Things I learnt at Elevate — The Global Commerce Summit™, in Miami

by Cale Maxwell, CEO

Last week in Miami at Elevate — The Global Commerce Summit™, I learned many interesting things about how digital commerce is evolving and how these evolutions are set to reshape our industry. After a packed week of talks and networking with nearly 700 commerce leaders from around the globe, I scribbled down heaps of notes from talks, breakout sessions, and chats over food and drinks. One thing’s for sure: generative AI is a hot topic in every presentation and conversation. Continuing the thread, I've fed all my scribbles through an AI to help pull out the five big ideas shaping our industry.

Here's my narrative of what's on the horizon: 

Digital commerce will continue to grow

Digital commerce isn't just growing; it's set to dominate, with Asia-Pacific at the forefront. Dirk Hoerig shared that many industries have been slow to embrace e-commerce fully, but that’s changing. They're beginning to adopt it with significant technological advancements like maturing augmented reality and AI and shifting consumer expectations. Over the next few years, this shift will significantly alter the business landscape. B2B uptake will be a major catalyst in this shift. It will also create lots of opportunities for companies like LEVO


Technology complexity mirrors business complexity

The complexity of composable technology directly mirrors the complexity of the business needs it supports. If your business operates with intricate rules and models, the technology solutions required will naturally be complex. Conversely, if your business needs are simple and direct, the composable technology can remain straightforward. Essentially, the complexity of the technology is adaptable and scales according to what your business demands. Selling t-shirts online? Composable can still be a good fit; the technology can be as simple or as complex as you want to make it. Products like commercetools are designed to grow with you as your business needs evolve. Think big. Start simple. 

The new dawn of omnichannel commerce

The buzz around omnichannel commerce is about to become a reality. We're heading towards a convergence where point-of-sale (POS) systems and e-commerce platforms blend into one seamless experience. This integration promises to enhance customer service and simplify the consumer experience, allowing brands to harness a holistic view of their customers' interactions. Achieving a real-time, actionable view across all channels remains challenging for many, but the landscape is changing fast. The integration of composable products through common standards is paving the way for this new era of shopping. 

AI is everywhere

Artificial Intelligence (AI) will revolutionise not only marketing, content creation, communications, and customer service but also how we engineer commerce experiences. The future will see AI taking over basic engineering, production, and design tasks, with skilled humans enhancing these processes. Assisted by AI, consultancies like LEVO will leverage their deep understanding of AI tools, technology, and human behaviour to blend data, insights, and creativity into strategic outcomes. The competition to develop the most effective code that binds composable solutions together will shift to become the responsibility of AI companions, and the most successful partners will be those who combine profound platform knowledge with human creativity to solve complex business problems that leverage technology in unique ways. The presentation by Heather Hershey, Research Director at IDS, drove home the importance of AI and AGI within management circles. Her message was clear: "It's not about AI versus humans; it's about humans with AI versus humans without AI" – and similarly, companies with AI vs those without. This emphasises that AI isn’t replacing us; it's about how we use AI to our advantage.

Agility is essential for success

In this swiftly changing commercial environment, successful organisations will be agile enough to adapt quickly. The edge will go to those ready to overhaul traditional business strategies and attitudes, fully leveraging new opportunities. Agility encompasses more than just operational adaptability—it's about embracing technologies like Accelerators, commercetools Connect, and Foundry. These tools are essential for speeding up market entry and streamlining the transition to a composable commerce architecture. Michael Sharp, Chief Product Officer at commercetools, delivered a keynote titled "Simplify, Lead, Excel." He highlighted commercetools' focus on making technology more accessible and easier to implement. This strategy benefits commercetools and their partners, offering ways to help clients deploy composable projects iteratively, thereby reducing the risks and delays typical of large-scale implementations.

As we look into the future changes from digital and omnichannel commerce, backed by AI, here are three tips for businesses to get ready:

  1. Adopt the right technology: Start using flexible technology like commercetools that can keep up as things change. This ensures you can mix your online and in-store sales smoothly. If you haven’t already – read our article about all the Ferraris in garages.  
  2. Encourage new ideas: Ensure your team is always ready to learn and try new things. Create a place where coming up with fresh ideas is part of everyday work and where AI tools are seen as helpers in your projects. 
  3. Manage the change well: Put together an excellent plan to help your people adapt to new ways of working. This should include training to learn new skills, clear messages about why changes are good, and leaders who help everyone along the way. Introducing and integrating composable technology, AI, and other innovations properly will significantly enhance their value to your organisation.

These steps are just a start to help you succeed in a world where technology, AI, and the evolution of human behaviour are changing how we do business. The things I learned at Elevate 2024 weren’t just about new tech—they were a push for all of us (customers, consultants, agencies, and vendors) to step up and adapt.

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