BrainTrust Query: Is retail technology in a rut? Where will the next big advance come from?
By Mark Lilien, Consultant, Retail Technology Group
Eight years ago, the Nasdaq Composite Index broke 2000 for the first time. And it just broke 2000 again…after soaring to 5000 and plummeting to 1000 in the interim. Given that the Nasdaq is a strong proxy for technology stocks, does this mean that retail technology is in the doldrums right now?
IBM, certainly a tech powerhouse for software, hardware, and services, is around 76 dollars per share. A year ago it was at around 84 and five-years ago it was 105. For the last few years, the major tech growth stocks making news have been Asian outsourcers (Cognizant, Infosys), not software, hardware or telecom innovators. The score box:
Major technology innovation comes in fast-paced cycles. Client-server networks, the internet, cell phones, Y2K and ERP solutions all grew quickly, in double and triple digits. They helped change society. They were huge, headlining, transformational, quantum-leap investments. Do you see any technology on the horizon with relevance to retail (and I suppose, what doesn’t have relevance?) with comparable strength?
Discussion Questions: Do you agree that retail technology is currently in a rut? When can we expect the next big advance and from whence will it come?
Retailers benefit from technology in two ways: they sell it (Comp USA, Best Buy) and they use it themselves (POS solutions, CRM, RFID).
Certainly RFID and CRM have major potential to be the “next big thing,” but are they giant-size leaps forward? Any Big Picture Potential on your radar screen?
Or will technology, including retail technology, just stay in the doldrums for a few more years? Will we just have step-change improvements (HDTV, WiFi cell phones, Vista) instead
of “true breakthroughs”?