TOKYO — March 5, 2012 — Against the backdrop of RetailTech Japan, one of the retail industry’s largest annual events, Microsoft elaborated today on Windows Embedded’s vision for intelligent systems and the future of retail. John Boladian, group marketing manager, highlighted the potential of intelligent systems, placing special emphasis on the Asia-Pacific region.
At RetailTech, Razorfish demonstrates an intelligent system that highlights how a seamless, differentiated and personal retail experience is possible today, using Windows Embedded and a variety of other Microsoft technologies.
Intelligent systems are made up of specialized devices that sit on the edge of a company’s network and servers located on the back end or in the cloud. Collectively, they enable the generation and flow of data across a company’s infrastructure and the transformation of that data into business insight.
One of the purposes of RetailTtech Japan is to offer examples of technology that help retailers respond to changes in the market, drive greater efficiencies in their processes and provide customers with a distinctive shopping experience. Retailers in Japan and elsewhere in Asia use solutions powered by Windows Embedded and are already moving toward adoption of intelligent systems created by Microsoft partners such as NEC, Toshiba TEC and Fujitsu.
This helps explain the rather bullish outlook for intelligent systems. Based on 2011 IDC semiconductor market data, Microsoft estimates that the global market for intelligent systems will double by 2015, generating $1.2 trillion in revenue. The Asia-Pacific region will see the most significant growth, contributing to about a third of that revenue. A large portion of the global demand for intelligent systems will be for the retail industry, resulting in a compounded annual growth rate of 13 percent between now and 2015.*
With this in mind, Boladian talked about Microsoft’s goal of creating intelligent systems that transform one-off applications, databases and devices — such as barcode scanners, point-of-sale systems and kiosks — into an end-to-end solution that generates a richer level of data about nearly every facet of a retailer’s business. Once it’s been analyzed, this data can provide a wealth of insight ranging from more accurate sales forecasts to more effective pricing models and a better understanding of customer behavior.
Introducing an Intelligent, Tailored Retail Experience
For example, a design team from Razorfish demonstrated the Retail Experience Platform, a proof of concept based on the production-ready platform code-named “5D,” which was first unveiled at the National Retail Federation EXPO in New York and provides a tangible example of an intelligent system in action.
The demonstration combines an NEC digital sign with Kinect for Windows to engage customers outside the store. Customers can identify specific items they would like to try on and save the details on their Windows Phone (via Microsoft Tag). Inside the store, customers use the same combination of technologies in a virtual dressing room experience that allows them to view, navigate and see how the garments look on a lifelike version of themselves, without having to switch outfits or sort through sizes.
The Samsung SUR40 for Microsoft Surface is also part of the mix, immersing customers in a 40-inch touchscreen environment where they can find more information on the products that interest them. The SUR40 also becomes a useful tool for sales associates to upsell or cross-sell by providing visual, on-the-spot product comparisons.
Razorfish’s Retail Experience Platform incorporates multiple products from Microsoft — including Windows Embedded Standard, Windows Embedded POSReady 7, Kinect for Windows, Windows Phone 7 and Microsoft Tag — as well as the hardware from NEC, Samsung and other companies.
Today in Tokyo, representatives from NEC, Toshiba TEC and Fujitsu also took stage to discuss how they’re each working with Windows Embedded to deliver intelligent systems for retail.
Ryuji Kanno, senior vice president of Fujitsu’s Retail Business Group, described the company’s work on intelligent systems and recent release of the POS 7000, which is certified for Windows Embedded POS Ready 7: “Because of the economic situation, retail customers are facing much difficulties recently, and because of that, use of data and information is becoming increasingly important. So, therefore, the one important keyword and basic principle of intelligent systems is the unified management of information.”
Hirohide Ohtani, general manager of the Solution Engineering Division at Toshiba TEC, described the company’s FS Compass solution (powered by Windows Embedded POSReady 7) as follows: “There are various devices up and running in the restaurants, so the information needs to be communicated between these devices. We realized that. And at the same time, we have these on-premise type so-called mission-critical systems, like cost management or the work hour management or management accounting data, to be handled in these systems. On the other hand, we have the cloud-based systems. So, we provide this total solution.”
Tadaaki Fujioka, executive specialist of NEC’s IT Services Business Unit, described his company’s partnership with Windows Embedded and intelligent systems: “In terms of the embedded devices and technologies, we deal with the ATM, and kiosk, and the POS system, and terminals, and we realize that through the embedded systems, and last year we were awarded, and this year we got the partner excellence award. So, the concept of the intelligent systems, and our digital business solution, can be converged effectively so that we can serve well with the future solutions for our customers.”