One of the most important international retail organizations, the NRF (National Retail Federation) represents US retailers and other retailers in more than 45 countries. One of the projects led by the NRF is the NRF Tech Forum.
The event focuses on management and information technology (IT) professionals, the development of educational programs and the promotion of discussion on issues of relevance in the area. Among this year’s speakers at NRF Tech is Gene Alvarez, vice president of market research at Gartner. His lecture “Preparing for 2020 – How the Technology Industry Will Serve Retail and Sales,” Gene makes a pretty cool comparison between technology and retail. Below is a summary of the talk and the main market trends explored by Gene:
Organizations must be ready for anything, but from Alvarez’s point of view, retailers need to do more – and they need to do it fast. This urgency, he explains, is motivated by the speed of technological development.
Ten years ago, there was no Facebook, Twitter, iPhone, Instagram or Google Wallet and there was the “Internet of Things.” The high speed with which these technologies bombard us, says Alvarez, creates the need for retailers (and others) to make new approaches and planning.
Historically, the industry tends to walk in a linear fashion. Innovations happen – the internet, social media, the explosion of the use of mobile and mobile devices – and many others, retailers look for ways to incorporate this into their business.
They adopt a website, then a fan page on Facebook, develop a mobile strategy. They tweet. The problem is that with these new approaches, says Alvarez, the tendency is for a linear path to occur. They occur at the same time and affect each other. “Trends,” he says, “emanate ideas. These ideas clash with other trends and create opportunities. ” When they are properly aligned – for example in the case of mobile and social networks and the big data – new opportunities are created.