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NRF 2015
I am on my way to New York City tomorrow! The National Retail Federation, NRF, begins every new year with its ”Big Show” starting Saturday and running through next Wednesday. And while the Consumer Electronics Show, CES, held in Las Vegas just ended this week, if you’re a retail fanatic, as I am, NYC is the place to be. All the same CES, with its vast array of next generation gadgets on display –every geek’s joy– screamed connected this and connected that with the Internet, a new Smartphone, or wearables, and I have to admit to being a bit envious this year. Still, where these technologies meet commerce –with all their implications for retailers, suppliers and shoppers­– is at the NRF, held in the cavernous Javits Convention Center. This, too, is a big, splashy, and circus-like affair, but if you can get past the commercial cadence (Though why would you want to?) you’ll also find an amazing amount of new information to gorge on and brilliant new ideas to share with a cohort of world-class thought leaders, technology enablers and other assorted players. And that’s exactly why Perficient is attending this year.
As I pack, I’m reminded of Arthur C. Clark who famously said, “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.”  With the new power of advanced analytics, data visualization and machine learning being applied to the process of analytics itself, we are now moving into a brave new world of real insights, teased from actionable data, built for and being leveraged by marketers and merchants looking to connect with today’s Connected Consumer. And, let’s not forget all the associates who still make stores special, magical places worth visiting, because how they are enabled with their new devices will also be a big part of next week’s discussions.
We often say 2020 is hindsight, but my prediction is that 2015 may very well mark the inflection point for retailers and their supplier partners as they collectively move from legacy processes and POS systems to a future filled with real-time mobile check-out, virtual dressing rooms, and other novel means for making the customer experience fresh and exciting again.
So, I’m going to this year’s show with the anticipation that the industry is aggressively moving from past tense to future tense in terms of not just hardware, software and analytics thinking, but with a sense of great possibility built on re-invention for a new age.  Since it doesn’t do much good to invest in a faster horse if your competition is buying a car, the timing seems right!
Will update you from the floor and while walking the streets of Manhattan.

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Michael Forhez

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