Expectations are high for the upcoming 100th annual NRF Convention & EXPO, produced by The National Retail Federation, Washington, D.C. Among the expected hot topics at this year’s event: mobile retailing, social networking, and sustainability.
The conference will be held at the Jacob K. Javits Center, in New York City, Jan. 9-12, 2011. Approximately 18,500 domestic and international attendees, comprised of retail executives, vendors and consultants, are expected to attend the conference to take advantage of a strong educational agenda, as well as to visit 600 vendors on the show’s EXPO floor.
Most of the retailers attending the show will share a common concern: How to gain the insight needed to survive today’s in today’s uncertain economic environment -- Experts agree that technology is key, not only to surviving in today’s altered landscape, but also to being successful. The good news is retailers are willing to make capital investments in technology, even in this recession.
In fact, global enterprise information technology spending is expected to increase 3% in 2011, the equivalent of $2.5 trillion, according to Gartner. The caveat is projects must deliver long-term benefits.
Shopper engagement: Shopper engagement is at the top of IT priority lists, and this requires bolstering multichannel strategies.
Relying on brick-and-mortar, catalogs and e-commerce channels is not enough. The shopper is calling the shots and demanding retailers use new customer-facing applications to connect with her and keep her loyalty. This is helping to drive chains’ mobile retailing strategies.
Whether considering “apps” to be accessed by smart phones or wireless tablets such as iPads, retailers are trying to grasp how mobile retailing can transform their businesses. Besides being a customer engagement tool that will enable chains to “connect” with shoppers both inside and outside of the store’s four walls, mobile retailing will also reshape internal operations from visibility into inventory to collaboration with trading partners and internal electronic communications.
NRF is so bullish on the power of mobile that it is devoting six educational sessions to the topic, including a panel discussion, “Mobile Strategy: Will It Ever Learn to Play Nice?” Among the participants Baron Concors, chief information and digital officer, Pizza Hut; Brian Bradley, executive VP, HSN.com; Cara Kinzey, senior VP IT, The Home Depot, and Michael Sajor, CTO, Ann Taylor.
Retailers will also get a view into how consumers use their smart devices to share electronic messages, pictures of merchandise and text messages with friends when making a purchase. These devices are bringing a “social” aspect back to shopping -- something that has been lacking for a long time. They are also bringing the power of social media to their mobile devices, and now they are demanding that their favorite retailers do the same.
Green: While some experts believe “green” issues may be losing a bit of steam, NRF believes sustainability is still an important priority for retailers attending the show. What keeps green front and center is that sustainability encompasses many categories that hold the potential to deliver real value to a retail operation, with regards to both cost-savings and reputation enhancement.
Garter Identifies Seven Business and IT issues that CIOS should act on: With 2011 predicted to be the year when the IT industry will reach nearly $3.5 trillion in revenue and show long-term growth for the next five years, Gartner analysts today presented business and IT issues that warrant the greatest attention and demand the clearest strategies for the future.
Gartner analysts examined the future directions of IT during Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2010, being held here through Nov. 11.
“We are increasingly living, playing and working in a digital world where people will have no alternatives but to become ‘more digital’ with the assets they have available,” said Stephen Prentice, VP and Gartner Fellow. “In 2012, the Internet will be 75 times larger than it was in 2002, and if Facebook was a country, it would be the third largest in the world (after China and India). Device and data proliferation is also a reality that cannot be escaped. Smart devices will rise from 60 billion devices in 2010 to more than 200 billion in 2020.”
“Technology is no longer the preserve of the CIO,” said Ken McGee, VP and Gartner Fellow. “It has become everyone’s property and everyone’s issue.”
With the IT industry on track to show a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 4% for the next five years Gartner has identified seven business and IT issues that CIOs should act on during the next three years. “CIOs will need to begin implementing these technologies within three years to meet the six year predictions,” McGee said. The seven issues include:
IT/OT Alignment: Inadequate software management of operational technology (OT) systems will result in a major business failure of a top Global 100 company by 2013. Executives are realizing there are cost savings and management efficiencies to be gained by integrating the IT and OT groups together. Although efforts to integrate groups are challenging, benefits from streamlined budgets, coordinated planning, consistent technology architectural decisions and maximizing technology purchasing power make for extremely compelling cases for IT and OT group integration.
Business Gets Social: Through 2015, 80% of organizations will lack a coherent approach for dealing with information from the collective. Today, social media is changing the way business is conducted. “Understanding the power of communities, the multiple personas of their members expectations, their aspirations and how to interact with them will become essential skills for business in the 21st century,” said McGee. “However, vast sums of money and enormous amounts of time will be spent during this decade and beyond to discover how IT and business leaders best capitalize on the growing spread, power and influence of social networks.”
Pattern-Based Strategy: Through 2015, pattern-seeking technology will be the fastest-growing intelligence investment among the most successful Global 2000. A Pattern-Based Strategy provides a framework to proactively seek, model and adapt to leading indicators, often-termed "weak" signals that form patterns in the marketplace. It will allow IT leaders to seek-out patterns amidst the burgeoning information sources and model future possibilities. “We have found that senior business and IT leaders see lack of information shareability as a barrier to growth,” Prentice said.
Cloud Computing: By 2016, all Global 2000 companies will use public cloud services. Cloud computing represents a shift in the relationship between the providers and consumers of IT-based solutions. It constitutes the basis of a discontinuity that amounts to a new opportunity to shape the relationship between those who use IT services and those who sell them. Gartner said worldwide cloud services revenue (including public and private services) is forecast to reach $148.8 billion in 2014.
Context-Aware Computing: By 2016, one-third of worldwide mobile consumer marketing will be context-awareness-based. Context-aware computing will foster people to be more digital with the assets they have available. Context-aware computing is taking advantage of location and time and is a new era of augmented reality. More than $150 billion of global telecom spending will shift from services to applications by 2012, and the global market for context-aware services will amount to $215 billion. “Unlocking this potential will be one of the next major challenges for IT,” said McGee. “For example, we expect 75% of new search installations to include a social search element. The world is digital and business leaders can’t ignore it.”
Sustainability: By 2016, sustainability will be the fastest-growing enterprise compliance expense worldwide. As long as the current science surrounding climate change remains credible, organizations should anticipate that the current focus on energy, water and greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions will continue, and this will draw attention to other environmental issues, such as resource depletion, species extinction, bio-diversity and environmental justice. There will remain many hard trade-offs between an organization’s financial and operational performance and that of its environmental performance. Information systems will be critical in the role -- from governance, risk and compliance, through corporate social responsibility systems, to enabling new and more-sustainable business models.
New Realities of IT: Balancing Cost and Innovation with Risk and Governance -- Innovation accomplishments will be among the top-three selection criteria for new CIOs by 2016. With the recent global recession, innovative thinkers must find new ways to create growth -- in revenue, jobs and industries -- in this new business climate. Cost and value optimization must remain a top priority, while the search for growth continues. Regulatory and corpo