martijn bertisen quote web

I am always eager to learn about the latest technology but I was a little nervous jumping into a mock-up shop environment earlier this month at the ‘retail agility challenge’ organised by Google Apps for Work.

I took my team to tackle challenges including visual merchandising tasks and other operational issues using these productivity tools. I was left in no doubt that digital toolkits can enhance collaboration, sharpen competitive edge and deliver employee satisfaction.

IT departments are continually evaluating a company’s technology options but they also need to bear in mind how people use tech in their daily lives and apply those insights to guide tech choices. People now share content across platforms, start a task on one device and pick it up on another, and the smartphone is their device of choice. A study by Raconteur Research showed 57% cited smartphones as the tool of choice for collaboration, with the figure rising to 80% for retail respondents.

Connected, cloud-based technology means businesses can now equip employees with tools that will help them tackle retail challenges like omnichannel fulfilment and sales data collection. These tools also allow easier collaboration and improve workflow - they can help teams share product designs, mockups and other content, and coordinate projects at speed. This is vital as, increasingly, the ideas and innovation that drive growth are coming from teams working across silos and external partners.

Equally important for safeguarding future business is meeting the expectations of the growing number of millennials in the workforce. They are used to enjoying ‘best-in-class’ online experiences from services like Uber and expect the same frictionless, up-to-the minute and mobile-friendly technology in the workplace. The ability to provide the latest tools is becoming a recruitment deal-breaker - at the Google for Work event I mentioned earlier, Ocado’s chief technology officer Paul Clarke said: “If we don’t use the best tech, there are so many other places people can go and work.”

Millennials will not be attached to legacy ways of working - they want to learn to video, use texting, have information at their fingertip and work anytime, anywhere on any kind of device. And legacy IT systems just can’t compete for their demands when they are used to fast and constant tech innovation.

Don’t forget consumers and employees are in reality the same person - learning which tech they favour and how they use it will provide invaluable insights to help you with IT investment and your progress in digital transformation.

Martijn Bertisen is country sales director at Google UK