Written By: David Matthews 

December 8, 2017

When Christopher Arthmann, the New Business Creation Lead with NEC Innovation, recommended me as a keynote speaker for this Internet of Things (IoT) technical conference, I thought there must be a mistake.  Why would they want to hear from a retail tech investor that’s decidedly not a technologist?

The Object Management Group (OMG) is a multi-discipline standards consortium which recently adopted the Advancement of Retail Technology Standards (ARTS) effort spun out from the National Retail Federation (NRF).  That’s right, NRF spun out ARTS to OMG to develop IoT standards!  This group works across industries to develop interoperability standards in the IoT space, so it’s abundantly clear why they wanted to learn from a non-technologist that knows nothing about interoperability standards!  

They needed a 40,000 foot view of how technology innovation intersects with the retail world, and that’s something for which I do have relevant experience.  In a nutshell, here’s what I told them:

  • For a new technology product to be adopted by the retail industry, it must be very low-cost and demonstrate high ROI from the get-go.
  • If the product enhances a retailer’s ability to serve a customer (i.e. grow revenue), there’s a much higher chance of success than if it does not.
  • Every point of friction in the sale and implementation of the product must be avoided if possible.  Examples of what to avoid include IT departments, POS integration, consumer download of mobile apps, high up-front cost, and requirement of significant change in a retailer’s existing processes.
  • Some of our top IoT investment themes at RevTech include the following:
    • AI platforms that interpret consumer desires and behaviors.
    • Analytics tools that optimize traffic to transaction conversion.
    • Facial recognition to reward loyal customers (and enhance security).
    • Supply chain visibility – from source to end consumption.