Is there an intrinsic value in attending industry conferences and similar events? Do we really learn anything?
Ultimately, that’s up to the individual. But this year’s NRF PROTECT conference provided a wealth of opportunities to meet with peers, share experiences, and learn from one another. Here are a few takeaways from this year’s NRF PROTECT event in Philadelphia:
- Loss prevention issues are influencing world news, and vice-versa. As the opening keynote session with Ted Koppel underscored, there are direct correlations between some of the top world news subjects, the ongoing political climate in Washington, the financial future of the country, and many of the topics that we deal with on a regular basis in the world of loss prevention. A powerful message to kick off the 2016 NRF PROTECT conference, this was a similar theme to the message delivered by correspondent Amy Walter at the RILA asset protection conference in April. Loss prevention leadership has clearly identified the subject as an important industry trend. As a result, the development of our loss prevention/asset protection programs and practices and how we protect our customers, our employees, our products, our sales channels, our resources, and our procedures becomes exponentially important. Our mindset in strategy and approach will have a direct influence on loss prevention focus, planning, and methodology as we move forward in this new age of retailing.
- The Exposition Hall remains a critical aspect of the conference experience. Learning more about the latest and best products available to the retail loss prevention community is an ongoing responsibility for loss prevention leadership, but this is by no means the sole experience gained when walking through the exposition hall. The expo floor provides a goldmine of opportunity to discuss products and trends, learn, and interact with the top solution providers and thought leaders in the country regarding critical subjects. There are networking opportunities and product demonstrations, but a host of other learning experiences and innovative prospects that are available when you bring together top industry leadership and subject matter experts in a shared venue.
- The relationship between loss prevention and our law enforcement partners continues to develop and expand. In so many ways these relationships are vital in our efforts to combat organized retail crime and many other critical aspects of our roles and responsibilities. As demonstrated through the networking conversations in the NRF Fusion Center as well as through the significant growth and sophistication of ORCAs founded across the country, the relationships that we develop with our law enforcement partners continues to gain momentum. There are numerous task forces, specialized crime units, not-for-profit groups, and state and federal organizations that are not only available, but eager and enthusiastic about working with the retail industry to battle these issues that can extend well beyond theft incidents and can have significant impact on our communities.
- Smartphones are changing the way we experience everything. It really wasn’t that long ago that mass adoption of the smartphone was generally made available, and the first iPhone wasn’t introduced until 2007. But the power to have an advanced mobile operating system at our fingertips has revolutionized so much more than the way that we communicate. NRF PROTECT, like so many conferences today, takes advantage of a mobile app to help attendees navigate the conference experience. But walking through the exposition hall, observing behaviors between sessions—and during sessions—it is exponentially clear that these devices have become an integral part of our personal and professional lives. As the world continues to shrink, these tools will only continue to add conveniences and responsibilities that will transform the way that we live and work.
- Mentoring relationships and remaining true to our basic principles is a badge of the industry. Regardless of the venue there is an underlying tone that the collective value of our knowledge, ideas, and experiences best serves the retail industry and the shared culture of loss prevention as a whole. This was demonstrated by the speakers and echoed by the audience through many of the sessions. It was seen in the passion and conviction of the topics, and how they were received. But it was also echoed through the one-on-one “Mentor Experience” career coaching sessions offered by the NRF membership throughout the 2016 event. Whether it is an informative presentation, a constructive challenge, or a spirited debate, there is a common chord to strengthen the industry and best serve our companies, our departments, and our people.
All of these points lead us to the clear and classic message that a continuing commitment to professional training, awareness, insight and development are absolutely essential in order to remain relevant and successful. It highlights the need for these types of events, and the value of staying current and informed.
If you attended the event, what are some of your takeaways from the NRF PROTECT conference? Did you have a favorite speaker or topic? What would you like to see from future events? If you couldn’t attend, how would you like to see us expand our coverage of the loss prevention conference experience? We would love to hear from you. Please reach out to us at firstname.lastname@example.org and let us know what you think.