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    Retail CIOs List Data Security, Omnichannel as Top Priorities

    Digital innovation a must, finds NRF/Forrester Research study

    Security and digital innovation are this year’s top priorities, according to an annual survey of retail CIOs by the National Retail Federation (NRF) and Forrester Research. The results come at a time of high-profile data breaches and the growing need to deliver a unified and differentiated customer experience.

    The study, "Retail CIO Agenda 2015: Secure and Innovate," found that managing data security is the most urgent area for retail CIOs to focus on. Ninety-seven percent of surveyed business leaders placed it at the top of their 2015 priority lists. Forrester predicts that at least 60 percent of enterprises will discover a breach of sensitive data in 2015.

    “With the role of the CIO evolving further as a company’s strategic technology innovation leader, the complexity of the business challenges cannot be lost – from data security to new digital customer experiences,” said Tom Litchford, NRF’s VP of Retail Technologies. “Our study findings provide insight into the enormous accountabilities placed on the IT leader’s role, which will help C-suite retail executives collaborate more innovatively as they respond to everything from security issues to staying in step with their customers’ needs.”

    Omnichannel initiatives is the second of three key business priorities for IT retail CIOs who are looking to deliver a seamless experience across touch points to win, serve and retain customers. Three of four executives surveyed (76 percent) highlight integrating selling channels (e-commerce, mobile, social, catalog and stores), up from 61 percent in 2014 and 64 percent in 2013.

    Additionally, six in 10 (63 percent) say modernizing marketing systems to optimize assortment, pricing and inventory, is the number three priority for 2015, on par with 61 percent in 2014 and 62 percent in 2013.

    “Today’s retailers must manage an extended range of merchandise to woo customers who are spoiled by vast choices from online specialist retailers,” said Forrester Research VP and Principal Analyst George Lawrie. “They also must manage more vendors and merchandise across multiple channels, and support frequent price changes to compete with the automated pricing of Internet specialists.”

    Almost a third of surveyed CIOs (30 percent) expect their budget to be flat for 2015. Slightly more – 34 percent – expect an increase of less than 10 percent.

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