Emerging Technologies: How VARs and ISVs Can Stay Ahead of the Curve

By: John Dittig, Global VP, Business Development and Partnerships at MicroTouch

Technological advancements are occurring faster, and businesses are adopting new technology quicker than ever before – and ISVs and VARs are challenged to keep up. While solutions providers need to deliver what their markets demand, in an era of rapid change, it’s difficult to know which technologies to invest time and resources into to result in the best business outcomes.

Although there are no guarantees of what the future will bring, the following technology trends are worth considering since they’ve moved past the hype and are gaining momentum with adoption and use. Savvy ISVs and VARs will consider how to capitalize on these trends in their markets.

  1. Self-service

Self-service solutions are likely the most important for ISVs and VARs in the next decade. The self-service tech market is expected to grow from $37.37 billion in 2023 to $92.24 billion in 2030. The lion’s share of this explosive expansion will come from applications beyond grocery and big box store use cases where it’s common now.

For example, self-check-in solutions for vacation rentals or hotels allow guests to access room keys at all hours, without requiring an employee stationed at a check-in desk. A self-service touchscreen kiosk can dispense physical or digital cards to increase guest convenience and satisfaction. Airports will also expand self-check-in and other self-service options to ensure faster lines and reduced congestion.

Solutions providers should keep in mind that self-service solutions also require integration with a mobile platform. This approach allows customers to place reservations or orders on their phones and then interact with a touchscreen when they arrive for products or services. A prime example is ordering food from a quick service restaurant (QSR). Customers use the mobile app or online ordering option to place orders, then pick them up from a self-service warming tray or cooler. Customers appreciate the convenience while merchants control losses and waste.

  1. Artificial intelligence

VARs and ISVs also need to respond to demand for AI, particularly generative AI, which has spiked since the launch of ChatGPT in 2022. JP Morgan estimates that generative AI could increase global GDP by $7 to 10 trillion, which represents 10% growth.

Generative AI has inspired a flood of ideas on new ways to do business. However, that enthusiasm is creating one of the challenges with this technology. End users need guidance so they can make smart choices about implementing this technology, ensuring it delivers real-world value.

Also, keep in mind that while generative AI dominates conversations, end users can benefit from other forms of AI, such as computer vision and machine learning. For example, computer vision allows machines to see, with the potential to improve quality control, streamline data collection from labels, and even improve restaurant drive-thru times. Machine learning, which uses neural networks to mimic how people think, can analyze data to reduce risk and make business processes more predictable. It can also forecast seasonal changes and even the impact of bad weather on sales or production. VARs need to build relationships with system developers so that they understand their value and recommend the best solutions for end users’ applications.

  1. Alternative and emerging payment methods

Another area to watch is how consumer preferences are changing, particularly with the payment methods they choose. With more options available, consumers are discovering and adopting the the most convenient payment methods. Mobile wallets have emerged as a more popular choice than traditional methods, giving consumers one method to pay at the checkout and when making purchases in-app or online. To accept a contactless, mobile wallet payment in-store, merchants need card readers with near-field communication (NFC) technology, which are available for kiosks and other unattended payment systems as well as at the checkout. In addition, soft POS, aka tap on phone or tap on mobile, allows merchants to accept payments directly on a mobile device or touchscreen solution without a separate card reader.

Buy now, pay later (BNPL), is another growing payment choice, which allows consumers to pay for high-value purchases over several weeks. Popular online, BNPL is also beginning to see demand in-store, requiring solutions providers to find practical ways to make it possible.

VARs and ISVs should also watch cryptocurrency, which more consumers are viewing not only as an investment but as a secure way to make purchases. Retailers also benefit from cryptocurrency payments with lower processing fees and decreased risk of fraud. In addition, cryptocurrency transactions result in immediate deposits in the merchant’s account, unlike funds from credit card transactions, which can take days.

The primary takeaway is that as the payments space continues to expand and evolve, VARs and ISVs must retain flexibility to ensure they can provide merchants and consumers with the payment methods they prefer.

  1. Restaurant automation

Labor shortages, rising costs, and heightened customer demands are driving restaurants to explore ways to automate processes. Self-service ordering kiosks and digital menus are streamlining processes and reducing the demand for labor. But they’re only the beginning. Kitchen display systems (KDS) are automating communications from the front- to back-of-house and helping staff prioritize orders coming in from servers, the drive-thru, kiosks, and online ordering platforms. Touchscreen KDS systems are gaining popularity due to their ease of use and flexibility for deployment throughout the operation.

Also, watch demand for robotic kitchen systems that automate food preparation and foster partnerships that provide information about the value of this technology.

The Greater the Challenges, the Greater the Opportunity

Whether due to rising prices and the need for greater efficiency or a lack of labor due to the “silver tsunami” created by the surge of baby boomer retirements, end users are demanding new technologies and solutions to meet these challenges.

While it requires a commitment to continual learning, staying ahead of emerging technologies and trends will help VARs and ISVs solidify their role as  trusted advisors, keeping client relationships strong and paving the way for continued relevance and success.

About the Author
John Dittig joined MicroTouch in January 2024 as the Global Vice President with a focus on Business Development and Partnerships. Prior to joining MicroTouch, John held senior roles for Samsung, Elo Touch Solutions, Tyco Electronics (TE Connectivity), ViewSonic Corporation and Tech Data. John has over 30 years of experience managing and creating sales, marketing, and product strategies for multibillion- dollar organizations. He is a true leader with a sense of balance who is focused, creative, and driven. John has his Bachelor’s in Arts from the University of South Florida.