Sofa Sunday and Cyber Monday take on Black Friday in the Battle for Christmas Sales
As the horror or delight of Christmas shopping looms for millions across Europe, the battle between the high street and internet for the festive retail rush intensifies.
Traditional modes of shopping on foot have been eroded by the emergence of E and now M-commerce, and another record year is predicted in terms of the numbers of goods purchased on tablets and smartphones.
To gauge an idea of the comparative strength of Christmas online and high street retail, the season of good will can be reduced down to two or three days – Sofa Sunday, Cyber Monday and Black Friday.
Sofa Sunday represents the day where people are most likely to sit down at home and buy presents online, with Black Friday comprising the frenzy to secure the best deals and finish the job (or in many cases, start and finish the job).
This year in the UK, Sofa Sunday is set for November 30, and retailers predict that millions of British shoppers will make significant inroads into their list of gifts. It will also be a weekend of huge pressure for the various supply chains and delivery units of major sellers.
Black Friday falls on November 28 in the UK, with E-commerce giant Amazon already promising 40 percent off deals in its bid to keep people at home before Sofa Sunday and Cyber Monday on December 1.
Many stores are beginning Black Friday sales on Monday November 24 to encourage greater footfall and away from couch commerce.
Last year the high street was pummelled by atrocious weather, not helped by the ever-advancing online sector which is now bolstered by more flexible deliveries and discount deals than ever before. Parking charges are another gripe of many high-street turned sofa shoppers.
On Boxing Day 2013 alone, UK online sales grew by 40 percent on 2012 according to IBM, and sales via mobile grew by 63 percent.
The trend is set to continue this Christmas. Will retailers endure another difficult year as more consumers stay at home to tick off large portions of their shopping lists.
SAS: Improving the British Army’s decision making with data
SAS’ long-standing relationship with the British Army is built on mutual respect and grounded by a reciprocal understanding of each others’ capabilities, strengths, and weaknesses. Roderick Crawford, VP and Country GM for SAS UKI, states that the company’s thorough grasp of the defence sector makes it an ideal partner for the Army as it undergoes its own digital transformation.
“Major General Jon Cole told us that he wanted to enable better, faster decision-making in order to improve operational efficiency,” he explains. Therefore, SAS’ task was to help the British Army realise the “significant potential” of data through the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to automate tasks and conduct complex analysis.
In 2020, the Army invested in the SAS ‘Viya platform’ as an overture to embarking on its new digital roadmap. The goal was to deliver a new way of working that enabled agility, flexibility, faster deployment, and reduced risk and cost: “SAS put a commercial framework in place to free the Army of limits in terms of their access to our tech capabilities.”
Doing so was important not just in terms of facilitating faster innovation but also, in Crawford’s words, to “connect the unconnected.” This means structuring data in a simultaneously secure and accessible manner for all skill levels, from analysts to data engineers and military commanders. The result is that analytics and decision-making that drives innovation and increases collaboration.
Crawford also highlights the importance of the SAS platform’s open nature, “General Cole was very clear that the Army wanted a way to work with other data and analytics tools such as Python. We allow them to do that, but with improved governance and faster delivery capabilities.”
SAS realises that collaboration is at the heart of a strong partnership and has been closely developing a long-term roadmap with the Army. “Although we're separate organisations, we come together to work effectively as one,” says Crawford. “Companies usually find it very easy to partner with SAS because we're a very open, honest, and people-based business by nature.”
With digital technology itself changing with great regularity, it’s safe to imagine that SAS’ own relationship with the Army will become even closer and more diverse. As SAS assists it in enhancing its operational readiness and providing its commanders with a secure view of key data points, Crawford is certain that the company will have a continually valuable role to play.
“As warfare moves into what we might call ‘the grey-zone’, the need to understand, decide, and act on complex information streams and diverse sources has never been more important. AI, computer vision and natural language processing are technologies that we hope to exploit over the next three to five years in conjunction with the Army.”
Fundamentally, data analytics is a tool for gaining valuable insights and expediting the delivery of outcomes. The goal of the two parties’ partnership, concludes Crawford, will be to reach the point where both access to data and decision-making can be performed qualitatively and in real-time.
“SAS is absolutely delighted to have this relationship with the British Army, and across the MOD. It’s a great privilege to be part of the armed forces covenant.”