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Richard Acreman talks about the upcoming release of two retailer smartphones

BLOG: Retailers can offer lessons in business technology

Richard Acreman, CEO of WM360, discusses how Tesco and Amazon’s latest tech shows the benefits of externalising an intranet.

In just a few short years, the role of the personal computer has diminished dramatically as most of its everyday functionality has been swallowed up by its slimmer, sexier cousin: the portable device.

At the same time, the retail sector has been rapidly maturing and moving away from its traditional strengths to explore the benefits of data and technology. Big retailers across the spectrum now use technology to track, monitor and learn from the habits, interests and requirements of their customers.

The upcoming release of smartphones by both Amazon and Tesco is where these two trends come together, and it is a development that will take data analytics to the next level.

For retailers, this is the search for the best possible relationship with a ‘captured audience’ of loyal customers. However for businesses, there’s a very interesting principle in the making. As portable devices have become increasingly advanced, businesses have recognised the benefits and made moves to bring them into their organisations; usually through BYOD programmes or by providing employees with corporate-owned phones.

However in doing so, businesses have been forced to make sacrifices. In the office, where personal computers are still usually considered the best option, many companies have invested money and time in building bespoke intranets. These internal systems serve many purposes, from building employee engagement and boosting company culture, to monitoring efficiency and working practices. Currently, working from tablets or smartphones means that companies must compromise on many of these benefits in favour of portability and flexibility.

But is it really not possible to have the best of both worlds?

This move by both Tesco and Amazon to embed friendly products and services within their own user devices can be seen as a move to externalise the benefits of an intranet; giving users the equivalent of a corporate intranet, but on a personal, quasi-independent device.

From a business perspective, this could be adapted to allow companies to push out all the benefits of their office-based systems across the whole business infrastructure. Success in this field would reap huge benefits as companies combine flexibility and portability with faster access to key documents, better oversight and increased engagement.

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