Cognitive Computing Takes Centre Stage in Retail Landscape

Everyone knows that the most successful path for a retail future is one that’s littered with computational analytics.

In a new study from the IBM Institute of Business Value, retail executives demonstrated their appreciation for the value of so-called “cognitive computing.” Indeed, an extraordinary 94% of those surveyed said they have plans to invest in cognitive capabilities moving forward.

More than that, 91% of those retail leaders said they believe cognitive computing will play a disruptive role in the industry, improving how retailers engage with shoppers and differentiate their merchandise.

And IBM’s study, based on a survey of 100 retail executives from around the world, found that 83% of those retail execs familiar with cognitive computing believe it will have a critical impact on the future of their organization.

With its near real-time learning and decision support, cognitive computing opens up unprecedented options to retailers keen to make the most of their relationships with their increasingly savvy customers.

“Thinking Like a Customer: Your Cognitive Future in the Retail Industry” defines cognitive computing as a new computation paradigm that:

  • Learns and builds knowledge from various structured and unstructured sources of information;
  • Understands natural language and interacts more naturally with humans;
  • Captures the expertise of top performers and accelerates the development of expertise in others;
  • Enhances the cognitive processes of professionals to help improve decision-making;
  • Elevates the quality and consistency of decision-making across an organization.

Staples’ proprietary, next-generation “Easy Button,” which lets SMEs tap into IBM’s Watson technology to simplify office supply management, is an example of cognitive computing in action. With it, customers can order products from any device, even through voice-activated technology and chatbots. In this way, retailers can extend new channels for customers that are enhanced by rich data and informed by patterns identified in purchase history.

And retailers, additionally, can draw on these insights to optimize their inventory, promotions and layouts, and to provide more personalized and innovative shopping experiences for their customers.