Retail Spotlight: Technology in the heart of retail

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Interview with AWS Philippine Country Head Stephen Thomas Misa, who shared the importance of innovation and technology for retail in today’s digital age

‘Innovation is key’ may be an overused phrase, but it rings true especially in this digital age as we have seen many businesses which are able to offer solutions to society’s current problems continue to flourish.

For instance, a host of IT services—including database storage, analytics, and machine learning among others—helps retailers become more efficient, productive and increase engagement and reach with their customers.

AWS Philippine Country Head Mr. Stephen Thomas Misa looks into how the retail industry can benefit from innovation and technology and shares how their company’s core values help drive success.

Philippine Retailing: How important is innovation in the success of a company?
Stephen Misa: Today, where disruptive technologies such as the cloud, continue to level up the competitive playing field, having a culture of innovation is crucial to a company’s success. For instance, the cloud plays a key role in driving innovation, enabling organizations to experiment and collaborate more – without having to fear failure. With the cloud’s agility and speed, teams can quickly build, experiment, and innovate, to launch new products and services that transform their businesses and deliver better customer experiences.

PR: Can you give us some tips on what companies should consider in getting a particular service for their business?

Misa: The first step, is for companies to always consider the needs of their customers and work backwards from there, instead of the other way around. They should focus on solving a specific problem that would add value to their business and benefit their customers. For instance, AWS’s No. 1 leadership principle is customer obsession, which means that when we work with customers, we always start by understanding what they need – and together, we design a plan, and ultimately deliver the products and services they require to address their specific needs.

PR: How do you see the local retail industry moving forward in terms of technology?

Misa: The local retail industry has huge potential in leveraging new and emerging technologies such as data and analytics, Internet-of-Things (IoT), artificial intelligence (AI), and machine learning (ML), among others. The Philippines is home to some of the biggest shopping malls in the region, and retailers have the opportunity to leverage on the massive customer data they’ve accumulated through the years, to understand their customers better, gain useful insights that would allow them to make better business decisions, and improve the overall customer experience. This is crucial in helping them gain more customers, as well as maintain customer loyalty.

PR: Can you share with us some Good Practices of AWS that make it a preferred partner, service provider of companies?

Misa: As mentioned earlier, our No. 1 principle is “customer obsession.” Everything the company does or develops starts with the customer in mind – and works backwards from there. Likewise, we help customers create a culture of experimentation – a best practice, because innovation comes from experimentation. Experimentation gives teams some freedom to implement existing projects in new ways.

We also help customers start with small projects that are meaningful enough, but basic – such as a simple website, a mobile application, an API to easily access data, or a file backup/disaster recovery improvement – then they can scale up, based on their needs. Likewise, shared responsibility is important. Security is our top priority, so when moving to an AWS infrastructure, responsibility for security is shared between AWS and the customer.

PR: How do you see AWS growing in the Philippines in the next 5 years?

Misa: The growth of AWS in the Philippines is aligned with the company’s global growth trajectory. We are seeing more businesses and organizations embracing the cloud, and as we continue to add new services, keep pace with innovation, strengthen our partner and customer ecosystem, and leverage on our huge head start compared to other players in our space, and most important – delight our customers, we are confident of our continued growth globally.

*This article first appeared in Philippine Retailing newsletter 2018 Q4 issue.