Technology continues to be a key enabler of an evolving world, developing at a rapid pace and defining the future. Retailers are using technology acceleration to help reimagine business, improve customers' lives, and help contribute to making our planet a better place to live in. Here are a few technology predictions for 2023.
Adaptive AI: Adaptive AI has long been a topic of excitement and fear and will become mainstream in 2023. Intelligent machines that can think like the brain are proving to be more beneficial and far away from cyborgs depicted in movies. In retail, it will help forecast customer demand more accurately, crunching large volumes of data (history, marketplace and competitor), thereby helping improve the availability of products for customers, reduce waste, and maintain an optimal stock holding.
AI will enable retailers to leverage customer data to provide personalised content and service to customers. Different flavours of loyalty and recommendations as themes driving retail will emerge. Given the challenging market, predicting commodity prices, running intelligent markdowns, and managing our cost base to offset inflation will become key. The trend to use real-time feedback and re-train models in real-time, allowing for behavioural change post-deployment, will soar and help adapt quickly to changing real-world circumstances. Natural language processing, Computer vision capabilities to enable early reactions, and AI as a service are things that all companies must watch carefully.
Web3: Web3 technologies involving blockchain, decentralization, and token-based economics will see a better uptake. Greater trust that it brings in will benefit the retail industry. Blockchain history of product movement across the supply chain identifying suppliers, manufacturers, and batches will help ensure product quality, easier recalls, tackling fraud, tracking inventory, and removing middlemen.
Connected World: Smarter intelligent devices that store and transmit data, connected by the Internet of Things, and the advancement of 5G, leading into an era of 6G, continues to hold a lot of promise. The IoT APIs present an opportunity for retailers to build an ecosystem that bridges the physical and digital worlds, allowing bi-directional, real-time interaction with omnichannel consumers.
Metaverse technologies. In 2023, virtual and augmented reality will gain increased focus with retailers to experiment with the new era of shopping, helping insert their brand into homes by providing an immersive and engaging virtual environment. Organizations will want to enable customers to interact with a product in the metaverse to give them insights into customer preferences and product launches. However, there are opinions questioning its revolution. A few retailers like Gucci, Zara, and Nike are some of the current players in the virtual world. These technologies will enter the experimentation stage for many retailers next year.
Computing Power: The computing infrastructure will continue to evolve to solve many complicated problems in record time. There are several optimization use cases that retailers aim to solve involving better transport routing, scheduling of colleagues, improving trailer fill, and optimizing Space and floor plans needing large computational power. These will become essential to reduce our footprint on the planet while maintaining availability for customers at a time when there are acute resource shortages, including labor, across several markets. A combination of cloud platforms (SaaS, PaaS, IaaS), combined with powerful private cloud networks will serve these disruptions.
Engineering Effectiveness: Cutting across all the above trends, organizations will look at optimizing their systems for greater reliability through better monitoring and observability, cutting across several layers of their operations. This will enable them to manage complex systems, improve client experience, build and run better software, eliminate data silos, and enhance end-to-end visibility.
Cyber Security and Sustainability: These are two key components that would cut across all technology initiatives. The shift to hybrid working, the spread of IoT, and a more intelligent community of hackers make cybersecurity the top of our agenda for 2023. However, we cannot do any of these without keeping an eye on sustainability which will make our planet a better place to live.
-- Ms. Priyadarsanie Ramasubramanian, Engineering Director, Supply Chain, Tesco Technology.