If the title of this blog post, and CompTIA’s recent survey “Technology Grows in Importance for Retailers, New CompTIA Research Study Shows,” didn’t give away the game, even I would have been hard -pressed to pick retail as an emerging growth sector for IT investment. I guess that’s because what with consumer confidence up and down so much lately, with downs often getting more emphasis than ups, it comes as something of a shock to learn that retailers are keenly aware that technology innovation and adoption are vital to ongoing success and growth.
Key technologies identified in a study reported by CompTIA on June 27, 2012, include the following:
- geo-location services: only 20% of retails currently use geo-location technologies, but many more are considering or working toward its adoption
- digital signage: which includes sales and promotional announcements, in addition to more traditional “here we are” self-identification and -promotion uses
- payment processing: strong interest in, investigation of, and pending technology adoptions for mobile device based payment systems
- customer engagement (social media, targeted e-mail and advertising, mobile access and interaction): more and better ways to identify and target prospective customers, while staying in touch with existing customers, and providing incentives and special treatment for regular buyers and patrons
Supporting technologies necessary to make these initiatives fly, according to Tim Herbert, VP of Research for CompTIA, include “reliable wireless connectivity, robust security, quality end-points, data back-up, and other IT basics” that “cannot be overlooked by retailers anxious to add new capabilities.” CompTIA’s survey was conducted online from March 27 through April 2, 2012, and involved 500 retails in numerous key market categories, including apparel, health and beauty, home and sporting goods, plus related types of stores .
What does this indicate for current and prospective IT professionals? Certainly, the importance of social media and nuts-and-bolts e-commerce technologies (including SEO, customer outreach, and audience identification and communication) continue to gain importance and luster. Geo-location promises to be a white-hot technology for any kind of business that has to recruit, sell to, and service customers on the basis of physical proximity. And of course, mobile development and communications promises to remain the key avenue for businesses to communicate with real and potential customers for the foreseeable future. This certainly lays out lots of great opportunities to develop expertise to boost one’s employability as well as earning power. And I have to say, these niches extend well beyond retail into general business and industry in the private sector, and are gaining considerable traction in the public sector as well.
Lots of good stuff to chew on here, and possible directions for study and career growth as well.