The approach to managing distributed IT environments has changed over the last decade, particularly in retail. Rather than supporting dedicated IT resources at each store location, many have put the onus on local employees who are otherwise responsible for selling. Unfortunately, when a system goes down, sales staff must leave the floor to troubleshoot and business comes to a halt.
This unanticipated consequence has led retailers and other organizations with large distributed environments to find alternative ways to combat downtime while keeping sales staff on the floor.
I saw this happen at a major national retailer. In an effort to cut costs, the company went from having IT headcount at each site to a regional model of one technician per five stores. Then the strategy wound up where we began this discussion — essentially, each store had to figure out how to deal with IT issues on its own.
Doing the Math
The potential business impacts from system faults and the resulting need to redirect resources can add up quickly. Let’s take a round number to do the math. For example, if a store sells an average of $1,000 per hour, per salesperson and one or two people are needed to address IT issues, that’s up to $2,000 per hour in lost sales. Multiply that by the number of store locations, let’s say 1,000 again. If each store has one incident a year, that’s up to $2,000,000 in total lost sales per year.
The retailer I cited has nearly 2,500 stores across the U.S. and was facing two to three outages per year per site, plus another two to three alarms; that is up to four events per year per site. Can you see how the loss is exponential?
So, when the sales numbers started to slip, this leading retailer realized it needed a better strategy and moved to a model where vendors, like Schneider Electric, manage their own equipment.
The organization went from having two to three outages per year at each location, to less than 10 per year — across all of its locations.
Keeping Sales Associates on the Floor
The retailer achieved such significant results, in part, by taking advantage of our proactive managed service offering — a force of hundreds of field agents across the country — for both preventative maintenance and onsite repair.
When a technician is required, one can be deployed to any location as quickly as the replacement part can ship. Sometimes, sending a tech isn’t even necessary. Our advanced remote monitoring capabilities enable us to review fault data related to our UPS, cooling or switch equipment and determine next steps.
We are notified of system issues and address them before they cause a revenue impacting incident. Plus, our design model using modular equipment ensures that an entire system doesn’t go down if one piece of equipment fails.
Technology is a competitive differentiator in a fast-moving industry like retail, where downtime instantly translates to lost revenue. Distributed environments are meant to support the speed and demand required to keep business moving, but they are complex systems that require equal expertise to manage.
Having the right remote management plan keeps staff on the floor taking care of your customers and not in some back IT room troubleshooting.
Learn more about Taking Control of Your Remote Environment.