The retail industry continues to be a hotbed of innovation, with activity driven by desire for convenience and improved customer experience,  and growing importance of technologies such as artificial intelligence, cloud, and virtual contact centre automation. In the last three years alone, there have been over 133,000 patents filed and granted in the retail industry, according to GlobalData’s report on Artificial Intelligence in Retail: Virtual contact center automation.

However, not all innovations are equal and nor do they follow a constant upward trend. Instead, their evolution takes the form of an S-shaped curve that reflects their typical lifecycle from early emergence to accelerating adoption, before finally stabilising and reaching maturity.

Identifying where a particular innovation is on this journey, especially those that are in the emerging and accelerating stages, is essential for understanding their current level of adoption and the likely future trajectory and impact they will have.

70+ innovations will shape the retail industry

According to GlobalData’s Technology Foresights, which plots the S-curve for the retail industry using innovation intensity models built on over 128,000 patents, there are 70+ innovation areas that will shape the future of the industry.

Within the emerging innovation stage, autonomous vending and AI-assisted surveillance are disruptive technologies that are in the early stages of application and should be tracked closely. Autonomous delivery vehicle navigation system, autonomous delivery management, and planogram modelling are some of the accelerating innovation areas, where adoption has been steadily increasing. Among maturing innovation areas are virtual contact centre automation and checkout object identification, which are now well established in the industry.

Innovation S-curve for artificial intelligence in the retail industry

Virtual contact centre automation is a key innovation area in artificial intelligence

A virtual contact centre supports contact centre agents, spread across different locations geographically. The solution improves the digital customer journey end-to-end across locations. These solutions focus on creating connected, smart, self-service and human-assisted customer interactions throughout their journey.

GlobalData’s analysis also uncovers the companies at the forefront of each innovation area and assesses the potential reach and impact of their patenting activity across different applications and geographies. According to GlobalData, there are 40+ companies, spanning technology vendors, established retail companies, and up-and-coming start-ups engaged in the development and application of virtual contact centre automation.

Key players in virtual contact centre automation – a disruptive innovation in the retail industry

‘Application diversity’ measures the number of different applications identified for each relevant patent and broadly splits companies into either ‘niche’ or ‘diversified’ innovators.

‘Geographic reach’ refers to the number of different countries each relevant patent is registered in and reflects the breadth of geographic application intended, ranging from ‘global’ to ‘local’.

Patent volumes related to virtual contact centre automation

Company Total patents (2010 - 2021) Premium intelligence on the world's largest companies
Qualcomm 137 Unlock company profile
Verizon Media 56 Unlock company profile
BlackBerry 42 Unlock company profile
Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories 38 Unlock company profile
Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson 30 Unlock company profile
Samsung Group 29 Unlock company profile
Apple 29 Unlock company profile
Accenture 27 Unlock company profile
Afiniti 24 Unlock company profile
PLUNKETTS PEST CONTROL 24 Unlock company profile
Afiniti International Holdings 23 Unlock company profile
AT&T 21 Unlock company profile
Nextiva 18 Unlock company profile
Alphabet 18 Unlock company profile
Huawei Investment & Holding 18 Unlock company profile
Nokia 18 Unlock company profile
Kudelski 16 Unlock company profile
Hewlett Packard Enterprise 16 Unlock company profile
Greeneden U.S. Holdings II 15 Unlock company profile
Ziff Davis 15 Unlock company profile
Intertrust Technologies 15 Unlock company profile
OnMobile Global 14 Unlock company profile
Satmap International Holdings 14 Unlock company profile
Marchex 13 Unlock company profile
Microsoft 12 Unlock company profile
CME Group 11 Unlock company profile
Asanuma 10 Unlock company profile
eBay 10 Unlock company profile
Thrio 10 Unlock company profile
Vodafone Group 10 Unlock company profile
Amadeus IT Group 10 Unlock company profile
Nestle 9 Unlock company profile
Verizon Patent And Licensing 9 Unlock company profile
Capital One Financial 8 Unlock company profile
Safran 8 Unlock company profile
SoundBite Communications 8 Unlock company profile
Dominion Harbor Enterprises 8 Unlock company profile
Sangoma Technologies 7 Unlock company profile
Panasonic 7 Unlock company profile
Temasek Holdings 6 Unlock company profile
International Business Machines 6 Unlock company profile
Xperi Holding 6 Unlock company profile
Salesforce 5 Unlock company profile
Stripe 5 Unlock company profile
Avaya Holdings 5 Unlock company profile
Empire Technologies 5 Unlock company profile
GardaWorld 5 Unlock company profile
Ti Square Technology 5 Unlock company profile

Source: GlobalData Patent Analytics

In terms of patents filed, Qualcomm, Verizon Media, BlackBerry, Genesys Telecommunications Laboratories, and Telefonaktiebolaget LM Ericsson are the leading companies. In December 2022, Lumen Technologies announced the introduction of a Contact Center as a Service (CCaaS) solution called Lumen Solutions for Contact Center – Genesys Cloud. For the same, Lumen expanded its partnership with Genesys, a provider of contact centre technology. With Genesys Cloud’s data analytics and real-time monitoring, companies can use artificial intelligence for the automation of customer interaction through voice bots and chatbots.

In terms of application diversity, Verizon Patent and Licensing, Amadeus IT Group, Apple, Hewlett Packard Enterprise, and Panasonic are the leading companies in this space.

In terms of geographic reach, Afiniti International, Satmap International, Amadeus IT Group, Asanuma, and Alphabet are the leading innovators.

Virtual contact centres enable the building of smart applications that use auto-generated insights using artificial intelligence.

To further understand the key themes and technologies disrupting the retail industry, access GlobalData’s latest thematic research report on Artificial Intelligence in Retail.


GlobalData, the leading provider of industry intelligence, provided the underlying data, research, and analysis used to produce this article.

GlobalData’s Patent Analytics tracks patent filings and grants from official offices around the world. Textual analysis and official patent classifications are used to group patents into key thematic areas and link them to specific companies across the world’s largest industries.