Axys Consultants’ survey: “AI, Tech and Data: being a manager in retail and e-commerce in the era of augmented management”.

Axys Consultants’ survey: “AI, Tech and Data: being a manager in retail and e-commerce in the era of augmented management”.

What is the place of AI, data and new technologies in the daily life of retail and e-commerce managers? Axys Consultants conducted a survey of 223 managers to understand the impact of these technologies on their missions and focused on retail and e-commerce managers.

Axys Consultants, a major player in management consulting, assists leading CAC 40 and SBF 120 companies in the digital transformation of their organizations and information systems. Its teams of more than 220 consultants work in project mode, in France and abroad, on strategic missions.

The study, which it recently published, was carried out between 18 April and 29 June and involved 223 managers, 17% of whom were in the retail and e-commerce sectors. Axys focused on these managers and compared their answers to those of their counterparts in all sectors.

AI, Big data, technology in the daily life of retail/e-commerce managers

To the question “Has the digital transformation transformed the manager’s function?

10% of managers in all sectors said that digital transformation has had no impact on their job, while 100% of retail/e-commerce managers said it has:

  • positively for 89% against 82% for all sectors combined;
  • negatively for 11% versus 8% across all sectors.

The most complex challenges (in %)

  • Appropriating/leveraging data, AI and new technologies on a daily basis is the most complex challenge for both groups of respondents, but is more important for those in retail/e-commerce (33% vs. 24%);
  • Evolving team skills also seems complicated to them, but in lesser proportion than their peers (29% vs. 21%);
  • Recruiting/fidelizing talent is less of a problem for them (11% vs. 24%);
  • Managing projects is also less of a challenge (11% vs. 13%);
  • So is participating in strategy development (16% vs. 18%).

Technologies and innovations used as part of the manager’s job

Technologies are used more by retail/e-commerce managers (66% vs. 63% for all sectors).

These 66% of retail/e-commerce managers make greater use of Big Data (56% vs. 53%), but also of AI (56% vs. 43%).

Both groups of respondents use virtual reality almost equally (11% for retail/e-commerce vs. 12% for all sectors), none of the retail/e-commerce managers use the metaverse vs. 2%.

Retail/e-commerce is better equipped with Big Data and AI tools

We find the same ranking of tools used in both groups of respondents, but the rates are higher for retailers/e-commerce in 4 cases out of 6:

  • 1: Data collection and analysis tools (prediction and forecasting) 67% retail/e-commerce vs 59%;
  • No. 2: Automation of managerial tasks (recruitment, reporting, etc.) tied with No. 1 for retail/e-commerce: 67% vs. 47%;
  • n°3: Micro learning, fast learning, gamification: 33% vs 31%;
  • n°4: Semantic search engine: the percentage rate is lower, 22% vs 25%;
  • n°5: Conversational assistant – chatbot – voicebot is equally widespread in both groups: 22%;
  • Emotion recognition/identification from text or voice, the technology is slightly more used according to retail/e-commerce managers:11% vs. 10%.

Managers’ expectations

Automation and predictive tools are the first objectives for retail/e-commerce managers.

For both groups, task automation is the first expectation towards technology/IA/Big Data with a percentage of 67%.

Opinions diverge: retail/e-commerce managers want these tools to help them predict their activities (56%) and increase performance (44% vs. 51%). On the other hand, their counterparts prefer to improve collective intelligence through collaborative tools (53%).

The obstacles to the development of new technologies/IA/Big Data

If the lack of training and acculturation is the first obstacle to the development of new technologies/IA/Big Data for all managers, it is felt less strongly by retail/e-commerce managers than by their colleagues (67% vs 73%).

Next comes the fear of not being able to explain/interpret the results of AI, which is stronger in retail/e-commerce (56% vs. 37%), while the cost of solutions is identified as a lesser obstacle (44% vs. 55% for all sectors).

Ethical issues are ranked 4th by 33% of retail/e-commerce managers and by 35% of all others.

Limitations of AI: cases in which a machine / AI is less efficient than humans

Retail/e-commerce managers are more tech-savvy than their counterparts and therefore were less likely to say that machine and AI are less effective than humans in :

  • animate and create cohesion in teams (67% vs 73% for other sectors)
    other sectors);
  • being creative (44% vs. 65%)
  • taking risks (only 22% vs. 55% for managers in other
    other sectors).

On the other hand, they are more likely than managers as a whole to believe that machines and AI are less effective at making reliable decisions (44% vs. 18%) and fostering collective intelligence (44% vs. 35%).

The manager of tomorrow: an augmented manager?

Retail/e-commerce managers are less familiar with the notion of the augmented manager (33% vs. 46%).

All managers agree that AI is the first characteristic of the augmented manager, with the retail/e-commerce sector being more enthusiastic than the others: 29% vs. 23%. They are very much of the same opinion regarding the ability to sort through infobesity (14%) but while retail managers place the ability to perceive weak signals (14%) in 3rd position, their colleagues opt for working collaboratively (14%).

What does it take to become an augmented retail/e-commerce manager?

Both groups have the same needs to become an augmented manager but in different proportions:

  • Training in digital strategy to create value through data is favored by retail/e-commerce managers (63% vs. 43% for others);
  • Managerial coaching to develop certain softskills – creativity, risk-taking, etc. – with almost similar percentages for all respondents (50% for retail/e-commerce vs. 49% for all sectors);
  • Training in new technologies/IA: managers in retail/e-commerce, better equipped with technological solutions, are less in demand while their counterparts cited this need first (38% vs. 57%).

The future of management

If retail/e-commerce managers are convinced that management will become more human, it is in a lower proportion than their counterparts in other sectors (67% vs 74%). On the other hand, slightly more of them believe that it will be more technological (22% vs. 20%) and almost twice as much that it will be more vertical (11% vs. 6% for all sectors combined).

Translated from L’enquête d’Axys Consultants : « IA, Tech et Data : être manager dans le retail et l’e-commerce à l’ère du management augmenté »