The Dark Side Of The Cloud: Loss Of Control

Written by Todd L. Michaud
February 29th, 2012

Todd Michaud spent years leading retail technology teams for Dunkin’ Donuts and Baskin-Robbins and today serves as the VP of IT for a billion-dollar franchise restaurant company. He also runs Power Thinking Media, which helps restaurants and retailers with social and mobile challenges.

You took the progressive approach and switched to a cloud-based POS. You are excited about the reduced costs over a traditional POS platform and thrilled that most of the technology support is being handled by IT professionals in a datacenter rather than by your folks in the retail location. Your operations partners are applauding you for delivering more features for less cost. Things go well for a few months. Then your retail processes change slightly, thereby requiring a POS change.

The cloud POS provider regretfully informs you that the change is too specific to your needs and will not benefit its other customers, so the company has declined your request. Indignant over such a blatant disregard of your needs, you pull out your checkbook, explain the change is important and say it needs to be implemented quickly. But, once again, the cloud POS provider says it’s sorry and does not intend to build that functionality into its code base.

The same operations partners who were singing your praises for such a great move just a few short months ago are now calling for your head, because they are unable to operate their business the way they want to.

You do your best to explain how you are sharing the same system with dozens or hundreds of other customers, but they could really care less. They say that if they had known this was a possibility, they would have never chosen this vendor. You try to explain that the problem is inherent to the business model and not necessarily the particular vendor. They mumble something about needing a shovel and a pair of boots as they storm out of the room.

Now what do you do? You’ve already moved a significant number of locations to this provider. A complete about-face looks like a horrible decision. Although the entire senior leadership embraced the decision at the end of the RFP cycle a few months ago, you are now standing alone when it comes to taking responsibility for this fiasco.

In almost every scenario where I have looked at a less expensive POS approach, there is almost always a functionality trade-off over its more expensive counterparts. Explaining that certain functional requirements drive costs is much easier when you are in the RFP stage and looking at what the market has to offer. But when you have already selected a vendor and the requirements change, that is a whole different ballgame.


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