From Comm-Works to EarthLink, managed services providers (MSPs), cloud providers and technology companies are invading Retail's Big Show 2016 -- hosted by the National Retail Federation (#NRF16) this week in Manhattan.
The conference shows just how aggressively MSPs, cloud providers and tech companies are working to empower customers in the retail vertical. The opportunities and challenges, predictably, revolve around:
- Closer customer engagements across cloud services and mobile apps.
- Better business intelligence, analytics and big data services to analyze and monetize customer habits.
- Security and privacy enhancements to address compliance mandates.
NRF16 Technology News and Trends
Along the key IT moves so far at the conference:
- Comm-Works is showcasing a range of managed services at the retail conference. The services include physical security and video surveillance systems; point of sale (PoS) and network monitoring; and business continuity services.
- EarthLink has launched a Cloud Vendor Selection Advisory Service to help retailers select a cloud-based platform ideally suited to their business and technical needs. The company is pitching a Cloud Express service, which claims to help retailers connect reliability to Amazon Web Services, Microsoft Azure, IBM SoftLayer, Rackspace and CloudSigma. EarthLink also is discussing a Cloud and Network Maturity Assessment tool, which helps retailers gauge their progress moving to the cloud.
- Microsoft is pitching Windows 10 for Point of Sale (PoS) and other retail systems. The company also is pointing customers and partners to Windows 10 solutions that are specifically designed for retailers.
- Orckestra is partnering with Microsoft Dynamics to help retailers, grocers, and branded manufacturers to leverage Unified Commerce in the Cloud.
- SAS Institute is demonstrating how SAS Analytics for retail and SAS Customer Intelligence allow retailers to sense where customers are, what they're doing and how to better organize in-store associates to assist those customers. The solutions marry a retailer's in-store data with online data.
- VMware is evangelizing End-User Computing solutions, which are deployed within 19 of the 20 top U.S. retailers, the company asserts. Many of the deployments involve beacons, digital displays, kiosks and tablets, the company adds.
Retail Technology Trends
Generally speaking, retailers are trying to navigate five big tech trends in 2016, according to Larry Alton. They include:
- The growth of mobile POS solutions
- Use of location-based services
- In-store digital displays
- More omni-channel strategies
- Augmented and virtual reality
Business intelligence and big data are noticeably absent from that list. Overall, channel partners are somewhat late to the big data discussion but some partners are already cashing in on the trend.