Every year the bar is raised for the retail industry, which means the bar for our asset protection leadership must also be raised in-kind to reflect the diverse needs and expectations of the business. This requires that we allocate our time and resources wisely, maximizing efforts and capitalizing on our opportunities so that we make the most out of every decision and every experience.
There are many different aspects of the conference experience that makes these events so valuable to the attendees. Each individual will have their favorite sessions based on their specific needs and preferences. We might focus on an experience or contact made in the Exposition Hall, or even a more informal meeting with a solution provider that ends in a productive and meaningful outcome. But from a big-picture perspective, what were some of the more prominent takeaways from the conference as a whole?
As the 2019 RILA Asset Protection Conference came to a close, here are a few of our thoughts coming out of this year’s event:
The evolution of the industry: A simple review of the conference agenda serves as a stark reminder of just how quickly asset protection is changing. It’s very clear that the overarching focus of industry leadership is remaining current with every aspect of the retail business, the demands of a changing world, and the expanding responsibilities within the loss prevention/asset protection industry.
The business of retail continues to evolve at a tremendous pace, changing both the way that we manage our business resources and the way that we connect with our customers. As the 2019 conference sessions clearly remind us, leadership not only recognizes this evolution, but is persistent with the need to adapt. Our role is changing as well, and the only way to remain relevant is to stay current. It’s no longer good enough to simply be aware of these ongoing changes. Everyone across the industry must accept the need to move forward and become actively engaged in the process—or be left behind.
The value of education: In the dynamic but volatile world of asset protection there remains the need to stay abreast of the latest trends, technology, ideas, events, and approaches to the greatest challenges facing the industry. This is something that many talk about, but far fewer truly practice. When it comes to learning more about the most pressing issues facing the industry we need look no further than our industry peers and partners to find the answers we’re looking for. The experiences and expertise that they bring and the ideas that are discussed make it clear why we come together for these events. The conference setting is an outstanding opportunity to learn and grow as a professional; and one that every leader should strive to experience.
The importance of working together: For those in the field that might wonder whether their department leaders practice what they preach, when it comes to reaching out to industry peers and working together to seek out solutions, the answer is a resounding “yes”. Leadership is about much more than simply giving direction—it’s also about taking charge. But one of the most important traits that a leader can have is humility and the willingness to reach out to others—whether someone on the team or those outside of the organization, to grow and develop. These traits are front and center at every asset protection conference and part of the dynamic that makes these events so critically important. When you see 30-year veterans willing to learn and grow from and/or alongside new industry leaders, you know we’re doing something right.
The changing of the guard: In every business and every profession there is a cyclical transition of leadership as individuals move up, move on, or retire, giving way to the next generation of leaders. As those that have given their careers to the industry explore the next chapter of their lives, they pave the way for fresh faces and vigorous ideas represented by these new leaders. In what has become a conference favorite, we were once again given a glimpse into the future as three new industry leaders offered their insights into what they’ve experienced thus far, how they perceive today’s asset protection, and what their vision holds for the future of the industry. The promise and enthusiasm of these innovative leaders energized the entire room and was clearly one of the highlights of the conference.
Facing the revolution head-on: There were several exceptional sessions that confronted the latest challenges faced by asset protection professionals, from the insights of the retail leaders that highlighted the General Sessions, to the innovative solutions underscored by the (R) Tech awards, to the discussions on new threats—and the latest criminal strategies into old threats. But if we are to move forward, we must be willing to take the necessary steps to take the industry—and the profession to the next level.
A prime example was front-and-center as part of the 2019 conference as RILA’s Women of Retail Asset Protection (WRAP) held a networking event and sponsored a Tuesday morning presentation featuring women in prominent leadership roles from the law enforcement and legal communities and the experiences that they have faced as they have matured into their leadership roles. Diversity and inclusion discussions were also the subject of several prominent presentations throughout the event, underscoring an ongoing commitment to take our message—and our actions to the next level to serve the best interests of all those who serve the asset protection community.
On a final note, we would like to extend our gratitude to the presenters, the participants, the solution providers, and especially Lisa LaBruno and the entire RILA team for providing us with another outstanding event. We’re already looking forward to next year when the 2020 RILA Asset Protection Conference visits Dallas!
For more on the conference, check out LP Magazine’s LP Insider and EyeOnLP video features: