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Accenture: Retail supply chain ripe for reinvention

Retailers are responding to consumer behavior changes by reimagining the supply chain as a growth driver, according to an Accenture Interactive report; other news.

Vertically-oriented channel partners could see the reinvention of the retail supply chain in 2021.

An Accenture Interactive report published this month said changes in shopping patterns caused by COVID-19 have created new expenses for retailers. Marketing, packaging, delivery, customer service, returns and restocking are all sources of extra costs, according to the report.

"Consumer behavior has drastically and, in many cases, permanently changed from COVID-19," said Martha Cotton, co-lead at Fjord, a design consultancy that's part of Accenture Interactive.

Cotton noted nearly three-quarters of consumers expect to feel most comfortable spending free time at home over the next several months, while 95% of consumers said they are making significant and lasting changes to how they live, work and shop.

"In response to that behavior change, retailers must reimagine the supply chain as a growth driver," Cotton said.

She cited the example of Amazon and Whole Foods, where empty shops have been converted to dark stores to serve as fulfillment centers. Setting up a subscription model, such as Walmart launching its Walmart+ deliver-to-door service, provides another case in point, she said.

Retailers can also explore the role 5G could play in the wider deployment of immersive technologies. The goal: creating "captivating brand experiences and allowing greater personalization of the supply chain at the point of delivery," Cotton said. "Forget the last mile -- now it's all about the last 10 feet of the customer experience and designing for and around it."

5G impact on retail chart
5G is predicted to disrupt the retail sector in three key ways.

Additionally, brands that never previously sold directly to consumers may increasingly pursue expanded e-commerce efforts. Cotton said food brands such as PepsiCo and Heinz have started selling directly to consumers, seeing the approach as an opportunity to collect data and learn more about customer behavior.

The retail vertical and quick service restaurants could provide partner opportunities next year. Companies in those market segments are expected to improve upon earlier contactless technology rollouts and deploy virtual reality.

MSPs get storage management tool from iXsystems

Open source storage vendor iXsytems has rolled out a cloud-based software tool that that lets channel partners manage deployments of the company's TrueNAS offering.

Prior to the tool, called TrueCommand Cloud, MSPs needed to create their own management system within their network operations centers, said Morgan Littlewood, senior vice president of products at iXsystems. Service providers might use tools such as Splunk to do so, he added. TrueCommand, however, eliminates the need to build a management system for TrueNAS, which MSPs often use as back-end storage for Asigra or Veeam backup systems.

TrueCommand Cloud features include an integrated VPN, cluster management and multi-tenancy, and role-based access control with Active Directory integration.

IXsystems executive vice president of sales and marketing Brett Davis said the company drives as much business as it can through channel partners, citing a channel-first model. The company works with more than 200 partners.

Other news

  • The second federal stimulus package, which Congress was close to passing at press time, includes a $284 billion funding boost to the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), which offers forgivable loans to businesses. An estimated 15,000 IT services companies received loans in the first round of PPP.
  • Syntax, a managed cloud services provider based in Montreal, is preparing for 2021 with expanded offerings in cybersecurity, business analytics and forecasting. The company's security portfolio now includes managed endpoint detection and response, ransomware response services and the ability to deploy security information and event management (SIEM) capabilities through Azure Sentinel. That latter component is in addition to Syntax's Splunk-based SIEM offering. In analytics, Syntax launched a service that hosts data lakes on AWS and uses machine learning, AI and forecasting to support ERP customers' decision-making. Syntax also rolled out Amazon Forecast for SAP, a service that uses AWS' forecasting service to help SAP customers predict demand and maintain inventory levels, according to Syntax.
  • Integrated Media Technologies, a Los Angeles company that offers media systems integration and IT services, has been certified to support AWS' Media2Cloud, an offering that automates the process of migrating video archives to the cloud.
  • ActivTrak, a workforce analytics and productivity management software company based in Austin, Texas, said its partner program grew 325% in 2020. That growth occurred across all partner categories, which include solutions providers, distributors and MSPs. ActivTrak added 80 new MSP subscribers in the last six months, according to the company, which also unveiled a distribution agreement with Tech Data's DLT Solutions public sector solutions aggregator business.
  • Security vendor One Identity said its channel sales increased 15% year over year, with 67% of its global company sales and 81% of its EMEA sales linked to channel partners.
  • Pulseway, a remote monitoring and management (RMM) software vendor, said it added about 2,000 new customers in 2020. The company said it now has more than 10,000 customers globally.
  • LogicMonitor, an infrastructure monitoring vendor based in Santa Barbara, Calif., that sells to MSPs, added nine partners to its channel roster in the Southern EMEA region. The new additions to the LogicMonitor Partner Network include C.H. Ostfeld; Cloudvisor; Devoteam; Everis; Layer8; Syntax IT Group; Syntax IT Consulting; Syntax Doha IT & Services; and Yael Software Group. MSPs use LogicMonitor, sometimes in combination with other platforms such as ServiceNow, to automate core business functions.
  • BitTitan, a managed services automation provider based in Bellevue, Wash., now provides expanded PowerShell SDK capabilities within its MigrationWiz offering. The new features, which support large-scale data migration for enterprises, lend MSPs a higher level of project customization, reporting and management, according to BitTitan. MSPs use PowerShell scripts to automate mundane and time-consuming tasks.

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