This year’s National Retail Federation’s Big Show 2014 gave us the opportunity to touch base with great companies, including our clients, Amazon and Logility. We were impressed with NRF’s line-up of speakers and roundtable events emphasizing technology’s continued influence on the industry. It probably comes as no surprise that retail will continue to be revolutionized by technology in 2014.
“I am excited about a new era of value,” IBM CEO Ginni Rometty said as she ended her keynote address in front of a full house at New York’s Javits Center. It’s easy to see why. At the center of her message, Rometty maintains that information is the basis for competitive advantage, regardless of industry, and new-era technology is revolutionizing that information.
Technology companies focused on retail clients, will be encouraged by the points of view communicated to retailers by presenters and journalists related to the Big Show:
Rometty dispelled the notion that “big data” is simply an overhyped buzzword. Addressing the keynote audience she said, “I really believe that this idea of information is going to be our world, our generation’s next natural resource.” According to Rometty the term has been under-hyped. In a related blog post for Forbes, Oracle’s John Foley pointed out that analytics brings science to the art of the sale. Businesses have already collected mountains of data. Indeed, Science Daily estimates that 90% of the world’s data has been generated in just over the last two years.
Cognitive Computing/The New Era
Growing, learning, mastering are no longer skills only associated with living species. Computers are quickly advancing beyond machines that can be programmed, becoming systems that gain in dexterity and competence by doing and interacting. Examples of this were in evidence at the Big Show. Rometty’s keynote featured an impressive example of IBM’s Watson system at work at NorthFace. The outdoor performance equipment and apparel retailer hopes that Watson’s cognitive era computing will help it build a better online experience. Quickly learning and adapting to a shopper’s preferences and educating that unique visitor, as a sales associate would do in-store, builds loyalty.
Go Social/Get Out There
As Foley points out, retailers are already out there; it’s time to take full advantage of the customer engagement that they currently enjoy. The best retailers have already adapted to social media’s mega-impact. But it’s not the only component to growing good visibility. Multiple, meaningful “touches” builds client awareness and drives sales in a way that single-touch channels can no longer accomplish. In addition, clients are targeted and captured more rapidly, maximizing relationships and growing sales. Now is the time to get out there and broaden your visibility.
Both Rometty and Foley agree that this new era of technology is transforming Retail – and the race is on for Technology companies serving the industry. With the breadth of technologies that Retail companies must consider, Technology companies must not only differentiate, but move quickly to engage with Retail prospects in meaningful dialogue that breaks through the noise.