Friday, April 13, 2007

Looking for Answers

A side benefit to trade conferences is that industry peers will inevitably discover that no one has all the answers.

I’m blogging from real estate solution provider Accruent’s annual users conference in the company’s headquarters city of Santa Monica, Calif. (Considering it’s pouring down rain in my own home city of Lincoln, Neb., this is a pretty plum assignment.) Here, in both yesterday’s and today’s sessions, I once again was reminded that the size of the retail chain is not necessarily an indication of best-ever practices or enviable technological solutions.

I listened as a Panera Bread real estate executive described less-than satisfactory lease administration procedures. And as a Target attendee announced to a room of peers that she was there to figure out how to streamline project-management issues as the chain opens more stores than originally projected. And as a Home Depot real estate veteran explored ways to integrate a variety of third-party tech vendors into one manageable solution.

Target? Home Depot? Shouldn’t they know everything by now? Don’t they have all the answers?

Not a chance. Retailers need to remember that just because a chain is twice your size doesn’t mean it’s twice as far along in its methods of doing business. And that trade conferences are a great venue for sharing—and learning.

— Katherine Field

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