By Garrett C. Hill, CEO, X2nSat, Inc.
It’s the expectation we now have – whether we’re at the movies, buying new golf clubs, picking up a six-pack of Petaluma Hills, or sneaking through the drive-thru for dinner. In defense of my character, the latter would never apply to me, of course; living in Northern California’s wine country as a grown-up, my Central Valley farmboy tastes have evolved. Well, unless it’s 2 a.m. and time for fourth meal. Enough circumlocution.
I’m stalling because I hesitated to write about this month’s topic. My team persuaded me it was an important one.
Although my company provides a plethora of POS solutions – that’s point of sale for you non-business types – you don’t often hear me talk about these end uses. I like to talk satellites.
But I can’t ignore the value of POS to businesses, to consumers, and to us here at X2nSat. We help keep businesses online and operating so the transactional business world can keep humming … so bank customers can make deposits, and shoppers can buy those spontaneous shoes, gadgets and cigars that make the retail world go ’round.
Earlier this month, I was a good CEO and delegated to my Sales Manager. While I was zip-lining in the Smoky Mountains, he was busy representing X2nSat and presenting to a retail group we hadn’t reached out to before in the past – the Retail Solutions Providers Association (RSPA) – at their annual trade show extravaganza called RetailNOW. RSPA’s tagline is “Connecting the Point of Sale Technology Ecosystem.” Attendees included Cisco, Toshiba, Honeywell, and Epson. My trusty sidekick’s session focused on why POS systems providers should care about the fact that their customers needed business continuity tools. So, why should they care? The answer is simple: Their customers need to stay connected.
The simple definition of POS is a computerized network operated by a main computer and linked to several checkout terminals. Today’s businesses are tied to the outside world because they depend on cloud-based services, such as access to critical data, inventory availability processing, access to reservation information, and processing of credit and debit cards.
The types of disasters that can disrupt a business and POS system include: hurricanes, rain, flooding, tornadoes, fires and earthquakes. You know, the usual scary stuff. But there are things that aren’t top of mind for most business owners than can also disrupt a business: a wireline/fiber being cut, a cell site failure, a power failure, or a utility pole or line being damaged.
And so the RSPA folks learned from us about the types of business continuity, why it’s important, and a breakdown on the advantages and challenges of three types of business continuity tools: wireline, cellular, and – our favorite – satellite. You can click through the entire presentation by viewing it here if you want to learn more.
So why does it really matter if a POS system goes down? At the least, it can be an annoyance for the end user who no longer carries cash in his or her wallet. At the worst, it could cripple the economy (or as I like to call it, the unavoidable Zombie Apocalypse) if entire business structures go down simultaneously.
We know first-hand how essential it is to always be “on” and connected from running lottery systems for the leading supplier of integrated gaming and transaction processing systems to state-licensed gaming organizations world-wide. Just ask anyone lined up to buy a lottery ticket in the states our long-time client Intralot holds: Montana, Idaho, Ohio, New Mexico, and more. We’ve been thought leaders in this arena for a while.
When I was a wee lad, riding along with my dad to make a bank deposit, there was an expectation that the bank teller would be on the job and there to conduct our transaction during banker’s hours (defined by Jay MacDonald on bankrate.com as “15 minutes shorter than you thought they were”), and that I would get a cream soda lollipop. Now, the expectation is 24/7 access and ATMs are expected to dispense cash on a whim. And I hardly ever get offered a lollipop anymore. Must be the gray hair.
It’s all mobile and it’s all digital. And it’s all oh-so-easy. … Now where’s that Motley Fool article I read recently about avoiding blue light specials and impulse buys? As Starbucks chairman Howard Schultz once said, “The challenge of the retail business is the human condition.”
TOP PHOTO CREDIT: First Bank of the United States (1797-1811), Stephen Girard’s Bank (May, 1811-1831), subsequent banks, and owned since 1955 by the National Park Service. Location: 116 South 3rd Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106. Public domain image.