A key tool, or more accurately framework, that will increase the likelihood and potential success of the retail organization is the integration of the consumer community with your extended partner network as a feed of information.  This integration must be the foundational objective of the consumer community because of the expansion and the growth of the social community usage and demands of the usage.  You can see from almost every aspect of your day-to-day interactions the level of integration social communities are achieving with all aspects of the consumer activities.  The natural progression of this integration is with the connected retail organization.

This clearly provides significant benefits to the retail organization such as direct contact between consumers and the organizations along and as part of this the direct integration of consumer feedback into the retail network.  This direct consumer feedback will provide significant value to the retail organization.  Every retailer invests a significant amount of money in obtaining consumer feedback in the form of surveys and focus groups.  The difficulty in achieving value from these methods is the format, types of questions and the choice of responses selected for these interactions.  It is common understanding that the surveys and focus groups challenge is achieving honest feedback due to the methods and general responses provided for choices.  The benefit, and frankly the challenge, of the direct contact and feedback from the consumer is that this feedback is not clouded or guided by a choice of responses.

The challenge to achieving the value though is the collection and analysis of the contact feedback from consumers.  This unformated feedback comes in the form of discussions and questions and searches and product ratings from consumers in their own words and their own priorities.  This information provides a huge analysis challenge to understand the feedback and glean value from this feedback.  This unformated data presents a challenge to the organization in both the amount of data that is collected and the analysis methods utilized to understand the data. 

This is where big data methods and practices come into play to provide the means to both store vast amounts of data along with methods to analyze this data.  From a cost perspective one of the key benefits of utilizing cloud technologies and services as the foundation for implementing the consumer community is the reduction and simplification of investment to support the technology requirements of the community.  This big data analysis benefits from the ability to change and expand the storage availability and usage without major investments.  This is a key benefit and encouragement to incorporating big data practices in your analysis of the consumer community. 

And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

ECommerce will have wide ranging impacts on both the retail and manufacturing sectors.  How can you focus these abilities to improve the consumer's experience?  Improving the consumer’s experience will require a re-evaluation of the sales channels, the manufacturing channels and practices and the supply chain channels and practices from the raw materials to the consumers’ homes.  In order to ensure and maintain success in this new reality you must harness the tools and capabilities in many new areas.  How can you support these continuously changing requirements?