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How Big Data, IoT, Robotics and Modern Tech Are Revolutionizing the Retail Industry

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How Big Data, IoT, Robotics and Modern Tech Are Revolutionizing the Retail Industry

How Big Data, IoT, Robotics and Modern Tech Are Revolutionizing the Retail Industry

Modern technologies such as big data, internet of things (IoT) and robotics have gifted the retail sector with several advancements.

Hence, the retail sector is going through a revolution that has led to the creation of retail 4.0.

Since 2014, the retail industry sales have been rising at a steady rate. In 2020 alone, the retail industry sales were recorded to be around $18.5 trillions. One of the factors responsible for the steady growth of the retail sector is the rise of digitization and modern technology, which lead to the birth of retail 4.0. After the introduction of advanced technologies, several processes in retail workflow such as purchase, inventory management, customer service, accounts, and supply chain management became automated. Enhanced communication platforms have created a more connected landscape across the board. Thus, the retail industry is witnessing a shift in the work culture with the help of retail 4.0, giving rise to innovative business models. Another benefit of digitization in retail is the adoption of a data-driven approach that has given rise to consumer-centric product strategies.

Technology Trends Driving Retail 4.0

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Big Data

In today’s digital world, data is currency. Data is collected everywhere whether you are signing up for a new social network or looking to adopt a pet. Similarly, data is collected at every stage of a supply chain and in every department of the retail industry. With big data in retail, the accumulated data can be used for analysis and for building effective strategies.

Data helps retailers understand their consumers and the demographics they belong to. Such data-based insights offer an informative approach for recognizing consumer demands by identifying which products and services have a high demand and which products are not doing well in the market. By analyzing market sales and performance for their products, retailers can make informed investment decisions. As an additional benefit, consumer data helps in determining the price that consumers find suitable for a product. Big data analytics enables businesses to explore the changing industry trends and niche consumer demands. Retail store giant, Target, created a pregnancy prediction model with the help of their baby-shower registry, purchase patterns, customer support queries, credit card use, survey responses, website use, and personal data. The model distributed baby product promotions to specific customers in a timely manner based on their stages of pregnancy. Hence, gathering consumer data creates a consumer-centric business atmosphere that caters to individual consumer needs.

Industrial IoT

Industrial IoT is one of the major contributors to the development of retail 4.0. IoT is consistently innovating the retail industry. IoT sensors help in creating an interactive environment across the board. The retail industry has realized the potential of IoT, which explains why 70% of retail decision makers globally want to adopt IoT for delivering better consumer experiences.

With IoT sensors, field devices can interact with each other and provide real-time updates to the concerned parties. IoT sensors can be installed to monitor expensive machines and equipment used for inventory management, production, and transportation purposes. IoT applications enable predictive maintenance of equipment, saving expenses incurred on equipment failure. IoT is giving rise to ‘smart’ retail stores that are connected with RFID tags. RFID tags help in the real-time management of stores. Similarly, IoT sensors can be used to track inventory levels of stores and warehouses. With such sensors, retailers will be notified if their inventory is running out of products and restock when required. At checkouts, consumers can scan IoT-powered tags and pay via mobile apps. Furthermore, retail stores can deploy beacons to alert customers about promotions and discounts when they are near certain products. Retail stores can also install smart shelves that scan RFID tags of products and measure their weight to monitor the availability of products on the shelves. When the shelves are empty, smart shelves alert the store owners. Such efforts can also enable theft prevention in the store.

Cloud Computing

A transparent business approach is one of the top priorities of retail 4.0. Cloud computing allows sharing crucial data and documents across various channels whenever required. Due to its online nature, cloud computing proves to be more secure compared to the traditional methods. Moreover, cloud computing helps in horizontal and vertical system integration by providing a transparent medium for tracking the exact status of consignments, stock-outs, high inventories and the digital documents received from suppliers, logistics providers, brokers, and carriers. Developers are constantly improving cloud computing to make the technology faster and more secure than ever. Therefore, cloud computing and retail 4.0 are together promoting data-driven business practices.

Additive Manufacturing

Modern technologies have developed new and innovative production techniques to ensure efficient and cost-effective manufacturing processes. Additive manufacturing techniques such as 3D printing are widely used to produce prototypes. But, in the era of retail 4.0, additive manufacturing is revolutionizing the supply chains by reducing material input and costs. With additive manufacturing, production processes will be simplified to enable large-scale production of products. Also, simpler machine-powered production processes will reduce the labor requirement.

With further developments in the technology, the production of new products that meet the changing customer demands will be quicker. Furthermore, additive manufacturing can also be used as a backup to traditional manufacturing techniques in the event of equipment failures.

Robotics

Robots are already extensively used for manufacturing operations in factories. But with the introduction of retail 4.0, autonomous robots have found mainstream applications such as in-store customer service, warehouse management, and delivery services. After much research and development, all logistics and delivery tasks will be handled by autonomous vehicles.

In-store customer service robots guide customers across various sections of the store and help them find the required products. For example, Fellow Robots has developed LoweBot for the retail home improvement chain Lowe’s. Customers can ask questions or type them using the touchscreen on Lowebot and the bot resolves the queries or guides customers to their products. As an additional feature, Lowebot also performs inventory tracking across the aisles. Likewise, Chloe, Best Buy’s in-house robotics solution picks out products and merchandise from the shelves using a robotic arm as per consumer requests. Chloe also tracks shopping trends to refresh the inventory. Then there is Domino’s that’s deployed Domicopter, a drone, to deliver food to customers.

Augmented Reality

Although augmented reality is still a relatively fresh technology, industrialists are investing in the research and development of its innovative use cases. Currently, augmented reality is used for numerous functions like selecting warehouse parts and sending repair instructions with mobile apps.

Online retailers are already providing mobile apps that help consumers “try out” clothes or virtually place furniture to check if it fits with their interior design. Several consumers are also using IBM app and Google Lens to scan products for information.

Roadmap for Adapting to Retail 4.0

Retail 4.0 has led to the creation of more efficient and productive business practices with the help of advanced technologies. Big players are already using cost-effective alternatives for traditional methods. Businesses are now focusing on creating seamlessly integrated and data-driven business models. Such business models prioritize end-to-end transparency and communication to fulfill consumer demands and manage inventories. But, planning and implementation of such business practices along with the deployment of the necessary technologies is a complicated task. Hence, organizations need a roadmap to approach retail 4.0 in the most effective way possible. The roadmap involves the following steps:

  • Since several technologies and business models are required for adapting to retail 4.0, hiring experienced professionals with niche skills is essential.

  • Creating effective strategies and allocating sufficient budget for infrastructure.

  • Updating existing systems to integrate new technologies.

  • Generating analytics to understand the changing industry trends as well as the organization’s performance in the market.

  • Educating employees about every technology being deployed and the effects of such technologies on the work culture.

  • Promoting the development of applications that ensure better consumer experience.

In the near future, blockchain will be a part of the global retail market where payrolls, supply chain management, investments, and purchases will be handled with the help of a transparent ledger. Therefore, the possibilities for retail 4.0 are endless. Hence, retail organizations need to stay updated about new technologies and business practices and adopt a holistic approach for retail 4.0.


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The Dark Side of Killer Drones

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The Dark Side of Killer Drones

Killer drones, also known as unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), have been a topic of much debate in recent years.

On one hand, these drones have the potential to be used for a variety of beneficial purposes, such as surveillance, search and rescue, and targeted killing of terrorists. On the other hand, there are serious concerns about the potential negative consequences of using killer drones, such as the loss of innocent lives, violation of international laws, and the psychological impact on both the drone operators and the communities affected. In this article, we will explore the dark side of killer drones.

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Source: Crown Copyright/ BBC

1. More Innocent Casualties

One of the primary concerns about the use of killer drones is the risk of innocent casualties. Drones are often used in conflict zones, where the situation is often complex and fluid, making it difficult to accurately identify targets. As a result, there have been numerous reports of innocent civilians being killed or injured in drone strikes. For example, a report by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism estimated that between 384 and 807 civilians have been killed in drone strikes in Pakistan between 2004 and 2019.

2. Violation of International Laws

Another major concern about the use of killer drones is the potential violation of international laws. The use of drones in conflict zones raises questions about the legality of targeted killings, the right to due process, and the protection of civilians. The United Nations has called for greater transparency and accountability in the use of drones, and several human rights organizations have criticized the use of drones as a violation of international law. For instance, in 2013, a report by Human Rights Watch found that the US drone program in Yemen was violating international law, including the right to life and the prohibition against arbitrary killing.

3. Psychological Impact on Operators

The use of killer drones also has a significant psychological impact on the operators who are responsible for carrying out the strikes. Drone operators often suffer from symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), anxiety, and depression. This is partly due to the fact that drone operators are often required to carry out long-distance killings, often for extended periods of time, and the fact that they are often isolated from the consequences of their actions. For example, a study by the University of Utah found that drone operators were more likely to experience symptoms of PTSD and depression compared to other military personnel.

4. Stronger Dammage on Communities

The use of killer drones also has a significant psychological impact on the communities affected by the strikes. The constant threat of drone attacks can cause significant stress and anxiety, leading to social and economic disruption. For instance, a report by the International Human Rights and Conflict Resolution Clinic found that drone strikes in Pakistan had a significant psychological impact on the local population, including symptoms of anxiety, stress, and depression.

Conclusion

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Sources: Thales, General Atomics, Northdrop Grumman, EMT Penzberg, Prox Dynamics | © DW

The use of killer drones raises serious concerns about the potential for innocent casualties, violation of international laws, and the psychological impact on both the drone operators and the communities affected. The negative consequences of using killer drones far outweigh the benefits, and it is imperative that steps are taken to limit their use and ensure greater transparency and accountability. The international community must work together to establish clear guidelines for the use of drones, to ensure that they are used only in a manner that is consistent with international law and human rights.

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Vodafone Ireland turns to Amdocs to drive enhanced customer experience

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Cloud Computing News

Duncan is an award-winning editor with more than 20 years experience in journalism. Having launched his tech journalism career as editor of Arabian Computer News in Dubai, he has since edited an array of tech and digital marketing publications, including Computer Business Review, TechWeekEurope, Figaro Digital, Digit and Marketing Gazette.


Vodafone Ireland has chosen Amdocs, a provider of software and services to communications and media companies, to transition its infrastructure and application workloads to the cloud, enabling an enhanced customer experience and rapid adoption of the latest 5G innovations.

Under the agreement, Amdocs Customer Experience Suite (CES) will migrate from Vodafone Ireland on-premise to the cloud, providing the Irish operator with greater flexibility and capacity to support its future growth.  

Mairead Cullen, CIO at Vodafone Ireland, said: “Moving to the cloud is a key part of our strategy as we look to become even more dynamic, agile and responsive to our customers’ needs. We have a long-standing relationship with Amdocs and we’re pleased to be collaborating with them on this important initiative.”

Anthony Goonetilleke, group president of technology and head of strategy at Amdocs, said: “By migrating its IT services infrastructure to the cloud, Vodafone Ireland can ensure it has the foundations in place to achieve growth and further enhance the experience of its customers.

“We are excited to be taking such a central role in the company’s cloud strategy.”

Want to learn more about cybersecurity and the cloud from industry leaders? Check out Cyber Security & Cloud Expo taking place in Amsterdam, California, and London.

Explore other upcoming enterprise technology events and webinars powered by TechForge here.

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How to Align Data and Analytics Governance with Business Outcomes

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How to Align Data and Analytics Governance with Business Outcomes

With access to large amounts of data made available to businesses, maintaining and governing the kind of data that is accessible to users have become significantly essential.

Proper data and analytics governance in organizations can help them in achieving on-point data and analytics processes.

The use of data and analytics is increasing across practically all industries. Due to the availability of inexpensive storage alternatives, organizations have access to more data. It’s not surprising that the usage of analytics due to access to extensive data has expanded to every part of the company when you take into account the growing number of user-friendly tools for managing, retrieving, and analyzing data. 

However, a lot of effort goes into managing data and analytics. Thus, organizations must ensure that their efforts are aligned with their business priorities, and the data is accurate in nature and thoroughly secured. Without analytics governance, even if the organization has a good hold on its data governance policies, the advantages of establishing policies and processes to govern the analytics process still stand. As data governance guarantees your business has processes and standards around the use of data, analytics governance provides the same level of oversight to the way analytics initiatives are built and delivered.

Aligning Data and Analytics Governance

Data and analytics governance initiatives must be closely related to organizational strategies. However, businesses frequently base their data and analytics governance processes on data rather than the business. Here are a few points on how businesses can align their data and analytics governance with their business outcomes.

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Trusted Governance

Forming business decisions based on the notion that “all data is equal” is no longer a sound strategy because data and analytics capabilities exist across a company and differ in nature. Instead, create a paradigm of trust-based governance that allows for a dispersed data and analytics ecosystem and is able to help business executives make decisions that are more confidently appropriate to the circumstances.

Digitization

With the essence of developing technology, digitization has taken over almost every business to stay relevant in the market. However, for businesses to gain the best outcomes from the digital space, digitization is essential. And for successful digitization, data and analytics governance must function based on factors like digital ethics and transparency. Therefore, ensuring that the values and concepts of digitization are reflected in the data and analytics governance is crucial to significantly align it with business outcomes.

Data Security

Today, organizations are aware of the potential risks associated with their businesses and securing data has become a necessity. This awareness implies that they address both the threats and the possibilities brought about by data and analytics. Organizations frequently manage risk and market potential independently, and they also do not really prioritize information security when assessing business results. Therefore, data and analytics governance authorities should have interdisciplinary teams capable of making decisions that are well-balanced, giving risk, opportunities, and security the appropriate weight while considering the organizations’ future interests in mind.

 

Today, businesses are aware of the fact that without effective data and analytics governance, their initiatives and investments in data and analytics won’t be able to satisfy important organizational goals like increased revenue, cost reduction, and improved customer experiences. Therefore, aligning it with business outcomes is critical for business success.

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