ICYMI: North Texas Tech at ‘Retail’s Big Show’; iLab Founder leaves Neiman Marcus; DFW Named 2019 Global Airport

From retail innovations at NRF 2019 (Kibo, Logile, Theatro, Oki Data and more) to accolades (Symphony RetailAI, Dallas Fort Worth International Airport) to our weekly top 10 (female‑focused coworking concept), here's your briefing on ideas and innovation in North Texas.

[Illustration: JIRAROJ PRADITCHAROENKUL/istockphoto]
Dallas Innovates' weekly mix of business, culture, and technology in Dallas-Fort Worth. 

Dallas Innovates’ weekly mix of business, culture, and technology in Dallas-Fort Worth.  

Last week’s column featured the annual Consumer Electronics Show and this week we’re sticking with the major expo theme—this time covering NRF 2019, also known as “retail’s big show.” The event ran January 13-15 in New York City and had 37,000 attendees, 16,000 retailers, and more than 800 exhibitors with the total attendance representing 99 countries.

In a Forbes report, Daniel Newman pointed out the top digital transformation trends at this year’s NRF including: the importance of analytics and artificial intelligence (AI), the ongoing evolution of the Internet of Things (IoT) in retail, augmented and virtual reality (AR/VR), omnichannel marketing and the mobile customer experience, and potential uses for blockchain tech in retail. The list is a fairly common lineup of emerging tech for the most part, but it also illustrates how all these technologies are becoming ingrained in every business sector.

NRF 2019 had participants from 99 countries so it’s no surprise that North Texas was well represented.

OKI Data Americas debuts next-gen print solution

Irving’s OKI Data Americas, a national leader in print technology, launched its OKI Connected Print at this year’s NRF Big Show. The product—dubbed the ‘next generation of print solutions by OKI—intends to focus on in-store signage, personalization, and customization.

It works like this: A store’s signage is able to transform into a digital asset, using a smart device QR code or image recognition. By making use of scannable QR codes in traditional print media (signs, shelves, posters, place cards, door hangers, etc.), OKI is delivering a more engaging customer experience.

OKI says the product aims to help redefine in-store shopping engagement by offering a seamless digital-physical experience. In turn, this will create a stronger brand loyalty and higher attraction for customers.

“With our long history of innovation, OKI has always been at the forefront of next-generation technology solutions that address customer pain points,” said Sergio Horikawa, Deputy President of Oki Data Americas, in a statement. “OKI Connected Print represents the next step on the print industry evolution scale, combining physical and digital assets for an optimal customer experience.”

Kibo and Actionized partner in advance of NRF

Kibo, a Dallas-based cloud commerce company, was an NRF exhibitor and last week in advance of the show announced a partnership with Actionized, a retail and consumer goods advisory firm. The deal was described as a “mutually beneficial partnership” that will involved Actionized teaming up with Kibo’s sales team on joint opportunities while Kibo will gain access to Actionzied domain expertise in the apparel, food, and CPG industries along with business support.

“The Actionized partnership brings a wealth of knowledge, not only in working with premier brands and retailers in the apparel and CPG industries, but a sharp focus on omnichannel business environments,” said David Post, CEO, Kibo, in a statement. “Today’s retailers deserve technology partners who can not only help them see further and think bigger, but who can quickly assess their business processes and help improve overall efficiency and productivity. We are excited to be partnering with the Actionized team, to help all of our retail and branded manufacturer clients make better use of the technology investments.”

Logile announces a number of new supermarket retailer customers

Logile, a retail store operations solutions provider based in Richardson, also was an NRF exhibitor. During the event it announced retailers and North and Latin America were implementing its AI and machine learning Enterprise Workforce Management solutions. The technology in the suite includes advanced labor modeling, AI-based forecasting which Logile claims offers greater than 93% forecasting accuracy by sales and item by day, automated labor scheduling for the total store, and more.

Logile’s new customers include North Carolina based Lowes Foods supermarket chain with more than 110 stores; another unnamed US supermarket retailers with over 2,200 stores; the largest supermarket, discount big box, and club format retailer in Mexico with more than 850 stories; and several more regional supermarket retailers across the US.

Waco entrepreneur couple keynotes NRF

Chip and Joanna Gaines, a Waco-based entrepreneurial couple with a successful lifestyle brand, served as one of the NRF 2019 keynote speakers this past Tuesday. Other keynotes includes the CEOs of Target, Macy’s and Kroger and other personalities.

The Dallas Morning News ran a roundup of twitter reactions to the Gaines’ presentation.

Neiman Marcus innovation lab founder leaves for consulting firm

Scott Emmons, founder of Neiman Marcus’ innovation lab and developer of tech tools such as the Memory Mirror, announced he was leaving Neiman Marcus for an innovation consulting firm, per a Dallas Morning News report.

Emmons participated in a panel at the show on Monday and published a column in The Business of Fashion announcing he was the leaving the retailers to become the chief technology officer for TheCurrent Global, an innovation consulting firm. But, he told Dallas Innovates that he would be staying in Dallas.

“Corporate innovation programs seem to start strong and sharp, but over time, they are devoured and diminished by surrounding day-to-day business processes, making maintaining momentum nearly impossible,” Emmons wrote in the announcement. “It’s one thing to talk about agility and risk, but when you’re not built for either, measured by cost reductions and operating silos, results tend to be only incremental.”

Symphony RetailAI wins “Best Use of AI in Retail” from Awards.AI

Last week’s ICYMI included news about Symphony RetailAI’s NRF plans. The Dallas-based provider of artificial intelligence-enabled decision platforms for retailers and CPG manufacturers, launched at NRF 2018 and planned on using this year’s show to highlight its progress over the company’s first year. One bit of news we left out of that report was late last month Symphony RetailAI was named winner of The Global Annual Achievement Awards for Artificial Intelligence (Awards.AI) for the “Best Use of AI in Retail.”

“It’s an honor to be recognized by Awards.AI as the leader in applying AI in retail,” said Dr. Pallab Chatterjee, Chairman and CEO, Symphony RetailAI, in a statement. “This award speaks to our dedication to artificial intelligence in high volume retail, and moving it from hype to reality, as we continue to innovate and release more AI-based solutions that will deliver profitable revenue growth and efficiencies across marketing, merchandising and supply chain.”

As an NRF exhibitor this year, the company promoted the value of AI in retail. The speed of change in retail means high-volume retailers and CPG manufacturers have to be able to do more, at scale, and at speed than they do today said Graeme Cooksley, President and COO, Symphony RetailAI, in a statement. Cooksley added Symphony RetailAI’s technology including machine learning and virtual and augmented reality deliver benefits in marketing, merchandising, supply chain, and retail operations.

Theatro, Honeywell use NRF for live demos of new mobile SaaS solutions

Dallas’ Theatro partnered with Honeywell for mobile SaaS solutions for retailers and used the NRF Big Show platform for live demonstrations of the technology. Dallas Innovates covered the partnership news this week. The tech offers high-quality voice communications on Wi-Fi networks between retail store associates and in-store systems. As part of the partnership, Theatro will optimize its mobile app software to work on all Honeywell mobile products.

“Today’s brick-and-mortar retail operations must deliver on customer demand for a seamless experience with reduced staff and increased competition,” said Peter Howes, president of Honeywell’s Productivity Products business, in a statement. “Honeywell’s hardware combined with Theatro’s proven software will help associates provide the right information at the right time, providing immediate satisfaction to customers.”

LiveArea partners with BigCommerce on SaaS e-commerce platform

This year’s NRF had a number of partnership announcements. LiveArea, a business unit of Allen’s PFSweb and global commerce services provider, announced a partnership with BigCommerce on providing services for the latter company’s all-SaaS e-commerce platform at the NRF Big Show.

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“We’re excited to apply our expertise to bring this powerful enterprise platform to brands looking for an all-in-one commerce solution,” said Travis Hess, LiveArea Chief Revenue Officer and General Manager, in a statement. “The breadth of our portfolio of services can help B2C and B2B enterprises quickly realize growth from their BigCommerce investment.”

In separate PFSweb news from NRF, the global commerce services company also announced RetailConnect, a “Fulfillment-as-a-Service” (FaaS) solution for select Simon centers. Simon Property Group owns shopping, dining, entertainment, and mixed-use destinations worldwide.

RetailConnect was created for Simon’s retail partners and lets mall-based retailers fulfill e-commerce orders without adding to their space, staffing, hardware, or software requirements.

“Stores play an increasingly important role in e-commerce fulfillment,” said Mike Willoughby, CEO of PFSweb, in a statement. “RetailConnect is purpose-built by PFS to rapidly improve omni-channel fulfillment with minimal effort and investment by the retailer. This agreement marks the critical final step in bringing RetailConnect to market.”

RetailConnect is expected to rollout in early Q2 2019. The pilot will be based at a North Texas Simon property.

Walmart drops ‘Scan & Go’ tech

Jeremy King, Walmart executive vice president and CTO, told a Sunday NRF audience some of the reasons why the retail giant ended its Scan & Go program after expanding it to 125 stores a year ago per a Business Insider report. The program allowed consumers to shop with a phone or handheld device with no cashier interaction. When it was ended in April the reasons given were low customer participation because it was difficult to use.

King added to the list of program issues at NRF stating Walmart found too many errors in the process with problems such as people scanning things correctly and multiple quantities. Even though Walmart is dropping Scan & Go, it’s still operational in the almost 600 Sam’s Club stores where it’s been in place for over two years so the company still likes the technology. Just not for its over 5,000 US Walmart stores.

Know of any other Dallas-Fort Worth NRF 2019 news or tips? Let us know here.

Tech bytes

Offerpad expands Texas operations

Offerpad, an Arizona-based real estate tech company, launched in Dallas-Fort Worth and Tucson late last year, and has now announced entering the Houston market with an office in the Woodlands as its first iBuyers expansion of 2019. It also has plans to open in San Antonio this quarter.

“The company has a very concentrated vision to bring our real estate solutions to millions more people this year,” said Offerpad Texas regional market director Trent Capps, in a statement. “Our start in Texas, with Dallas-Fort Worth, has far and away exceeded our expectations and we anticipate the same for our other Texas markets. In Houston, we began receiving home offer requests weeks ago, so we foresee huge success there, as well as in San Antonio later in the quarter.”

Tilt-up construction is making an old technique new again

An innovative construction technique being put to use around the area has deep roots. Tilt-up construction where walls are built on the ground and then tilted into place is a process going back centuries, but is gaining in popularity because of portable cranes and reinforced concrete walls according to a Dallas Business Journal report.

The innovation in today’s tilt-up construction is builders can use the process to build taller structures. Tilt-up construction also saves time and maybe even more importantly, money.

Local trading card company and esports organization team up

Switching gears from real estate to sports tech, Irving’s Panini America is the first major trading card company to partner with an esports group per Sports Collectors Daily. The trading card company signed a deal with Complexity Gaming of Dallas. Complexity Gaming is based in Frisco in the Cowboys’ practice facility and is managed in part by Cowboys owner Jerry Jones. As an example of its commitment to esports, Panini launched a Twitch channel this week. The Amazon streaming service is popular in the gaming industry.

“By teaming up with one of the most reputable traditional sports brands, Complexity Gaming and Panini are furthering the intersection of esports and traditional sports through new product innovation and content,” said Daniel Herz, Chief Revenue Officer and Vice President, Complexity Gaming, in the Sports Collectors report. “With the traditional sports world’s growing interest in video games and Panini’s roster of talented professional athletes and teams, this partnership creates more opportunity for integration across gaming, football, basketball, and more.”

Partake named in Sports Tech Tokyo incubator class

Dallas’ Partake will be part of the Sports Tech Tokyo incubator class in the stadium experience category. The company was named in the initial first third announcement of 50 participants from 15 countries. The list was released by Scrum Studios, the innovation arm of VC firm Scrum Ventures and Japan-based ad giant Dentsu. The program is “about bringing the world together,” Michael Proman, managing director, Scrum, told Front Office Sports, and to serve as a gateway for sport tech into Asia. Sports Tech Tokyo kicks off in April.

Will the Rangers go synthetic surface in the new stadium?

It might be a somewhat controversial move, especially since the new home of the Texas Rangers includes design elements specifically for maintaining a natural grass field, but as opening day for the new stadium draws closer a synthetic playing surface is still under consideration.

The Dallas Morning News has an in-depth report on where things stand, and the wide-ranging innovation behind synthetic sports fields that has kept it in the running versus natural turf for the Rangers new home.

Stack Sports is using Fiserv for youth sports digital payments

Dallas’ Stack Sports is backed by Genstar Capital, the NFL’s 32 Equity, Jerry Jones, Providence Equity, and other sports and tech investors, and recently announced a deal with Fiserv, Inc., a financial services technology company, for digital payments for youth sports. These will include payments to referees and other officials, as well as payments between coaches, parents, and players for team expenses handled via a mobile solution. The deal uses Fiserv’s Digital Payments SDK directly within the Stack Sports ecosystem.

“Our mission is to transform the youth sports experience by providing easy-to-use team management solutions,” said Alex Alt, Chief Executive Officer, Stack Sports, in a statement. “Fiserv was a fitting choice to help us expand upon our payments expertise and leadership. Our partnership will eliminate the hassle of certain sports-related payments, leveraging the excellent reputation of Fiserv in the money movement space. Enabling digital payments via Fiserv helps advance our mission so that officials, coaches, parents and players can focus on the game and not administrative details.”

New + Next

Amon Carter Museum promotes local artists

The Amon Carter Museum of America Art has launched its Carter Community Artists program to support local artists. The participating artists will create programming for adults and students. The four artists for the program’s first year are Christopher Blay, Lauren Cross, Diane Durant and Arnoldo Hurtado.

“Thinking about this class of artists, I’m most excited about the new perspectives they will bring to the education department and the museum in general. Our museum is very collaborative – we know that the more opinions and voices included, the better the outcome will be, not only for the museum’s future as an innovator in Fort Worth, but to the relevancy that art and the creative experience holds in the lives of our community,” Jessica Fuentes, the museum’s Manager of School and Community Outreach, told NBC 5.

Richardson innovation district taking shape

A January 7 Richardson City Council meeting outlined a timeline for zoning changes and land entitlement steps for an innovation district of 1,200 acres east of US 75 in the city. The district will be called the Collins-Arapaho Innovation District with the goal of becoming a premier tech hub in North Texas Scott Page, principal at Interface Studio, told Community Impact. The project has three industrial sites that require zoning variances, and a consultant team is working through the issues over the course of 2019 with the plan to bring the zoning ordinance before the City Planning Commission and City Council for adoption by the end of the year according to planning projects manager Doug McDonald.

Texas A&M expands engineering program across DCCD, Burleson ISD advances in LEGO league

Texas A&M University has expanded an engineering program that originally included El Centro and Richland Collage to every DCCCD campus. The program allows students to study at a DCCCD campus for up to two years before transferring to A&M’s College Station campus to finish their undergrad degrees.

In news about a bit younger scholars, Burleson ISD had fourteen teams at the FIRST LEGO League (FLL) first round regional qualifier on December 1, 2018, at Hillsboro Junior High School. Two teams advanced to the second round qualifier – the “Space Boyz” from STEAM Middle School and the “Vikings” from Norwood Elementary School – held last weekend at Justin F. Kimball High School.

READ NEXT ICYMI: AT&T’s 5G, Toyota’s Autonomous Safety System, and the Bell Nexus Air Taxi Make Waves at CES 2019

Uber rolls out rental bikes and scooters in downtown

The rental bike and scooter experiment continues apace. The latest round of rentable two-wheeled vehicles comes from Uber with the brand name Jump. This week the rideshare company was given a permit from the city of Dallas to introduce 2,000 electric bicycles and 2,000 electric scooters in downtown.

At one point in time, Dallas had somewhere around 20,000 rental bikes – mostly of the self-powered persuasion – but that number has dropped to around 1,000 traditional rental bikes. Along with the new Jump bikes and scooters, Burn has around 3,000 electric scooters, Lime has 2,000, and Razor has about 1,000 in Dallas.

One thing that might make Jump attractive for riders is the bikes and scooters can be reserved using the popular Uber app more commonly used to order a car rideshare. And until February 4 you can get five free 15-minutes rides per day to test out the service.

Dallas VA among first with 3D surgery tech

The Veterans Affairs North Texas Health Care System in Dallas is one of the only VA’s in the US to use 4K, 3D video microscope, Orbeye. The tech lets surgeons to perform spine surgery with a 3D guide and a 55-inch high-def monitor. The device has already been used for lower spine surgery.

DFW airport to pilot travel of the future using biometrics

This news has been covered in previous ICYMI columns, but the World Travel & Tourism Council (WTTC) director of industry affairs, Helena Bononi, wrote in Aviation Pros as part of that organization looking to keep pace with technological innovation and safety issues it is launching a pilot program in 2019 for end-to-end seamless travel. The first aspect of this goal is quantifying the benefits of biometrics at different traveler touchpoints and the trials will include airlines, airports, hospitality, cruise, car rental, and possibly tour operators. The initial pilot will involve round trip travel between Dallas Fort Worth International Airport and London using biometrics for security, airport and border processes before renting a car, and hotel check-in all using the same biometric information.


And finally, recent awards.

Dallas Fort Worth International Airport Named ‘2019 Global Airport of the Year’

Dallas Fort Worth International (DFW) Airport has been recognized as the 2019 Airport of the Year by Air Transport World (ATW). It’s a coveted honor that recognizes the airport’s innovation “in providing a world-class customer experience, global leadership in sustainability, cost effective and efficient operations, excellent partnership with airlines, and collaboration with local communities to further develop the economic benefits of aviation in the Dallas-Fort Worth region,” according to a release.

“This honor is yet another major acknowledgment that DFW Airport is a growth engine for Dallas and all of our regional partners,” Dallas Mayor Mike Rawlings said in a statement. “I may be biased, but I think this is the best international airport in the United States and we have seen in recent years that the world is taking notice. Businesses are moving to Dallas-Fort Worth at an astonishing rate, and most of them acknowledge the number of destinations and non-stop flights from DFW as a key part of their decision.”

The recognition demonstrates how DFW and the region can achieve success on a global scale, according to Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price. “The Airport Board of Directors and the DFW team laid out a strategic plan several years ago, planning for the future, and they have delivered their vision for transforming travel,” Price said.

Trammell Crow to be honored by Dallas Film

Non-profit group Dallas Film will give Trammell S. Crow The Stodghill Award at the 2019 Spotlight Luncheon February 13 at Four Corners Brewing Company. The award recognizes long-term philanthropic activities on behalf of film and proceeds from the luncheon benefit The Veterans Institute for Film & Media (VIFM) powered by Capital One. The award was created to honor Dallas Film supporters, Steve and Anne Stodghill.

 “Trammell is actively involved in the arts and is a philanthropic stalwart in the Dallas community,” said Johnathan Brownlee, president and CEO of Dallas Film. “He is and has been, a steadfast supporter of Dallas Film and the Dallas film community for many years. Most recently, his involvement extends to include the founding of EarthxFilm, a festival that uses the power of film and emerging media to raise awareness of environmental and social global issues. Dallas Film owes much of our continued success to Trammell. We are proud to call him our friend and honored to present him with the Second Annual Stodghill Award.”

UTD professor named fellow of tech organizations

Dr. Bhavani Thuraisingham, cybersecurity expert and computer science professor at The University of Texas at Dallas, was named a fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) and the National Academy of Inventors (NAI) last month. She joins two other UTD faculty members as NAI fellows, Dr. James Coleman, professor of electrical engineering, and Dr. Ray Baughman, director of the Alan G. MacDiarmid NanoTech institute.

“I am most honored to be elected a fellow of ACM and NAI within the same month,” said Thuraisingham, in a statement. “As a computer scientist, researcher and educator, being a fellow of ACM is a tremendous honor. And as an innovator of technology, being a fellow of NAI is extremely gratifying.” 

Both Thuraisinghama and UTD were honored by the appointments said Dr. Poras Balsara, interim dean of the Erik Jonsson School of Engineering and Computer Science, adding “reaching the pinnacle of just one of these organizations is an honor, but being named fellow to two organizations of this magnitude in the same month is quite creditable.”

What we’re reading


Fossil sells smartwatch technology to Google for $40 million
Richardson-based Fossil Group, a leader in producing fashionable watches and accessories, has just made a whopping $40 million by selling its smartwatch technology to Google. Together, the power duo plans to continue producing wearables, with Fossil looking to get into consumers the health and fitness market.

Dallas Is Capitalizing on Digital Retail
Dallas-Fort Worth is known for its retail. We love to shop ’till we drop here. I mean, the DFW area has the most shopping centers per capita in the country. But, e-commerce might be surpassing brick-and mortar—so D Magazine took a look at why.

Innovative mobile car dealership shifts into high gear in Dallas
Tred, a Seattle-based online car marketplace, has announced it’s screeching into Dallas, Houston, Austin, and San Antonio later this month and in February. CultureMap reports the service helps car owners earn more money when selling their used cars, saying Tred is “a peer-to-peer marketplace for selling and buying used vehicles that offers sellers a thinner transaction margin and buyers a lower price point.”

Tesla opens a showroom in Galleria Dallas as Texas laws remain unwelcoming
Tesla has opened its fifth North Texas showroom in the Galleria Dallas’ first level. The new setup offers appointments to test drive its vehicles. The showroom occupies a 4,000-square-foot space that formerly housed Go Calendar & Games.


Dallas, Texas Housing Market Forecast: One of the ‘Hottest’ in 2019?
Dallas is killin’ it when it comes to the housing market: a forecast for shows that home prices in the area could rise faster than the national average in 2019 and a separate one from Zillow ranked the city as one of the top ten ‘hottest’ housing markets of the year. The research team at Zillow even predicted that the median value in Dallas would climb by 11.2 percent in the next 12 months. 

Assessing Dallas’ Opportunity in Opportunity Zones
There are 8,700 Opportunity Zones in the country. Dallas-Fort Worth houses 52 of them, and 18 lie within Dallas city limits. Although these areas have the potential to change the way development is carried out in Dallas, there are numerous complications along the way.

250-acre Frisco project will overlook new PGA headquarters
On Frisco’s Legacy Drive, next door to the future home of PGA of America, will soon sit a 250-acre mixed-use project, potentially zoned for retail, residential, office, medical, and hospitality buildings. The Dallas Morning News reports the property was acquired by Stillwater Capital, a partnership between DSF Capital and investor Stephen Summers.


“Blackish” Star Anthony Anderson Attempts to Break GUINNESS WORLD RECORDS™ Title at Topgolf
Television star Anthony Anderson was at Topgolf in Dallas recently to attempt to break a world record — swinging the longest useable golf club. The attempt at swinging the 37 foot, 1 inch club was recorded on “Record Breakers,” Top Golf’s original YouTube content channel.

TELL US: What’s grabbing your attention right now? What should we be reading? Send your tips, links, and thoughts here

Top 10
Dallas Innovates most-read stories this week

1. Dallas Sisters Create Female‑Focused Coworking Concept

2. Look Inside: Interactive Art Exhibit and Selfie Studio Coming Soon to Dallas

3. Dallas Housing Authority Taps Private Developers In Affordable Housing Effort

4. Bell Unveils its Full-Scale ‘Nexus’ Air Taxi Design at CES 2019

5. Tech Meets Fashion: Digital Startup Moves HQ to Dallas

6. Communities Foundation of Texas Awards $106M in 2018, Names New Board Members and Chair-Elect

7. AT&T Pledges $1M to Closing Skills Gap, Supporting Tech Startups

8. Interactive Map Highlights Dallas Region’s Smart City Advances

9. DI People: Keurig Dr Pepper, Fujitsu Network Communications Make Exec Moves

10. ICYMI: AT&T’s 5G, Toyota’s Autonomous Safety System, and the Bell Nexus Air Taxi Make Waves at CES 2019

Things to Do
Events to inspire, connect, educate, and inform innovators

Calendar: Denton Black Film Festival, Urban Conversations Series, Using Data as a Communication Superpower
From art exhibits (Rainbow Vomit) to resume workshops (New Year, New Career), browse our curated selection of events to plan your next week—and beyond.

Quincy Preston, Alex Edwards, and Payton Potter contributed to this report.

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