For years, the prevailing thought among retail VARs was that their customers were different and didn’t fit the mold for managed services (of which RMM is a fundamental component). In all fairness, PC workstations and servers are different from POS (point of sale) terminals, cash registers, MSRs (mag-stripe readers), scales, and receipt printers.
All differences aside, however, retailers have many of the same pressures to increase productivity and do more with less. And, when you consider the fact that many retailers try to squeeze every last ounce of life out of their legacy technologies before replacing them, RMM and managed services make perfect sense.
I recently spoke with RMM experts from Continuum, LogicNow (formerly GFI MAX), N-able by SolarWinds, and Vigilix to get their insights on Why RMM Is Right for Retail (Also available in this month’s issue of Business Solutions magazine).
In the full article, referenced above, you can discover insights on where RMM is needed most in retail as well as the decision makers MSPs should be influencing in this market. One area I found most helpful, however, was the experts’ advice on pitfalls to watch and workarounds to anticipate in this market.
While many newer POS systems are being built on the latest Windows or Linux platforms, many legacy (i.e. proprietary) systems are still in operation, and service providers need to keep this in mind. “Most RMM tools will be able to provide some level of functionality on the back office systems and terminals,” said Andrew Kurtz, president and CEO of Vigilix. “And most RMMs could be customized and configured to support the environment, but it can be a major effort. Most manufacturers provide information through proprietary APIs (application program interfaces). The result is that, to successfully monitor in the POS space, support must be built for individual manufacturers and sometimes individual hardware models.”
RMM vendors vary with regard to which types of POS systems they can support, so be sure to investigate this topic with a prospective RMM vendor partner before making a selection or determining a customer’s legacy POS would be too cost-prohibitive to set up an RMM service.
No matter which tool you choose, however, you should expect that you will need to perform some level of customization to make it work for your retail customers. “There are optimizations that can be made in terms of the functions that are checked and reported on and ways in which the solution can be configured to make the most of what may be relatively low-bandwidth connections into retail environments, especially if there is a large number of small outlets being serviced,” said Dr. Alistair Forbes, general manager at LogicNow. “There also are specific indicators on each type of POS that can be useful in providing predictive alerts on potential failure of the POS units, allowing the solutions provider to intervene early and avoiding system failure and downtime.”