Dealing with legacy systems
Another downside to having a strong infrastructure is that the substantial legacy systems make it very expensive and difficult to make a transition. The advantage of having little is that theres little to change and to integrate into. Because the rest of the world isnt bogged down with a huge, aging legacy infrastructure, Offereins said, non-U.S. markets can more quickly embrace wireless technologies and improve both reliability and cost-effectiveness.Offereins made a plea to her fellow CIOs to be open to change even it if means taking chances that are not so comfortable."I meet with the CIOs of different retail organizations and there is a tremendous pressure on all businesses to constantly drive out costs. Our constant challenge is to continue to be more efficient," she said. "Technology changes so quickly that youre always adopting and testing something new. I dont think you should get too wed to any one thing because its going to change. Weve had the luxury of point of sale being pretty stable for the last 10 or 15 years." She said the only significant change in that timean eternity for the rest of the technology worldis "that weve gotten away from the card imprinters. Everything is electronic in terms of the whole reseating process and the ticket retrieval. The whole process is now electronic and there is no paper that flows around any longer." If the U.S. is going to remain globally competitive, retailer CIOs must be more willing to experiment and try new approaches, which is what Discover is trying to do with biometrics. "I think you need to get out and try lots of different things because youre not going to know if its going to work or be appealing if you dont test it." Check out eWEEK.coms Retail Center at http://retail.eweek.com for the latest news, views and analysis of technologys impact on retail.