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Microsoft's Satya Nadella at NRF 2020 Retail’s Big Show conference National Retail Federation

Microsoft's Nadella Says Tech Intensity Will Drive Retail in 2020

Data is waiting to be leveraged for better insights on commerce and customer habits in the retail space.

Automation and prediction through data will be core for retailers going forward, according to Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella.

In his keynote speech for the NRF 2020 Retail’s Big Show conference this week, Nadella discussed how ever-growing mountains of data shape retail and likewise informs what Microsoft develops in response. Some 92 major retailers use Microsoft’s cloud platforms, he said. “That’s teaching us a ton about how to build technology so it can serve your needs.”

The National Retail Federation hosted the annual conference through Wednesday in New York, bringing together incumbents and startups in technology with retailers who use or may need their services. Nadella’s keynote framed the need not only for the collection of data but a plan of action to work with it. “Data is only useful if you in real-time can predict or automate something better and gain insight,” he said.

The core elements of digital transformation are becoming mutually essential to operations in retail, Nadella said. This is leading to a phenomenon he called intelligent retail where data is used to understand consumer behavior as a crucial part of digital in retail. Taking advantage of newfound efficiency and synergy may become necessary for retailers to thrive in coming years. “The idea that you can bring the back office and the front office together as one seamless process and experience is going to be a requirement,” Nadella said.

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