Back from NRF 2009
By David Dorf-Oracle on Jan 14, 2009
Now that I'm back from NRF, retail's "big show" in NYC, here are my impressions of the event.
1. The only gadget that caught my attention was Microsoft's Tag. Its basically a barcode created to work well with mobile phones, so it incorporates color and shapes to encode information. Recall my experiments with the iPhone's camera were not very successful in recognizing standard barcodes, so this approach might work better.
2. Microsoft also announced the release of Windows Embedded POSReady 2009, formerly known as WEPOS. While still based on Windows XP, the next version will be based on Windows 7 (skipping Vista altogether).
3. I expected snow storms, but the weather wasn't bad at all. The temperature dropped significantly on Wednesday but I was already on my way out. One more year in NYC, then we're switching venues to Washington D.C. The change is welcomed.
4. Several former 360Commerce employees started a new company called Starmount Systems that's focused on digital signage. They showed an interactive kiosk that displayed advertising (so retailers don't need to tape circulars on a bulletin board at the store's entrance), was a product locator, and could be configured to take orders.
6. Over in the ARTS booth, I briefly spoke with David Taylor, who runs the PCI Knowledge Base. Working with the NRF, they just released the Best Practices for PCI, a collection of 25 recommendations for retailers regarding security of credit card data.
7. JDA's booth babes were a bit much. So were the green faeries, the gal in the wedding dress, and the pink ladies. Don't these companies have any products to sell?
I had an interesting conversation with an executive from a large grocery chain. This person came from telecom, an industry with which I have a little experience. Anyway, he made the comment that telecom would not stand for some of the slow processes in retail, and he didn't understand why retail wasn't more real-time. Its a fair point. The technology certainly exists, the problem is one of legacy. Telecom is a relatively young industry, whereas retail doesn't have the luxury of starting greenfield. Every retailer carries around legacy systems that weigh the enterprise down. Replacing those with a focus on the overall enterprise architecture should be a priority for all retailers, but I'm just not sure how much progress we'll make with this strained economy.
UPDATE: Joe Skorupa of RIS News has a creative account of his NRF experience that's a great read.