Archive for June, 2016

Stretching the Envelope of the Internet – for Retailers

June 29, 2016

RetailI’m personally overwhelmed with the sheer volume of information to which a typical professional is exposed.

The new VNI report predicts that by the end of the decade, there would be 3.4 devices and connections for every human on the planet, up from 2.2 per capita in 2015, through a combination of more access to personal devices and the deployment of machine-to-machine (M2M) or internet of things (IoT) devices. 

The challenge becomes how to stretch the functionality and usability of our platforms and devices so that we can strategically and tactically leverage the data to serve the needs of our customers in an efficient and practical manner. 

We will write a series of posts for doing just that – stretching the envelope of the internet, specific to different industries. Below is targeted to the retail industry.

  1. Solutions which address the astounding number of mobile devices and IoT sensors will be more practical and immediate to a larger base of users. So adding mobile implementations for existing web solutions only make sense, especially if these implementations also integrate IoT sensors, and particularly as Google has implemented mobile-friendly web site standards.
  2. Web 2.0 solutions have done a great job bringing products online and allowing for the secure ordering of products. We can take online ordering to the next level – think from-the-device-to-the-door – if we add order personalizations, warehousing and delivery, fulfillment through Drop Ship, support and set-up options to typical online orders.
  3. Drilling down onto the prior point, in this Age of the Customer, allowing online shoppers to customize their purchases – beyond size and color and into try-before-you-buy immersion experiences – will likely both increase orders, as well as customer satisfaction levels.
  4. If you link these immersive experiences – whether it’s a customized graphic or video or a virtual reality solution – to social networks, whether it’s a group of friends, a community of experts, or a group of fellow shoppers, customers will more likely become more engaged and better enjoy the experience.

  5. In turn, if you integrate the localization aspect, connecting shoppers to physical retail presences, more customers will more likely participate as there’s an option close the deal on-site, after doing the online research, plus purchase other items once they are in the store.

  6. Forward-thinking retailers are connecting with existing communities of experts and fanatics who share a common interest, hobby or passion. Providing customized offers and solutions to this market, and allowing the community to vet purchase options would not only increase sales, but also increase satisfaction levels.

  7. If we take ordering solutions to brick and mortar storefronts, implementing personalized shopping lists, with tailored made coupons based on real-time physical location would also increase targeted engagement.

  8. The other side of the coin is how IoT and mobile solutions can decrease operating costs – by proactively managing inventory and security for example.

  9. With these comprehensive mobile, IoT and on-site app solutions, retailers would have a better understanding of customers. Real-time measurements and analytics from these apps can report on success metrics, real-time, allowing retailers to tweak strategies and tactics to increase engagement, participation, margins, and volumes.

  10. Voice or text originated solutions can also leverage machine learning and artificial intelligence to support product comparison and ordering needs, automating the online research for product selection, and even placing orders based on pre-specified criteria.

These are some thoughts for stretching the envelope of the internet in the retail industry. We welcome your feedback, additions and comments. Share your retail strategies and goals at 



June 11, 2016


FountainBlue’s June 10 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event was on the topic of Embracing Our Multi-Generational Workforce.   Below are notes from the conversation.

We were fortunate to have a broad representation of business, company and technical leaders on our panel, all with in-depth experience working with millennials, and who are generously shared their perspectives on how to successfully work with a multi-generational workforce.

Our panelists agreed that millennials are already an important segment of the work population, and will become increasingly more so, as more move into the workforce, and others leave the workforce. These digital natives are re-shaping the way we live and work in many ways:

  • Tech-based devices and applications are now a part of our life and work. It’s hard to imagine our lives without social media, without texting, without real-time notifications, on digital devices which are never far from us.
  • We are more freely questioning the-way-things-are-done, and invite new and better processes, technologies, approaches and systems… because we can.
  • We are ever more curious about the why of everything, and use that curiosity to seek understanding, and possibly to seek solutions to an existing or emerging problem.
  • Social justice, environmental responsibility, and doing the right thing are becoming a big part of who we are, what we do. Companies which both say the right things in this regard, and act on that resolve are resonating more with their larger community – from employees to partners to customers.
  • Collaborations and partnerships are increasingly becoming more accepted. Indeed, the layout of office space reflects this shift in mentality.

Because these changes are happening, below are suggestions on how we can embrace the mindsets of millennials into the workforce.

  • If more of us are inviting more challenging and meaningful work, invite people to create and lead projects which do make that difference.
  • Invite active participation in corporate activities that support the community overall.
  • If we challenge people to question the status-quo and invite them to design new ways of doing things, positive transformations can take place, transformations which are both easily adopted, and which also directly impact the bottom line, as well as employee engagement.
  • If we focus more on impact and purpose than on title and compensation (not that these aren’t important), you would be more likely to recruit, retain and development the best people.
  • If you continually raise the bar and keep work interesting and challenging, if you reward based on performance, you will also recruit, retain and development the best people.

The conclusion is that millennials are in general well worth the time and investment. Mentoring and training the best of our millennials on how to better communicate and lead is an investment in our future.


Please join me in thanking our gracious hosts at NVIDIA and our panelists for FountainBlue’s June 10 When She Speaks, Women in Leadership Series event, on the topic of Embracing Our Multi-Generational Workforce. 

  • Facilitator Linda Holroyd, CEO, FountainBlue, VP of Professional Services, IQVIS
  • Panelist Serpil Bayraktar, Principal Engineer, Cisco Systems
  • Panelist Tonie Hansen, Senior Director, Corporate Social Responsibility, NVIDIA  
  • Panelist Charu Madan, Head of Business Development and Partnerships, DataTorrent, Inc.
  • Panelist Yezhisai Murugesan, Architecture Engineer, NVIDIA
  • Panelist Lucia Turpin, Senior Director for IT Governance and Strategy, Polycom

The Future of Retail

June 5, 2016


FountainBlue’s June 3 VIP roundtable was on the Future of Retail. Please join us in thanking our gracious hosts at Newmark Carey and our execs who participated in the conversation. Below are notes from the conversation.

Over the past three decades, the Silicon Valley has evolved from a privately held, institutional, relationship-based business economy to a more inter-connected, international, venture-funded, tech-driven economy, where relationships are equally important.

We have evolved from a period where large retail centers dominated, to an era where mixed use is common and restaurants are more plentiful. International investors are investigating in real estate in the valley, a more solid investment opportunity than those which present themselves at home. 

As it becomes increasingly easier for consumers to choose online ordering options, we must look closely at how much retail space we have – 45 sq ft per person in US, much more than the second highest ratios in UK and Australia who are tied at 25 sq ft per person – and how we can make best use of that space. Ideas for doing so are listed below.

  • Leverage technology to efficient deliver customized solutions for demanding customers. Ideas include entering precise measurements for shoe and clothing, using virtual reality try before you buy options (which have failed in the past, but perhaps time might be more ripe now), using the web for comparison shopping, etc.,
  • Marketplaces like Amazon and NewEgg serve their purpose with efficient purchase and distribution channels. Amazon is more for the general population, but techies might prefer the wide range of tech solutions and attractive prices at NewEgg, or they may prefer physically going into Frys for example. But organizations like Best Buy and office supply chains may be challenged to find that edge which would bring customers into the store.
  • Retail thrives when populations are dense, and the experience is good – with great selections.
  • In today’s economy, there’s the barbell effect where retailers selling to the lower income and to the higher income are doing well, but those appealing to the mid markets aren’t doing quite as well.
  • Retailers with access to mass transit like CalTran are doing better.
  • Older, free standing tilt-up R&D buildings in Silicon Valley are being converted into mixed use office and retail space, and the trend is for NetZero impact with less HVAC, more ‘big ass’ fans, and more solar and natural lighting.
  • Densifying of people is also a trend, with collaborative work spaces preferred over individual office spaces and isolated cubes. 

Below are some technology and business predictions offered by our attendees.

  • Distressed regional malls in populous areas will continue to be converted to mixed-use office/retail and housing, with a new trend of parks on ceilings.
  • Technology will continue to be efficiently leveraged to better understand and deliver to the needs of customers, even to the point of predicting what they want and need next. 
  • Manufacturing and delivery processes will become ever more efficient as big data and analytics may help retailers better plan for both.
  • There’s a love-hate relationship with channels such as Amazon – see article below on Amazon is not your friend – and retailers need to understand how Amazon will fit their overall distribution strategy.
  • Strong communities may help build niche retail markets and channels for specialty goods that are vetted and approved by fellow members. Retailers should consider supporting or starting such communities.
  • Leveraging technology to customize size and color will help drive sales and lower returns.
  • Forward-thinking CIOs of retail firms are adopting sensors and apps which can track inventory and help customers on-site real-time.
  • Retailers (in China) with individual air conditioning units are leverage IoT to manage large retail spaces. (This is more difficult to adopt in the US as most large retailers have central air.)
    • As an aside, utilities can use this data from these air conditioning units to manage brown-outs.
  • Light-enabled technology (LiFi) may replace wifi at on-site retailers and help retailers track and manage inventory and customers to identify and find what they’re looking for on-site. (Note that light has fewer security risks than wifi, as the distance between the light of a mobile phone and a sensor or a label are generally short, and the time of emission is generally small.)


PSFK Future of Retail 2016 Summary Report

10Pillars.jpg10 Pillars Delivering the New Shopper Experience

Synchrony Financial: 10 THINGS TO KNOW: THE TOP 10 RETAIL TRENDS FOR 2016

  1. Wearables
  2. Retail Holidays
  3. Voice Technology
  4. Virtual Reality in the Shopping Experience
  5. Video Streaming
  6. Internet of Things
  7. Mobile Payments
  8. Social Network Buy Buttons
  9. Increased Spending on Pets
  10. Personalization

Amazon is not your friend, Caroline Fairchild’s May 17, 2016 

Amazon’s impact on both the retail and delivery spaces is not new. But their announcement earlier this week might all but makes the funding slowdown inevitable for retail startups. The e-commerce giant will reportedly soon sell private label groceries and household products exclusively to Amazon Prime members. The move is huge because Amazon already owns half of all e-commerce sales. With all the growth in retail happening online, anything Amazon does to increase their already massive share is bad news for retail startups looking to scale.

Retail, early adopter of new technologies. LiFi a very promising one of them ! Tom Van Den Bussche