Technology Record - Issue 23: Winter 21/22

163 problem, but now app development is being democratised and moving beyond professional developers into the hands of ‘citizen developers’. They include everyone from designers and marketers to salespeople, customer service professionals and others, which offers exciting opportunities for the future.” Several retailers have already invested in developing low-code/no-code apps to improve processes and empower employees. Multinational clothing retailer H&M, for example, has built 1,500 apps that collectively have around 30,000 global users. “H&M has transformed from a clothing designer with no previous coding experience to a pro developer looking for a faster alternative to custom coding,” says Bransten. “A prime example is the FLEXI app, which was designed to help H&M’s teams locate workers and understand their working hours after many employees transitioned to remote working across multiple locations and time zones. “There are lots more stories like this – US-based office supply retailer Office Depot, for instance, has saved more than $100,000 by building over 30 apps with Power Apps. It has also created a Citizen Developer programme, allowing it to use Microsoft Teams to virtually train business users to leverage our Power Platform.” Against this backdrop of constant innovation, Bransten predicts that retailers will need to become more agile to ensure they can quickly adapt and remain competitive as the industry continues to evolve in 2022 and beyond. “There’s always something new for retailers to address and the industry’s speed clock has truly changed, so it’s critical that they can move fast,” she says. “That’s why the cloud is emerging as the business platform for the digital economy.” Bransten recommends that retailers take inspiration from technology companies by adopting a growth mindset and building a culture that embraces and empowers innovation. “They should test new ideas and innovations, learn, and ‘blitzscale’ them if they prove successful,” she says. “To do this, however, they must implement a platform with the capabilities that help them run their businesses today and provide opportunities to innovate, grow and move in new directions in the future. That’s where Microsoft’s technologies become the key ingredients for their success. “Microsoft’s mission statement is to empower every person and every organisation on the planet to achieve more. Microsoft Cloud for Retail is helping us to fulfil this goal by empowering retailers and partners to build their own tech intensity, so they can become independent with us, not dependent on us.” R E TA I L & C PG