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NRF’s Big Show 2020: Taking it to a new level

  • Posted on January 23, 2020
  • Estimated reading time 3 minutes
NRF Big Show 2020

Maybe my new role as Global Retail Industry Lead at Avanade has something to do with it, but this year’s National Retail Federation (NRF) annual Big Show! event seemed bigger and better than ever! The bigger part is borne out by the numbers (40,000 attendees from over 100 countries representing 16,000 retailers). The better part, while more subjective, can hardly be disputed. 

It started with the opening keynote address from Satya Nadella, Microsoft’s CEO. As you may know, Avanade is a joint venture between Microsoft and Accenture, so it was a bit like seeing your Dad up there on stage, explaining how we work as a family. Satya was very inspiring and certainly showed Microsoft’s commitment to the retail industry. It was gratifying to hear him cite relevant case studies of retail brands that are also Avanade clients. He talked a lot about data and artificial intelligence, stating that retail will use data to know its customers, empower its employees, create an intelligent supply chain and reinvent its business models. We highlighted these same themes with the retailers who visited our space and viewed demonstrations in our lab. Not that we were the only ones at NRF talking about data. It was definitely a recurring theme in conversations with clients and retail colleagues, and an area where Avanade is more than well- positioned to respond to retailers’ questions on the data topic.

Another hot topic was sustainability. Or responsible retail. Or social consciousness. Or whatever you want to call it. It reflects a growing recognition by both retailers and their customers of the impact purchases have on the environment, the planet and each other. Shoppers are demanding a new level of transparency and completeness about their purchases, whether (as we showcased in our lab) it’s the carbon footprint of the banana they are buying or where or how a particular garment is being made. 

Going back to data and AI for just a second (you can see it’s a favorite area for us!), we hosted a panel discussion on these topics at NRF, with representatives from Accenture and Microsoft and our own Marcos Suárez (Avanade Europe Retail Lead) as presenters. You can see a brief synopsis of the discussion on our website.

A new initiative for us this year was as a co-sponsor (along with Accenture, Microsoft and JDA) of the FQ Lounge. FQ stands for Female Quotient, an organization whose stated purpose is advancing equality in the workplace and the world through collaboration, bringing visibility to women, activating solutions for change and creating metrics for accountability. The FQ Lounge brought people together to connect, collaborate and learn from each other through a series of sessions and panel discussions. I was thrilled and honored to be asked to represent Avanade on one of those panels. I’ll talk more about that in a subsequent blog but let me just say that I was proud to be involved with this great organization and the work they are doing to promote diversity and inclusion in the retail industry.

It was great to see Jill Standish, Accenture and Shelley Bransten, Microsoft, retail leaders in their respective organizations, participating in their own sessions at the FQ Lounge. It’s yet another indication of the close alignment and engagement we had with Accenture and Microsoft throughout the event and an outstanding example of the role of women as transformers in the retail industry.  

We also found out that the actual physical layout of the Javits Center, where the Big Show is held every year, is expanding – a lot. They are adding on. So, next year’s event could indeed be even bigger for us but it’s hard to imagine it getting any better! We’ll see. I will keep you all posted. 

To find out more about our activities at NRF 2020, go to our NRF landing page.

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