Recap: Retail IT VAR of The Future 2017

Photo credit: Jim Roddy (@Jim_Roddy) of @Vantiv

Trying to mix a family vacation with an important trade show is never a good idea. The requirements of tending to a brood of 3 young boys, while trying to come down off of an insane first quarter – all while trying to get educated and spread knowledge results in a fever-dream pile of recollections. Please enjoy the below, my recap of the (quite excellent) event put on by Business Solutions Magazine: The Retail IT VAR of the Future.

Study after study confirms that spend on traditional hardware continues to dwindle – no shock there. Cheap tablets replace cheap computers; good computers last longer due to a slowing software improvement cycle and struggle to keep up with Moore’s Law (multi-core isn’t ‘cheating’ – but its close).

POS printers, including ones from Epson, have enough ports and jacks to be the hub of your entire operation. There’s no longer a need for a traditional computer; and if you really want one, a modern micro-pc with a small footprint and plenty of available ports will fit the bill.

The credit card processing wars continue, security standards advance at a snails pace, and the pain is left on the shoulders of the poor retailer stuck buying new equipment regularly, or having to replace and upgrade software packages. It’s chaotic, and that presents an opportunity for service providers, like Valiant, to help unscramble the eggs.

Many providers still resist the recurring revenue model, nothing new to report here. You can bring horses to water, and if they choose not to drink – that’s their problem. Me? I’ll get the web and email hosting, telecommunications services, security and more all on recurring and keep my payroll paid on the 1st of every month.

Still, the vendors may pay the bills, but I really love what I get from talking with my peers. That’s what makes these trips worth the TSA. Here’s a recap of a few notables I spoke with:

Jim Thompson, the CFO at Cavender’s Western Outfitter was awesome. Totally frank, honest, and real, and I’d expect nothing less from a real Texan. With New Yorkers, Texans are known for shooting straight. Also, I discovered that there is a “rodeo season,” and it happens AFTER Christmas, so Cavender’s biggest season isn’t even Christmas. This prompts me to consider my customer’s seasons more carefully. Lesson learned: Don’t assume that my 4th quarter sprint lines up with my clients’.

Panel discussion on hiring salespeople was lively and full of ideas. Erick Wilson, President/CEO of TEC Works has one really valuable rule: Sales people have to ask for the job (and thus be the kind of person that asks for the sale.) I’m adding that to my repertoire.

Chris Rumpf of Flyght was in a tough spot. He had to follow ME and Gary Power of Power Computing. Chris took the stage, solo, and with a ton of energy. He worked hard to keep the crowd engaged, asking questions and taking the temperature of the room as he guided folks towards understanding the power of recurring revenue, most notably the Effective Hourly Rate.

If you bill for your team hourly, you know exactly what their hourly rate is, and it’s not easy to make more lemonade from the same number of lemons. On the other hand, with the recurring model, automation, efficiency and repeatability all work effectively as lemon-cloning systems. His team’s effective hourly rate was $2,100 (that’s over 2 grand PER HOUR!) Holy Hell! I’ve got to calculate our EHR and see how we stack up. I’m sure it’s not that high, but a boy can dream.

I spent a few minutes chatting with Bruce Hicks of RTC. That guy has it together – disciplined, fearless and organized. Can you expect anything less from a Marine with a 26+ year run at the head of a firm? Clearly, he’s doing something right. Bruce asks great questions if he’s in the crowd – challenging, deep, and insightful questions. I love that. Push BACK against the presenter, don’t allow anyone to get away with spouting nonsense. If you see him at an event, Bruce is a great guy to get a beer with.

All in all, the VAR of the Future event was a blast, and it formed a nice mid-vacation break from these 3 little monsters. Don’t let the smiles fool you, they’re demons.

Business Solutions Magazine’s Retail IT VAR of The Future 2017 took place in Orlando from April 4-5.

Valiant Technology is the award-winning managed service provider to innovative industries in New York.

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