2022 Retail Robotics and AI Conference

The Retail Analytics Council will present the fourth annual Retail Robotics and AI Virtual Conference this fall. The one-day conference will focus on implementing and executing retail AI strategies, as well as exploring emerging trends in retail robotics.

Attendance is open to retailers and academics only. This includes Retail Analytics Council Retail Advisory members and C-level executives. Interested retailers and academics are invited to submit their request to attend to: retailanalyticscouncil@northwestern.edu.

SPEAKERS

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Glenn Allison is Vice President, AI, Automation, and Innovation for Tractor Supply Co., the largest rural lifestyle retailer in the United States with over 1,900+ stores and approximately $8 billion in annual revenues. Tractor Supply is leveraging Artificial Intelligence, Automation, and Innovation to personalize the customer experience in-store and online, as well as leverage machine learning to meet and anticipate shopper’s needs.

Prior to Tractor Supply, Glenn worked at Kellogg Company, where he led global architecture and engineering functions to support supply chain modernization. Glenn also previously held several leadership roles at W.W. Grainger, one of the largest eCommerce retailers in the United States.
Glenn received his MBA from the University of Chicago and a Masters of Science in Information Technology from Northwestern University.

He currently serves as Vice Chairman of the Technology Leadership Council for the National Retail Federation (NRF), Board of Directors for the Nashville Technology Council (NTC), and a lifetime member of the FFA. For his work with technology and innovation, he was named to the “40 Under 40” list by the Nashville Business Journal.

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Sumit Anand began serving as the Chief Information Officer of At Home in 2018 and has recently added Chief Strategy Officer role to his set of responsibilities.

Prior to joining At Home, Mr. Anand was the Senior Vice President of Information Technology from 2015 to 2018 at Signet Jewelers, a large specialty jewelry retailer in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom with over 3,500 stores. In that role, Mr. Anand was responsible for leading the Technology Modernization and Transformation initiative across 8 global brands and several capability areas, including stores, e-commerce, omnichannel, supply chain, analytics, merchandising, HR and finance.

Before this, Mr. Anand served as an executive in Accenture’s Retail Digital practice from 2007 to 2015. Mr. Anand was the Strategy Account Lead for Accenture’s largest retail client and worked with various national and international organizations including Best Buy, Signet, Neiman Marcus around their corporate strategy, supply chain, financial services, M&A integration and digital and technology transformational initiatives.

Mr. Anand received his MS – Information Systems from the University of Colorado.

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Doug Baker is a food retail industry relations vice president for the Food Marketing Institute where he facilitates professional, non-competitive collaboration among member communities across private brands, technology, and asset protection issue areas.

In addition to his oversight of the private brands council and their efficiency-driven initiatives to encourage brand owner innovation, Doug also leads FMI’s CIO Technology Board, Asset Protection Council, and joint industry initiatives, SmartLabel and Information Accuracy. Prior to FMI, Doug began his career in the food retail industry in 1984 with Fry’s Food Stores. His 30+ years in food retail have included leadership roles at Fry’s (a division of Kroger), Kraft/Nabisco and Federated Foods with focuses on retail operations, consumer packaged goods and private brand development and marketing.

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Leandro Balbinot is Corporate Senior Vice President Technology at McDonald’s. Leandro did his undergraduate work in his native Brazil, where he received a BA in Computer Science. After graduation, Leandro launched his career as an IT consultant for Hewlett Packard, where he worked for almost ten years leading projects to transform and integrate companies, ERP implementations, and Financial Systems in several banks and major industries globally.

That eventually led him to join AB-InBev, the world’s largest brewery company where he worked for 8 years leading different areas of Technology in Europe, the U.S., and Latin America. Soon after, he joined the biggest fashion retail company in Latin America to lead the eCommerce channel and Digital transformation. He later was invited to join 3G Investment fund on the acquisition of Heinz Co. in Pittsburgh, where he subsequently became the Global CIO. After that, he was invited to lead the integration efforts with Kraft company in Chicago as part of the merger, taking the role of Senior Vice President of IT at the combined organization, the fifth-largest food and beverage company in the world, and more recently joined McDonald’s.

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Navjit Bhasin is a visionary expert in strategy, technology, operations, and change management. As a veteran entrepreneur and an active angel investor, he has worked in hands-on roles for several global retailers and consumer brands. He has a keen eye for creative ways to fund growth initiatives and increase profitability. Navjit has built his career as a natural problem solver, having helped some of the retail industry’s biggest brands navigate the changing industry landscape so they can achieve peak operational efficiency, transform their customer experience, and enhance their profitability.

In 2011, Navjit founded Newmine, a technology firm comprised of seasoned retail transformation experts. In 2018, he laid the foundation of the retail industry’s first Applied AI SaaS platform, Chief Returns Officer®, to tackle the most expensive problem in retail, merchandise returns.

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Larry Birnbaum received his Ph.D. in computer science from Yale University in 1986 and joined the Northwestern faculty in 1989. His research in artificial intelligence and computer science has encompassed natural language processing, case-based reasoning, machine learning, human-computer interaction, educational software, and computer vision. Birnbaum has authored or coauthored more than eighty articles. He was the program cochair of the 1991 International Machine Learning Workshop and has been a member of the program committee for numerous other conferences and workshops.

Dr. Martin Block

Professor, Integrated Marketing Communications and Executive Director, Retail Analytics Council, Northwestern University

Professor, Integrated Marketing Communications and Executive Director, Retail Analytics Council, Northwestern University

Martin Block serves as Executive Director of the Retail Analytics Council, an initiative between Medill School, Integrated Marketing Communications department, Northwestern University, and PRI. Block is a Professor in the Integrated Marketing Communications Department. He teaches graduate-level marketing research, sales promotion, advertising, and direct marketing courses.

Prior to joining the Northwestern faculty, Block was a Professor and Chairperson of the Department of Advertising at Michigan State University. Block is a co-author of Media Generations; Analyzing Sales Promotion; and Business-to-Business Market Research. He has published extensively in academic research journals, trade publications, and has written several book chapters. He has been the principal investigator on several federally funded research projects and has served as a consultant to the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). He was featured on the NOVA program “We Know Where You Live.”

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Brad Bogolea is CEO and Co-Founder of Simbe Robotics, where he is responsible for the company’s vision and execution of its leading automation solution for the retail industry. The NRF Foundation, the nonprofit arm of the National Retail Federation (NRF), has named Brad to “The List of People Shaping Retail’s Future.” Prior to Simbe, Brad spent 10 years in the energy and wireless sensor industry.

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Brett led a team focused on creating sustainable competitive advantage by inventing advanced technologies and developing projects for retail and logistics that individually have at least a $50 million contribution.

Before his time at Kroger, he served 25 years at Federal Express in various positions Technical Fellow, Managing Director of Scanning Technologies, and VP of FedEx Internet Technologies. During his time at FedEx, he invented and developed many diverse systems and his profit contribution for such systems exceeds $600 million per year.
Brett serves on the ZigBee Board of Directors and the TechPoint Advisory Board. His FAST Alerts system won a 2015 CIO 100 award and ranked #3 in InfoWorld Elite 100 for QueVision for 2014. He is honored to be a 2013 Franz Edelman Laureate for Achievement in Management Science and a 2010 Planet Retail Innovator of the Year. He is honored to have received many awards from Federal Express during his time there. Additionally, Brett is a named inventor on 23 US patents from Federal Express and Kroger. He earned a bachelor’s degree in mechanical engineering at the University of Memphis and attended graduate school at Rensselaer and Western Michigan, in addition to studying law at Concord School of Law. He is a professional engineer registered in Tennessee.

Marcelo Worsley is an Assistant Professor of Computer Science and Learning Sciences. His research integrates artificial intelligence and data mining with multimodal interfaces to study and support human learning. He directs the technological innovations for inclusive learning and teaching (tiilt) lab which works with community and industry partners around the world to empower organizations through the design and use of novel analytic tools. Marcelo has a Ph.D. in Learning Sciences and Technology Design from Stanford University.

Dr. Frank J. Mulhern

Professor, Integrated Marketing Communications, Associate Dean of Research, and Director, Retail Analytics Council, Northwestern University

Professor, Integrated Marketing Communications, Associate Dean of Research, and Director, Retail Analytics Council, Northwestern University

Frank Mulhern serves as a Director of the Retail Analytics Council, an initiative between Medill School, Integrated Marketing Communications department, Northwestern University, and PRI. Mulhern is Executive Director of Academic Programs and Professor for Integrated Marketing Communications. He specializes in research on the economics of marketing, the impact of media technology on marketing communications, and the role of employees in customer experiences. He holds the Hamad bin Khalifa Al-Thani Professorship at Medill.

REQUEST MORE INFO

    AGENDA & SESSION SUMMARIES

    Tue, May 18

    11:00AM-11:15AM

    Introduction to the Conference, the Retail Analytics Council, and Northwestern’s Integrated Marketing Communications Department
    Dr. Frank J. Mulhern

    11:15AM-12:15PM

    Standing Up a Retail Data and AI Center of Excellence
    Moderator: Dr. Martin Block — Panelists: Dr. Dhruv Grewal, Dr. Abhijit Guha, and Dr. Tom Davenport
    Summary: As retailers explore implementing AI, the organizational structure to support this function can be challenging. In this session, our expert panel will present best practices for organizing a retail data and AI center of excellence within your retail organization. As well, a summary of the RAC Retail Board’s AI state of adoption will be presented.

    12:15PM-1:00PM

    Breakout Sessions
    Managing Privacy Risks
    Moderator: Cy Fenton — Panelists: Dr. Martin Paul Block and Daniel W. Linna Jr
    Summary: Privacy concerns are now a top issue for marketers and retailers. Not only do current data privacy regulations such as the GDPR and CCPA impact marketing strategy, but proposed regulation may go much further. The regulation of algorithms and automated decision-making could well be added, such as proposed by the Algorithmic Accountability Act, which has already been introduced. The implications for retailers are profound and will be addressed in this session.
    AI Applications in Banking
    Moderator: Dr. Tim Wei — Panelists: Charlotte C. J. Tsou, Srini Nallasivan, and Ram Peddu
    Summary: AI applications in banking are rapidly advancing. Our panel will address how AI is being applied in marketing to enhance the customer experience and to address various operating issues. As well, additional areas of exploration will be explored.
    AI Start-Ups-Challenges and Opportunities
    Moderator: Ken Fenyo — Panelists: David Pakman, Brandon Levine, Kirsten Horning, Frank Layo, and Navjit Bhasin
    Summary: During this session, our VC panelists will present their outlook for the VC market generally and retail AI applications in particular. Several emerging retail AI companies will also talk about their solutions.

    1:00PM-2:00PM

    Engaging Customers in a Digital World
    Moderator: Holly Briedis — Panelists: Blaine Hurst, Brian Elliott, and Letitia Webster
    Summary: Retailing transcends both the digital and physical space. Connecting with customers with data-driven business models is critical, particularly around the provision of services and support. In this session, the panelists will address issues including establishing a comprehensive view of the customer, digital transformational challenges and opportunities, and related best practices.

    2:00PM-2:55PM

    RAC Research Outlook
    Panelists: Dr. Timothy Wei, Dr. Robert C. Wolcott, and Matthew Chang
    Summary: E-commerce, the virus pandemic, and demographic shifts are just a few of the societal disruptions that are driving change across the retail industry.  As part of its commitment to support the industry, the RAC is developing a research strategy and roadmap to proactively anticipate and address challenges on and over the horizon.  This will be a two-part, facilitated discussion with the goal of identifying critical, broad-based opportunities and challenges for which high-impact, transformational technology solutions may be developed.


    May 18: There will be two presentations to stimulate conversation about the future of retail in the context of ongoing society-wide disruptions.

    May 19: Participants are asked to prepare in advance a list of technology gaps and barriers that will prevent their company, or the industry at large, from effectively meeting consumer demand into the future.  These will be discussed and prioritized in breakout discussions. While there will be an emphasis on retail analytics, any technological challenge including manufacturing, distribution, etc. across the supply chain are open for discussion.

    May 20: Results of discussions from May 19 will be presented.

    3:00PM

    Closing Remarks

    Wed, May 19

    11:00AM-11:15AM

    Introduction of Day Two and to Northwestern’s Computer Science Department
    Dr. Larry Birnbaum

    11:15AM-12:15PM

    RAC Retail Board Panel AI Adoption Trends
    Moderator: Steven Keith Platt — Panelists: Cari Covent, Derek Gaskins, and Sumit Anand
    Summary: In this session, RAC Retail Advisory Board members will provide their perspective on how AI is being implemented, the challenges being faced, and the opportunities for future advancement.

    12:15PM-1:00PM

    Breakout Sessions
    Hiring and Retaining AI Talent
    Moderator: Christopher Cahill — Panelists: Linda Burtch, Katie Furgerson, Allison Berger, Akeya Porter, and Sarah Mitchell
    Summary: The demand for analytics talent has continued to greatly outpace the supply. During this session, we will explore the trends in hiring data science talent from academic programs and industry.  With the quantitative hiring market kicking into high gear in 2021, research on today’s analytical talent, including analytics salaries, COVID-19 impacts, and how the analytics hiring market has changed over the past year will be presented.  We will also discuss the keys to recruiting students from Northwestern University.
    Barriers to AI Adoption in the Grocery Industry
    Moderator: Doug Baker — Panelists: Brett Bonner, Annette Franke, and Jateen Patel
    Summary: AI is being deployed in many retail verticals. In grocery, impediments to adoption present themselves. In this session, our panel will discuss AI adoption and use cases in the grocery segment, as well as barriers to adoption.
    Taking a Human Approach to Intelligent Automation
    Panelists: Marc Perrella and Shawn Harris
    Summary: To leverage the transformative benefits of Intelligent Automation, including Mobile Automation, RPA, virtual personal assistants, retailers can benefit by considering the human aspects of this innovative technology on shoppers and store associates. In this panel discussion, we will discuss:

    1. How intelligent automation improves the customer experience and store operations.
    2. Preparing store staff for Intelligent automation.
    3. Manage the intelligent automation transformation for success.

    1:00PM-2:00PM

    AI Perspective from the C Suite
    Moderator: Moderator: Steven Keith Platt — Panelists: Vikas Mehta, Tariq Hassan, and Brooke Wagner
    Summary: Many retailers are exploring implementing AI solutions. Beyond just chasing the “shiny object,” successful implementation requires a firm understanding of the business use cases. Making the solution explainable, easy to implement, and effectively communicating outcomes and protocols through the organization is also critical to success. In this session, our panel will address these and other issues.

    2:00PM-2:55PM

    RAC Research Break-Out Sessions
    Panelists: Dr. Timothy Wei and Dr. Martin Block

    3:00PM

    Closing Remarks

    Thu, May 20

    11:00AM-11:10AM

    Conference Summary
    Dr. Vijay Viswanathan

    11:10AM-12:10PM

    NLP Applications in Retail
    Panelists: Dr. Kris Hammond and Leandro Balbino
    Summary: Natural Language Processing is a rapidly advancing technology. In this session, our speakers will present an overview of this technology and how it can be deployed.

    12:15PM-1:00PM

    Breakout Sessions
    AI Applications in Restaurant/QSR Industry
    Panelists: Nitin Chaturvedi, Steve Carley, and Sasha Verbitsky
    Summary: AI has the potential to alter the course of the restaurant/QSR industry. In this session, the panel will explore how these advanced solutions are and can be deployed.
    AI Community Outreach
    Panelists: Panelists: Dr. Nichole Pinkard and Dr. Marcelo Worsley
    Summary: Northwestern University is committed to our community. In this session, you will learn about programs being undertaken to help students of color see innovative ways that analytics, data science, and computing can have relevance across a broad set of industries. The presenters will share information about the recent design and implementation of these programs, discuss their upcoming plans to expand this work, and talk through some partnering opportunities.
    Introduction to the RAC AI Lab
    Panelists: Steven Keith Platt, Glenn Allison, Diane Randolph, and AJ Sutera
    Summary: The RAC AI Lab offers companies an opportunity to learn how AI can impact their business by running experiments. From firms that have busy analytic teams that desire to undertake a quick proof of concept to those that are first considering how AI can impact their business, all can benefit from engaging with the RAC.

    1:00PM-2:00PM

    Creating Value from In-Store Data
    Moderator: Chris Cahill — Panelists: Brad Bogolea, Shawn Harris, and William Santiago
    Summary: As retailers continue to deploy automation in their stores, a treasure trove of data is unleashed. Leveraging this resource provides retailers with many operational enhancements. In this session, our panel will explore trends in retail robot adoption, as well as the value enhancement of this data as part of the overall intelligent information stack.

    2:00PM-2:20PM

    RAC Research Objectives
    Panelists: Dr. Timothy Wei and Steven Keith Platt

    2:20PM-2:30PM

    Closing Remarks
    Dr. Frank J. Mulhern

    Tue, May 18

    Introduction to the Conference, the Retail Analytics Council, and Northwestern’s Integrated Marketing Communications Department
    11:00AM-11:15AM — As retailers explore implementing AI, the organizational structure to support this function can be challenging. In this session, our expert panel will present best practices for organizing a retail data and AI center of excellence within your retail organization. As well, a summary of the RAC Retail Board’s AI state of adoption will be presented.

    Managing Privacy Risks
    Breakout Session // 12:15PM-1:00PM — Privacy concerns are now a top issue for marketers and retailers.  Not only do current data privacy regulations such as the GDPR and CCPA impact marketing strategy, but proposed regulation may go much further.  The regulation of algorithms and automated decision-making could well be added, such as proposed by the Algorithmic Accountability Act, which has already been introduced.  One solution to the privacy problem is privacy-protected cohort-based segmentation, partially inspired by Google’s recent FloC announcement eliminating third-party cookies.  The implications for retailers are profound and will be addressed in this session.

    AI Applications in Banking
    Breakout Session // 12:15PM-1:00PM — AI applications in banking are rapidly advancing. Our panel will address how AI is being applied in marketing, to enhance the customer experience, and to address various operating issues. As well, additional areas of exploration will be explored.

    AI Start-Ups-Challenges and Opportunities
    Breakout Session // 12:15PM-1:00PM — During this session, our VC panelists will present their outlook for the VC market generally, and retail AI applications in particular. Three emerging retail AI companies will also talk about their solutions.

    Engaging Customers in a Digital World
    1:00PM-2:00PM — Retailing transcends both the digital and physical space. Connecting with customers with data-driven business models is critical, particularly around the provision of services and support. In this session, the panelists will address issues including establishing a comprehensive view of the customer, digital transformational challenges and opportunities, and related best practices.

    RAC Research Outlook
    2:00PM-2:55PM — E-commerce, the virus pandemic, and demographic shifts are just a few of the societal disruptions that are driving change across the retail industry.  As part of its commitment to support the industry, the RAC is developing a research strategy and roadmap to proactively anticipate and address challenges on and over the horizon.  This will be a two-part, facilitated discussion with the goal of identifying critical, broad-based opportunities and challenges for which high-impact, transformational technology solutions may be developed.

    • May 18: There will be two presentations to stimulate conversation about the future of retail in the context of ongoing society-wide disruptions.
    • May 19: Participants are asked to prepare in advance a list of technology gaps and barriers that will prevent their company, or the industry at large, from effectively meeting consumer demand into the future.  These will be discussed and prioritized in breakout discussions. (While there will be an emphasis on retail analytics, any technological challenge including manufacturing, distribution, etc. across the supply chain are open for discussion.)
    • May 20: Results of discussions from May 19 will be presented.

    Wed, May 19

    RAC Retail Board Panel AI Adoption Trends
    11:15AM-12:15PM — In this session, RAC Retail Advisory Board members will provide their perspective on how AI is being implemented, the challenges being faced, and the opportunities for future advancement.

    Hiring and Retaining AI Talent
    Breakout Session // 12:15PM-1:00PM — The demand for analytics talent has continued to greatly outpace the supply. During this session, we will explore the trends in hiring data science talent from academic programs and industry. With the quantitative hiring market kicking into high gear in 2021, research on today’s analytical talent, including analytics salaries, COVID-19 impacts, and how the analytics hiring market has changed over the past year will be presented. We will also discuss the keys to recruiting students from Northwestern University.

    Barriers to AI Adoption in the Grocery Industry
    Breakout Session // 12:15PM-1:00PM — AI is being deployed in many retail verticals. In grocery, impediments to adoption present themselves. In this session, our panel will discuss AI adoption and use cases in the grocery segment, as well as barriers to adoption.

    Taking a Human Approach to Intelligent Automation
    Breakout Session // 12:15PM-1:00PM — To leverage the transformative benefits of Intelligent Automation, including Mobile Automation, RPA, virtual personal assistants, retailers can benefit by considering the human aspects of this innovative technology on shoppers and store associates. In this panel discussion, we will discuss:

    1. How intelligent automation improves the customer experience and store operations.
    2. Preparing store staff for Intelligent automation.
    3. Manage the intelligent automation transformation for success.

    AI Perspective from the C Suite
    1:00PM-2:00PM — Many retailers are exploring implementing AI solutions. Beyond just chasing the “shiny object,” successful implementation requires a firm understanding of the business use cases. Making the solution explainable, easy to implement, and effectively communicating outcomes and protocols through the organization is also critical to success. In this session, our panel will address these and other questions.

    Thu, May 20

    NLP Applications in Retail
    11:10AM-12:10PM — Natural Language Processing is a rapidly advancing technology. In this session, our speakers will present an overview of this technology and how it can be deployed.

    AI Applications in Restaurant/QSR Industry
    Breakout Session // 12:15PM-1:00PM — AI has the potential to alter the course of the restaurant/QSR industry. In this session, the panel will explore how these advanced solutions are and can be deployed.

    AI Community Outreach
    Breakout Session // 12:15PM-1:00PM — Northwestern University is committed to our community. In this session, you will learn about programs being undertaken to help students of color see innovative ways that analytics, data science, and computing can have relevance across a broad set of industries. The presenters will share information about the recent design and implementation of these programs, discuss their upcoming plans to expand this work, and talk through some partnering opportunities.

    Introduction to the RAC AI Lab
    Breakout Session // 12:15PM-1:00PM — The RAC AI Lab offers companies an opportunity to learn how AI can impact their business by running experiments. From firms that have busy analytic teams that desire to undertake a quick proof of concept to those that are first considering how AI can impact their business, all can benefit from engaging with the RAC.

    Creating Value from In-Store Data
    1:00PM-2:00PM — As retailers continue to deploy automation in their stores, a treasure trove of data is unleashed. Leveraging this resource provides retailers with many operational enhancements. In this session, our panel will explore trends in retail robot adoption, as well as the value enhancement of this data as part of the overall intelligent information stack.

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