Book Review- Transforming Retail with ‘The Good Jobs Strategy’

Authored by Cathy Chandhok, Chief Marketing Officer

Careers in retail have a reputation for being “bad jobs” with the average retail cashier in America making about $10 an hour, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics. The average retail sales worker makes $12 an hour, and one in three retail jobs is part-time. Workers’ schedules are often erratic, with few or no benefits.

Zeynep Ton, a professor of Operations at MIT Sloan School of Management, spent over a decade researching supply chain management in the retail industry and found that retail workers were not just poorly paid, but poorly trained. Morale was low, and turnover was high with customer service largely nonexistent. Executives at these companies told her that this “vicious cycle “–operating with employees who were paid as little as possible as labor was such a big part of their overhead– was the only way they could guarantee low prices.

The problems that resulted were an unavoidable by-product of a low-price business model.

“There is, in fact, a good jobs strategy,“ says Ton, “even in low-cost retail, that combines high investment in employees with a set of operational decisions that deliver value to employers, customers and investors.”

In her book, The Good Jobs Strategy: How the Smartest Companies Invest in Employees to Lower Costs and Boost Profits, Ton gives examples of how four retailers deploy the Good Job Strategy and use operations to deliver good jobs to employees, strong returns to investors, low prices and good service to customers all at the same time.

Operating in a Virtuous Cycle

When retailers begin to view labor as a driver of sales and profits and not as a cost to be minimized, they create a virtuous cycle. Investment in employees is the perfect answer to the retail conundrum; it improves operational execution, increasing sales and profits, ensuring a larger labor budget, which could mean more investments for in store employees.

Model retailers complement their investment in employees with the following operational practices:

  • Offer less. Model Retailers offer less, which reduces costs significantly and can increase customer satisfaction. With fewer products, employees can be familiar with everything the store sells and make knowledgeable recommendations to customers. Trader Joe’s, one of the Model Retailers Ton studied, is famous for this. Sales per square foot at these stores suggest that customers don’t mind the limited options.
  • Standardize and empower. Most retailers only allow employees to execute plans made from the top. Model retailers combine standardization with empowerment. Allowing employees to make small decisions, such as product returns, how many items to order for their store, makes companies more responsive to local needs and preferences. This empowerment increases satisfaction of the customer as well as that of an employee.
  • Cross Train employees. Instead of varying the number of employees to match traffic as other retailers do, Model retailers vary what employees do. Cross Training, Ton found, ensures that employees are always busy and that customers always receive good service. At QuikTrip, a convenience store chain and one of the model retailers Ton studied, part-time employees receive 40 hours of training and full-time employees receive two weeks. They learn everything from checking out customers and ordering merchandise to cleaning bathrooms and sweeping the parking lots. A model retailer that Ton studied in her book, cross trains employees on all skills in each department, this helps provide flexibility to deal with changes in customer traffic through the day.
  • Operate with slack. Many retailers try to get by with fewer employees, while retailers that operate in a virtuous cycle often err on the side of overstaffing. This approach improves customer service and reduces costs as it enables employees to contribute to continuous improvement of their store.

The secret to staying great: Seizing Strategic Opportunities

  • Adapting to change, such as shift is customer preferences and new technology. UPS, for example, transformed package delivery by innovating and adapting to new technologies and business environments, and to changing needs of its customers. UPS delivers 7 million packages and documents daily and revenue in 2018 was $72 billion.
  • Keep a loyal customer base, by building and nurturing relationships with customers. “I love the fact that when we go to Costco,” says Ton, “the person checking my receipt draws a smiley face on it and hands it to my kids.”

Retailers that operate in a Virtuous Cycle not only invest heavily in store employees but also have the lowest prices in their industries, solid financial performance, and better customer service than their competitors.  In the end, this model combination of operations and investment in employees allows companies to earn more than competitors, create jobs that give dignity and respect to employees and still provide low prices and better customer service to customers. Companies that use this this strategy, mentioned in the book are Costco and Zappos among many others.

The above excerpt is a summation of the book ‘The Good Jobs Strategy’ by Zeynep Ton. To know more about how Infogain combines digital transformation with retail value chain accelerators and automation to enhance the NextGen retailing reach out to us at info@infogain.com

Revisiting the Successful “SPA Framework Day @ Infogain”

Single Page Application (SPA) Framework Day @ Infogain was well attended last week on Infogain’s Noida campus.  In case you missed it, we wanted to give you a quick recap of what was presented on SPA, including new frameworks that will be available soon.  The day started with a presentation by S. Ravi Kumar giving an intro about NCR Cloud & Core Techies meet-up group and SPA frameworks. Then, he announced the topics and speakers and dived into audience expectations.

All of the sessions were interactive, with the audience comparing and discussing the benefits of Angular, React, and Blazor, even pitting them against each other. This made for a lively discussion and much interaction among attendees.

Quick recap:

Get into Client side with Angular: This was the title of the first session of the day, which was given by Nitin Pandit. In this session, Nitin explained about essential tools used by developers to get started with Angular development. Nitin explained the usage and benefits of learning and using Angular along with tools and frameworks like NPM, CLI, Reactive extensions, etc.

Getting Started with React JS: Sanjeev Kumar presented the second session of the day. This session was more of a hands-on discussion where Sanjeev expounded on the basics of React JS along with step-by-step use cases, as well as practical examples on how to use React JS on a website to make it more efficient and responsive.

Full Stack Web Development Without JavaScript: Our very own S. Ravi Kumar presented the third session. Ravi spoke about the challenges faced by architects and business owners while choosing technologies for full-stack web application development and how those challenges can be addressed by Blazor, a new SPA framework by Microsoft. He described the basic features, benefits, drawbacks, and business scenarios for using Blazor in enterprise applications and showcased some open-source demos.

Introduction to JamStack using GatsbyJS: Jyotishman Saikia presented this session, he introduced the audience with static site generator framework GatsbyJS and tools associated with it. He described the challenges faced by novice web developers in developing static sites and how GatsbyJS solve those challenges.

Infogain has plans to host more technology meet-ups in the future, so watch this space for updates and drop us a line here if you have a question or comment.

Speakers at the Meetup:

Nitin Pandit, Microsoft MVP & Solution Expert at Infragistics
Sanjeev Kumar, Developer & Community Speaker at MindFire Solutions
S. Ravi Kumar, Technology Advisor & Community Speaker at Infogain
Jyotishman Saikia, Developer at Bharat Pay

 

 

Hacktoberfest 2019 Contributions Showcase

Authored by S. Ravi Kumar, Technology Advisor 

Did you participate in “Hacktoberfest 2019?” Infogain is sponsoring a Meetup event to celebrate this years’ Hacktoberfest. The event is open to all developers from the Delhi NCR area who participated in Hacktoberfest 2019. This is a great opportunity to get together and talk about your open source projects from the event. The Meetup will be held on 9th November 2019 at Infogain India Pvt. Ltd., A-16, Sector 60, Noida.

Learn more about the 2019 Hacktoberfest here.

Register here to join us for the meetup!

Hacktoberfest (Hacker fest in October) is an annual global community event and a month-long online celebration of open-source software development. The objective is to support and celebrate open source, by giving back to the open-source community.  Hacktoberfest welcomes all participation from beginner to expert. Here are some advantages for participating in Hacktoberfest 2019:

Learn new skills: Open Source is a great teacher! With an open community, the opportunity to learn is vast. While working on an open-source framework or library, you may encounter a new scenario from that framework/ library that you have not visualized for your application. This is now possible, because someone else already did it, and shared it with the community.

Make it better: This could be your golden chance to improve your favorite framework, language or a library. This is especially beneficial if you use any of these to develop client applications or come upon an issue which is not supported by that certain framework or the library. This is your chance to share the work you accomplished to fix that issue and it may be included within the framework itself.

Showcase your skills and build your reputation: The applications that many IT professionals work on are typically their clients’ intellectual properties. Often, there is no way to share info about this work or the skill they possess. However, contributing to an open-source platform is the key!  Any and all contributions whether it is development, documentation, testing or promotion, you are free to share the link with anyone.

Grow your professional network and mentorship: While working on an open-source application, framework, or library you get the opportunity to connect with many likeminded people, and to learn from their experiences. You also get an opportunity to share your own experiences, and “give back” by mentoring them, so they can grow in their careers.

There is always the Goodies! Hacktoberfest is full of the coolest goodies – all the companies participating in Hacktoberfest 2019 give away many kinds of goodies or “swag”, like t-shirts, mugs, trophies etc. which you can show off 😊.

Here are a few open-source projects from Hacktoberfest 2019 that we have curated for you:

The complete list of all the projects is available for download at Hacktoberfest here.

Are you ready for the Meetup at Infogain? After participating in Hacktoberfest, mark your calendar and join us on 9th November 2019.

Register here

Have questions?  Contact S. Ravi Kumar  

Happy Hacktober Fest!

It’s a Great Time to be a .Net Developer

Authored by S. Ravi Kumar 

After watching the .NET Conference 2019, a three-day virtual conference organized by Microsoft, I can tell you it was an amazing conference with valuable information. The one thought that comes to my mind after this conference is “It’s a Great Time to be a .Net Developer.” Why? Because it’s the one framework which can be used to develop any application you want or need with excellent tooling and support from Microsoft, as well as many third-party vendors like Jet Brains, Telerik, Infragistics etc.

Major announcements from the conference are as follows:

.NET Core 3.0

The long-awaited 3.0 version of the framework was released. .NET Core is the cross-platform development framework of Microsoft used to develop all applications ranging from desktop, web, cloud, mobile, games, IoT & AI. This is big milestone for .Net developers because:

  • WPF & Windows forms development, companies maintaining their legacy apps can now port their applications to .NET Core and utilize the latest features and technologies.
  • .Net Core, by default, supports side-by-side installation and self-contained EXEs (Self-contained EXEs do not require frameworks to help them execute as they execute independently). This feature is now extended to WPF & Windows forms applications.
  • Full-stack Web development using C# and Blazor. You no longer need JavaScript for full-stack web development.
  • C# 8.0 with many new features!

ASP.NET Core 3.0

The next version of .Net Core’s web framework ASP.NET Core was released, and includes updates:

  • gRPC a language-agnostic, high-performance Remote Procedure Call (RPC) framework which helps you build strongly typed contracts of communication between applications.
  • Worker Service template a kind of application for long-running backend processes which can be used to host those long-running microservices to handle continuous responses.
  • Identity Server 4.0 – an OpenID Connect and OAuth 2.0 framework to manage Authentication as a Service, API Access Control, Federation Gateway, along with options to customize as per users’ requirements.
  • Blazor a component-based sub-framework of ASP.NET Core to build SPA (Single Page Architecture) based full-stack web application using C# & HTML.

C# 8 Announced

The next version of C# language was announced and  has new features to ease application development using .NET framework:

  • Support for Nullable reference type: One of the main issues for C# developers is ‘null exceptions’. When using this feature, a developer can mark the variables to support null, and the compiler will not check to ensure they are not assigned or initialized to null anymore.
  • Default interface members. Developers can now add members to interfaces and provide an implementation for those members. This language feature enables API authors to add methods to an interface in later versions without breaking source or binary compatibility with existing implementations of that interface. Existing implementations inherit the default implementation.
  • Pattern matching support which gives tools to provide shape-dependent functionality across related, but different kinds of data to make them more productive. This feature helps developers keep data and functionality apart. Patterns matching is available in Switch expressions, property patterns, and positional patterns.
  • Asynchronous streams allow developers to create and consume streams asynchronously. In order to consume async streams, C# 8 has added await-able for each loop to traverse through async streams.

App Center Support for Windows Applications

App Center is the DevOps suite of Azure services used by developers to Build, Test, and Distribute applications. Once deployed, it also helps developers monitor the status and usage of the app using real-time app diagnostics data, in addition to engaging with users via Push services. Earlier this service was limited to mobile and web applications only, in this conference, Microsoft announced support for WPF, and WinForms apps developed using .NET Core 3.0 on App Center.

Xamarin Announcements:

Xamarin is an open source app platform from Microsoft for building cross-platform mobile (iOS, Android), Mac desktop, wearable (watches), & tv apps with .NET. In .NET Conf 2019 Microsoft announced following enhancements for Xamarin Developers.

  • XAML Hot Reload for Xamarin.Forms: Make changes to your XAML UI and view them reflected live on your emulator, simulator, or physical device.
  • Xamarin Hot Restart: Test changes made to your app, including multi-file code edits, resources, and references, while using a much faster build and deploy cycle.
  • iOS 13 and Android 10: Take advantage of the full power and performance of native platforms and APIs. Including iPad OS, dark mode, and foldable support.

Blazor Server-Side Released

As mentioned above, Blazor is a component-based sub-framework of ASP.NET Core to build SPA based full-stack web application using C#. Currently, Blazor is supported via two hosting models Blazor WebAssembly which run on the client-side browser on WebAssembly and Blazor Server where the app is executed on the server from within an ASP.NET Core app. UI updates, event handling, and JavaScript calls are handled over a SignalR connection. Because of the following features, Blazor is considered the next big thing in the .Net world:

  • Write code in C# instead of JavaScript.
  • Leverage the existing .NET ecosystem of .NET libraries.
  • Share app logic across server and client.
  • Benefit from .NET’s performance, reliability, and security.
  • Stay productive with Visual Studio on Windows, Linux, and macOS.
  • It is built on a common set of languages, frameworks, and tools that are stable, feature-rich, and easy to use.

ML.NET Announcements

ML.NET is a cross-platform open-source machine learning framework written in .NET Core which allows .NET developers to develop/train their own models and infuse custom machine learning into their applications using C# or F#. In.NET Conf 2019, Microsoft released a preview version of a new tool for ML.NET called “Model Builder” which takes data as input and create ML models and generates code for using those models in the .NET application.

.NET Core 3.0 IoT Support

In.NET Conf 2019, Microsoft showed the example usage of .NET Core on IoT:

  • For running apps on Raspberry Pi and other devices including ASP.NET Core apps
  • Read sensor data & write to displays.
  • Deploy .NET Core apps directly onto devices or with containers.

With so many usages and benefits of .NET Core, it’s not surprising that every month more than 1 million developers are joining to start .Net Core development and have contributed to .NET Core framework features with 100 thousand plus PR (Pull Requests).

To close, I reiterate It’s a Great Time to be a .Net Developer by showing the following diagram used by Microsoft that showcases the complete breadth of the .NET framework

We are hosting a local .NET Conf this Saturday where we will followup the major announcements and show sample applications using the newly announced features of .NET framework. 

Project Management | Response Planning, Analysis and Behaviors Key To Risk Management

Authored by Mohd. Adnan Shamsi, Program Manager

We know that every project has certain risks associated with it. A ‘risk’ or ‘project-risk’ is an uncertain event or condition that could influence one or more project objectives. It is prudent to identify all potential risks at the time of kick-off to ensure delivery of the project. Risk management is crucial and imperative for project success. Early identification of risks and its management on a project includes planning, analysis, response planning and behaviors needed to control risks. The ideology is simple because when a risk can be identified at the early stage, it can be mitigated; ensuring successful project deliveries.

Assessing risks at the start of a project is efficient and gives managers better control. Risk Management planning helps determine each risk and its impact, and risks are relative to a project. Any risk that is detected will affect the productivity of a project.

Potential risks could come from:

Requirement Instability – Introduces new requirements halfway through a project, reviews plans at a slower pace, causing delay. They may introduce something that could impact the estimated schedule, delaying the deliverables. The customer may also be unhappy with the quality of planning, expectation management, communication, efficiency, budgetary control etc.

Schedule – Identify the project activities at granular level, arrange these with correct sequence and build right dependencies within these.  Any unfamiliar part of the product not in the plan will disturb the schedule. Additionally, missing important tasks, lack of baselines and unexpected vendor delays due to labour dispute, supplier bankruptcy, etc. can impact the project schedule.

Quality – Non-adherence to specifications can cause failure if the quality does not adhere to the required specifications. In addition, the quality of certain products or services may not equate with the fulfilment of a certain specification as determined by the customers’ needs.

Effort – Inaccurate effort estimates can be risky, so it is important to focus on the intended improvement plan to eliminate/ minimize risks. Changes in line requirements during a project might lead to extra effort or delays.

Margin – Managing the budget is one of the most important aspects of risk-based approach and any impacts must be flagged immediately and managed. Lack of proper planning could lead to poor cost estimation and inaccuracies.

People – Non-availability of resources as per a resource plan will impact delivery. The available resources include inadequate skills or inexperience required for the execution of a project.

Based on the list of potential risks, a project manager must understand the key properties of risks, such as:

  • Strategy: Risks need to be identified early on and assigned an owner to lead its resolution. The risk must be accepted, avoided or minimized. Avoidance and reduction of risk means you can change the plan entirely and strategize according to potential risks.
  • Visibility: Risks are better identified when there is clear visibility on how a project is performing and what level of risk might be involved throughout the project.
  • Possibility: The level of each risk differs, with different dependencies and the magnitude of one risk may differ from the other. A project manager must focus on the possibility of risks and their occurrence.
  • Impact: A risk may not be certain, impacting the project at various levels like project, division, program or even organizational.
  • Costs: In case a risk occurs, its costs in terms of project, division, program and organizational level must be ascertained and necessary actions must be taken.

Once all risks have been identified and their properties determined, a ‘Risk Assessment Plan’ is readied for kick-off, which focuses on series of action that are planned to avoid the risks. The document addresses three key questions:

  1. Who is the owner of the risk?
  2. Should the risk occur, what is the estimated time needed for closure?
  3. Regular checks or status updates.

The mission of risk-based project management is successful project delivery. Once the risks are identified, they can have owners across the organization from Executive to a Project Manager to a Global Delivery Head.

Risk planning is essential to successful project deliveries and with off-the-shelf tools and solutions such as Planview or SpiraPlan available, this can be done easily enough. Infogain drives business outcomes with our emphasis on high-quality, on-budget, on-time delivery of projects.

Fostering Highly Productive & Efficient Teams with Extreme Programming (XP)

Authored by Nitin Shrivastava – Technology Advisor & Rashmi Gupta – Program Manager 

Extreme programming (XP) is one of the most important software development frameworks of the Agile model. When it is used to improve software quality and responsiveness to customer requirements, XP is an efficient way to organize projects and develop software and collaborate on code and how best to increase developers’ productivity.

The principles of XP are centered on customer satisfaction and empowering developers to confidently respond to dynamic customer requirements, however late in the development cycle. XP is team oriented; it implements a simple, yet effective environment enabling teams to become highly productive and efficient.

Extreme programming’s basic functions and activities include:

  • Code Review detects and corrects errors efficiently. It suggests pair programming as coding and reviews the written code carried out between a pair of programmers who switch their work every hour.
    • Pair programming helps with hotfixes that need to be released immediately and new feature development where complex business rules are to be implemented. It helps new team members understand the application code faster and become more productive.
    • Daily group reviews ensure the new additions to the codes are as per the coding standards and the changes do not adversely impact other areas of development lifecycle.
  • Testing codes check for errors and improves its reliability. XP promotes Test-Driven Development (TDD) to continually write and execute test cases. In the TDD approach, test cases are written prior to the code. The TDD approach in insurance project helps to find complex business scenarios which can impact other business rules.
  • Incremental development proves very effective specially after a customer feedback when the development team adds new increments every few days after each iteration.
  • Simplicity makes it easier to develop good quality code, to test and to debug it.
  • Design is the most important component to developing a good quality
  • Integration testing helps with identifying bugs at the interface of different functionalities. XP recommends that developers follow continuous integration by building and performing integration testing several times a day.
    • Dev/QA environment is regularly updated to help the team test in a production environment with data and the new code base.
    • Sandbox environments are provided for the team to quickly create an integrated testing environment with the latest code, so developers can test the code within sprint cycles.

While there are several advantages of following an extreme programming framework, it is important to ascertain a company’s size, structure and expertise base to allow for applying XP practices. Some factors to consider include:

  • XP was designed to help development teams adapt to fast-changing requirements, making it suitable for the ‘highly adaptive’ software development style.
  • The projects are risky, perhaps a shorter deadline to be met, problems connected with working on a new system; XP practices are most adept with handling these.
  • Team size is essential to successful XP implementations. A team of 12 or less is typically efficient for XP.
  • Developers’ ability to create and run unit tests, automated testing.
  • XP is customers centric, requiring customer participation to work with developers and managers side-by-side. It is mandatory that the client be available in the same office.

 

Extreme Programming is for the team that defines collaboration and continuous development with high importance. XP ensures a healthy product because it anticipates errors, is highly adaptable and requires ongoing feedback from customers.

For questions and comments, or to speak to an expert, contact us here.

Bringing Out The ‘Human’ In Recruiting

Authored by Neeraj Mehra, General Manager – HR, Infogain

Are you a recruiter, involved in helping candidates look for a job change? Or perhaps an IT executive with key openings on the team? We know that going through rounds of interviews is not comfortable – for interviewees as well as for recruiters. Every candidate wishes for a kind interviewer who can help them sail through the process to get their dream role, the best brand, and the coveted offer letter.

The first hurdle of landing a good job is clearing an interview, with flying colors. In my career of over 15 years, I have been through some interviews and selection processes; many of them felt more like interrogations than an amicable course of gauging a candidate. It can be said that it felt more like a ‘war of knowledge’.

Interestingly, ‘Empathy’ is one of the 4 critical Human Relations Skills (Communication, Empathy, Stress Management, Conflict Resolution) for putting people at ease, but often unintentionally neglected.

I believe that making the candidate comfortable is the most crucial step in the entire processes. It can be done by simple things like offering him water, ensuring that s/he is feeling at ease and feeling comfortable with the environment. Apologize if they have had to wait and appreciate their effort in applying for a position in your company, letting them know that you value their time. One can engage with the applicant with a casual conversation about the company, introducing yourself and your role. This not only acts as an ice-breaker but makes for a good first impression. It also reflects upon your open culture, empathetic attitude towards people and boosts your employer band. However, there is a caveat here: one should not brag – it is best to talk with humility about oneself, showcase the brand with a futuristic vision, be nimble and crisp.

Now, you can brief them on the role being offered and the expectations from it. If required, an overview or the structure of the team can be given for more clarity.

Over the course of a structured set of questions, try to learn about their journey, their attitude in different situations, and make the interaction conversational rather than one-sided or interrogative. Give ample opportunity to the candidates to express themselves by asking open-ended questions (relevant to the position). Asking situation based questions may widen the scope of gauging their competencies, strengths, and weaknesses. Watch out for inconsistencies, if any!

Ensure that you give relevant feedback during or after the discussion. This helps the candidate in improving himself, irrespective of the fact that they are selected or not. This, I feel, will set a person apart from others, as most of the times candidates end up following up for any kind of response (let alone feedback), especially when they are not selected. Even if a candidate doesn’t get a job offer, they may still feel good about a company that treated them well. They will always value words from a more experienced person across the table, which may aid him in future interviews or prospects.

I like to sum up the discussion and thank the interviewees for their time.

We, at Infogain, believe in ensuring a structured module of conducting an interview, exhibiting our core values when we meet people, for as they say first impressions are everlasting!

We are always looking to add more recruiters to our team if you agree with our beliefs, mail us at info@infogain.com.

Jesta’s 5 Takeaways from NRF 2019 Retail’s Big Show & EXPO

Guest Blog by Camille Chin, Jesta 

Retail partner Jesta gives a product experts recap of NRF: Retail’s Big Show, recently held in New York City.

There’s no better place than NRF: Retail’s Big Show to get the buzz on the retail streets. It’s unarguably the place to get tips that could impact the way you do business and also to catch wind of the trends that will likely shape the industry next.

NRF’s daily session presentations are ideal for gleaning new business insights. Here are five of the talks that our very own experts attended at #NRF2019, January 13 to 15, and the tips they took away.

1. Map Out Your Touchpoints
How many customer touchpoints does your company have? Can you count them on one hand or is the number in the dozens? It’s important for retailers to map out all the touchpoints their customers may experience to ensure cohesive brand interactions and shopping journeys. Whether it be through emails, blogs, print ads, digital ads, call centers, in-store visits etc., companies from start-ups to multimillion dollar enterprises have so many opportunities to talk to shoppers and make a lasting impression. Session: Larger than life – Creating the Ultimate Immersive Experience.

2. Retain Tech Talent
Top companies like Stitch Fix and Sephora continue to grow in size and popularity, and it’s hardly by chance. In addition to attracting, recruiting and hiring individuals who are well-versed in the latest ground-breaking tech, top companies integrate and retain “tech-talent” through creative flexibility that nurtures and expands their knowledge. Benefits such as working from home and flexible hours also ensure that employees feel trusted, empowered and in turn motivated to succeed and influence the larger culture. Session: Tech First – How Retail is Reimagining Talent and Acquisition for the Digital Generation.

3. Attain Omnichannel Musts
Leading retail companies like eBay, UK-based John Lewis, and Walmart prioritize shopping experiences to ensure they’re flawless across every customer touchpoint, device and location to grow sales and customer loyalty. The five omnichannel capabilities listed here were identified as must-haves to make lasting shopper impressions:

  • Accurate inventory visibility across all channels
  • Consistent Endless Aisle experiences both online and in store
  • The ability to start a transaction online and then complete it in store
  • The capacity to buy online and pickup in store with a short fulfillment time
  • Same-day ship from store

Session: Five Secrets to Omnichannel Success.

4. Stay On Top of Trends
Understanding global consumer trends can help retailers invest in technology more intelligently, create dynamic experiences for customers and find best-in-class strategic partners. One current project with a pulse on how retail is changing and the direction it may continue to evolve is Manhattan’s Hudson Yards. Hudson Yards has been described as the neighbourhood of the future and is one of the largest, private, mixed-use real estate projects in the world. Its hotel, residential spaces, office towers, stores, and restaurants are so tech-forward, even in terms of sustainability, it’s no doubt a project to stay on top of — and maybe even model. Session: Understanding the International Consumer.

5. Be Mindful of Other Industries
Tomorrow’s consumer will expect anything, anyplace, anytime. We have to improve our shipping times and inventory turnarounds now by exploring new models and technologies. Could the solution be robotics, delivery drones or self-driving vehicles? The answer is being explored as we speak, but one thing is for sure: online groceries are a massive opportunity finally reaching an inflection point. Follow the advances in the food industry — self-checkout apps, click and collect, driverless delivery and more — for ideas about your fulfillment future. Session: A Long View on Logistics and the Future of Fulfillment.

How We Can Help:
Jesta’s end-to-end Vision Suite platform streamlines and unifies entire supply chains. Our Omnichannel Solutions, complete with Endless Aisle and Order Management software, will get you many of the must-have capabilities and help you create immersive shopping experiences to uniquely color each of your customer touchpoints.

For more information on retail solutions from Jesta I.S. and Infogain, click here or reach out to us at retailsolutions@infogain.com

7 Ways Infogain Delivers Value in Outsourcing with Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe)

Written by Harish Chander, Senior Project Manager, Infogain

Infogain is one of the earliest adopters of Scaled Agile Framework (SAFe), having used the framework in early 2012. During the past 6 years, Infogain has collaborated with different customers to successfully deliver multiple products and applications within the SAFe framework. For more details, read Infogain’s case study ‘Applying the Scaled Agile Framework® in an Outsourcing Context‘.

What is SAFe?

Scaled Agile Framework for Enterprise (SAFe) is one of the most popular frameworks that addresses the problems encountered when scaling Agile for a large number of teams. SAFe promotes alignment, collaboration, and delivery across different agile teams. It is developed by leveraging three primary bodies of knowledge: agile software development, lean product development, and systems thinking. It helps businesses address the challenges of developing and delivering enterprise-class software and systems in the shorter sustainable lead time. Visit www.scaledagile.com for additional details.

How does Infogain successfully deliver value using SAFe?

Support from Top Leadership Team

  • Infogain’s leadership team supports Agile by ensuring availability of Agile friendly Infrastructure, providing Agile Training and certification, and Empowering Teams.

Trust & Transparency

  • Agile at scale needs Trust and Transparency at scale. Any risk to delivery is communicated transparently to the client, while the team works towards mitigating the risks. The clients’ are transparent in communicating product and technology roadmap, so that team is prepared with the required training. The transparency helps in gaining mutual trust, which is proven by having a long relationship with different clients.

Being Flexible, Ensuring Quality & Predictable

  • We strive to remain flexible accepting changes in the plan while at the same time ensuring quality and high predictability. While too many changes in the plan may lead to rework and quality issues, rigidity to follow the plan may have an adverse impact on business outcomes. We prefer a middle path, wherein we groom the user stories in T Minus process with the expectation that there may be last minute changes. The team is able to derive benefits from upfront elaboration of the stories in terms of UI/UX and architecture design. The overall predictability of delivery against planned stories is targeted at 90%.

Implement XP (eXtreme Programming) Practices

  • We understand that being agile won’t work without good engineering practices. We implement peer reviews, coding guidelines, Test first approach, Automation testing, Pair programming, Continuous Integration, and Deployment are encouraged and actively supported.

Innovation & Knowledge Management

  • Innovation is encouraged with both formal and informal mechanism. We have “ShipIT day” in every Program Increment and half yearly “InnovationFest” to showcase innovations relevant to client needs. Many innovations have made it into the Product roadmap for clients.
  • Knowledge management and retention is ensured with regular training for both new and existing employees. In addition, we have a knowledge portal, domain, and technical certification processes in place.

SAFe Assessment & Community of Agile Practitioners

  • Fortnightly Agile Meetup to share best practices, cross-pollinate ideas and help new teams.
  • SAFe assessment in each Program increment helps management to know the maturity level of different teams, and identify gaps and action items to improve maturity.

Collaboration & Partnership with Client

  • Infogain collaborates with clients at all levels of SAFe hierarchy.
  • At the team level, we have co-located teams as well as distributed teams. The scrum teams plan and deliver user stories as per commitment.
  • At the Program level, Infogain has Architects, UI/UX team, DBAs, Product Managers contributing to multiple scrum teams. Also, Infogain has end-to-end ownership of some client initiatives.
  • At Portfolio level, Infogain in partnership with Zinnov Consulting, helps clients prepare product roadmaps.

Conclusion

In conclusion, SAFe works quite well in an outsourcing context at Infogain and aligns with our commitment to deliver business outcomes to enterprises based on the pillars of Cost Reduction, Innovation, Risk Reduction, Revenue Generation and Speed to Value.

To know more please reach out to us here.

TechGig & MapMyIndia Boardroom Dialogue

TechGig, India’s largest tech community and MapMyIndia, India’s leading geo tagging-based service provider, hosted an exclusive Boardroom Dialogue on Aug 23, 2018 in Gurgaon. The purpose of the event was to discuss the optimum use of location intelligence for FMCG domain. Dr. Hemen Goswami, VP Solutions at Infogain, participated as a panelist at the round table event which highlighted how location intelligence can become a crucial competitive advantage for FMCG/Retail & Healthcare companies in the future. Upakul Barkakaty, the head of Infogain’s mobility practice, participated as well.

About MapMyIndia

MapMyIndia is India’s leader in premium quality digital map data, APIs, GPS navigation, telematics, location-based SaaS and GIS Solutions. MapMyIndia’s offerings include:

  • Map data solutions with cutting-edge location technology products and solutions in the areas of Navigation, Tracking, IoT and Analytics for products, services and solutions
  • Fleet Tracking & telematics which allows the monitoring of location, movement, status and behavior of a vehicle or a fleet of vehicles.
  • GeoAnalytics & Decision Support, using location knowledge to frame marketing efforts by adding location intelligence to business analytics provided valuable insights into where to pitch, open a new branch, penetrate a new market.

The main focus of the event was about applications within India with examples of how retailers use MapMyIndia’s offerings for inventory replenishment and location, personalization, and location-based marketing campaigns.

Other location-based intelligence approaches that help businesses in India were discussed as well, including Unified Commerce, a business design that that leverages the integration of retail processes and systems to provide full transparency of consumers on the back end and seamless customer experiences on the front end, regardless of the journey taken to make a purchase.

“Retailers are making a transition from Omnichannel to Unified Commerce,” said Infogain’s Hemen Goswami, “Omnichannel talks about integrating brick and mortar but still at the backend it is diverse enterprise systems.  Unified commerce applies omnichannel to the system environment. The primary focus is to leverage data, captured from distributed sources and multiple channels, to ensure that the end consumer’s experience achieves precedence over everything.”

“An excellent example of Unified Commerce, outlined by Justin Guinn of Software Advice, a Gartner Company, looks like this:”

On the back end:

  • A Retailer tracks customer’s movement throughout the store. RFID tags, shelf labels and perhaps even computer vision and other sensors communicate with a newly designed consumer app on the customers’ phone.
  • Retailers can record products that a customer looks at, picks up and even carries around but doesn’t purchase. Interaction with these products will be stored with previously in-store and online interactions.
  • Past recorded interactions with similar products will prompt a targeted social campaign that features the product(s) in question in an Instagram post. The post includes a link to purchase that opens the retailers’ app to the checkout screen with the item in customers’ cart.

On the front end:

  • Customer revisits a physical store, browsing products on shelves while looking at special in-store deals featured in the store’s app.
  • Customer picks up a few products, even carries one around for a while, but doesn’t make a purchase.
  • While browsing Instagram later in the same day, the customer sees an ad for the product that was almost purchased. There’s a link in the text of the Instagram post stating the customer can get the product for 10 percent off the store price by clicking the included link.
  • Customer clicks the link in the Instagram text and it prompts the retail store’s app to open. The app opens directly to the checkout screen and features the product in question already in the cart. Related items are listed below that can be added to the cart with one click.
  • The customer adds two of the related products to the cart and purchases them with the original product in question. The customer receives a message on the store’s app confirming the purchase and asking if the customer wants to receive a 5 percent-off coupon for use in-store by sharing a notification about the purchase across social channels or directly to contacts.

While intelligent location-based processes for marketing and operations are promising, executives at the Board Room Dialogue discussed the challenges that exist:

  • Internet connectivity issues, particularly in smaller (“tier 2”” and “tier 3”) cities in India.
  • Location information that comes in a convoluted form.   In broad terms, retailers need to obtain the location information, then link it to their customer records, then get insights, then use the insights, then execute targeted actions accordingly.
  • The struggle to use data to get intelligence.  Proper data modeling is needed, as well as data scientists who can use the data to build the intelligence.
  • Determining which devices to use to capture location information, including electronic GSM devices, Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags and receivers, GPS satellites.
  • Standard governance.  Location is closely connected to IoT, and location info comes from IoT devices.  We must insure privacy and make sure that government regulations are respected properly.

The event was a great opportunity for participants to collaborate with C-Suite executives and thought leaders from the leading FMCG/Retail & Healthcare industries about driving growth factors, process innovation and technology adoption for tapping growth in both urban/ rural markets.

Infogain’s Unified View platform enables Data convergence and data regulation in conjunction with IoT and location-based solutions. Contact us to learn more.