Join the conversation at the Upcoming FMI Midwinter Executive Conference

By: Mark Baum, Chief Collaboration Officer and Senior Vice President, Industry Relations, Food Marketing Institute
Food Retailing Meet Silicon Valley

There is little doubt that the leading high-tech producers have discovered the consumer goods and food retailing marketplace. In some cases, technology providers are working as our partners, working together to find automated solutions to problems and analytical tools to fuel growth. In other cases, they are developing business models that can appear to be in competition with the industry models we have grown accustomed to.

There is plenty of evidence that consumers are becoming quite adroit at digital technologies that help them decide where and how they will shop - and their purchase will be delivered to them. How do we as industry practitioners sort out our threats and opportunities?

One good place to start is the Midwinter Executive Conference Monday morning keynote session I will moderate entitled “The Battle for the Food Marketplace: A View From Silicon Valley.”

With the help of Ron Bodkin, Google’s technical director of applied artificial intelligence, Kate Sayre, Facebook’s global head of CPG strategy and Managing Director Steve Pinder, with Kurt Salmon, Part of Accenture Strategy, we will take a close look at the shakeup currently underway and talk about how technology innovation is irrevocably changing  our industry, the relationship between trading partners and the way we interact with and provide goods and services to consumers.

Without question, digital retailing has come of age. In 2016/17, FMI and Nielsen teamed up  to assess the impact of digital technology in the grocery channel, predicting that 40 percent of current center store grocery sales, representing more than $100 billion, would move online by 2025. In fact, the industry is experiencing a pace of change likely to exceed that forecast. Where are the earliest wins regarding digital collaboration coming from? Who’s finding success in food retailing with digital tools and why?

Together with Nielsen, we will be discussing digital retailing and areas of change in our Saturday, 1:30 – 2:15 pm session, Collaboration in the Digital World: Practitioners Who Are Disrupting the Model

We are also hosting an Executive Roundtable on Sunday afternoon focusing on artificial intelligence (AI), entitled simply “Disruption in Retail,” in which experts from the consulting firm r4 talk about the opportunities associated with Artificial Intelligence (AI)  in other industries and what the opportunities could be for food retailing. According to a study completed this fall by MIT, 85 percent of executives believe AI will transform their companies, but only one in five have done anything to begin incorporating it into their operations.

In this roundtable discussion, you’ll learn about the opportunities food retailers have to leverage both internal and external data in a way that will help them satisfy the mandate from consumers to understand and anticipate needs in real time, and deliver both world class physical and digital experiences. AI has the potential to alter every part of our businesses, and this session is a good place to understand its applications and learn how you can get started.

Tectonic shifts are taking place in consumer preferences and, if we are to continue to deliver on the promises to our customers we have kept for generations, the kind of information you will derive from these sessions alone will make your attendance at the FMI Midwinter Executive Conference worth the trip. In addition, you will be part of the conversation and have a seat at the table, giving you a chance to delve into all of this together and get to the crux of the most pressing issues, challenges, and opportunities that confront our industry.

I hope you have made your plans to join us at the Midwinter Executive Conference. Look forward to seeing you in Miami!