Retail IT Pain Points [Part One]

Managing IT operations in any industry can be a tiring, difficult job. It takes a lot of time and patience, along with a great deal of expertise. If your company has multiple locations, different devices, or unreliable networks, there are several opportunities to make processes as efficient as possible. We’ve heard it all from IT, so we’ve outlined a few of the common pain points and our suggestions for how to remedy them in the future.

Your Devices Manage You: With systems spread across multiple locations, IT professionals are often called upon to be in many places at once.  Chasing problems from one device to another is extremely inefficient, and you shouldn’t be managing all of your time as an IT professional fixing POS systems. Investing in an IT management system you can count on will help with these issues. Nearly half of all retail organizations still utilize multiple point products to manage their systems, but the system doesn’t have to be complicated.

Devices Are Left Unprotected by the Network:  Not knowing everything that’s out on your network exposes your entire organization to risk. Unlicensed, unsupported software can lead to security, compliance, and performance issues. On the opposite end, over-provisioning is safe, but very wasteful and expensive. It can also take up needed server capacity and bandwidth. It’s important to audit your infrastructure and allow visibility into all systems. This keeps you secure, compliant and safe.

Downtime is Lost Revenue: The time it takes to update your organization’s software can mean making a sale (or several sales) and losing business to a competitor. Gartner estimates that one hour of network downtime—planned or unplanned—costs the average company $ 42,000.  Some form of planned or unplanned downtime will happen to your systems during business hours, and you need a solution that two people can use a computer at the same time. A web-based console can be operated remotely in the background, and it keeps a POS device up and running throughout the maintenance process. It’s non-disruptive and shows that no lost sales can be attributed to the IT department.

Visibility, automation, and security are all important aspects to consider when creating a technology infrastructure for your company. Gaps in your system create work and take time that really is unnecessary.  It’s important to find the technology solution that works for your particular business

Before You Choose BYOD: 3 Questions To Ask

Does your company allow you to bring-your-own-device (BYOD) for use in work activities? Almost half of all companies have a BYOD policy, and more are making the switch every day.  These policies allow employees to use their personal devices (smartphones, tablets, laptops) for their work responsibilities. Many companies find this to be a win-win situation: not only do they enjoy the reduced costs of not purchasing devices for each employee, but many find that it allows them to increase the mobility of their workforce. Plus, employee satisfaction rises as a result of individuals using devices they have chosen for themselves.

These benefits should not be overlooked, but there are also some notable trade-offs that companies should discuss before implementing a BYOD policy.

  1. Is your IT department equipped to handle BYOD? With each individual employee bringing in their own device, your IT department will need to be prepared to properly configure the applications and software used by each employee.  With a wide variety of devices and operating systems to accommodate, IT needs to determine not only which users get access to corporate information, but also how to provide access for employees both local and remote. They also need to be able to provide troubleshooting assistance for these different devices. This can take more time and create more work for your IT department than it would to issue employees standard devices.


  1. Are the devices equipped with the proper security? Employees will need to access the company network, applications, and data, which probably contain confidential information. It’s important that this information is kept safe when employees leave the office. There may also be security measured dictated by your company’s compliance requirements. For example, under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA), devices might need the ability to delete data remotely if disconnected from the network.


  1. Are the devices suitable for the workplace? In certain environments, like warehouses, field service, and even hospitals, there’s a good chance a consumer-grade device just won’t survive. If there is a chance the device will be dropped, taken out in the rain, or run over by some large piece of equipment, it’s best to choose a rugged device for use in the workplace. This will save employees and employers the hassle of replacing devices that fail in improper environments.

Of course, even if you aren’t sure about the questions above, there are still ways to implement BYOD. Does your IT department just not have the extra time to handle BYOD? Look into a managed services offering. Don’t have the security you need? Check out what wireless LAN can do. Not sure about rugged devices? Ultimately, every company will need to weigh the pros and cons before making a decision when it comes to BYOD.

Our best advice is to take the time to research your options (Informs is a great resource) before purchasing or implementing any company wide policies. This will save you time, money, and ensure you are getting the most out of whatever devices you choose.