There’s no time for downtime in retail. Whether it’s making sure computer network servers are up and running or managing desktop, laptop and point-of-sale systems, retailers need to put the right policies in place to handle any issue that may come up. To make matters more difficult, systems aren’t always on the same network—many times they are managed across multiple locations.
Chain Store Age spoke with Dave Campbell, director of product marketing for LogMeIn, a Woburn, Mass.-based tech solutions company for remote control, file sharing, systems management and on-demand customer support, about how retailers can proactively manage systems and what they should keep in mind for the future.
What big challenges are retailers up against right now?
A lot of organizations are facing resource issues in regard to the amount of man power and IT power needed to support the volume of devices coming online. To tackle that challenge, retailers have to think about the core capabilities that it takes to be easily connected, with accessible intelligence behind it. Retailers also have to have it automated across the environment. The concept may be basic, but it’s complex to execute. In response, IT has to look for more effective ways to automate those processes both on and off LAN, or the local area network.
What are other ways retailers can overcome such obstacles?
Implementing the right technology solution to run and automate routine IT tasks such as software installs. In addition, an organization must define solid policies for managing computers both on and off the network. Companies should look at a large portion of support issues and trouble tickets that come up to discover interesting trends. Retailers should ask themselves how they can become more proactive and implement the right tools in place to monitor and alert some of those back-end processes in line with the policy.
What technology on the horizon should retailers keep on their radars?
We live in a 24/7 world, [but] an IT person isn’t always on site—especially in the retail environment. The flexibility of SaaS-based technology makes it easy to manage systems from anywhere. Other types of products, such as tablets and smartphones, also come into play here. A lot of people rely on the capability to use those types of devices during off hours. If a server is down, you can set up an alert on your device and get the network back up without reaching for a laptop.
How are retailers using new technology such as the iPad to stay connected?
Retail organizations need to stay connected, and automation is a huge aspect of that. The ability to have access—from a support perspective—anytime, anywhere is key. Now, workers can get on their phone or iPad at 3 a.m. when a problem occurs—when a server is down, and they need to get it back up online as soon as possible. The line between work and life balance is blurry, so devices such as the iPad allow people to go freely about their days.
There is a lot of excitement right now around these types of devices and the flexibility they would provide. The majority of this technology should be selectively distributed by an organization by top executives. How an organization is required to support IT infrastructure is evolving. As long as the right policies are in place, it will become a better way to manage information moving forward.
What should retailers keep top of mind this holiday shopping season?
Merchants need to make sure their tools fall in line with IT and security policies. To be specific, they should look for tools that offer encryption and access capabilities. These make it safe and secure to implement, especially over the Internet, and also help manage and give privileged access to only certain workers. A lot of this comes down to the particular organization on how to roll them out. From a trends perspective, the big thing is the benefit of putting it in place. Even if you once started with machines off-network and offline, retailers can now effectively manage this. It’s not a one-size-fits-all approach.