The National Retail Federation (NRF) trade show in New York last week was focused just on the retail industry. But because retail is all about consumers, and consumer trends heavily influence trends in business technology, the trends in mobile computing from NRF are especially significant for BI.

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Across the vast show floor, vendors were pitching mobile solutions for inventory and asset visibility, stock room management, mobile marketing, and virtual transaction processing?even augmented reality. Companies like IBM and NCR were talking about mobile as a key element of converged, cross-channel retail solutions, to help retailers increase revenues by improving the shopping experience for customers.

Here are a few things that popped out at me from the (massive) show floor at NRF:

  • Mobile is the future of business intelligence. QlikTech and other BI vendors were demoing mobile BI solutions, to put business information and analytics in the hands of decision makers when and where people need it.
  • Tablets are proliferating. The Apple iPad will soon have lots of competition. Many tablet PCs were on display at NRF, including Cisco CIUS, Dell Duo, Fujitsu LIFEBOOK, and HP Slate.
  • Mobile printers round out the picture. One of the downsides of mobile computing to date is lack of access to a printer from your device. This will change, evidenced by availability of mobile printers from companies like BIXOLON, Epson, and HP.
  • Mobile payments are hot. Companies like Mobile Pay USA are offering solutions to enable consumers to make payments directly from their mobile devices. Check out these results from an IBM survey of 30,000 consumers. One of the key findings was that 50% of respondents said they were willing to use a personal mobile device to make payments, in order to avoid the checkout lane.
  • Special-purpose mobile devices aren't going away. Despite growing adoption of multipurpose mobile devices, the need still exists for ruggedized devices from companies like Bluebird Pidion and PSION TEKLOGIX, for example, and mobile payment terminals (point of sale systems) from companies like Denso, Ingenico, and Micros.

What do these trends in mobile for the retail industry have to do with you, cherished reader of The QlikView Blog? A lot! Imagine rich, easy-to-use analytics in the hands of a salesperson on the retail floor, guiding the salesperson through the up-sell and cross-sell process as they ring the customer up. And what better way to provide and deliver insight into inventory and asset status and real-time response to in-store marketing campaigns than with up-to-date analytics?