A Perfect Storm of Disruption is Bearing Down on Retailers … Will you weather the storm?


Have you ever been in a tornado or hurricane?  Ask anyone who has survived such an event and most will describe an eerie point when the air is calm, but there is a strange feeling that something big and powerful that is about to happen.  Then with little warning, all hell breaks loose and those who were prepared, weather the storm while others fight the elements struggling for their own survival.


Retailers have battled storms in the past.   In the late 90’s and early 2000’s clouds of disruption formed over the US market as seemingly harmless words like World Wide Web, email, search engines and high-speed models swirled in the air as signs something big was coming.  Most chose to ignore the signs during this eerie calm and assume their business models would stand against the storm, while others recognized the danger of sitting idle and unprepared at the mercy of a technology that would radically change their business landscape.  The prepared went on to modify business strategies, invest in change and transition their businesses to create a stronger foundation for the future.  The uninitiated were left to ride out the impending storm and hope for the best.


Right now a new storm is brewing and it is full of strange clouds like Hadoop, Spark, Hive, neural networks, machine learning algorithms, distributed databases and drone delivery.   As industry weathermen fill our heads with the buzzwords and storm warnings, I would suggest we focus our attention on three ingredients that are fueling this monster of change.  I believe understanding and accepting these fundamental elements of the storm will allow many to plot a course to safety and prosperity while avoiding the ass whooping that’s about to ensue on others!  The storm looks something like this:


Data – The raw material for our storm of disruption have been being forming for decades.  Businesses have been creating, gathering, tracking and storing mass quantities of data assets from across their business ecosystems.  In most cases, this data sits siloed and unconnected to the users that can unleash the power that lies within.  Today’s cost effective, highly scalable cloud based data architectures are the catalyst that places the power of data in the hands of business users.  Architecting/engineering such environments to store, manage, ingest, transform and distribute data is our first line of storm protection.   In future articles, we will dive deep into the strategy, technology options and implementation steps necessary for retail organizations to create aggregated data environments that drive innovation and business transformation.


Data Science – The power of machine learning, predictive analytics and AI technology will organizing mass data assets into focused storm like events.  Business insights are derived and made actionable in real time with dramatic impact across a retailer’s business ecosystem.  Engaged retailers are using data science to optimize critical business processes that drive efficiencies and allow for completeness in the ever commoditizing world of retail.  In future articles we will investigate how to combine data assets with a calculated data science strategy to produce value and weather the storm.


Block Chain –  Lets continue with our storm metaphor … If data is the raw material and data science is the organizer of the storm, then Block Chain is the category 5 storm track.  Block Chain technology has the potential to touch ever aspect of the retail ecosystem.  From loyalty programs to logistics, the power of decentralized distributed database technology will have an impact on your business.  In future articles we will get ahead of the storm and examine where the technology will have the highest impact, create the most casualties and possible provide competitive advantage for the ones that embrace it.


I had a little fun with this first post, but metaphors aside … the world of retail is prime for disruption and to survive and thrive we must all get educated, innovate and form strategies that embrace the storm of technologies that are scaling at hyper speed.   Stay tuned for weekly posts and monthly webinar’s that I hope can bring some useful information to my fellow retail professionals.



Noah Gresham is no writer!  But has decades of experience in the retail, e commerce and data science domains.  Noah is co-founder of Tatras Data and works with business managers to develop and implement game changing data science related strategies.


Tatras Data is a Data Science as a Service consulting and implementation firm with locations in the USA and India.  Tatras  Data focuses on providing skills, scalability and implementation services for clients across the globe.  If you’re interested in talking shop, please give us a call at 888-450-3179 or visit www.tatrasdata.com.


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