John Ross | April 29, 2016

If you were not unable to join us for the 2016 Inmar Analytics Forum, I encourage you to seek out a colleague or peer who participated and ask about their experience. My expectation is that you'll hear about an outstanding event that not only shed light on strategies for using data analytics to engage shoppers, generate loyalty, build brand and grow revenue but also illuminated the obligation those with access to data have to use it judiciously and share it appropriately.

The 2016 Forum, presented in partnership with the Wake Forest University Center for Retail Innovation, drew a record 800-plus attendees. It was a diverse gathering of business professionals from every size of company — including 20 of the Fortune 100 — as well as students, researchers, faculty and staff from 32 universities and colleges from the United States and overseas. This blending of academia and industry contributed to the creation of a truly unique environment for knowledge exchange — providing attendees with an exceptional opportunity to learn from, and share with, peers, subject matter experts and world-class thought leaders.

From our main stage, Ray Kurzweil, inventor, futurist and best-selling author opened our minds to the "exponential potential" of the human brain and the technology that will impact our world's future while Larry Merlo, president and CEO of CVS Health opened our eyes to current challenges to effective healthcare delivery and the growth-positive role that business can play in addressing these challenges and improving our nation's health.

Closer to home, David Mounts and I, along with Dr. Jeffrey Camm from the Wake Forest University School of Business, took the issue of advancement-through-innovation over to the "human side" — exploring the trust issues that continue to impede the societal improvements that could be driven by technology and the absolute requirement for responsible use of data and thoughtful respect for the power it can bring and the influence it can exert.

Equally informative and thought-provoking were the Promotion Track breakout sessions that addressed a broad spectrum of highly relevant topics and featured presenters from iHeartMedia; the Coca-Cola Company; Georgia-Pacific; Tops Markets; the Wake Forest Graduate School of Business; Willard Bishop, an Inmar Analytics Company; Skeeter Snacks; The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania; Trans-Ocean Products and a host of solution experts from Inmar.

Between the information sessions, the networking opportunities and the Southern hospitality, the 2016 Inmar Analytics Forum was a success and you will not want to miss the 2017 edition. (We will keep you informed as our planning progresses.) In the meantime, selected videotaped presentations from this year's Forum will be made available for on-demand viewing. Look for more information on the eForum soon. Finally, if you attended the 2016 Forum, and have not yet completed the post-event survey, I encourage you to please take just a few minutes and do so.

Thank you to all who attended and to those who assisted us in executing the Forum. We are grateful for your support and assistance. Also, if you are interested in presenting at the 2017 Inmar Analytics Forum, please contact Devora Rogers.

'Look forward to seeing you (again) in Winston!

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Please share your thoughts from the Forum in the comments section below.​

John Ross