Get Ready for Retail “Deployment as a Service”

No longer an isolated, occasional event, technology deployment occurs almost continuously now, and retailers should be thinking about changing the way they plan, budget, and manage deployment cycles in this new world.

As a retailer, you know that technology becomes a more critical factor in the success of your business every day.

The cash register is receding. Customers pay with thumbprints, and sales associates wield tablets. Omnichannel commerce demands real-time alignment with the supply chain. Beacons offer proximity-aware promotions and traffic-flow intelligence. The sales floor, the warehouse, the truck fleet, and the consumer are all adopting new technology. And all of it wants to interact with the rest.

The cadence of change is only going to accelerate. More wearables. Virtual-reality kiosks and changing rooms. Giant digital signage. Voice controls and robots. As you read this, your customer experience is undergoing transformation.

Given all of this, does it still make sense to treat technology deployment as an occasional, beginning-middle-end event, as a manageable way to roll out, say, a new generation of two-way radios or credit-card readers?

Those days are gone. What new technology has even a five-year expected lifespan? For better or worse, deployment is now a non-stop activity: Select, design, stage, pilot, install, train, go-live, support, repair, replace—and then repeat.

With so many departments involved—finance, human resources, IT, and more—coordinating overlapping deployment cycles with different resellers and integrators can quickly become a managerial nightmare, and a costly, error-prone one at that.

If continuous deployment is, in fact, “the new normal,” then perhaps it’s time to re-assess how you plan, budget, and manage deployment.

Many other company functions have gone the “as-a-service” route, swapping the peaks and valleys of capital expenditure for a predictable monthly Operating expense and a single pane of glass to monitor activity.

“Deployment as a Service” (DaaS) for retailers is the next logical progression. Not only would it offer budget relief and more transparent ROI, it would capture operational learning and facilitate inter-departmental coordination.

For this approach to work, however, the vendor or vendors involved must be more than installers. They must:

  • Understand the features (and limitations) of all assets in use
  • Have design engineers on staff, both for configuration planning and for follow-up troubleshooting
  • Be brand-agnostic, so that your choices are not limited
  • Maintain a 24/7 support desk with training and documentation
  • Enable warranty processing
  • Be familiar with hardware and software throughout the retail ecosystem, including trucks, distribution centers, and sales floors
  • Perform on-site service and provide overnight replacements
  • Offer a customizable online dashboard to view current deployments’ real-time status.

While this might be overkill for smaller retailers, any regional or national retailer should be exploring DaaS’ potential operational advantages.

Written By: Gina Daniel-Lee, Vice President of Strategic Alliances