It's Too Hard to Change

Ok, a little summer vacation and now back to the subject at hand – inventory.  Let’s talk some more about inventory, shall we.

So, I was talking with the CFO of a large, publicly held retailer the other day about the possibility of his organization changing their inventory service, and he laid down the “it’s too hard to change” card.  Now, this guy is razor-sharp – I mean nothing gets by this dude; he knows the answers to the question before he asks you the question.  He’s just measuring you with your own answer.  Knowing this, I figured he threw that response out there just to measure me.  I laughed and threw back the, “Jeez, it ain’t brain surgery; it’s just physical inventory.”  Cue the chirping crickets…… not a peep on the other end.  Turns out he had real concerns about switching his company to a new inventory service.  He felt like his IT guys would struggle with a change.  Wow – didn’t expect that one.  My money was on him blaming the Store Ops guys not dealing well with change, not the tech guy.

Why is the IT guy going to struggle with a change?  What’s so magical about a simple data file?  That’s right, you heard me - simple!  I don’t know who’s telling who, what, but a physical inventory count file is SIMPLE.  It’s about the easiest piece of data that an IT computer room will ever touch.  Ok, now I’m back to the really smart CFO – he knew something I didn’t – his company has some kinda cutting edge technology that only a few inventory service companies can work with – has to be his reason – this dude is always way ahead everyone.  Or, maybe the inventory service convinced the IT guy that they had some super secret special data sauce that no other service could get their hands on.  Remember the “special sauce” on the Big Mac? – yeah, like that, only for data files.  Or, could it possibly be that I had the answer to the question and the CFO just got “pwned“.

pwned: A corruption of the word “Owned.”  This originated in an online game called Warcraft, where a map designer misspelled “owned.”  When the computer beat a player, it was supposed to say, so-and-so “has been owned.”
Instead, it said, so-and-so “has been pwned.”
It basically means “to own” or to be dominated by an opponent or situation, especially by some god-like or computer-like force.

I am neither god-like nor computer-like, but I do like the urban term pwned.  Like I was saying, I think I pwned the CFO on this issue.  He’s either out of touch with the evolution of inventory service providers and the advancement of technology, or he has an IT group who hasn’t talked to a different service in a very long time and has no idea that almost every service in the free world can accommodate their specific data file needs.

Let’s cross off another myth about changing inventory services being too hard.  That’s a standard objection that retail organizations raise when meeting with potential new services that should be easily put to rest.  Data file uploads, transfers, and imports are common place in the industry today.  The technology evolution has leveled the field and gone are the days of the large national firms having any kind of advantage in that respect.  I think the real focus should be on the people who are in the stores doing the actual counting.  The data transfer is not the worry, it’s the quality of the data in the file.  The only way to affect the quality is to ensure the service you’re using is bringing high quality, properly trained people to your stores.  Garbage in, garbage out, and subsequently, garbage uploaded by your IT guy.  Look for the inventory service focused on hiring and retaining high quality inventory auditors.  That’s a change that is not too hard and your Store Ops group will be happier than a pig in slop to interact with a service that matches their quality.  Easy peasy, lemon squeezy!  I’m just sayin’.

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