Glyn Dodd, managing director of technology support specialist Centrex Services, looks ahead to what businesses can expect from 2014.
“Despite the economic upturn, the past year has been challenging for the retail industry, with the pressure of prices dropping by approximately 15%, the only way to ensure profitability has been to consolidate.
“However, I believe 2014 will see far greater movement in the retail industry, with the continued growth of technologies such as thin client taking hold in the market, there will be impact on the supporting services supply chain. In-depth skills, such as those with field engineers will no longer be required in the traditional capacity. With 60% of CIOs stating cloud computing is their top priority, onsite triage is no longer required; much more can be resolved remotely, removing the need for a physical visit.
“Changes in technology do not mean the death of the experienced field engineer. These valuable skills will still be required, albeit in a different capacity. New positions in-house and specialist service supply chain providers will become increasingly essential. Most importantly, it will be the customer who will not only benefit from increased efficiencies in response rates but also see first time fix rates soar, as the remote triage will enable the correctly skilled engineer to be at the right place and at the agreed time.
“Another dramatic affect will be the rise of tablets as replacements for traditional EPOS systems. Traditionally, when an EPOS system fails, the store is unable to take payments from that machine. The result is a drop in productivity and revenue.
“With stats predicting tablets are likely to rise to the forefront in 2014 as global PC shipments fall, this will no longer be the case, as stores will have stock of spare tablet devices in each branch. When a hardware issue arises they can simply be returned to base and instantly replaced by another device in store.
“The innovative change in retail systems is reflective of the changes in consumer demand; a drive for the most efficient shopping experience possible. Using tablets to check stock, make reservations from another store, or use for payment is a logical progression.
“Those businesses that embrace consumer requirements and move towards simplifying triage and repair services will thrive in the coming year. For competitors who refuse to move forward and integrate such innovation, 2014 is going to be a nightmare.”