Intelligent CIO Africa Issue 20 - Page 86

INTELLIGENT VERTICAL: RETAIL retail environment, this is perhaps one of the biggest threats faced by organisations today. To address this, retailers are differentiating themselves with more effective front-line sales staff. From an HR perspective, this requires moving to more permanent employees, reducing high staff churn and increasing investment in training. This planning is often disconnected from the financial impact it will have on the business. And when there is finally agreement on the costs versus the deliverables, the resulting HR strategy is quite different from the intended one. Predictive forecasting In most organisations, remuneration is linked to budgets. In other words, budgets will only be approved based on adequate growth determined by the latest applicable forecast, setting the scene for the start of the traditional ‘budget games’. This entails each side attempting to anticipate the others’ next move. The problem with this is it is predominantly internally focused and built for individual preservation. The external market, benefits of innovative change and achievable opportunities are often deprioritised to ensure a safe budget. In terms of budgeting and planning, most CFOs need to understand whether the last forecast before the budget cycle commenced has been manipulated to produce a low budget. There are several processes and technologies available to finance teams that allow them to test the likelihood of business units achieving their forecasts relevant to both prior year and current year trends. This enables them to challenge forecasts with system-generated probability assessments and ensure an accurate view of the year-end forecast in the final quarter. So, not only does this more accurate predictive forecasting create a more realistic platform for the generation of budgets, it also leads to more predictable business leads, better decision-making, improved stakeholder confidence, and improved financial productivity. Working with a trusted partner that can help the retailer’s finance teams transform their financial planning and analytics processes becomes an important part of this transformative approach. Moreover, such a service provider should have experience in implementing complex planning and consolidation transformation projects that deal with the unique local market conditions. The partner must therefore be able to make the transition from global best practices with an understanding of the South African retail environment.Financial planning in retail is transforming. How effective your business will be in dealing with this change will be up to you. n Driving the in-store brand experience Cecil Ungerer, Chief Sales Officer of in-store advertising innovators Smart Media, says that, in the highly competitive environment of in-store advertising, brands are contesting limited market share. C onsumers have become more discerning of what they buy owning to the availability of product information online. It is therefore imperative to cut through the clutter and create a 360-degree retail experience. Already, brands are shifting their above- the-line (ATL) spend to in-store media opportunities. The importance of visibility at retail outlets that have significant footfall cannot be overstated. Never has the saying ‘out of sight, out of mind’ been more relevant. If consumers do not see a brand and get the opportunity to experience it