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4 Major IT Themes We Took Away From NRF’s 2014 Big Show

EarthLink Business finished up another successful show at NRF 2014 this year.  Attendance was at a record high at over 27,000, and there was LOTS of energy.  Prospects, customers, analysts and the media came by the EarthLink booth showing strong interest in our PCI compliance and secure Wi-Fi solutions.  The ability to use Wi-Fi to gather data and connect with mobile consumers on social media were of particular interest.  And of course, there was our ever-popular free espresso bar, which kept everyone on their feet throughout the two day show.

Overall, here’s what we saw as the major themes at the show:

  1. It’s all about the Customer Experience:  From loyalty programs to mobile payments to business intelligence to omni-channel, in the end IT projects are all focused around how those technologies can improve the customer experience in the context of each retailer’s environment.
  2. IT isn’t just about IT anymore:   IT organizations are becoming smaller and more strategic.  In-house resources are now focused on project management, business intelligence, and on working with the business units and marketing versus “keeping the lights on.”
  3. Mobile is at an inflection point:  Retailers are no longer wondering if and when they should deploy mobile – it’s now more a question of how.  There’s also less hype, and more reality around the scope of mobile initiatives and back-end preparation required to make them work the right way.
  4. Post-Target-data-breach angst:  While PCI compliance has always been a priority, almost everyone we  spoke with about security and compliance agreed that they’re being asked to take a fresh look at the data security measures they have in place.

Given retailer interest in these topics, conversations and presentations in the EarthLink booth centered around our Secure Wi-Fi solution with social media integration, our PCI compliance validation and private MPLS network services, and on how our cloud and managed services can help retailers to offload day-to-day operational activities and refocus them on moving the business forward.
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Here’s some highlights of the activities in our booth:

Kamran Chaudhary, Director of Compliance Technology from EarthLink partner ANX, talks about PCI compliance.

Kamran Chaudhary, Director of Compliance Technology from EarthLink partner ANX, talks about PCI compliance.

On the left, our ever-popular espresso bar, providing a much-needed source of caffeine for attendees at the show.   On the right, VP of Retail Greg Griffiths talks with retailers about our solutions.

On the left, our ever-popular espresso bar, providing a much-needed source of caffeine for attendees at the show. On the right, VP of Retail Greg Griffiths talks with retailers about our solutions.

Sean Blanton, Senior Systems Engineer for EarthLink Wi-Fi partner AirTight Networks, during his presentation titled “Connecting with Consumers through Social Wi-Fi and Analytics”.

Sean Blanton, Senior Systems Engineer for EarthLink Wi-Fi partner AirTight Networks, during his presentation titled “Connecting with Consumers through Social Wi-Fi and Analytics”.

If you missed our in-booth presentations, check out the online videos of the four solutions we highlighted including Wi-Fi, PCI Compliance, Hosted Voice, and Unified Endpoint Management.  Visit our Retail Industry Solutions or contact us to learn more.

Register now:  Join us for an upcoming webinar “The Benefits of Cloud for Small to Midsize Retailers” on Wednesday, January 29 at 2PM ET or download the whitepaper to learn more.  

About Sadhana Joliet

Sadhana Joliet
Sadhana Joliet is the Director of Marketing for Retail Solutions at EarthLink Business. She has over 20 years of experience working with both startup and global technology companies in marketing and product management. Before joining EarthLink, Sadhana was Vice President of Marketing for Liquid Computing, a data center vendor recognized by Gartner as Visionary in their Magic Quadrant for Blade Servers. Prior to this, Sadhana held senior level product and marketing roles at Gartner, Yahoo and Intel as well as startups Online Anywhere and Kavado. She has an MBA and Master of Engineering Management from Northwestern University’s J.L. Kellogg Graduate School of Management, and a BS in Electrical Engineering from the University of Vermont.