Industry Insights

7 Top 2016 Highlights from Insights on Business for Retail

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For many retailers, 2016 was a year to forget. In an industry ripe with digital disruption and in a world generally filled with immense uncertainty, this year housed many surprised that weren’t necessarily friendly to consumer-facing industries.

However, even in the midst of all of the chaos, there were some high points of 2016, and we want to take a moment to reflect on the highlights as we see them on the Insights on Business for Retail blog.

At NRF 2016, IBM ushered in the Cognitive Era, showing retailers and CP brands that it is possible to battle digital disruption by leveraging the very same technologies that are causing digital disruption. Hear Mark Yourek, as he explains how IBM Watson can bring about relevancy for retailers. Also, consider getting access to two full length demos, including the Relevant, Responsive Retailing demo that Mark is discussing in this blog.

Just after NRF 2016, IBM was on display once again at the Mobile World Congress 2016 to show how IBM Interactive Experience (iX) is redefining mobile customer experience. Journalists from The Drum did a series of videos laying out the highlights from IBM at the event. They are certainly worth a watch!

The Fung Group, under the direction of retail icon Victor Fung, has built an interactive consumer research lab in Shanghai, all powered by IBM technology. At NRF 2016, Jenn Liu of Fung Group and Jerry Edmunds of IBM explore the Explorium, and take a look at all of the technology that serves as its backbone.

Before 2016, we knew that customer expectations were on the rise — but did we know they were dissatisfied with modern shopping experiences? The IBM 2016 Global Customer Experience Index is a large, in-depth global study, mystery-shopping 550 retailers across 23 countries to see what customers were expecting in shopping experiences and how retailers were measuring up. At the link above, read Patricia Waldron’s overview of the study, or visit the study landing page to further investigate.

After NRF 2016, IBM Retail hosted a CrowdChat, polling retail experts from Retail Systems Research, Elie Tahari and IBM about the issues that they consider most important in today’s industry. Those insights were formed into a free eBook — the Relevant, Responsive Retailing eBook — to give retailers an overview of what’s important in the industry and of the importance of technologies like cognitive computing.

Have you ever seen a dress that can think? This year, Marchesa, in partnership with IBM, created a dress with cognitive technology quite literally sewn into the fabric. This dress, featured at this year’s Met Gala, can change in color based on social sentiment. For more information on the story, see Melanie Rose’s recap above or visit our IBM booth at NRF 2017 (#1720).

In the 2016 Global Customer Experience Index, consumers identified that one of the most important things that mattered to them was a personalized shopping experience, yet these sorts of expectations are difficult to reach at scale, with many retailers’ large shopper bases. Now, that can be achieved on a neighborhood level by pulling in multiple sources of local data, such as social media data, local events and weather data. Hear more in this blog as Colm O’Brien unpacks this new solution.


While 2016 has been a difficult year for retailers, technological developments this year have paved the way for a bright future in 2017.  In fact, IBM Watson has already made quite the splash in the new year, and we expect that this is only the beginning. Throughout this next year, stay tuned to the Insights on Business blog for more insights on IBM and the Retail Industry.

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