RSPA Inspire: Don’t Know What You Got ‘Til It’s Gone

RSPA Channel Leaders Report

By: Jim Roddy, President & CEO at the RSPA

I never thought in 2022 I’d be quoting the 80s glam metal band Cinderella, but “Don’t know what you got ‘til it’s gone” is the most apropos way to describe my feelings after the RSPA’s Inspire leadership conference January 23-26. I’ve attended 15 Inspires since 2006, but of course, because of the COVID pandemic, there was no Inspire to attend in 2021.

Immersing myself in this year’s conference with about 160 retail IT channel executives and aspiring leaders at the Wyndham Grand in Clearwater Beach, FL, reminded me how special this event is. RSPA VAR and ISV members there told me:

  • This event is the best. Everyone here is successful. I always come away with a big idea that impacts my business.
  • At my first Inspire, I met (reseller name withheld) who opened my eyes and showed me new ways to run my business. The next year I met (reseller name withheld) who changed my business as well. I wouldn’t be successful today without those Inspire events.
  • I started coming to this event in 2020, and my biggest regret is I didn’t start coming in 2019. Or 2018 or 2017 or 2016 or 2015.

Inspire 2022 is in our rearview mirror, but there are still opportunities for you to lean on the RSPA community to accelerate your success. Commit today to attend RetailNOW 2022 July 24-26 at the Gaylord Palms in Orlando and Inspire 2023 Jan. 22-25 at the Hyatt Regency in Maui.

I presented from the Inspire main stage an update on our association. It’s all good news despite the seemingly interminable COVID headwinds. Three key points sum up the RSPA’s status:

  1. Fiscally Sound
    The RSPA’s history of fiscal responsibility and stability continues into 2022. John Kirk, my predecessor as RSPA President & CEO, was wise to purchase pandemic insurance for RetailNOW 2020. Then RetailNOW 2021 produced stronger-than-expected numbers, including a 38% increase in VAR attendance and a record 230+ ISVs.
  1. Growing Membership
    VAR acquisitions and retirements receive all the attention, but the RSPA team has a front-row seat to the vast majority of solution providers who adapt, improve, and keep on keepin’ on. Sparked by a near 100% renewal rate and an influx of new companies, RSPA membership has surged well past 600 organizations ranging from the Fortune 500 to SMBs to startups.
  1. Growth Path: Markets & Models
    The fastest-growing markets in our space are beer/wine/liquor, specialty retail, ethnic grocery/restaurant, and cannabis. Technology demand in the traditional markets of restaurant, retail, and grocery is up as well because IT can help solve their labor shortages. An emerging business model is what we call Direct Independent Software Developers (DISDs), typically a niche startup that is developing and directly selling its own software. You might be inclined to call them an ISV, but we see them as the “New VAR” who wraps hardware, services, and other software around their own intellectual property.

VARs and DISDs will be at the center of the retail IT channel for the foreseeable future. And so will the RSPA, serving you.

Jim Roddy
President & CEO, RSPA

Jim Roddy is the President and CEO of the Retail Solutions Providers Association (RSPA). He has been active in the retail IT channel since 1998, including 11 years as the President of Business Solutions Magazine, six years as an RSPA board member, one term as RSPA Chairman of the Board, and several years as a business coach for VARs, ISVs, and MSPs. Jim has been recognized as one of the world’s Top 100 Retail Influencers by RETHINK Retail, a Leading CannaTech Influencer by 420MSP, and is regularly requested to speak at industry conferences on SMB best practices. He is author of two books – The Walk-On Method To Career & Business Success and Hire Like You Just Beat Cancer – and is host of the award-winning RSPA Trusted Advisor podcast. For more information, contact