The fourth annual Innovision conference was held February 25-27 in Orlando at the Wyndham Grand Hotel at Walt Disney World.
Innovision describes itself as a 2 1/2-day event for retail loss prevention (LP) professionals and solution providers with a strong educational agenda. This year, the show featured topics on cybersecurity, emergency preparedness and risk reduction strategies from around the globe.
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Different than traditional trade shows, Innovision is an invitation-only event designed to educate those in the LP space and also to provide a small, intimate forum for retailers to meet one on one with solution providers for in-depth discussions around solutions to retail LP issues. By design, vendors are carefully selected to avoid overlapping products, thus eliminating the competitive pressures and strong sell tactics often seen in traditional shows. The small format also allows for easier networking between retailers and solution providers. This year, attendees included approximately 65 retailers and representatives from seventeen solution providers.
The first full day of the conference, February 26, kicked off with a keynote speech by Dwayne MacIntosh, director of safety and security at Toronto Pearson International Airport, which handles 50 million passengers yearly. MacIntosh took the audience through an in-depth and eye-opening look at the safety, security and preparedness issues the airport faces every day. The scale is truly mind boggling.
Later, workshop sessions featured speakers on cybersecurity, disaster preparedness and de-escalation. The entire group then got back together, broke into teams and were asked to discuss issues that retail LP faces that both intrigue them and scare them.
It was interesting that many hot topics in the industry today, such as facial recognition, hacking and data protection, self-checkout and artificial intelligence made both the intriguing and scary lists. After teams reported their ideas, a vote was taken to determine the top three issues. Those issues were facial recognition, video analytics and self-checkout.
The afternoon continued with individual sessions on facial recognition and artificial intelligence technology, followed by time for individual meetings between solution providers and retailers.
The day concluded with an evening trip to an ax throwing venue in Orlando, where teams competed against one another. As it turned out, one of the attendees is a member of an ax throwing team in his spare time. His team won. Surprise, surprise!
The second full day started with a keynote address from Susheel Gupta. Gupta is an attorney and an experienced expert on cyber crime. He made it clear to the audience that cyber crime is growing, the threats to business are real, and the targets are much more varied than one can imagine. Everyday implements like HVAC systems, access control systems, lighting, alarm systems and elevators can now be prime targets. Gupta then gave the audience tips for things to look for and steps to take to protect not only their businesses but also themselves from attack.
Later, case studies were presented on bottom-of-basket issues and combating cyber crime. Individual solution provider/retailer meetings continued through the afternoon. Three of the workshops from day one were repeated so that all attendees were able to attend at least two. The conference ended with a dinner and gala celebration at the hotel.
Nearly everyone I spoke to said they appreciated the smaller, more intimate format at Innovision and felt it facilitated easier, more in-depth discussions to explore solutions to LP issues today. There was also a universally positive sentiment shared about the 75- to 80-degree Orlando weather, a far cry from the subzero temperatures many of the attendees were facing back home.
Overall, a very successful conference.