Retail and Big Data form a natural partnership. Companies want to be able to best serve their customers, consumers want the best possible experience, and the widespread availability of information has proven to be an efficient way to bridge that gap. It's no surprise, then, that this relationship was all the buzz at this year's National Retail Federation convention.
Hundreds of vendors gathered to show off and discuss their wares, which is good news for related industries like software and analytics. These ancillary businesses found that retailers were much more likely to spend on their services, indicating that there was a definite shift towards respect for the utility of Big Data.
Even in a slowly improving economy, many retailers are feeling the squeeze and have had to slash prices to drive sales numbers. It's no wonder that they're coming to the conclusion that a FileMaker developer could be the key to their concerns: the better they can discover and target their intended market, the more readily they will be able to convert consumers.
Ginni Rommetty, chairman and chief executive of IBM, addressed a fascinated crowd on Monday.
"This is a new era of man-machine collaboration," she said.
She went on to explain that the very same sort of technology that allowed her company's Watson computer to handily defeat Jeopardy champions could be applied to learning more about what people like to buy, and why. In fact, she went on to say that this sort of data gathering will be as germane to business as steam in the 1700s and electricity in the 1800s.
And if the buzz around the convention floor is any indication, few, if any, of these companies want to be left out in the cold.