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Retail and Security Live Chat with THINK Leaders

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Woman using mobile phone while shopping in supermarket

Woman using mobile phone while shopping in supermarketEditor’s note: the live chat in the comments section is from January 28, 2016.

As key purchasing moments increasingly move online, new opportunities for retailers to enhance their customer experiences emerge. Unfortunately, so do new opportunities for cybercrime and security breaches.

Brian Kilcourse (@KilcoRSR), Managing Partner at Retail Systems Research, and Zeynep Tolon (@zeynep_bao), CMO Initiative Lead at IBM, joined us to discuss the most pressing security issues facing executives today.

To get the conversation going, we asked Brian and Zeynep their thoughts about the state of retail security. This is followed by a live chat below with the THINK Leaders community going into further detail.

As key purchasing moments increasingly move online, new opportunities for retailers to enhance their customer experiences emerge. Unfortunately, so do new opportunities for cybercrime and security breaches.

At this month’s National Retail Federation (NRF) Big Show in New York, retail leaders from around the world gathered to talk about the state of the industry. Unsurprisingly, the issue of security continued to be a popular topic. To keep up this important discussion, IBM THINK Leaders will host an online community event on January 28th from 1:00pm – 1:30pm EST. Right here on this page, experts from retail and IT security will discuss the most pressing security issues facing executives today.

Historically, what has been the relationship between retail and technology?
Brian Kilcourse: Retailers will never be accused of being early adopters of technology. Until very recently, retailers did not believe in the strategic value of information, and particularly of customer information. All that is changing now.

Why should Chief Marketing Officers should be involved in security and privacy decisions? What can they contribute to the conversation that others can’t?

Zeynep Tolon: CMOs are in a unique position to bring in the customer’s perspective and imperatives. A recent IBM study with Econsultancy surveyed 1,136 customers in America. When asked “if you were building the perfect company to serve you, what would be the most important?” 73 percent (831 out of the 1,136!) said “Very trustworthy with my data/information.” By contrast the next most popular item was “Treat me well as a loyal customer” at 56 percent. The marketing organization really understands the customer, what they are comfortable sharing, how important it is to treat their data with the respect it deserves.

What does it take for a new retail technology to be accepted by the public?
BK: I have always thought that the secret to mass acceptance of any technology is that it has to be easier to use than to ignore. In today’s context of digitally enabled consumers, that means “simple” and “relevant.” This, of course, is why Apple has been so successful–they continually “nail” the UI to the point of making the human interface transcend both language and culture.

What’s the first thing an executive should do when dealing with a data breach?
BK: The answer to that depends on how much planning the company has done to prepare for a death breach. What we see is a shocking absence of planning in many companies. But assuming there’s a plan, then the very first thing to do is to invoke the plan. If no plan, call your legal department.
ZT: CMOs are on the hook to minimize brand reputation impacts if and when a breach happens. Security breaches have disastrous impacts on company brand and reputation. Forty million credit card numbers were compromised in the Target Thanksgiving hack of 2013. The company spent $61 million in two months to cover damages from the breach. The biggest impact was the ripple effect on corporate profits for the holiday season, as Target suffered a 46 percent loss in profit from same-quarter sales year-over-year. Unfortunately this damage is only rising.

What role does the consumer have in retail tech innovation?
BK: Consumers LEAD the retail industry in tech innovation, not the other way around. Retailers have ceded “innovation” to consumers, which is one of the big reasons the industry as a whole feels so buffeted by the accelerating pace of change. The problem is that once mass consumer acceptance begins, it accelerates very quickly, and retailers are left in the dust.

What new technology will disrupt retail most within the coming years, and what are the related security challenges?
BK: Mobile has already been a huge disruption, but IoT techs will be just as big.

ZT: Cognitive computing! IBM’s Institute for Business Value (IBV), recently published a study where they surveyed 100 retail executives worldwide and found that cognitive technologies are already helping retailers transform customer experience. 91 percent of executives familiar with cognitive computing believe it will play a disruptive role in the industry.

Photo credit: LDProd/Think Stock by Getty

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