RSPA Inspire Insights Galore: AI, Robotics, Culture, and More

RSPA Channel Leaders Report

By: Jim Roddy, President & CEO at the RSPA

I’m turning over this column today to RSPA members who shared tremendous insights on a variety of retail IT channel topics during workshops at our record-setting (240 registrants!) Inspire 2024 leadership conference Jan. 28-31 in Puerto Rico.

AI (Artificial Intelligence)
Tyler Young, CEO & Founder, Tonic POS: “I see AI as a new frontier that we all have to navigate together. What I’ve learned in the past year is that AI is a trusted colleague to help you become more efficient. Time is the most valuable resource you have in your business. People ask the best way to start with AI, and the best way is to just start. Be sure to encourage your team to do this as well because they will get inspired to do more with it.”

Kate Orara, Partner Development Manager, Star Micronics: “One of our partners had a vendor who was supposed to help them with a case study, and that vendor had the entire thing written by AI. That made our partner angry, and they had to rewrite everything. AI can be a tool to help you get started, but our work still needs human interaction.”

Dennis Wilson, Founder, DBC Technologies: “AI does not replace your employees. It empowers them, takes over their mundane tasks, and makes them more creative and productive. Your team will become more productive, but you have to review the output. The formula is AI + human = happy.”

Company Culture
Ekta Iyer, CEO & Co-Founder, Alliance Bancard Systems: “After COVID we had to redefine ourselves and realign our organization. We asked ourselves, ‘Who do we want to be this year?’ We can do a lot of one-offs and changes because we’re a small company. That allows us to be more flexible and caring with our people.”

Brian Edwards, Executive Vice President, onePOS: “Culture comes down to the ‘why’ behind repeated behavior. Your employees – especially the new employees – need to hear you talk about the ‘why’ behind your purpose. ‘We want to provide great service to our customers, so we need to process support tickets in a specific amount of time.’”

Brett Bennett, President & Co-Founder, POSitive Technology/OpSuite & RSPA Board Chair: “Developers can be fairly transient. We had experienced that for years, and then COVID came, and we sent people home to work. We found developers are far more effective working from home, so we’ve left them working from home. To stay connected with them, I now take time sitting down every quarter with everyone in the development process which has helped us build a culture of trust. The result is we haven’t lost one developer since 2019. Also, our products are better, our customers are happier because of that, and our salespeople are happier because they have a better product to sell.”

Don’t miss the retail IT channel’s #1 trade show, education conference, and networking event July 28-30 in Las Vegas! Visit the RetailNOW 2024 website and register today.

Iyer: “You can’t overshare with your team. I’ve shared costs and profitability. The team was right there with me when we had to raise our prices. People even outside of sales were upselling because they understood the situation. In the past we sometimes gave away terminals for free, and employees were saying, ‘Let’s not do that now’ because they understood our situation.”

Bennett: “The way we hire and interview is completely different now. We have to find people who can both work remotely and fit within the team. We now do a lot of three-on-one or four-on-one interviews to get a feel if this person is going to fit within the team and this open and trusting environment we’ve created. Our employees have to feel like they can trust one another.”

Iyer: “When I founded the company I was starting my own family, so I needed work-life balance. We take pride that we provide that balance for all our employees. When you have flexible rules, sometimes you feel like you’re giving away something but what you’re getting back is trust.”

Retail Media Networks
Dean Reverman, VP of Marketing, BlueStar: “The online cookie is crumbling. Consumer privacy is being protected more, which is great, but that makes it more difficult to serve targeted advertising online. In-store monetization opportunities are growing as retail media networks move downstream. Retail media networks are becoming more prevalent in SMB merchants.”

Alternative Payments
Joe Emig, Chief Commercial Officer, Skeps: “Pay-over-time is a disruption event in payments. This will be as disruptive as PayPal and smart phones were to payments. Customers can enter into a financing agreement and essentially get a loan in the same time it takes to make a card transaction.”

Teddy Williams, VP of Sales, OrionStar USA: “I look at robots as a tool for humans to use, not to replace us. We’ve all become too cool to do small tasks and repeatable tasks, and we’ve given them to robots. Don’t waste human hours on things that robots can do. The more attention employees are giving to customers the better the customer experience will be.”

Williams: “VARs need to position themselves to be leaders in robotics today. If we start today, we set ourselves up to be in a strong position for the future. This is the rise of the machines – it’s really ready to take off.”

If you want to be fully immersed in additional retail IT channel insights, register today to attend RetailNOW 2024, the industry’s #1 trade show, education conference, and networking event.

We hope to see you – and about 1,600 of your retail IT solution provider friends – in Las Vegas July 28-30!

Don’t forget to register for RetailNOW 2024, July 28-30 at the Paris Hotel in Las Vegas. It’s Where The Industry Meets!

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 Retail Influencers by RETHINK Retail, a Leading CannaTech Influencer by The CannaTech Group, 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