Six Degrees recently hosted a client event with retail industry experts on the 24th floor of The Shard. Centred around the findings of Six Degrees’ 2018 Minimising IT Risk in Retail survey, the morning offered a combination of presentations as well as open roundtable discussions, ensuring every attendee came away from the event with fresh insight and advice from fellow experts.

The morning began with an eye-opening presentation from John Ryan, Stores Editor at Retail Week, before the floor was handed over to Fran Riseley from Martec International, who presented the core findings from the 2018 Minimising IT Risk in Retail survey.

Here is a snapshot of the three key takeaways from the day.


On the shop floor

Integrating the digital age and the traditional retail experience

Meeting the needs of the modern-day consumer is, of course, one of the central priorities for every retailer. Integrating new technologies into a conventionally analogue experience however, is something that must be done tactfully, explained John Ryan during his keynote address. Using real-life examples of both disastrous and successful digital implementations from some of the world’s top retailers, John began the morning with a discussion on how best to amalgamate traditional retail experience with current digital advancements. John explained how the transition must be more discreet and conscious than simply installing a few in-store iPads – “it’s about converting people who are intrinsically analogue and gently introducing them into the digital world.”

This concept was shared by Sales Director at Intershop, Toralf Lahs: “The modern-day consumer expects strong personalisation and also some human element from their digital retail experience.”

To conclude his talk, John Ryan offered a question out to the table – how can we ensure that the customer data which is used at this level is protected?

Behind the scenes

Outsourcing popularity grows to reduce risk

“77% of the retail organisations surveyed outsource at least one of their business applications – outsourcing is very much becoming mainstream in retail,” shared Fran Riseley from Martec International, presenting the findings from the 2018 Minimising IT Risk in Retail survey.

The research found that while cost was the main factor when choosing to outsource business critical applications (46%), risk minimisation was the second most important reason for outsourcing (31%).

Paul McKeown from Countrywide Farmers succinctly supported the findings with a first-hand retelling of his experience of transitioning from a wholly internal IT system to the managed services now provided by Six Degrees:

“Handing over control to someone else was a scary idea. On the one hand, the question was will they meet my expectations and needs? On the other, it was nice not have to worry about waking up in the night to sort an IT problem. I no longer have concerns about cloud infrastructure. The systems were all delivered on time and with no surprises which allowed my team and me to focus on the Business solution.”

From the industry experts

Data security is more important than ever

Jonathan Wood, Co-founder of C2 Cyber, concluded the morning’s speakers with a discussion on the IT risks in the retail sector that he is regularly confronted with as a cybersecurity specialist. Jonathan explained that one area of risk in retail that is often overlooked is the supply chain’s security: “Even if it is the delivery man who loses a slip of paper with a customer address on, this is still a data breach and it is still the retailer’s problem. Good information assurance will help here, through process, training and culture as well as technology. It’s often the basics that ultimately damage a retailer’s reputation.”

He also touched upon the subject of the upcoming implementation of GDPR. “In our view, GDPR is an outcome of operating a good information assurance programme,” Jonathan stated. He went on to clarify that many EU regulations coming into effect in the next five years are readily identified, giving proactive business the ability to prepare and choose technologies that are likely to be compliant: “The legislative campaign for the next few years is already laid out for us – we know what’s coming and can therefore harness a level of control.”

Between the presentations from industry experts, those attending had the opportunity to discuss some of the issues raised and all agreed that the challenges faced by the industry are complex, both in terms of the changing technology landscape and evolving data security requirements. These complexities mean there is no one size fits all solution, so a blended approach, working in collaboration with trusted technology and security partners, is key to staying ahead of the curve in minimising IT risk.

Reflecting on the event, James Hall, Director of New Client Sales at Six Degrees, said: “The event provided an ideal platform for those currently working in the industry, to discuss and share valuable insider knowledge, as well as any concerns around the latest developments and threats facing IT in retail today. We look forward to hosting similar events and continuing to work closely with our clients in the retail sector in the future.”

Download the 2018 Minimising IT Risk in Retail report

View other upcoming Six Degrees hosted events