By Wayne Scalf, president, Retail IT Solutions, Xerox

Weeks later, I’m still inspired. There I sat, one of hundreds at the keynote speech of The National Retail Federation’s 102nd Annual Convention and Expo in New York. At the lectern was Wal-Mart U.S. President and CEO Bill Simon.

In part, he said:

“At the heart of our national conversation today is one issue: creating jobs to grow the economy…fixing this problem will take all of us  our  part – business, government, labor, nonprofits and private citizens. And the retail industry has to lead.”

 “The beauty of the private sector is that we don’t have to win an election, convince Congress, or pass a bill to do what we think is right. We can simply move forward…doing what we know how to do…growing our business.” 

He added that now is the time for retailers and suppliers to make the economy grow and go. He mentioned that Wal-Mart U.S. is committing to buying $50 billion in U.S. products during the next 10 years. Bottom line, retail matters.Retail matters, just ask Wal-Mart. And Xerox.

What I gleaned from this year’s show was vast. Topics and technologies whizzed at galactic speed, yet two themes emerged: mobility and partnership.

The biggest buzz at the show centered on the mobile revolution and its impact on how consumers seek and shop, in real-time, right now, in your store, comparing prices and quality with the other retailer just around the corner. The rush is on for retailers to effectively leverage mobility for loyalty and sales—being able to greet a specific customer with a specific offer the minute he or she hits your store’s front door. And of course, there was a focus on store-level and chain-wide mobile device management. It was good to hear since mobility is a Xerox specialty as well, where we’re helping companies conduct and manage their business from anywhere – using their mobile devices. We’re ensuring they have the right devices for the job, they have the right ‘apps’ and that they have access to their information.

Ultimately, we left the show with sore feet and heavy eyes. But we also had smiles on our faces. We were proud to share the IT side of Xerox, and to show the agnostic nature of what we do.

This year, NRF was more than a show. And while it is always an annual pilgrimage of the world’s finest retailers and its ecosystem of technology providers, I was proud to see Xerox cloud services standing in the middle of the hall demonstrating real solutions to real retail problems. Our position as problem solvers really resonated. We listened and responded, be it conversation about field services, mobility management, how to leverage the cloud or why telecom outsourcing is smart.

The show is past. But like Simon said, the best is yet to come.