Want To Argue In Person? See Ya In Boston

If you?re going to be in the Boston area June 5th and 6th, would love to hook up with some of you at the ERIexchange show at The Boston Convention Center.

That show is actually shaping up to be quite significant, with keynotes from BestBuy CIO Bob Willett, CircuitCity CIO Bill McCorey and Metro Group managing director Gerd Wolfram, among other notables.

If you?re around, StorefrontBacktalk is hosting three panels, where I?m moderating some of the top industry thinkers on CRM, Security and Mobile Integration. I?ll mostly be there to referee, with regular visitors to this site knowing enough to ignore me if I try to make a point.

But we?ll have plenty of people there that you really shouldn?t ignore. (All of the StorefrontBacktalk events will be held in Room 52A, in theory.) On the June 5 (1:45-2:45 PM) security panel, for example, we?ll have Mark Rasch (former head of the U.S. Justice Department?s computer crimes unit and one of the smartest guys I?ve ever met), Kevin Fu (Univ. of Mass. professor who authored that landmark report questioning the security of contactless payment), PCI auditor extraordinaire Bryan Sartin from Cybertrust, encryption guru Patrick McGregor from BitArmor, Dave Taylor, president of the PCI Security Vendor Alliance and Microsoft?s Moin Moinuddin.

The security panel will be exploring how practical PCI rules are, how secure is that rarest of birds (a fully PCI-complaint major retail chain) and what security headaches will come with the next-generation of payment devices (such as contactless).

Our June 6 (8:45-9:45 AM) CRM panel will try and figure out why so many major retailers pay for elaborate CRM packages and then never get around to truly using them. At least they?re often not using them in-store. Among the debaters will be Rob Garf, a retail analyst from AMR; Cathy Hotka from the Retail Industry Leaders Assoc. (also StorefrontBacktalk?s favorite retail gadfly, in a good way); Ken Morris of the Lakewest Group; and Alexi Sarnevitz, a retail strategy director at SAS.

Perhaps my favorite panel will be the June 5th (2:45-3:45 PM) one exploring the implications of mobile technology in retail. Whether it?s mobile checkout, scanning 2D barcodes with a cellphone?s camera or using text messaging to allow for true one-on-one customer conversations, the smartphone is going to change tons of assumptions about in-store operations. The star of this panel will Marina O?Rourke, the director of retail technology for hero-sandwich chain Subway (Marina?s brilliant, creative and is going to so not like my description of her employer), who is going to give her general opinions while talking about how Subway is pushing the envelope on in-store technology rollouts, which is far from easy when so many stores are franchised. You think it?s hard getting your employees to listen to you? Trying having your strategy depend on convincing lots of independent business people.

Joining O?Rourke will be Forrester Research senior analyst Tamara Mendelsohn, Nikki Baird with the Retail Systems Alert Group, Rob Durst (founder of NeoMedia) and Epson?s Barry Wise.

The sessions will be all panel discussion, which means no PowerPoint and no presentations of any kind. I?ll open with about 90 seconds of scene-setting (stop your snickering. I can so talk for only 90 seconds) and then it will be pure discussion and argument. We?ll save a chunk of time for audience questions, so you can yell at us, too.

Hope to see a lot of you there. If you haven't registered (and, I suppose, even if you have), show management has now given a 20 percent discount for the full-show passes plus a free pass for the part of the show we're in, exclusively for StorefrontBacktalk readers. Just go to the registration page and use the code "DISC4."

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