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Why retailers are moving computing to the edge

Why retailers are moving computing to the edge

Retailers and business brand operators anticipate that by 2030, 69% of all decisions made during real-time consumer engagement across all channels will be made by smart machines. Moreover, 86% of brands are moving computing to the edge, where they engage with the customer, to drive better real-time insights and decisions.

This is according to a survey, Experience 2030 by Futurum Research in collaboration with business analytics software firm SAS.

The survey posed 272 questions to 4000 respondents from five major regions.

Presenting the results of the ambitious year-long research at the SAS Analytics Experience 2019 event in Milan this week, Daniel Newman, principal analyst of Futurum Research and chief executive officer of Broadsuite Media Group, said the objective behind the survey was to understand how data and technology, coupled with the evolution of customer behaviour, will impact customer experience.

With retail and finance positioned at the forefront of data analytics application, SAS intends to intensify its focus on the use of analytics software and AI to enhance the customer experience.

The research was subdivided into five categories, including smart technologies, immersive technologies, digital trust, loyalty in the digital age, as well as agility & automation, all of which epitomise engagement between a customer and a brand.

The results affirm the influence of the digital consumer on this engagement. Statistics show that 85% use at least one banking or finance app, 29% use three or more, and 50% of all consumers search for product information at least three to four times per week - with 23% searching online for product information five or more times per week.

Newman said a key takeaway for business operators is that generally consumers and brands do not always agree, with brands overestimating the extent of consumer behaviour.

The statistics back this up. For example, 53% of consumers say stores are where they go to look at or try products they're usually going to buy online – a sentiment shared by 80% of brands.

Additionally, 78% of brands believe smart 'AI' assistants are a good way for consumers to get information while in a store or shop – only 48% of consumers would agree, and 35% of consumers say they are uneasy dealing with technology in stores, a sentiment shared by 78% of brands.

Newman said, "This was really interesting because many of us feel that 'oh, we know what consumers want', I mean you have SAS, you must know... you have your analytics tools. But in reality, there was quite a bridge and we need to build that in order to get the consumers and the brands closer."

By 2030 over three quarters of consumers expect drones to be part of their brand experience and that they'll use AR or VR as part of their consumption (engagement) experience.

Digital trust

Newman also stressed the importance of digital trust and impact of invasion of people's privacy on the customer relationship.

According to the survey, 76% of consumers are concerned with the amount of data brands gather when they search for or purchase a product, and 61% feel they have no control over the level of privacy they need for themselves, their family, or their children.

Newman offered several tech-related predictions for the next ten years including that by 2020 augmented reality will bring the store into the home, by 2023 blockchain technology will bring an end to fake news sources, that by 2024 delivery drones will "fill the skies" as mass adoption of autonomous delivery begins, and by 2026 industrial 3D printing delivers personalised and locally made goods.

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