Tuesday Jul 23, 2013

Kohl's Continuous Innovation

Technology enables the ready dissemination of information to consumers, and so their expectations for informative shopping experiences has changed.  In order to keep pace, Kohl's has had to rethink the experience they want to deliver through their website, 1,300 stores, and other touchpoints. Ratnakar Lavu, SVP of Digital Innovation at Kohl's, points out that retailers can no longer afford to plan large, time-consuming projects.  Instead, they need to find faster ways to innovate in order to deliver the experience consumers are demanding.

Kohl's is fundamentally changing the IT culture.  Instead of carefully planning big projects, Ratnakar is implementing a culture of risk-taking where rapid experimentation is encouraged.  Its ok when things don't work, as long as they fail fast and cheaply. The new way to determine which ideas are best is to let customers decide -- that's the ultimate acceptance test.  His final point was that it's better to be done than perfect.  Perfection is too costly when good-enough will suffice.

Of course all of this requires the right architecture and processes.  There's a conflict between the traditional need for stability and reliability, requiring lots of reviews, risk assessments, and testing, and the need to deliver new features quickly.  Ratnakar borrows agile programming concepts like frequent builds, automated testing, and quick deployments to deliver innovation in less time.

See for yourself what Ratnakar has to say about continuous innovation in the video below (20 June 2013):

About


David Dorf, Sr Director Technology Strategy for Oracle Retail, shares news and ideas about the retail industry with a focus on innovation and emerging technologies.


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