Troubleshooting Retail IT Woes: Hacking the Holidays for Technical Support and Inventory Managers

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By: James O'Brien|

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Even if the weather outside is frightful, your IT department doesn’t have to get stuck in a holiday jam troubleshooting the seasonal technical support and inventory management crush.

From handling all the calls that come in when gift recipients start booting up their new devices to making certain that inventory and stock are where they’re supposed to be, the list of holiday information technology challenges can be a long one.

To keep your team in good cheer, focus on the following key points for strategizing a stock and support plan.

Stress-Test Your Call and Web Support Network: Get Ahead of High-Volume Outages

Your retail IT team needs to ensure uptime and functionality don’t lag when volume around the holidays spikes. Key to software and application availability for retail IT are data-driven predictive analytics.

As this Clabby Analytics research brief points out, assessing terabytes of infrastructure to find patterns that lead to failures and threshold-related issues provides the insights necessary to proactively prevent the downtime that results from troubleshooting IT problems.

As the next high-volume holiday support load approaches, predictive analytics can, in effect, stress-test your system, then help you optimize its settings and parameters to meet any level of heightened demand.

Delegate to Minimize Maintenance: Keep the Focus on Holiday Support Tasks

Whether by automation or by outsourcing to a trusted third-party capable of troubleshooting IT challenges as they arise, lightening holiday retail IT support maintenance tasks is also critical to meeting peak customer demand. And as this IBM white paper on managed technical support points out, working with a partner in this way expands the range of experience and expertise your team can tap in a significant way; it ensures access to specialized skills even at the busiest times of year.

Load-Test Your Stock and Distribution Apps and Network

For IT leaders, holiday troubleshooting isn’t only about setting up technical support systems that meet customer demands. The pressure of making certain inventory is distributed appropriately and available to meet the seasonal surge skyrockets, as well.

Well before the snow starts to fall, it’s incumbent on IT to load-test the apps and software that run distribution for retail. From network bandwidth to speed and flexibility, model these factors against demand estimates exceeding even last year’s analysis — then keep testing.

Ongoing assessment of load times and responsiveness can become a weekly or even daily practice as the intensity of the season’s sales pick up. Don’t let your team get trapped by a one-and-done approach when it comes to inventory management infrastructure around the holidays. Continuous testing throughout the year can ensure employees and problematic programs aren’t adding to the tech support demand.

If you follow the preceding strategies, your IT season promises to end on a high note. When holiday technical support and inventory management go off without a hitch, everyone can agree — the holidays will be very happy.

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About The Author

James O'Brien

Freelance Writer

As a journalist and writer in the branded content space, James O'Brien covers business, technology, social media, marketing, film, food, wine, writing and news. The Nieman Journalism Lab has called his work in the custom content space "sponsored content done right." He has written for major regional newspapers, and he has managed and edited established, startup and turnaround newsrooms in varied markets, from community papers to major-city dailies. He consults for firms and businesses — startups to seasoned — on the creation of effective content strategies and the establishment of practical editorial calendars for enacting them. O'Brien holds a Ph.D. in Editorial Studies from the Editorial Institute at Boston University, where he researched and edited Bob Dylan's other-than-song writings. He is engaged in a bibliography for Oxford University Press, covering writings about filmmaker John Cassavetes. He is the author of "The Indie Writer's Survival Guide." His short stories and poetry are published in numerous journals and magazines.

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