Technology trends Impacting Enterprise Business Environment and Retail Industry

There are a couple of trends that are both fascinating and also have great potential to transform businesses, government and eventually society.

The first is the digitization of physical space. The megatrend is the Internet, but creating capabilities within physical space that matches and goes beyond what we can deliver to customers, constituents, companies and colleagues via online channels has a great deal of potential to transform the world we live in. This digitization process is being driven by several technologies including LBS (location-based services), sensor networks, big data analytics, web service-orientation, scaling technologies, in memory data grids, complex event processing, marketing technology innovation, and eventually augmented reality that is fashionable and doesn’t feel awkward to use. The end game is to integrate all these technologies well, in a way that is unique to the problems we’re solving, and deliver new value to the world. In the early stages that new value will take the form of detecting cart abandonment in physical retail locations, recognizing assistance a customer requires via both the browse behavior within a retail location and their web browse behavior prior to entering the physical store, and using contextual awareness to generate recommendations during a customer’s visit to a retail channel regardless of whether that channel is digital or physical. The possibilities are truly endless, and toward the end of this process we’ll all be amazed at the creativity technologists have shown in digitizing our physical world. The technologies required to do these things exist or are in the process of iterative improvement. The business models, integration approaches, and creativity that drive new value are in the early stages of development. All CIOs should be thinking about what this trend means to the delivery of new value to their businesses, and assessing organizational initiatives where strategic foresight can be applied to opportunities driven by the digitization of physical space.

The second trend I'm seeing has the potential, unfortunately, to upend the first. Consumers of technology are more cognizant of how their personal information is managed, and protected. They also are becoming increasingly aware that the data they generate is considered by the technology industry to be owned by companies or infrastructures – not themselves. So, the trend here is an increasing awareness by consumers of the potential for intrusion on a new category of personal rights. The IT profession has made strides toward the understanding of human-centric design; however, technology has outpaced our ability to fully deliver on the promise of human-centric design. We must generate design results that fully take into account security, privacy controls for collection and use, consumer preference management, and privacy change management. The technology industry will need to develop solutions that allow consumers to first be aware, and then better manage the data they establish. CIOs will need to become consumer privacy champions. If we don’t the result could be retrenchment, the suboptimal delivery of new value, or enabling regulating entities to have more of a presence in how we can, or cannot, innovate our businesses.