News Feature | August 4, 2014

RSPA RetailNOW 2014: What You Missed At The General Session

Bernadette Wilson

By Bernadette Wilson

Kelly Funk RNOW14

A video taken from the perspective of a person riding a roller coaster opened the general session on Monday at Retail Solutions Providers Association (RSPA) RetailNOW 2014.

In her first RetailNOW general session address as RSPA’s new president and CEO, Kelly Funk commented that the retail IT industry “is all about change and uncertainty: changes within the industry, within your business, and within the RSPA.”

“The way consumers are behaving is changing, and retailers are changing. We have to support that or run the risk of becoming irrelevant,” she said.

She asked RetailNOW attendees to consider the five stages of taking a roller coaster ride.

  1. The queue, the easy part when you’re in line, waiting, with no pressure.

  2. The climb, filled with anticipation and when you realize you aren’t on solid ground anymore

  3. The point of no return, where there absolutely is nowhere to go but forward

  4. The great unknown, with its twists and turns and when often you don’t know what’s coming next

  5. Pulling back into the station, where –whether you loved or hated it – you’re back on solid ground.

Funk compared these stages to phases retail IT solutions providers experience as the industry navigates change.

She asked, “How do you choose to embrace it?” She observes, just like riders on a roller coaster, some enjoy the ride, some are uncertain, and some are fearful or unable to enjoy it.

She pointed out other industries and markets have faced similar challenges and – after the predominant business model evolved to be one of providing services – now have thriving industries. “We can learn from them,” she said, adding the RSPA will share knowledge, encourage its members to make connections, and to celebrate the industry’s success.

She concluded, “When we roll into the station, we’ll clap each other on the back and say, ‘We made it.’”


RetailNOW 2014, hosted by the Retail Solutions Providers Association (RSPA), was conducted Aug. 3-6 at the Gaylord Palms Resort and Convention Center in Orlando, FL. For more information on the event, go to