Practical Digital Transformation in Retail and Consumer Goods

Industry Experiences: Practical Digital Transformation in Retail and Consumer Goods - In this series of the podcasts I sit down with industry leaders to explore the digital transformation disrupting almost every industry.

In this episode I was delighted to spend time with Mariya Zorotovich, Worldwide Industry Lead for Azure Retail and Consumer Goods at Microsoft.  Mariya it the bridge between retail and consumer goods customers and the technologists on the Microsoft Azure team to support the ongoing digital transformation in that Microsoft segment. In this role,  she articulates the benefits of Azure’s robust toolset to customers to address the unique business concerns and evolving demands of the retail and consumer goods industry.

As brick-and-mortar commerce melds with the digital world, the capabilities of Azure provide retailers with a set of powerful new tools, including advanced analytics, AI and machine learning. These new capabilities serve the organizations themselves, as well as improve the overall customer experience from sales to operations. According to Mariya, adoption of these technologies is expanding as companies that have already taken the leap see improved ROI for their organizations.

We discuss disruption in the retail and consumer goods industry, stemming from companies that are using non-traditional approaches to retail scenarios. Today, organizations are using intelligent technologies to build platforms and communities as a model for trade. Mariya recommends a practical approach to helping more traditional organizations truly transform in order to compete as this industry shifts.

Mariya sees a variety of technologies supporting unified commerce and consumer engagement. Machine learning and advanced analytics are particularly useful for retailers grappling with how to handle the large amounts of data gathered from the supply chain and from customers.

Mariya peels back on AI in particular. AI technology spurs some interesting trends for a variety of scenarios in commerce, including:

  • Price intelligence
  • Tracking customer behavior or sentiment
  • Optimizing inventory
  • Innovative check-out scenarios

Mariya emphasizes that while retailers are intently focused on optimizing the customer experience on the front end, they need to equally focus on enhancing the capabilities of the organization on the back end, from fulfillment to the supply chain.

Mariya and I discuss the importance of leadership in transformation scenarios in the retail industry. When leadership — both on the management side and the technology side — are committed to transformation, modernization initiatives go beyond technology upgrades and impact the whole business approach. She notes that machine learning and AI offer new opportunities for customers in the retail sector to change their approach to capturing and managing data, or even offer new avenues for monetizing custom-built solutions across the industry.

When it comes to Azure, Mariya explains that the platform brings together a suite of capabilities to enhance the business experience for customers in the retail sector. She explains that Azure is able to enhance the consumer goods industry in four key ways:

  • Establishing a productive and flexible environment for developers to innovate
  • Implementing a hybrid cloud to ease the transition to the cloud
  • Offering an intelligent suite of data tools, including cognitive services and machine learning
  • Providing a trusted solution that complies with the privacy and security needs of customers

We also discuss edge computing and the importance of a hybrid model for retail scenarios such as point-of-sale. In many cases, Mariya clarifies that a combination of cloud and on-prem ensures employees are able to best serve customers in real-time.

As for partners looking to engage here, Mariya shares some of the feedback she’s heard from Azure partners working in the retail space. In particular, Microsoft’s “build with” approach helps partners build their technical expertise. She also highlights Microsoft’s commitment to nurturing the synergies between customers and partners with specific solutions for unique use cases or industry pain points.

If you’d like to learn more, check out:

Or get in touch with Mariya directly via Twitter at @MariyaZoro or on LinkedIn.

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This episode of the podcast is sponsored by Microsoft and the Industry Experiences Team.