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Retail Survey Reveals Cloud Networking Trends and Key IT Insights

Ryan Hall Manager, Vertical Solutions Marketing Published 15 May 2020

“Cloud is the future, that’s for sure, but people are not fully aware of its benefits” – Anonymous Cloud Survey Respondent

Hockey legend Wayne Gretzky famously said he “skates to where the puck is going to be, not where it has been.”  Retail businesses, whose industry has dramatically changed in 2020 alone, could take a valuable lesson from these words in evaluating their future technology strategy.   

At Extreme, we believe the future of retail is cloudy:  while the ‘new retail norm’ is still unfolding, it’s certain that retailers must invest in technologies that deliver greater business flexibility, seamlessly scale to changing demands (whether that means scaling out, back, or across), and help accelerate digital initiatives that are critical to their future success.  With the industry pushing ahead amid uncertainty, IT network solutions and the teams that manage them are absolutely an integral part of retail’s future – and we feel cloud-driven networking solutions align with the unique requirements of retail moving forward.    

As such, Extreme Networks recently surveyed a diverse set of over 200 global IT retail professionals to better understand their thoughts on cloud computing – how it’s perceived, how they’re potentially utilizing cloud in their environments, and what results have been observed.  The infographic below breaks down the collected results.

 

Key Takeaways from Extreme’s Cloud Networking and IT Insights Survey

Let’s unpack some of the key data points from the survey.  What’s not included in the infographic above is what applications retail respondents host in the cloud today.  While 22% of those surveyed already manage their IT network in the cloud, a larger number of respondents host other functions in the cloud today:

  • Email and Productivity: 73%
  • Workforce Management and Scheduling Software: 38%
  • Customer Relationship Management Software: 35%
  • Inventory Management Systems: 30%
  • Commerce and Point of Sale Systems 26%
  • In-Store Applications: 21%
  • Other: 15%

Of the respondents managing their IT networks in the cloud:

  • 66% use cloud to manage Wi-Fi
  • 55% use cloud to manage SD-WAN
  • 40% use cloud to manage wired switches

Also not highlighted in the infographic below, is that 36% of survey respondents plan to move to the cloud in the next 5 years.  Retailers who are already utilizing cloud-driven networking are experiencing these benefits:

  • 55% simplified network tasks and maintenance
  • 45% increased their ability to seamlessly grow and scale
  • 42% better supported distributed environments
  • 39% improved business operational uptime

These benefits make sense when considering the top key business and IT drivers for transitioning to cloud originally were lower costs (55%), ease of management (52%), better access to resources from anywhere (40%), and improved security (36%).

Ironically, these findings seem to sully respondents’ top reasons (or concerns) for not implementing cloud-based networking to-date, which includes:

  • Security and privacy concerns (42%)
  • Cost and available budget (40%)
  • Network reliability (28%)
  • Resource and staff availability (23%)

Cloud-driven network solutions directly address these challenges or pain points for retail businesses, so it’s curious to see these are the reasons behind the hesitation to migrate – especially when you consider only 31% have dedicated IT resources at each retail site, and could likely benefit from implementing cloud-based technologies. 

To learn how you can harness the power of the cloud in your environment, watch this demo clip of ExtremeCloud IQ for retail,

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