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Digital transformation is on everyone’s minds these days, and for good reason. Every day we hear about another game-changing opportunity to drive business forward in new and exciting ways.

I recently participated in our Microsoft Business Forward conference where we talked about digital disruption across a range of industries and highlighted the latest capabilities our teams have been working on to help companies of all sizes transform. Businesses within retail and consumer goods joined us, many sharing their stories of digital transformation and what’s next.

It’s clear that while no business or industry is immune to technology’s impact on how we all live, work and think, retailers and consumer goods brands have been profoundly affected. And while we debate the future of retail—Is the industry in demise? What does success look like? Are brick-and-mortar stores really dead? —we can all acknowledge that change in this and any industry must be a constant.

As consumers demand more from our products and shopping experiences, retailers and brands must embrace new digital technologies and business models to create differentiated forms of value. Indeed, digital disruption is forcing retail to once again enter an era of fundamental transformation.

As we discussed in our retail sessions, being agile and nimble, constantly able to reinvent your offering, are traits that will keep you alive and enable you to thrive. Using technology innovations to do that is the key ingredient to adapting to customers’ changing expectations and tastes, and delivering experiences that will differentiate.

But we also realize that this might be easier to agree with than act on, and what retailers and consumer goods brands do in the here and now is critical too. As we make the shift digitally, we still have to keep the lights on and delight customers to win the chance to take them on the transformation journey with us.

So where to get started? As Paula Rosenblum at Retail Systems Research recently said, “The retail industry has under-invested in technology for as long as I can remember.”

I go back to a comment that Spanx CEO & Founder Sara Blakely made onstage, how a small change in thinking can completely disrupt an industry. That in itself is such an exciting possibility. And now, applying software and technology innovation to that idea is making it easier to do that—transforming customer experiences, improving operations and creating new opportunities.

What also makes this even more exciting is that even a small and inexpensive technology implementation, like IoT-enabled sensors, can have a dramatic impact for a retailer or brand, no matter how large or small, in ways only previously imagined.

There are many paths to digital transformation and no journey is the same. We want to help you on your personal journey that will drive success for your business. It’s core to Microsoft’s mission and even our business model. As our CEO Satya Nadella said in his keynote, “Our success is our customers’ success in their digital transformation.”

If you missed Microsoft Business Forward, I encourage you to listen to our on-demand keynotes to learn more about digital transformation and how Microsoft is making it easier to get started. Featured case studies from industry leaders like Spanx and Land O’Lakes are particularly inspiring. As Judson Althoff, Microsoft EVP of Worldwide Commercial Business, said about the innovation taking place at the $13 billion dairy business, “If we can digitally transform butter, we can digitally transform your business.”

Beyond the event assets, you can also access a new Microsoft resource on transforming retail for the digital age. In this paper, we explore the opportunities for the retail industry to grow, adapt and evolve to address the changing needs of customers and capture new business potential.

We look forward to helping you start your own digital transformation journey to move your retail and consumer goods businesses forward.


LinkedIn: Tracy Issel