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Day 2 of the North American SAP Retail Forum in Dallas was action packed from sun up to sun down.

The women’s leadership breakfast, Navigating Your Way to the Boardroom: Women in Leadership Today, was an insightful opening session highlighting the challenges and opportunities for women in business.

After breakfast, Chris Ball, Managing Director at SAP, and new lead of the U.S. Retail organization, introduced Dr. Chakib Bouhdary, EVP, Corporate Strategy and Industry Solutions at SAP.  Dr. Bouhdary gave an engaging talk on Mega Trends and the Future of Retailing. He said the growing middle class, the global economy, and rapid advancements in technology are redefining retail value chains and revolutionizing the consumer experience. Big data, mobile technology, and cloud computing are enabling retailers to capitalize on these mega trends today.

Zappos, 7forAllMankind and eBay SAP Retail Forum 2013.JPGGeneral Michael Hayden, Former Director of the CIA and NSA, perked the interest of the crowd in his session, Leadership in a Global Environment. He reminded us that cyberspace is a completely ungoverned and massively disruptive “new world”. He said the Internet is not secure, it was never intended to be, and if you have anything of value on it, “you have been penetrated”. And guess what, the U.S government has no plans to make it secure, so protect yourself and your business.

Next to hit the stage was a panel of retail innovators from eBay, 7 For All Mankind, and Zappos. This pack of retail trend-setters talked about Capitalizing on Key Trends in Retail to Capture the Customer’s Imagination and provided insight into customer driven innovation. eBay is evolving from auction broker to experience provider, Zappos leveraged its successful brand and business model to expand beyond shoes, and 7 For All Mankind found out what men really want most in a jean, and responded with its best engineered men’s jean yet.

Customer-lead breakout sessions on topics such as improving customer loyalty, creating powerful promotions, harnessing big data, and RFID in retail followed next. A diverse set of representatives from Brookshire Grocery Co., Fossil Inc., Eldorado Ltd., Raley’s, Sports Basement, and X5 Retail Group shared how they are leveraging SAP, and SAP partners, to deliver next generation retail solutions, improve operations, and enhance the customer experience.

David Llamas SAP Retail Fourm 2013.JPGIn the afternoon, David Llamas, former CIO of Harrods shared his thoughts on some key retail industry trends and ERP implementation best practices. He said digital is the biggest, fastest changing force in retail globally. Brick and mortar sales growth continues to struggle but online is still growing – mostly driven by mobile sales. Years ago, Harrods realized it needed to evolve and become more customer-centric. It implemented SAP across all facets of the organization and ended up nearly doubling top line sales.

George Kembel, Executive Director, Stanford d.school and Steve Fournier, Jr., Vice President of Customer Experience at Discount Tire Inc., lead the audience through a thought provoking and entertaining session on Awakening Creativity through DesignThinking. Kembel said if a company wants to be innovative it first needs to learn how to nurture innovators. He also explained how Design Thinking starts with empathy. When a company seeks to truly understand the people it touches with its products, problems are often redefined and innovation is born. Fournier said most people enjoy buying tires about as much as having teeth drilled, so Discount Tire stared working with the d.school to ensure the company stays competitive in a low margin business. Now Discount Tire is looking at ways to solve some of our tire woes before they even happen.

George Kembel and Steve Fournier SAP Retail Forum 2013.JPGKingfisher, Clarks USA, and PGA TOUR Superstore then led attendees through another set of interesting breakout sessions.They talked about how omni-channel operations, SAP HANA, and the new SAP Customer Activity Repository are making a big splash in their organizations.

Day 2 of the Retail Forum closed with an awards ceremony and networking dinner event. Chico’s ran off with the Run Faster award, Hobby Lobby captured the Partner Better prize, Discount Tire rolled out with Implement Better, Brookshire’s Grocery Co. landed the Innovate Better award, and Ulta Beauty took a bow for Run Better than Ever.

University Students who competed in the SAP Retail University App Rumble were also recognized at the ceremony. The Best App award went to team Foose-Brianto, from San Francisco State University, for their innovative Shopping Cart app. Team Captain, Jon Foose said the Shopping Cart app gives retailers an easy to implement branded mobile solution that allows in-store customers to quickly find, scan, and buy products. Teams from Grand Valley State University and San Francisco State University were runners-up.

Chef Tre Wilcox.JPGAfter the awards ceremony attendants got a “taste of Texas” from Top Chef All-Star Tre Wilcox. Chef
Wilcox gave the crowd a fun-filled demonstration on how to make his signature tacos and edemame guacamole. It was a delicious ending to a great day!

Check out the recap of Day 1 and Day 3

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