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A Talk with Fjord's Olof Schybergson on designing for results in CPG​

Accenture’s Ivano Ortis brings a worldview on the retail industry and shares his long view on where the future of retail is headed.

Tell us about your work at Accenture.

I am based in Italy and work as a trusted advisor to business and IT executives looking to drive sales, revenue and profit margin growth. I’ve been working in consulting, strategy and IT-enabled business transformation for retail enterprise accounts for the past 15 years.

You recently made a transition from being an analyst to consulting. How has the change been for you?

I was actually with Andersen Consulting back in the day, and moved to enterprise software and enterprise solution companies. Then I was an analyst for quite a few years at IDC, running their international retail advisor practices. Now I’m back to, as someone says, the “dark side.” I love it. What fascinates me is the skill and breadth of things we can do at Accenture. Here, you’re empowered to really shape those assets, shape the best team to better serve the industry and your clients. That adds creativity to the job and gives me a lot of satisfaction.

What is the retail trend that you think is the most valuable and why?

I think it’s actually a combination of trends. Seamless is still the biggest thing in the industry. I’m saying “still” because again, it’s something I’ve been observing, driving and working on for six years now. Also, digital transformations and price optimization need to go hand-in-hand to drive that seamless experience in a profitable manner for the organization.

For retailers that are looking to transform, what should be their top priority?

Consumers, easy.

What emerging technologies are you especially excited about?

I think mobile is huge. Mobile-enabled transactions, mobile-guided shopping experiences are a big thing, and many are still putting their head around it. I’m seeing a lot of robust solutions around in-store analytics. Typically you know everything your customer is doing on an eCommerce website, but the store is kind of a black box unless you have good eyes, or good ways or sensors to capture that information. That’s exciting.

What could retailers learn from other industries?

There are a lot of things to learn, but I’ll focus on two. One is the opportunity to adopt new technologies.

Other industries like Consumer Products or Telecommunications tend to have more of a service approach to build the platform underlying customer-facing activities, rather than investing in single technology silos. The other thing is being more creative around how you can delve up entirely new business models and rally new markets.

What do you see as the biggest challenge that retailers currently face?

I cannot give you a single answer because there are so many variations, even on a country level. So it’s probably the ability for customers to not just be your customers when the stores are open or when they are hooking up on a competitor website. It’s the ability to capture what we call the non-stop customer behavior in such a way that it goes behind the four walls of your enterprise. It’s having a more transparent view of what’s around you, of what’s around your organization, your value proposition and try to engage and capture what you know can augment your brand as a platform for customers.

What is the best seamless retail experience you’ve ever had?

There have been pockets of situations where I’ve had digitally augmented interactions with the retailer, but I still think a lot needs to be done in the industry from that perspective. Especially in the region I come from, Europe, Italy and all the emerging markets like Russia or the Middle East, it’s still a long way to go compared to the US.

What was your most memorable project?

Back in 2008 when omni-channel was just a concept, I had the fortune to work with the team at IDC. We drove a transformation project for a retailer, and the difficulty was that no assets were available at that point in time, so we had to build an ecosystem. We needed new capabilities, new software…especially software solutions and processes that could deliver seamless. We were calling it omni-channel at that time, but we were really driving a seamless ecosystem to act in a successful manner.

When you go shopping, are you always thinking about what can be improved?

I wouldn’t say always. Sometimes I just go out and have fun, but in probably 80 percent of the times, I think critically about what kind of scenarios could I enable. If it is a client of ours, I get in touch with them and tell them what I think they should do differently. Then I go back to work and look how I can help make those things better.