A newly-formed ladies’ forum at Altron BMS may be the key to unlocking future retail solutions that truly enhance the customer experience.

While the tech industry has always been a historically male-dominated one, it’s the ladies that are busy collaborating at Altron Bytes Managed Solutions, as they put their best proposals forward on how to inject some out-the-box solutions into the current retail environment in South Africa.

“Retail is a strategic focus of our business. It made sense to match women and retail because of our interaction and association to retail in general,” says Shahana Jooma, Channel Manager at Altron BMS and coordinator of the fledgling forum, aptly named Women.IT@BytesMS.

“We’ve held two sessions so far – the first to set the expectations, build an innovation framework and establish the team (totalling just under 10 ladies at present) and then we sent the ladies off to come up with some innovative ideas to present at the second session, which then became an exercise in categorizing suggestions into ‘disruptive’ or ‘futuristic’ solutions that we’d like to drive and potentially bring to market as an organization,” she explains.

Going forward, the team will need to research and develop a business case for each of the selected solutions that will include potential suppliers and/or partners, commercial models, forecast pricing and use cases to position the solutions.

“We have a very dynamic group of women that each bring a special skillset with them,” says Jooma, adding that the forum welcomes industry participation and invites more women in the I.T. arena to consider “joining us here at Altron BMS for an exciting opportunity to showcase and present potentially game-changing ideas.”

“I think women bring a valuable ‘feminine edge’ to technology,” suggests Jooma, explaining that the industry in general is often focused on getting it done; about presenting the solution: “Strategies can often become overly-analytical, focusing primarily on the tech and not much beyond that, such as the ultimate customer value or experience of what’s been created. Enter the modern woman to provide the ‘extra edge’, the human touch, the practicality aspect and offer interesting insight, especially in relation to retail (hence the creation of the forum). I mean, let’s be honest, women are predominantly the ones doing the shopping and are exposed to the actual customer journey, which means that we have a greater encounter with the solution; we experience it first-hand and understand the impact from a more emotive viewpoint.”

Jooma concludes by pointing out that “there’s a strategic objective in our country to uplift women – and women are certainly at the forefront at Altron, with some strategic leadership roles within the organization being fulfilled by women, thanks to its forward thinking and all-inclusive culture.”

It’s early days still, but the group is optimistic and forging ahead to help create a simpler, smoother and smarter retail journey for us all in the future.

Watch this space…