During his inaugural speech at National Retail Federations’ 2020 Vision conference on Sunday, the CEO of Microsoft urged retailers to embrace the imperative of “tech intensity”.
“What I always tell retailers is that you can’t be cool by association, by riding along with somebody else’s technology,” said Nadella, asking the audience to think what technology they can call their own. “You have to be cool on your own. You have to take pride in the digital capability that you have built. For us, our goal is to enable and empower you to have that tech intensity. It’s about helping you build your independence with IT — that’s our mission,” Microsoft’s CEO concluded.
Tech intensity for retailers means building net-new capabilities
“We refer to this concept as tech intensity – not only using technology for technology’s sake, but also using it to build net-new capabilities to propel your business forward,” explains in a recent article Shelley Bransten, corporate VP, Global Retail & Consumer Goods at Microsoft.
Bransten cited a recent Microsoft’s study which shows that more than half of retailers are already building first-party IP with advanced digital technologies as they believe that doing so is the most effective way to build a competitive advantage, particularly in the areas of customer experience and delivery of goods and services. “Taking a new technology-enabled approach to business is the formula for retail success today,” concludes Bransten.
In this regard, Nadella argued from the NRF’s 2020 Vision’s stage that the retail industry sits on the most valuable information, that based on data about consumer interests, intentions, preferences, and actions. “Retailers generate 40 terabytes of data every hour,” he said. “And not just any data — it’s the demand signal for the world.”
Intelligent retails starts with customer’s knowledge
“Intelligent retail starts with knowing your customers” according to Nadella, and serves to empower employees, enable the digital supply chain and redefine the retail experience itself.
Nadella highlighted several retailers that are deploying tech to reinvent themselves. In this regard, it’s worth recalling that H&M Group has partnered with Microsoft and partner Ombori to re-imagine the garment recycling program they launched in 2013 in the U.S. with new “smart” recycle bins that offer engaging experiences to customers. These bins have a digital screen that serves up discount codes and engagement opportunities (pictures, social prompts, etc.) to customers who donate, and digital scales within the bins allow each store to quantify the impact its customers are having in real time.
Image: Satya Nadella, Chief Executive Officer, Microsoft. Credits: NRF 2020 Vision, New York. National Retail Federation.