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Covering Technology Without Technology

As a technology reporter, I have been especially frustrated and perturbed by an inability to establish Internet access here in Las Vegas. The Luxor hotel—despite its fabulous pyramid infrastructure—has failed to provide me with web access in my room, depriving me of the lifeblood of any business trip, especially for a reporter in 2010. The hotel does not provide wireless access, and its Ethernet cable didn’t work. Last night I called the hotel and asked for this to be rectified, but nothing was done. As I write this in the press room Tuesday afternoon at the FMI show, I still don’t have web access because the Ethernet cable doesn’t work here either. Is it my computer? How am I going to file this blog?! Maybe at Starbucks? Eureka, I got connected finally in the press room at 2:30 pm PT, thanks to a friendly tech.

Anyway, I still had a productive morning at the show. I presented the Technology Excellence Awards to representatives of Save Mart, Nature’s Best and E.W. James & Sons, and everything went well. Thanks to Aashish Chandra, senior director of IT and enterprise PMO for Save Mart; Jim Beck, CEO and Brian McCarthy, senior VP of operations of Nature’s Best; and Ken Pink, president of E.W. James, for accepting the awards. I also conducted video interviews with Jim Beck and Aashish Chandra about the role of IT in retailing during recessionary times; look for those interviews on in the near future.

I covered two excellent technology workshops this morning, one on the changing relationship between retailers and the technology-enabled consumer, and one on data security. Mike Webster, vice president and general manager, retail and hospitality for NCR, talked about the need for retailers to tie together all of the new consumer touchpoints—web, mobile, and in-store—in order to fully serve consumer needs. At the security session, Keith Swiat of Trustwave reminded retailers that July 1, 2010 is the deadline for PA-DSS (payment application software) compliance and Heather Mark of Propay gave some great insights into the legal and governmental views on PCI Compliance. Look for stories on these sessions in SN print and online.