By Christine Kern, contributing writer
Walmart has topped the list of Worldwide Top 10 IT Spenders from IDC Research. And while it might not surprise most people that Walmart spends more than its retail competitors, the study also found that the retail giant is the biggest investor in IT across industries worldwide, according to RIS News.
The retail giant has recently announced a number of new initiatives with an emphasis on technology to stay current with the pace of technology in order to meet the needs of its customers. The retailer recently named Kevin Systrom, co-founder and CEO of Instagram as a new member of their Board of Directors and Systrom will also join Walmart's Technology and e-commerce Committee and its Compensation, Nominating and Governance Committee.
Walmart has already launched a mobile app, print-at-home coupons, and introduced an electronic price-matching system known as Savings Catcher. The latter arrived in August 2014, and Walmart has mentioned Savings Catcher shall soon feature eCoupons and eReceipts. The retail giant also introduced personalized online shopping experiences based on weather, location, and previous purchases.
The IDC report, The Big Guns: IDC’s Worldwide Top 10 IT Spenders, found that Walmart spent an estimated $10.16 billion on IT expenditures, including hardware, software, IT services, telecommunication services, and internal IT spending. This is nearly double the spending of the #2 finisher, Bank of America that invested a mere $5.33 billion.
Walmart has announced that investments in e-commerce and digital initiatives are expected to range between $1.2 and $1.5 billion in fiscal year 2016, up from approximately $1.0 billion, estimated for this year, and capital investments will range between $11.6 and $12.9 billion for fiscal year 2016, including a stepped up commitment for e-commerce.
And IT is a large part of that investment in the customers. “We expect capital investments in e-commerce worldwide to be between $1.2 and $1.5 billion next year,” Holley explained, “and these investments will include technology, infrastructure and other areas to support e-commerce and digital initiatives to serve customers.”
And that is precisely what puts Walmart at the very top – without any close competition – in the IDC Study.
"The big price for us in the future goes back to this integration of digital and physical," Walmart U.S. CEO Greg Foran told RIS News. "We’re excited about that. We have some good ideas in that space and we’ve got to make sure that we develop the tools and the technology to get there."
To better serve customers across both digital and physical channels, Walmart is emphasizing four central components: its global technology platform, a next generation fulfillment network, integrating digital and physical, and talent. For Walmart, the talent portion of the investment plan is particularly important, since heightened competition for top-level digital innovators is requiring companies – like Walmart – who want stay on the cutting edge to invest heavily to attract superior talent.
"We’ve talked about the importance of investing in talent and the fact that we are building a technology company inside the world’s largest retailer," Neil Ashe, president and CEO, global e-commerce said. "In the past year, we have been able to build up our team to the critical mass needed to be that technology company. And we did it in a very selective way, bringing in some of the best talent in Silicon Valley through organic hiring and targeted acquisitions."