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Digital Business Technologies Dominate Gartner 2014 Emerging Technologies Hype Cycle

By Hung LeHong and Jackie Fenn

Imagine this: As you leave for work in the morning, your house automatically turns down the heat and places an order for milk (connected home) and your virtual personal assistant (VPA) alerts you that Cindy will be late to your 9 a.m. meeting and besides, the forecast you prepared has already changed (big data). You allow your car to navigate the traffic to your office (smart machines and Internet of Things [IoT]) while you manage the latest crisis. In this scenario, much of the possibility stems from the growth of digital business and continued adoption of the related technologies as they move through the Gartner 2014 Emerging Technologies Hype Cycle.

Now in its 20th year, the Gartner Hype Cycle tracks technologies as they journey from their Innovation Trigger stage to the Peak of Inflated Expectations then down to the Trough of Disillusionment and finally, to the Slope of Enlightenment and Plateau of Productivity. As organizations plan their journeys to becoming digital businesses, the 2014 Emerging Technologies Hype Cycle helps them understand both the technologies on the horizon as well as those that have reached more widespread adoption. This is important for CIOs, business leaders and strategists to spot opportunities as well as threats from competitors.

Gartner Hype Cycle for Emerging Technologies

Changes in the 2014 Emerging Technologies Hype Cycle

Smart Machines Trigger Innovation

Technologies early on the Hype Cycle, including virtual personal assistants (VPA), the connected home and smart robots, will disrupt current behaviors and business processes. It will take 5 to 10 years for these technologies to reach mainstream adoption, yet the hype surrounding their potential drives innovation to deliver on their promise.

Internet of Things Rises to Peak of Inflated Expectations

What will slow rapid adoption of IoT? Standardization, including data standards, wireless protocols and technologies. A wide number of consortiums, standards bodies, associations and government/region policies around the globe are tackling the standards issues. Ironically, with so many entities each working on their own interests, we expect the lack of standards to remain a problem over the next three to five years.
In contrast, dropping costs of technology, a larger selection of IoT-capable technology vendors and the ease of experimenting continue to push trials, business cases and implementations of IoT forward.

Big Data Moves Over the Peak

The big data market is settling into a more reasonable approach in which new technologies and practices are additives to existing solutions and creating hybrid approaches when combined with traditional solutions.
Watch out, big data’s passage through the Trough of Disillusionment will be fast and brutal. Tools and techniques are being adopted before expertise is available, and before they are mature and optimized, which is creating confusion. This will result in the demise of some solutions and complete revisions of some implementations over the next three years.
Elements of the work scenario described earlier, such as forecasting from big data, may be possible today. Others, such as the connected home and smart machines, remain on a longer horizon to adoption. Yet, as some of these technologies progress along the Hype Cycle, they will drive enterprises to become digital businesses. This is particularly true for smart machines, IoT, 3D printing and wearables. Combined, digital business technologies will transform enterprises and entire industries.

Hung LeHong and Jackie Fenn are both vice presidents and Gartner Fellows at Gartner. They will speak about digital business technologies and innovation at the upcoming Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2014.


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Part 2: Identifying your IT Strategy

Identify IT Strategy

Continuing on from Part 1, we will look at one way to analyse your business with a view to creating your company roadmap, and hence forming the basis of your IT Strategy.

S-Curves are a common way to track the uptake of new products or technologies and form a small, but key, part of a Technology Life Cycle.  While these may appear complicated concepts at first, there are a couple of simple points to extract from them:

  • An S-Curve shows how market saturation for a new product occurs over time, from zero saturation at time zero, to a saturation maximum at some point after.
  • Typically, this uptake does not follow a straight line, but an S-Curve, with low adoption rates in the early stage, fast adoption in the main growth phase, and low adoption again as subsequent market saturation occurs.
  • The period with greatest profit potential is the growth phase: initial R&D effort and/or technical hurdles have been overcome and sales revenue should significantly outweighs costs.

Your business is probably exposed to multiple S-Curves on its inputs side (i.e. costs) and hopefully creates new S-Curves of its own on its outputs (i.e. sales).  These can be mapped directly to your value chain, where each activity that your company does fits some part of that chain.

Analysing every input and output of your business and determining its place on its associated S-Curve will allow you to build up a good picture of the efficiency of your business, and where cost savings or increased revenues can be found.

Richard Kingston, IT Director, CounterBooks

Read Part 1

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CounterBooks Announces Richard Kingston as IT Director

CounterBooksCounterBooks expands its leadership team as it establishes itself within convenience, hospitality and general retail markets.

From an idea in 2000 that the internet would transform the way businesses accessed their accounting systems, CounterBooks has developed from an MS DOS system used by single site petrol stations into an online accounting and management information system used by retail operations with thousands of outlets.  CounterBooks was historically focussed on the petrol station forecourt industry and clients today include many major oil companies across Europe. However over the past 12 months, CounterBooks has been selected as the online retail accounting management system for a range of retail businesses, including a large hair salon franchise and a convenience retailer, off-licence and post office group, which clearly demonstrates the value of CounterBooks to other retail businesses in the convenience, hospitality, and general retail markets.

Richard Kingston

Richard Kingston, IT Director, CounterBooks

This exciting expansion requires further system developments, which fall under the responsibility of recently appointed IT Director, Richard Kingston. Richard joined the team in 2003 and has seen CounterBooks grow and develop in functionality including retail systems integrations, data import processes and working with partners which include Wincor Nixdorf, The Retail Data Partnership, EPOS Freedom, IBM, VMware, Northdoor and Hansecom Informations Technologie amongst others.

“From my first role of helping overcome the technical obstacles that we faced on a daily basis as CounterBooks was rolled out to its first customers, to my current role of overseeing the ongoing development and expansion of our systems, working for CounterBooks has often been a challenge, but has always been hugely rewarding.  It is a pleasure to work with such a great team of people and I am really looking forward to the exciting opportunities that we expect the future to bring.”

“Over his 10 years with us Richard has made an enormous contribution to the development of CounterBooks and surrounding infrastructure and I am delighted to welcome him onto the Board. The next few years are going to be equally exciting and I am sure Richard will rise to whatever challenges are presented to him. ” John Roberts  Managing Director, CounterBooks.

CounterBooks delivers real benefits including, reduced costs, improved performance, and greater risk management. Congratulations to Richard for becoming director and developing CounterBooks for the 21st Century.

About CounterBooks

CounterBooks was developed in 2001 – 2 and launched on 1st January 2003 as the world’s first on-line full ledger accounting system designed specifically for retailers. CounterBooks was originally developed as a Pro-Retail MS DOS system by a frustrated computer-programmer-turned-retailer who struggled with traditional accounting systems which were not developed for retail businesses. His aim was to provide an easy to use system suitable for a retailer with no accountancy experience while still providing full easily understandable data reporting.

CounterBooks is the trading name for CV Retail Ltd.

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Republic – Poised for Administration

We all know the never ending list of retailers which have entered into administration over the past 36 months. Is Republic any retail declinedifferent? – Here are some headlines from the media.

  • Republic is a fashion retailer targeting 16-25 year olds – this target market has the highest unemployment for any age group, resulting in lower personal disposal income (PDI) which has impacted sales.
  • 121 stores with 1000 employees predominately across the North of England – many areas in the North of England have been badly affected by the recession, with the target market of 16-25 year olds, this has had a double impact on Republic. Sales have declined by 2.3 per cent to £177m in the year to January 2012 and pre-tax profit slumped from £27.3m to £3.2m.
  • Owned by US private equity firm TPG – TPG paid £300m in 2010 with the intent of doubling the estate to over 200 stores. They brought in former TK Maxx CEO Paul Sweetenham and former Mango buying director Melissa McDermott.
  • TPG had recognised the retailers need to capitalise on an omni-channel approach and had committed to an investment of £7m in the IT infrastructure.
  • There has been criticism that TPG has distributed a total of £37m in dividends over the past couple of years, however retained earnings were left in the business.
  • Rationalising the estate – there are rumours that KPMG had been appointed to assist with disposing of the loss making stores.

So based on the above situation, we have listed some basic questions for you:-

  • Is your product offering of interest (relevant and affordable) to your target market?
  • Are you tracking your sales, costs and profits for each store?
  • Can you rationalise your cost base?
  • Is your dividend and remuneration policies aligned with the economic conditions?
  • Are you utilising all the channels available to make it easy for your customers to buy from you while accessing other markets? M-commerce, E-commerce, social, high street?

Let us know what you think, what are your thoughts about Republic?

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The Ten Hardest Hit Retailers Of 2012

Christmas couldn’t save the whole of the high street unfortunately…


IT’S the most wonderful time of the year, allegedly. And historically profitable for most high street retailers too.

Manchester Arndale recorded their best ever footfall figures in December 2012, clocking up nearly 250,000 shoppers on 1 December alone – an increase of seven per cent on the previous year. On top of that, the centre also reported average weekly footfall levels at around the one million mark. That’s a whole lotta shopping.

The pattern of online shopping and downloads, less big spending and a preference for cheaper counterparts are all evident in this list.

Speaking at the beginning of December, David Allinson, centre director for Manchester Arndale said: “Even if the weather takes a turn for the worse, as we offer everything for shoppers all under one roof, it is unlikely we’ll be really affected.”

Unfortunately, not all of Manchester Arndale’s neighbours can say the same. Still in the midst of a recession, several once British high street shopping staples have fallen by the wayside this year.

The ten hardest hit retailers of 2012 are as follows:Hardest Hit Retailers of 2012

The pattern of online shopping and downloads, less big spending and a preference for cheaper counterparts are all evident in this list.

But it’s not all bad news. A reported 13million people went shopping on December 27, spending over £2.4bn on the high street and £0.4bn online.

It would seem we’re willing to spend after all, just so long as it’s in the sales.

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TFL Introduces Contactless Payment

TFL are introducing contactless payment; this will initially be available on any of London’s 8,500 buses.*Contacless payment

If you have a contactless debit, credit or charge card, you can now use this to pay for a single bus journey by touching in on the yellow card reader. So if you run out of credit on your Oyster card or normally pay cash, you may find this a useful alternative. The fare will be the same as a single Oyster fare, although Oyster daily price capping does not currently apply.

If you have more than one card that is now accepted on London’s buses (for example an Oyster card and a contactless payment card), please choose which card you intend to pay with, and touch it separately on the yellow reader. If you present two cards together, the reader will normally reject them both, but there is a small possibility of payment being taken from a card which you did not intend to use.

For more information, please visit

*Contactless payment will not be available on the Heritage Routemaster buses that run on some parts of routes 9 and 15 and there will be no transfer discount between Bus Feeder routes T31, T32, T33, 130 and 314 and trams;jsessionid=0;apw16?sigreq=-932044544

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10 Global Macro Trends for the Next Five Years

Despite the uncertainties facing the global economy, certain trends are inevitable. The world will become smaller, more aged, more city-focused, more cautious and more polarised between the rich and poor. The climate will change, food prices will rise andMacro Trends economic power will shift from West to East.

In our recent report, 10 Global Macro Trends for the Next Five Years, Euromonitor International has identified the following ten macro trends as being key to the future growth of consumer markets:

1. An uncertain future
Both political and economic uncertainty are at their highest level for years, and the situation is expected to continue with flow on effects for consumers who in view of uncertain times may well exercise caution when making purchasing decisions.

2. The emerging middle classes
The expansion of the middle classes in developing markets has been one of the key outcomes of economic growth, as huge swathes of these populations move out of poverty and form an increasingly demanding and sophisticated consumer base.

3. The disaffected youth
One of the key outcomes of the recession for advanced economies is the lack of decent prospects for young people, who face high unemployment, tuition fees, rising living costs, a lack of affordable housing and the burden of supporting ageing populations in the future.

4. The rich/poor divide
Inequality has been in evidence for a number of years, but is increasingly becoming a focus of social unrest and media interest. Reasons for inequality include changes in employment patterns, disproportionate wage increases, technological progress, urbanisation, government policies and demographic factors.

5. The climate challenge
Increasingly erratic weather patterns and rising sea levels will be one of the largest threats to populations over the next five years and beyond. Most notably, droughts and floods will continue to cause havoc with food crops, affecting food prices in the years to come.

6. An ageing world
A combination of low birth rates and longer life expectancies is driving the ageing process. Ageing populations will impact future economic growth prospects, due to reduced labour forces and lower savings and investment rates. At the same time, age-related public expenditure is projected to increase strongly.

7. The urban transition
Although urbanisation is another long-term trend, its pace has speeded up noticeably in recent years and city growth has reached unprecedented levels in emerging markets. The exodus from countryside to cities is largely driven by a desire for economic empowerment. The global shift towards urban living is shaping consumer markets and demand.

8. People on the move
As the world becomes smaller, while travel gets cheaper and restrictions more relaxed, more people are choosing to live, study or work abroad. Continued migration has a significant impact on economies, marketers and consumers alike. Greater ethnic diversity offers marketers a wealth of opportunities.

9. A more connected world
The internet is increasingly being accessed via smartphones and tablets, as consumers seek convenience and mobility. Almost one third of global on-line consumers now have internet access on their mobile phones. Social media sites, such as Facebook and Twitter, are changing the way people interact with one another. A successful social media strategy will be a top priority for companies globally.

10. China goes global
China’s overseas investments were previously concentrated on developing countries and a handful of resource-rich developed economies, such as Australia and Canada, but since 2008 the focus of Chinese investors has begun to shift to North America and Europe. Several Chinese brands have entered the global arena and are looking to challenge the positions of established international brands. Experts expect Chinese companies’ investments overseas to see explosive growth in the next decade.