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Leveraging the Retail Associate as a Platform for Digital Transformation

by Robert Hetu  |  December 4, 2017  |  Submit a Comment

Retail CIOs’ digital business transformation objectives must include development of associates’ digital dexterity to increase their engagement. This is necessary to create a digital workplace in which associates can create successful customer experiences, leading to long-term growth and stability. In her recent research Industry Vision: Leveraging the Retail Associate as a Platform for In-Store Transformation, Gartner analyst Kelsie Marian finds that digital dexterity is key and innate in many from generation Z.

Associates Who Have Digital Dexterity Will Have a Significant Impact on Customer Loyalty and Retention

“Digital dexterity” is the cognitive ability and social practice needed to leverage various types of media, information and technology in unique and highly innovative ways that optimize personal and retailer business value. This emphasis on flexible work also aligns with Gartner’s digital dexterity programs, since the use of mobile, collaboration and analytic technologies drives flexibility and digital business results.

Digital dexterity is often an underrecognized capability and practice in most retail organizations, but is one of the most critical components that are needed to bring about digital business success. Many Gen Z workers, as a result of technology being ingrained in their lives from a young age, possess some — and often high levels of — digital dexterity. However, digital dexterity is an ability that anyone can have, regardless of their generation. That said, many Gen Z workers are already working in retail stores and will continue to enter the associate workforce in the next several years. Therefore, retailers should now leverage Gen Z workers’ digital dexterity as a platform for success throughout the organization. Digital dexterity can be a learned ability that improves with training, mentoring, application and practice, and will become an essential cross-organizational skill. A focus on helping employees grow their digital dexterity, therefore, can boost employee engagement, and improve talent retention and attraction rates.

To do this, retailers must first view associates as enablers or assets with digital skills to be built on. One way to do this is to link the characteristics of Gen Z to what it means to foster digital dexterity in the workplace.

Genz z workplace platfrom blog

Only then will it become clear which technology investment areas will be necessary to support the effort. Technology options should be explored only after there is clarity and agreement on the purpose for the digital workplace. The question is not, “Should we implement mobile learning management?” but “How can we employ technology that enables us to better engage with our employees and that makes them more effective?”

Gartner clients can read the full research here: Industry Vision: Leveraging the Retail Associate as a Platform for In-Store Transformation


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Category: retail-trends  

Tags: associates  digital-business  workforce  

Robert Hetu
VP, Analyst Retail
7 years at Gartner
29 years IT Industry

Bob Hetu is a Research Director with the Gartner Retail Industry Services team. His responsibilities involve tracking the technology markets and trends impacting the broad-based retail merchandising and planning areas. Mr. Hetu is an expert in the areas of brand, vendor and assortment management, merchandise planning, allocation, and replenishment. Read Full Bio

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