This year’s Retail Business Technology Expo at Earls Court, in London, saw presentations from a variety of businesses and I used the show to discuss the use of cloud computing with Mike Pink, Head of Retail at Wembley Stadium, a customer which has benefited from this innovative technology.

The first thing to consider with cloud computing is that although cost is a great reason to adopt it, it isn’t the ‘be all and end all’.

Commoditisation is also key as hard drive prices and general storage costs have plummeted while the fastest growing companies (Google, Facebook etc) are all digital and web based.

Turning to the issue of capacity, cloud computing has many iterations, although the two main ones are public and private.  The former offers shared infrastructure but with limited security.  The latter is dedicated to specific applications, can be scaled up and down for particular needs such as marketing campaigns and critically is far more secure.  Cloud computing does not require additional staff nor on-site servers that need to be ‘fed and watered’ and indeed the software can be bought on a subscription model freeing up support staff.

So, who is using cloud in retail?

The new Wembley Stadium opened in 2007 at a cost of £798m with a capacity of around 90,000.  The nature and variety of the events the stadium holds means it has a small window of opportunity to maximise sales.  On average, the store processes between two and four thousand transactions in a five to six hour period on its event days. Our cloud solution enables Wembley to scale up and down accordingly to meet this peak capacity.

Crucially, staff at Wembley Stadium are able to check stock levels remotely from handheld devices and make decisions on the spot.  This is important as it’s a 1 kilometre walk from one end to the other!

Wembley is a great example of cloud computing how it allows them to carry the right stock levels, scale their operations accordingly and seamlessly manage their multi-channel operations whilst being able to get closer to their customers. But cloud is no silver bullet, reliant on good broadband connections and retailers need to have failsafe systems in the event of a problem.  All of Cybertill’s servers for example are entirely secure with data centres spread across various sites in the EU and across different suppliers. What’s more we offer an emergency till mechanism that allows retailers to operate their EPoS even if broadband is unavailable.

This was a guest blog by Ian Tomlinson: Ian founded Cybertill in 2001 and today is its CEO controlling both the evolution of the software and successful expansion of the business.

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