• Catch issues early, fix them fast – Free trial


    [ad] With GFI Cloud you can easily manage and secure your remote workforce – wherever they are, from wherever you are! The simple IT management platform includes patch management, antivirus, web protection, monitoring and remote control. Get the benefit of endpoint protection with the ease of central management. Start a free trial now.


  • Great articles on other sites
  • RSS Great articles on other sites


  • Analysis, Enterprise IT - Written by on Monday, April 29, 2013 9:43 - 4 Comments

    Does IT matter … in Australian supermarkets?

    woolworths

    This article is by James Dellow, general manager of Social Business Consulting at Ripple Effect Group (formerly Headshift). It first appeared on his blog and is licensed under a Creative Commons licence.

    analysis Writing in ITNews, technology journalist Liz Tay compares the IT strategies of Australia’s major banks and supermarkets – she see parallels with a University of Melbourne paper that categorised CIOs as either “trusted senior executive leader” (Commonwealth Bank, Woolworths) or “chief technology mechanic” (Westpac, Coles). She quotes Forrester analyst Tim Sheedy, who comments:

    “IT isn’t the be all and end all,” Sheedy said. “It can be a differentiator for those organisations that choose it to be a differentiator, like the Commonwealth Bank.”

    Looking at Woolworths in particular as an example of an IT leader (versus Coles, who invested more in marketing, but have also migrated to Microsoft SharePoint Online), they have just announced plans to move 25,000 staff over the next 12 months to Google Apps, which if successful will be followed by a full-deployment to all 200,000 staff.

    According to Woolworth’s CIO they selected Google Apps because: “Simplicity and ease of use of the solution, the support for mobility, activity-based working and bring-your-own-device, security and the overall value proposition.” Interesting to note the use of the phrase, “activity-based working”, although its not entirely clear what that means in a retail environment or if this is a reference to office-based staff.

    Looking over the coverage of Woolworths in recent months, its still not an entirely homogenous enterprise IT environment (and you wouldn’t expect it to be):

    • SAP as their core back-end system.
    • iPads for mobility (for store managers).
    • Microsoft Yammer as their enterprise social network (how they use this with Google+ isn’t clear).
    • Google Apps for messaging, productivity and collaboration.

    With the iPad they introduced a number of in-house apps, some running on Google’s App Engine. However, with all these announcements I’ve heard nothing about what we might classically think of as the ‘intranet’. I also wonder if they considered using SAP Jam as their enterprise social network?

    Woolworths also appear to have a come along way by embracing the cloud. My memories of interactions with Woolworths in the past was a company with very strict information security policies, so either an IT changing of the guard has taken place or they are confident that Google (and Yammer) can meet their standards. But the far bigger question, as Sheedy argues, can Woolworths actually use technology in this way as a differentiator?

    Because of current market dynamics in Australia, where Coles and Woolworths dominate the supermarket sector (together, they hold 80% of the Australian market versus only 48% and 20% of the major chains in the UK and US respectively) this really is about the ability of both companies to out perform the other in some way.

    The SMH reported recently that: “Coles has posted its fastest sales growth in two years as the resurrection of the once ailing supermarket group enters its fifth year and the retailer continues to strip away customers from rival Woolworths as well as other food stores.” However, Coles is fighting on price, not technology. So can Woolworths be the Commonwealth Bank of Australian supermarkets?

    One notable case study from the same industry is SuperValue in the US, who last May talked about using Yammer as a tool to support the turn around of that business:

    “SUPERVALU is focused on acting as one company, working toward a common goal of delivering increased value to all of our customers and meeting their needs store by store to become America’s Neighborhood Grocer. Internally, we are working to drive an open, transparent and agile culture, while continuing to bolster what makes us great – our associates, history and heritage.”

    Unfortunately, a year later the company continues to struggle.

    But leading with technology doesn’t mean throwing technology at the problem. You need to do something different with it. That’s the challenge for Woolworths.

    submit to reddit

    4 Comments

    You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

    1. Rory
      Posted 29/04/2013 at 11:30 am | Permalink |

      Woolworths is a retail store so most of their focus will be on improving the retail experience through staff training and improving stock management, IT only comes in for the self serve checkouts (at least on the consumer side) where people interact with Woolworths IT and personally I feel like woolies is better than coles in the UI side, but it seems like advertising is a bigger player than convenience

      • Posted 01/05/2013 at 8:15 am | Permalink |

        Rory – yes, its ultimately about the customer experience but IT impacts that experience in many ways. For example – supermarkets are engaging with customers online when they aren’t even inside the store, they are offering services that go beyond the product on the shelf, and are investing in loyalty programs – all using IT in some way and all in an attempt to gain extra customer wallet share (and keep it). So I think there is room to do much more. Even in respect to staff training, the right technologies can also improve its effectiveness.

        • dan beecham
          Posted 10/05/2013 at 2:46 pm | Permalink |

          James like the staff training angle. What has not been called out is the opportunity a corporate YouTube channel provides to showcase our stars in the pursuit of customer excellence, the methods of our best bakers, butchers and so on. It’s our view that the power of collaboration, implicit in the Google suite is something that can really help us differentiate.

    2. Douglas
      Posted 30/04/2013 at 3:48 pm | Permalink |

      I hear that at Coles the oncall Engineer has a special alert tone for when there is a problem.

      Down down, the server is down!

      /Dad joke.




    Get our 'Best of the Week' newsletter on Fridays

    Just the most important stories, one email a week.

    Email address:


  • Most Popular Content

  • Enterprise IT stories

    • Super funds close to dumping $250m IT revamp facepalm2

      If you have even a skin deep awareness of the structure of Australia’s superannuation industry, you’ll be aware that much of the underlying infrastructure used by many of the nation’s major funds — AustralianSuper, CBus, HESTA and more — is provided by a centralised group, Superpartners. One of the group’s main projects in recent years has been to dramatically update and modernise its IT platform — its version of a core banking platform overhaul. Unfortunately, as was revealed in November, the $250 million project has not precisely been going well, and the Financial Review last week reported that Superpartners is actually close to turfing it altogether and going back to the drawing board.

    • Qld’s Grant joins analyst firm IBRS peter-grant

      This week it emerged that Peter Grant, the two-time former Queensland Whole of Government CIO (pictured), has joined well-regarded analyst firm Intelligent Business Research Services (IBRS). We’ve long had a high regard for IBRS, and so it’s fantastic to see such an experienced executive join its ranks.

    • Westpac dumps desk phones for Samsung Android mobiles samsung-galaxy-ace-3

      The era of troublesome desk phones tied to physical locations is gradually coming to an end in many workplaces, with mobile phones becoming increasingly popular as organisations’ main method of voice telecommunications. But some groups are more advanced than others when it comes to adoption of the trend. One of those is Westpac.

    • Ministers’ cloud approval lasted just a year reverse

      Remember how twelve months ago, the Federal Government released a new cloud computing security and privacy directive which required departments and agencies to explicitly acquire the approval of the Attorney-General and the relevant portfolio minister before government data containing private information could be stored in offshore facilities? Remember how the policy was strongly criticised by Microsoft, Government CIOs and Delimiter? Well, it looks like the policy is about to be reversed.

    • WA Govt can’t fund school IT upgrades oops key

      In news from The Department of Disturbing Facts, iTNews revealed late last week that Western Australia’s Department of Education has run out of money halfway through the deployment of new fundamental IT infrastructure to the state’s schools.

    • Turnbull outlines Govt ICT vision turnbull-5

      Communications Minister Malcolm Turnbull has published an extensive article arguing that the Federal Government needed to do a better job of connecting with Australians via digital channels and that public sector IT projects needn’t cost the huge amounts that some have in the past.

    • NZ Govt pushes hard into cloud zealand

      New Zealand’s national Government announced a whole of government contract this morning for what it terms ‘Office Productivity as a Service’ services. This includes email and calendaring services, as well as file-sharing, mobility, instant messaging and collaboration services. The contract complements two existing contracts — Desktop as a Service and Enterprise Content Management as a Service.

    • CommBank reveals Harte’s replacement whiteing

      The Commonwealth Bank of Australia has promoted an internal executive who joined the bank in September after a lengthy career at petroleum giant VP and IT services group Accenture to replace its outgoing chief information officer Michael Harte, who announced in early May that he would leave the bank.

    • Jeff Smith quits Suncorp for IBM jeffsmith4

      Second-tier Australian bank and financial services group Suncorp today announced that its long-serving top technology executive Jeff Smith would leave to take up a senior role with IBM in the United States, in an announcement which marks the end of an era for the nation’s banking IT sector.

    • Small business missing the mobile, social, cloud revolution iphone-stock

      Most companies that live and breathe the online revolution are not tech startups, but smart smaller firms that use online tools to run their core business better: to cut costs, reach customers and suppliers, innovate and get more control. Many others, however, are falling behind, according to a new Grattan Institute discussion paper.

  • Blog, Enterprise IT - Jul 5, 2014 13:53 - 0 Comments

    Super funds close to dumping $250m IT revamp

    More In Enterprise IT


    Blog, Telecommunications - Jul 5, 2014 12:12 - 0 Comments

    What should the ACCC’s role be in guiding infrastructure spending?

    More In Telecommunications


    Analysis, Industry, Internet - Jun 23, 2014 10:33 - 0 Comments

    ‘Google Schmoogle’ – how Yellow Pages got it so wrong

    More In Industry


    Blog, Digital Rights - Jun 30, 2014 22:24 - 0 Comments

    Will Netflix launch in Australia, or not?

    More In Digital Rights