For decades teachers have yelled at students, “Get your head out of the clouds!” Well, I hate to go back to every teacher I ever had and point out their short sighted statements… but it is time to get our heads back into the clouds.

The cloud is not some crazy city where you will be lured and captured by the dark side. In fact, it is just the opposite for the retail industry. It is more of the utopic vision.

There is a lot of talk surrounding retail big data and the implementation of cloud computing. This technology is empowering companies to take quicker and more effective action in managing their systems, processes, services and, in the end, customer experience. The access to seamless, pertinent, and timely data is the future of retail analytics and execution.

Earlier this month Smarter Computing Blog posted a piece entitled, “The New Era of Retail: Are your systems ready?” in which author Karl Cama, CTO for IBM’s Retail Industry in Systems and Technology Group, talks about the major themes on display at Retail’s Big Show (National Retail Federation’s Annual Convention and Expo). Deservedly so, one of the main recurring themes was big data and how the idea of the cloud can make serious waves.

Cama writes:

“Incorporating cloud into the architecture means retailers can deploy applications faster and support multiple services, ranging from security as a service to software as a service to platform as a service. Retailers deploying applications in the cloud are discovering multiple benefits: less downtime, lower total cost of ownership, reduced maintenance costs, faster time to market for new applications and improved customer satisfaction. Moving to the cloud also offers tangible savings in terms of software license costs, floor space, networking, power and human labor.”

Last year, cloud evangelist Anders Trolle-Schultz made some powerful points on the SAP blog about the next level for retail data as well. He says:

“In today’s world, the amount of data grows every second and we are starting to look at data in a much more ‘science-like’ way.  Instead of the traditional data mining with our ‘own-created’ data sets, we now reach out to the cloud to include new data sets and find new correlations, some unexpected, and use them to adjust our strategies… Next step: Get the team together, DB experts, Cloud experts, professors and anthropologists and find the funding – move everything to a secluded island and create the new era of BIG DATA in retail.”

The future of retail is up in the clouds, so to speak. How are you going to get up there and innovate your retail enterprise?

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