What Did We Learn at the 105th NRF Show?

What do we know now that the conference is in the rearview mirror?

NRF Entrance

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In 1911 William Howard Taft was the President of the United States, the toy game The Erector Set was introduced to the world, the first seaplane was invented, and the very first National Retail Federation (NRFG) convened known then as National Retail Dry Goods Association (NRDGA).  105 years later the NRF show is the largest and most prominent retail industry event globally with more than 30,000+ attendees from all over the globe flocking to freezing cold New York City in January. 

The NRF released an interesting video recap of the 2016 show.  Since this was my 10th NRF show I thought I would provide my point of view on NRF 2016 from a business intelligence perspective along with a few other random thoughts…..

NRF booth 

The top three themes I picked up on at NRF 2016 that applied to retail business intelligence were:

  1. Digital, Digital, Digital – The 2015 NRF theme was concisely summarized by the JDA CEO in his keynote speech, “Brick is the New Black”.  This year almost every conversation I had in reference to retail business intelligence was about digital analytics and growing the e-commerce channel.  This took me by surprise, but was a very consistent theme across dozens of different retailers.  I believe this is because retailers are finally getting their arms around e-commerce and now they want to make the most of it, and what better way to do that than with analytics.

  2. Data-As-A-Service Matters - As I walked through the NRF show I realized how many technology vendors are getting into the business of data-as-a-service.  In particular offering benchmarks that are industry or functionally driven for the purpose of goal setting and comparison. This is a competitive advantage internal data alone will never provide.  It also represents a real opportunity for retailers to invest in more than just a business intelligence tool, but rather a business intelligence platform which provides packaged and cleansed benchmarking data sets along with advanced analytics and elegant visualizations.

  3. RFID is Here to Stay – The Internet of Things is the latest technology buzzword that has a nebulous definition behind it, but the closest tangible example in the retail industry is around RFID tags.  Levi Strauss & Intel sponsored an NRF exhibit which showcased an RFID system that provided near real-time information on inventory.  Quite a bit of RFID technology for in-store inventory management is still being piloted by early adopters, but the potential for real-time tracking of inventory is obvious.  In the business intelligence world this is another opportunity to tap into large detailed data sets that will flow in from systems outside of traditional retail systems. 

While there were plenty of other topics like artificial intelligence which received quite a bit of attention at NRF 2016 I believe Digital, Data-As-A-Service, and RFID are near-term topics that are red hot which can be significantly enhanced with an agile business intelligence platform.  Find out for yourself, and take the Qlik Digital Analytics Application, developed with Teradata and Celebrus for a test drive, and get ahead of the competition in 2016!

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