Companies have always looked for ways to create deeper connections with their customers, but they’ve never had as many tools at their disposal as they do today. The digital transformation is bringing about unprecedented opportunities for companies across industries to integrate personalization in everything. From marketing efforts to systems and products, they are finding new and interesting ways to leverage data to identify and meet each customer’s needs more strategically and accurately.
Leveraging data to learn and deliver what customers want is not new; e-commerce businesses like Amazon and even social media platforms like Facebook have been doing this online for years. But now, vertical solutions providers (VSPs) are getting into the game in order to stand out and gain a key competitive advantage amid their saturated markets.
For example, healthcare VSPs are helping doctors and nurses improve and personalize patient care with technology solutions that can keep track of patients after they’re discharged from the facility. Such solutions can do everything from measuring oxygen levels to alerting hospital staff if certain pills have not been taken on the proper days.
In K-12 and higher education, VSPs are competing to create the ultimate in personalized teaching tools, from software that presents students with new lesson tasks based on how well they did on previous tasks, to analytics that help teachers customize their lessons based on how each student learns best.
Digital self-service Kiosks are growing, and recently, Zivelo—a company that provides self-service kiosk and digital signage solutions to a range of industries—worked with Dell EMC OEM. The partnership let Zivelo go to market faster, more affordably, and more effectively than it could have done alone. This is one of many partnerships that prove the value of collaboration. This type of collaboration is a growing trend and will continue as we move into 2018.
The race is on, but for VSPs who have not incorporated personalization technology in the past, getting the proper budget, skills, and supply chains in place can be an uphill battle. That’s why—to bring their ideas to life affordably and sustainably—VSPs are recognizing the value of working with original equipment manufacturers (OEMs) who do have the budgets, infrastructure, widespread resources, and tools to build and maintain niche solutions.
The Combined Power of OEMs and VSPs
OEMs take advantage of a unique foothold within the tech market. Rather than developing and marketing singular products designed to tackle broad problems, they work with specific customers (in this case, VSPs) to help bring their ideas to life by piecing together custom solutions, which may include hardware, software, and services. This partnership strategy is being employed across industries to solve a wide range of issues, including the challenges VSPs are facing in bringing personalized solutions to market.
The challenge for VSPs lies not only in building new technologies with personalized features, but also addressing the many issues that come along with digital technologies, such as Internet of Things (IoT) network security considerations and industry regulations. As cybersecurity trends are ever-evolving, VSPs don’t have the time or expertise to stay on top of such considerations, nor do they have the infrastructure or supply chain to constantly shift and upgrade individual parts to meet changing standards.
VSP and OEM partnerships that help get to market faster can help companies stay on the leading edge of changes and trends. Keeping a company flexible and able to adapt to change fast is important in today’s marketplace.
Working with an OEM can help VSPs compete by reducing the number of business operations they must manage, like manufacturing, fulfillment, and support, helping them get to market faster. Because OEMs already have established supply chains, support networks, and the workforce to build and manage products, VSPs can go back to focusing on what they do best: continuing to innovate on the ideas and designs behind the product.
For example, imagine a company specializing in personalization software teaming up with an OEM hardware provider to create its product. By doing so, it avoids having to divert its own human and financial resources away from the software development process to configure the custom hardware. Manufacturing aside, this company would also not be responsible for keeping a stock of spare parts or replacements and would not have to deal with navigating industry regulations, as the OEM would maintain the physical product. This would also allow even a mid-sized company based anywhere in the world to offer shipping, on-site deployment, and technical support, regardless of where its customers were based.
In addition, OEMs can help VSPs overcome one of the biggest challenges digital transformation has brought to the forefront of many industries: a significant lack of next-generation business and IT skills. The average company does not have a large-enough supply of workers with the skillsets to build, implement, and manage products that have personalization technology baked in, but OEMs do.
Personalization offers big opportunities for a range of vertical solution providers to differentiate themselves and provide specific capabilities their customers are seeking.
But they don’t have to—and shouldn’t—go it alone. Rather than trying to do it all, there is a clear benefit for both VSPs and OEMs to focus on what they are each best at, and rely on one another to handle the rest. This division of labor will only become more important over time as businesses around the world increasingly feel the pressure to take advantage of what digital transformation can offer—or risk falling behind to competitors that can.