A huge amount of information which is required for effective management of modern retail business can be effectively handled through information technology tools
This is an exclusive story conducted by Santosh Vaswani, Content Writer & Editor at CIO News with Kumar Prasoon, Chief Operating Officer (COO), Chief Information Officer (CIO) and Chief Enterprise Architect (CEA) of Cirrus1co
- How do you see IT infrastructure and tools making a significant difference in retail operations and customer experience?
Distribution Channel in modern time have become more and more sophisticated and technology driven. Retailing has emerged as one of the most significant intermediary phenomena as far as distribution channels of modern business are concerned. This modernization of distribution channels in modern business has been contributed by emerging technologies particularly Information Technology.
Block-chain transactions make trades indisputable and guarantee information payload integrity. Counterfeiting risk is thus mitigated and final consumers are able to verify in each moment all product characteristics (e.g. provenance, material and components specifications, etc.). As blockchain redefines contract instruments and negotiation processes, it could streamline authenticity verification mechanisms for supply chain actors. Possible impact could be registered on trade instruments such as Incoterms, custom declaration of goods and international trade registries.
Information Technology innovations in retail sector has made a significance difference and has contributed to modern retail sector in a number of ways which includes labor saving, inventory mgmt., monitoring of checkout operations, consumer awareness and what not. Areas like EDI, Electronic fund transfer, and electronic loyalty schemes have made a sea change in the way we do retail transactions and have added value to each transaction. A huge amount of information which is required for effective management of modern retail business can be effectively handled through information technology tools. These tools have made IT easier to not only stores huge amount of information safety, but at the same time to retrieve it whenever required along with necessary processing of information to arrive at purposeful decision.
The biggest challenge from the infrastructure side is to focus on BigData based Control Panel Systems with numerous nodes as CCTV , IP Cams , DVRs , Servers , Nodes, POS Machines , Biometric , ATMs , Kiosks , Business Applications , IOT Sensors , IP Devices , IP Circuits , OS , UNIX , SOLARIS , Windows , Oracle Infra , Windows , Databases , 200 + Business Applications , CRM , Call Centers , IP Phones etc and many more to get leveraged on one platform to have a RPA driven AI Maintenance in multi-global locations.
- Elaborate on the relevance of digital transformation to retail operations in various facets of operations and transactions? What are the various technologies that such a transformation will encompass in near future deployments from a general retail point of view?
Digital Transformation has changed the entire rules of the sustaining in the market and emerging out victorious. Smart Digital Analytics and Big data helped retailers a lot in contributing to the brand growth Retail industry can also use GPOMS (Google Profile of Mood States) Algorithm and other algorithms to understand the consumer’s perception about the brand online. Launching a mobile application which will give information like the wish list, monthly shopping plan and the keywords they search for is also a quick win in the retail sector. Based on that data, the system will send the customers’ custom promotion notifications while considering different factors like the age, gender, profitability, lifetime value of the customer and more.
As per the Accenture report, with significant benefits in sight, the overall market for blockchain is expected to boom with some estimates projecting growth of blockchain technology from USD $411.5 million in 2017 to $7.68 billion by 2022.2 Reasons for this rapid growth are the rise in banking, financial services and insurance applications including digital currencies and identities, as well as the continuing development of this technology and growth from major vendors. And while blockchain is not yet fully mature, its huge potential suggests this is the right time to learn more. Companies need to understand how blockchain technology can empower groundbreaking innovations, what obstacles must be overcome, and the likely value and tangible rewards it can deliver, especially in logistics.
- As a diverse network discuss how the groups goes about ensuring that it has some of the best solutions deployed from connectivity to surveillance?
We have deployed Smart Digital Analytics with various sorts of automation which provides us real time data about every movement happening in and around the mall. This safeguards the mall from any theft and fraudulent behavior both at the customer and the employee’s side. These systems not only helps in providing better connectivity and surveillance but also helps in providing business value by helping in
- Customer centric demand planning
- Financial Budget Allocation
- Smart sourcing
- Enhanced Customer Value
- Enhanced footfall and conversions
- Cross Selling promotions
- Please highlight any recent solution deployments in your ratios store fronts? Have cashless payments been deployed or is that on the agenda?
Cashless payment is in our agenda and we are definitely speaking to a lot of vendors for getting the best solution available in the market. We have however done a lot of customizations around ORPOS (Oracle Retail Point of Sale) systems which has helped us to give a better customer experience ensuring quick check outs at the Point of Sales. Recently we made progress towards in-house solution for keeping a track of what our customers buy using Digital Analytics, Customer Analytics, Inventory & Shelf Space Analysis and Category Wise Sales Analysis. Since last 3 years, a lot of development has happened as we are more oriented towards maturing Live Streaming Data with Retail Analytics.
- On the retail analytics side, do you have solutions deployed and how important does is retail analytics?
Recently we made our in-house solution for keeping a track of what our customers buy using Digital Analytics, Customer Analytics, Inventory & Shelf Space Analysis and Category Wise Sales Analysis. It is very important to have the retail analytics solution. Its advantages are manifold. We now have a complete set of analytical data, few of which are mentioned below:
Category Performance Analysis: Understanding how our categories are performing from a customer’s perspective
Product Substitution Analysis: Which products can be best substituted when the products are not available?
Promotion Impact Analysis: How successful was our promotion campaign? Which customer segments got attracted to the promotions (e.g. same customers, new customers & more?)
Cross-Sell Opportunity Analysis: Which stores can do better? And how much is it worth to the company? What methods should they use to increase performance?
Company Performance Analysis: How is our company performing? What were the reasons for growth or decline?
Category Performance Analysis: How are our categories performing? Is there a growth or decline?
Category Drill down Analysis: Drill down for identifying the departments, categories and products which contributed to growth or decline.
Customer Retention Analysis: Which stores have the highest customer attrition? What actions should they take to reduce it?
Loyalty Participation Analysis: Which stores have the highest loyalty card usage? Which is the lowest? What do the stores do to increase performance?
Product Customer Analysis: What is the profile of the customer who shops a product or brand?
Similar Customer Analysis: Identify customers who have similar purchase patterns and map them accordingly. Our predictive analysis algorithms will give you the right information at the right time.
- In addition to the retail side, discuss the significance of IT solutions in your manufacturing to real estate operations under the Cirrus1.co Fortune 500 Customer’ group?
I will provide you a peek look to the different IT solutions which we have deployed to solve our operational problems. We use industry-leading Fuzzy Analytics technology to allow retailers to optimize operations by responding quickly to customer needs and market trends. Through an interactive dashboard, merchants can harness real-time in-store analytics to create a personalized, Omni-channel experience, capturing shopper interest at every touch point. Video data is enhanced by putting it in context with other data sources such as POS, inventory with hand-held devices for the most complete picture for dynamic decision-making. At Cirrus1.co, we have used IT solutions to maintain a complete Digital Ecosystem that helps us solve most of our operational issues.
The retail industry will reach a “tipping point” within the next five years that will see blockchain heavily tested across use cases, which will lead to significant adoption of the technology, according to a report from Deloitte.The report suggests that businesses that quickly determine what value blockchain holds for them, and begin testing it soon, stand to benefit greatly while others will miss out and fall behind. For context, blockchain is an immutable ledger that creates a shared, distributed record of transactions.
- Are there any cloud based solutions being used? Or almost all solutions premise based deployments across your various businesses? Please elaborate on the cloud strategy for the group
We rely heavily on Cloud Solutions which are all SaaS-based. Few reasons why we go for it are:
- Ease of operating the solution? Very Easy, Flexible and Customizable.
- Ease of installation and activation? Professional Team and painless deployment.
- Pilot in less than 6-8 weeks depending on the infrastructure. Then a full blown deployment takes 18-24 months.
We use APIs to extract data from multiple sources and then analyze the JSON data using Python, R and open source tools like Pentaho. Once the analysis is done, we use marketing automation tools like Hubspot and Pardot for the segmentation of customers. We have also developed an in-house solution for segmenting the CRM data using JQuery, HTML 5, and PHP & JSON.
- How challenging is it to manage the IT operations of different kinds of businesses under a diversified group such as customers of Cirrus1.co?
It is a very big challenge when you have to handle the IT operations of a conglomerate as big as Customers of Cirrus1.co. We have a massive database with a diversity and depth of transactional data. We track not only what, when, and from whom consumers buy, but also the channel utilized for each purchase. A large amount of historical data was available to tap into the power of Customer Centric analytics, however initially we were not are not very much equipped to leverage this information adequately to understand and plan our business in a scientific, structured and systematic way. The Retail Smart Digital Analytics solution enabled us to unearth this Customer Centric valuable information from our retail systems and provide you with granular insights to let Cirrus1.co make the best business decisions in order to deliver premier quality and process efficiency across your enterprise and help us create a world-class business that can boast highest levels of customer satisfaction.
- Please elaborate how you see the cyber-security landscape- would you agree that there is now no perimeter to the network and hence the attack surface is much wider with increased vulnerability?
By the year 2021, the cost of cybercrime damage throughout the world is expected to reach the heights of $6 trillion. However, when you learn that the threat of cybercrime grows each year due to consistent digital transformation, this figure will come as no surprise. Businesses today are digital-first, and if that’s the case, then organizations must ensure that there is a safe space to store data and share information. To do this, security must be adapted to respond to ever-growing and ever-changing threats. A system that isn’t well-protected can be infected with malicious spyware and hackers are easily able to obtain sensitive information that within seconds can be passed on to individuals or organizations that can use it for financial gain or maliciously destroy it. Hence I agree to “there is now no perimeter to the network and hence the attack surface is much wider with increased vulnerability.” A cyber threat attack surface refers to the digital and physical vulnerabilities in your hardware and software environment. In software environments, a threat attack surface is the total number of vulnerabilities an unauthorized user can potentially use to access and steal data. As cyber-security professionals, it is our responsibility to minimize the threat attack surface as much as possible. A threat attack surface is what is being attacked but it is often confused with an attack vector, which is the means or method used by an intruder to gain access. Types of attack surfaces can be digital or physical, which can include everything from your network to endpoint devices. Digital or network threat attack surfaces can also include the vulnerabilities found in your connected hardware and software environment.
To keep the network secure, administrators must proactively seek to reduce the total number and size of attack surfaces. The more code, applications, or devices run on a system, the greater is the chance of vulnerabilities that can be exploited. Thus, reducing the amount of the total number of these things is one of the most critical steps to minimize the attack surface.
2) With remote workforce deployments, have cyber-security challenges been on the rise?
Yes we can’t deny that online work increases cyber security risks. Without the security protections that office systems afford us – such as firewalls and blacklisted IP addresses – and increased reliance on technology, we are far more vulnerable to cyber-attacks. The most obvious risk is that most of our tasks are conducted online. After all, if something’s on the Internet, then there’s always the possibility of a cyber-criminal compromising it. They might attempt to do this by cracking your password. This could be easier than ever if you’re reusing login credentials for the various online apps you need to stay in touch with your team. Unfortunately, many business owners don’t understand the requirements for a robust remote access policy. Access needs and practices are changing among all workers, not just remote employees, and professional guidance is becoming essential to prevent serious problems like identity theft, data breaches and data loss.IT and cyber-security professionals can evaluate the security risks companies face and develop customized protocols to minimize these risks, but 44% of companies aren’t bringing the pros in to help. Therefore, many executives may miss key insights into potential vulnerabilities and fail to implement proper protection for remote workers. Hence the concept of Identity Access Management, Privilege Access Management and Secure Digital Identity to the core transactional systems is paramount.
3) What are the common cyber-security challenges that you take care of as an IT security manager/ CISO?
From ransom-ware to insider threat challenges, discuss what issues keep you awake the most and your key priorities for the year ahead? CISOs are continuously combating · T H R E A T M A N A G E M E N T : Threat detection, protection and remediation services to fight cyber-crimes · V U L N E R A B I L I T Y M A N A G E M E N T: Scanning, testing and remediating application, database and network vulnerabilities to protect your data · C O M P L I A N C E M A N A G E M E NT: Setup industry’s security best practices and reduce risk for your organization · S E C U R I T Y I N F R A S T R U C TU R E: Establishing, commencing and managing security infrastructure for your organization · F R A U D I N V E S T I G A T I O N : Gathering evidence into successful security breaches and identify gaps in security · I T S E C U R I T Y T R A I N I N G: Building capability to prevent, detect and respond to security threats on your organization Top Cyber-security Challenges to Be Aware of in 2021 · Remote Worker Endpoint Security. … · Phishing Attacks. · Deepfakes. · IOT Devices · Malvertising. · File-less Attacks and Living Off the Land · Sophisticated and Targeted Ransom-ware Attacks · Social Media-Based Attacks.
4) Elaborate the requirements for enhancing security with cloud adoption?
As customers transition their applications and data to cloud computing, it is critical for them to maintain or exceed the level of security and privacy protection they had in their traditional IT environment. Hence there is a prescriptive series of steps for cloud service customers to evaluate and manage the security and privacy of their use of cloud services, with the goal of mitigating risk and delivering an appropriate level of support. · Ensure effective governance, risk and compliance processes exist · Audit operational and business processes · Manage people, roles and identities · Ensure proper protection of data and information · Enforce privacy policies · Assess the security provisions for cloud applications · Ensure cloud networks and connections are secure · Evaluate security controls on physical infrastructure and facilities · Manage security terms in the cloud service agreement · Understand the security requirements of the exit process Each step takes into account the realities of today’s cloud computing landscape and postulates how this space is likely to evolve in the future, including the important role that standards will play.
5) What are the key decision making aspects in your role as the IT security head/CISO?
For a CISO, decision-making in the context of organizational information security is highly dependent on various types of information. For information security managers, not only relevant information has to be clarified but also their interdependencies have to be taken into account. These factors can be broadly into these areas: physical security, vulnerability, infrastructure, awareness, access control, risk, resources, organizational factors, continuity, security management, compliance & policy for informed decision making raising the bar for overall Enterprise Security Architecture of the organization. 6) What do you think of approaches that are becoming more popular now like the zero trust model? Would that be something you will advise for organizations to implement? Zero Trust is an information security framework that states organizations should not trust any entity inside or outside of their network perimeter at any time. It provides the visibility and IT controls needed to secure, manage, and monitor every device, user, app, and network belonging to or being used by the organization and its employees and contractors to access business data. Implementing a Zero Trust security model in an organization is not simply a change in mindset. It will require a clear view of functions within the company’s departments, currently-deployed software, access levels, and devices, and what each of those requirements will look like in the future. Often, building a Zero Trust network from the ground up is easier than reorganizing an existing network into Zero Trust because the existing network will need to remain functional throughout the transition period. In scenarios, IT and security teams should come up with an agreed-upon strategy that includes the ideal final infrastructure and a step-by-step strategy on how to get there. Here are four pillars of Zero Trust that we believe organizations should embrace: · Strong user identification and access policies · Segmentation of data and resources · Strong data security in storage and transfer · Security orchestration 7) with edge computing and IOT deployments, do you see the threat factor further increase? Internet of Things (IOT) devices with Edge Computing is rapidly becoming ubiquitous while IoT services are becoming pervasive. Their success has not gone unnoticed and the number of threats and attacks against IOT devices and services are on the increase as well. Cyber-attacks are not new to IOT, but as IOT will be deeply interwoven in our lives and societies, it is becoming necessary to step up and take cyber defense seriously. Hence, there is a real need to secure IOT, which has consequently resulted in a need to comprehensively understand the threats and attacks on IOT infrastructure. The key points regarding the IOT Edge Computing with increase in threats and vulnerabilities:- · Confidentiality · Integrity · Authentication and authorization · Availability · Accountability · Auditing · Non-repudiation · Privacy goals · Intruders, Motivations and Capabilities · Purpose and Motivation of Attack · Classification of Possible Intruders · Individuals · Organized groups · Intelligence agency
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