TORONTO: Canadian Tire, the retailer, is ramping up its digital capabilities - a challenge that requires both building flexible tools for its marketers, as well as understanding the precise role legacy systems should play.

Duncan Fulton, svp/communications and corporate affairs at Canadian Tire Corp, discussed this subject at a conference earlier this year. (For more, including further details of the company's digital strategy, read Warc's exclusive report: Canadian Tire goes head to head with "digital disruption".)

He reported that the firm has reacted to the greater complexity in the media ecosystem by significantly broadening the scope of its internal expertise.

"It was easier, frankly, ten years ago. But now, we have experts in technology development, and apps, and mobile, and social media, and affiliates, and ecommerce, and websites and digital media," he said.

Such fragmentation also impacts how the organisation chooses which digital partners to work with, not least by encouraging a natural scepticism when third parties claim to have mastered all aspects of the new-media world.

"If anyone that comes into our office says they can do it all, we throw them out, because it's not true. No one does all of this well," said Fulton.

Alongside carefully selecting its roster of providers in the digital universe, Canadian Tire is seeking to construct platforms and systems that do not effectively fall into obsolescence the moment they go live.

This problem requires considerable thought, given that the dramatic pace of change in this arena threatens to render what was once cutting-edge technology redundant in extremely short periods of time.

"We have to start building in more open platforms," Fulton continued. "Innovation is going to continue to throw new things at you. You have to have platforms you can plug in and unplug.

"You have to avoid building legacy things just for your business that cannot be used in anything that's new."

Expanding on the theme of existing systems, Fulton suggested marketers must be similarly thorough in working out their exact purpose, given some of these offerings will retain value for brands.

"You still have all of your legacy investments that are still appreciating, and those are still on the books," he said. "You still have to pay for that."

Data sourced from Warc