What are the biggest challenges for an IT manager in retail? We talked with IT manager Kaspar Hioväin who works at Coop in Estonia, and asked him about his work, his view on trends and to share some advice for other IT managers.
What are your primary challenges as an IT manager at Coop, and how do you meet them?
I have two main challenges I can think of. The first is how to always be aligned with my business, and be able to understand it perfectly to do my job right. I will need to implement projects and train the rest of the business to open up and really discuss the business – not just technology. If someone comes up to me and simply asks for a solution, I need them to tell me why they want it to be done. Too many are hung up on the technology, but IT itself isn’t a solution to a problem. I need to know the overall business goal to be able to address the issue and help in the right way.
The second biggest challenge is the IT team itself. If you don’t work in tight collaboration alongside the company it can be hard to keep the team happy, find a way to motivate them, and provide them with development opportunities.
What advice do you have for other managers in retail IT?
The most important thing is to understand your business and its processes. If you don’t, you simply will not be able to support it.
What trends do you see in retail IT?
The self-service trend continues to develop. Nowadays, the customers want something more than just cheap milk when they go to the store, so you will need to differentiate yourself quite a lot. You have to offer them better service and really show the customer why they should shop in your store, rather than at a competitor’s.
Another trend is that retail businesses nowadays want business solutions from their IT-department, and they are not as interested in what hardware or systems are installed.
What’s the most important thing you have learned throughout your career?
There’s important to be a partner for the business, not being just IT. If you keep working as a separate IT-department you won’t be making solutions for your business, just maintain its usual work.
Want to read more about the future trends and challenges for IT managers in retail? Read our blog post “Why you must invest in the store of the future” and find out what lies ahead.