IDC Custom Solutions

Robert Eastman

Next Generation Networks: The Key to Digital-Ready Retail

Digital transformation (DX) represents a critical challenge for most retailers. Companies that evolve from taking a classic data management approach to mastering a differentiated information value chain will be those that gain business leadership and competitive advantage.

Success as a digital-ready retail enterprise today requires a network infrastructure that can support and deliver the frictionless anywhere/anytime experience now expected by consumers. However, traditional networks were not designed for the cloud-based, data-intensive, and sensing-based environments that so many retailers need to build and deploy.  

With the “connected store” becoming a reality, higher capacity networks are needed to deploy in-store technologies such as video and analytics systems, point of sale (POS), self-checkout systems, RFID, guest Wi-Fi, multidimensional digital signage, store kiosks, and augmented reality and virtual reality (AR/VR). Other new workloads will come from cognitive systems, the Internet of Things (IoT), next-gen security, and robotics. Next-generation retail networks (wired and wireless) must support higher capacity, faster performance, better reliability, distributed capabilities, and heightened security.

Leading retailers recognize that the network and its infrastructure have become the strategic nervous system of an industry poised to adopt new and emerging technologies, new retail strategies, new retail business models, and new retail concepts and store formats.

All retailers should therefore be assessing the digital readiness of their network and infrastructure and identifying capability gaps to be addressed.  Emerging network technologies need to be evaluated for their fit to the retailer’s needs. Retailers also need to consider the implications of increasing cloud adoption and the arrival of new technologies and network topologies.

To learn more about the importance of preparing for the next generation network, read the IDC Analyst Connection, “Rethinking Retail Infrastructure and Strategy for the Digital Age,” sponsored by CenturyLink.