Features, Technology

Tech-Powered Open Innovation

As I have often said, and continue to do so, we are in the third phase of the “technology revolution.” The first phase was a “deer in the headlights” moment. The industry did not know what hit it – a sudden seismic shift. In fact, many bemoaned that e-commerce might wipe out the brick-and-mortar industry. The second phase was an awakening as the industry was figuring out what they needed to do and how to do it. And now we’re in the third most complex, difficult and costly phase of “doing it.”

The four barriers to getting it done: un-enlightened leadership; sclerotic bureaucratic cultures; not investing enough capital to getting it done; and, lack of enough speed in getting it done before its too late, all must be reversed and turned into positive drivers of the massive transformation necessary to achieve success in this technology-driven century.

And not a day passes in this painful, yet exciting time, that I don’t hear from executives across the industry — their insecurity and sometimes fear — of not knowing the right questions to ask about technology, being bombarded by new technologies on almost a daily basis, and, finally, which solutions to select, knowing it’s a commitment to spending millions of dollars over a long period of time. Finally, is the threat that there may be a new and/or improved technology that will be launched tomorrow, better than the one just chosen.

This high anxiety level led me to seek out ideas from potential solution providers. (R)Tech — the Retail Industry Leaders Association — is a bridge from old world to new world retail. (R)Tech’s mission is connecting its network of technology problem-solvers with retailers who need solutions.

Recently I traveled to San Francisco to co-host an event with (R)Tech to connect retailers with a diversity of innovative, entrepreneurial and creative “problem-solvers” with the goal of addressing complex business problems in a rapid, cost-effective, and efficient way. The forum was held in Target’s Open House, an innovation lab of new, smart technology solutions.

The conversation focused on the ROI Engine, designed by the (R)Tech Innovation Network, which will link retailers to a vast array of entrepreneurs, startups, innovators, technologists, students, and researchers that can quickly and nimbly rise to meet retailers’ tech and innovation needs. This is what the industry needs to help it leapfrog over the limitations of the past to the possibilities of the future. The Open Innovation Engine will host open innovation competitions to crowdsource solutions to retail’s most challenging issues by leveraging an expansive network of problem solvers including leading startup incubators and accelerators, venture capital firms, and technology companies.

So, if you are in the middle of the high anxiety phase of needing the right technology solutions to successfully transform your business for the future, check out the (R)Tech ROI Engine.

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