Technology Record - Issue 23: Winter 21/22

162 www. t e c h n o l o g y r e c o r d . c om F E ATUR E information about Covid-19 case rates, consumer preferences and employee sentiments to provide managers with the data-driven insights they need to decide how to best operate their stores on a daily basis. For instance, data might suggest that it would be more efficient to ramp up drive-through, mobile order or delivery services rather opening stores fully.” Microsoft aims to help retailers regain control of their data by democratising AI technology. “We believe in giving retailers freedom to use their data in any way they want,” says Bransten. “We’ve spent years developing powerful AI technologies they can use out of the box to build a holistic view of customers to personalise every interaction throughout the end-to-end shopping journey and build trust with authentic experiences across channels. They can do this while ensuring full control of customer data and unmatched data governance and privacy capabilities.” To help retailers bring together data from disparate sources across the retail value chain and turn it into actionable insights, Microsoft has launched Microsoft Cloud for Retail. The platform leverages Microsoft 365, Azure, Power Platform, Dynamics 365 and Microsoft Advertising to help retailers deliver relevant, personalised experiences for customers across the end-to-end shopping journey while ensuring security and regulatory compliance. “Brands and retailers worldwide are telling us loud and clear that they want to go faster and get more value out of both their data and their existing Microsoft investments,” says Bransten. “That’s why we developed Microsoft Cloud for Retail and why we’re so excited about the impact it will have on the industry.” According to Bransten, Microsoft Cloud for Retail will empower retailers to do four important things: maximise the value of their data, elevate the shopping experience, empower frontline workers, and build a real-time, sustainable supply chain. “Retailers will be able to unify disparate data and ecosystems across the entire shopper journey, uncovering insights and optimisation throughout,” explains Bransten. “By leveraging insights from this data and implementing new store technology, they will also be able to better engage with customers and enhance the shopping experience. “Microsoft Cloud for Retail is also designed to equip frontline workers – which typically account for 80 per cent of a retailers’ workforce –with solutions that make their jobs easier and help them to provide amazing customer experiences. In addition, it will help retailers to connect data across their supply chains to identify issues and optimise performance, making them more sustainable.” Microsoft’s partners are also building software and customised solutions running on Microsoft Cloud for Retail to offer additional business benefits for retailers. “We have an incredible ecosystem of partners that just keeps getting bigger and better,” says Bransten. “This network was one of the reasons I joined Microsoft and I continue to be impressed by how dedicated our partners are to serving retailers’ unique needs. I love the work they’re doing to both offer integrated solutions that extend our core cloud capabilities and identify new opportunities for innovation.” Another innovation Bransten predicts will help retailers improve operations are low-code/ no-code development platforms, which enable users to quickly build, test and deploy mobile or web applications with little to no knowledge of coding or traditional programming languages. “This area really excites me because you truly see the power of technology with low-code/ no-code apps,” she says. “I’ve spent plenty of time waiting for IT departments to help fix a