Walmart expects technology to enable faster change over next 5 years
- As the "omni retail story continues to evolve," Walmart CEO Doug McMillon expects technology to accelerate the "pace of change" over the next five years, he said during the company's Q4 2019 earnings call.
- Walmart wants to use data to expand parts of its businesses where it has an "opportunity to be more important in that space," including technology and financial services, said McMillon.
- This year the company plans on widening training initiatives with technology and gamification, though the retailer didn't reveal many details about the technologies' rollout. "I think it's going to take us some time to sort that out," said McMillon, referring to the tools in-store managers are experimenting with.
Walmart stores are embracing digital solutions to change how the company functions, how employees perform tasks and how customers interact with the brand.
Walmart's fail fast approach to experimentation with new technologies has enabled the retailer to operate with the agility of a startup but with a focus on cost savings.
Part of this innovation is in e-commerce, where Walmart is using a "combination of last mile solutions," said McMillon. The retailer uses cloud source companies and its own platform, Spark, to experiment with "some associate deliveries." But scale is achieved through crowdsourced delivery platforms.
Technology in retail has become the foundation for competition and Walmart doesn't shy away from technological endeavors. Walmart and retail rival Amazon were the top companies hiring technology professionals in 2018.
Walmart plans to add 2,000 new hires to its existing 6,000 technologists. Walmart already has a prominent tech workforce, including 30 engineers working alongside another 30 Microsoft engineers in the company's Austin, Texas technology center.
The combination of Walmart and Microsoft engineers will help the retailer innovate on emerging technologies like internet of things, computer vision, big data and Azure-specific expertise to propel progress in artificial intelligence, machine learning and cognitive services.
Follow Samantha Ann Schwartz on Twitter