respondents said their IT budgets will be increasing or staying on par with 2018 spend, with a majority attributing the need to upgrade outdated infrastructure as sparking the increase.
And investing in IT infrastructure is a good business decision. Perhaps this is why Amazon invests five times more in IT as a share of revenue than other traditional retailers. Its data and technology capabilities alone have been crucial in its ability to go from just selling books to the top online retailer in the world.
Agility in the Mainstream
While knowing where to invest is crucial to success, the proper approach to technology onboarding is perhaps even more important. Consumer demands, massive amounts of data and increased speed to market are calling for inventive approaches to make it all happen, and savvy fashion IT leaders are looking to project lifecycle management (PLM) for the answer. But integrating any large-scale technology platform is not for the faint of heart. It requires leaders to think quickly and move even quicker.
And many are leaning into an agile approach.
First used in Silicon Valley, agile is now gaining traction among mainstream markets. No longer just for tech organizations, companies that adopt it are experiencing increased productivity, improved customer experiences, faster speed to market and greater engagement among stakeholders.
Founded in 2008, Zalando is one of Europe’s leading online fashion retailers, and in its mission to transform to an online platform, it adopted an agile approach to scale digital infrastructure. In an interview with McKinsey and Company, Zalando’s VP of Engineering Eric Bowman shared:
“Agility at Zalando enabled us to keep scaling our product vision, our platform vision, the scope of our business, and the extent to which we deliver value, impact and satisfaction to our customers. And agility is not just great for the company. It’s also great for the company’s customers and for our employees. Customers get new features faster and experience dynamism in the business. Employees are generally much more engaged because they spend less time aligning and more time solving problems.”
With so much at stake, CIOs need a clear approach to success. Next-generation CIOs are recognizing that in order to deliver, they need to adopt new ways of working, which can come with hesitancy from others. Getting everyone on board with the benefits that come with agility is at the top of the list. The two biggest areas for impact are found within productivity and overall business performance:
Productivity: Business leaders and other stakeholders need to understand how agility will impact performance. An article from McKinsey cites that agile approaches for IT groups can boost productivity by 25 percent to 30 percent in just six to 18 months.
Performance: In just six months, one organization was able to complete an agile transformation that cut IT costs by more than 35 percent and doubled overall productivity.
CIOs Are Rising to the Occasion
Today, all fashion companies are dealing with digital disruption, and tech leaders have more responsibility than ever before. CIOs need a solid plan in place to ensure they’re delivering on execution and generating results. To achieve this, they’re infusing a proactive, agile mindset into everything they do and every new project they approach.
When designed with accountability, governance and buy-in – and with a strong leader at the helm – implementation and adoption can transform entire businesses and create strategic value for what IT is able to accomplish and deliver.
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