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Survey Results Highlight that Retailers are Embracing IoT, Blockchain, and AI to Deliver Business Impact
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Retail has entered a new era where eCommerce and technology bellwethers like Alibaba, Amazon, Apple, Baidu, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and Tencent have raised consumer expectations. This research service is part of Frost & Sullivan's Integrated Commerce Research Programme. It provides an IT decision-maker perspective on the use of emerging technologies in retail as survey results highlight that retailers are embracing the Internet of Things (IoT), Blockchain/Digital Ledger Technologies (DLT), and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to deliver business impact. These three technologies stand out amongst the emerging technologies of today and will have an increasingly transformational impact on organisations in the retail sector over the next few years. They have already started to do so in highly interdependent and synergistic ways. Distributed computing will expedite IoT deployment. The expectation of 60 billion connected devices by 2024 goes hand in hand with a need for lower latency, greater cost efficiency, falling silicon costs, and demand for processing and analytics power at the edge. IoT can help level the playing field for physical stores and enable the provision of an eCommerce-like personalised experience, by establishing the critical physical-digital link. The IoT also constitutes an essential source of quality data for AI to become able to address specific use cases of which there is a continually growing number across industries and value chains, from customer-facing through core operational processes to the back-office. AI and ML are by far the most disruptive forces across the economy, the enterprise, and society at large. In retail, AI and ML will revolutionise planning, operations and fraud detection and enable personalisation at all levels. The technologies will enhance customer experience and efficiency. AI is the next general-purpose technology. It will transform the way humans interact with computers, regardless of the physical form factor. As the archetypal consumer-facing industry, retail will be at the forefront of this. DLT can provide secure storage, and validation to ensure security and drive efficiency through automation. This interdependence highlights the importance of a carefully planned digital strategy wherein deployment takes into account dependencies between technologies. The findings reflect the progress made by retailers and their keenness to continue to make investments relating to digital technologies as these promise to enable personalisation, human-machine interaction, automation and friction reduction, support greater efficiency, and the delivery of better user experiences. While not the primary value-adding case, the fact that the number of retailers accepting digital currency has grown into the hundreds of thousands shows the adoption momentum. Blockchain/DLT can help tackle many retail challenges, starting from supply chain transparency, to provenance/proof-of-origin, and secure consumer identity and privacy management. DLT-based micropayments can make loyalty programs more efficient.Author: Martin Hoff ter Heide
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