One of Parker Avery’s key service areas focuses on identification and implementation of new business capabilities—to achieve any number of retailers’ strategic objectives. In this capacity, we work closely with our retail clients in understanding their desired future state, developing detailed requirements necessary to achieve future state capabilities, and then assessing, vetting, and selecting new retail solutions…typically also followed by implementing the selected systems. Lately, we have been working on projects that encompass demand forecasting and other analytic optimization tools. This intensified interest was also evident at NRF’s Big Show, where we solidified the fact that the analytics marketplace is denser than ever with advanced software that includes cutting-edge capabilities driven by machine learning (ML) and/or artificial intelligence (AI). You can read Parker Avery’s NRF recap here. There were a number of innovations that frankly may still not be mature enough for much retail adoption any time soon—or, on the flip side, retailers simply aren’t ‘foundationally’ ready for them—particularly with respect to the state of their data. We talk about building a strong foundation—and specifically data maturity—in a recent Parker Avery point of view titled, “Future-Proofing Retail.”

Let me give you a simple example of what I mean by being foundationally ready. Over the past few years, we’ve all heard about the increasing prevalence of ‘smart homes’ with automated lighting, security, thermostat controls, and the like. This all sounds fantastic: at the touch of a button on a smartphone, everything ‘magically’ works, turns on, sends alerts, etc. Conceptually, a homeowner buys the smart home technology, effortlessly installs it, and suddenly has a smart home with everything connected. But what if that home was built several decades ago, and still has the original furnace,