Research commissioned by Fujitsu, a leading IT systems, services and products company has revealed that retailers are continuing to tighten their belts in light of the current economic climate, with 95% expecting the recession to last up to another two years.
The research, carried out via interviews with key UK retailers, highlights that reducing costs is the highest priority in the current climate, with 43% seeing IT budgets slashed. However, the majority dont expect to see further budget cuts. It is interesting to note that one fifth of respondents have seen their IT budgets rise as management teams look to invest in their businesses during the downturn to emerge fitter, leaner and stronger.
Whilst 95% of retailers rated their organisations as efficient, only half have specific productivity targets in place. Asked to nominate the area they think would have the greatest impact on productivity, 37% said flexible IT systems, followed by seamless integration (26%). Only 58% of retailers are currently measuring the return on investment from their IT systems.
Sarah Kellett, retail industry consultant at Fujitsu UK and Ireland said: It is concerning to hear that a large number of retailers are still not focused on measuring the real business value of their IT systems or staff. In a tough economic climate, where budgets are being reduced, it is vital that retailers understand the value of every aspect of IT in order to appraise and identify the business critical systems and ensure any investment is targeted at these areas.
The research also revealed that few retailers have undertaken significant business process transformations in the last 12 months and where they have, it has not been in the area of IT.
Sarah continues: Our research shows that the majority of retailers are looking for ways to reduce their IT spend, however as few as 37% are aware of, or indeed utilising the principles of lean management to simplify their systems, remove bottlenecks and eliminate waste. Retailers who identify and invest in their business critical systems during this tough economic time, will reap the benefits in the long-term and will be ideally placed to develop and grow their businesses once the recession is over.