The TImes They Are A Changin'
Do you recognize the above Bob Dylan song title or remember the Buddy Miles’ song “Dem Changes”? How about a “Change You Can Believe In” from the recent presidential election. Change is a constant in business and life, so let's start by changing the President’s Note to help keep a pulse on our industry. An industry association has a unique view of the entire industry; from a people, distribution and technology perspective. The updated President Note will attempt to share our prospective on the changing industry with our members.
While change is a constant, game changing transition surfaces less frequently. During my 30+ years in the industry, there have been two: the mechanical to electronic and proprietary to open platform transitions. Today our industry is again in the middle of a game changing transition on two fronts: the distribution channel and technology.
The internet has had both a positive and negative effect on the industry and the channel. Make the changes in your business to focus on the value-add services to differentiate your business and provide benefits to your customers. Rather than painting the internet (or web) as the enemy, we need to use new web-based social marketing tools to keep in touch with your customer base and prospects.
More significantly, there is a “changing of the guard” in progress in the channel. The generation of “Cash Register Dealers” that entered our business during the transition from mechanical to electronic cash registers in the mid-1970’s are retiring or shifting their businesses to new owners or family members. Today, there is an entire new generation of resellers entering our industry. The “digital natives”, having grown up with technology, are embracing new ways of doing business and bringing expanded technologies and services to their respective multi-industry markets. Is a touch screen in a doctor’s office different from a touch screen in a quick service restaurant? Resellers are now selling technology and services for all aspects of the entire enterprise. POS, secured network, enterprise reporting, in-store digital signage, integrated security, support, periodic training, payment processing and marketing services to name a few. Why not be the source of all technology and services for your customers and prospects? Or as a wise and very successful sales person once told me… “Dance with the one who brung ya!”
For us “digital immigrants” (definition: have used punch cards and desperately want an iPad) there is a new technology paradigm to master. Software as a service (SaaS) and Hardware as a service (HaaS) which already may become replaced by Technology as a Service (TaaS). If you carry a smart phone such as an iPhone or Google Android, you have a POS system in your pocket capable of transaction processing, making payments, requesting/receiving marketing information and location-based comparison shopping. The challenge is for us to quickly get an understanding of the new technology platform, harness these changes and turn them into profitable business opportunities.
At RSPA our mission is to inform, educate and prepare our members for the changes. At RetailNOW 2010, our education sessions bring many of our industry’s leaders together to provide their view of the changes and discuss the issues which will affect your business. We will also have sessions with end users/customers to provide their direct input on their issues and needs. A new education series is targeted at our industry’s leaders and future leaders with sessions on service and sales management best practices. RSPA is also attempting to set an example for our members by using many of the new technology tools for social media marketing and sharing our learnings and best practices at the Social Media Boot Camp. Most importantly we are reaching out to all of the resellers in our industry to expand our community and sustain a robust indirect reseller channel.
RSPA is your association and must transition as the industry changes. At a recent VARtech show, Steve Cuntz, CEO BlueStar, told the attendees that they needed to attend RetailNOW for the industry education and networking. Mike Baur, CEO ScanSource, recently said that RetailNOW was a unique and important show for the retail/POS industry. Steve Bergeron, President PrehKeyTech, says if you are not engaged in the industry and the association, you have no idea what you are missing.
As we move through this period of game changing transition, now more than ever you need to be on top of your game with: education, information and access to new ideas and best practices. If you are not an RSPA member - join. If you are a member, use all of the education and information benefits. I hope to see you at RetailNOW for three days of game changing information, products and education.