Observing The Obvious
Integrating multiple technologies into total solutions will bring VARs larger profits and more satisfied customers.
Business Solutions, April 1998
What You Should See
The whole picture would show you that today's end users want total solutions to business problems. They don't want to buy technology products or services from multiple VARs/integrators. End users want one VAR to turn to for technology needs. Seems obvious, right? Well, those who focus on the obvious tap into people's greatest needs, according to the famous business writer, Peter Drucker. But how many VARs do you know that go around calling themselves a "business problem solver."
Instead, the channel is filled with VARs who have different labels and terminology. There are common labels like document imaging VAR, auto ID reseller, and point of sale reseller. Then, there are even more complex labels like knowledge management architect and enterprise resource planning integrator. VARs should be careful not to box themselves into any one category. Your company's business description - in its current form - may help you get your foot in the door. Once you're inside, you have to deliver this combination of complementary technologies.
Total Solutions = Multiple Technologies
The only way VARs/integrators can sell "total solutions" to solve real business problems is by integrating a variety of technologies together. This means the data collection reseller needs to be able to integrate electronic commerce and imaging with a bar code solution, in order to address all the technology needs of a warehouse. Imaging integrators also need to be familiar with bar code scanning, if they want to solve an insurance company's forms processing problem.
Everywhere I turn, I am constantly bombarded with the convergence of technologies. The NRF Show, this winter, was a prime example. I met with many technology buyers from major retail stores that - in trying to solve their problems completely - are forced to implement a variety of technologies into their total IT environment. Smart cards, data warehousing, electronic commerce, and document imaging were just a few of the technologies retailers were adopting to better service customers (business problem).
Can You Cut It?
The next few years will be a turbulent time for VARs/integrators. Some VARs will fall by the wayside, but I know the kind that will prosper. The VARs we profile in Business Systems Magazine (BSM) are living proof of the success in providing total solutions. These VARs are worth emulating. Let's look at a few from this issue. Dan Zaharoni of MaX Enhancement Group started providing common storage solutions, but migrated into more complex storage systems and eventually added document imaging. Zaharoni recognized the need and the opportunity for higher-margin sales. Bob Montana of Summary Systems is another example. Specializing in the transportation vertical (trucking companies), Montana helped design a software solution that allowed drivers to record route information into a handheld computer. However, Montana also integrated a number of communications methods such as LAN, WAN and satellite into the solution to better meet customer needs.
Here at BSM, we believe it is our mission to help resellers "observe" the benefits of integrating technologies or they wont survive. For VARs, integrating technologies leads to higher margins and increased sales. For end users, integrated technologies provide a better solution. BSM wants to prevent VARs/integrators from being driven out of business due to stagnant sales and shrinking profit margins. As Peter Drucker says, "We were all born to see, but meant to look."