The retail environment has become incredibly complex. The latest technologies enable data-driven experiences and unlock business value like never before. Still, a lack of interoperability makes it difficult for retailers to deploy new systems or integrate them with legacy applications with speed and ease. This stalls innovation, both for solution providers and retailers. To empower digital transformation in retail, it is critical for the retail ecosystem to collaborate on a common, open framework with interchangeable components.
What Is the Open Retail Initiative?
The Open Retail Initiative (ORI) is a collaborative effort led by Intel and top technology companies who believe that open, accessible solutions will accelerate iteration, flexibility, and innovation at scale.
The goal of ORI is to accelerate the scalable deployment of data-rich solutions optimized for physical retail, from the edge to the cloud.
This technology collaboration leverages open source projects, alongside vendor proprietary solutions, to deliver use cases based on ecosystem components (or “ingredients”). In addition to solving industry problems, the use cases will accelerate and scale the design and deployment of data-fueled experiences, especially at the edge—exponentially expanding retail’s innovation potential. Members of the ORI community include some of the industry’s leading device makers, independent software vendors, system integrators, and consultants. To join ORI, or inquire about attending a partner summit, email firstname.lastname@example.org.
What Is the Approach for Evolving the Ecosystem?
ORI promotes a common, open framework that enables an ecosystem of interchangeable components. As a result, retailers gain the ability to access data across applications, removing silos and unlocking insights that improve services and experiences.
The coordinated efforts of this initiative lead to three major outcomes. These include a reference architecture, suggested retail use cases, and a forum for collaboration through the Open Retail Initiative events and the EdgeX Foundry Vertical Solutions Working Group.
“Having collaboration between leading industry vendors enables retailers to minimize up-front investment time, reduces interoperability issues, and, ultimately, allows innovation to happen at an accelerated pace.”
—Tom Canning, VP of global sales, IoT, and devices, Canonical
How Does ORI Drive Retail Innovation?
By adopting a common, open framework, technology providers are free to focus on their value-added innovation instead of concentrating on commodity components. Retailers benefit from greater application interoperability and a simplified path to deployment of the latest technologies, like artificial intelligence.
“Today, retailers have enormous opportunities to apply edge computing and IoT to accelerate innovation, build new revenue streams, and capture next-generation business opportunities. VMware is pleased to join with Intel and other industry leaders in establishing the Open Retail Initiative to help accelerate collaboration and the creation of new open, interoperable IoT digital foundations for the retail industry.”
—Mimi Spier, VP, Edge and IoT business, VMware
Who Should Participate in ORI?
Intel and participating companies welcome you to join the initiative.
With interoperable solutions, retailers have the advantage of faster deployments, more accessible data across applications, and greater flexibility and scalability across their technology environment. All this simplifies IT management and creates a future-ready foundation to accommodate the next big thing.
Independent Software Vendors and System Integrators
A common, open framework simplifies development and deployment for independent software vendors (ISVs) and system integrators (SIs). With modular, interoperable solutions, it is easier to sell and roll out additional capabilities as they become available.
“Open standards and industry collaboration will create a seamless environment that allows us to embed intelligence and analytics at the edge. This will open the door for IoT devices to respond in real time, whether in store, during shipping, or in the warehouse.”
—Dan Mitchell, director of global retail and CPG, SAS
Original Equipment Manufacturers (OEMs) and Original Design Manufacturers (ODMs)
Retail transformation drives demand for premium compute, which in turn creates new opportunities for device makers. A common, open framework paves the way for OEMs and ODMs to scale into both brownfield and greenfield deployments.
Progress to Date
Since the January 2019 launch of ORI, we’ve focused on making connections within the retail ecosystem. In this way, we can learn more about the challenges to be addressed and paths to bring the ecosystem together.
ORI has won support from more than 50 retail technology vendors. The development of a reference architecture and retail use cases based on a common, open framework are underway.
Example of a retail reference architecture leveraging open source and other components for computer vision and artificial intelligence containerized applications.
Developers are also embracing the open framework aligned with ORI. EdgeX Foundry, an open source project of LF Edge within the Linux Foundation, provides a key ingredient and a forum for participants to collaborate. EdgeX Foundry’s framwork has reached more than five million container downloads, with four million downloads in the last six months. In October, ORI and the LF Edge community conducted their first hackathon, during which more than 60 participants built code to address interoperability between devices and applications, agnostic of underlying hardware, operating systems, and connectivity protocol.
In May, VMware announced its support of EdgeX Foundry data and application services for customers deploying a combination of open source IoT software components.
Global partner and retailer summits have occurred in New York, London, Chicago, Beijing, and Qingdao. Summits will resume and expand to new cities in 2021.
Retail Today, Across Industries Tomorrow
With a focus on innovation, the Open Retail Initiative has the potential to transform how solutions are created across general merchandisers, apparel brands, grocery stores, convenience stores, and quick service restaurants (QSRs). These recipes and proven ingredients are key to accelerating data-driven experiences at the edge throughout the ecosystem.