IBM CEO Believes Big Data Will Change Retail

Speaking at the NRF conference in New York during Monday’s keynote session, IBM CEO Ginni Rometty noted that a new era of value is shifting in business, thanks to the explosion of data.

80% of the data produced has been created in the past two years. What’s more, researchers predict an 800% grow in data in the next 5 years. This means, in all industries, particularly retail, technology and data will have influence in unprecedented ways.

Here are 3 emerging technology trends will have impact in the retail world, according to Rometty:

Big Data
An obvious buzzword for the last couple of years, Rometty believes it’s actually under hyped and will become the world’s vast new natural resource. Where almost everyone will have access to some part of the 2.5 quintillion bytes of data that is generated each day. However, the value only goes to those who refine it. This translates in the world of retail where information will be the basis of competitive advantage. And stores will be the greater source of data to come.

On average, a retail chain has over 450 specialized applications. These applications are usually not integrated or are unable to ingrate with other systems. By investing in cloud computing you are just not only investing in technology but you are investing in a new business model. A model where retailers will know the placement of data and knowing where it is and what it’s doing is critical. Ginni believes those who adopt the cloud will benefit from agility, speed, privacy and security.

Cognitive Computing
A new topic we do not hear much about in the retail industry is cognitive computing. Rometty believes this is the 3rd major era when it comes to computers. The first was an era where systems counted, in the second systems were programmable.

“This era is the cognitive era,” said Rometty, “We’re going to see services and systems that learn, you don’t program them. These systems are taught, learn by experience and interaction, and get smarter and better at time. It’s not a search engine, it will know the implication of a question and ask one back.”

A major theme at NRF’s Big Show this year was how retail will change in the next five years and retailers must be prepared to adapt to unforeseen shifts in the landscape. According to Rometty, cognitive computing might be a major player in interpreting the mound of data available to retailers and help them find new solutions to react to these changes.