EP161 - Verizon Enterprise Solutions GVP, Michele Dupre
Episode 161 is an interview with Michele Dupre, GVP of Verizon Enterprise Solutions, live the National Retail Federation Big Show. We cover a variety of topics including:
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Episode 161 of the Jason & Scot show was recorded on Tuesday, January 15th, 2019.
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Jason: [0:24] Welcome to the Jason and Scott show this episode is being recorded on Tuesday, January 15th 2019 I'm your host Jason retailgeek Goldberg and as usual I'm here with your.
Scot: [0:37] Jason and welcome back Jason Scott show listeners we are joining you live live live from the floor of NRF 2019 Big Show here in the lovely Javits Center in New York City. And we are in part 2 podcast Booth A and B I don't know what they're doing but they is where all the action is.
Jason: [0:56] Yeah if they keep doing a good job maybe they'll earn their way up to Booth a at some point.
Scot: [1:00] It's pretty much the gold tier here at at. So we are excited to have on the show with us Michelle Duprey she is the group vice president at Verizon Enterprise solutions for retail hospitality and distribution. So not only is she an awesome guess she has a longer title than you Jason which is just saying something.
Jason: [1:18] That's our new private area for gas is only a guess that have longer titles than me.
Michele: [1:22] Well there you go I think I fit the bill then.
Jason: [1:25] Will you tell appreciate you taking some time out to talk with us today Michelle tradition on the show we always like to start by getting a little bit of background about yourself and how you came to your roll.
Michele: [1:36] Yeah absolutely and again thanks for thanks for having me here today and then again we're really excited to be part of. To be part of an Arab but where it where I started my journey with Verizon and just again the retail industry and how it's evolved. So I do have responsibilities for the team that works with some of the largest and most recognized Global Brands not only in retail but also distribution and travel so, you know again we service those clients globally we work with them to help them service there, customers better but again my journey started with with Verizon a long time ago and it's evolved over, yeah several years in different roles but really focusing on the Enterprise customer and you know again with the technology Evolution that clearly you see on the floor of a giraffe, how you can see why Verizon continues to Young to evolve itself and continues to you no respond to the ever-changing needs of their customers.
Scot: [2:33] Cool and then so tell a suit so I get Verizon Enterprise Solutions and it sounds like you guys are vertical eyes didn't in any retail is there article we want to talk about today. So so I'll just ask him some newbie questions just kind of soda does that mean the Verizon stores themselves you work with them or know you're selling more stuff to retail.
Michele: [2:50] No so we we go to market with in a retail meeting you know how we serve our consumers so the retail sector within Verizon I don't have responsibility for, but again it's just that is becoming you know one of the test beds and again where we gain a lot of insight, you know to what consumer demands are and do it all we've done a fabulous jobs over over the years just to get you no evolving and really working on providing that. Yeah that great customer experience within the physical environment, but also within our digital environment as those demands continue to grow to for the way consumers want to engage with our brand so you know we do a fabulous job and again it's a test bed, I mean it's a great source of information for us to get our just again test the market and see what what what else is out there.
Scot: [3:40] Kosama soccer guy so let me restate that so you guys have these Solutions in your Verizon stores, and you kind of dog food them outright you figure out what's working there and then you can go to another retailer and say hey JCPenney or you know whoever hears some best practices around obviously conductivity but yeah when I go to Verizon store it's really nice to have like that dude with the tablet so I have positional awareness of where I am, you know I think the cash register kind of like they have them but they kind of anyone can check me out it is that kind of what we're talking about.
Michele: [4:12] Yeah I mean I think it's two-fold I think it's exactly what you just said is that it's it's an opportunity for us to learn but it's also when we launch new products and services that we think are fit-for-purpose and again specific to retell, Amino gives us the opportunity to do a sanity check to see are we on the market is it scalable, you know beyond didn't and I think the other point about tablets that was you know getting Evolution that we recognized as a retailer very early on to get outside of you have behind the counter and get in front of our customers and service that more effectively with a tablet and you know you look at retailers that continues to UNLV a widely adopted, it'll application the way that they're serving their customers and brick-and-mortar.
Jason: [4:55] So when the reasons I'm excited to have you today is wheat wheel update on the show. Are not around holiday time we get data from a bunch of sources about how consumers were behaving butterfly in a lot of the data sets that we get out of it it's heavily skewed towards desktop to use. And I know you guys published some some insight about a holiday Shoppers and I'm guessing you're going to tell me that your data set. Encompasses a lot more mobile users as well.
Michele: [5:31] Yes we did on the 5th year that we launched the holiday retail index in it and it does include you know focuses on the top 25 retailers e-commerce, and attracts Broadband traffic so what I would say is that regardless of I think the mobile, engagement continues to grow year-over-year I don't think that this Statistics behind how that consumers engaging really is you know it isn't any different so I think you know whether they're behind a desktop or whether they're on a phone I'm again it's about the convenience but I think overall what the takeaway is is at the digital aspect of a consumer, do you have their engagement with their brands that's where the the the traffic is significantly increased year-over-year.
Jason: [6:14] Got you and what were some of the top line inside from the study.
Michele: [6:17] Yeah so again like I said this is the fifth year that time that we've had the index in in what made this year very unique is just that. The sheer volume of traffic that we saw starting November 1st so it was almost like you know Halloween was just a note in a dusted and over, and right away came November 1st and every retailer had a full-on, you know launch around you know just holiday and we also saw a heavier in again this is not associate with the index but again the other additional research that we do behind. In a behind-the-scenes is that it was creating that experience for the anticipated and not coming holiday so that we saw the season get off to really really quick start, I saw significant growth over you know 2017 and you know it.
[7:06] Throughout November we saw it you know just again significant growth patterns leading up to Thanksgiving which was a little bit unusual compared to last year, of course Black Friday Saturday leading into Cyber Monday were really strong but that we saw significant weakness which again if you look at, you know everything that's been reported on it's pretty you know it's consistent with what we saw you know early on in the in the holiday season so, that continued and then absolutely we saw there was you know there's traffic and it was over the weekend she saw this you know that. Natural Spike of when consumers are you know shopping and at home, and then it kind of fell again petered off and then that last week right before Christmas just again it rallied up pretty strongly till the end.
Scot: [7:55] I call that the procrastinator pop that's that's where my shopping list how about you Jason.
Jason: [7:59] I'm super a proactive so I did everything on Prime day. Add event listener believes that I have a bridge to sell you. Do you have a I'm curious like so it feels like you're you're about eating some of the other day that we've seen that light. The front half of holiday sort of over index versus previous years and the very end of holiday may have been, under indexing versus the the growth we would traditionally expect.
Michele: [8:29] Yeah I mean I take the the the front half of the Season again and I think the season I think for you know it starts November 1st I mean I think historically it's just everyone rallied and it started, are the Wednesday before Thanksgiving and then let into that weekend and that was the end of the end I'll be off but again I think you see this constant beat of the drum of consumer engagement, and I ate it again I think it was really strong the first you know what I'd say November and then again we just saw this with this law, the other piece that was interesting when you look at the statistics in the den, you know Sunday seems to be one of those days you know where we saw you know we didn't see strong. Yeah I was down here over here so I think that that's a consistent pattern and and they get I think that the opportunity for all retailers just to really Digest, you know what what did they now throughout the entire season how are agile were they to respond, and then going into 2019 in the planning season which they obviously already are is like what can they learn from it what do they have to do differently.
Jason: [9:32] Yeah I feel like one the ramifications we've already seen is there some retailers that like you know gave these like midseason snap shots and they felt kind of Rosie and they probably raised investor expectations and now we're seeing the first rounds of like Ernie announcements and some of those earnings announcements aren't quite as rosy it feels like those retards are getting by. A little extra punishment.
Michele: [9:54] Yeah it ain't and I do think because they saw strong a gagement on the front end you know I take absolutely you know that you know you would have you would assume that it would carry through the entire the entire season.
Jason: [10:06] So do you have a hypothesis for why I got a little softer like our people just Scott and I side more proactive and shopping earlier or did something happen that like there was less consumer confidence that I've talking to shut that I don't know.
Michele: [10:19] Yeah I know there could have been some distraction just in general but again consumer confidence I tagged you know absolutely it was there and, yeah I think what we're going to find at the end of the season is that they're they're absolutely there are. Some have been reported is that they've had really strong holiday seasons and then you know others I think they were probably a little bit, yeah I'm taken aback by the by the end results because of the do you know the the traffic they saw in the front end so I think it's it's it's how they pivot I think it's that the challenge that they all have going forward whether you had a fantastic holiday season it's just like well how do you repeat that because then you have the challenge there is that you got to set the right expectations. Going into the full you now to 2019, and you know how do you repeat that going into you know holiday next year what's your this year actually.
Jason: [11:11] We call it comping the comp Center. You might want to take a job after they had a soft here is my advice to listeners any thing that came out of holiday that like surprised you or that you think is a common misperception that.
Michele: [11:28] Yeah I think the piece that surprised it again I think it's it goes back to how a retailer is getting creative around, you know engaging engaging our customers and it again I spoke to it a little bit earlier about just that the preseason kickoff for that November 1st it was is, yeah really launched it and either you saw a lot of retailers being creative with, again creating that experience so a lot of you know push for HomeGoods secreting that great environment whether it was for you know Thanksgiving or even going into you know into Christmas and Hanukkah. But then but then also it's just being able to deliver that great customer experience so they're really good at the creative aspect of how do you get a how do you engage, you saw a lot of flash sale so that time-bound engagement. And I think overall I think retailers are really getting to become more intimate with their customers and understanding what their likes our understanding what their you know engagement patterns are through loyalty programs, any adoption you know in that space it just in the maturity and I think you know five years ago I think consumers were a little bit so you know.
[12:39] Some of the aspects of knowing them a little bit too intimately were creepy and I think for the most part I think consumers are way beyond that. Any on the other pieces is that once you have someone engage you don't want to just keep that consumer and gauge for the holiday season you want them to become a brand loyalists. Post Holiday Inn for you know it ternity.
Scot: [13:02] Closer I get that you guys aggregate all the stated and you get some insights, fur individual retailers can you provide them some some information that helps them to better so so it seems like you could, yeah if you guys are running the network in a store you could say Hey you had this many people on the network and they were super active or. They your network was too weak we need to up the bandwidth of the network and then such as like at the that layer even you know, maybe Jason week we talked a lot about the mobile experience for a lot of retailers has a much lower conversion rate in when someone abuses their phone versus the website kind of a thing, can you guys provide any insight stop retailer.
Michele: [13:41] Yes send it so the index looks at you know it's it's at a macro level and if the data is on on am I so from that standpoint the top 25 it says it is it is what it is but I think we're retailers have the opportunity and and you know whether it's through their agencies. You know whether it's through their digital marketing team that they understand their customers. And I think with some of the you know was a Technologies and in some of the the geofencing and in the Loyalty apps and they're able to make that that intimate connection. So I think that there is a combination I think it's no one data source. Will tell you everything you need to be if you're a retailer I think it's it's understanding your customers based on what you know and then obviously looking at you know the external data in a data sources that are available in really mashing that up, and in determining what is the best you know engagement and how do you engage with those customers on an intimate and personal level.
Scot: [14:38] Do you have an opinion about deacons they seem to be like hot five six years ago Starbucks have in every store and when I walk in there pops open the app but then I don't get that experience hardly anywhere else anymore at the seams like beacons are on their way out at. I'm not an expert on him I thought you may know something.
Michele: [14:53] Yeah I mean I think that they've evolved in terms of another they absolutely still exist without a doubt and I think, they're being used you know and I think this is where 5G will come into play to is just the ability to do stuff to do create this connected environment, I'm at scale and I think there was some limitations when you look at it you know the cost of the devices the cost of the chipsets like those are the things that I think will really, help of all this connected community that your retailers will have the opportunity to do but to your question around there because I think what we're it's a vowel from being of knowing who you are cuz I think there's other ways that they understand who their customer base you know any retailer understands who their customer base is but it's understanding the flow so I think that there's a lot of the location-based applications that retailers are looking at you know where today how effective is a display within a store how effective is there merchandising strategy in terms of product placement, so I think that that's really the beat of the behind-the-scenes where they've learned to Leverage, it wasn't just a customer-facing application but now it's kind of how do I help. Build a better store environment and is the planogram that we've did you know is it working and do we need to make any modifications based on where the traffic flow is throughout the store.
Scot: [16:14] And you mentioned that the magic number letter combo 5G to Jason was just at Cs and here at the floor there's a lot of talk about 5G, what started the thirty thousand foot level for for listeners that may not know what is 5G when's it coming and you know obviously five seems better than four or. Is it 20% is it 20% better so and then not only is it faster but are we can get more coverage and maybe give us the high-level pitch on 5G.
Michele: [16:43] Yeah absolutely so again where it you know if you were at CSU you saw Hans and hopefully you saw hands on the on the our CEO. Take the main stage for a keynote so we we strongly believe that it is again it's the Next Generation, and it's the Next Generation from Tuesday and Finds Its what is that it's a new not you know it is the next Generation Network, but it also will be so connected to the Next Generation device and whether that's a you know smartphone whether it's a you know iot device but again that's the pervasiveness of how we see, the technology being deployed you know I think that there is absolutely the opportunity to get a 4G is not going away. I'm so I think it will be complimentary and I think what you'll be able to do is really look at aplacate at the application truly at the edge and take advantage of edge computer. What you getting that and other environments it just it was prohibited to be able to you know to do that so we're super excited about where the industry is going we're absolutely, yeah positioned ourselves to be you know continue to be a leader in you know with 5G and Innovation and I think you know this industry, we see it just unbelievable opportunity for them to be able to take advantage of it you know in the very near future.
Scot: [18:03] Stone example of like the edge thing is an autonomous car can do a lot of processing and then you cuz 5G so fast it can it can do offload more that to the cloud, and you instead of kind of today those cars have to go doc overnight just to kind of get the data kind of give up into a cloud for processing and that kind of thing so it's is that kind what you mean by.
Michele: [18:23] Yeah absolutely I mean it takes it because if you think about what you know it's everything has been connected and iot we've been talking about for years and. And you know it's the latency in the speed so when you push everything out to, I'm out to the yeah just like that's where that kind of all comes the intersection no pun intended to the car analogy but it just that's where it all comes together and you know that I think that we see what the future can bring, but I think it was a challenge that we threw out to the community is you don't help us cuz they had and there's tremendous amount of incredibly intelligent. Visionary people that are out there and again we want them to help us you know crafty yeah the art of the possible.
Scot: [19:09] And then tell us what is 5G do you think mean for stores because a lot of stories I go into they have the Wi-Fi but it's like always a hassle right you have to go in find it and. Does it connect you have to agree to terms and so it's not as seamless as you know if if I had not know if you know Wi-Fi level speed off of a of a network. I'm totally against all that but then like what kind of store experiences are you a retailer thinking about that 5G will name.
Michele: [19:34] Yeah I think I think what will enable them and again it goes back to their the technology exists today but you think about video and you think about just the ability to look at an analyzed again whether it's this get out of simple model of understanding flow traffic. I was in the store but then also looking for characteristics of you know again what consumers, are they might be wearing and we have yeah we've launched the 5G Labs of which were doing a lot of different, you know again elevation around what does it mean and in one of the applications that were showing there is again that's it there's two that I think a really that are that will take off will they all take off but the ones I think are really relevant, I miss being able to identify someone who walks in a store and the example is that they have yellow logo to a sports logo shirt. And being able to identify that and then going back to your you know your comments about engagement is like well how do you personalize we know that you like, a certain brand of sports attire you know apparel so that they can engage with you and whether it's you have some type of promotional activity, I'm just again making that much more personal I think is but is identifying what are the patterns that you see with that and you just you can't do that today it's got it just the.
[20:57] Requirement for bandwidth latency speed and just the cost of Entry is just it it's it doesn't it's just not there so we see that continually to to evolve.
Scot: [21:07] Go to Jason walks in wearing his Lululemon pants and it says we see your Lulu enthusiastic come over to this part of the store to learn more.
Michele: [21:14] Absolutely.
Jason: [21:16] Alternatively it might say we see you and we women pants and willing to pay you not to.
Scot: [21:20] Please check the store security security.
Michele: [21:23] Fitbit could make product recommendations to the alternative the absolutely.
Jason: [21:27] Exactly so I want to turn to win the last Topic in it. It's a good-news-bad-news thing for the industry after you guys enjoy this particular a good reputation in the security space so so Verizon Enterprise Security Services but the bad news is. The reason you're always mentioned is some retailer gets breached and then you that they didn't hire Verizon the problem I feel like I've seen too many press releases where like you were the dissolution. Can you talk a little bit about where the security services are and what some of the trends are.
Michele: [22:05] Yeah absolutely I'm an idiot I think it's you. Looking at it from the standpoint of what you just you commented on we have an incredibly strong practice around helping you know organizations when you know the Anson couple happen so we're able to go in there and help them. Intermediate and you know get back to get back to normal but on the front end and again I think that this is one of the important aspect of a good security practice is, in a really understanding where your wrists are in the business so you know before the unthinkable happens we've created a really strong practice, I'm at work with a lot of Major Brands not just hit retail cuz it got everyone susceptible to a potential you no compromise and breach in really putting salt leadership around how do we help.
[22:51] Be out the industry identifying you know the potential threats and attacks of the unusual it a traffic and visibility that we see throughout the entire network our Global Network. And then also you know understanding the patterns that they know that's inclusive to their to their family and two there traffic correlating the two and then also looking for ways to it'll help, prepare that when and if something does happen that they have the right practice in place, whether it's notifying and working with the board of directors that's the other PR firms or Communications teams whomever that might be but it's again it's really just building that strong practice, so when and if something does happen that you're well prepared but what retailers and everyone in the industry yeah they need to do they need to understand what information do they have what day do they have, where does it set where is it in transit.
[23:45] And never let that information be accessible to anyone in the public and I think it's it's foundational to you no good security hygiene and I think that there is absolutely you know is that the Bad actors as we call them. Is they continue to get smarter and and you know we have to stay ahead of the game and so does everyone else in yeah we really do work strong with them to do that so it's a growing field it's not going to get any smaller and I think when you look at. It all Foundation lie to you know the leap from this connected environment that's going to continue to grow, is it everyone needs to keep that in mind it's just whether year with 4G today and and you're going to create this in krino credible ecosystem of a disconnected environment, everything you do today is foundational to the next generation of technology so it's really important that. They know what they have in place today where it is and they have a plan that you know if and when something does happen that they can execute on it very quickly and stay out of the news.
Jason: [24:47] We stay out of the news seems like it should be the slogan the it's one of the topics I've heard come up in a lot of the the presentations that the show has has been about this like. Emerging awareness of trust and how important trust is for Palmer success and obviously these, these security Miss taps our line of the the easiest ways to lose that trust and as you rightly pointed out. As connectivity gets better and we moved to 5G and you know we only have more devices they're not part of the customer experience it's a lot more vectors for those Bad actors to attack so I feel like protecting that trust, is more important than ever and also harder than ever.
Michele: [25:30] Yeah I mean it's more complicated and I think it's just understanding you know if you create and live in a complicated environment it just you got to have the security practice. Yeah the compliments that so you know again it's a 10 think we're going to live in this world if you think about where we were five years ago the adoption of smartphones it just iot smart vehicle Smart cities you know I think that they would just security is just such an important aspect. About Evolution and and you know again we're here to help and and will continue to be here to help serve our customers and and really serve the industry.
Jason: [26:07] Michele that's going to be a great place to leave it because we have used up our a lot of time but we greatly appreciate you taking time off in the Florida come. Talk to the listeners and as always if the listeners want to follow up on the conversation we encourage you to jump on our Facebook page and of course we always appreciate those five star reviews on I-10.
Scot: [26:26] Michele thanks for joining us do you tweet or if if listeners want to follow some of the thought leadership from Verizon around 5G or security or some of the topics we talked about the retail flavor where should they go.
Michele: [26:38] Yeah absolutely so you can go to verizon.com and you can see everything that we're doing across all Industries and I'll practices and we're here today on our Verizon Enterprise so look for us out there and and yeah we are actively tweeting so.
Jason: [26:55] Awesome until next time happy commercing.