IBM Chief: Data Has Big Payoffs

Big data, cloud computing and cognitive intelligence are the retail tech buzzwords for the future, according to IBM CEO, Chairman and President Ginni Rometty.

The executive was on hand Monday at the annual National Retail Federation convention, where she participated in a discussion with Terry Lundgren, CEO, chairman and president of Macy’s Inc.

Rometty said that among the biggest challenges facing retailers in the future is finding the most effective ways to utilize the data consumers give companies, from the technical to the subjective. 

“A lot of times buzz words are overhyped, but big data is under-hyped. I believe information is our next natural resource,” said Rometty. “Big data needs to come from multiple sources to be effective. You need a range of analytics.”

She challenged retailers to use information to better engage consumers by combining front-of-store and back-operation analytics, and to offer value by using personal information from customers to give them real-time help.

In light of recent high-profile security breaches at Target and Neiman Marcus, Rometty and Lundgren also discussed the importance of storing, managing and knowing the location of data about consumers. “Certain amounts of information can be kept without needing the ID of the person,” Rometty said.

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