I was returning from a business trip and was doing my usual routine of paying the taxi driver with a credit card on the cabby’s cell phone hooked up to a credit card processing application and spurred me to write this blog. I am in my late forties and remember the days of operating the keypunch registers in my grandparent’s general store in Fredericksburg, Texas when I was a kid. I must admit that I am just amazed at where we have landed in my almost 50 years. It is times like these that I am excited about the industry I work in and enjoy so much.

As most Infrastructure or IT Managers, and let’s not forget our Finance folks can attest hardware cost have always been a large capitol item in any retailer’s annual budget, and then in three to five years or so later again to be replaced. Hardware has and will to some level, always be a sore point for not only retailers and other businesses, but most folks in general as it seems obsolete the minute you buy it, as the new shiny toy is out tomorrow. In the recent past, hardware needed to be become larger and larger to support the software applications being released as the industry and world evolved and grew. As technology and specifically web-based and App-based software has advanced, we are now in what I like to call the application revolution, where lighter and lighter hardware requirements are needed to run the applications. Even the basic hardware configuration of most Personal computers, laptops and even the cannot live without phone devices will be more than enough to run the modern applications of today. In this fashion, the hardware budgets can in most cases be reduced as the application are light so smaller less powerful machines can be purchased.

With the introduction of Modern Point of Sale (MPOS) and Cloud Point of Sale (CPOS) with Dynamics 365 for Finance and Operations and Dynamics 365 for Retail, have given the Retailers many more architectural and deployment options. As the system requirements (D365 MPOS System Requirements) for the hardware become smaller and smaller and the form factors of the hardware evolve further to today’s handheld computers, carrying more memory and computing power than Nasa had when the United States sent men to the moon in 1969. In fact, at $ 3.5 million apiece the Nasa computers only totaled in memory in the megabyte range in 1969. How far we have come in the almost 50 years since the space race. Hardware cost and evolution have come a long way, and today a basic computer costing a couple hundred dollars could be used to put a man on the moon.

Today more and more hardware options are presented to Retailer’s to become and operate in a digitally transforming marketplace that is seeing change and evolution at an unprecedented pace. This is allowing Retails the opportunity to use new technologies to enhance and even guide the consumer shopping experience. Technologies such as beacons can identify the customer based on the handheld device they are carrying and guide the experience from the front door to the checkout. Technologies like shared hardware stations are allowing retailers to minimize peripheral cost and be more efficient with this hardware to enhance and drive the consumer Retail experience to a new level. The advent of the smartphone and then handheld tablets are allowing retailers to take the personal shopping experience back to the consumer. It is amazing to me that with all we can do today, one of the added benefits of this digital transformation is the ability to reduce the traditional brick and mortar retail checkout lanes by using tablets, share hardware stations thus cutting down on the number of needed peripherals thus saving cost. The ability to use smaller hardware devices to accept credit and debit cards as just a plugged-in device to the handheld point of sale is just amazing when I think about it.

While there will always be some level of the traditional checkout needed by Retailers. Even when a traditional checkout lane the sizing of hardware can be lower due to the modern applications that are being provided Like MPOS and CPOS that requires very limited hardware power to operate. Thus, allowing all to be able to cut back on the hardware budget while still providing an amazing customer shopping experience.

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