I usually keep this blog \u201cindustry agnostic,\u201d talking about technology in a manner that is somewhat indifferent to the different industries impacted by technology. I\u2019ll give examples from various types of industry because I find that technology is making a significant impact on all businesses. You\u2019ve heard this story before, people often quote the historical stories about Blockbuster and Netflix, Kodak and the digital camera, and Uber and the taxi industry.\nThis week however, I\u2019m at ShopTalk 2019. This is a show that brings together the entire retail ecosystem and its community of innovators. Since all of us interact with retailers, at least at a personal level, I wanted to share some of the things I saw this week as they relate to the advance of technology in retail.\nThe agenda alone speaks volumes in the impact of technology in retail. Talks include things like \u201cTechnologies Enabling New Physical Experiences\u201d and \u201cThe Digital Transformation of Traditional Retailers and Brands.\u201d There is an entire track called \u201cTechnologies Transforming Retail\u201d which includes sessions on AI and Robotics and Automation.\nI think you\u2019ll find this to be the case in your industry as well. The exhibition floor is filled with companies that help turn the tidal wave of data coming at retailers into more personalized experiences. This is a common thread in technology enabled businesses today. How do we take the data we have and:\u00a0\n\nFigure out if the consumer is really you?\nPersonalize a consumers\u2019 experience when interacting with a retailer\u2019s brand\nProvide retailers data on how products are performing, enabling things like better inventory management\n\nThis isn\u2019t retail specific. Banks want to prevent fraud using data for more secure authentication, retailers want to make it easier to find the product you like, and manufacturers want to help you understand why their product is best for you. We are all starting to understand that if we don\u2019t ride the technology wave, we\u2019ll drown under it.\nA study by Oxford Economics\u00a0commissioned by my company, Synchrony, polled retailers to understand more about how they view the importance of AI in their industry. It found that 92% of retailers view digital technologies as an important part of their strategic plan, and 80% feel that AI will materially change the customer experience online.\nMy premise is that I don\u2019t think these numbers will change materially for your industry. We did find differences by size of business. Small businesses \u201c54%\u201d cited budget constraints as their biggest impediment to leveraging AI solutions for their business. From what I\u2019ve seen at ShopTalk, there are many companies that want to help solve this problem.\nThis means that the technology is now reaching a point where small businesses can afford to leverage this technology for their business. Cameras are inexpensive enough to pop up everywhere and can pull in data about what is on your shelf. Machine learning algorithms in the cloud can help you manage your stock outs. In fact, in some cases, the small business that just launched with the latest POS and all cloud-based apps is ahead of the larger company that has many legacy systems and out dated POS systems that can take significant time, money and effort to upgrade and integrate.\nHere are some things you need to do to keep up with the digital trends in your industry.\nBenchmark\nThis may sound like old news, but I\u2019m surprised how many companies don\u2019t get out and see what others both inside and outside their industry are doing with technology. You don\u2019t have to limit yourself to similar industries. There are many parallels between industries. Look at how the \u201csharing\u201d economy crossed from cars to houses between Uber and AirBnB. What paradigm shifts are you missing in your industry?\nEngage with startups\nWhether it is \u201cstartup alley\u201d at a trade show, or meeting with a venture capital company to see who they invested in recently. You need to keep a pulse on what is possible and what trends are occurring in the industry.\nInfuse an innovation culture\nYou need teams to feel empowered to experiment with the latest technology. Not all experiments will pay off, but some will. Try sponsoring a hackathon centered on a promising new technology, you\u2019ll be surprised at how creative your teams can be if you allow them the opportunity to think outside the box. An innovative culture can also help recruit some of the talent you need to execute on these ideas.\nBuild a talent pipeline\nEngage with your favorite universities. They can help you sponsor the hackathon mentioned above. Host a capstone project, build a strong intern program. At my company, we launched our Emerging Technology Center in the research park adjacent to the University of Illinois. This not only allows us to experiment with leading edge technology using student talent, it also ensures we can create a pipeline of talent for full time roles.\u00a0\nAre you staying on top of what unique experiences startups are making possible in your industry? Are you thinking about your investments in technology with the same urgency as your competitor? Take the time to explore the world of startups. See the art of the possible. You need a game plan for your business to stay ahead of the transformation that is coming to your industry. A quick stop at a gathering of your industry peers, be they retailers, financial services or others may help you see the wave of change coming your way.